Monday, October 19, 2009

Story of Service

MLK, Jr. once said, "Anyone can be great because anyone can serve." If a life of service is a guage for greatness, then my dad was a truly great man. I cannot remember a time when my dad was not in service to his community in some way. He was always volunteering for a community project, a committee for community enrichment, and involved in organizations that focus on community enrichment. Many of my childhood memories of my dad are related to going with him on one of these volunteer efforts.

I don't think I ever questioned the benefits of volunteering or serving selflessly. Being in service is my Dad's legacy. All 4 of us, his children, have a heart for volunteering and building into our community. In whatever way we can, using whatever talents we have. And serving others regardless of our personal circumstances.

I was just thinking of my Dad's legacy of service today. He passed away 2 years ago, October 19, 2007. I am always noticing little ways I'm like my Dad, like my natural ability and desire to find the least traveled route to work. And my passion for volunteering- serving my community and people.

I thought about my dad's legacy of service when my brother called tonight to report his latest fund raising success. Tonight's fund raising report was regarding a woman who just lost her 18 month old child due to the physical abuse from her boyfriend. My brother has lived a troubled somewhat self destructive life. And yet when he hears of a tragedy in his community he jumps in to help however he can. He offers his ideas, enthusiasm, and his talents without hesitation. Tonight he shared how he and his friends raised enough money to pay for the funeral and a nice headstone for this 18 month old. And the one thousand plus dollars left after that are being donated to a fund for other abused children. If you just knew my brothers personal experiences you might be impressed. But if you knew our dad, it's no surprise.

My sister's do the same. They are both teachers and truly invest in their students. Plus they volunteer in their church communities, and always help others in need.

I can think of no better mirror of the great man my dad was than the stories my siblings and I live in lives of service.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Prayer Pact

The power of prayer is amazing. Just the concept of prayer is mind blowing. We can talk to GOD, almighty creator of everything, anytime and it's called prayer. And when two or more are gathered in prayer, it's exponential. Some days I'll just thank God for prayer, plain and simple.

I keep a prayer journal. It's full of raw, honest, prayers. I have been keeping a prayer journal for several years, so I actually have several notebooks full of prayers. I noticed that there is at least one theme that I've been praying about for a couple of years. They are prayers for myself, for something I desire. Recently I had a conversation with a friend where we discovered we have both been praying similar prayers for ourselves for that something we desire. And we discussed how redundant it seemed and that we felt a little selfish for it. So I proposed a pact. Beginning that day I started praying for her for that desire specifically and she started praying for me for that. We both felt it was easier to pray for each other for that desire instead of always praying for ourselves. And after a few days we shared what we noticed.

What we noticed was mostly little shifts in perceptions. We were both having insights we hadn't had before in the area of this desire. Neither of us got an immediate concrete result. Yet we knew the pact was working. We were thinking in unprecendented ways and realizing deeper internal beliefs that affected our outward behavior. After the first couple of weeks I noticed my prayers for her were less intentional and more like random thoughts and quick little prayers.

Then I got this message from my friend, Stacie, on FaceBook:
"I'll be praying" sounds good but when daily stuff takes my mind of it, it gets lost sometimes. I want to try to make my prayers deliberate and am going to use my blog to do so. Wanna join me? ;)"

I was immediately inspired! And Stacie has written some awesome blog posts since then. You can check them out at However, all my initial inspiration has faded momentarily. I know it will return. I've just been distracted. But in the meantime, something I can always offer is a good ol' plain ol' prayer. And in God's eyes, there is nothing mundane about it. He listens always. He is good all the time. Let us pray:

"Lord, thank You for the gift of prayer. Thank you for giving us such a simple way to engage You and Your Holy Spirit. When I pray, I can acknowledge You for Who You ARE and know You created me and love me. I can confess anything I have in my life I know does not honor You and know You forgive me and love me. I can thank you for all Your blessings and know that You gave them because You love me. I can ask for whatever I think I want or need and know You hear me and love me. And prayer can be silence, filled with Your presence and basking in Your luscious love. And when I pray, I pray with faith in Your faithfulness. Amen."

