Getting Caught Up in the Ringtone

Have you come to learn that the proper ringtone sends out a message alerting people to who the person is that carries it?  For example, we were in a cafe in Mullinville, KS when “Bad boys, bad boys–whatcha gonna do when they come for you?” startedplaying.  Immediately, we felt much safer because a cop was protecting us while his stomach was taking a chicken fried steak prisoner.  The person with old-fashioned telephone ring probably is a cut to chase person.  Their ringtone is more about actually hearing that a call is coming in than wishing everyone a Merry Christmas in techno-rap.

I am not one of those basic people.  Shockingly, neither is my husband.  The man, whose favorite color is tan, (yes, really. You may join me at yawning on this color choice)  has surprised us all with the trumpet blasts which traditionally send horses racing around a track. Currently Cliff’s life in the oilfield can mirrors this ringtone.  Who needs to go to the Kentucky Derby when he’s around?  He has set my incoming calls on his phone with the Pink Panther theme, which is very fun to us.

It took me awhile, but found the perfect one that would get my attention.   It is jive-y and reminds me of what I need to do more of.  It’s the old Soul song from 1967 Say a Little Prayer.  Here’s a bit of the lyrics:

The moment I wake up

 Before I put on my makeup

 I say a little prayer for you

Yes, absolutely!  It’s jazzy.  It’s snappy.  It’s sweet. It’s fun.

BUT, I have found it problematic.  It is so irresistable!  When people call, I get so into the song and don’t want to answer it!  In fact, I have had to call people back due to sheer captivation!  I get to grooving and have to get to the part where Aretha sings “forever and ever, you’ll stay in my heart…”  I can’t help it. The music invades my spirit.

Suddenly grocery stores or doctor’s offices are instantly converted into a discos. While kind of awkward at first, I have noticed, most people smile when they hear it.  Joy jumps from this silly phone, grabbing unsuspecting wall flowers for a whirl.   Really unique conversations waltz their way into existence because of it.  How brilliant God is in what He uses to introduce Himself to others!

Unbeknownst to whoever is calling me, they are spreading the love as well!  Sean, the Amazon techy, with a report on why my Kindle is having problems.  He’s on the night shift in South Africa.  Mom’s Care Center.  My cowboy dad, who the only song he knows all the words to is Home on the Range, is singing like a Supreme !  Can I hear an ‘Amen!?’

So while I wait for my Captain Cliff Sparrow’s ring from Pirates of the Caribbean or a ‘I need to talk to you, Mom” call from Darth Vadar Cole or Rockin’ Robin Ann, something thrills my soul when ‘my’ soul song comes through those speakers.

I just pray that I don’t get so caught up in the music that I forget to answer the call whenever or wherever it happens to find me.

“Dear Lord: Help me to spread you fragrance wherever I go.  Flood my soul with your spirit and life.  Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all y life may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul.  Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul.  Let them look up and see no long me, but only you, O’Lord.”  an excerpt of a prayer by John Henry Newman.  One of Mother’s Teresa’s favs.

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My Assassin Wears Pink Jazz Pants

"What's your favorite exercise?" "Suduko."

Do you need a ‘get on your mark, get set, go!”?   Do great intentions lazily jog warm up laps around in your head, but would never flex their muscles if there wasn’t a starting line?  On some things, I need the motivation of the starter’s pistol pressed straight into my temple to scare me into doing it.

I casually let the New Year slip, knowing I have until Jan 16th to keep my spot on my comfortable couch nice and warm while I plot and plan what all I’m going to accomplish in my break from a normal work schedule.  There’s no stopping me from things I’ve had on layaway for years.  The most dreaded on the list: getting into shape. If you’ve read my blogpost Feeling the Burn you know this is my nemesis.

In the meantime, I enjoyed my time.  I kindled to my heart’s content.  Wiled away hours on Pinterest.  Crafted masterpieces. No worries.  I had time until my adventure was to start.

This morning I woke to my target day.  Oh yuck!  As the bed tempted me to stay tucked in longer, I know I could get into a bad habit, so I bail out of bed and rip open the brand new aerobic DVD I bought.  Breaking the plastic to break into the disc was enough of a challenge this out of shape gal to almost consider the wrestling match my work out.  Had it not been for several seasons of watching Dancing With the Stars and fooling myself into thinking ‘with a little work and the right partner, I could do this”, I would succomb.

Adding to my DWTS dream, I choose to block that I have the rhythm of a richocheting b-b and coordination to match.  Somehow during the purchase process Common Sense distracted my attention from the jiving dance music.  “Stay away from anything that may put you in traction.  Go with ‘easy’.”  Ok, party pooper!  No Sambas for me.

