Monday, June 25, 2012

A Different Kind of Loud

After three unexpected hours of standing in the parking lot of Oakland's Oracle Arena, it was finally time to go inside. My spirits lifted immeasurably as I exchanged the bone-burning ache of standing indefinitely on concrete to at least putting one foot in front of the other up the ramp toward the entrance. Drummer Boy, She So Sweet and I moved quickly into the darkened interior of the arena and made our way down the lighted stairway to our seats where we waited with relieved anticipation for the show to start. One session of the taped-for-TV auditions for Simon Cowell's singing competition show, XFactor, was about to begin!

We watched with interest and listened to the preliminary instructions given to us about our role as the audience, and played along with the people whose job it was to warm us up for our role in the show; they especially wanted to get us prepared for the grand entrance of the judges. Comedian, Frank Nicotero, who acted as a sort of master of ceremonies, did a fabulous job of hyping everyone up and he set up a little friendly competition--it seems we were the largest audience they had hosted in all the San Francisco Bay Area tapings, and he told us he thought we should be able to break the decibel level previously set by their loudest audience ever which had set a mark of 120 dB the night before. You can imagine how we responded.

A video began to play on the larger-than-life screen on the stage. Powerful music and the voice of the narrator built the excitement to a fever-pitch as we all awaited what we knew would come next--the entrance of the celebrity judges, and our moment to set a record in XFactor history!! This was the only part of the show where we were allowed to have our cameras out, in fact they encouraged it, so here is what my iPhone captured:

WE DID IT!! We broke the record, topping out at just over 121 dB!! It was truly deafening in that room, and the enthusiasm of the thousands of fans straining their voices and clapping wildly created an energy in the room that was not only heard, but felt.

All week, I've been thinking about how deftly and effectively the XFactor team was able to create a near frenzy of cheering excitement, a unified effort toward the achievement of a goal, and a sense of impassioned teamwork in a crowd of strangers--all because four ordinary, albeit famous, people entered the room.

And I thought of Heaven. Someday, we will cheer like that for the only One who is truly worthy of it! We will all be in one accord, and we will cease to be strangers in His presence! Heaven is going to be loud, y'all! Light (only His), music (some of it may surprise us!), and singing like you can't believe will be part of the biggest show we've ever dreamed of! The cheering in Heaven is going to blow the doors off anything our XFactor audience achieved! Did I mention, I think Heaven is going to be LOUD?!! Yeah. I think it will be!

I think Heaven will be unutterably quiet too. Have you ever heard the hush of Heaven that hovers over flowers worshiping in a meadow?

Heaven knows the secret that the quiet radiance of lifted faces is a different kind of loud. A smile that warms the heart of a passing stranger is a different kind of loud. A pie delivered to a neighbor, or an email just to say, "How ya doin'," or telling a janitor you appreciate the work he does--they're all a different kind of loud from Heaven's point of view.

Being who God made you to be, right where He has placed you, is a different kind of loud that sometimes rings a brighter bell, a prettier tone than all the cheering crowds in all the arenas cheering anything, anywhere! Jesus in you is a different kind of loud, and the world needs to hear Him.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might . . ."


Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"
Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1463-1526 (June 3rd through June 23rd)

3. 3 Gifts from Today's Conversations
"Thank you for having me."
"Love you, Mom."
"You know me SO WELL!"
4. 3 Gifts found in Christ
The humblest heart that ever was in the greatest person who ever was--only in the Upside-down Kingdom does that make any sense.
He noticed people.
Unwavering faith, unflinching purpose.
5. A Gift of Peace, of Hope, of Love
The quiet of the wee hours
Looking forward to my brother's wedding in September
All the hard work Hero Husband does out of love for his family
6. 3 Gifts "Ugly-Beautiful"
Hero Husband's beautiful black car that has recently been putting us in the red
A cloudless sky, high, flat, metallic, hot--but a beautiful shade of blue
Everything out of the entry closet--a big project, but an opportunity to clean out the unneeded
7. 3 Gifts in What You Are Reading
Encouragement for writers in You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins
Profound insight in The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
Instructions for wall-mounting our TV that worked out well in the end--a team effort with Hero Husband!
8. 3 Gifts Empty
The dishwasher 
The paper cup that held my grapefruit flavored soda water--so refreshing!
Shopping bags that brought home the things we needed from the store.
9. 3 Gifts That Made You Really Smile
The wonderful surprise ending of the movie we watched
Oklahoma City Thunder going to the NBA Finals!
Hearing Drummer Boy read the first two chapters of the novel he's writing!
10. A Gift at 8, at 12, at 2
Quiet breakfast with Hero Husband, watching Day of Discovery together
Great worship and fellowship at church
Sunday afternoon at Peet's Coffee--our other home
11. 3 Gifts Painted
The walls of my dining room in a color called Treasure Hunt
The RCMP "mountie" figurine that was a gift from a dear co-worker
Lines on a gym floor
12. 3 Gifts Full
My morning glass of V-8
She So Sweet's gratitude when I brought her what she needed for her dance final at school
The flavor in a new treat I tried--Terra "Sweets & Beets" Chips--so yummy!!
13. 3 Gifts Smelled
Morning breezes
Peet's Coffee
She So Sweet's hand lotion (Country Chic from Bath & Body Works)
14. A Gift Unexpected, Unwanted, Unlikely
Does with their fawns, and two young bucks with fuzzy new antlers
Early morning aches and pains that help motivate me to get in shape
A good deal on the new glasses I need (still so much money, but so much less than it might have been)
15. 3 Gifts in His Word
16. 3 Gifts in Your Dad
Sense of humor
Love of music
An earthly father who shows me what my Heavenly Father is like
17. 3 Gifts From Your Heavenly Father
Beauty in the world He created
His Presence
18. 3 Gifts You Became Today in Serving
Alarm clock
19. A Gift Bent, Beautiful, Loved
My very sore, but still functional knees, back and feet (standing for three LONG hours in line at the XFactor auditions took a toll, but we had SO MUCH FUN, and made Xfactor history!
Getting the compliment that She So Sweet and I look alike (she was SO SWEET, she even took it as a compliment, but clearly I got the better end of that deal!)
The children who bless me so thoroughly and continually!
20. 3 Gifts Found in Light
Clear vision
21. 3 Gifts That Are Difficult
Delayed gratification
Saying just enough and not too much
22. 3 Gifts Found Around a Table
Fun conversation at the end of a busy day
Sharing Hero Husband's birthday cake and giving him birthday cards yesterday
Progress on ongoing projects
23. A Gift in Water, in Words, in White
A hot shower and clean hair
Prayer and a clean heart
Oxyclean and clean clothes

