Archive for the ‘U2’ Category

Witness Venus In Transit Here:  http://vimeo.com/43563394

Suggested Listening:  “Window in the Skies ‘ — U2  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK_q7tEOPA0

 Dang it!  I missed it.  Do you know what solar phenomenon happened on June 5, 2012 that will not be repeated in our lifetime?    It’s not an amazing meteor shower, or even a comet, such as the beautiful Hale Bopp comet seen all over the world in 1997.    It was the solar event known as Venus in Transit.  Here’s how it played out:  Venus passed directly between the sun and the earth, but appeared as a black dot traversing the length of the sun on a journey just shy of seven hours.  For anyone that would have witnessed this event at an observatory, a museum viewing, or with eyes shielded by welder-grade sunglasses, they would have witnessed a black dot slowly making its way across the sun for approximately seven minutes from their specific location on earth.

 This Transit of Venus happens every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart that part company for about 105.5 and 121.5 years.  Another words, the next paired transit, won’t happen until 2117 and 2125.  This means, we won’t have a chance to witness this phenomenon again, at least not in our resident earthly body.

Wikipedia informs us that this event is both predictable and rare. Predictable in that it has a proven historical track record, but rare in the fact, you have only a two-shot chance of witnessing  this spectacular paired journey eight years apart.  So if you missed it on June 5, 2012 and also June 8, 2004 then you will only see it now courtesy of cyber space, not celestial space.

I’m sorry I missed this because I still remember Hale Bopp, not because of the freakishly strange cult suicides that resulted from its presence, but because like a diamond in the sky, it possessed the quality of brilliance and extreme rareness.  I remember seeing the comet as it blazed across the sky, as a vivid light breaking through the darkness, gently hinting there is so much more here than meets the eye.    Looking up, it appeared to be a window in the sky that alludes to something beyond what our mind can surely grasp.

Strange as it sounds, when I saw it from our front porch, my first thought was how it reminded me of the Polar Express train of children’s  literature—this magical train that breaks through the night, full of excited children, crossing space and time boundaries to deliver more than just Christmas gifts, but the gift of belief!

This I know to be true in life:  There is no such thing as coincidence!  I will repeat that until my dying day.  I am a firm believer that life is not random, but intentional.  We are created to witness some great mysteries and miracles in life, but they will mean little more to us than coincidence without the gift of belief.

I’ve always been enthralled by the mysteries of deep space.  It humbles me, because I know that in the grand spectrum of the universe, my allotted space and time is absolutely microscopic.  Think about this:  Look at all you have witnessed and experienced in your own life, if only up until now:  Moments of rare beauty, moments of extreme pain, birth, loss, dreams, obligations, music, love, oceans, mountains, sky, animals, and people—just a small millionth of all you’ve experienced, endured, heard, tasted, witnessed, and touched.    Considering the vastness of our universe, is it mere privy that you’ve had the luxury of experiencing so much?  You are not like the stationery planets that sit still, changing only on the surface.  You are so much more!

You are like Venus in Transit.  You are given a mind to assimilate knowledge, belief, events, faith, and experience.  Are all these things just random coincidence in your life?  Or will you use it and connect the dots in your life, just as surely as a master Creator has an order for the stars and planets that dot our view of sky?

Venus is named after the Roman goddess Venus that represents love, beauty, fertility, sexuality, prosperity and victory—not much–just the pinnacle of our enjoyable side of human existence.

So when I found out I missed Venus is Transit, as I read old unread emails from my museum memberships this morning, I was more than a little bummed.  You see, witnessing that would have been another event I know I would have categorized as witnessing a miracle:

Love Passes By; The Sun Keeps Watch

For me, I already believe this.  Love passes by.   Bono knows this.  In fact he wrote a book called “On the Move”.  He states that love, and mercy, and God are all on the move.  Love is never static!  It grows legs and walks into adversity and suffering.  It extends arms and hands that provide sustenance, aid, and the potential to hold someone.  Love is a cureBut it is not without cost.   It puts hearts on sleeves and security on the line and makes us give out of what we’re not even sure we possess.     See love knows we’re going to suffer.  It knows we’ll see things we’d rather not.  Love marches forward anyway.

I keep a pocket full of miracles in my head and heart that no person can ever take away.  Though most days I live life with feet planted firmly in terra firma in my town, my heart travels, and in in doing so, it keeps changing.  It’s as though a puppet master is pulling the strings of my feet, arms, and heart, as He says, “Over here, child.  Over here.”  I don’t know if I want to go, or if I’m prepared.  I do and don’t want to go.

But like Venus in Transit, a rare and brilliant love capably pulls my orbit across and around the Son’s light.   I don’t have to know the future or my exact destination as I journey across the universe.  I wish you the same:  Let the power of an eternal and regenerating love and light sustain you as you move through life.

Read This Book And Be Changed:

Available on Amazon for under $3

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LMFAO! (Live My Faith; Accept Others!)

Posted on June 21, 2012

What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of the kind.  ~Cleveland Amory

The other day I was having a lovely lunch with my young son and mother.   Though my mom is an extremely youthful octogenarian, she amused me when she asked, “Liz, tell me something, what does LMFAO mean when people comment with that on their Facebook page?”  Oh boy!  Not one who enjoys cursing in front of my mom, I told her what the acronym’s letters stood for and assured her that I never use it with the middle letter attached when someone tells me something funny.

Long after I answered her question, I was still thinking about what it could stand for.  You see, in the deep cranial cavities of Liz Logic, I am kind of an acronym aficionado, if there is such a thing.  When I see unfamiliar acronyms, I love to see if I can figure out what they stand for based on context of a website or article etc.

At church, we have sermon notes, with blanks left out for key words that will be divulged during the sermon.  Pastor, I’m one step ahead of you; I got this one I always think to myself.  I like to think I know my bible well enough, that I can guess the key words before he teaches us with an amazing sermon.  And you guessed it, I often get it wrong.    I see an L__________ (fill in the blank) and go ahead and put LOVE!   Only to find out, the answer was Live!

