February 21, 2010

Invitation to the Thirsty

today was my Sunday at the Well. sometimes I leave there exhausted, and today is no exception, but my heart is exceptionally full, today, too. I find that I am loved well when I'm given a chance to love other people. my train of thought on the drive home took me to Isaiah 55 (the beginning, specifically), and when I looked it up, I saw that it is titled "Invitation to the Thirsty." I've never noticed that before. I love the addition of the word, "invitation." (actually, I just love invitations in general. maybe that is another love language of mine. I have so many! but that's neither here nor there.)

[Invitation to the Thirsty]
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. 

try as we may to deny it, we're all thirsty. & we're all invited.
I don't know about you all, but I think I would like for my soul to delight in the richest of fare.
yes, please.

cary grant is a dreamboat [a salute to the classics]

I love the classics. I do. Old music, old movies, old movie stars. Classics are classics for a reason! Now, I'm not going to sit here and try and sell to you that Bonnie Tyler is considered either "old" or "classic" - but it is oldER and MORE classic than, say, Beyonce. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Last night, as per usual, we found ourselves singing karaoke. No one is surprised by this. My friend Adam and I sang a breathtaking duet of Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart. We had an entire table of girls serving as our backup singers, which was festive. Needless to say, it was a crowd pleaser.

So later that night, I'm in the bathroom (let me preface: the Dubbs bathroom is a horrible experience. The stall door is awkwardly sized so when you stand you can see over it & when you sit the person waiting can almost definitely see your underoos. Not to mention the naked lady mural (its her back, relax) which you are forced to stare at while you... you know. Unfortunate to say the least. I'd really hate to see what the men's room is like.) So I'm standing there, and I have this conversation with rando girl:

rando: hey, are you the girl that sang that song earlier?
me: oh, you mean "total eclipse of the heart"?
rando looks exceptionally confused: no, no, no. the old school one.
me: yeah, the Bonnie Tyler song?
rando looks at me like I'm nuts: no, that song from Old School, you know, with Will Ferrell?
me, trying desperately not to reach over and slice rando: right. "turn aroooound, briiiight eyes"?
rando is excited: YES!! that one! from the movie! you guys should have said the f-words too like they do in the movie!

Aside from my stroooooong desire to slap her ridiculous face (I refrained, fear not), my heart broke a little.
Total Eclipse of the Heart is a GREAT song. And now it's known as "that one from Old School with the f-words?" ?!?! This chick was at the very least the same age as me. I was so ashamed.

My defense of 80's power ballads has caused me to recall how much I love 80's movies (Don't even get me started. Pretty in Pink, 16 Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful, Ferris Bueller... you know, everything John Hughes ever did.) This caused me to reminisce how much I love old movies in general. (This was also spurred by a favorite movies conversation & the fact that I spent the afternoon watching Audrey Hepburn & Cary Grant in Charade.) Current movies are just not as good as the old ones. Nothing today compares to how happy I am when Mr. John Truett catches up to Miss Esther on the trolley in Meet Me in St. Louis. My heart swoons when Dean Martin and Judy Holliday dance in the park in Bells are Ringing. (Seriously. I want that dress. And I want to dance in a park. I do not think this is too much to ask.) No current actress is as glamorous as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's or Grace Kelly in High Society. No one writes a mystery like Hitchcock, and few if any current actors are as dreamy as Cary Grant. It's just a fact. Sorry, George Clooney. You lose.

I'm not altogether sure what my point is, other than that I don't ever want to be ignorant about classic entertainment and its superiority to contemporary pop culture or be generalized as a generation who doesn't know who Julie Andrews & Humphrey Bogart are. I grew up watching Hello, Dolly!, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. (Em, Lainey, can I get an amen?!) I wouldn't trade that for whatever ridiculous trash girls are watching today (sorry, Hannah Montana). I will not stand for living in a world where "who's Jimmy Stewart?" is a valid question. My children will know who Doris Day is. They will also be familiar with Bonnie Tyler & probably Journey. I'm just saying.

