Aug 20, 2009
Let me know what you think!
Aug 20, 2009
Let me know what you think!
Where do you find inspiration? I woke up pondering this question this morning. When I do that, I am always listening throughout the day because without a doubt I know God is trying to show me something and I should be on the look out.
Last month, my family visited Chicago to attend a surprise party for friend turning 50 — woo hoo! While in Chicago we visited a Saturday evening service at Willow Creek, a church where our friends had served on staff. The music was amazing. The waterfalls outside the windows were soothing. Hearing Bill Hybels speak about the fishing derby with children and adults for special needs was moving. But what really stirred my spirit was what happened during the sermon time, one of the pastors spoke with Catherine Rhor about the ministry with prisoners she founded in the Houston, Texas area. Right out of college she pursued a high powered job making a great money on Wall Street. Yet she kept asking herself if there was more to life. Finally she surrendered to God and prayed the prayer, “Lord Bring it!” Wow, I thought. I’m not sure I’ve prayed those exact words. I thought if you do pray those prayer, you had better be prepared for your world to be turned upside down. Following a mission trip to an orphanage for children with HIV she embraced those hurting and in need and begin to feel her life change. She was invited to speak at an all-male prison in Houston and with that acceptance came an incredible shift in her life. “Lord, bring it” brought on a new way of looking at life and a new passion she had not experienced on Wall Street. It brought compassion for others and helping them through tough times, believing everyone can make a difference simply given to tools and encouragement to do so. After one trip to the prison she began to lead classes with young men to encourage them to follow their passions and dreams and equip them for business once paroled. She finally quit her job, moved to Houston and founded a program the “Prison Entrepeneurship Program” – PEP. She said today the prayer, Lord, give us our daily bread has taken on new meaning. At the end of her interview, 3 graduates from her program spoke. One had been paroled only the day before. To say it was inspiring was an understatement. As we heard their stories and heard about the changes in their lives, the room felt lifted by the hope that was alive in their presence. We cheered as they talked about the work they were doing. I thought, as they spoke of their future, how refreshing it must be to be these three men, standing before this congregation. They seemed fearless, yet I’m sure have been in much scarier situations. They spoke with poise, grace and a confidence in themselves and in a God who always believed in who they were and in what they could achieve. I met Catherine afterwards and said, “I’d be willing to come speak or sing for your guys. Please know I’m willing and able and would love to come.” She smiled with such love and said, “You’ve said it now! When can you come?”
Inspiration — it moves me to action; it moves me to surrender; it moves me to let go of control; it moves me to look around and see what I can do today, where I am, right now.
Years ago I sang in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have always been inspired by art and was quite a follower of Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting. While I was off on Sunday afternoon I made a visit to her museum to mainly see one of my favorite paintings of her in a series called, “Above the Clouds”. I had a book at home and was drawn to that series and to her interpretation. She said she looked out of a window of an airplane and simply painted what she saw. As I entered the room where one of her paintings of clouds was on display, I sat against the wall of the back of the room, stunned. I had no idea that it would be HUGE. It is the size of two rooms. It was grand in front of me and I was taken by my misjudgement of its size from my coffee table book back home. It was so much better in person. In front of me I saw Georgia’s vision. She wanted it to inspire. I believe that’s why she painted it so big.
What inspires you? When have you been inspired? Where do you gather inspiration? Normally for me, it’s from the everyday things — a picture of clouds, a late-night family swim under the stars, Max having a food drive with his birthday party, or my flowers that grow in spite of my neglect. Sometimes it sneaks up on me, like that morning when I heard the PEP graduates speak of their dreams and desires for the future or when I stood in the presence of that magnificent painting.