It’s a mental game I play with myself, seeing if I can decipher answers before sitting still long enough to receive the answers from someone who just may possibly know more than I do.

Get to the point Liz!  OK, here’s the thing.  So I was pondering a better answer I could have given my mom for the off-colored acronym for a response to a humorous comment one makes on Facebook.   EUREKA!  It just came to me, like this, in a Liz-Flash of inspiration.

Live My Faith; Accept Others

It seems like the last year of my life has been one of the best years I’ve ever had.  But it’s not because every situation in my life is hunky dory all the time.  Far from it!    I don’t know if it’s because the sands of the hour glass are heavier on the bottom side of my life, or God has just graced me with more wisdom, but this message just keeps ringing true these days–repeatedly!

Here’s why.  I have been involved in a neighborhood bible study group with the loveliest friends I have ever known for the last fifteen years.  Some of us leave for a season and come back; some simply move on to other things in life, but the core friendships remain the same.  We are a platoon of moms, wives, daughters, sisters, and friends and we have seen it all and been through it all in our own lives.  We’ve been through multiple deaths, births, and struggles with our families and deep within ourselves.  We’ve laughed and cried together all these years and probably wouldn’t have had the strength to face some of the things we faced, had it not been for one another.    Sometimes we look back, and think, how in the world did we even survive that?    Only one answer rings true, but for God.

Something one dear friend said, especially grabbed me last night.  She said, “You know the answer in life is just so simple.”  Impossible at times to execute, but so simple to understand:

“Just love one another”

 If we all could just truly love one another, and accept one another, we wouldn’t be at war within our families, or within the world, and even within ourselves.  You don’t think you’re at war within yourself?  Think again.  Do you ever participate in self-condemnation?  I’m so fat or I’m so stupid?   Do you ever participate in pride, or judging others?

See, this truth is the heart of our faith–to just love one another!   Where do you feel the most free in life?  It’s probably in the friendships and relationships where you feel totally accepted in life, despite what they know about you, or your quirks, or your flaws, or your areas that you are working on.

We’ve learned some other things in life too.  It’s not enough to just love each other in our little “holy huddle.”  There is a hurting world outside just beyond the smell of our fresh coffee and raucous laughter.    We know!  That’s the world we always go back to when our time together is up.

Our personalities, political persuasions, professional choices, and how we school and parent our children vary vastly.   Yet we are in agreement on this bedrock principal.  Just love!  We don’t have to beat the others in our family or in the world with bible verses.  It’s not our position to save, but our privilege to share.  We can share our testimonies and our faith as we understand it if asked, but ultimately it is our kindness or love (or sadly, lack of) that tells the truth of who we claim to be.

Sometimes I personally feel like I’m the worst as far as being an effective ambassador or servant of Christ.  I’m so full of inconsistencies!  I’m full of pride sometimes!  I still sin, not only as defined in the bible, but as that voice in my head that says this doesn’t honor God.   Yes, I struggle!    I’m real!    I think we’ve all taken turns passing the self-condemnation ball around but I also know that this is a tactic from an enemy who wishes to see us destroy ourselves, and NOT the wrath of an angry God.

At the end of the day I know God is a mighty big God.  He has a sense of humor and strength that far surpasses mine.  After all He’s God!  He knows my obsessions, my fears, my tears, and my confessions!  (Whoa…that rhyme just tumbled out!).  But He does!  He probably laughs and says, “There, there my precious child.  You’re going to be okay.  I’ve got it covered.  I know ALL about this, but I love you anyway.  That situation that’s making you nuts or you’re totally afraid of?  It’s all going to be ok.  Trust me.  Be patient.  Have faith.  Don’t be angry at others; just love.  Yes, grow in love.”

I’m still growing up.  But the love comes easier these days.  I don’t have to stay confined to this group or that group of people.  I don’t have to put people in a category.   It’d be better if I ignore any splinters in my neighbor’s eye, considering I have enough planks in my eye to build a deck, quite possibly on a ship.

Though I still get mad, and frustrated, and lose it sometimes, I’m learning I have a place to return.    It’s the heart of our creator.  Proverbs 4:23 teaches us “Guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life” has never been truer than now.    I’m pretty sure God doesn’t want us to build a fortress around it, as to not contaminate it, but to build bridges from it and let the love spill out into the world.  I think this verse is misunderstood as to not let anything corrupt us.  This is true, but I think it also means to not fear those that believe differently, those who have a different opinion of truth.    I think of it as guarding your heart from falling prey to fear, cynicism, judgment, condemnation, or categorizing.  Just breathe life-affirming love into others.  Let God worry about the rest.

Is our faith so fragile, we could lose it by loving those that are different?  I hope not.  That’s not what Jesus did and it’s not what I want to do either.  Though I’ve certainly been guilty of that, it’s not who I am anymore—at least I’m trying not to be that person!

For me, Jesus was perfect and I’m so not, and honestly neither has anyone who speaks in His name for the last two thousand years or so.   I think He would be a lot more popular if the world could see more love from those that claim to follow Him.

Love is not to be contained, or given to only those we deem lovely or loveable.  It is not reserved for the deserving, or folks like us.  It’s so much more than a cliché too; it’s actually a commandment…to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, but don’t forget the second part—to love our neighbor as our self!

The world and its inhabitants have always and will always need more love and peace.  Just start with you.  Start now.  Where is the love?

Suggested Listening:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdt9kE58uww&feature=related

“Love and Peace or Else” — U2

I’m going to deviate from writing about my life today and put out a plea for any and all U2 fans to help me with a simple request.

I’m looking for other fans, bloggers, music enthusiasts, people who have met or been helped by,  and people with faith and love in their heart that have been influenced or changed as a result of listening to the music of U2.

If this has happened to you, please send me your story, any concert or personal pics (all appropriate credit given to pics, so please let me know if you or someone else took them) and whether or not you would mind if I share your story with others.