   Beauty in His Grip Button

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A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Only Cure I Know for Pride


I was stunned at the force of the indignant pride that rushed through me. I was frustrated, feeling disrespected, insulted, and unjustly attacked in an area where I (sad to say) like to pride myself. How dare she?!!!

Like the Ashnola River swollen to a boiling fury that belies the bitter cold of the water that courses through its rocky canyon in spring, my heart was boiling with ice-cold, debris-laden haughtiness.

The details of what precipitated this reaction are not important at all, and they aren't the reason I haven't been able to stop thinking about it all week. I have been over it countless times in my head, and although I know, in all truthfulness, that I DID nothing wrong, I also know that the thoughts and feelings that were churning around in me were arrogant and uncharitable . . . and altogether unbecoming in a heart where Jesus lives.

As soon as that surge of pride hit me, it was like I had suddenly stumbled into a vat of toxic waste. It was repugnant to find pride in such potent quantity just beneath the surface, and I wanted it gone.

It is right and good to demonstrate what Hero Husband calls "a passion for excellence," to do our very best and to do everything "as to the Lord." It is quite another thing to let that tip over into the kind of pride that begins to believe it is somehow superior. The devil was once beautiful beyond description; he was gifted enough, excellent enough, honored enough to lead worship in the halls of heaven . . . until it all fell apart when he began to believe his own press and thought he was better than everyone, including God.

Is it possible to stand tall for excellence and still live a life bowed low?

Can confidence and humility inhabit the same heart, you know, the one where Jesus lives?

Is there a way to set wise boundaries without going past the fatal tipping point toward pride and haughtiness?



And, Yes.


There is only one cure I know for pride:


   "If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also have that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. If I dispose of all that I possess, yes, even if I give my own body to be burned, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing.
   This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.
   Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
    Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen. . . 

   In this life we have three great lasting qualities—faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love."    1 Corinthians 13:1-8a, 13 (PHILLIPS) 

The more love there is in a human heart, the less room there is for pride. I pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit will pour so much love into my heart that the pride will have to go. I pray for all of us who pursue excellence here in the blogosphere to be held safe from prideful thinking by hearts overflowing with love from the Father. Finally, I pray for all of us in Christendom to continually allow pride to be displaced with the overwhelming love of God, the kind of love that spills out all over one another and into a needy, hurting world.

Has anyone opened the floodgates of your pride lately?
Did it come as a surprise?
What did you do about it?

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"
Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1442-1462 (May 27th through June 2)

27. 3 gifts found in church
Drummer Boy on drums
A wonderful message from our Pastor who is so humbly gifted
Hero Husband sharing so eloquently
28. 3 gifts in today's work
Trying hard to repair a misunderstanding with a classmate--"as far as it depends on you . . ." Romans 12:18
Teamwork with Hero Husband to make a fabulous Memorial Day dinner
That it's a holiday, and nothing HAS to be done today--we're all home and enjoying the togetherness.
29. a gift at 8 AM, 12 PM, 8 PM
Quiet time
She So Sweet delivered, with her project all done, to her afternoon class, headache gone!
Watching basketball with Hero Husband
30. 3 gifts blue
My stapler that helps me keep things together
Royal blue tank top that is cool and comfortable
New blue eyeliner
31. 3 gifts you gave today
Clean work clothes to both kids
Encouragement to Hero Husband to find places and times to take a breath today
Gift to myself--assignments done ahead of time!
1. 3 Gifts Orange
California poppies
Orange juice from my freezer that I squeezed myself when our oranges were fresh off the tree
Mini sticky notes that help me keep my place
2. 3 Gifts Funny
She So Sweet & Hero Husband performing after dinner
All of us taking a picture with our Krispy Kreme hats on and Krispy Kreme donuts in hand
Drummer Boy trying to teach me how to use my new iPhone (early birthday present from Hero Husband when my old phone finally began to tire)

   Beauty in His Grip Button

On In Around button
A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!


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