Monday, January 30, 2012

A List

It’s another one of those nights.  Lenny went up to bed over an hour ago. 

“You coming?” he asked. 

“Yep, just a sec,” I said.

However, seconds turn to minutes, minutes to hours, etc.  He hates it when I do this.  I understand his irritation.  On the very rare occasion that I go to bed before he does, I’m quite offended when he won’t come with me.  So, I’m sure it’s pretty annoying when I agree to go with him, but then don’t.

Sometimes, I just don’t want to go to bed.  I can’t explain it.  There’s finality in it.  And sometimes, I just simply don’t feel like finalizing my day.

Tonight, that feeling radiates.  So, I do random things.  Respond to some emails.  Check Facebook.  Explore Google Analytics.  Check Facebook.  Read some blogs. 

I’m feeling pretty useless.  And then I remember the AWESOME list my friend posted today.  33 Ways to Stay Creative.  Great list.  Numbers 1 through 3:


HA!   Ok.  This is much more productive than randomly clicking around the internet.  For now, I’m disregarding #4, GET AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. I’m not going anywhere before bed, so I’ll disregard #2 also. 

That leaves me with making lists and free writing. This blog entry will serve as the free writing part.  I had absolutely no plan when I started writing this.  I still have no idea what list I will make.  But here goes.  Let’s see. 

First 5 songs that come to mind:
·      Matthew’s Begats – Andrew Peterson
·      Living on the Edge – Aerosmith
·      Somewhere Over the Rainbow
·      What’s Love Got to Do With It – Tina Turner
·      Like a Lion – Daniel Bashta

Uhhhhh…dang.  Not the list I expected.  Free writing surprises even me.  For once my mind was blank.  Funny what comes out of a blank mind when you force it to churn.

I think I’m going to go to bed and see how this list differs in the morning.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


For the last four weeks, I have been on a journey of self-discovery.  I guess we’re all on some sort of journey like this for our entire lives, though not necessarily in such a focused and purposeful way.  I’m really not sure how I ended up here.  I think I decided to take a break from some of the major roles I play, I was encouraged to use my time to “dig into myself” if you will, and with little energy left, a heavy heart, and great fear at what I might find, I stepped off the edge and went for it.

It’s been challenging.  I’m gushing words on paper.  Sketching out my history, major events, things I remember.  Figuring out how each moment has made me who I am today, for better or for worse.  It’s raw, painful, yet refreshing and uplifting.  There are people who genuinely care for me that check on me, guide me, spend time with me as I do this.  I’m deeply grateful.  I’m learning to accept love.  I’m learning that the “love” and time I give, while well-intentioned, may not always have the proper motives behind it.  I’m finding a deeper connection with my Creator than I’ve had in a long time.  I crave time with Him.  I’m learning to speak the name of Jesus when I realize I’ve lost control of my feelings or my thoughts…and amazingly, all feels calm.  Yep, He works like that, if you just let Him.  I’m learning to be thankful for the gifts He gives.

I’m reading books and finishing them for the first time in a long time.  If you haven’t read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, it’s a gem.  Check it out.  If you’re sad, if you’re in a funky place with yourself right now, it can really put things into perspective.  It’s also beautifully written. 

Somewhere in the midst of all my reading and writing, I’ve decided (at no particular prompting) to describe some things about myself in my own words.  Narcissistic?  Possibly.  However, I’ve never done it.  I think I will indulge.  I feel like it.  And this is my blog.  So here goes…

My soul is low-pitched.  Low tones resonate with me.  Perhaps that’s why I always find myself singing the male harmonies.  Perhaps that’s why I pick up the bass lines in most songs and wish that I could touch the bass being played while it’s being played.  Kings of Leon bass player dude…your bass is on my list.  I mean that in the least sexual way possible.  I really do.  I’m married and this is purely musical.  Perhaps that’s why I love a loud, thumpin’ bass beat.   Ya’ll gon’ make me lose my mind…

I am a bittersweet combo of chords.  I love sounds, music, stories that make your heart twinge.  I love to be happy also.  However, that twinge is bittersweet, but mostly sweet.  I’d much rather relish in that than be super bubbly and cheery.  Cotton candy is NOT my thing.  Sweet-N-Sour, well yes, that is my flavor.  Coldplay’s Fix You and The Civil Wars’ Poison and Wine…these taste like me.    

I’m learning that touch means something for me.  In the same way I’d like to touch an instrument being played and feel the sound, I’d like to touch the faces or throats of some vocalists I admire as they’re singing.  Adele.  Yes, she’s on the list.  Bonnie Raitt.  I missed out on Otis Redding.  Marc Broussard.   Probably some folks I know personally.  I know that sounds creepy.  But I mean that in the least creepy way possible.  I promise.  And while I’d love to, I also promise not to touch you.  As much as I’d like to, that would probably be very weird.

