Friday, November 18, 2016

Letting Go

Sometimes there's a moment in life where you have to give up hope.  Consciously.  I have always been incredibly practical about death.  About dying.  When I was a little girl, someone we knew passed away and my godmother, Mary, bought a book to help my mom explain death to a child in a way that wasn't scary at all.  It's called The Fall of Freddy The Leaf and even into my adult life, I've found great comfort in seeing death as something that is as natural as the changing of the seasons.  Something that visits every living thing on this earth from time to time.  It's far less scary to think of it like that and there's certainly less hurt or anger involved.

Even when my grandmother got sick and passed away, I quickly came to a place where I was ok with letting go of her presence on this earth because I loved her so much, I did not want her to hurt, and if you know anything about me, you know my grandmother is someone I loved with all of my heart.

So at this moment, it's almost ironic, that I am sitting here trying to process the fact that my godmother - the wonderful woman who helped me understand this process so long ago - is dying.  I have no idea how long she has left on this earth, but I know it is not long now.  And all I feel is angry.    And hurt. I know intellectually that this is not a healthy response and that I need to just breathe though this time because there's nothing I can do to stop it, but my heart is not listening.

I cannot explain why my heart is being so stubborn in this situation, but I had a moment as I drove home this evening where I actually said out loud "Jesus, I don't want her to suffer, but I'm so angry right now."  I don't even know who I'm angry at - or if it's really anger at all.  All I know is that late this afternoon I had to let go of any hope that my godmother will get better.  

Letting go of hope - in any situation - is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things the heart has to do.  But maybe, once that happens, healing starts?

Just a thought.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Thoughts on the Joy of a Simple Red Cup

I normally try to avoid weighing in on these topics in any sort of public forum, but the "controversy" over the newly designed red cups at Starbucks has pushed me over the edge.

I am a Christian and I am a Starbucks fanatic.  If you know me at all, you already know both of these things.  So imagine my utter disgust when I checked my Facebook feed over the weekend and saw the story about a guy (a pastor no less) who posted a video that has gone viral declaring war on my favorite coffee shop because they "hate" Jesus.

WHAT?

Admittedly, I did not watch the video.  I fully expected it to die out.  Yeah, I don't know why I expected that either.

So now that my fiery annoyance has waned a bit, I feel... Sad.  Yeah.  Sad.

Silly?

Here's what saddens me.  I love Christmas.  No, I LOVE Christmas.  Like I started listening to Christmas music about three days after Halloween and I am wondering how early I can put up my Christmas tree without being chastised by my loved ones.  I've always loved the feeling of the holiday season (spanning from Thanksgiving to New Years people - it encompasses three separate holidays - if you grump at me for using the word "holiday" we may not be able to recover).

I know it's horribly commercialized, but for most of my life I've honestly felt like the spirit of love for all mankind permeated this time of year and from the way I see my beliefs as a Christian, that's kind of the point.  Quite frankly in America, Christmas has become a holiday that's celebrated in a far more secular sense than what it's about from a Christian perspective and I understand some of the annoyance there in the sense that it doesn't need to be about what presents you get, but I don't think that has to be damaging.

And when I see people posting anti-Starbucks rants by misguided individuals who happen to share the same religion as me, it just makes me think "please, stop talking before the world thinks we're all like you."  I promise, we're not!

Actually because of my Christian beliefs, I believe that if we took the whole season and decided to treat everyone we encounter with love, compassion, understanding, respect and grace; then maybe, just maybe we would actually represent this Jesus that we know to the people around us.

So if you think Starbucks, or any other number of retailers who I'm sure will get blasted some time between now and December 25th, is persecuting you and your beliefs with their expression of celebration during this time, maybe the person declaring war on the real message of Christmas is you.

Just a thought.

-Lisa

Monday, August 17, 2015

Provision

This is a blog I've been meaning to write for a long time, but I couldn't find the title until today.

Those who know me know that from Fall of 2013 to Fall of 2014 (almost a year to date) I was unemployed.  I was not surprised when the layoff came to me in 2013.  I'd known it was coming for some time.  What I didn't know then was what else was coming.

To make a long and somewhat depressing story short, the unemployment ran out and so did my savings.  I applied to countless jobs, went on a number of interviews including some that I thought went very well, but nothing turned up.  Temp agencies kept saying things to me like "Oh we can find you something, no problem."  Then there would be nothing.

I started to feel like a failure and I was so concerned about how to pay bills as I watched the numbers in my bank account dwindle.

My Mom, who is my biggest cheerleader, happened to be in a terrible financial situation at the same time and we struggled greatly during this time.

I'd been building my trust in God for a number of years.  Working on the kind of faith that was less about what specific church I went to and more about relying on Him, trusting Him.  Trust is a really hard thing.  Like crazy hard.  Especially if you're not all that good at it to begin with, but it's worth learning.