Monday, April 13, 2009

This is Why

On Friday I got to witness a spontaneous and authentic precious moment. My friend Stacie is an artist and she co-organized an art show for Good Friday with another artist named Teresa. The focus was to show the connection between art & faith, and the creativity within each of us given by our Creator. The event took place at Compass Church in a suburb of Cincinnati. And given the context of the event, a Communion station was available. Stacie’s seven year old son, Sean, asked why it was there. I know Sean has seen people take Communion before. But when his dad, Rusty, explained that it was Good Friday, and taking Communion was a way of remembering that Jesus broke His body and spilled His blood for us, Sean was upset. In fact, Sean started to cry.

Stacie and Rusty are faith-full parents and they had told their two sons about Easter before. This seemed to be the first time it was all sinking in for seven year old Sean. Stacie and Rusty did not take this lightly and seized the moment to talk to Sean and answer his questions about Good Friday and Easter. It was getting close to 9 p.m. and the art show was winding down, but there were still lots of people around and other kids running, playing, and doing their best to create distractions. But Sean’s attention to his parents and their attention to him did not waver for at least 15 minutes while they had their intimate moment. I was not a part of their moment, but for a few sweet minutes I was within earshot. My heart swelled with gratitude for the moment and God’s love.

Sean was having a hard time understanding how Jesus could have come back to life and that He still lives. Stacie and Rusty told him it was normal to struggle with that concept. They explained that is how faith works. It takes a leap of faith for anyone to accept that as truth. No matter how old a person is, the idea of a human being tortured and killed, yet rising from the dead, and his burial tomb being found empty seems unreal. Adding to that the fact that it ALL happened because God’s love for us is deeper than any love we can experience from any other human. It’s a lot to grasp. Yet millions of people all over the world from all sorts of backgrounds, ages, levels of intelligence and variety of talents have taken that leap of faith and we are all living proof of God’s perfect truth and grace.

Sean’s honest reaction to the news of Good Friday and Easter was embraced and addressed by his biological mother and father. The bible tells us that our Heavenly Father rejoices over us and delights in us. I know God was rejoicing over Sean’s questions and delighting in Stacie & Rusty’s surrender to the moment. It’s in these moments where I am blessed to be a witness that I KNOW my Redeemer Lives! And this precious moment I just shared? THIS IS WHY I have faith and praise God’s perfect truth and grace.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grace inside a Sound

I have a habit of relating song lyrics to books, movies, prayer requests, television, events at work, and life experiences. Most of the time, the lyrics make a silly connection to whatever occupies my brain. Every once in a while, I feel more inspired. The week the new U2 CD came out I was reading the book of Luke. When I heard these lyrics:

These days are better than that

Every day I die again, and again I’m reborn

Every day I have to find the courage

To walk out into the street

With arms out, got a love you can’t defeat

Neither down or out

There’s nothing you have that I need

I can breathe, Breathe now

I couldn’t stop thinking about the lines below from Luke. These lines are from a section titled “Lambs in a Wolf Pack” where Jesus sends 70 (or 72) men out carrying nothing but a few toiletries and the simple charge to knock on doors and say “Peace” to whoever answers. I am quoting from The Message translation with highlights for emphasis below:

“When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you, heal anyone who is sick, and tell them, ‘God’s Kingdom is right on your doorstep!’ When you enter a town and are not received, go out in the street and say ‘The only thing we got from you is the dirt on our feet, and we’re giving it back. Did you have any idea that God’s Kingdom was right on your doorstep?’ Sodom will have it better on Judgment Day than the town that rejects you.”

LUKE 10: 8-12

“The one who listens to you, listens to me. The one who rejects you, rejects me. And rejecting me is the same as rejecting God, who sent me.” The seventy came back triumphant. “Master, even the demons danced to your tune!” Jesus said, “I know, I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightening out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you- that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

LUKE 10: 16-20

For me, the lyrics above from Breathe bring extra depth and life to the story above from Luke. When I abide in God’s truth, I find grace. And if I share God’s truth and I’m rejected, I have the peace, strength and courage of God’s Kingdom to say, “There’s nothing you have that I need, I’m neither down or out, I have a love you can’t defeat, so I can breathe.”