While writing this note, I spoke with our dear friends Beth and John Page whose 5-year-old daughter Tanner has bravely been battling leukemia for the last couple of weeks. (You can read about their battle here or visit her Facebook page.) — I went to the hospital and sang for Tanner and despite how badly she must have felt, she still mustered up a smile for “Over the Rainbow”. She and I talked about what kind of hat she might like to wear when she loses her hair. Now that kind of attitude inspires me. It reminds me that everyday we are faced with a decision to choose to surrender ourselves and to trust that wherever we find ourselves — we can do it with grace. Her mom and I recently went to the movies. She let me pry her out of the house. I knew she was tired and a friend of mine suggested I see if she could use some girlfriend time. She and I laughed that at the snack counter as we ordered the couples’ combo – it was a great deal!
Much of the evening she shared how Tanner has handled this with grace. I think of the 5-year-old who should be riding her bike, eating ice cream, catching fireflies. She was planning on taking swimming lessons in our pool this summer. She was having slumb-overs. (A slumb-over is where you cross the street to a friend’s house in the neighborhood with your pjs and a sleeping bag in tow. You have a bath, enjoy a snack, watch a movie at a friend’s house and then when it’s time to go to bed, you cross the street to go back home to her house for the night—I love the idea!) Now Tanner is faced with not only this disease, but with treatment and the side-effects of treatment–feeling terrible, missing out on a ton of fun kid stuff this summer, feeling different, and cares about her future. Her mom says the word that she’s surprised to use, but fits best is grace. Wow! Ok I’m inspired. Tanner has taught me, but also her mom and dad, Beth and John, our dear friends, have bravely, wearily and courageously walked each step of this with such grace. Daily in small ways they have moved me to be more grateful and more thoughtful of others. One of the best parts is that they have been transparent and honest in their response. There are things in life we don’t understand and can’t change, but we can choose how we each respond. We can choose hope each day. We can choose to live hope and grace today. We can celebrate today, to enjoy and to savor each tiny moment (I love the day they shared that Tanner was feeling good, so they had a picnic upstairs in her room.)
We have this moment and we can look for inspiration right here, in front of us. These moments of potential inspiration are the real deal. Like Catherine, Georgia and Tanner, there are those around us who would remind us that life is bigger than we are. Life is filled with inspiration, everywhere. It is more, we are more than where we find ourselves, than our circumstance or what we are going through. Our lives are a blank canvas, so paint away friends, make chocolate covered strawberries for a friend, have a picnic, order the couples combo and don’t be afraid to pray, “Lord, Bring it” and then to be on the lookout to be inspired!
August 18, 1995 – September 15, 2008
We knew we wanted a sheltie and Blue came from a line of champions. We weren’t looking for a show dog. She had a crooked tail, and the breeder thought it was a flaw. Our veterinarian later told us that it was merely broken in utero. If they’d repaired it early, it wouldn’t have mattered; but again, we weren’t looking for a show dog.
Blue was gentle and a bit timid. In her early years she love to hide under the coffee table and nip at whatever got close. She always scrambled when a plastic remote control hit the ground and that was probably part of the reason she liked that coffee table. As a very young puppy she got car sick once in the back of our jeep wrangler. She wasn’t much for riding after that. Blue was a hot natured girl, her favorite place to snooze was on top of the air conditioner vent in the summer. When our previous dog Smokey died, Blue grieved for several months. The folks at the kennel commented on her grieving. As her hearing faded, she barked when Lilly our puppy barked, though she never knew what she was barking about. She was a great at-home dog. If ever a sheltie could act like an old hound, Blue was the champ. We’ll miss you Blue.
She had some stomach problems and we took her in this morning for lab work. At thirteen years old her kidneys were failing and the outlook wasn’t good. After a long consultation with the vet, we decided that at best we could prolong or delay her suffering. So we picked our boys up out of school, had a family meeting and a family prayer and went to spend some time with Blue before helping her on to the next life. We all held her paws and stroked her neck and back as she breathed her last breath. Rest in Peace, Blue.
I recently heard a talk where one of the illustrations was for us to view ourselves with a large sign over our heads. We were to imagine something on it that positively stated who we are. I thought about what my sign might say. The speaker essentially was saying that we become what we believe about ourselves. Last month I went to asummer evening gathering of women and again was told to look in the mirror everyday and to tell myself, “you are loved and you can do whatever is before you today.” Have you thought about how you see yourself? While talking to a friend about these thoughts, she mentioned that she sees herself with extra weight, more wrinkles and grayer hair. As she continued, I said “Are you kidding? What I see is your smile, your laugh and your light. I see you through the eyes of love.”
