That time the world thought I was Erykah Badu

It all started around 11 pm CST on November 25, 2015.  My phone, meant to be on night mode, started ringing.  (For those of you without IOS systems, calls only ring through on night mode when the same number tries to call 3 times. The phone assumes it is an emergency and pushes the call through.)

I answered, “This is Amanda.” and the caller said “Sorry wrong number and hung up.”
The calls kept coming till around 3 that morning…I stopped answering them, and thought to myself that some poor family must have had some sort of emergency and my number was close to to the number of the person they were actually trying to reach….little did I know.

The next morning was Thanksgiving and the calls started again around 8 am.  Finally, I answered and asked the person on the other end if everything was okay, and told her I’d been praying for her family and whatever emergency was going on.  She started laughing and told me that Erykah Badu had told periscope her number and everyone was trying to get a hold of her.  My response, “Erica who? Can you spell that?”  I had no idea. (Before you judge the fact that I didn’t know her, I just finished traveling over 100K miles around the globe this year, am developing out new content for the Cultural Concierge and am finishing a master’s program. For real…I am out of the entertainment loop big time.) I hung up and headed off to Google.  Sure enough a beautiful Grammy winning artist by the name of Erykah Badu had released an album with 3 covers and the number for a burner phone was hidden in those 3 covers.  My number was in there, but honestly people had to get super creative to find it….so props to those who called me…you are creative!

I tweeted to Ms. Badu that this was happening but didn’t hear back…I honestly didn’t expect too.

The calls have kept coming, several a day for a week, picking up in consistency and numbers at night.  After a full week of these calls…honestly I was over it. The calls started at 10 pm and kept it up till around 3 am. At this point it was over 100 missed calls to my phone.  In desperation, I sent a plea out on Facebook to see if any of my friends had connections. My friend Katina (who is also a singer/songwriter) responded that she had gone to school with her cousin and a couple of band members and she would reach out.  She did and Ms. Badu’s sweet cousin heard my plea and messaged her immediately.  A few hours later, I was on the phone with Ms. Badu herself.  She was so kind, so responsive, and so apologetic. We had a great chat and a good laugh about the whole thing actually.  She never thought that people would get other people’s numbers in the process. She decided to cancel the campaign – for which I actually felt horrible as it was a super cool campaign.  She jumped on Periscope that night  told the story and gave out the burner phone number directly.  One of the more fun parts of that was to see how many people responded that they had talked to me – I really did answer!  In fact, on the last day I’d been told by a fan of hers to answer “call Tyrone” which was a nod to one of her older songs…so I did. “Hello, this is not Erykah…call Tyrone.” and hung up.  When I told Ms. Badu she thought that was hilarious!

After the periscope – she sent out this tweet.


The beautiful irony is the new album is called “You Caint Use My Phone”.  I mean really – could there be a better title for this story?

We all have our opinions of famous people.  We sit in our living rooms and watch them on TV or stand in the grocery story aisle and read the latest rag about them.  We judge them.  We have incredibly biased opinions that have no real footing, just a decision we made because that one time we heard such and such about them.  I am sure some of you have your opinions about Erykah Badu – but here is what I will tell you – She responded immediately when she heard.  She responded personally rather than sending an agent or someone else to do her bidding.  She responded with grace, character and integrity. She canceled her campaign because of my plight even though she’d had this marketing plan ready for months before this album released. She was kind, gentle and considerate.

So Ms. Badu, thank you. Thank you for being a woman of character, grace and integrity.  I cannot wait to meet you in person sometime soon. – Peace & Blessings, Amanda

p.s. I was also interviewed by the Dallas Morning News this morning – at Ms. Badu’s request – you can read that article here. 

Bad Coffee and Voting

 “Do not accept badly made cups of coffee.
Do not surround yourself with people that make them.  
They do not care about you.”  
– words of wisdom came to me from a meme on the internet sent to me by a friend that cares.

 

I will admit it – I laughed.  If you have been my friend or following me on the socials for more than 5 minutes you know that I love coffee.  I believe life is way too short to drink bad coffee, and life without coffee is not really worth living.  It is part of the hashtag I use daily.  #coffeecultureconversation

But you know what else is on there – culture and conversation.  Culture – the beliefs, customs, etc of others.  Conversation – the exchange of ideas by spoken words – with others.  I love these things too.