Purple and green are my colors.  They go with the low tones, the bittersweet, the inner dark room where music is always playing and glow-in-the-dark stars are on the ceiling.  I have no idea where this comes from.  It just IS.

I love laughter.  If you could bottle up one of those deep, never-ending belly laughs where you can’t breathe, I’d pay for that.  That’s priceless.  AND it tones your stomach muscles.  Yes it does.

I am a mozzarella cheese stick.  There is nothing better than a greasy, ooey gooey, properly breaded mozzarella cheese stick.  Hold the marinara sauce.  My cheese sticks need no embellishment.  I’ve found THE best mozzarella cheese sticks in this area.  Unfortunately, I rarely go to the establishment that sells them.  Nevertheless, I at least know where to find them.

Finally for today, I am a dancer.  But on the inside only.  Someday, I will get my body to match what my soul wants it to do.  Haven’t figured that one out yet.

On with the weekend….

Break to Be Broken

A few weeks ago, I started a "break." I wrote this as I was heading into that.  I wasn't sure how comfortable I was posting it, but is what it is and I am who I am.  So here we go!

This week, I started a break.  I broke from everything normal, everything I used to enjoy, everything that has framed my identity for the past two and a half years.  It was necessary, yet painful.  Almost a literal break, like a breaking of the heart so that it can be bandaged, nursed, and healed to form scar tissue that will ultimately remind me of my mistakes and misdirection.  Who I am has been so incredibly wrapped up in my daily routine, versus a strong connection with my Creator and a strong sense of me.  What that implies is that my daily routine doesn’t strengthen the two most important areas of my life.  Something’s broken.  So, I took a break.

Begrudgingly, awkwardly, and somewhat clumsily, I’ve now stumbled into territory I’ve NEVER navigated.  I don’t do me very well.  In only a couple of days of hiking through my inner wilderness, I’ve found that me lies behind a deteriorating dam that holds the water that covers a massive, heavy rusted door that leads to a stairwell that spirals down, down, down to a deep dark cellar where I’ve unconsciously locked away boxes, trunks, and piles of me.   Let’s talk about YOU…you’re here and now.  Even if your junk is locked away, I’ll hold the rope while you descend to find it versus journeying down through my own muck and mess.  I’m a rope-holder, if you will.  A chameleon, ready to color myself to everyone else’s feelings and empathize.  You’re blue, I’m blue.  You’re yellow, I’m all smiles.  That’s held up well for a long time; it’s made me seem normal somehow.  But the dam is cracking.  Water is spewing forth.  My chameleon colors are faltering as the water hits me in the face.  I’m not ready to tap into my well of whatever-it-may-be and own it, but if I don’t, the ensuing flood could do damage.  So, I’d rather control this.  Patch the cracks.  Work it out in my cellar, and swim everything to the surface versus reacting to a disaster waiting to happen.

So, I took a break.  It officially started Monday.  However, there were loose ends to tie.  Little things I wasn’t ready to let go of just yet. Which is ok.  I think God wanted it that way.  He knows we’ve got some big work to do, He and I.  Well, I’ve got some big work to do.  He’s just ready and waiting for me to do it.

I wasn’t sure what I’d do with myself.  Like I said, I don’t do me.  I deflect.  I watch TV.  I read blogs.  I check out Facebook.  Anything to avoid doing me-work.  However, for the first time in a very long time, last night after tying up all loose ends and heading into a day off, I found myself alone.  I think God wanted it this way.  He was preparing a place for me.

Lenny left yesterday afternoon for his Emmaus walk.  I’m thankful for this for him.  He deserves this time, his own break of sorts.  One of our two roommates, Lenny’s nephew, moved out yesterday afternoon before I got home.  My sister, our other roommate, made plans elsewhere.  For the first time, in a very long time, I found myself alone.

I found myself on fire to write.  Not to write this opening story of my break, but to begin writing about my history.  What I remember about growing up.  In one hour, I’d cranked out five very descriptive pages.  It felt freeing.  Yet, I wasn’t yet writing about how it shaped me.  That’s ok.  I’ve got lots of time to get to that part.

I followed my writing by looking up Michael Hyatt’s Creating Your Personal Life Plan, a book and template recommended by my friend, Beth Stoddard.  She did it.  She said it was good for her.  I thought I’d give it a try.  So, I simply read a little.  I made a couple of lists, not even directly related to what the book instructed me to do.  My lists were a start for my day off: 1) Talk to God, read my Bible, journal, 2) Write,  3) Make music, 4) Take care of Lenny.   Lenny’s not here for three days.  So, I’ve got some good me time.  I’m ok with that and feeling good about it.