I am ultimately hoping to write less about me and connect with other fans and hear their experiences in more detail than Facebook currently provides.  I see lots of picture and video sharing, but I’m really interested in how U2 has inspired other fans.

Has their music inspired you to make changes in your life, join the ONE campaign, get involved in charity work, etc? 

Really hoping to hear some comments or stories!   This site is in it’s “infancy” so please be patient; I will be sharing!

Thanks U2 fans!  Thanks U2!   U2ARELOVED!

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I took lots of pictures 2011’s 360 tour when I saw them in Baltimore, MD and Philadelphia, PA.

This was taken in Baltimore.  I was inside the circle and very close to where they walked around.  Of all the pics, this was my favorite.  Bono really does seem to walk in a very special light indeed.

Please send any stories, pics etc. to lizlogic@yahoo.com

Spider-Man at Madame Tussaud’s Museum -NYC

But your strength will be a vision, beyond visibility

And the gift you have within, will give you new eyes to see

“Rise Above 2” from  Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark – Music by U2

Suggested viewing/listening:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-k02MIT4eU

Spider-Man is by far my favorite superhero.  I’ve repeatedly watched Spider-Man movies and especially love  the Broadway play “Spider-Man:  Turn Off the Dark”.   The whole concept of Spider-Man totally resonates with me.  Here’s what Spider-Man has taught me:

You need “vision beyond visibility” in order to see things as they actually are.  Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.”   The more negative and cynical one is, the more a person will find in this world to complain about.  The more positive, outgoing, and loving one is, the world can seem like a pretty sweet place, until sooner or later, someone totally takes advantage of your better nature, and then you’re left hurt and betrayed.  To see the world, as it actually is, you must know this:

You have to acknowledge you live life daily in the battlefield.  Good and evil exists.  People will cheat, rob, humiliate, and harm you just because they can.   Though I tend to believe what goes around, comes around, even the kindest people can have their karma and/or their psyche shattered when they suddenly find themselves the unfair target of cruelty or evil.  Though you know it’s not you, or anything you deserved; it doesn’t diminish the pain inflicted.

Trust your “Spidey Sense.”    Your intuition is actually you’re best friend.  The more you learn to trust it, as opposed to rejecting it, the safer you will feel in this world,  whether it be in places or in relationships.  The best book I ever read regarding intuition is by Gavin De Becker titled The Gift of Fear.  The one concept I took away more than any other from this phenomenal book is something I taught all three of my kids:  Don’t be afraid of strangers; but learn to identify strangeness.  Respect your fear regarding behavior or language that sets off your alarms and know how to respond to it.

I believe in praying for the best, but I also am a firm believer in preparing for the worst.  Always have an exit plan in a room, a building, a plane, a boat, and if necessary,  a relationship.  Respect your fear, but don’t feed it.  The goal is to be intuitive, not paranoid!

You’re going to have to scale some walls in life.  Not only are obstacles going to come your way faster than you can say, “Angry Birds”, you’re going to be cruising along just fine sometimes, and then BLAM!  You hit a wall.   After you recover from your shock and awe moment, you have to choose whether or not you’re going to stay stuck physically, and especially emotionally, or are you going to start finding a way to climb over that wall.

Rehashing the past is almost counter-productive.  Should of, would of, could of are the triplets you‘ll always see in the rear view mirror known as 20/20 hindsight.  Best advice?  Get over it.

Sure, you need to talk and mend your broken heart or vent your less than stellar choices, but are you going to stay stuck or are you going to step out in faith?  To take the proverbial leap of faith means you will have to:

 Take risks!  Even Peter Parker knew Mary Jane needed to hear the truth from him.  You can’t assume someone knows you love them.   You may need to find the courage to tell them.  You can live in your safe corner of the world, or you can risk rejection, and take a chance.      Fleetwood Mac sang it best in a song titled “Affairs of the Heart”  in the lyric that states, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.”

Same is true of anything worth risking.  You could start a new business, compose a beautiful symphony, write a best seller, meet the man or woman of your dreams, or make a new plan for your life.  But you’re going to have to take some big risks.    Relationships, security, and the status quo are hard things to put on the table.  We all like to stay in our comfort zone.  But to really get to where you want to go, you’re  going to have to walk as far away from the comfort zone as you can.  Not to sound super cheesy, but if your living in the CZ, you’ve got it too EZ to ever expect different results.

 Don’t quit your day job, but…..     Peter Parker didn’t quit working as a photographer at the Daily Bugle, but he didn’t let it stop him from being who he truly was—Spider-Man.  How cleverly he introduces the person he actually is through his job as a photographer.  Is there a way you can use your passions, or gifts, in your work?  Try to find ways to incorporate them.  If not, make a commitment to yourself, how to structure your time, so that a consistent, specified amount of time will be used each day and week to hone your skills and to just focus on doing what you love.  You will most likely have to schedule this into your calendar, or it will never happen.

Use your gifts carefully.   Spider-Man could use his web slinging capabilities to fly between buildings, knocking out and entrapping criminals, and swooping down to save people.  But it could also be used to entrap him.  Do not let darkness, such as the need for revenge, to enter your heart.  That is when we lose our power for sure, when we allow the words and actions of others to overtake our sensibilities and alter our plans.  Spider-Man understood that in order to completely utilize his gift, he could not allow darkness to reign in his heart.  He had to “turn off the dark.”

Somebody somewhere needs you to be their superhero.    Know that God, the giver of all gifts, is watching you to see what you do with yours. Remember, you do not walk alone.  Do what is right, and good and noble always; resist evil.  Defend the week and assist the poor. Live a life of integrity.  Love truth and seek justice.  Live your life in such a way as to fulfill your dreams and impact the lives of others.  Go!  See!  Believe!