That meme originally started as one about tea – I changed it to coffee.  This could be done with anything really.  “Do not accept ______. Do not surround yourself _______. They do not care about you.”  While it is funny in concept it is so untrue!

Today is a big day for a lot of people.  On both sides of the political aisle we have people with ideas and beliefs that want one party or another to win.

Do not accept (fill in the blank with a political ideology) But I would argue that the only way any of us win today is if we stop that thought process.  Do it.  Accept others who think differently than you do.  Ask questions as to the root of the value behind that belief. Fathers and mothers are both at the polls today voting for their children’s future – how they vote is a belief with the value of love for their children at its core.  That makes all mothers and fathers at the polls today…the same… no matter how they vote.  The same for anyone else you see out there…or who voted early.

Do not surround yourself with people that do.  You guys do you know that I have friends that don’t even drink coffee?  One of them even lives in my house! If I did not surround myself with people that were different than me #1. I would have a lot fewer people in my life and #2. my life would be so boring.  I have friends.  Good friends.  Friends I hold dear and have loved for many many years who will vote differently than me today.  They hold completely different points of view than I do on most things in life…but if I stop surrounding myself with them or associating with them…I would stop learning from them. I don’t want an echo chamber full of a whole bunch of people that look and think like me….I want a full and rich life that only having diversity in my life can bring.

They don’t care about you.  When we start believing this to be true…we all lose.  There are people in my life who could not make me a good cup of coffee if their life and mine depended on it.  You guys have met me – my life does depend on it!  Those same people are some of the ones that I know would do anything for me – and have.  If I depended on those who made good coffee to be the only ones who cared about me…I would only be friends with my local barista.  I have friends that will be voting for the Republican party today.  They care about me.  They truly believe that how they are voting is for the betterment of my life and my world.  I have friends that you Beto believe will be voting today hoping to bring on a blue wave.  They care about me.  They truly believe that how they are voting is for the betterment of my life and my world.

Coffee. Making life better one cup at a time.  However, some of my people love water, tea, or milk.  Regardless of what they drink, or how they vote, what I want to do is sit with them, understand more about their Culture and how they see the world, and have deep life giving Conversations full of respect and love.

If you have not voted  yet – I implore you to get to the polls today.  It is good and it is our right to do so.  But after your vote is cast, I would encourage you to grab a cup of coffee or tea or wine or water and sit with one who thinks differently than you.  Find your common values – for there are many.  Check on your Republican friend today – they need to know they are loved.  Check on your Democrat friend today – they need to know they are loved.  Check on the Independent who you believe has “wasted” their vote (they haven’t) – they need to know they are loved today.  Check on that apolitical friend who drives you crazy because they won’t engage – they need to know they are loved today. Check on me that political moderate that everyone loves to hate on – I need to know I am loved today…as do the others like me. At the end of the day we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves – with no pre-qualifiers. 

Accept badly made cups of coffee.  
Drink them with people who don’t drink coffee.  
They care and so do you. ❤️ 

The Self-Care of Time Out

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” -wise words from Winnie the Pooh.

Yesterday started with an attitude. We’ve all been there. The day starts and you just know you should have never gotten out of bed.

I made a cup of coffee. The same way I make it every other morning – and it was disgusting. I poured it out and made another which was not as bad, but still wasn’t good. Bad coffee is always a bad omen.

The weather, which is never my friend anyway this time of year, was hot by 8:30 am and I felt every blessed degree in every part of me.

New lawn guys came to do my yard and when they were done they had not followed any of my instructions so while the grass was cut there were still leaves and debris in the corner by my house. Blowing that area out was a very specific instruction in the notes!

And that was the tipping point for me. Just ONE.MORE.THING. I was going to have to handle all by myself! With that frustrated thought I went from zero to full on rage in about 4.2 seconds.

While understanding that rage and anger can be a symptom of Reverse SAD this is not one I deal with often. I am easy going for the most part and will push back rage and anger to the best of my ability…for as long as I can. But yesterday I blew the proverbial gasket and it was done.

Rather than take it out on everyone in the house including the dogs which is what I wanted to do. I marched myself upstairs and put myself in time out.

As told on insta-stories

Time out – we do this for kids all the time. We know that they often just need a minute to collect themselves and let the feelings pass and they will be fine. But we stop doing it as adults. We tell ourselves that being a grown up means dealing with things head on. We laud those that face hard days by just pushing through. As adults we put on masks and brave faces and do not let any weakness show. In the end we slowly die inside because true strength comes through honest and saying ‘I’m not okay today.’

