Monday, October 16, 2006

Testimony v.s. background...BIG Difference, HUGE.

I have a great and blessed testimony I'm realizing these days...with much more ease and jubilee than ever before. As our speaker last night, Brent puts it...I want to be the lady with the "Woo"...you know that little old lady in church who comes in and it takes her about ten minutes to get seated because she's got to get her purse in just the right place and get both hands "free" of stuff because she's gonna need them to make the slow trek from upright to seated. The same lady that though it takes such exertion and effort still stands for prayer and the reading of God's (still living) word. The lady that when worship comes jumps up and down a little in her spot- though she can barely stand. Oh, I want to be like that. To sing a "Woo" in the middle of a sermon because "Amen." might just be to cliché' and "Preach it" can't justify what really needs articulating. Can we articulate that "Woo"? Those who've got it know what I mean. The smile that beams from your toes and didn't get there by accident. I'm becoming her, I'm doing it with intention...ok, maybe not doing it with intention, but noticing this transformation with intention. Maybe an intention that isn't really necessary because the change would happen either way...but I don't want to miss it. I don't want to miss a thing of it. There is new life breathing in my bones and through EVERY fiber of what hems me in behind and in front. Scales are falling off and I am bound to a force exceedingly greater than my words do justice to. A new boldness is rising up in who I am to be a Revolutionary Christian. Not so that I might "toot my own horn" and say that I am, but so that dead, sleepwalkers...like myself can know what this does to every day...every NEW and beautiful day. How it morphs every backdrop of drab into a rainbow of color and changes every wrinkle into a crevasse of wisdom.

I often think about my testimony...something I've written before, but would not...probably ever write the same again. In the past few days it has occurred to me that the "testimony" I used to have was full of the experiences of other people and how they have shaped me. Yes, that's important to the woman I've becoming and have yet to become, however it's not at all what makes me BURST with the glow of Christ...it's not the overflow of heart with which my mouth speaks. Nope, it's just history. Relevant, but not me.

Today's testimony is one that glories in the spot which says I'm fortunate because I don't have a place of despair which I had to hit the rock bottom of in order to find the fullness of Christ. It's one which revels in a purity far past expectations laid on me...spotless, not in full, but clean all the same. It's a place which finds identity in communion (a lesson taught and re-taught to a place deeper than I travel regularly), family larger and love richer than even what I know already. Oh, it is a place of dancing and a place of cheeks big, eyes squinty and overflowing with tears smiles, and Old men yelling "Glory!" with shaky voice at the weight of all that really means...joy which brings strength and embrace which protects...everything. MY testimony is one that will forever be rooted in a place which remembers asking at such a young age "How do I get saved?" ...and also which was sensitive in times when "Christians" weren’t necessarily unveiled in full, but Christ was known. And, I will resound, resonate, and restore that growing "Woo!" which revolutionizes me...my world, and hopefully, everything Christ wants to do or touch through it!

My testimony is that at a young, young age my mother brought me to church at Green Meadow Bible Baptist church. I wore pretty dresses and learned to memorize scripture. I recited said scripture and acquired my first bible...one that I had earned by hiding the words in its pages in my heart. I had to leave that church, but Christ did not leave me. I moved to the country and lost contact with the church for a bit, but Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene Care-A-Van picked me up...not sure how that happened, but one day it did...and I learned the love of Christ more. I don't really remember that time, but I'm sure that it's all part of that growing seed which was so ever thirsty in me. That same seed moved with me away from any church once again, but yet Christ remained. He was with me, and heard every one of my prayers. I grew with a "pleasant personality" and was "a kind person" but lacked direction. Again, God came with me when we moved. The direction and ache of my heart...an invitation was all I wanted. Someone to invite me to church. I couldn't drive and wasn't going to seek it out, but it was the ache within me for so long. I missed the regularity and JOY of that setting. My neighbor did it, she invited me to a "SNURCH/teen party" almost ten years ago now and so begins the "Woo..." Christ took that seed and began to pour miracle grow on it at Chapman (again...who would have known)...I say miracle grow and not water, because in the ten years I've been in church since that date the seed has rooted, grown into a tree and is now bearing fruits of it's own, with roots that run deeper than I knew existed within me. Purpose, direction and a family embracing every hill, attitude and driven goal throughout that time and continuing today is what I found in my "home church." Consistency is what I've come to expect and know I can trust from under that steeple when the doors open and I am loved by all those people. Revolutionaries in my life like Ryanne Lash, and Karla Crawford, Pam Lash, Patti Lewis and Dave Downs. Pastor Boone and Denise, Rev. Mike Benson, Jen Johnston, Tanya and Doug Delong, Doug and Paula McVay and Jessica Rozga…all for different reasons unique to who they are and how Christ uses them in the whole big picture, but REVOLUTIONARY none the less.

My background is that my parents divorced when I was just a little girl and for the past almost 20 years my mom has been in and out of my life. Always choosing something over a relationship with myself or my sister...be it a drug, a man, a woman, or these days alcohol. She's become a woman who hates herself and can't articulate her heritage because she's lost the source of her joy. Her story is what makes my background incredible and my testimony only that much more glorious. I witnessed things in my youth that only someone who's had a parent on drugs would ever understand...and I was sheltered compared to many who have had that situation...Praise God. I have within this background a father who went above and beyond to make sure the woman I am today would be strong, self sufficient, and able to smile from a genuine place. A dad who worked and still does...hard for where and who he is, never loosing site of the importance of family or protecting the innocence of his baby girl. My background would tell you of lonely times when I just wanted a mom to hold me or BE with me, of times when I wanted that same lady who first brought me to church to remember what that's really about. It would open your eyes to a place that remembers what it means to have the shatter of more than one family member be spared from their attempt at suicide. The sound of dishes breaking and quiet tears in the arms of my sister…who was that night only beginning to take on the roll of protector. A sister who endured more than I had to during those times and subsequently took a little longer to trust the same Christ which I was luckily and easily drawn to…yet, a sister who decided to let Him find her in abundant fullness all the same. It’s background…history…that’s all…it’s not what gives me even an ounce of the “WOO!” Amen.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Countenance of Joy

It's been a trying past week and it seems this Monday is no different. Last week, honestly something went wrong every single day. Amidst all that is imperfect in life as of late however, I've still got so much joy. I am a blessed girl. Last night I got not one, but TWO speeding tickets on my way home from Ohio. Now, I could be really upset about this but in the end, what good would that do except drag out the already extended pity which will be upon my bank and insurance accounts on its own. As I was driving away from the second incident I felt as though it was God's way of reminding me that He's taking care of me. I know it sounds weird. I was SO tired though and honestly, it was a relief to get a little wake up. Better than a deer in the side of my car or a tree right? Plus, today I've been reminded that I've been given people to love and who fill me with love right back and that's worth something. It's worth a week of burden for ceaseless prayer over lumps among those of us who are "too young for this" because I've got someone to care about having a lump, and it's worth the humbling spirit, which makes me reach outside of doing things on my own and allows someone else to feel useful. It's worth the tickets which remind me that I'm glad I am traveling home because it means there was someone important to go see in Ohio and I'm glad it was so late because that reminds me that I didn't want to leave…