Thursday, December 2, 2010

"No regrets" is dumb

I'm jealous of Misty Edwards dreads.

They're nice skinny dreadies. I noticed her try this a year or so ago but it wasn't long before she had straight hair again. I can only imagine she (gasp!) brushed them out - YOW! But a while ago I noticed the tell tale signs of hair back and surprisingly thick and knotty (I'm looking through non-HD, streaming video after all). AH! The dreads were back and now they are looking pretty good making a spastic bun just beneath her snazzy hat ensembles. A standing ovation to her tenacity and bold hair fashion.

I have a long standing love of dreads. In moments of (itty bitty, teensy weensy) identity crisis I have found myself researching the how-to of dreadlocks along with pictures that would show the nice, respectable skinny version I would, of course, employ. Its part of a greater, deeply rooted attraction to grungy hippies. Back in Guate, there was this lake, Lake Atitlan, that German hippies seemed to really like. They weren't the I'm-in-college-and-trying-things-out hippies, they were lifers with little hippie babies that only wore swim bottoms no matter what gender they were. And, here's the icing on the cake, they literally lived in their VW van on the shore of this gorgeous lake. Ah, memories you could hug!

There is one big reason why I don't have dreads and that one big reason is John. I have asked over and over what he'd think about dreads on me and he always gives me a firm thumbs down. He doesn't like the look. I have very straight, very slick (uncooperative) hair so I can see why such a drastic switch would be unappealing to him. And, frankly, it bodes well for me to cooperate with my husbands likes and dislikes - if I'm betting on this marriage to succeed, I'd better cooperate, you know what I'm saying?

I don't have Misty Edwards knock out dreads because of my husband. But lets take it a step further. I don't write Misty Edwards knock out songs, in part, due to her overwhelming amounts of time alone with God and His presence; her great amount of time practicing her craft and ultimately because I'm not Misty Edwards.

I think when people say they have "No Regrets" that its dumb. Seriously, dumb person? You wouldn't change anything you did or decisions you made? Maybe they intend a greater, more existential tone of "even my bad decisions have taught me lessons so I therefore don't regret them". Still. No. There's not a relationship that you marred that you wish you could fix? Yeah, I don't get the "No Regrets" thing.

I have thought twice about my decisions, even down to marriage and children. I don't think that's odd to reflect on the past and weight and consider what could have been. But, frankly, I don't linger there long. My path of marriage and children has certainly closed doors to me that would have otherwise been open, but the upside is so above and beyond any career success or financial gain.

I have the truly priceless reward of marriage. I never knew how real love could be or how much it could change a person. I am very often in awe of what John and I have, its so far beyond anything I could have wished for. I have the great joy of being 2 inches from the face of a baby watching all the micro expressions that happen in the constant movement. But even better its MY baby. The first time I saw first daughter, I thought, "you're familiar". WOW! Marriage and family is a greater miracle than I can explain - you just have to experience your own.

This is what I have instead of dreads and really high selling albums (and the money that goes with that). I used to wish a husband for Misty Edwards. I wished she could really experience on earth all the things she sings about. But we need what she has by having an abundance of time and spending it on Jesus and the fruit that brings. And the earth needs the quirky little redeemers that John and Bizzy can make. I'll keep what I have.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Weird Confession

There is a place where, whenever I go there, I'm swept into adoration of God and thankfulness.

And that place is my shower.

Its weird, and I don't argue that point.

There's even a song that find myself singing when I'm in there: Jan Krist's "Wing and a Prayer", which admittedly is a little odd since I haven't had my hands on the song for more than a decade. Its this acoustic guitar, folk song that my older sister sent to me on a mix tape when I lived overseas as a kid along with some Bonny Rait. To this day its more than a little outside my current 'likes' genres. But it grew on me then and apparently stuck.

I think it has something to do with the shower being one of the few places I have of complete personal and mental privacy. I sing in the shower, too; really sing. Sometimes I just gush out my feelings without bothering to try and remember if any of it is any good and to write it down later. And sometimes I purposely let the moment be an exclusive offering - something that will only live before the Lord in that moment and never be for anyone else's ears.

But its not something I intend to happen. Shower time is all function and business until I find myself caught up in moment awash, pun intended, with gratitude and I find my spirit leaping and worshiping. I mean, I only just started noticing this.