Today, on my first real day off, I’m hit with the reality of the gift God has given me.  I’m alone once again.  My house is in order.  It’s raining out.  It’s…peaceful.  I’ve turned off my phone.  I’m ready.  Thank you God.

I very intentionally followed my list.  God reminded me that He’s always with me (Genesis 28:15) and that I have a Counselor (John 14:16-17).  Wow, what a way to start.  Thank you God.

Even with the intentionality of following my list, I allowed myself to branch off almost immediately.  Versus going directly to number two, this “thing” that I’m writing, I read a little of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts.  What a blessing.  In her own words, she sums up a quote from Jean Pierre de Caussade as follows:

“If we are dying of thirst, passively reading books about water quenches little; the only way to quench the parched mouth is to close the book and dip the hand into water and bring it to the lips.  If we thirst, we’ll have to drink.  I would have to DO something.”

Yes, I have to DO something.  I have to drink.  I’m drinking.  It’s a slow, ultimately satisfying.  But the cup is full and I have a long way to go.  In reference to giving thanks to God by naming very specifically his gifts, she goes on to say:

“This naming is how the first emptiness of space fills; the naming of light and land and sky…naming offers the gift of recognition…Naming [is] to find identity, our identity, God’s.”

I will name my gifts during this process.  However, to fill my emptiness, I have to name me during this process.  Find my identity.  Open up to brokenness and let the scar tissue form.  I take a deep breath and dive.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Friday Wee Hour Thoughts

So, it’s officially Friday. It’s 12:21 AM and I cannot sleep. I had WAY too much caffeine this evening and the vent in our hotel room is rattling. Even though my eyes feel like sandbags, my mind is racing, so let’s get some stuff out there.
  • We’re on VACATION! Yes, we’re still on vacation. It’s already been THE best vacation ever and there are still a few days left. **BIG ‘OLE HAPPY SIGH** I’ll write all about it soon. Lenny and I wrote a song about it and have lots of pictures to include that I’m unable to download to this computer. Soooo…it’ll have to wait for now.
  • Before I decided to get out of bed and ramble here, I looked at the clock. I was laying on my side, my left eye closed, my right eye open. My vision was doubled. What the heck? I played with it. Left eye open, right eye open, both eyes open. Left eye’s good. Both eyes together, great. When the right eye is flying solo, my vision doubles, but only when I’m viewing the clock with my head turned sideways. The clock read 12:12. Double twelves. Mic check 1-2, 1-2. Stupid right eye.
  • P.S. When I finally started typing here, it was 12:21. What the heck does that mean? Is this a test?
  • We saw X-MEN First Class tonight. Lenny asked me what power I would have if I could have one. I would choose to fly. Yes I would. Like a flying squirrel or base jumper Jeb Corliss. I would glide, not use wings. Thank you very much.
  • The first place we stayed on this week's little journey was The Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm, an exquisite B&B in Crozet, VA. The last two nights we stayed, we were the only people there. That meant made-to-order breakfast and, when we left Wednesday, a Lemon Chill pie to take with us. The pie is dang good…and there’s still some left. I might just have me a piece, right now, at 12:39 AM on Friday. Yep.
  • Speaking of feeding my face, I’ve gained a few pounds on this fantastic vacation. Which reminds me that I must start working out again when I return. For those who read my last post, I’m getting wary of lean, mean Chalene. Just before I left Richmond last Sunday, my joints were hurting and feeling heavy. Maybe it’s too high impact. Maybe I’m just a wiener. More to come on that…
  • Did I mention that this past Wednesday was our anniversary? Nine years. I love this man. He’s incredible. A week away, just the two of us, with no plan and no schedule, has been heavenly so far. Tomorrow morning, we’ll visit the spot where he proposed. I guess that sounds like a plan amongst the no-planning. That’s ok. I cannot wait!
Num num num…good pie and goodnight.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Full Circle

It's been a rollercoaster ride. The past two weeks, I mean. Let me explain...

Two weeks ago, I was an emotional wreck, a human sprinkler. I cried in front of people...A LOT. I thought I mght be pregnant for a short while. Then, when I realized I wasn't, I thought I was losing my mind.

One week ago, I felt a little better. I also started working out. TurboFire baby! In-home workout videos. During my looney-tune week, I met Chalene Johnson, creator of TurboFire. Not in person. On TV. She was crazy like me. So, I decided she should visit my house. She IS crazy like me. And she makes me sweat. In fact, she makes me jump around like a monkey. In one week, I've already lost 7 lbs. No joke. Thanks Chalene.

Five days ago, I went out on a limb and shared a song I'd written last summer. Before I say more, I'll share my all-time favorite song lyrics from Anna Nalick's "Breathe (2AM);" they perfectly sum up how I feel about songwriting:

2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper it's no longer inside of me
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
'Cause these words are my diary screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them however you want to

The song I shared last week I wrote almost one year go. Nalick's lyrics above explain why. I'm not good at simply speaking my heart. So, sharing it via a song is an entirely different animal. Literally like a journal entry, I've held that song close.