Time out = self care

Self care is a buzzword right now. Everyone is using it. Some say it is an excuse to be lazy – head back to my last post to see my thoughts on that word. Others are finding out that self care is really world care because as the airlines will tell you in every safety briefing – you have to put on your own mask before you can help others around you.

So yesterday, in the best interest of the world at large I marched right upstairs and put myself back to bed. I needed a minute (okay I needed 20). I need to breathe, to recenter, to focus, and to rest. Twenty minutes and some essential oils later, I was JUST fine! The rest of my day was good and productive – I even made healthy food choices – including these delicious treats from Made Whole Cookbook – I then featured on my Insta-stories.

Serve with glass of milk immediately

I then put myself to bed early and slept for 10 hours. This morning I have a perfect cup of coffee in my hand, a gentle breeze blowing, butterflies and dragonflies gracing my yard with their presence and a day full of promise and hope ahead.

Self care – do you practice it? If so, how?

Peace, Be Still

Be Still. 
Stillness.  I’m really not very good at it.  Stories from childhood will tell you I was always on the go.  An extroverted child full of life and adventure, I remember a friend telling my mom one time “She says we have to run everywhere we go, but I don’t want to run.”  Funny how life changes…as much as my life is still full of adventure I prefer a meandering stroll to running these days.
Be Still.
This past year has been one of stillness for me.  Some of it has come with resistance and some of it has been by choice.  Many have noticed  I have slowed down my travel patterns tremendously this year.  While I miss being on a plane and off to my next adventure…I know that great adventures are still to be had once this time of sacred stillness is over.  I have done a ton of purging of personal belongings. Things that once held meaning or filled space now bless someone else’s home and I still find myself with more than I need.  I prefer quiet mornings over a cup of coffee than those filled with noise, and a quiet, intimate gathering of friends over the party.  I still find myself with an ever constant urging to just pick up and go, yet something else whispers…just keep being still for a little while longer.
 Be Still. 
Taking time to be still often comes with clarifier or apologies. In our culture, in our country, and especially in the city in which I live – stillness is often misinterpreted as laziness. In the midst of a crisis being still is often held in a form of distain. “God helps those that help themselves”, is a phrase often quoted as scripture that is actually nowhere to be in the sacred texts.  Rather God says to know Him we must be still.  He gives example after example of drawing people into silent spaces to find Him.  Even Jesus the Christ has to get away from all the noise and be alone in times of personal crisis.  He got alone so He could hear the voice of His Father clearly.I know that just on the other side of this stillness is the next part of my adventure….and I find myself wanting to rush through it…to be past it already.  Yet, what I am learning is Stillness is its own adventure.  God says “Be still & Know that I Am”.  In no other way, do I get to find the depths of Him than through stillness.
Be Still. 
The past few weeks have had a lot of turmoil in them.  In the span of two weeks I lost two dear friends and a third friend who was dear to those dear to me, I lost a major contract as a client decided to take his business in a whole different direction than he was going before, and basically every single plan I have to finish out the rest of this year looks like a bracket after a major upset during March Madness…in other words…busted and shattered.
Be Still.  
This is not the first time life has taken on some challenges, and should I continue to live out my days on earth it for sure will not be the last.  But this time has been significantly different personally.  In the midst of all the chaos, storm, and turmoil, I am not anxious or overwhelmed but rather I have a peace that God’s got it.  I’ve been taught this my whole life.  God’s got it. He is in control in the midst of the storm.  I can quote for you all of the stories in the Bible where he comes to the rescue.  I can share with you the passages where He shows up in a burning bush, provides shelter in the dester to the pregnant slave of Abraham, where provision shows up in the wilderness time after time, where a raven provides food rather than eats it,  and where seemingly just in the knick of time miracles happen.  I can flip to the later books and tell you stories about where God incarnate in the shape of Jesus the Christ walks on water, where He sleeps on a boat, where he commands the waves to be still and peaceful, where he tells the demons to flee, and where with just His words people are healed.  I can show you all those things because I have been taught them my entire life.  Born into a ministry family, I knew the stories of His provision and peace long before I knew anything else.  And yet….
Be Still.
Knowing a story and being in the midst of your own story are two completely different things.  I’ve been in the stories that did not have the proverbial fairy tale ending.  Where the blows of life just kept coming. Where one loss after the other happened in a span of 24 months.  I’ve prayed for the filling of my bank account only to find it overdrawn.  I’ve lived in the spaces where God seemingly did not show up.But He did and he does.  In minute ways that we may not even recognize until years later – He shows up.
Be Still.
A year ago today I wrote these words “Faith is hard. That is why it is called faith. We look for signs of God in big ways, scrolling letters across the sky, audible voices saying ‘Hey here I am.’ And sometimes He shows up like that.  But more often than not – He shows up in a still small voice. In the sighting of a dragonfly. The gentle rhythm of rain. In the inhaling of the salt of the ocean. In the spoken word of a friend who speaks truth to your soul. And in all the other countless ways that Love can show up.”
Be Still.
Stillness. A still small voice only heard when we are quiet enough to hear. A gentle wind we can only feel when we are standing still. A sacred moment that we will miss if we fill our world with chaos.  I don’t have answers to the current storm.  I don’t know which way the wind will blow, or where the provision is going to come from, or how I will fill the hole in my heart left by those who got to head to Heaven before me.  But I know, that He knows.  That He had provision long before I had a need.  And that if I stay still I will know.