I think I've created an altar of worship in my shower. I'm serious.

I know this because I used to have a similar connection when I was in highschool (in Guatemala) to a window in my bedroom where I would often take time to pray and connect with God before I went to bed. Eventually, over time, all I would have to do was posture myself at my window and all the lightness of worship would come over me before I had even consciously turned my will, heart or mind to prayer and I would just sit in the sweetness of the companionship of heaven. I began to wonder, at the time, if I had so soaked the spot in my prayers that it the residue of worship just lingered all the time.

I have even wondered in my more present tense if there was a spot that I could choose to cultivate as my "place" just like the window had been. Well, it seems I have happened upon a location already. I can't exactly read my Bible there, nor can I stay there for very long, but I'm grateful for any spot in my home/workplace that has that "lightness" of an open heaven.

But it just feels a little funny to use the term "open heaven" in reference to my shower. *shaking head* Life is weird.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The New Normal

John and I knew back in January that this year would end up much differently than it began.

Back in January we said "yes" in our hearts to John getting his Masters Degree. A few days later we found out that after years of trying that we were pregnant. When John asked if we should put off the schooling in light of the new demands of a baby, it seemed to clear to me that the baby was further affirmation of a season of fruitfulness. We should just say "yes" to it all.

It seemed that we were in such a season of favor. In other words, all our prayers were being met with "yes" and our endeavors were met with esteem and cooperation from others. The events of those days and weeks were so vivid that it defined the term favor for us. I even formed a hypothesis about seasons of favor. From now on, when we find ourselves in seasons of favor we'll say 'yes' to whatever comes our way. That was the impetus behind us picking up two very weighty endeavors of Masters Degree and baby though both were expected at the same time.

I anticipated (and wrote about) then what I'm living out now - The New Normal.

All the beautiful structures and schedules that worked for me so fluidly, I have reluctantly put in the trash. I actually tried to make our old schedule work for a while. Wake up, get dressed, breakfast, Math, History, lunch....you get the idea. Its not hard to see why that isn't working so well with an infant in the mix. I have the honor to effort a new kind of order in my home. So my homelife needs a new normal.

My beloved John began teaching at a new school this year. He moved away from a visual and performing arts middle school to a distressed-and-trying-to-recover high school. To be honest, he likes it, but it has required him to reconstruct all his lesson plans and learn a new attendance/grading program, as well as make the adjustment to new colleagues and leadership. That's a handfull. But now we're adding two nights a week of a brand new focus and area of responsibility. Its an adjustment, but he really loves the program, too. He gushes about it and I'm so happy for him to have something to gush about. He's lit up. And he'll stay lit up about it if I can remain supportive and not, for selfish and pouty reasons, make it a point of tension for us. *note to self: avoid selfish pouting about John's absence 'cuz it'll work out better for all of us. In other words, John needs to acclimate to his New Normal. And the family needs to acclimate to John's New Normal.

And then, just yesterday, we packed up my little sister and her new husband to make their move to Kansas City to join the International House of Prayer. The three youngest girls in our family have lived together the longest and this was a very hard good bye for us. While so happy for their bright future, because they're sure to find success and favor there, it is a stark change. My family has a habit of Sunday lunches together at my parent's house. Its life giving and endearing for the daughters. My little sister was always the main schemer to get everyone over to the house when she lived at home. But her room is empty now and will soon be converted into an office (somewhere my mom is cheering!). Lunches and visits to my parent's house just won't be the same. We'll find a New Normal there, too.

So. I'm counteracting the spinning in my head by beginning to reorganize here at home. I'm coaching myself away from panic and toward a more productive outlet - beginning the process. I'm not sure it even matters what process I'm beginning.

I believe that processes and journeys just need to be begun in order to prompt the cooperation of our Heavenly Father's joining. Its when we knock that He opens the door. Its when we call that He answers. Its when we step onto the path that His word becomes the lamp to our feet. And so, on that principle, I will put our school books in a more readily reached spot to prompt school whenever it can happen. And in the snatches of time that I have, I'll play my old, sour note piano to more readily find Him and His songs here in the privacy of my home.

I'm reluctant but obedient to find the New Normal.







In a season of favor, keep saying 'yes'.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Flint

I don't know how I haven't learned my lesson - and yet I plow into these circumstances over and over with my eyes looking who knows where and missing the point of the season until it makes contact, like a 2 X4, with my consciousness.