As a perky little gal starts in with her arms going one way and her ‘tap-tap’ steps the other, my body would not cooperate with what she was doing.  Not good when this was “Step one to warm up!”  Grrr!  Even after several reps, I had to rewind to study this again.  Back in the day, it took no time to catch on to the Saturday Night Fever moves as we practiced in Romy’s drive way, her parents’ car 8 track blaring.  Now, I feel like I’m looking in a mirror,  running a curling iron the first time.  Nothing is working in tandem. Oh, DWTS’s Max would cuss loudly when drawing my name from the contestant hat, tearing  it to shreds right there under the mirror ball.  What am I doing?

Then we ‘pick it up” and “amp up” the speed.  Some moves start to gel.  Ok, I’m with Senorita Jazz Pants now.  I may be stomping like a Clydsdale, but I am grooving until…..

She adds something that I can only describe as an ‘arm rodeo’.  Is she serious?  I grab the box.  What?  ‘Full body’ workout?  I walked a few miles with Leslie Sansone and she seemed fine with my arms the way they are.  A five year plan of legs, then arms, then moving them at the same time sounds like a much better idea.  Miss Jazz Pants disagrees firmly.  I stomp and flap like the dance of the whooping crane until some guy I would swear was on crack comes through the studio back door.  He flies into the group that Jazz Pants is leading amidst her adding some whirling dervish moves.  “Single, single, double, triplicate’ she pops off as I struggle to follow.  He gets her attention by breaking into the scene and yelling “Pump it up! Pump it up!”  She acts so surprised, when we all know she’s not.  “Oh Kirk,’ she swats at him while keeping in perfect step and not a bit winded.

On the other hand, I am distracted, confused, and trying to get her attention that I’m two heartbeats from needing a difibulator.  She’s busy visiting with ‘Kirk”.  Lucky for me, he finally vaporizes after encouraging us to “keep it up, up, up” like he has some kind of aerobic Ghost of Fitness Future, making his rounds on a very tight schedule.

Jazz Pants decides she’d best get back to us again and asks me questions: “How ya doing?”  When I answered she didn’t even miss a beat, let alone get out an oxygen tank like I requested.  “Yes, I feel the pull!  Yes, my muscles are going to set up like concrete the minute I stop.”  She just laughs like she hears that from her out of shape studio friends.  She’s shoved them on the back row to make the set look full.  She’s getting a kick out of our struggle. In fact, she’s probably trying to keep from giggling unmercifully as she watches me dodge a coffee table, footstool, and my cat.  Charlie is flicking his tail with a big smirk on his face, planning to attack a loose string on my pajama pants when I least expect it.  He is her wing man, I can feel it. Traitor!

I finally concede to let the gals go on without me.  It used to be I’d give up with discouragement, but no more.  I’ll do what I can do.  At least I’m moving and I will get it some day.  Kind of.  Maybe.  Who knows?  Who really cares but me?  Actually, “Me” isn’t locked into perfection, but into improving for my good.  I’m going to laugh along the way until I can ‘tap, tap, right, left, bounce for 4’  to something better than I’ve been.  Yes, a fit ‘masterpiece in the works.”

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because he had stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”  James 1:12

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Flying Above the Radar–A View from the Balcony

Are you so caught up in the familiar that your breath has been taken away when the simple act of readjusting completely changed your view and perspective?  I’m not talking moving to a new town or job, but some action so small it seems insignificant at the time?

Sit me front row, smack dab in the middle of a classroom.  Sit me in church, I’m still near the front of the herd, which gravitates half way back in our huge sanctuary with a much smaller congregation.  A perfect spot for this church employee. Close enough to the front to spring into action if someone forgot this was their children’s sermon week, but far back enough to catch folks to see if they need to pick up their new Bible study book they forgot last week. Sometimes I get a little crazy and step across the aisle to the east side, but not too often.  Don’t want to throw the church off balance.

This Sunday is different.  I’m wishing I had a big floppy hat, dark glasses and a mustache. The public person that I am is not feeling public, something my church family would not understand.  They are used to me dragging skeletons out of my closet and teaching them to do the Electic Slide down the center aisle in a dance off with Ezekiel.  When I started doing radio, my family took it pretty well that they were going to be priceless material, shared across the airwaves in a 90 mile radius.

