Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meeting The Challenge

Luna Lovegood:... But I suppose that’s how he wants you to feel.

Harry Potter: What do you mean?

Luna Lovegood: Well if I were You-Know-Who, I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else, because if it’s just you alone you’re not as much of a threat.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This quote has been popping up in my mind quite a bit lately. I suppose that's one advantage to getting on the HP bandwagon 10 years after the movies came out. Who knew that Loony Lovegood would be dropping a nugget of wisdom that gets me through some of the rough moments?

Today was a good day. This week, with thanksgiving and all the things that are happening has been filled with lots of emotion, introspection, travel, & self-analyzing. On Wednesday morning, I got a phone call that the husband of a dear friend took his own life. My friend's son is enrolled in Teen Challenge, a program affiliated with the Assembies of God church that helps people with substance abuse & other entrapments through the Word of God; it immerses them in right living & changes their lives. My friend feared that her son, who was to go into phase 2 of his 14 month program- THIS WEEKEND- would not want to go through with the program & would relapse. My heart broke as I thought of my friend and how what was to be a lovely trip with her husband to visit her son this weekend ended up being changed by this devastating occurrence- she now had to go alone, on thanksgiving, to tell her son that his father had taken his life.

Yesterday, I got a text from my friend asking me to go to church with her today. As God would have it, her son's Teen Challenge group was to visit a church here in town & conduct the Sunday service. Wanting to support them, I got [over] dressed in my Sunday's finest to be with her this morning.

Well, I tell you what! I saw the group of young men from the Sandhills Teen Challenge program, run by Sal DiBianca and his wife Debby, I immediately scanned to see if I could spot Baby Boy. When I tell you that I found him in that was because the Glory of God shown upon his face. No, really....he glowed. Even another lady who came to support pointed it out. Not what you'd expect from a 20-year old young man who just lost his father and who was in the midst of a substance abuse rehabilitation program. This young man was welcomed back into his hometown to give his testimony, citing that the enemy had done everything he could to stop his progress and keep him from moving forward with his life. He was there to tell us on this morning that NOTHING- not even his father's death just a few days ago- would stop him from fulfilling his life's calling (see Luna Lovegood quote again). He gave his testimony this morning, buried his father this afternoon and on tomorrow, his mother is taking him to Pennsylvania for phase 2 of his rehab program. God Works!!!!!

What was even more amazing was the enthusiasm and fearlessness these men had when sharing their testimonies. Although it's called "Teen Challenge", residents in the group were between the ages of 19-49! Many of the older residents had endured addiction to alcohol, crack, pot, heroine, & other drugs for DECADES. It's hard for some people to admit little faults, let alone to publicly share a personal trial like substance abuse to a sanctuary of strangers.

I say all that I say that this experience further provides the evidence that GOD CHANGES LIVES. Not only does he change lives, but he can do it quickly. No task is too big....not even years of drug use or as one resident put it "years of dishonest living". As a person who makes the CHOICE to trust God & accept the gifts he offers us, I have no choice but to believe this whole heartedly. I make it my business to tell God everyday: "God, I believe in You and I believe that you change lives. I'm asking you to change mine."

And He has. On Thursday, filled with emotion & overwhelmed by the holidays, I'd begun a rather....well, sad blog entry. It was conveniently deleted by my phone app :), and I think this was for a reason. I'm so happy to share this message with you rather than the one I'd planned. I still don't quite feel like myself; sometimes it's uncomfortable and I don't quite know what to do....but I'm evolving into God's best version of me yet. If the men of the Teen Challenge can be renewed and reformed by God's grace and allow their lives to show as proof of Jesus' love for us, then I can meet the challenge, too.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Dream, Pt. 1

Anyone who knows me intimately knows that when I dream, I start to research. I believe that all dreams that I can remember mean something. Oddly enough, my dreams have been more frequent in the past 2 years, more than I've ever had in my entire life.

There have been some pretty bizarre ones that taught me quite a bit. There was the reoccurring dream where I could never remember my locker combination. I had this dream in variation roughly 10 times until one day...I opened the locker. I never had that dream again.

There was also the dream where I watched my mom slide down a water slide & get swept away by a tsunami. It freaked both of us out, but the symbolism in my real life was clear.

One of my favorites occurred recently when I dreamt a college girlfriend was very pregnant; I saw her baby's feet pressed against her belly in the shape of a heart. I texted my friend the next morning. She was in labor at the very moment and I had no idea that she was even with child!!!!!

Fast forward to today.

I woke up slightly shaken, but all too certain that the dream from which is awakened is poignantly relevant to my life today.

I'm looking in on a funeral. I don't know if I'm attending or if I can just see what's happening. Inside a coffin, there is a fairly young, handsome (Gerard Butler-esque, actually) bearded man. He's about 35. He is dressed in his suit, well groomed...and ALIVE. He looks sickly, but is still moving and talking to people walking past the casket. At his head stands a lady with gorgeous blonde hair; this is his wife or girlfriend. She is comforting him and staying with him "until the end". Gradually, the gentleman, already painted and ready for interment slips out of life. The funeral can begin now.