40-something

I think somewhere deep in my heart I’ve always wanted to be 40-something. In games of pretend as a child I always imagined myself wearing readers, drinking coffee, living it up while I traveled the world singing my songs. I got some of that right.

I was reflecting this morning on how fascinating it is that adulthood is so different than what we imagine as children. When floundering through my teens I figured by a certain age I would suddenly, magically, have it all together.  I would  know the all the things, have most of the wisdom, and that it would feel somehow different.

When I got into my twenties I figured I was in the “learning years”. I saw friends seemingly figure it out, get jobs, find the spouse, have their 2.5 children, move to the suburbs, and some even completed the picture with a yellow dog.  I adventured – as one does. It was long before I selfied and the digital files of the film camera I used are stored in a closet somewhere…so here I give you one photo in London, discussing life with Paddington Bear in Paddington Station.

In my 20’s in London 

My thirties were an incredible decade for me. They started rough with a crisis of faith, a leaving behind of toxicity I once called friendship, and finding my truest self on the journey and beginning to journey on pathways I once believed off limits and condemned only to find them life giving and free.  This decade was a mixture of travel, new adventures, and – apparently – hats.

    

I had fun, but kept waiting to know what was going on…

Welcome 40! It was a year of adventure. Perhaps my best year to date.  So many details that perhaps will find their way into the stories on this blog, but for now, some I am still treasuring privately until it is their time.

Living the dream – Drinking coffee in Sydney

Now I am 41. Officially in my 40’s. Yes I have heard all of the colloquial sayings about a women who tells her age but in fairness most do not believe this is my actual age. Just two weeks ago while filling out an immigration form my best person looked at me and said “Are you 30 or 31?” This person was at my 40th birthday celebration, I have traveled with him for weeks at a time, he sees me every single day,  and he still doesn’t know how old I am. I looked at him in exasperation, secretly grinning inside, while also being super jealous of how cute he looks in “granny” readers that I do not yet need.

Forty-one, still an infant to some while to others I am the one they look to imagining what their life will look like when they are my age. If I’m honest I am still trying to figure that last part out myself. Somewhere along the way we are told this lie that being a grown up means we have it all figured out. When in reality – I don’t know how to be 41…I haven’t been 41 before. One of my favorite memes is the feature photo of this blog. I cannot tell you how many times and to how many people I send this in text conversations as we each try to figure ourselves out. Does ANYONE know what is going on?!?

This last week as I did some dreaming, goal setting, and planning for the next half of the year, I found myself holding my coffee cup and falling into deep reverie of life to date.  I may not quite have 41.5 figured out yet, but I am so grateful for where I am on the pathway and all life has taught me up to this point. I’ve gotten lost a few times, but that has taught me how to see with new eyes and forge new pathways. I’ve doubted God once or twice…or maybe a few more if I am honest, but the faithful pursuit of my life has brought that faith back stronger than it was before to a place where I stand firm that I’ve been brought too far to be abandoned now. I’ve taken turns that appeared to be the wrong ones at the time, only to end up on the greatest of adventures and to have found the best of friends from it. In it all, I have come to the conclusion that no one really knows what is going on. We haven’t lived through today, but our yesterdays help us navigate it.