I had my son 3 weeks ago. The minute we knew we were pregnant, I knew what the greatest name would be for a potential boy:

C. (Charles) Phinneas Flint Grapperhaus

Unlike my other children, that name could belong to a lawyer OR a rock band. I had nailed it. I was convinced and I could start filling out the birth certificate right away. My husband, having equal right to name the child, retorted:

"C. Phinneas Flint sounds like a prospector's name!"

As if that weren't bad enough he went into a dramatic monologue in what I can only assume is an old prospector's voice about a fictitious hermit gold miner named C. Phinneas Flint. I admit, it was pretty good and I laughed really hard. It was hard to be hurt or mad when his opinion was delivered in such a way. Plus, his own middle name is Jeremiah and if that's not a prospector's name then I don't know what is!
"No one sees Old Jeremiah 'cept for the once a year he comes inta town for some hard tack. Some say he's struck it rich and he's hiding it somewhere's up thar." Booyah! You got served, John!

Well, all that to say the name Flint remained and thus our son was named. But here's the catch - when one decides to make intercession a main part of what they do....or is it, when one acknowledges the intercessory calling on all believers...or is it, when one realizes that ALL THINGS are working to pull us closer to the Father and into the yoke of His son....
Anyway, the point is, that the Biblical significance that led us to name our son Flint has been creeping up in our life.

Flint: a stone used historically as a sharp edged tool. Also used in reference to Jesus setting his face "like flint" toward Jerusalem. And so, we purposefully chose the themes of covenant, consecrations (Abraham, Old Testament) and whole-hearted purpose (Jesus, New Testament).

These themes began invading our real life with planning Flint's circumcision. Now, circumcision is something we had to delve into with our first son. Do we or don't we? We weighed the medical aspects but, for us, it came down to the spiritual significance, tradition and heritage. A covenant with God Himself. Glorious poetry! The eventual act of circumcision was traumatizing. I wasn't in the room, but I was just outside the room with our daughter. It was 20-30 minutes of gut wrenching pain...FOR ME, outside the room! My poor husband was in the room with our 8 day old son and the doctor - John talks about the near faint he had in the room. Typical of circumcisions, our infant son was strapped to a board, clamped for a period of time and cut. It took forever. He screamed forever. It was awful.

How could God ask something so awful of the people He loved? I was puzzled. I experienced circumcision to be painful with a relatively low positive return. What's the point of that? I mean, for someone who mandates Leviticus to a group of people, why further burden them with a debilitating and excruciating experience. And what does that mean about God? I was beginning to accept a theology of pain. Life will be hard. All life's "seasonings" can't be sweet. Rain is as useful as sunshine, etc..

We had our son at home which makes somethings more complicated, like circumcision. We were referred to a Rabbi. I put it off for as long as I could but eventually called on Flint's 16th day. The Rabbi made the appt for that night - apparently not only is it wise to wait until the 8th day, but its also wise to not put if off much past that. I cried off and on all day. I apologized to my sweet. innocent son. I just didn't understand why.

As I hung up with the Rabbi, he referred me to his website so I can have the supplies I'd need for the baby over the next few days. Pain again. I hated thinking about this. Ok. Time to get ready for the hard thing.

Reading through his website. Wow. All the things I hated about circumcision wouldn't be involved. I mean, sure, my son's skin would be removed, but "When using a reliable Mohel, one need not worry as our procedure takes less than 20 seconds and is performed, as required by Jewish law, with minimal discomfort to the baby."

Seriously?! The law requires that its done with minimal discomfort? This was something I needed to apply to my struggle with God's personality. Something else unique to the "holistic circumcision" was that our son was held by "warm, loving hands" - while Flint lay on a pillow, John held Flint's legs back for the minute of the procedure and Flint was then immediately swaddled and comforted and given to mom. Another interesting fact from this experience is that the most painful aspect of this particular procedure is the initial separation of the skin, not the final cut.

Ah ha. Peace flooded my heart. I felt safe again with my Father God. God was proving His loving heart to me. Though life can be painful, I am held in his warm, loving hands the whole time. His grace is the pillow beneath me, His hands upon me and the embrace just after the painful moment. Not only that but the initial separation from my flesh, unholy desires, comfort measures or even the anticipation of these things is probably more painful that even the cutting away of these things. Even Jesus had his painful moments. The cross was part of Jesus' destiny.