Also, I think in a continuation of this dream, there is a choir (I assume this is at the ceremonial part if the funeral). We have on yellow choir robes and of course I definitively see myself in this part. We sing "Let Us Break Bread Together", but no one knows the one but me! So I volunteer to lead the song, and as we get to my part (the chorus, "let us break bread together on our knees...on our knees"), I go all the way into worship. Singing loud, crying, and hands extended to God.

So what does this mean???

"As I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun....Oh Lord, have mercy on me." - Let Us Break Bread Together, Negro spiritual

Monday, November 12, 2012

Guilt By...Disassociation?


1. A formal declaration that someone is guilty of a criminal offense, made by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court...

Anybody know what it's like to pray to God every day for spiritual conviction?

I feel like I have to be doing or thinking something wrong to keep getting horrible results.

Or am I getting horrible results at all?

Yesterday was my birthday. I hadn't felt that lonely in a while. My day was an emotional rollercoaster, but eventually leveled out to a pleasant afternoon. At one point (or...a few points actually), I wept in remembrance of the weekend that I'd envisioned only a few weeks prior. I was to have the weekend off, planning to attend a wedding with him & celebrate my special day with those whom I love.

Well. That day was almost a not-so-special day spent with no one at all.

Enter God.

When I tell you that some stuff worked out, babay, it WORKED OUT. I can scarcely remember a time in which I felt such an outpouring of love that stuck to me....stuck to my bones like the first hearty meal in a while. I got to spend time with several old friends; it was like we'd never been apart. They reminded me of why we were friends- we were friends because they chose to love me anyway. I, in turn, got to love on them & send out some encouragement and lots of hugs. In each reunion, the core of reciprocity was evident. I didn't have to be someone else to be worthy of their company- I was enough. Even with my handful of broken pieces and with sadness & "why's" in my eyes, they held those pieces for me if only for a few hours to lessen the burden.

Why? Because that's what REAL friends do.


In the aftermath of the elections, so many thoughts invade my mind.

"If I'm wrong, that means that everyone else (the others) who thinks this is wrong..."

"The others are pastors, community leaders, entrepreneurs, veterans..."

".....[insert look of confusion & headaches]...."

Which brings me to my next question:

Does the world see individuals with mixed political & social views as lukewarm, spineless minions controlled by the media?

I'll speak on this- or rather pose more questions- in this next few entries entitled "No Country For Moderates".

Perhaps these folk, myself included, are indeed guilty...

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Whole New World

Today was an absolutely astounding day.

 I had a job interview. I applied for the position months ago. I figured it would be just like the others; I'd get a letter in the mail thanking me for my application, but would not be offered an interview. As I enjoyed a lovely Friday evening at the Holiday Show (my choir performed there), I checked my cell to see not 1, not 2, but THREE missed calls from Nowhere. Nothing else is in that city, so I dashed to check my voicemail and sure enough, I was offered an interview. They wanted to see me on Monday. 3 days!!!! I work on the weekends and this would be the weekend where I worked both days. I had no time to prepare, but a lot that had to be done. I haven't been on an interview in years; I own no suits & didn't have any suit funds. To make matters worse, I had to do a teaching demo, but had no clarity as to the teaching environment and the supplies I would have at the location. Yikes.

 Needless to say, that didn't go over too well internally.

 After hashing it out with members of my fam & a few close buds, I'd decided on a plan of action. Finally getting the plan in motion, an "angel in disguise" showed up in the form of a colleague. Because I've never had an interview for a position directly in my field (and few musicians do), it was assuring to have my colleague give me the ins and outs of the interview. Monday is here. Rise and shine super early because I have jitters like most of us tend to get when an exciting event approaches. I fix my documents to be printed. An hour & a half later (and 30 mins behind schedule), frazzled, and out of a grip of money due to roadblocks,I am en route to the interview. God really stepped in because I was actually 30 mins. early despite getting lost.

 Speeding forward, I feel that the interview went well. The teaching demo was a blast. Now, we wait to see if I fit the bill of what they are looking for.

I say all of this to say that God has me.  He has to, because I have no idea what I am doing.  I don't recall having ever felt such...blankness.  3 weeks ago, you could have asked me where I saw myself in 6 months & I had a definitive answer.  I had love.  I saw the light at the end of the tunnel that is Greenville.  I was finally seeing my career grow.  There was a clear vision.   In a matter of days, everything that I knew to be true was no longer.  That clear vision has been replaced by what seems like a muddy, indiscernible mess.  I'm a blank slate.  What a scary feeling to not know where I will be, let alone if I even really want to be wherever I'll be.  Looking for direction...looking for a flicker of light...looking for what's next in my journey.

I have no idea.

I just have to trust that He will reveal these things to me.  Soon.