Keep dreaming, dreamers. We’ve got miles to go before we sleep.

At what age did you figure out – you didn’t have it figured out…and that was okay?

World Cup 2018 Football Russia World Championship FIFA

‘Twas the night before the World Cup

I wrote this in 2010 – the night before the World Cup started in South Africa. Just like any good tradition that lasts throughout the years, tonight I curled up in a chair and read it then sat in quiet thought about all the excitement and anticipation that the players, their families, the countries, the attendees, and the world is feeling.

Sport unites us in ways that so many things cannot, and this event unites most of the world for a few short days.  We gather around TVs and radios, in pubs and homes, we wear all the same shirts and colors, we cheer and groan, we high five each other, and cry together.  The stranger becomes our neighbor again, we forget differences and our religious or  political ideologies as we gather to fully support this team that we love.  It is a beautiful, glorious thing and I do not think I will ever tire of it.   For those who love the game may you enjoy every second. For those who don’t we who do are #sorrynotsorry for our behavior and enthusiam the next few weeks.  This is our time, we promise to return to our normal shortly – maybe.   Until then, may your team give you joy and bring your country glory….unless, of course, they are playing mine.

Twas the night before the World Cup

by Amanda Workman

Twas the night before the World Cup and all through the land,

Excitement was stirring their Vuvuzelas in hand.

The cleats were all sitting in the locker rooms with care,

In hopes that they would some glory soon share.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of soccer balls danced in their heads.

And the teams in their jerseys and the goalie in his kit

Had just settled down to visualize it.

When out on the pitch there arose such a clatter

The goalie stood up to see what was the matter.

Off to the goal he flew like a flash,

Threw on his gloves and got ready to dash.

The moon on the crest of the top of the goal

Gave an eire glow to the field down below.

When what to his wondering eyes should drop in

But a miniature Ref and two tiny linesmen.

With a whistle and flags, one yellow, one red

He knew in in a moment it must be St. Fred.

More rapid than eagles his linemen they came and

He whistled and shouted and called them by name.

Now Right field, now Left field – keep your eye on the ball

It can’t cross that line or “Out!” you must call!

To the top of the field! Look out for that wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!

As sand before the desert storm flies

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So to the sides of the fields the linesmen they flew,

With his whistle in hand, St. Fred followed too.

And then in a twinkling, the Goalie he saw

Two teams take the field with a little white ball.

They were dressed in fine colors from their head to their feet

And all marched in unison like to a drum beat.

They moved to position one here and one there

As at their opponents they stared and they glared.

Their eyes how they fixed them! Their grins were quite scary!

Their muscles were tense now and their legs were quite hairy!

Their little red mouths pursed in concentration

And their body language screamed “Let’s fight for our nation!”

Though they were quite serious, they still were tiny as elves

and the Goalie laughed, in spite of himself.

And then St. Fred with the toss of a coin

Decided who started and who would then join.

And bringing his whistle up to his mouth,

Started the game and the cheers all cried out!

The players they ran and kicked at that ball

They pushed and they pulled and “Foul!” they did call!

The goalies made saves and the defenders defended,

The mid-fielders ran and St. Fred almost upended.

Then one of the forwards with his eye on the ball

Flipped and turned and gave it his all

Suddenly as if it was in slow motion

The ball headed forward and started causing commotion.

This wee tiny player had spotted a hole,

And with one swift kick he scored a GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLL!

St. Fred blew his whistle and the crowd they all cheered

While the goalie collapsed and his eyes they did tear.

The game it was over, the team’s fates had been sealed.

Then just as they’d come the teams walked off the field

But the Goalie heard them as they walked out of sight…

HAPPY WORLD CUP TO ALL!!! AND TO ALL A GOOD FIGHT!

It’s time

I woke up this morning and as I often do I began a meditation of prayerful gratitude and acknowledgement of who I am. In the in between of prayer and asleep – (I know many of you can relate to this magical liminal space) – I very clearly heard “It’s time – write.”

At this point, I do what any person who has been putting off this day for a long time would do. I got up, made myself a cup of coffee, sat down and….then  I got back up because I needed to organize, shred documents, put donations in the car, vacuum, dust, and, let’s be honest, those cobwebs in the corner are not going to sweep themselves. Procrastination station because #allthereasons. Let’s discuss a few, shall we?