After 2 1/2 months of knowing this is my last official ‘work’ day, it is hitting. Handling ‘good-byes’ is not my gift, even though I am not leaving this church.  There is still so much ministry that God has given me the green light to do here.  This should not be a big deal!   So, feeling absolutely ridiculous that I am a bundle of emotions and soggy kleenex, I’m tempted to jet out and avoid it all, but that would not be finishing well, would it?  To add to the drama I am overwhelmed with secrets in my heart, I can not share at the moment.  I opt for the balcony.  No one ever sits up there.  I will be alone and fly above the radar.

Just the Sound Guy and the Computer Diva share it with me.  They know me well and knew my struggle.  You see, I know I am not a hard act to follow, but I also tend to take on responsibilities God never intended me to hang on to.  When He spoke that it was time for this new chapter to begin, I was ok.  As the clock ticked and question marks loomed over how everything is going to get done until a replacement is found,  I have allowed my spirit to grieve that I am letting the church family that has raised my children, celebrated with my family, and wiped my tears through considerable trials and heartaches down.  We won’t even go into the friendships of my co-workers and how that will change.  The glob of kleenex has now grown to softball sized.

The service pauses for ‘shake and greet’ time.  I peer over the rail to see who is roaming the aisles.  Amongst the sea of bald spots shining up at me, I see a grandma lovingly smoothing her grandson’s hair.  She’s trying to kindly line him out about something and he is rolling his eyes.  A hum of voices greets me as I overhear, “how’s your mama doing?” and “Tell me about the cruise!”  A single dad wrestles his two little ones.  His road has been far from easy, but he keeps coming back, faithfully to folks that delights to see this trio.  Maybe I am the only one that noticed, but towards the front away from the herd, two friends embrace.  As they step back, one is in tears, as the other straightens the friend’s collar, patting her shoulders and sincerely conveying encouragement this gal desperately needs.  I glance away from this private moment.

Everyone heads back to their seats.  Announcements begin.  “Oh, there is a card for everyone to sign for Bob since he took that nasty fall.  We’re passing it around.”  Heartfelt prayers fly as a theme of cancer diagnosis and treatment charges forth as a like a plague.  An announcement is made by a sweet little pumpkin with a big bow in her hair.  A new brother has arrived in her family as she holds a teary grandma’s hand.  I tear up with her as she has shed a few with me in the past.

Oh how I love this gang!  All perfect?  Not a one of them.  Maybe that’s why I’ve fit in so well here.  What ties them is love-Christ’s love.  They love Him and in turn love each other.  There is not a face that I don’t see Jesus radiating in.  They are covered in grace and aim to pass it on.  God has great things in mind for these folks, even though we can’t see how it’s all going to go down.

My shoulders unwind as the stess of the load I was never meant to carry melts.  I hear a noise and a few other ‘balcony’ folks have slipped in with me.  Maybe they are overwhelmed and need the space?  Or maybe they have been here before and they are inspired by this breath-taking view.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–Just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.’  Ephesians 4: 2-5

(PS-Cheryl, if you read this, I picked up my basketball sized wad of soggy kleenex.  If there were some left, they were someone else’s.  Proceed with caution. Love ya!)

The “B” Factor-It’s a Gal Thing.

It never ceases to amaze me that when a group of women comes together, how quickly the “B” factor comes to light.  Some might think I am talking about the bratty situations that remind us of the relations between junior high girls clawing their way to the top of the female Queen of the Hill status. Nothing is fair in that piranha pool of hormones and insecurity.

Let’s see the hands: who wants to go back to decorated lockers with nasty anonymous notes falling out of them?  Just as I figured.  Not a single hand.

Thankfully, that is definitely not what I am talking about.  Instead, nothing touches my heart like when women let their hair down and are real.  They are living lives that are not the daydream creations they cooked up as they zoned out in 7th grade English class. The mini-skirt clad princesses had it all figured out.  Sadly, life hasn’t been that fairy tale by a long shot.  Instead, at times they’ve been beat up in roller derby fashion and felt far from being queens of anything.

Show of hands of who I am talking about.  Yep, as I figured-everyone!

As I sit with these gals, some one-on-one and some in a small group, I am overwhelmed.  They may have been bruised, but they are far from being destroyed. In Isaiah 42:3 it says “A bruised reed, he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring justice.”  I know there are times they believed they would be consumed, but instead they are being molded and shaped.  “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.” (42:6).  They have been promised that the Prince will come to the rescue.