How can we all write on our signs those kind of things about ourselves that would reflect how God sees us and how we see ourselves through the eyes of love? I think my sign would be a mixture of who I believe myself to be and and how I want to view myself, something like,”I am loved and unsure and joyous and scared and blessed” All of it crammed into one sign.
In addition to working on my next book, this summer we are pretty much at home and we are teaching swimming lessons to preschool and elementary children at home with Max and Zach, covered with bugspray and sunscreen, saying over and over again, “you can do it, put your face in the water, reach and pull with your arms!” Most are beginning swimmers, with signs saying “I’m afraid.” One little precious boy, during his first time ever in swimming lessons, when asked to put his face in the water, said “That too tary!”(scary) During his last lesson after he put his face in, he laughed. What a journey from beginning 8 days ago, at 11 AM his sign said, ” that too tary,” and today, “I can do it!” What I know made the difference is Ron’s arms under him, holding him and telling him repeatedly, “I’ve got you and I’m not gonna let go of you.” Doesn’t matter what I allow on my sign, I do feel loving arms around me.
While at the grocery store in the produce I knocked over a box of cookies in a plastic container. Cookies went everywhere. As my son Zach and I began to pick them up — one of the deli workers just appeared and said, “I’ll take these ma’am.” “Oh no,” I quickly replied, “I’ll pick them up and please let me pay for them.” My sign said, “I’m embarrassed and I want to leave.” Apparently not. as she smiled. and said, “Don’t worry about it.” As we headed toward the bread aisle. I looked at Zach and said, “I don’t know why stuff like that bothers me, I just feel so embarrassed, I was moving too fast’.” Zach interrupted, “mommy, mommy, it’s okay it happens.” He took my hand and something changed, really changed. I was lifted. The problem was not gone, there were cookies everywhere. But there was another reality, of it’s ok — more importantly — I’m ok. I am ok and all that is in front of me that seems too tary is not too tary. I am known, I am loved and most importantly I am not alone.
Before I take my first step of the day, I started sitting up on the side of the bed in the morning. I put my feet on the floor in front of me and I say to myself “I’m living, I’m loveable, I am loved and I am not alone.” I also spell the ABCs with my feet. (When I ran I got fasciitis in my right foot and that was my runners’ re-hab.) I say to God help me let go of today, I give it to you.
Say it with me… “Today, I’m living, I’m loveable, I am loved and I amnot alone” There is nothing too tary, that today I cannot face!
Have a cookie today, I am gonna let go of today and see what happens
Scripture, Romans 8:28 — We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
P.S. Congrats to Tanner 5 1/2 who passed the swimming test that consisted of swimming a lap in the Olympic sized pool and treading water for 30 seconds, so that she could go down the big blue slide at the YMCA all summer long! Way to go!
To Rachel 18, in NY who graduated this June, Congrats! My text message to her on her last day of high school was “The best thing you could have learned is how loved you are, how special you are and how all things are possible.”
You both did it and we knew you could!
When I was eight everything was possible. I thought I could run faster, and I could. I thought there would never be a time when I wouldn’t try things and that time has come. I believed that all people are good and I have had occasion to wonder and even question that fact. I played with friends and thought those close to me then would be close to me forever. I know where only a few of those folks are today and I smile even thinking of them now. We were innocent. We were young. We were carefree. We loved, laughed outloud. ate ice cream when we wanted. drank Icees when we wanted, slept in during In the summer we watched cartoons early Saturday mornings, went to the fair every year, flirted with boys because it was fun, made wishes, believed dreams came true, said our prayers and all before bathtime and lights out. We played together and didn’t care who lived on which side of the tracks. We held hands during recess and skipped. We still played dress up with our mom’s clothes and shoes and makeup when they weren’t looking and pretended we knew what it would be like to be grown up. I had no clue.