In the course of the last five days, my creation became a real, living breathing song. We used it at PCC yesterday. It was well-received, it moved people, it was...GOOD. My friend, mentor, and leader, Beth Stoddard, arranged it and sang it. That not only makes my heart takes my breath away. That's how God speaks sometimes.

You see, we've come full circle. It was in Beth's living room that my journey started almost exactly two years ago. I was an emotional wreck then. God used her to change and shape me. One year ago, I wrote a song about it. Yesterday, Beth sang it.

And so TODAY, I stand amazed amidst a two-year full circle and a two-week mini-reminder that GOD picks up the pieces, no matter where we stand, how broken or alone we feel, and no matter how scared we are to share. Still unsure about HIM? It's ok. I've been there. However, I urge you to give Him a chance. He just might amaze YOU.

Click below to check out yesterday's service and the song, The Choice.

Video streaming by Ustream

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Time Stand Still

Everything's good. It's been a fantastic week. I got a LOT done. To top it off, everything culminated in an incredible evening last night. Our Macedonia Mission team hosted a murder mystery dinner theater. It was beautiful, wonderful, and everyone that attended seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. Our team worked so very hard, poured their hearts out, and truly put on a top notch event. I went to sleep last night with a heart overflowing with joy, warmth, and gratitude to a God that shows up time and time again. It was a great week.

I slept in this morning. I rolled out of bed at 10:45 to be exact. Haven't done that in a while. Lenny and I made eggs, bacon, biscuits, I guess for lunch, and we watched tv for an hour or so. It was short-lived but nice.

Then he left to go visit his dad in Appomattox. I normally go along. I bowed out this time. I'm tired of going, going, going. Yet, as I watched him leave, my to-do list started rolling in my head. My cats stink. My house is dirty. There's an email waiting for me from a wonderful person who's trying to volunteer time and get some work done. I'm holding that person up. I need to learn my music. I want to go to church tonight. I have no clean underwear (shhh, I'll figure something out). Oh yeah, it's April and I haven't finished my taxes. Did I say that I needed to make the bed? I like my bed makes me happy.

Then shame sets in. There Lenny goes, by himself, to visit his family. I'm not going to visit my family and I'm not with him. Shame on me for thinking of everything I could be doing and for considering doing it, when the point of staying home was to rest. We don't have kids. Just stinky cats. Shame on me for NOT wanting to tackle the things I need to get done. Throw a couple of kids into the mix and the list would change dramatically.

Still, there's the mini-panic. I want to sit and watch tv, but without Lenny to pin me down, that's virtually impossible these days. I'm too fidgety. Yet, I know I need to rest. I just don't know how to be still anymore. That's what it all comes down to.

And the clock keeps on ticking. Without a pause button. So, I'm writing. This feels better than anything else, right now, at this moment. Just to get it out, even without uttering a word.

No audible words, just deep breaths in and and out. I smell my cats.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Random Tuesday Thoughts

I’m working on a blog about how different my average week is today versus three years ago. I’m so overwhelmingly grateful for how things have changed that I just can’t find the right words yet. So, stay tuned. For now, this is all I've got...
  • We had an incredible small group last night. I love my small group!
  • Did you know that there’s a verse missing in the book of Mark (at least in the NIV)? Check it out…Mark 11:26. KJV has it. What’s that all about?
  • My sister cooked dinner for us tonight and it was YUM-O. Chicken & noodle casserole, squash casserole, and mashed potatoes. It’s like a warm blanket has engulfed my belly. Num num num.
  • Lenny’s sitting in the recliner 9:30pm. I’m blogging. So there.
  • My friend is having surgery tomorrow. I think it’s pretty minor and she’ll heal quickly, but I don’t even like the word ‘surgery.’ I want to camp by her bed, but I think that might be weird. So, I’ll pray and see her soon.
  • I just read my friend Holly’s latest blog and it made me cry and love her even more. Check out her blog HERE.
  • I want to write a song really badly. Sometimes, ‘wanting to’ is enough. Sometimes it’s not. Tonight, it’s not.
  • I just rediscovered a great Bill Withers tune, Lovely Day (listen below), while watching a fairly disturbing movie, 127 days. The movie is actually a true story and there’s not really a lovely day involved. Scooby Doo. Watch the movie and that will make sense.
  • Exciting things are happening at our church. We’re having a big concert on 3/19, we’re starting a Saturday night service on 3/26, and our youth Macedonia Mission Team is hosting a dinner theater, catered by Carrabba’s on 4/1. That’s only a sampling. I highly encourage you check us out on our website and on Facebook.
Today was a good day. See you soon, tomorrow.