If ever in NYC (Foxwoods Theatre) this is one of my favorite plays of all time!  I could easily see it a dozen more times!

 http://spidermanonbroadway.marvel.com/

Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.  Proverbs 29:18

ImageIf a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

      Sometimes we fall.  Down, down, down, gravity pulls us to the abyss.  Helpless and hopeless doesn’t even begin to describe our plunge.  Falling fast into a vast pit of darkness; we sometimes succumb to the depths of a horrific hell of our own making.   With each passing second, we shrink further away from reality, from those we love and from those who surely love us.   Most of all we fall away from God, from the truth that would surely save us, if only we could reach a hand up.

Sir Walter Scott said it well:   Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”    A wise pastor I once knew said it even better, “Anyone who lies to themselves, will have no problem lying to others.”   What is it that you hide?  What bitter secret brings you further down with each passing day?  What is this thing you think you keep telling yourself you can handle but deep down you know is consuming you?   What is it that causes you to lie in the worst ways to those who love you most?

Truth is found in so many places.  Some find truth in the Scriptures.  Some find truth in music.  Truth is found in people who care about you, and don’t ever believe for one moment, there is no one who cares for you at all.  That is the biggest lie of all.   Some find truth in the written word, much of it floating in the atmosphere, awaiting you to find it, click it, and use it!   I think you can find truth, answers, and help in all of these.  Yet the best place to start with truth needs to be in the mirror.  Look at yourself for an entire minute.  Don’t flinch!  You owe it to those you love and are loved by, but especially yourself,

Who are you really?

Are you willing to get real?

 

You can stop running, hiding, lying, and using right now.  This is the moment that could change everything!

This post isn’t for everyone.  But I have a feeling you already know if it’s for you.

Defy gravity now.  Reach a hand out brother or sister.   Do the hardest thing you’ll ever loveChoose to change.  Choose life, your real life. 

You can do this.  You can Rise Above!     Just because I don’t know who you are, doesn’t mean I’m not praying for you.    Believe, believe, believe!  U2areloved!


There’s so many websites available regarding addiction.  I’m only sharing two of my favorites from friends who went way beyond recovery, and really used the experience to make something magnificent out of their lives.  I hope you will too!

http://freefromhellblog.com.s144903.gridserver.com/?p=2312

http://thebeggarsbakery.net/2012/05/23/shame-is-a-parasite-and-other-suprises/

You can change your mind
But you cannot change your heart
Your heart knows what you’re hiding
Your heart knows where you are
I’d be myself if I knew who I’d become
You don’t have to fly too high
To get too close to the sun
See the boy fall from the sky

(Theme from Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark – Music by U2)

Listen at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3A0g-_8ptAA

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There is a crack in everything; that is how the light gets in – “Anthem” – Leonard Cohen

       I’m having one of those days.  You know, a day where your brain is firing on all synapses simultaneously.  All the areas in life scream at you for attention!

“Mom, have you seen the…”

“Hey, where’s the….”

“We still don’t have any milk?”

“Dad, I need about $200 for…”

“Honey, I forgot to tell you, but by noon today, could you…”

Did you take care of this?  Did you call this person back?  Did you pay for this?  Register for that?   Finish your work project?  Mow the yard?  Pay the bills?

There’s something about forty-something, that makes you long for your own dream, a shiny new dream, especially if you have spent a long time responsibly meeting your obligations that largely orbit around other people you love.    There’s a name for this affliction of what some call selfishness.  The old MLC (mid- life crisis) comes itching, and all you want to do is scratch it.   It could be a new sports car, a prettier wife, a bigger boat.  It could be a shopping spree that would make the Kardashians seem thrifty, taking a trip where your family is not invited, or that delicious man on the side.  The depth of your shallowness astounds you when you ponder these thoughts.

Then suddenly–they pass.  Because thankfully for you, you’re just old enough, and though it bums your conscience, just wise enough to not do something really stupid.

But it does make you think about defining what your dream is.    When you start dreaming up life in a whole new way, well it causes this electrical storm in your head.   You don’t seem as “present” as you used to be in conversations and tasks.   There is a riptide that is carrying your soul to uncharted territory.  You feel yourself moving in a new direction.

This creates friction with the objects and people around you.  When you start operating other than the status quo, you’re often met with resistance.    When asked why there’s no milk, and you say because I didn’t want to go buy it, suddenly things start to fall out of orbit.   Negative and positive ions collide.    Electrical storms now reign in your world.

These are the words I sometimes say and yet can’t stand if they’re fired at me:

You should….

You never…..

You always…..

So I’m going to try harder to just button my lips, and quietly focus on my dream this week.   I am going to write; come hell or high water, come cliché or original flash of inspiration.    I am going to write if I’m joyful, or sad, or frustrated, or mad, or awed by something so magnificent that nobody else even sees.  I am going to write my truth as it is made known to me.   I’m going to play with word craft because I should.  Because you never and because you always…..  For all these reasons, and more, I’ll write.

Like loose electricity I feel words that are rushing to the surface to discharge.  But there is something beautiful in the process of craftwork.  It’s this:

Everyone knows in the eye of the storm is where the calm point is.  It’s where the pressure plummets, and the view in the sky is brilliant and peace just beams into your soul.    It’s the nerve center of inspiration and clarity.

So while the winds of change are unsettling, and the dark skies appear threatening to your stability; keep leaning into the storm.  Get to the core.  Look up, way up!  How cool is that?  Now brace yourself; it’s time to endure the rest of the storm so you can get to the other side.

Suggested Listening:  Electrical Storm – U2    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0adFYuNuns

YOU CAN HELP!   PLEASE! See photo credit/info  – Bottom of Page

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing (Yahweh – U2)

The thing is, I’ve got this rash thing going on.  It’s my neck.  It keeps itching!

See, I live my life with too much to do in one day.  I run around like a multi-tasker on steroids.  I work.  I’m a mom of three, one little, two grown but who still need me for advice, wisdom, and favors, definitely lots of favors.  I’m sandwiched between the needs of our young and adult children, aging parents, and our needs.  Our aging home needs more attention and money than we have to give.    I want to write a book.  I need to organize my time better.  There isn’t enough time to even find the time to organize!