I loved us and all the lessons we taught each other. Riding on your best friends handle bars down a steep hill should be avoided at all costs. The feeling of drowning is no fun and that feeling that you’ll never breathe again is something you put our of your head. That feeling returns when you’re a teenager and someone breaks you heart–you remember how it feels to be drowning all over again. We shared, really because we liked to share. The joy of giving what I had to my best friend and seeing her face–money can’t buy that. It’s priceless, really. We jumped off of things and didn’t think at the the time we’d get hurt, until an ankle sprain. I learned how long it takes to heal. Later I learned it again and again–healing seems to takes forever. We can spend our whole lives healing from something, even if we’ve made peace with the hurt. Some prayers don’t get answered, but I believe all prayers are heard. Fear is overridden by desire and joy is found in the smallest places.
I caught every living thing in my back yard and I treasured the world around me. The trees were my playrooms and my bike could take me anywhere. With coins in my pocket I’d head downtown to the library and get lost in a book that would take me to places I couldn’t pronounce, much less dream up. Next I’d ride to the drugstore for fudge ripple ice cream on a sugar cone and buy a Richie Rich comic book. Then I’d ride down past the cemetary to the creek and swim–that’s crazy huh. I’d catch tadpoles and fireflies. Then I’d head back home and play tag with my neightbors until it was dark. Finally and only at the last hour, I would go back inside for a quick bite, most of which I would sneak to the dog under the table. Then it was bath time. I made shampoo supported mohawks. After a quick bedtime story made up by my dad, I was off to sleep. I was still afraid of the dark at eight.. after a kiss goodnight, I’d check under the bed for the creatures and in the closet. I’d pull the curtains closed, hold a stuffed animal tightly. and head under the covers. I was right to be scared of things. There are things to be scared of. Some nights I was frozen–no trapped by fear, not most nights, but enough to remember. I’d whisper a few words under my breath and I was off to sleep. Now that I think of it, those creatures never surfaced. They were in my head, not in my room. Isn’t that the way it is? We have to be careful what we let have it’s way with our thoughts. Most nights the good prevailed. I dreamed when I was eight. Seldom did I remember my dreams, but I loved to dream about playing with dolphins somewhere exotic. Dream land was very different from my surroundings. That is still true today, but I still believe that anything is possible.
It’s all how you look at it. An eight year old sees with eyes that are still open and there are days when I long for that view. Even if I could go back and whisper some of the things I’ve learned and realized along the journey to that girl, she might laugh until she cried or she’d cry until she laughed. She wouldn’t, couldn’t believe me. She’d have to see it with her own eyes. That’s just what I have lived. Here’s to eight. Really in a word, it was great. Don’t ever stop being eight. Don’t forget to buy a snowcone this summer, bubble gum’s my favorite flavor and it turns your tongue blue–who doesn’t like that!
Max turns eight today… May 16, 2008 eat some birthday cake… 2 slices!
Some days are a blur. I look back and think, “what in the world?” It’s gone–one minute, one hour, one afternoon, the whole day–gone; and what has been done? Everyone gets the same 24 hours. Michelangeo had the same 24 hours and look what he did with it–amazing! Bill Gates had the same 24 hours and look what he did. He changed the way the world thinks and works. Mother Teresa had the same 24 and she spent each in humility, serving others. And each of us have our days–what will be done? This past Sunday was Mother’s Day and I read a woman jumped off a bridge and was never found. She had her day and decided what to do with it. Each of us choose. Each of us are faced with where we’re going and where we’ve been, and most importantly where we are–here, now. For good or bad it was my day, it was all mine. I read the foot book with Zach, actually he read it to me and I thought to myself, “he’s doing it.” I smiled thinking that it was just a second ago we were bringing him home from the hospital, baths were had, meals cooked, dreams scribbled down on napkins, calls made, songs began, coffee drank with friends, laughs laughed, stories told, my 24 hours was all mine. Maybe like Michelandelo, Bill Gates and Mother Teresa, I’m not sure while I’m in the midst of it if I’m doing anything, that will make a difference. Maybe they thought the same. Some days I wonder. There are moments in our lives when we have hugh impacts and we know it–I feel it. I’m moved by it and the day seems larger than it is. Then there are days when I’m faithful–that’s the best word I can think of. I keep trying, keep creating, keep swimming even if it feels like I’m swimming upstream, I keep dreaming, keep believing in my 24 hours something is going to happen, something unexpected. I wish I had been on that bridge Sunday, to say, “just wait, tomorrow has so many possibilities. I’ve had bad days and I’ve felt the edge of life. Take my hand and know that something could happen in the next 24 hours. Something could happen through you that could never happen through me.”I believe that, something happens through each of us each day. Some days it feels so small and some days I get to see it. Others might never see, experience it or be moved by it; but it’s real and it happens, so here’s to tomorrow and the blur that it will become.