So pain is part of life and God may even ask me to walk a path of pain, but I believe I can rely on His heart of comfort and tenderness to be present. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Your rod and your staff comfort me."

Then there are the secret and unseen ways my heart has been pricked over and over by the Lord through recent everyday circumstances to speak to me regarding having a set apart heart and life. Ah, it goes on and on.

And so I find that in the process of naming my son Flint, I have been challenged by these very themes internally and externally. And I thought I was just picking a name, not inviting a parable to invade my life.

Friday, August 6, 2010

a.k.a heart surgery

I haven't posted much. Mainly because I'd think of the last posting (about the van) which would make me sad and wonder what I could possibly talk about? What has been happening since then - only the elaborate emotional journey into what I've always believed to be true about God, His character and His heart being challenged in this little chapter of our life? Its undoubtedly been very meaningful to John and I and our lives will forever bear the marks of the experience - but it makes for slow reading.

Until last night. Midnight last night to be specific.

But it was about 46 days:
- 46 days of driving around the corner to arrive home and looking to see if our van had reappeared as mysteriously as it disappeared.
- 46 days of jumping at every phone call in the hope that its the police. It wasn't. For 46 days.
- After a month, we canceled the insurance, and died a little.
- For 3 weeks we prayed every Monday morning (the day it was stolen) just before dawn on our street where the car was stolen to bring our petition before the Lord and ask for His justice. (thank you to our dear strategic intercession friend's counsel and advice)
- hope turns to hurt. hurt turns to questions. questions start teetering on blame and ultimately that leads to rethinking what we've believed to be true of God. That starts heading into some very "Job" territory. At least I had Job's experience to teach me not to complain and make demands of God but instead to appeal and ask Him to reveal Himself to me.

a.k.a Heart surgery.

We will be drawing lessons from this for our lives and the lives of others forever. God only knows.



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Emotional Roller-Coaster Bootcamp Intensive

I am in the midst of quite an adventure.

There is a group of about 150 people from 17 different states taking part in a 21 day fast (is that enough numbers for you?). And its all going down in our prayer house.

Its pretty wild. A lot of the out-of-towners are sleeping in the building. Most of them are single, but there are quite a few families with little ones in tow.

They're praying all day in cycles. They meet as a group every afternoon and there's an 'open to all' service every night.

AND THEY'RE FASTING!

John is in it to win it along with the rest of them, though sleeping at home and taking the occasional day off so we can remember his face and why we love having him around.

I am keeping up with life as best I can, while trying to make as many of the evening meeting as I can. We're still doing school every day as well as doubling what we're trying to get done. (yes, I know - lunacy) Part of the reason is to finish up what we started late and the other part is to have them in a good place should we take a bunch of time off in Oct. when the baby arrives.

And so keeping up with life...isn't going great. The clutter is building up. We don't have milk and the trip to the store keeps getting pushed back. Baths are getting pushed back....

But we're exhilarated! We're hearing some of the most astounding stories and getting super-charged with faith. As well as being sunk to the depths to hear about the depravities of sin and its reach even into our own home. Meeting cool people then finding out later who they are in the spirit - "oh my gosh, that's them?! I just talked to them yesterday!"

An emotional roller-coaster bootcamp. So rewarding. So taxing. So refreshing. And starting to feel a little dizzy from it all.

But I'll be honest. I'm gonna be disappointed when its all over.

Met these people during the "Intensive". They were obviously very cool and interesting people. If they weren't fasting and then going home soon, I'd ask them to coffee. But then I found this video and got the fuller scope of who they were. Is it possible to be intimidated of someone after you've already met them?




Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Song Expo: What Is The Natural

Before 2008, before we were Gateway House of Prayer (GHOP), before two churches merged in order to give our HOP a home, we were meeting and having our 2 hour prayer sets in a church sanctuary.

It was at that time in the church sanctuary, near the end of our Tuesday 6-8pm set that What Is The Natural was born.

If Jacob was the slow, laborious way to write a song, What Is The Natural is the direct opposite. Jacob was weeks of Bible study with a Strong's Concordance followed by weeks of trying out varieties of chord progressions on the piano. What Is the Natural was born in 5 minutes.