This is when the “B” factor kicks in.  They are some of the bravest people I know.  As trust is built, they uncover their bruises and allow The Light begin a healing process.  In the sharing of the hurts, they give confidence to others to trust God and not the circumstance that is raging around them.  Clinging to the Word, lifting each other in prayer, the mixing of a tear or two as prayers go up, they are some of the fiercest warriors in the universe.  The beauty of it is they are so humble, that their focus isn’t that they look stunning in the Wonder Woman crown with matching lasso and boots.  The glory goes to God through the floods, fires, health issues, pesky husbands, kids that are running with life’s scissors, aging parents, mama-bear moments, financial freak-outs, hot flashes, a very empty nest, the confusion of not knowing what to do at times, and a mountain of other possibly of crushing issues.  Regardless they spread Christ’s fragrance wherever they go as their stories, gratitude, joy, passion and hope are misted on those around them.

“I prayed my way through all the studying, because this brain doesn’t work like it used to. I couldn’t do it without Him!”

“What she talked about tonight hit me exactly where I needed it.  God knew! He knew!”

And the list goes on as the another ‘B’ factor presents itself.  They know they are blessed. 

And so are we by just being around them.

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The Queen of the S.S. Overkill

Do you ever go overboard?  I mean to the point that no life-preserver can save you from drowning in the sea of indulgence?  On many occasions I do.  I don’t even realize I have turned blue until its necessary for CPR to be performed, preferably by my husband.   If I was Gilligan, I would hoard all the coconuts, because if the Professor needed one to make a radio, I would want to make sure he had 6.  Just in case.

As one of my favorite Bible Study leaders confesses, her last name is “Moore” because she in her husband are prone to think this way.  Ironically my mom’s maiden name is the same.  The “Moore” curse seems to run rampant.

Not all the time, though.  It’s just ever so often the curse strikes when I least expect it.  For example, don’t introduce me to a new craft idea, because I think in order to do an amazing job I need to wipe out Hobby Lobby of every sticker pack, rainbows of stamp pads, and a fleet of scissors that will cut squiggles, wiggles, zigs and zags.  Don’t send me to the fabric department or I will walk out with enough fabric to whip up whip up sails for the Nina, the Pinta and Santa Maria while a quilt waits for me to finish this wedding gift for my daughter from 5 years.  At times when I have been swamped with life I have actually attempted to tan a deer hide or take a class on wheat weaving.  Cliff will give me the ‘look’ that says I have just set sail on the Crazy Cruise and say, “You don’t even have time to trim your daughter’s bangs.  When are you going to have time to weave wheat?”  Sense will break through the squall and no stalks will be turned into straw angels that day.

Through the years, I have learned some restraint…..kind of.

This year it snuck up on me again.  When I opened my Christmas gift from Cliff, it really should have had yellow police tape in a nice bow across the package that said, “WARNING: POINT OF NO RETURN”.   To my defense I was an unsuspecting victim as I pulled back the camo overalls in a big box used to throw me off track.  A Kindle Fire lit up my eyes.  The Holy Grail to a book addict.

Let the downloading begin!  Absolutely the first item was a Bible, because I am a huge study nerd.  For months I slobbered over when their ‘free book’ alerts showed up on my Facebook feed.  Now I can partake to my heart’s desire! Of course favorite authors needed to find a place in my e-world. Classics I have always had a hankering for screamed my name.   Since I live three blocks from our town museum I had to devour The Use and Need of the Life of Carry Nation.  How could my home of 21 years forgive me if I did not know the history of its famous temperance crusader? 100 Bible Verses Every Christian Should Know encouraged me to tuck these words of truth in my heart.  ( I’m trying to talk myself into believing my lack of self-control is countered by a holy element.  Yes, I think my tilted halo is straightening just a titch with this selection.)

Fiction, non-fiction, and about every genre has jumped on my Kindle.   Ahh…the good intentions have sent a charge of excitement through me much like the one I would get as my huge stack of coupons would tick down my grocery bill when I was in my extreme coupon phase.

Thankfully, as time goes on, perspective is winning out. Don’t get me wrong.  I really, really like this gift.  It is so handy and does just about everything but make a radio out of coconut—wait it has Pandora, so no coconut needed.  How handy to slip it in my purse and take it with me to read my Bible in the church pew or riding with Cliff in his work truck.  It is a tool God has blessed me with and is to be used to his glory, but not in competition to time spent with Him.

I admit some mornings I have gotten more excited to find out what bar Carry Nation was sharpening her hatchet to smash when I went to sleep than any good advice the book of Philippians has to offer.  That’s when I started reminding myself of how cool God is and tell him about his attributes and character.  Suddenly the Kindle and Carry fade away.   Truly, nothing has the ability to kindle a lasting, unquenchable, and perfect fire in any of us, but Jesus.  He thrills my heart and gives me what it takes to breathe deeply and fully as He reaches out his hand to rescue me from me.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him.  I will protect protect him for he acknowledges my name.” Psalm 91:14