February 18, 2010

and to dust you will return [ash wednesday]

I love Ash Wednesday. 
One year ago, I walked into to Ash Wednesday service and felt so broken I was sure I could never be put back together. I expected nothing. (Aside from more disappointment, maybe.) I sat and listened to how Lent was a season that brought us to Easter, and how for many it was a messy, muddy, windblown path. I related. Then I read these words  - "the ashes are a prerequisite for Easter. Brokenness for healing, death for resurrection." I remember vividly how those words pierced my heart. They comforted me unlike anything else had done. I came there, broken, & now saw clearly the exchange that was possible.

I was excited all day yesterday, and I think it's because that memory of comfort and of the glimmer of joy that felt, in that moment, like more than enough. It took a long time after that Wednesday night for things to look better for reals, but the groundwork was laid. That glimmer carried me to Easter, which carried me through March, April & May, when everything fell to pieces. I wanted this year's to yield similar results.

In church tonight, my pastor talked about the meaning of Ash Wednesday. He spoke of a time when the worst sinners were called penitents, and were adorned with ashes on their foreheads as a scarlet letter of sorts, to set them apart. As time passed, people began to realize that they were no better than the penitents, and took on the ashes themselves. Now we wear the ashes to symbolize the beginning of Lent, a season which is intended to bring us closer to the God and Savior who created and redeemed us. The ashes symbolize our repentance, our grief over our sins. I just think the whole ashes business is a really exquisite picture of community and of our brokenness before God. I have a hard time thinking of anything more beautiful than this: to love broken people with our whole broken selves. It's the best, most genuine, most authentic, boldest thing we can do, really. 

Thinking about where I was when I wrote about Lent last year is really hard. I can't not cry over that place, knowing what lies just ahead. And this year, I am proud to bear the ashes, to bear my brokenness for and with my beautifully and similarly broken community. I am honored to walk hand in hand with those who love my broken heart with their broken hearts. We sang "Come Ye Sinners" in church tonight, which is one of those songs that I used to sing a lot, have since forgotten about, and tonight met me with the same familiar comfort of the season itself. One verse in particular resonates with me every time I hear it:

come, ye weary, heavy-laden, lost and ruined by the fall;
if you tarry till you're better, you will never come at all

We enter this season in a state of collective brokenness. We repent of our sin and are washed clean. And how fortunate that we needn't tarry [delay, wait] till we're better. Or else I think the song is right... we would never come at all. We aren't required to get better. We just come broken, as we are; and Jesus pretty much takes care of the rest.

cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
let me hear joy & gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
you do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; 
a broken & contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
[from Psalm 51]

February 14, 2010

ahh, valentines day... we meet again.

Maybe you've heard of the concept of love languages?

Well, I'm 97% sure that blog commenting counts as a love language.
And I'm 100% sure that it's mine.

I want to say thank you to all of you who comment (be it in emails, texts, in person, on the phone, in the actual comments section, or just in your hearts - yes, those too) - I am so thankful for you. You love me so well & I am so blessed. It's like all the best human beings found me and decided to, for some unknown reason, be in my life. How fortuitous.

Oh, and speaking of the L bomb - it's love, if you were confused - it's valentine's day. Weird. Last year I was relatively positive about good ol' VD. This year I find myself in a similarly un-bitter state. Although my inner cynic thinks this e-card is really funny.

It is my sincere hope that on this, the Hallmark* inspired day of love, each of you feels loved. Somehow we have been convinced that in order to call VD a successful day, you have to be on a hot date, staring deeply into another persons eyes (and making everyone around you uncomfortable), rose petals need to be sprinkled somewhere, and probably at some point you need to be serenaded with some crappy Bryan Adams song. False. I'm calling BS. I hope that you just get to spend it with people you love. Or at least like a whole lot. No disconcerting PDA needs to be included, if you ask me.