It was the last 10 minutes of a set when a faithful intercessor named Moses came up and prayed from the Hall of Faith section of Hebrews. The chord progression we played behind him was left over from the previous song.

In KC antiphonal fashion, when he was done, it was the singers job to sing short phases that supported the theme he prayed. I was particularly inspired and gripped by the passage he read and the prayer he prayed that I just took over the singing myself.

"What is the natural when God is supernatural? I lift my eyes to the hills where my God comes from."

The singers picked it up and we repeated it a while. Then it felt like there was more to be sung or more that the Spirit wanted to say about this.

"Hallelujah, hallelujah, He will have His way."

And the more we meditated on this the more boldness grew in my heart which lead to the proclamation:

"And when the Lord comes out the seas will part before Him. And when the Lord comes out the mountains will move from His way."

After that, it was time to wrap up the set, so we hopped off the stage and I didn't leave the room before writing down everything that was sung and the chords behind it.

Its been a few years now, but I'm still encouraged by that song.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Coming down after a crazy night...

Just a quick stream of thoughts, here on the end of a sweet night of raucous worship.

My favorite worship is the place where a whole room of people are dancing in abandon, shouting themselves hoarse and taken away in the Spirit. I would choose it more often if I could, but I haven't found a way to assure these results! (nor is it always the time, I get that)

And I'm not looking for reckless worship for the sake of recklessness. That's called youth or hype or even immaturity. But to have a room full of people forget about life outside of the room for a while and be so engaged and so full of an expression of God that they have to pour it back out...that's dynamite!

I like a good roar. I like coming away from the night hoarse because my internal pressure got to be too great and it was completely ok to shout it out. I like singing loudly until my voice takes on a Janis Joplin feel. I know, I know, its very bad practice and any voice people out there will give me solid and correct reasons to avoid that degree of vocal chord damage....but its exciting! And while I won't practice such behavior, I'd certainly like to reserve the right to rock my voice out a few times a year.

I like the point where I feel that breaking out some gestures will go totally unnoticed. I'm sitting at the piano bench right now, due to my 6 months pregnant body, but tonight, I let my arms just go for it. I think I all but flapped my arms like a bird. Ah, its helpful for me. I'm already an expressive person anyway. It didn't matter that my sweaty state could only mean trouble for anyone who could see my underarms...in retrospect, yikes.

I even did a little 'Kim Walker' style emoting during singing. She's a big 'Ha ha!'-er. Tonight was a little of that and some 'Yeah!' and some tribal singing in tongues. It was a blast.

So why all the attention on the fool I made of myself?

It was my "ark returning to Jerusalem" type moment - where "undignified" becomes "abandoned worship". A moment when being overcome by the Spirit happens to look like clapping, shouting, spinning and roaring and yet only as a result of being overcome by the Spirit.

Thank you, Holy Spirit. I was hoping you'd make the evening your own and I think you did. I like co-operating with you and would like to keep collaborating in the future.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Love and Stolen Cars

I've realized something about myself. I've turned into an intercessor.

Can you believe that through all my involvement in our House of Prayer (a location which exists only to stand as an altar of worship like Jacob found in Bethel in Genesis and join that with prayer that echoes the heart of God in order to speedily enact His loving ways on the earth)...the image that still comes to mind when I envisage an intercessor is an older woman with a lot of time on her hands who can pray for a long time? Wow.

The point being, I still only associate intercession with the singular trait of prayer. When, as I well know, the fuller definition is found in Ezekiel 22:30 when God shares His heart and says:

"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none."

I've known this. Or at least, I've been aware of this for years. My father had this scripture on his wall since I was young. Its a memorable passage because its a provoking passage. Its heartbreaking. In just a few words, we hear God's very own hope for redemption being crushed by the neglect of men.

And it seems easy enough, too, right? Just "build a wall" and "stand" in between God and the fallenness in the land that is separating Him from us, the ones He wants to be near.

So we proceed to try and fulfill this scripture and then find we're missing a critical element. There's the matter of receiving the burdens of God's heart. Without it, we won't stay in the gap on behalf of fallen people with their rotten choices, and as a result, their cursed land. We realize that in order to fulfill God's simple desire to restore and not punish, we have to feel in our very breath and bones WHY He doesn't want to destroy them. The 'why' is what makes us stay in the uncomfortable inbetween place - one foot in the best of heaven and one foot in the worst of earth.