Our days melt into one another as work, errands, paperwork, tasks, email, and chores at home get accomplished.  Pay the bills, throw another load of clothes in the wash.  Did you remember to buy toilet paper?   Take the kids for their six month check up at the dentist?  Get the tires rotated?   Get the kids signed up for camp?  Did you remember to sit down for five minutes and play?  All we ever do is do things, but are we accomplishing anything?

At the end of most days, the result of all the busyness seems to add up to futility.  The laundry isn’t finished.  The windows are  still filthy.  The siding really needs painting.   The car still needs tires, and probably a new transmission.    The toilet paper was forgotten, and there aren’t even any paper towels as a backup.    The kids are hungry and you didn’t have time after work to go to the store.  All the bills and paperwork sit like a tornado of terror waiting to suck up and swirl all your precious time away.

Even though the whole day was spent working at something, not much seems to have been accomplished.  I constantly think about what I need to do and all that I long to do, knowing I have insufficient time for neither.   That’s when my neck starts to itch.

Perhaps it’s something else that’s actually gnawing at my neck.    I once heard that pain or discomfort is God’s way of using a megaphone to get our attention.   See, I’m starting to get this feeling that’s rising up inside of me, that I am called to do less, at least to do less here, and be more out there, out in the world.  I think I know what it is.

Itchy Faith

Yes, I think my faith is starting to itch me a little bit.  It’s starting to feel like a thorn under my skin, a rash that won’t go away.   Because as a Christian, when I accepted Christ, I learned I was saved by Christ’s sacrifice by nothing I did, but because of his love for me.  But His grace is so much more extravagant than that.  It’s more than just, “thanks Bro!  Now I’m heaven-bound, and I really appreciate it!  I’ll really try hard to readjust my cynical attitude from time to time.   Again, I sincerely appreciate you keeping me from the flames!”

See, I’m itching to do more out there, to be more of what I think God is calling me to be.  I read the bible, but not nearly often enough.  And I certainly pray about life’s problems, all the time in fact.   I like to think of myself as one of “God’s complainer-in-chief.”

Yet, I feel like there’s a little bug crawling in my ear, and I  can’t get it out, simply by scratching it.  It’s almost as if a voice is whispering, “Yeah, and so what are YOU going to do about it.  I already put in you the answers.  I gave you the cure; are you going to USE it?”

 See I don’t like this part of my faith.  It makes me itch.  Because I know, just like other medications, it may make me or take me to this place:  UNCOMFORTABLE.    I know if I commit to feeding the hungry on a regular basis, my heart is going to hurt, and race.  It probably will depress me.  If I start getting to know the people Jesus healed then I’m going have to listen more and talk less.   Rescue requires involvement.

I am starting to think if I have eyes, ears, hands, and feet that work reasonably well, he’s probably called me to use them.  And that is so scary!

I freeze up sometimes when asked about my beliefs, or about the bible because  I don’t want to offend others or “botch” God’s word.  I avoid getting involved because it means I might have to commit time or energy.  We like to delude ourselves by hoping someone else will make a difference in the world.   So I lie to myself, and say I wouldn’t be good at it, or I don’t have carpentry skills, or I’ve just got too much going on.

Well!   We all have too much going on.  Yet while I go to bed at night in a comfortable king-sized bed in an air-conditioned house and mentally say my prayers, sometimes I close my eyes and I see continent sized groups of people that sleep on a dirt floor, or a stale mattress.  I see flies, so many flies!   When I sit at my desk inundated with mountains of paperwork, all requiring communication or financial responses, I feel swamped.  Then I remember, there is a child in a tattered dirty shirt and bare calloused feet somewhere in the world trying to till the soil of dry dirt, and ”hope for rain” as the only source of water.

I’m annoyed when I take my child to the pediatrician’s office and on the way, realize I’m nearly out of gas, and if I stop we’ll be late.  Then this uninvited vision of a feverish child swollen with malaria with half-mast eyes, and crying for her mother who no longer exists floats to the surface of my consciousness.  Who are you to complain about all the abundance I’ve given you? This too, creeps into my thought process.    I shoe away the fly in the car that’s bothering my soul.

I turn on the ipod in my air-conditioned van.  U2’s “Yahweh” is playing.  I love this song.  I’m bothered by this song.  Like other songs of theirs, am I going to just listen to another groovy tune, get to my destination, and turn it off?  Or am I going to respond to it?

……Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist, no
Take this mouth
So quick to criticize
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss (Yahweh – U2)

Yes, I’ve had this rash for a good while now.  I’ve gone from complaining often to complaining less and being grateful more.  But God hasn’t come down from heaven and said, “Good job daughter, I’m pleased with you. You finally got it.”   No, it’s more like this itchy thought that keeps rising, “You haven’t even climbed the first step yet.  Keep going.”

I don’t know where this will lead.   I’m scared.  How will He have me serve?  Write about ways to serve or actually serving?   Will he put me out there in the battlefield where people are actually hurting, crying, starving, or dying?  I don’t know.  I don’t know if or where I’ll be going or when.    I don’t have a field manual.    I just simply feel something is changing in me and it itches me in such a way I personally can’t live the way I used to.

Words like social justice and compassion and service keep rising up despite my political beliefs, despite my attempts to push them back down.  Oh no, I’m starting to feel a bit like Bono.  I have a feeling, lack of fame won’t give me immunity, any more than an abundance of it excludes him.   I’m pretty sure God is calling all of us to view our place and our purpose in the world, whether we have a platform reaching millions or a platform reaching only One. 

  Be warned.  If you have a tender heart, this rash is contagious.  It will make you uncomfortable.  The question is what are you going to do about it?

Take this heart
And make it brave

 Yahweh – U2

To hear this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyzPtjIP2eo

When searching for the perfect photo for this article, my first “hit” stumbled upon this;  it is a concrete and specific way you can help.  Compassion International is a fantastic organization that is one of the world’s most efficient charities in terms of applying the greatest percentage of money directly to those in need.   Our family has sponsored a child since 2003.  I will be blogging about this in the future!