Springtime always reminds me of what is new and what is now… and what is about to be birthed that hasn’t been before. The subject of what’s next seems to come up frequently in my conversations with friends and acquaintances. What’s next with my life.. what’s next with my career… what’s next with the relationships I am in … What are the next risks that I need to be taking… This past weekend I joined a group of youth who are graduating from high school. One of the things I remember about my senior year was that it seemed like everytime I turned around someone was aksing me, “what school will you be attending? What will you be studying?” or “Who will you be rooming with?” On and on came the questions and to be honest with you, I decided many of those things at the very last minute. I know that does not shock many of you who know me. I did not have a clue many times. There were those days when so much was spinning around me that I felt like I was just along for the ride. I had no idea where those decisions would lead me or if when I got there I would be prepared for what lay before me.
Early in my singing I met a business man on a flight from Dallas. He shared some of his life story with me on our short trip. During an interview for his first job out of college, he was asked if he had any experience taking pictures out of an airplane. “Of course,” he replied enthusiastically, “that will be no problem for me.” He did get the job and as he left the interview, he thought to himself, “now how would one take a picture our of a plane?” The first day on his job he was shocked to hear the pilot jokingly say as they started the plane, “at some point we’ll remove this cover on the bottom of the plane. You need to be sure you tie yourself onto the rope provided on the side and ya best hold on; things can get a little bumpy. I’ve never had a photographer fall out while taking pictures and don’t want you to be the first.” “You know, Celia,” he said as he looked into my eyes, “I might not have known what was next in my life, but I was always up for the challenge. I might not have been here today if I hadn’t taken that first unknown step.”
Years ago I read a book about Georgia O’Keefe.. her life as a painter and sculptor. She painted very differently from those painting at the time. She said she loved to paint the desert because most people over look the beauty of the desert. She eventually moved to Sante Fe, New Mexico. One of my favorite paintings of hers is titled “Sky Above the Clouds.” On a trip to Santa Fe to sing, I snuck away to visit the Georgia O’Keefe Art Museum. Words do it that painting justice. Over the years, I have seen her work in museums across the country but this was breathtaking. One of the great surprises was seeing the original artwork of Sky Above the Clouds. I was expecting a small painting and when I walked into the room where it was on display I was struck by its majesty. The painting is the size of the room… huge and filled … bold and beautiful. Painters of the nineteenth century had always painted clouds as if they were looking up at them… she painted them as she saw them from a plane. Crazy. Yet, again in her style she knew her next would not look like her now. I have a poster of one of her works and the bottom quote reads, “ I wasn’t going to spend my life doing what had already been done.”
As I buckle in to write my second book, I feel that way today. I’m not sure all that is ahead of me. I’m not sure if I’m going to be prepared, but really that has never stopped me before and it shouldn’t stop me or you now.