To me, that sounds like the life of Jesus. He volunteered to walk on the earth in the frail frame of men. He built up a wall that gave clear distinction between False Life and True Life; walked 33 years in the uncomfortable gap between heaven and earth; then gave the ultimate worship to his Father by dying on the cross so the entire future of mankind could be spared. And now, he is in heaven at the right hand of the Father and is called the Great Intercessor where he continues to make intercession for us now having purchased through his life on earth the proper footing to stand in our defense.

SO WHY DID MY VAN GET STOLEN?!?!

....is at least what I want to ask.

Part 2:

I'm walking out the door, in a rush, on my way to meet John at the House of Prayer. I have my bags and children in tow as well as an additional bag of their activities. Our special service for the evening doesn't offer childcare, but we're all bringing our children anyway because these sessions are so compelling.

The chaos of one mommy getting children out the door is in full swing and as I turn from locking the front door to the street (where we park our car)....I don't see it. I don't see the van.

*heart drops* no no no no.

I called John to confirm which van he drove in as if it mattered since neither of our two cars are parked on our street. The call is just...*sigh*...me avoiding the truth that our van has been stolen.

Our nice van. Our just-paid-our-tax-money-to-buy van. Our every-time-we-get-in-we-thank-God-for-such-a-nice-van van. Our only-car-with-air-conditioning van. I mean, I was just unloading our sleeping children from that van last night.

Well, back to earth, the children need to be managed. They were planning on getting in a car, too. So the activity bag is put to use with a short "never mind, guys, we're gonna be here for a bit" from mommy. As they play on the porch, I move to the more pressing matters that need my attention.

I struggled, and I mean knock-down-drag-out brawled, against screaming emotions that would feel soothing yet accomplish nothing. I was alone with this problem and the only one who could respond to it properly. Sure, there were several phone calls to John to tell me what to do but I was on the scene and had to be a big girl. I went back and forth. It was a lot like having the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other!

Big, cleansing breaths.

I stepped inside the house for a minute of solitude and cried. I knew the choices I made in these first moments were the most critical to my spirit and soul. I turned my face to God and told Him (and myself) that He is good. There is no meanness or spite found in Him. That He is king of everything created and I am His child. That I know He didn't take my van nor did He want the van to be taken. When we bought the van we gave it to Him and thanked Him for the chance to steward such a nice van.

"And now, King of Creation, don't let Your enemies prevail against You and Your property. Release the desires of Your heart to restore what has been stolen from You."

It hit me then that I was hurt. My feelings were hurt. I was giving my time, my life, my energy....my everything to be in the House of Prayer for this city - the same could be said for my whole family. I had asked for God to show me His own heart and feelings for this city so I could pray effectively and stand with Him. And as I opened up my heart to feel and understand a little more of what He loves about this place and these people, I found myself falling in love with Her. And now this is how She repays me.

I could feel more acutely the pain of Hosea (read that book in one go - its beautiful redemption!). Or how personal it must have felt to Jesus who never rejected anyone he ever encountered - who held the secrets to the freedom of the universe - and yet no one seemed to see him for who he really was and he was met with rejection over and over.

They invested themselves in lives of intercession, not just the act of intercession, but because of love. Real love. Not conceptual love or the idea of love, but felt love.

That's when it hit me. One foot in the best of heaven and one foot in the worst of earth.

Congratulations, you've started living a life of intercession.

Ouch. But I'm still in.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

what goes through my head.....

When I sit down at the piano to lead worship on a Sunday morning, a similar line of thought goes through my head each time. Its like this:

"God, we need you. Whether or not everyone in the room is acutely aware of how desperately we need you, we do. Awaken hearts this morning to your greatness. Bring in an experience that reminds us of how great you are and let the world and its desires fall into the shadows. Come and touch each person with Your touch that dispels darkness, lies, sickness, misunderstanding and hard heartedness. Heal people this morning. Give them an encounter with Your glory that changes them. Let truth arise in each one and make wrong things right."

Since I'm so comfortable in my little church, sometimes I just pray all that (and more) out loud over the beginning of the song. I have a patient team because that prayer time can get a little long. I don't mind, though, and I haven't been corrected yet. Sometimes I feel like the lingering in prayer may just help people transition out of the tasks of Sunday morning (get kids to Sunday School, catch up with so-n-so, get seats, etc.) to the relationship portion of the morning.

