Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My love affair with Amos Lee

At first it was just a crush and I thought maybe it was just infatuation. But these feelings are real and go much deeper than I first expected. I am absolutely in LOVE with Amos Lee and I don't care who knows it. 

His sultry voice and soulful lyrics touch my soul and I'm just going to say it, unapologetically, because it's the truth, even though it is sappy. Though in my mind he is a very single, lovely man who loves Jesus and respects women, I realize that is most likely fantasy. However, I think he accidentally nailed the core struggle of walking in holiness with Christ. 

In his song "Seen it All Before" he has this lyric that has always haunted me. "Stuck between the depths of my fears and the peaks of my pride." And that is exactly it. He unintentionally nailed the daily struggle we experience to walk in step with Christ. Every time I fall, every time I choose something besides Christ it's because of one of those things. My fear or my pride. 

My pride tells me I don't need Him, that I got this. My fears tell me I can't trust Him. When I am emptied out before the Lord that is what gets exposed. My fears and my pride. And that is what they feel like! My pride is puffed up like a peak and I come crashing down off the top of it when the Lord in His grace humbles me before I'm too much of an idiot. And my fears.. they feel like depths. When I wallow there in my fears and insecurities, they are paralyzing and when I truly search them I realize the black hole-like spiral they send me into. 

Somewhere in between those places, of darkness and fleeting self sufficiency there is a sweet spot of dependency on Christ. This beautiful place that is much less dramatic and maybe even less exciting than bouncing back and forth through the extremes of emotion we experience when we ping pong back and forth between living in fear and living in pride. But the peace that we're longing for in the core of us is there, one that's beyond understanding.

Let yourself fall in love.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=el74EUL1swQ

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Let's Get Physical

I like people. A lot. The people in my life are important to me. Sometimes I will go to great lengths to show the people I care about how much I care about them. It's been about a month since I've seen my grandmother. I know that because the last time I saw her it was when we were shopping at TJ Maxx and in order to save an extra 20% that day I opened up an account with them. They have a 28 day billing cycle, and my bill was due today. When I realized that I figured I should see her, because I assume if I haven't spent quality time with a person in awhile, they probably think I don't care about them.

My grandmother is a very interesting woman. First of all, she doesn't look like a grandmother and she hates that word because that is a name for an old woman and she is not old. In our family, she is Ama. Much better. A little over a year ago, my grandfather passed away. For the first time in her adult life, she found herself alone. I mean she still has all of us, but we don't live with her and pay her bills. So, she did a very respectable thing and went on a job search. She interviewed and was hired to work the front desk at Sierra Racquet Club. Her duties include, scheduling courts, opening up the facilities, ringing up customers who are renewing their memberships and so forth. One of the perks of her job is that her family gets in free. 

When I realized I hadn't seen my Ama in a while, I called her, only to discover that she works on my day off. She insisted I come in to take one of the classes at the club and visit her. I was willing, both to see her and alleviate some of my guilt.

I got there and she immediately started introducing me to everyone. I finally understand where I get my obsessive need to try and know everyone from. She knew every person in the club, their family history, their story, and their normal workout regiment. When we finally made it to our class, I realized how out of place I was. I looked around and saw that everyone there, except for me and my teacher, would qualify for a senior special. The class consisted of mostly ladies and then the token two random guys in an aerobics class. In an aerobics class there are always a couple and they are always the same. The first is gay and/or foreign, and the second is straight, probably staring at your butt, and must make stupid jokes the entire class to prove to the class that he is not the gay/foreign one. But I digress...

Our teacher quickly instructed me to pick up five different instruments and apparatuses we were going to use for the class. Though she was relatively young, it became apparent, nothing about how this class was run had changed in the last 30 years. We even had those rubber band pully things with handles that I had only really seen on that Olivia Newton John video from years ago. 

As the work out began I realized something else. I am WAY out of shape and super competitive. Not a good combination. Here I am looking around at these old ladies and dudes and they were way better at this stuff than I am. It was very humbling to say the least. I couldn't wait for class to end. Our instructor bounced around a lot, you could tell she was trying to keep it fresh, but it was the same old thing. Was it working? Yes. I could feel the burn, so to speak, but Did I enjoy it? No. 

This experience got me thinking. Why wouldn't I go back to this class? Why didn't I enjoy it? Did I get a good workout? YES! I am so sore already. Did I not enjoy the people? Besides the creepy dude, which there is always one, yes. The ladies were sweet and funny and I enjoyed working out with them. Was it the music? Maybe sometimes. Then I realized what the fatal flaw of the class was... it wasn't innovative. It was boring, because it's been done, and overdone, about a thousand times. At work we talk a lot about wanting to innovate and push things farther, but there was something about seeing this pocket of irrelevance in a time where so many other options are available that made me realize how important innovation is and will become as I continue to age. What I know innately now, because of my youth, will become irrelevant and what we've done will become dated, sooner than we are ready to accept. There's just got to be a way to keep the effectiveness of the workout and the results it produced, without having it look exactly the same. 

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The end before the beginning

I've never been happy with the physical art I've created. I always have this definite picture in my head of how I want it to look and the finished product is never even close to what I had imagined. I don't think real artists have that. I don't think they know the end before the beginning.  Most artists say that they let the picture take them where it leads or something vague and frustrating like that. I started to wonder, Is that indicative of my life? Do I have a picture of what I want the end to be? Am I disappointed when God does something else, even if it is better for me?

My mind never stops. I mean never. I dream every night and I don't listen to music in the car when I'm by myself because I usually forget to turn it on. My mind spins as I try to piece together the past to predict the future. Someone asked me recently why I do this and my response, though sincere at the time, wasn't complete. I told him I'm usually thinking about people, trying to figure out what they are doing and why they are doing it. True. However, that explains what I am thinking about, not why. When I honestly thought about it, I realized I was protecting myself. If I can figure out what is coming next I can prevent myself from being hurt or disappointed. Not true, but it feels true to me sometimes. The truth is, with life, much like art, it is pretty much impossible to figure out the end before the beginning. In the end you are left either with feeling disappointed about life or about your process, because one or both are bound to be wrong or unfair. 

So here's my challenge. To live in the present. Vulnerable. Terrified. And excited to see what the master will artfully put together.