Please prayerfully consider sponsoring, or even a one time donation to Compassion International!

http://ihrg.org/10-ways-to-choose-which-child-to-sponsor

Compassion International:  http://www.compassion.com

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It’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away–Beautiful Day–U2

I’ve had the pleasure of watching both my son and my daughter graduate from high school.  So last night,at dinner, I asked them, my husband, and six year old son a profound question. With the exception of my youngest, who just finished kindergarten, the rest of us whether college educated or self-taught have certainly been at least a part time student at The School of Hard Knocks, a.k.a.  The Real World.    So I asked them this question, with a disclaimer that there would be a “no wrong answer” response from me.  I asked:

       Once you graduate, what is the key to happiness, or living a good life?

 I already had a mental outline prepared with six things I wanted to elaborate on, but let’s start with my family’s advice first:

My husband, father of three, said, “Get a boat.” I asked “What’s the best part of having a boat?”  He replied, “All of it.  Working on it.  Driving it.  Casting your reel off of it.  Skiing behind it.  If it’s a boat; it’s all good”

My oldest son, 24, said, “Sleeping!”  “Elaborate, please!” I replied.   In fewer than 25 words, he somehow conveyed to me, that when you are sleeping, you aren’t stressing, working, or in any number of ways, participating in life’s more difficult moments.  Ah, at such a tender age, he has found the antidote that somewhat cures the stresses of full time work.

My confident and ambitious daughter in college said, “Take responsibility for your life!”    She is strong-willed, independent, and needed no follow up questions from me.

My six year old, yelled out “Cake!!  Yummy, yummy cake!  And lots of it!” as he licked his lips!   He said this because my daughter had just baked a birthday cake for a friend, and he successfully convinced her to let him tag along and enjoy some delicious red velvet cake with her and her friend.  I love this age; he lives totally in the now.  That’s exactly where he found his answer.

I glanced out the door to my three cats who were basking in the setting sun’s light.  Their posture alone conveyed the modus operandi they exist out of:   Don’t worry; be happy!  Bask in the sun’s light as often as possible!

In less than 60 seconds, my family already nailed the points I already had planned to tell you.  I think it’s because these are universal truths.   In case you forget the wisdom from your baccalaureate address, by all means print this, and refer to as needed!

1.      Don’t Miss Your Boat!  Find Something You Love and Work Towards it Every Day 

Find the “boat” of your dreams and work towards it.  It won’t be easy; it requires a ton of work to earn it or build it yourself.  Your dreams and goals are the same way.  It takes years to hone your craft, or master your skills.  Whether you go to college or not, you are responsible for your learning!    But once you earn or build your dreamboat, don’t be afraid to occasionally  step out of it.  You’re going to have to leave your comfort zone, to truly go where you want to go in life.    There will be storms in life, but you can’t avoid navigating the seas, when there are big fish to catch and destinations to reach.  Sail on!

2.   There’s No Such Thing As “You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks”

If you can type reasonably well, are adept at using Google and/or Facebook, then you are already equipped in the art of self-education.  Always keep learning; but know how  to learn independently.  Respect your teachers, but don’t assume you can’t learn what they know without them.  You can.  Supplement your education by reading everything and finding ways to partake in your passions.  You can waste excess hours on social networking sites, or you use your computer as a tool to supplement your education, and the social network as a way to make connections that will increase your opportunities to connect to your passions.  Make it a point to learn something new every day!  Also, when you hear something as fact, don’t assume that it is, especially in the media.  Research it yourself, and find out if it’s true.

3.   Take Responsibility for Your Life.  Don’t blame others, ever, for your choices.  Don’t blame others for their success and your perceived lack of it.  Make your own luck and create your own destiny in such a way, that you’ll inspire others.  Three parts to this are key:

A. Do not let others define you.  When you get to the point, you are not a “people-pleaser”  and don’t require others to hold you in high regard, but can look squarely in the mirror and see a person of integrity, who is trying their hardest, and continues to take the hard steps to reach your goals, you will be successful.  You define your success, not others.  This also means whether you’re a NASA engineer, a stay at home parent,  an artist, or a CEO on Wall Street, you get to pick what success means to you!

B.  Refuse victimhood.    Life is not fair, but you should have mastered that around kindergarten.  Bullies exist.  There’s always someone who has more.  Somebody gets to the top because they had a leg up.  So what?!   You’re taking the honorable route and anything worth having takes time.  But always, refuse to be a victim.  You have the capacity to learn and the capacity to rise above, because that is an internal character trait, not an outward circumstance beyond your control, such as where you come from, or what your financial, educational, or any other status is currently.

C. Make good choices.  Don’t drink and drive, but think and thrive.  As an adult, you are pretty much free to do what you want, legally or even illegally, but only you can determine if the consequences are worth it.  Take risks in the things that will increase your success, not immature or dangerous choices that will diminish it or harm others.

4. Rest! 

With all the learning you’re going to be pouring into that noggin, it’s important to find time to play, relax, and of course rest.  It’s hard in a 24/7 driven world, but find ways to get the rest your body requires.  Everybody is different, but know your optimal number of hours of rest needed and find a way to get it.   Spice up your rest life, and get a hammock!   There’s nothing like a good view, before shutting one’s eyes!

5.  Get plenty of SON light!

Depend not only on yourself.  Seek help from others.  Also, call upon the higher power and the higher law of Grace, given freely by Jesus Christ, to power you not only on difficult days, but on the good ones as well.  Which brings me to my young son’s summary of all the above wisdom:

 6.  Savor sweetness!

Eat dessert first sometimes and forget about the calorie count!    Taste all the good things in life, not just food, but everywhere you look.  Look at life, as though you owned the world’s most expensive camera.  WOW!  What beauty, what amazing grandeur God has put before you; truly a panoramic banquet table awaits you each day.  Allow the things that are good to frame your daily perspective.  Refuse negativity as influence and refuse to be a negative person.  You’ll complain less, if you learn to get over things quickly and move on.