To me, Sunday morning worship is the embrace of the morning and its a waste to blow such a beautiful and healing moment on distraction. Its corporate adoration and there's just nothing else in my life that is like that. In fact, for me, Sunday morning church is like having a coffee date with God as well as all my favorite people.

Now, I still can stress out about a set list and getting a team on the same page and whether or not the congregation responded to the song last time, etc. I feel these are the practical details that must be considered. But through it all, I feel that all we really need to do is encounter Him in each of our hearts where He'll deliver just what we need.

He's so good and I really love what I do.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

October of 2008 was when the conversation began about putting all the songs together in/on one place. And now, over a year and a half later, we've hit the final stages.

This week I will send in the money, artwork and cd and in 3 weeks time....it'll be done.

Done.

And with that final step, a door will close on the stage of life I've held since my son was born almost 5 years ago.

Its more than just the cd. The cd just seems to be the final paragraph in the greater chapter of this story.

About 5 years ago, my son was born. When he was a month old, I attended a woman's retreat during which, through a surprisingly benign series of events, I was delivered of a mute spirit that had been quenching me in worship (!!). Shortly thereafter, I joined my church's worship team again and began to play piano again and was soon leading a team.
Around that same time, our church opened up a small prayer room where people would sign-up and commit to fill a certain time slot with their presence, worship and prayer. The tiny room contained a cd player, butcher paper on the walls with art supplies, a small keyboard and a sound system. If you committed to fill a time slot, all you had to do was arrive...and lock the door behind you for safety!
Since our children were so little, John and I took turns committing to 2 hours a week. It was precious. I loved (and struggled with) being totally alone in quiet and just being real before God. And that's where the songs started - as I groped my way through 2 hours with my racing mind and the company of the Holy Spirit.
About a year later, our little prayer room needed to be used again as commercial space and so it ended. And with that outlet gone, my dad brought me in to help in the Gateway House of Prayer here in St. Louis. And that's where the story hangs out for a while. Worship in World View Community and the Gateway House of Prayer.

Until Now.

Things began "snowballing" in the Grapperhaus house this January. It begins with a phenomenal story of John following the leading of the Lord to return to school and get his Masters degree in Arts Leadership and Management (its such a great story, maybe he'll soon tell it here). While we are starting to take steps toward this open door we find out that we are pregnant again after years of waiting and trying. Of all the times to get pregnant......
Honestly, in the light of the circumstances, it felt most like a tender kiss from our Father God and the confirmation that HE is very strategically involved in our present and future. It just matched the whole theme. John even asked once, "does this mean I don't go back to school now?". No. It just means life is changing.

Here are our logistics: if things keep going this direction then in the fall John will begin a 2 year program with class two nights a week and some pretty intense homework. During that same time, I will work through having a newborn addition while homeschooling my children with less of my husband around. And, I'll be frank, I'm not that juggling, multi-tasking super mom. I'm sure I'll learn new tricks to make it all work, but I don't tend to come by that naturally. I sure love that gift in other women, though.

So, we're finding that soon we'll both need to pull back from everything we've been involved in up to now. I'm sensing an identity shock coming in the future. Ahhh....*shrug*.

If the story weren't so amazing....I mean, I've heard other people have stories like this but I've never lived one. Seeing the hand of the Lord so clearly takes the potential sting out of leaving some things behind.

But I'll probably need the reminder later this year! HA!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pregnancy

I'm going to be a little candid. My boldness lies in my firm belief that the 5 people who currently read this are dear friends and very loving.

Pregnancy is weird.

Context: I'm 7 weeks into the latest Grapperhaus adventure. It is well received and highly anticipated. 2 1/2 years ago was the first time I remember having the conversation about trying without really trying to add to our family. It began there and for 2 1/2 years there was disappointment after disappointment. At one point, we 'tried' every day for 2 weeks just to make sure to be thorough. And I have a pretty good handle on how everything works. (don't get me started about how much women don't know about their own bodies and instead outsource it to a stranger with expensive experience in worst case scenarios). But I am delighted to be pregnant again.

As I've been wrestling with my adjusted physical boundaries, I began to really ponder pregnancy and what it feels like. I took my mind momentarily off the constant hum of nausea and overall 'yuck' to consider what's happening in my body.