(Although... I'll probably partake in some of that at some point or another - probably in the form of touching Alli's butt, holding Kimbert's hand for a longish period of time, or just face kissing unsuspecting friends. Physical touch is a love language too, you know. Shoot, I might even sing Bryan Adams. But that's not Valentine's Day specific, just run-of-the-mill behavior for me. So I think its acceptable. Yes, I'm finished now.)

I hope you are hugged, face kissed, or otherwise groped in some acceptably inappropriate manner this Valentine's Day. I hope someone tells you that you're their favorite. And I really hope that you feel in the deepest core of yourself how very much Jesus loves you. I assure you, it's a lot.

If nothing else, I love you. Probably, anyway. So there's that.

* Let it be known, I have no beef with Hallmark. I love Hallmark, actually. I am a huge proponent of greeting cards, and a frequent flyer at the Hallmark stores... just ask my rewards card. 
** And if you're into the sappy stuff, here's my very favorite love poem of all time. Of. All. Time.

February 2, 2010

music & lyrics (not the movie, though. that movie was terrible.)

Many moons ago, I found myself in a karaoke bar (shocking, I know) in San Antonio. On this night, we were granted the immense pleasure of hearing a grown woman in a skin-tight black dress sing Monica's "Angel of Mine" with a fierce intensity unlike I have ever seen. My dear sweet friend, Kristin Ann Foster, said this: "Remember when this song was popular, in middle school, and you'd sit in your room in the dark listening to it on repeat and think to yourself 'THIS IS WHAT LOVE IS!!!!'??" Needless to say - we all knew what she was talking about. Crystal clear. Just like the Pepsi. (I can't stop. This post is going to be positively riddled with 90's references. You'll be fine.)

When I was in middle school, I lived and breathed music & lyrics. But then, you know, there was no Google with which to find lyrics. One had to go through a very rigorous process to find out what the actual words were to the songs which gave so much meaning to one's otherwise drab adolescent life. This meant probably waiting for said song to come on the radio (maybe even phoning in a request, I don't even know) and then frantically scrambling to find a pink glitter pen and your diary.

If I was lucky, though, I could get a ride to the mall and buy the CD single at Sam Goody. I distinctly remember when I obtained the single of the not-nearly-popular-enough song "Never Ever" by All Saints. I LOVED that song. Loved it. (Actually, lets be honest - I still do. Whenever it comes on my tiny red iPod, I immediately revert back to age 12. I feel a thrill of teen anguish coupled with an exceptionally impassioned love for Jonathan Taylor Thomas. The latter I have no excuse for.) I distinctly remember sitting on the deck in the backyard with my Discman, listening to this song on repeat. As I listened, I furiously wrote the lyrics in my journal - pausing every few lines to catch up - so as to memorize them. To this day, I can flawlessly sing the intro to that song. Lets just say its something I'm pretty proud of.

Quite literally the only reason I wrote all of that was to preface the fact that I am still a pretty big fan of music & I am eternally grateful to the internetz for providing me with the lyrics to define my life's meaning at my beck and call. Can I also say right here that I am SO thankful that the internet was not the way it is now when I was 12? So. very. grateful. But I digress.

There is just something so lovely about good music, and for me as a lover of words, something even more lovely about good lyrics. The newest craze in the community of my friends is the band Mumford & Sons. It's one of those magical albums where every single song is good. This hasn't happened to me since I discovered Maroon 5's Songs About Jane when I was in college. I was beginning to think I would never feel that way again - then, just when I wasn't looking, along came Sigh No More. So delightful. And oh, the lyrics - be still my heart!

I will leave you with my (current) favorite lyric - from the song Roll Away Your Stone - and also a firm suggestion that you listen to some of this music ASAP. (You can even Google the lyrics, if you want. No one will judge you.)

it seems that all my bridges have been burned
but you say, "That's exactly how this grace thing works."
it's not the long walk home that will change this heart -
but the welcome I receive with every start

I just love that.

Music & lyrics, my friends. Really bringing things full circle.