Anyway, as I spent more time in prayer, attempting to heed my Mom's advice to offer a sacrifice of praise throughout the situation I was in, even though I wasn't sure where the groceries were going to come from, something amazing started to happen.  Friends and family both at different times, and with no prompting, handed me money.  Some in the form of a gift and some in the form of a loan.  Gift cards for the grocery store or Target were such a welcome sight.

It was a hard situation to go through.  Some might call it a test.  All I know is that now I can look back on it and say that I learned something about faith and about trust during that time.  Trust doesn't mean you're happy all of the time or that you never lose you cool over a situation.  It means that in the midst of the tears, you can whisper "I trust you" and know in your heart that you actually mean it.

Just a thought.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Post-Show Musings

I should preface this blog post with a warning that I'm about to go full on theater geek on you lovely people.

A strange thing happened tonight when I was at The Pavilion seeing Idina Menzel in concert.  I was sitting there listening to this amazingly talented human sing her face off, and I realized something.

The last time I saw her was when I was still living in LA.  My grandmother had passed away about 5 months before and I was going through a rough time dealing with that and some other things in my life. On a whim (or a moment of complete insanity considering I was not gainfully employed at the time), I'd hopped online and purchased a single ticket to her concert because I just needed to go.  I don't know if you're a music person, or a theater person for that matter, but if you are, you understand what I mean by "I just needed to go."  There was a part of my soul I'd been neglecting for a long time by then and I didn't even realize how much.  After that show, I returned to my apartment realizing I'd forgotten how much I loved going to a theater and watching someone perform like that — there's just something different about theater people.  I can't explain how, but going to that concert filled up the same part of my soul that going to see musicals always had — a part of my soul that I'd let run completely dry years before.  I realized I could not let that happen again.

Tonight I realized that I actually reopened a door to possibility that night, one that I'd slammed shut years before and I can't help but wonder if I hadn't done that, if I hadn't gone to that show and had that experience, would I have ended up in the place I am now.  A place where I get to run around and (as my cousin puts it) go "YAY THEATER!" and call it "work"?

I know it sounds strange, and it probably makes absolutely no sense to anyone who's not me, but tonight felt a bit like coming full circle.

It's now been 5 years since my grandmother passed.  Life is much better in some very unexpected ways.  I'm not in LA anymore, which is not my favorite thing, but one must attempt to thrive where one is, yes?

And perhaps the best thing was I got to take one of my best friends to see tonight's show for her birthday (and she'd never seen Idina in concert before).  We had a blast singing along, geeking out over showtunes and feeling really, really old when Idina said it's been almost 20 years since Rent opened (my friend and I were adorable little high school drama geeks then and Rent was the coolest thing on the planet).

I cried when she sang Brave (it's from an album that I listened to repeatedly on my flight home when my grandmother was sick and I just needed to distract myself) and when she sang For Good.  I snuck a quick video of part of Let it Go for my niece.  I clapped and yelled/made-really-high-pitched-loud-noise far too much and my voice shows it now.  Mostly, I had an amazing night filled with some good old memories and making some beautiful new ones.

I am so thankful that I got to see her perform tonight & I already can't wait 'til the next time.

Had to share.

-Lisa

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Late Night Thoughts

Spoiler alert: Not the typical thing I post on here. :o)

I was reminded of something tonight as I sat in a packed theater watching Newsies — for work no less — I know.  Feel free to be jealous.  ;o)

If you know me at all, you know theater is my first love.  I blame the free reign of PBS in my house when I was young.  No, no I kid...kind of...  I grew up in an environment that naturally fostered a deep love of the arts as a whole.  My mom always encouraged my curiosity about many kinds of music, books, a nightmarishly large collection of crayons, markers, pencils, paints and paper, and my bent toward wanting to take dance over participating in sports any time it was an option.  But theater... Theater was different.

In theater I found a world where all of the normal rules that parents impose by parents on the entertainment we consume didn't seem to apply.  Especially with musicals.  Many of my favorites from high school handle dark subject matter, contain colorful language and all manner of what my niece would call "inappropriate" behavior in live performances. And I loved it.

Actually, my love of theater began when I was four or five and we went to see my cousin in various plays at her high school.  We saw The Sound of Music there and I was so enthralled by the performance that my mom rented the film for me to see.  I was 5.  My world was flipped upside down.  I didn't understand what happened in my five year old brain, but I knew I wanted to grow up and do "that".  My mom had no idea that The Sound of Music would be my gateway drug into a lifelong adoration of musical theater.

As an adult (which doesn't sound like the right way to refer to myself) "that" has taken on quite a different form from what I expected, but for me theater stands above all other art forms.  Every time I see a show, I feel like hold my breath for two to three hours and just absorb everything that's happening in front of me.  It's not just something I think is fun to do on a Saturday night, but something that I'm fiercely protective of and I don't know, as silly as it may sound, to me it's more like a noble calling than a chosen profession.