Starting over
No one wants to “start over”. Starting over means at some point you stopped along the way, and it has been pounded into our heads that no one likes inconsistency or quitters .  When I started this blog in September of last year it was because I thought I was ready. I’d geared up. I was done with school. I had things I wanted to write about for a long time. But what I’d forgotten was God’s timing is not always the same as mine.

I wrote a few blogs right off the bat, and had more in my head. But what people do not tell you about your first year, let alone your first few months, out of grad school is you are completely out of words. The eighteen months prior to my blog launch I’d spent what felt like every waking moment studying, writing, making up new words, and then writing some more. I had turned in my final FINAL project a mere one week before this blog launch and my brain was not just “a little tired”, rather it was finished, kaput, completely done and fully checked out. I needed to practice the self care of just being still.

Being still
I do not do this well. The theme of it has resounded over and over again in my life, especially this past year. I have learned to tune in and listen to my own needs above all the other noise that fills my world these days. Truthfully, I am incredibly good at knowing the needs of others, but not so great at knowing my own. I can sit at a table in a restaurant and look around at the group of strangers at the other tables and tell you what each one of them needs. It is a gift…and a curse. Because in knowing what others need, I often choose to not be still enough to figure out my own needs. After all, I am helper, and they need help. As a result, I end up in unhealthy mind frames, exhausted, stretched to capacity, and no help to anyone – especially myself. I have done a lot of work this year to be still enough to hear what my inner voice is telling me I need.

Last week I was counseled again to “be still”. However, the person giving said counsel reminded me that stillness is not lack of movement – even when the wind is still it remains in movement. As I’ve meditated on this idea over the past few days I wanted to ensure that my inner urging to write again, was not in contradiction to this theme and this wise counsel. So in my stillness, I will stay in movement. Continuing to learn what true stillness is, to seek peace in my every day thoughts and actions, and to do so without fear.

Fear
Any preacher, missionary, or ministry kid worth their salt can start quoting verses on fear the second the subject comes up. We know there are 365 verses on it – one for each day of the calendar that actually did not exist when the holy scriptures were written, but has been drilled into us that is the reason that there are that many. We can tell you that “perfect Love” casts it out, that it decreases our hope and limits our victories, and a host of other cute little “coffee cup verses” that people quote to others  in anxious or fear filled situations. Sometimes the truth of these verses is helpful, but most of the time it makes me want to punch the person quoting it to me in the face. (“In love”, of course.)

I have never considered myself a fearful person. I am the one you want in a crisis (see above re: helping). I have faced all sorts of “fear filled” things head on and conquered them. But in the last year after graduating and having not a clue what was coming next I have allowed fear to come on in and stay awhile. I get anxious about the little things, and I worry over the big ones. I give all sorts of “do not fear” counsel to others, but I have privately battled my own demons for a long time. What I know is that I have a persistent urging to write some things that some in my life will consider controversial. There will be topics that I am still figuring out and wading into the deepest parts of myself, but I want to be honest about them and me.

#Idontwanna
Want to know the God’s honest truth?!? I do not want to blog about being single and in my 40’s….why? Because I don’t want those things to define who I am as a person. How many jokes can there be about old maids and cat ladies?!? You’d be surprised, and I’ve heard more than my fair share. At the end of the day, however, that is exactly what I am going to be writing about because that is my current truth.

The single, professional female is a voice that may have to shout a little to be heard in the blogosphere full of mommy and lifestyle blogs* who seemingly have the perfect answer or at least outfit for all of life’s problems, but we deserve a voice. We deserve a voice in our community, in our churches, and in the workplace. Our singleness does not detract from our abilities. Our lack of children does not make us lesser. Our ringless left hands deserve to get to do the work that God has gifted us to do whether that be to teach children or to train up global leaders. With all this in mind, I will write. Because my voice matters, because single women matter, and because I matter.

Re-launch
With all of that pre-amble, here we go. A re-launch of sorts. One without fanfare and hype, but a quiet post written on a normal Thursday  afternoon, that confesses some failings, chats about changes, and commits to keep moving even in my stillness.

*please note I love these blogs, I just do not fully relate to any of them.