“I’ve found grace inside a sound, I found grace, it’s all that I found, and I can breathe.” –U2, Track 10, No Line on the Horizon, Breathe

Friday, March 20, 2009

In the Zone

While hanging with my brother the other day, he mentioned a memory from when we lived in New Orleans. We lived in New Orleans for the first five years of my life, so he didn’t think I’d remember the event he described. I didn’t, but said that I did have vivid memories from New Orleans. He figured riding my bike with a cast on my leg was one, and he was right. This made me think about how important music was to me and one of my earliest memories of the impact music has had on my life. I just shared this particular memory in a FaceBook note tag craze titled “15 albums that impacted my life.” However, here I will segue into songs that I connect with deeply and put me in what I call THE ZONE.

Briefly, when I was 4, the boy across the street intentionally rode his bike over my legs, breaking my right leg. This put me in some sort of shock and I stopped talking. I was pretty much a zombie for most of the day. Several hours after we returned from the hospital, I was still unresponsive. So my mom put on the soundtrack to Oliver! Almost immediately I came out of my trance and started connecting with my family. Throughout the years, I noticed there were certain songs that would put me in The Zone where I felt a special deep connection that seemed beyond words of description. I could say the lyrics mean something special, but sometimes the lyrics don’t make that much sense apart from the music. Most recently the song that puts me in The Zone is “Moment of Surrender” on U2’s new CD. Below I’ve listed a few more songs that take me into The Zone. I have written about some of these in other blog posts.

*Whole of the Moon – The Waterboys
*Harvest Moon or Old Man – Neil Young
*Go on Through- Afro Celt Sound System
*Paradise or Idaho- The BoDeans
*Northern Star- Ollabelle
*Much Farther to Go – Rosie Thomas
*All at Sea or My Yard – Jamie Cullum (or his cover of High and Dry)
*In the Sun – Joseph Arthur
*Girl in the War, Wolves, or Temptation of Adam- Josh Ritter
*North Dakota – Lyle Lovett
*Mercy Street – Peter Gabriel
*Day of Reckoning – Robbie Robertson (or his original of Broken Arrow)
*Fragile, Dead Man’s Rope, or Mad About You – Sting
*This is the Day – The The (most recently used in an M&M’s ad, what the heck?)
*Beauty of a Dream- Thomas Dolby
*Protected- Tim Finn
*All I Want is You, One, When I look at the World, or An Cat Dubh – U2

Most people can relate to that “In the Zone” feeling. Surrendering to The Zone submerges me in feeling completely comfortable with truth, consumed by grace, and intimately loved.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Intimacy of Redemption

Last week the intimacy of redemption caught me off guard. I had only met the people I was with that night an hour before. There is no possible way I could have known how they would act as profound vehicles of God’s deep love and knowledge of me. They still don’t know. They didn’t notice the tears of gratitude trickling throughout the evening. While these new friends shared bits of their past to illustrate answers to simple questions posed, I felt Jesus surrounding me. The Jesus who knew how many men the woman at the well had been with when he told her he was the permanent remedy to her thirst for love. The Jesus who knew the hidden pains of the people who were about to throw stones at the woman caught in adultery. The Jesus who knows me intimately and redeems childhood pains both experienced and witnessed I thought were long buried. The next day I cried the tears I had tucked away when I withdrew from love gone astray. And then I sent an email to a couple of friends. Here’s an excerpt:

I don't know if I've ever told you about my brother and the troubles he's been in over the years. I can't really explain the deep & intimate healing I'm experiencing. This is healing only God could possibly know I needed. This is a depth of God's love I didn't even know I was missing. For some reason beyond my current comprehension, He is using these people to show me a tangible redemption that is somehow healing the pain I witnessed and experienced as a child growing up in the shadow of my brother. Pain so old I had totally dismissed it and swept it under the rug.