Tonight, I was reminded of that and I was thinking about how glad I am that this very strange path I've been traveling for the past 12 years has led me here.  There are many things I don't understand about the way life works, but tonight I am feeling grateful and I just wanted to share.

-Lisa

One last thought:  If you find yourself in a place where Newsies is touring, go see it!  It's amazing.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Thoughts on a Dark and Cloudy Friday Morning

Hello and a blessed Good Friday to you.

I've been thinking about my Good Friday blog since last Friday.  I've had a series of conversations with a variety of people in my life that have had me thinking about love.  Specifically the love that God has for us.  And by us I mean all of humanity.

A couple months ago I had a conversation with an acquaintance about faith and religion.  While the conversation was more in depth than this, the point that came out of it was, regardless of what they were raised to believe, this person did not want to identify as a Christian because "they're so judgmental."

And I get it.  I even agreed that this is a huge problem.  It's a conversation I've had many, many times with various people over the course of my adult life and I do most certainly believe that it is something Christians as a general whole need to work on.  Majorly.

John 13:34-35 (NIV) says "A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

If we look at the way the church (again, general whole encompassing all denominations of Christianity) argues with one another, not to mention how we treat those outside of our faith, it's clear we are not known by how we love.  Instead we are known by what we were specifically told not to do, which is by how we judge those around us.  And it makes me sad.  Especially today.

In my life I have a varied group of beautiful souls who I am blessed to call my friends.  We all have different backgrounds, different political beliefs, different religious beliefs and we've all made many different choices in how we live our lives.  Sometimes I scroll through my Facebook feed and chuckle because I think "my goodness if I ever had all of these people in the same room together, I'd have to get them to sign an agreement not to discuss religion, politics or the world at large.  Fluffy bunny topics only.  Otherwise we'd have a huge fight."

I have friends who are very conservative who think I've gone to the dark, liberal side thanks to my favorite state, and friends who are very liberal who think that's an absolutely hilarious thought because I'm more conservative than they are.

What is my point?

Look at the people in your life.  Do you agree on everything?  Have all of the exact same beliefs about everything?  If you're at all like me, probably not.  Yet, could you possibly love them any less?

Okay, so if your answer is no, of course not, these are people you hold dear to you; then how could you treat a stranger, someone you've never met and therefore who has not had the chance to personally offend you in anyway, with judgement instead of love or simply kindness.

Yet we are all guilty of judging others based on the color of their skin, how they look, who they're with, what they say and what they believe, but that's not our job.

We, as Christians, were given the simplest commandments by Jesus.  In Mark 12:28-31 (NIV) says "One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.  Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"  "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this:  love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these."

Love.  Selfless and perfect love is what Christ showed us on the cross on Good Friday.  And if I am to call myself a Christian and to believe that I must accept Christ as my savior, otherwise completely imperfect little me could not possibly hope to see God in heaven, then how can I — knowing my own imperfections — treat anyone else as if I am superior to them.

I have a really difficult time with the idea of, not just hating, but even showing dislike or disdain for someone because they're different from me.  Probably because I was a weird kid.  I loved to play on the swings and sing show tunes at the top of my voice during recess and I loved and chattered about watching PBS - specifically Sesame Street - and I started to fall deeply in love with Shakespeare by age six and I was ridiculed for it.  For just being myself.  And I have some really clear memories of trying to figure out what on earth I'd done to make these people I'd just met dislike me so much.

I don't know any perfect people.  I am certainly not one.  So, I really believe with all my heart that we have to stop casting shame and hate and judgment down on other people who are also not perfect, just like us.  It does no good.  And I do not believe you could act less like Christ.  I worry sometimes that we have become more like the crowd calling for Jesus to be crucified and less like His disciples, and it breaks my heart.

I know I will continue to be guilty of not treating those around me with love.  And it makes my heart sad.  But I pray daily for God's help in loving everyone I meet the way He loves me.

That's just what's on my mind this Good Friday morning, and I thought I'd share.

-Lisa

Friday, November 21, 2014

Following the Path

How strange the packaging answers sometimes come in...

I read a blog this morning that was truly, exactly what I needed to hear (so to speak) today. While I am on a completely different path from this person, I too find myself saying "God, I don't understand. This is not where I wanted to be," a lot in recent days.

Fortunately, like the author of this blog, I know the path I am on is intended for my good and that continuing forward will only help me grow and learn and trust Him more, which is what truly makes a difference.

So, I wanted to share this with all of you today in case maybe you need to hear it too.

Check out Mayim Bialik's latest post on Kveller.com.  It is truly inspiring.

-Lisa