What’s next for us? Really, I have a new glimpses… a few ideas… one thing I’m sure of … it will be new and fresh… if I can help it… I’m just gonna tie myself on and hold on with all my might and see where I end up…. I invite you to do the same…
Happy Flying Friends, Celia
These thoughts took place between 1 PM and 2 PM. I must admit, since my last newsletter (which has been a few months) something has happened. I’ve become a little obsessed with Jack Bauer, the main character in the television show “24”. He works for a government branch that is involved in counter- terrorism. Ron knows and he’s hooked too. The show is in it’s 7th season and a friend of mine loaned me the first season on DVD to watch during my travels. It sat on my bedroom dresser for a month before I began watching it. If you haven’t watched it, the show is broken down by the hours in a day. To watch one 24 episode season is to watch one 24 hour day. Every single episode ends with a cliff hanger–one that leaves the watcher wanting more and wondering what in the world is going to happen to this guy next!
I was on the road traveling and mentioned to a youth director friend of mine prior to beginning the series that someone had given it to us. “Be careful,” he said as he laughed. “My wife and I rented the first season,” he recalled “and we thought after we put our kids to bed we’d watch a few episodes just to see if we liked it. We began watching early that evening. We got to midnight and said we better stop.” He smiled and said, “at 8 am we turned it off and woke the kids for the day.” It is crazy to see what all can happen in just one day!
The show is presented in real time, with an hour representing an hour. It is funny to observe how life is presented in this story with a season representing one 24 hour day.
It’s been a fun ride to see how all of the different characters and the way their lives weave together and how that is revealed just a little bit at a time.
I have some observations to share:
First, Jack is single focused. He knows the purpose of his mission. Regardless of the object of his mission, Jack seems to be single focused on whatever the task at hand is. There is often quite a bit of potential distractors in the mix, but Jack sticks to his mission.
Second Jack has an uncanny ability to know who to trust. In the show there are definitely people who should not be trusted. Time and time again, Jack realizes who is really trust worthy. Think about that in your own life. OK I’ll go first. On the surface, I trust everyone. But when it comes down to it., I’m not a good role model for trust. I forgot a close friend’s birthday this week and on the day, at the ninth hour, I called him and said, “oh no.” I had no card and no gift. I thought for sure I’d remember and be the one he could count on to make his day special. If you give me a piece of paper with your name and number on it, well it might just might go to the place where all my other lost stuff is. Some airport lost and found in Phoenix, on some shelf in the back. If you ask me to pray about something for you, I really try to remember. I might think about it after the thing I was suppose to pray for. OK, I’m just being honest.. But then there’s that moment when you really get my attention and say, “Celia I need you to help me with this.” Do you have someone like that? I called a friend last week just to hear her voice, just to touch down and say I love you. She has seen the good and bad in my life and I have seen hers. I can trust her with all of it. The last episode I saw Jack was captured and in the last seconds of the show he said, “can I make one call?” Even Jack has a someone he can call, someone he can say, “this thing happened to me.” I’m not sure you can do anything about it, but I thought of you and I called to say I need you. Who do you trust with your everything?
A third theme is that Jack has ability to get the job done alone. Many times Jack finds himself going in before back-up arrives. His advisors have asked and pleaded with him to wait. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. He’s caught by the bad guys, because maybe there were too many bad guys or maybe he couldn’t see that one guy behind the tree. Why do I attempto to work like that? I think foolishly that I can do this by myself, all alone, with no back up. Like Jack, many times I pull it off and that’s insane, because sometimes, I don’t. What I have learned is that trust goes hand in hand with this concept. There are some people I can trust my life to and there are those who will be there for me as my partners in life. Beyond them there is my faith which I know that I know God’s realness and steadfastness–the always-in-the-midst-of-my-sea-of-maybes.
I joke and say if we’re alive and well then Jack Bauer is doing his job, but I know better. Jack is not the source of my security. If I’m alive and well it’s because I know who I am; I’m doing things that I love; I’m surrounded with people who know me and love me; I have a faith that is real and true and I can trust others with my heart and life.
I’m not alone and neither are you.
These thoughts will self-destruct in 30 seconds.
Who do you ask for directions? I had an experience last month that got me thinking.