Missing out on Jesus

This morning I read an article about how white evangelical protestants are now more tolerant of immoral behavior by elected officials than the average American. This was not an opinion piece, there was hard data to go with it. This nothing I did not already know. In the past few years I have watched with mourning as one “leader” I used to respect after enough has completely sold their soul to buy power at the highest levels of this country. I have used the phrase “30 pieces of silver” more than I ever imagined that I would outside of the story of Judas. These men and their followers take the name of the Lord in vain over and over by claiming their deeds are done in His name – and yet I seen none of the Christ I know in them, their actions, or their words. Tears filled my eyes and found their way down my face – their actions make me so angry and more than that they break my heart because they are leading so many away from the Hope that is found in the God and Christ they claim is part of their “moral majority”.

Immediately after reading this article, I flipped to facebook and found a memory of a sweet encounter from 2 years ago.

Tears began to pour down my face one more time as I remembered that just like the Pharisees of old – these power hungry, blasphemous men cannot stop Jesus from showing up. They will try with their rules and their laws and their blatant ostracizing to conform their Jesus into a tiny box. They will say to the marginalized, the oppressed, those of different race, color, and creed than them – “you cannot come in to the holy of holies it is only for us because we are the chosen ones. We have the only rights to God and unless you bend to our will and our way and sit under our subjugation you do no get to be near him.”

But just as He did over 2000 years ago – God chooses to show up in every other way than in their presence. He shows up in the Gordon’s of the world – the dirty, homeless, in need of a shower and dental work. He shows up in the immigrants of the world those desperately fleeing tyrannical government regimes and in need of a shelter so they can give birth to Hope and Love. He shows up in the LGBTQ community where those rejected by the modern day pharisees show up to become the hands and feet of their communities in ways the “temple guard” would not dare to for fear of getting dirty. He shows up in the women who dare to break the silence many of them have held onto for decades so that their children will have a better future and a hope. He shows up in the brothers and sisters of color fighting for dignity, equality and freedom from oppression. He shows up in congregations of churches who have chosen to stand up to the machine and spread the message of the gospel not only through words but through actions and deeds who believe that the words ‘For all the World’ literally mean – All – no exceptions. He shows up every where they think he shouldn’t be & holds in high regard all they consider lowly and unworthy.

These men & women – like the Pharisees of old – are sadly missing out on the Mystery and Wonder of a baby born to bring Hope to us all because while they are so busy trying to keep everyone out of the “holy of holies” they miss that He IS the Holy of Holies – and He is in a lowly messy, smelly manger, He is washing dirty feet, He is drinking and partying with “sinners”, his friends are among the outcasts, the minorities, and the outliers. He is everything He has always said that He is….and everything they are not.

Making room

I sold and bought a table in the last 48 hours.  I wasn’t really looking for a table, but it was apparently looking for me.  This may not sound like a huge deal to most of you, but there was a significance to it I didn’t even realize until the person who bought the old one showed up to pick it up.  As she looked over the table for structural soundness, measured the size to ensure it would fit in her place, she began to tell me her story.  She is from Phoenix, but spent time in LA before moving here in pursuit of a job opportunity in a niche field she has chosen.  She has lived here for a year and is finally getting a place of her own.  Except for the cities in question her story is very similar to my own from 12 years ago.  She was looking for a good sturdy table to eat on, to use as a desk, to use for projects (she works in the art world), and to share meals with friends.

I began to tear up – my table was going to be perfect for her.  This table came with the house when I bought it.  It was part of a group of things I purchased from the former owners and I loved it.  It was now meant to move out of the way to make room for more in my life.

Beloved old table

When I moved into this house I dubbed it “Nyumba ya Baraka” the swahili phrase for “House of Blessing”.   That is what I wanted here – Blessings.  Not just for me, but for anyone who walked through my door. This table was part of that.  It was the space where my friends gathered for a meal I’d prepared for them. It has held birthday cakes, mugs of steaming hot coffee, delicious hors d’oeuvres, and countless glasses of wine.  Games have been played on it, laughter has been shared, stories have been told, serious heart to heart conversations have been had.  It is the table where I have sat hands clasped in prayer, tears streaming down my face as I asked God for the pleas of my heart.  It is where I sat for hours and hours and HOURS doing master’s degree work.  It where I drop my bags when I walk in the door, and where I often make messes I’m sure my housemate wishes I would clean up!  I sat down at this table and penned dreams and goals that are now reality.  Love has gathered around this table.