Equally important, where there is injustice, oppression, suffering, hunger, loneliness, sadness, isolation, imprisonment, cruelty, and all the unfair things of this world, will you personally commit to finding a role to play in some of the solution?  Never underestimate the power of one.  You have no idea how big your influence may play a role in those you come in contact with, and when you meet someone who falls in one of the above mentioned categories, will you choose to be involved and lend a helping hand, yourself or an encouraging word, a salve of sweetness?  Value and incorporate kindness, goodness, honesty, and sweetness into your character.

Conclusion:

You could read these sentences and view them in two possible ways:  A whole bunch of clichés, or a whole bunch of truths.  Well, sometimes clichés are true.   Anybody can say it, but do you have what it takes to live it?  I think you do.  You wouldn’t have read it to the end, if you didn’t think you have what it takes.  Lastly, know there will days when you will blow it or feel like a failure in some regard.  Learn from it, attempt to repair it if necessary, and by all means, move on!  Don’t let emotions or feelings dictate your reality, let your positivity, passions, and good choices move you forward from your mistakes.

Whether military service, college, tech school, volunteer service or employment is your next step in life, go forward with boldness, encouragement, and belief in yourself, that you are already more than capable.  Whatever your path, commit to living your life out loud, laughing often, learning always, lying never, and loving deeply.  Do these things and you will truly live.  When you live intentionally, you will find your success and happiness.   Choose to be happy.  Choose to exceed your definition of success.  Choose life, always!

Congratulations Class of 2012!!

Serendipity means a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”;  specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it.      Wikipedia

“Vital lives are about action. You can’t feel warmth unless you create it, you can’t feel delight until you play, you can’t know serendipity unless you risk.”   Joan Erickson

      Have you ever packed a suitcase, gotten in the car, and just drove off with no destination in mind?  I highly recommend it.    It goes like this.  Pick a predetermined amount of miles you want to travel, say about a hundred.  Leave your neighborhood and then turn right. Now, drive a hundred miles, but only make right turns (or left–whatever floats your boat).  Where are you now?  The interstate?  A weird street in a subdivision? The middle of a farmer’s field?    Anyway, somewhere about now, turn on your GPS and find the coolest places closest to right about here.  Or the absolute best way pick a destination?  Close your eyes.  Stand in front of the map of either the United States or the state you live in.  Now put your finger out in space and try and hit the map.  Open your eyes.  If you are not in the ocean or on a remote island, then that is where you need to head to.   Now get your keys.  Let’s roll.

I call this the Leap Before You Look decision process, also known as the Serendipity Principal.  For most people, it’s really hard to do—to  just get in a car, with the bare essentials—your wallet, a toothbrush, a change of clothes, a swiss army knife (I always have a swiss army knife, unless flying –you just never know!). To wake up and to literally not know where you’ll be by dinner time tonight for most people sounds too crazy, a little big unhinged.  For most people it sounds…unsafe, maybe down right scary.  Not me; I like to think of it as edgy but not so far as say, living on the edge, which is generally predicated by a fall of some sort.

In 1999, I worked for a major airline when my daughter was 6 and my son was 11 ½.  I was known to wake up and say, “Let’s go to Chicago and see if we can catch a Cubs game today!”    We did this several times.  But one particular unplanned trip stands out.   Just the kids and I got to Chicago, and made it to Wrigley Field via train and bus in record time. The next stroke of luck was scoring two tickets in the second row at the front of the first base line. As soon as we went in, our backpack, and everyone else’s bags or purses were thoroughly searched.  What in the world?  Lucky for us, we had just flown, so no Swiss Army knife was found in my bag.

Well, it turned out President Bill Clinton was coming.  He arrived in the 5th inning.  But thanks to getting our nearly front row seats, we were just a few yards away and diagonally we were about a stone’s throw away under the President’s box seat.  I could read the label on his can of beer.  We were that close.  Forget my political stance; I couldn’t believe hours after waking up without a concrete plan, I’d be watching a baseball game with my sweet kids, seated near the President of the United States!  We woke up that morning, went to the airport with nothing but my Mickey Mouse backpack, and a change of underwear and a toothbrush for each of us, and hoping we’d actually get a flight as we always had to travel stand-by.  Instead we saw Sammy Sosa hit a game winning home run, which was actually a double miracle:  One:  My son’s baseball hero at the time was Sammy Sosa and Two: The Cubs WON!!!    After the amazing game, we ventured over to the Navy Pier and late that night ate the best Chicago pizza!  Our day had started at 5 am, and by 2 am, we had seen the President, witnessed two baseball miracles and were now tucked safely in bed in a random hotel we never had reservations to begin with.  My kids were learning the art of traveling by way of serendipity.

Another time, in 2006, before taking my daughter to school, after hearing on the radio that today was the last day the crew of Extreme Home Makeover was in town, I suddenly found it more important that morning, that she skip school, in order to go see Ty Pennington and crew who were in Raleigh finishing up a home for the TV show.  It was the day of the Big Reveal.  I mean seriously, which is more important, learning how to diagram sentences or learn a new geometry theorem, or watching an entire family’s lives change before your very eyes.  Really, to me it’s a no-brainer.  We shouted “Move that bus!” and got awesome reveal pictures and high-fived Ty as he ran by us.

Last summer, while my daughter was in NYC for a week long dance competition, I rented a car to go see U2 in Philadelphia, which I did plan.  However, once I arrived at the rental company, they had a situation where they couldn’t get me the economy car I requested.  “Would you mind driving a Cadillac instead, no extra charge?”  Me:  Definitely not.  Hey, wait a minute.  There’s no place for ignition keys!  Ah, who cares!