I was returning from a visit with my friend Kathleen and I arrived early at my gate at the D/FW Airport, so I picked up breakfast from the McDonald’s in my terminal. Upon returning to my gate I noticed an empty information booth. It was perfect — no one was sitting there; it had a counter and a chair; it was near the door at my gate and it was near the main floor to the terminal. It would be a great place to enjoy my breakfast and to people-watch (or so I thought)! So I did what I normally do, I made myself at home. Placing my carry on bags underneath the booth, I took a seat and began eating my breakfast. Something funny happened. Instead of my watching people, people started watching me. Above my head was a sign that said, “information.” As folks walked by, they stopped. At first I thought, “surely they will know that I’m just at traveler, like them, stopping to eat my breakfast.” I mean come on my sausage biscuit was sitting right there next to my Starbucks. OK I love McDonalds breakfast… but Starbucks was a must! I guess they thought that I had some information they needed and they began to stop.
“Excuse me, do you know how to get to Terminal C?” As I looked up at a family of four, “Sure,” I answered. Catch the Skylink right behind this hallway and it will take you right there. It’s just two stops away and you’ll be there in no time,” I smiled.
A man came by wearing a “Life is Good” baseball cap on his head. “Say can you help me get to the extended parking? I’m having trouble remembering which bus to catch?” “Alright,” I said, “this one’s a little tough.” There was a map nearby and I said, “it might take a while, but be patient you’ll get there. The trams do come my quickly and when I’ve been away from my car for a while I have to stop and think ‘OK. now where did I leave you?’” And off he went.
A lovely retired couple came by asking how one might change a flights and leave a little later on another flight. Hmmmmm I knew they’d need a higher power. “You know what? You’ll need a gate agent to help you. I can’t do that one.” So I directed them to the nearest gate where a friendly agent quickly began to pull up their record and redirect there route home. After a while I picked up my biscuit and thought I might as well eat while I’m here. I called my friend Kathleen and I got so tickled as we laughed at how once again I had found myself in an interesting situation. I told her it was funny as I watched the family of four run off to catch the Skylink train to make their flight. They all smiled and waved at me, “hey thanks for the help.” “Have a fun trip,” I laughed. Kathleen and I giggled that I should leave while I could, before I sent someone in the wrong direction or gave out bad advice and made their trip worse.
One of my favorite movies as a child was “The Great Impostor (1961).” Tony Curtis starred in it. His character took on roles of different people. At times others thought him to be that person and they treated him as if he was. Once he was a doctor and once a warden of a prison. The funny thing is that he was good at his roles. He became who others thought of him to be. Instead of being just the impostor, he genuinely became that person and really was quite good at helping people and at making a difference. Yet he was always wondering if he would be discovered.
The role of information expert fell on me by accident and I don’t encourage pretending like someone you are not, but I felt a little bit like I was in that movie while I sat at that booth. I wondered if someone would finally see me for who I was. I was not the information lady, but someone waiting for a plane and eating my breakfast. I wondered if anyone from my flight had seen me at the booth and wondered “what in the world? What’s she doing? She can’t sit there. What information does she have that can help? There needs to be a qualified official information person in that chair.” I just smiled and thought, “you will have to tell it to the 25 people who I just helped along their way.”
I wonder how it can be that I’m the person being asked for directions when, I’m guessing much of the time. And there are moments when I think, “now I don’t have the answer for you, but I’m here with you and I can point you in a direction I’d look if I were you.”
Here’s the thing, you never know where you’ll find information about your direction and who might be the one to lead you there. God is using all of us. We are all instruments. Even if we don’t feel like we should be sitting in the information booth.
My desire is to move people and I think music is the way I’m called to do so. Sometimes it’s not just a moving of the heart or emotion, it’s more like pointing the way. How do I get from here to there? How do I get un-lost? How can I understand which way to go from here?