The movie “Bella” demonstrates the intimacy of redemption beautifully. Jose and Nina spend a day together, simply being together with no agenda. Their day together is prompted by a simple offer made by Jose to talk about an unplanned pregnancy troubling Nina. It’s really a typical day in NYC. I’ve had NYC days like that, but not for those reasons. I love those days when going with the flow reveals incredibly juicy fruits. In “Bella” Jose is struggling with flashbacks of a tragic event that changed his life. The movie is journey that shows the grace of a family’s love and how to accept hardships and truly count them as joy. Mostly, “Bella” shows how simple acts of love and friendship can provide deep unprecedented healing for all involved.

The perfection of God’s truth and grace will redeem all pain. Yes, even that one…the one we try to control by hiding it away. As I have been pondering the intimacy of redemption this week, these lyrics have played repeatedly in my head,

“At the moment of surrender, a vision over visibility…” –U2

The best thing about the intimacy of God’s redemption is that it requires nothing of us but a willingness to live in surrender to His Will.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Saved from Sex Slavery

Some friends recently returned from a week in Mumbai. They went to share God’s love with girls who were recently rescued from forced prostitution. Each year, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders (some international and non-governmental organizations place the number far higher), and the trade is growing. (U.S. Department of State. 2004. Trafficking in Persons Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State.) Of the 600,000-800,000 people trafficked across international borders each year, 70 percent are female and 50 percent are children. The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade. (Ibid.)

These girls in Mumbai had either been sold by their families into prostitution or kidnapped into the sex trade. Before meeting the girls they were there to serve, the team (about 40 people from my church community) was taken through the red light district in taxis. Some of the comments after the red light district tour included, “We were just 8 feet away from a girl being raped,” and “the eyes of the girls were blank-no life.”

My friend, Jamie, posted a note on FaceBook to sum up her experience. Here are a few excerpts:

Trash is everywhere. In the streets, on top of shanty roofs, in the streams, lakes and every square inch were a person isn't already occupying space. Slums are EVERYWHERE. It is strange - I wasn't as shocked at the poverty as I thought I would be (maybe I've been desensitized by Save the Children commercials)...despite the despair that was all around, there was such an incredible amount of SURVIVAL that it was actually rather hopeful. The belief of one GOD might not be saturating Mumbai, but HE is defiantly taking care of those people (in a way that we might not consider care - but it's life).”

These girls haven't seen or been in contact with their families in years. The only soul on the Earth that they know loves them are the nuns who take care of them. For us to come all the way from the United States for just 3 days to play and love and create with them was such a huge sign of affection - from strangers! I cannot imagine how that made them feel, but I know it made me feel on fire!”

Some of the girls had been given permission by the nuns to come and help paint the murals which were going on the walls of their bedrooms. Many of these girls had never held a paintbrush in their life. Being creative is not something you take the time for when you're worried about surviving. Art is so therapeutic and can do wonders for rehabilitation from traumatic events. One of my friends on the mural team said that after one of the girls had finished painting a section of the wall (color by number style) she stepped back and gasped while saying, "I cannot believe I DID THIS!". It brings tears to my eyes as I think about it! They were creating something beautiful for the first time in their life. Being told what to do and how to do it for 16 years of ones life and then finally seeing yourself create freely - amazing. God's hand was on EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in that house.”

Our final act of love was washing the girls’ feet. While our teams were getting the buckets of water ready outside, the nuns reminded the girls of the story in the Bible (only one of the girls in the house was a Christian - the rest were Muslim and Hindu), where the prostitute washed Jesus' feet and then he washed hers as an act of love and respect. Washing their feet was probably one of the most humbling and emotional experiences of my life. I could not believe all that God had in store for us with these girls. While running water over their small, dark feet, I felt like I was washing away all their loneliness, worries, and fear. I wanted to make it all better for them and through that act, I believe that God was moving through me and comforting the hearts of those amazingly tough girls. There was not a dry in sight. Everyone was audibly bawling. It was hard seeing the girls break down emotionally like that - I couldn't help but imagine how many times they must have broken down like that after being raped or after being rescued and so afraid and alone, or any given night when they have no idea what their future holds. Except this time, they were crying not because they were sad or scared, but because they were stunned that complete strangers could show them so much love in just few short days. After we finished washing their feet - they surprised us by asking if they could wash our feet. I am literally crying as I write this - reliving this experience is almost as emotional as going through it.”