     A saner person may have wondered how I was going to navigate the streets of NYC in a totally computer-equipped, unfamiliar car and get to Philadelphia and back by myself, but not me.    See this is a huge gift God has given me.  I’m always up for the adventureI don’t need a man, or a woman for that matter, beside me to feel secure. At least when it comes to traveling, I don’t necessarily have to have a game plan.  I’m just the co-pilot who happens to be in the driver’s seat.

       I mean I knew I had to get to the concert, but that’s all I needed to know.  I felt confident my 18 year old daughter, already a seasoned solo traveler to NYC (her 6th trip) would be fine for just twenty four hours at the hotel.  (She totally survived without me, probably even thrived!)  Once in Philadelphia, I met up with my husband’s sister who I had not seen in thirteen years and didn’t know what to expect.  She and I had a blast.  I met U2 fans who later became amazing friends.

Only five days later, I would ever so briefly meet Bono and the Edge just outside our hotel, because of a stray comment I accidentally overheard another guest say because I just happened to be checking my U2 concert pics on the hotel lobby’s computers.  I didn’t know they were in NYC since it was the middle of the U2 360 tour.  I was only checking the pictures to kill time, while waiting on my daughter to come down from the room.    Who knew?  My favorite musicians of all time were only yards away from where I was,  yet I met them without planning to. But that’s another blog.

The thing I’ve learned about plans, on vacation and in life,  is that plans are often foiled by the unexpected and end in frustration.  The journeys that are  traveled with an open mind,  and no expectation of outcome often are the ones that become the lasting memories of your heart.

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous–Albert Einstein

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Photo Credits: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/05/ring_of_fire_eclipse_2012.html

 Yesterday I woke up, and as is my custom, before rolling out of bed, I grab the remote and turn on GMA, while my husband showers as I come to grips with today’s tragedies in the world.  It appears another parent is most likely guilty of the demise of their own child that they profess to love. During a “peaceful protest” this weekend in Chicago, police and citizens clashed amidst blood and billy clubs, and one policeman was stabbed.  BUT….it was “mostly peaceful.”   Facebook launched its smoking hot IPO,  but is it actually a great investment?   Another celebrity got booted off Dancing With The Stars.  A woman continues to recover after losing her leg to a flesh-eating bacteria after jumping off a zip line in the  Little Tallapoosa River.  Maybe George Zimmerman was telling the truth after all.  Robin Gibbs of the Bee Gees died.  Celebrity after celebrity has to deal with the hardships of divorce, botox, loneliness, stalkers, and having their lifestyle diminished in some capacity.  OK; so I’m awake.  I grab the remote, ready to turn it off, when WAIT A MINUTE, what’s this?  A Ring of Fire eclipse??  No way.

Finally!  Some good news!  I know if nothing else, this could be the very thing that will make me have my own personal Good Morning, America!   With fascination and wonder, I learn that this eclipse is a rare annual event; kind of like the birthday I just had a few days earlier.  Annual, in the fact that it’s once a year, and rare, because as we get older, the statistical odds of having another one diminish at an ever-increasing rate.

This eclipse is different than a regular eclipse because the moon, in its orbital trajectory, stands between us and the sun, but the moon appears smaller than it does during a total eclipse.  It doesn’t totally block out the sun; instead,  because of the moon appearing only slightly smaller than the sun, it temporarily erases the daylight and appears as a darkness illuminated by a “ring of fire”.

I think to myself; this is us!  We live our lives in similar fashion: We are satellites, spending our days rotating around other people and other things, going in circles in our own lives,  yet constantly rotating in sync around the lives of those we know and love.  Independently, we go about our tasks, and daily purpose as if it were just us.  We wake up and then we interact with our family, go to our jobs,  get on Facebook, check our email and text messages,  and find out the “daily news”, requests, and demands  that now will determine the tilt of today’s rotation.  Change is our only constant and overwhelmed-ness is our gravity.    By 9:00 am, our day is already altered from the plan we had in our head when we first woke up.

We make a plan.  We live our days.  We try to do what’s right.  And we get tired.  In walks temptation.  Here’s a shortcut.  They’ll never miss something so small.  It’d be easier for me if I just….    I don’t think it’d be a big deal if just this once I…..  He’s just a friend……   I shouldn’t tell you this, but…..    A shortcut here, an easier way to get ahead over there.  Because this or that or them makes me feel better or helps me, now.   We watch the news and justify our thoughts and choices with the rationale at least we’re not like so-and-so!  It doesn’t take long for Temptation to introduce you to his best friend; Deception.

Johnny Cash nailed it in a song, aptly titled “Ring of Fire”.  I fell into a burning ring of fire.  I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher.  And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire.  The ring of fire.

Like the moon, we can be, if we so choose, a bright force in the world, when it is at its darkest.  And similarly when the sun shines, sometimes we fade from view, though we are surely there.  We live in a mostly dark universe and often find ourselves pushed and pulled by forces often beyond our own choices.

Within an hour of learning about the Ring of Fire Eclipse, I had already yelled at my six year old to move faster so we wouldn’t be late to school, cursed myself for forgetting things on the way to the car, complained about the duration of the stoplight, and mentally cycled through today’s “To Do”  list.  And then…..I remembered.

I remembered, there is no such thing in this life as a coincidence.  The Ring of Fire Eclipse was God’s gift to me for today.  I had the day off.   Today I could live as the orbiting moon more centered on others expectations for me, than my own dreams, or I could order my day completely different!  I could run a mile.  I could finally start writing and begin a blog. I could eat nothing all day but healthy food.  I could go the rest of the day without complaining.    And SO I DID.

Because, I too have a Son that is always there, lighting my way.  Today I could tap into the Master Creator’s creativity, and though I can be outwardly bright to others, I know I sometimes carry a darkness I try to conceal. But today, I am surrounded by a ring of fire; and fire can sometimes reveal the true beauty found in the dark.

When I was all messed up, and I had opera in my head
Your love was a light bulb,  Hanging over my bed
Baby, baby, baby…light my way.             U2 “Ultraviolet”