As my eyes filled with tears in front of this sweet unsuspecting woman who thought she simply answered an ad off Facebook marketplace – I blessed it for her.  I declared that would bless her home as it has blessed mine.  That love, laughter and glorious community would happen around it.  She thanked me – probably thinking I was nuts – paid me and the table was carried out the door to its new home.

New table

And now I here I sit at the new one typing these words marveling at all the divinely led moments and provision of the past few days that  brought it into my home.  I’m already planning for the meals that will be had around it.  The old table sat 4 comfortably, though we fit much more around it from time to time.  This one will sit at least 6 comfortably and has an extension to add more.
More people.
More food.
More stories.
More laughter.
More life.
More blessings.
I will work on it, dream from it, deepen my faith journey at it, and probably still make a mess that my sweet housemate wishes I’d clean up.
Welcome, table, welcome to the House of Blessing – we have much entertaining to do.

I am the prostitute

*This is a repost from my former blog site.  My pastor preached this exact sermon this week and this blog from 2013 came back to mind.  I am reposting it here…because while some thing have changed since then the truth of it remains the same!

*****Repost from 2013*****

I had lunch with a friend this week. I love this woman.  She has been with me through so much of what I have written about in the past 5 years, the good, the bad, the ugly…she has been there and she has loved me through it all.  We don’t see each other often actually, but when we do it is always the exact right time.  We trust each other enough to truly spill out the depths of what is going on in the darker corners of our hearts, talk about our hopes, reveal crushed dreams, and share our fears.  Our conversations are raw….and lovely.

This time as our conversation went to current struggles and desires that we are both in this season, we talked about how we are learning to lean in and trust in ways that we have never had to before.  More than that we are learning to lean into Christ in ways we have never seen exemplified before.  Our parent’s had different struggles, they leaned in to trust in different ways…and modeled that well and not so well – depending on the circumstance.  But our journeys as single women look different than our married parents, and we have to trust God in different ways.

While in the midst of this conversation I was reminded of a study I just completed of the book of Hosea. Hosea is this little book in the Old Testament that many simply skip over, but there is so much there.  The basis of the story is this:  Hosea, a prophet, was told by God to marry this prostitute named Gomer.  (let us pause here and have a quick giggle about the name…).  The story goes on to tell us that the prostitute has children with Hosea and then leaves the marriage to go back and become a prostitute again. At which time, Hosea goes searching the city to buy her back. He bought her back…though technically she was already his.

I could spend a month blogging about lessons I learned from this book, however, today this is where I want to take this example.  I find myself as Gomer more times than I care to admit. I am the prostitute, I am the unfaithful. How often do I run back to the life I used to know after grace has pulled me out and given me a loving home? Right now I find that I am a prostitute of trust…. I am good at trusting Him with what is “easy” in my life, and trusting Him with others in my life…but I run right back to the world of panic when the going gets rough or when He does not seem to be fulfilling the desires of my heart in my time table.  I prostitute myself out to trying to solve it on my own or trying to be in control….running to everything and everyone for comfort and hope, except to the only One who can truly give it.

Here is what I am most in awe of about this story.

hosea

This story is not about the prostitute.  It is not even about Hosea.  It is about a God who comes to find me in the city of destruction I have chosen to run back to – every.time.  He gathers me up and says to me over and over – You are MINE! You are MINE! You are MINE!  You are not a prostitute, you are the daughter of a King and the bride of a Prince. YOU are My favorite.  I want you.  Everything I have done for you, I would do again because I love you and you are Mine!

That takes my breath away.

You see, this year my biggest struggle has been my singleness and all that it entails. It has brought on dark days, and lonely nights. I long to be wanted. I want to be someone’s somebody.  And it seems as if so many of my friends are finding it and I am not.  But at the end of the day somewhere in my frenetic search for Mr. Right, or in the trying to become who I think I have to be to capture a man’s attention…in that moment God captures me with this truth again…I am His. He WANTS me.  He would sacrifice the life of His Son again to have me.  He bought me with a price, and I am HIS.

The reality here is that we are all the prostitute.  We all sell our selves out to the highest bidder in hopes that they will bring us the thing we desire most, only to find it is a trap that will hold us in bondage.  But the glorious truth is that just like Hosea went to the darkest street to buy back Gomer, God will come to the darkest parts of our lives to buy us back.  He will hold us tightly in his arms and whisper – You are mine. I desire you. I would do it all again for you.

And that, dear friends, is glorious.