Yes, God’s love is GREAT- truly beyond comprehension. And the way God used this team in Mumbai- worked in them and through them- to demonstrate His love to these girls who knew nothing of love for too long is inspiring. Not surprisingly, U2 has lyrics that sum this up nicely. From Window in the Skies:

Oh, can't you see what love has done
To every broken heart
Oh, can't you see what love has done
For every heart that cries
Oh, can't you see what love has done
Love left a window in the skies
Oh, can't you see what love has done
And to love I rhapsodize

In Mumbai, my friends witnessed extraordinary examples of God's Truth and Grace. And they saw an awesome demonstration of what LOVE has done.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Conversation Art

One of my favorite things is a great, meandering, deep, and energizing conversation. I have countless experiences of being totally exhausted and then starting a conversation with somebody that takes my mind fun and interesting places and lasts 2 hours but in a weird time does not exist vacuum and emerging on the other side totally awake and alert with thriving passion for life. And I know I'm not the only person with such appreciation for great conversations. Movies have been made about them. Most notably is "My Dinner with Andre" because they literally never leave their table, but it completely captures how riveting a conversation can be and how it can take the participants on an unexpected journey.

More recently was "Before Sunrise" and it's sequel "Before Sunset." I remember my first time seeing "Before Sunrise" in the mid 90's. I was captivated. I thought it was brilliant in that it not only captured the natural flow of conversation, but did so while taking the viewer on such a fascinating visual journey...which was always in the background of the riveting conversation. There's no real drama, yet it ends in suspense. Will they meet again 6 months later? Will they get married? Why didn't they exchange phone numbers or addresses? Yet, for me, ALL of that was secondary to the beauty of the conversation itself. The questions, the clarifications, the interruptions that aren't perceived as rude, the randomness, and the revelations.

"Before Sunset" is the sequel that takes place 9 years later. I loved it just as much as "Before Sunrise" because the love of a great conversation was NOT abandoned in an attempt to answer all those questions that were pending. As a matter of fact it does a good job of leaving us wondering because Jesse and Celine are in the midst of getting reacquainted and wondering themselves. They don't talk specifically about their wonderings until the limo ride towards the end, but it's in the ebb and flow of their conversation. It's unspoken yet always there in what they are not saying or how they are interacting and a bit laced with fear of what the other really thinks about that night 9 years earlier. I think anyone who has run into or reconnected with a former romance can relate to that aspect of their conversation. In fact they don't even discuss his wife and child for what I thought was too long, yet I get it. I'm sure I've behaved that way myself...more interested in the reconnection with a friend than with the truth of our current reality.

I recently posted my status on FaceBook as "Emily is thinking sometimes FaceBook seems like an excerpt from The Time Traveller's Wife" because of that phenomenon. Like reconnecting with someone from 10, 20, or in one case 30 years ago (4th grade crush)- transports me to that time and place in a unique way. Sure, I want to know if they are married, have kids, what they are doing for a living...but not as much as I want to linger in the experience of the reconnection and all it conjures in my memory and wondering if their memories are similar. And I love the written conversations that happen in the process- even if they are brief and wall to wall. I think what I love is that it reminds me of the beautiful, meaningful, and meandering conversations I've had with that person in the past. The thing I love about great conversations is the way a friendship blossoms within the conversation. Plus, great conversations are always a masterful blend of Truth and Grace relayed through an ever present moment in a relationship. And then I long for more of those now with current friends or with a player to be named later...maybe a stranger I meet on a train on my way to Vienna.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lyrics du Jour- All About It

I became a fan of The Getaway People when I saw them play for free at Miami University almost 10 years ago (say it Stacie & Jerren: Four times for FREE!). They put on such fun show that I purchased two of their CD's on the spot. I love the lyrics of most of their songs, especially "Does My Color Scare You" which addresses racism. But today I share the lyrics of "All About It" in response to a post Donald Miller did on his blog ( about the Mac vs. PC ads and how we allow ourselves to be swayed into thinking something is cool or sexy based on marketing. Reading the almost 90 comments left by his readers made me think of this song.