I've spent the greatest portion of my life in control of so much that happens in my body. I make my arms and eyes move. I use my voice. I coordinate movements and thoughts in order to cook, play music and even clean while I send cautions to my children over their shenanigans. I am the boss of me.

But this is different. Its completely outside of my reach.

Its as if a family of strangers have moved into my basement. And I can't talk to them or ask what they're doing. I can't watch what they're doing. But they are very industrious and are doing something constantly. They don't acknowledge me and I don't get to see what they're working on. Not only that, they're using up MY resources to do it. The strange family is eating my food, using my paper products and filling up my trash. And the extent of my involvement is to keep going about my business while providing supplies and an overall environment where they can do the work they need to do. Over time, they will gradually take up more and more space until you're cramped into one little corner and feel nothing like the person you've known your whole life.

Who would put up with such nonsense?!

But they best part is the masterpiece that they're working on. Its miraculous. If you have never read into the intricacies involved in the growth of a baby....its astounding. Surely there is an all knowing Creator.

To top it all - there will be an eternal spirit in this creation. Wonderful in the fullest definition of the word.

I can't help but marvel at the function that I, alone, hold in my family - the one person maker, while at the same time having so very little to do with the miracle. This is designed and purposed by God. Each step of conceiving a child to then bringing it into the world, finds its spiritual parallel. And so I wonder where is the spiritual parallel for pregnancy. Oh, some quick answers come to mind, but we ponderers never stop at the quick answers.

I, for one, will try to be very patient with myself next time I feel disquiet and wrestling in my spirit. If I don't happen upon an obvious reason, then maybe I'm gestating. In that uncomfortable first trimester. And the solution is not to make a lot of decisions to try and fix it, but to instead stay the course and let the purpose of God grow until its ready to be known.

Maybe.



Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today I...

Today I:
*actually yesterday, but that title doesn't pack the same punch

-fasted. broke it with some popcorn by late afternoon and succumbed to the bland yet homey appeal of peanut butter on crackers before bed. I'll figure this out one day.

-threw together a makeshift school day since the cool phonics curriculum will have to wait until next paycheck. carefully tiptoed through the rivers of guilt that tell me I'm ruining my children with my well-intentioned yet poorly organized and under-funded home school antics (you may have to be in my head to get that one) but, from what I hear, its a tape recorded message all home school mothers hear.

-watched Akeelah and The Bee with my daughter (her first time, my 3rd) in order to inspire her to keep loving to learn.

-googled the inspirational quote from the movie just to find that it was written by a modern spiritual guru, touted by Oprah. disappointing. it made the bits in the quote that I didn't like even less likable. Well, we'll just stick with the scriptures about the glory of God.

-watched Mike Bickle speak at Morningstar in their Friday night Outpouring service (its happening in KC and SC - what a day and hour!) about hosting the presence of God. It was so practical and simple and faith building. I suggest it. I had never noticed before, to the degree that I did today, when it struck me - that man in endorsed by God. He's not the funnest guy to watch or the most educated, but his words are weighty.

-read the blog of an atheist who had visited our church the previous Sunday. Its something she does. She goes to churches and then blogs about them. It was not what I expected.

-thought long and hard, as I do most days, only today it had these strands: atheism, belief structures, faith/belief.

-made certain to not bombard John with all my thoughts when he walked in the door.

-went to Aldi without the quarter for the cart. especially unfortunate since my quick trip included milk, oil, bags of apples and a frozen whole chicken. but a young smoking gentleman asked my name and if I had a boyfriend. that's what I get for smiling and being friendly. and how is that supposed to work exactly? I guess I can't fault the guy for trying....with that strategy he should be in sales.

-had an heartfelt and fiery conversation with John about belonging, occupation and success. God love him, John is so patient with my need for inspiring, impassioned dialogues. He is so kind when I ask him to be my sounding board, because I don't ask anyone else. I try so very hard to manage my ponderings on my own, but he's so great about my occasional need for logorrhea (logos-word...'arrhea'). Because the part I'm waiting for are the few calm words that balance out my thoughts.

...and it was during and after this conversation that my fingers found the crackers and peanut butter. One day I will choose my internal wrestling matches...I'm getting there.

...and it is on my radar to soon write song and album updates. This project is....*sigh*