I have to tell you that as that family ran by, I had a moment when I thought, “this is it. This is my purpose… to help others on the way to somewhere.” I’m not sure how it works. I spend my days writing and singing songs, telling stories, taking morning walks, chatting over coffee, sharing great dinners, taking road trips, sharing music that I love with others, eating birthday cake to remember someone special, going to a water park, making and taking phone calls, making late trips to sit by a friend’s side and offering words of help and comfort. Sometimes — OK many times – it’s just about being there.
Who are you called to help? Who is your neighbor? Who is near you? Sometimes it is a proximity thing — Love God with all you heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. The best thing I had to share at that empty information booth that day was myself.
Blessings to you fellow travelers, I love you and my deepest prayer is that wherever these days lead you, that you will feel God’s loving arms around you and know as you journey that you are not alone.
PS To the guy looking for extended parking: I’m sorry if I didn’t say it at first, but you might have needed to have caught the bus on the lower level. I hope you made it to your car that day. Loved the hat. Life is good!
She stared directly at me and burned a hole in me with her dark brown eyes. She was holding her mother’s hand and lagging a little behind her mother’s pace. Her red dress was what first caught my eyes and then her face drew everything toward her. She really looked at me as if she knew me and knew all about my life. I wish I could use the right words to describe what I felt but in a minute I knew she knew me. Right there at gate C14, as I made my way to baggage claim, a 2-year-old named Sierra captivated me. Her mother walked by me and she turned her body around to look at me. She began waving and then stopped. I of course, stopped and said, I see you… you are beautiful. What’s your name? As I bent down to talk to her, she had stopped her mother as well. The mother’s eyes were gentle but tired and she smiled and said, Her name is Sierra. By then Sierra and I were in full embrace and I said again, “I see you and I love you.” I had been away from Max, Zach and Ron for days and I was so thankful for Sierra’s hug. As her mother began to pull away, Sierra motioned kisses to me in the air. an appropriate farewell for a 2 year old. Her hair covered in red ponytails, her white shoes, her red polka dot dress, as cute as they were, all paled in comparison to the countenance on her face–pure love.
Have you ever met anyone and see it shining from their faces? And then there’s the knowing… the real, genuine, truthful knowing that is exchanged in the connection. It was more than words shared, because to be honest, I was the only one talking. Her mother after sharing her named, sheepishly said, “thank you,” when I commented on her beauty. As they walked away, I stood and told Sierra “I’ll see you another day. Go with your Mamma, she’s a good Mamma and she loves you and I’ll see you another day. Sierra continued to blow kisses until finally she turned around to catch up with her mother’s stride.
As I made my way down the hallway toward baggage claim and toward my family I was thankful for the gift of our encounter. I have been pondering this season… all it means and all I still don’t comprehend about these holy days. This morning, Zach summed it up on the way to school. We were talking about Jesus and about Easter. We talked about how Jesus came to teach about God’s love and show us how much we are loved and he eventually died doing so. Zach one of my back seat theologians said, “yea, that Jesus loves us more than we can know.” That sums it up for me. Max and I agreed and I wished I had said it that way ‘cause it’s true.
Every once in a while I am reminded of how that love knows me, claims me, sustains me, invites me, embraces me and sees me. Like my meeting with Sierra. Out of nowhere I’m instantly reconnected and reminded and overwhelmed with more love than I can know. I wish that for you. If you see a little girl in a red polka dotted dress, don’t pass her by. She may be Christ’s messenger with a kiss or a hug for you on your journey. It is almost easier to forget to be on the lookout for the angels that live and visit us everyday as messengers of God’s love. Who knows, maybe God was using me that day to see Sierra and her mom and to be of an encourager for them along their way; just as they were to me.
As Paul is closing his letter to the Hebrews, he writes these words, “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2 NRSV)
I sang for a leadership event for Calvary Community Church in the Los Angeles area last month. A small group of leaders and chosen influencers gathered to focus on making their church a more hospitable place. We talked about fun, we talked about being inviting and we talked about being on the lookout. One lady said it well when she said that she was much better at recognizing opportunities in her rear view mirror. I’m not sure how it works, but God is moving and I’m looking out my windshield at what’s coming. Join me on the lookout.
Love you, Celia