Can't ride no skateboard to save my life, but it don't bother me no
Cause I got my own thing and I do it in my own time
If me and my crew don't bother you why do you bother with bothering me too
Why be cruel to your own kind?

Cause its all about the hizao, and the grizzle, the hammer and the chizzle
That makes you cool and popular, but who needs popular?

Don't you know I'm about it 'bout it baby?
Don't you know I'm about it 'bout it baby?
Don't you know I'm about it 'bout it baby?
I'm about as 'bout it 'bout it as anyone could ever be

Ain't got no piercings to show for myself, cause my nipples are free
To be what ever they want to be without no pressure - follow the leader
I don't care about your tribal connections which you lied about
Which really came out of a knitting pattern from your mamma's old magazines

Cause its all about being in the right place following the rat race
That makes you cool and popular, but who is popular?

Don't you know I'm about it 'bout it baby?
Don't you know I'm about it 'bout it baby?
Don't you know I'm about it 'bout it baby?
I'm about as 'bout it 'bout it as anyone could ever be

Not only are these lyrics hilarious and fun...but full of Truth and Grace. God created us and loves each of us for who we are...not whether we look cool or use the right brands. These lyrics remind me to rejoice in who I am.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Revolutionary Road

I’m shocked. Oscar nominations were announced but neither Kate nor Leo got a nod for Revolutionary Road. I’m seriously shocked. Last weekend Cheryl and I made a last minute decision to see a movie and ended up unexpectedly bumping into my writing partner, Don, and his wife, Michelle at Revolutionary Road. I caught myself saying “Wow!” over and over during the many intense and terrifically vulnerable scenes. After, I wanted to savor every moment.

Revolutionary Road is about a couple (Frank & April) who lost hope in their dreams of an extraordinary life in the midst of struggling with their seemingly ordinary life. The disconnection from their life’s purpose caused extreme tension between them. They had vicious fights.

After one huge fight, April finds an old photo of Frank in Paris. She remembers how talking about Paris ignited his passion for life. So she gets an idea to move the family to Paris, she’ll work as a secretary, while Frank spends time connecting with his life’s purpose. That night when she reveals this plan to him is the first time we see their two children. April and Frank connect joyfully with each other like never before, despite the fact that Frank had just had sex with a secretary that day.

The hope of pursuing the extraordinary life they thought was long gone brings life, and life is symbolized by the presence of the children. As long as they are pursuing their dreams the children are in the movie. But as soon as their hope starts to fade…the children are no longer in the movie. They are mentioned but never seen for the rest of the movie.

Just as the children represent life to the full, truth is represented by a crazy person. It had to be a crazy person who spoke the truth. A “sane” person cares too much about logic and feelings. And a person who speaks or acts on truth unapologetically is generally perceived as crazy by whoever is unwilling to see it for what it is. John the Baptist is a classic example. I noticed the tension in the theater during the most intense truth telling scene. The tension was louder than the giggles of my friends and me. Only a couple other people were laughing during that scene, and I suspect they were just as comfortable with truth as we were. The rest were uncomfortably still.

Later, Don told me he wanted to suggest we all go next door to Sitwell’s to discuss. But we all had reasons to go our separate ways, which left us each without words to express.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Freeing the Past

Freeing the Past

A few months ago I was asked to write an article for the OneCity Newsletter acknowledging House Resolution 194. In honor and celebration of the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the inauguration of the first black President of the United States of America, I share the article below:

On July 29, 2008, U.S. Congress passed House Resolution 194 otherwise titled “Apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans.” It is the first and only official apology for the sufferings of African-Americans by the government that allowed such atrocities and double-standards to exist in this the “Land of the Free.” OneCity acknowledges and stands in agreement with House Resolution 194, which can be read in its entirety by clicking this link:

As a faith-based organization, OneCity believes that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is what truly sets us free. Yet, we have not always, as an organization or as individual Christ followers, behaved as if this is true. Furthermore we recognize there have been times when we could have acted with the character of Christ and failed. So we take this opportunity to confess ours sins against our African-American friends. We are deeply sorry for any actions or words which may have been destructive to the African-American community and dignity.

And in the spirit and character of Jesus Christ we also take responsibility for the damage caused by the people of Cincinnati who have judged, belittled, or demeaned any African-American (past or present) in the Greater Cincinnati area. We pray for healing for both the betrayed and the betrayer. As punctuation to our public apology, we pray specifically for healing of issues related to the passage from House Resolution 194 provided below:

“Whereas African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow – long after both systems were formally abolished – through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-term loss of income and opportunity.”

We are committed to working within God’s Will to redeem the damage done and to work diligently with our OneCity partners to encourage freedom to ring throughout our city.

While experiencing the contagious euphoria when Barack Obama was announced as the winner on election night, I thought, “THIS is exactly what this country needs!” There is still a great need for racial healing and forgiveness here in America and worldwide. And I realize that, on Monday, most people won’t give a thought to how the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. embraced God’s perfect truth and grace or how it inspired him to fight for civil rights. But when I wrote the article above and saw the tears of joy on all the faces in Grant Park during Obama’s acceptance speech, I felt full of hope.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Good Grief

This post has been brewing for quite a while. I almost did my tribute to my dad in October around this theme. And I'm not quite sure where my ramblings will take us today. I just sense deeply I need to write on this. Since my first inspiration on this theme in October, my dear friend Stacie lost her brother-in-law suddenly (see post titled Walk On)to an aneurysm in November. Then in December my church community experienced a tragic loss during a Christmas performance.

What I've learned throughout all of these losses is that the grief process is good. I always thought it was an odd expression when Charlie Brown said "Good Grief." But now I see that he knew what he was saying. And grief manifests in different ways for all of us. In the Bible it talks of people ripping their clothes and wailing. When my dad passed grief took the form of feeling a lack of job security or stability. I remember thinking with certainty I would be fired when I returned from my bereavement leave. I later confessed that fear to my boss and she laughed at me. It was nowhere near the truth, my bosses love me and for some reason think I do a great job.

Again, one of the things I love about my church community is that they fully embrace and encourage the grief process and whatever form that takes from day to day. At the prayer service the day after a performer fell to her death in front of an audience of at least 2k, our senior pastor grieved publicly with anger and tears. It was authentic and moving to witness. And this weekend he delivered a powerful message where he acknowledged that part of his grief process and prayed a public prayer to God to apologize for accusing Him of not being there to save the woman who died. He made an excellent point about letting God be God and that means taking people in His timing according to His Will. I'm not doing it justice, but as of Jan 8th you will be able to watch the video of the service at

And another aspect of grief I've been pondering lately is grieving loneliness. And I'm not talking about the Eleanor Rigby level of loneliness. As I mentioned in my post titled "Making Room," no matter a person's level of busy-ness, in most cases if the person doesn't have a spouse to share life with, they experience loneliness. I think there is a reason God said it was not good for Adam to be alone and why He created Eve to be Adam's mate. The intimacy of a marriage is the next best thing to our intimacy with God.

I had the day after Christmas off and found myself watching things I don't usually get to watch, like The View. Whoopie Goldberg said something I think is true. She said something to the effect of people feel lonely when they feel uncomfortable. True for me. There are days that I feel totally comfortable alone in my apartment and I don't feel lonely. But if I've been out socializing and enjoying fellowship with friends and I go home to an empty apartment, I feel lonely. I notice that when I'm feeling lonely I sleep better on the couch. Like the back of the couch is a surrogate for the warm body of a spouse or something. On that same episode of The View, Nicole Kidman was a guest and she talked about how lonely she felt when she went home alone after winning her Oscar. I thought that was profound proof of my point. Obviously she has many many friends and had just been affirmed in her craft with the highest honor of an Oscar. So feeling loved and appreciated were not what she was missing. She was missing having somebody to share that joy with on an intimate level.

Whether they talk about it openly or not, I think anyone over the age of 30 who is single grieves their loneliness. And if they don't let themselves grieve their loneliness and don't experience Good Grief, then they just get bitter. Come to think of it, the same happens regarding grieving the death of a loved one. In God's infinite wisdom and perfect balance of Truth and Grace, He shows us several examples in the Bible of GOOD GRIEF!