Monthly Archives: January 2014

Come To Me

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One of the great joys in my life is leading worship at State Street Community Church and I have just passed my 3-year anniversary there.  God has been gracious in allowing me to do this thing that I love and it blows my mind that I get to keep doing this week after week….they actually LET me do this. I keep showing up, and they keep letting me do it,  which is way cool.

One of the occupational hazards of my job (or immense joys depending on how you look at it) is having a million billion favorite songs all at once. I’m pretty sure the phrase, “I absolutely LOVE this song!” escapes my lips at least once (usually more) each week at practice. I can’t help it; I mean I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THESE SONGS! And honestly by the time a song makes it onto my Sunday morning playlist, it has already become a part of me. It has challenged me, broken me, and drawn me into the presence of God.

My current favorite is a song called “Come to Me” by Jenn Johnson. I stumbled upon this song on Spotify sometime last summer and was instantly drawn to it. You can listen to it here:

The thing that I love about this particular song is that it is God speaking to us:

“I am the Lord your God; I go before you now; I stand beside you; and I’m all around you.

Though you feel I’m far away; I’m closer than your breath; I am with you; more than you know.

I am the Lord your peace; no evil will conquer you; so steady now your heart and mind; come into my rest

and oh let your faith arise; and lift up your weary head; I am with you; wherever you go.

Come to me, I’m all you need. Come to me I’m you’re everything.”

There are so many times that I need to be reminded and encouraged by God. Sometimes I forget; and I need to remember who he is. He has promised to go before me, to stand beside me. As the psalmist David wrote, “You hem me in-behind me and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” We cannot escape him. There are so many times when I feel so far from the presence of God and then I am reminded of who He is. He is closer than my breath; He IS with me. And with that knowledge comes incredible peace. He draws me to him and speaks gently “Come to me.” Come. to. me. Stop whatever it is you think you need to do and just come. Stop trying so hard child. Stop allowing this world to overcome you. Stop worrying. Stop rushing. Stop doubting my presence in your life. Stop fighting me. Simply come to me, because I am everything……EVERYTHING.

It’s the everything that brings me to my knees, because I am overwhelmed by the fact that it is so beautifully true. He IS everything. He is the very life I live; he is the very breath I take. It is in that “everything” where I can find peace, where I can find anchor, where I can find rest.

but the thing is, so often, I don’t.

I struggle. Don’t we all? I’m tired. Aren’t we all? I doubt and question, on a consistent basis. And so often I want to pound my fist and say, “I’m done.”

With every ounce of my rebellion I kick and scream against the love of God, against the grace of God. What is THAT all about? I bring nothing to the table of God and still, He humbly accepts my broken, tattered state. CS Lewis in his book The Problem of Pain writes, “God accepts us even though we take him as a last resort. We offer up our own when it is no longer worth keeping. Yet he still has us. He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer
everything else to him. He still takes us.”  HE STILL TAKES US.  He says, “Breathe me in; live my presence; come to me beloved. I AM all you need.”

Ele-FAN-tastic!

joke book

Well yesterday was the day. Had I known it was coming, I would have prepared….. okay probably I wouldn’t have.
I guess I should have seen it coming; after all had I not lived through this with both my older children? Still, it caught me by surprise. I picked up my son, Jesse from school and there it was: a joke book, checked out from the school library. Imagine my delight. I mean who DOESN’T want to guess “punny” answers to jokes and riddles, read to them by an 8-year-old after teaching school all day? As we waited for Grace to finish basketball practice, Jesse proceeded to ask joke after joke; and it was my job, along with Chloe my teenage daughter, to guess the answers. We really DID try to figure out the riddles, at least for the first five minutes. But then our answers progressively deteriorated.

Something like this:
Jesse: Why does the snake not use utensils?
Me: because he has no hands. (always go from a logical stand point I say.)
Jesse: no, because he had a FORKED tongue…get it? get it?

or…..
Jesse: why does the elephant stand on 2 feet?
Chloe: because he’s ele-FAN-tastic!
Me: that’s right he is!
Jesse: No, because something, something, something. get it? get it? because every joke ends with get it? even though I’m pretty sure he DOESN’T get it.

As we drove north on 49 belly-laughing at our ingenious answers to these riddles, a simple realization hit me: this was a pretty great moment, a sacred moment if you will. I am always pleasantly surprised when something unexpected strikes me as sacred. And this was one of those rare, surprising moments of beauty. I realized that in a matter of minutes the silliness would end and we’d be caught up in the busyness of homework and chores and arguing and dinner; and in that small space of time I felt incredibly blessed.
I think so often we long for special moments, but we look for them in the wrong places. We believe a sacred moment can only come in the big things; and we are dissatisfied when our “manufactured moments of specialness” don’t quite measure up. More times than not it’s the simple things that uncover the most meaning……the still, small voice. If we are paying attention, we find something sacred in those seemingly inconsequential moments: a ride-along in the car, extra snuggles at bedtime (extra points if you can accomplish this with your teenager), even folding laundry. So often it is the mundane that truly reveals the heart; and it’s in the mundane where, if we’re looking for it, we begin to discover the extraordinary.
So why DID the elephant stand on 2 feet? because he was without a doubt pretty ele-FAN-tastic!

Call me Lashandra…..

Okay, Lashandra is not my real name, but it is my secret ninja name, or something like that. When you spend a lot of time with teenagers (in your home and in your job) strange things happen, like acquiring a cool nickname. It started innocently enough. My 15-year-old daughter’s BFF is quite taken with giving “special” names to those in her circle. And let’s face it, when a teenager decides that you (a truth-be-told, middle-aged woman) are included in the inner sanctum of special names, you go with it. It’s an honor. Now when said teenager attends the school where you teach, it’s probably a good idea to maintain some level of decorum….respectability if you will. So of course I insisted that in school I must be addressed as “MRS. Lashandra.” Little did I know the phenomenon that would ensue. To a small group of rather eclectic teenagers I AM Mrs. Lashandra. I knew it was serious when one girl, while talking with her mom on the phone said, “Mrs. Lashandra….I mean Crain is taking me home.” While this may seem odd to some, I think it’s brilliant. It’s who I am. I am Lashandra.
I have been called by many names….Rebecca, Becky, daughter, sister, wife, mom, teacher, hey $#@#$ ….Each name brings a different identity; and each name forms a part of who I am and am becoming. Some days I long to be Rebecca, because in my mind, she’s intelligent, well-read, and articulate. Most days I’m just Becky a little nerdy and a bit of a rebel. There are days when the word “Mom” is a blessing and other days where it is fingers on a chalkboard. I cherish the ones who truly call me friend. I’m humbled and giggly at the name of teacher and dream of the name of preacher. Often I’m broken by the name of sinner; but I am renewed by the name beloved. Perhaps that is my favorite….Beloved….stated by some as one of the best words in the Bible… Beloved. I think my favorite definition of this word is “worthy of love.” The word “beloved” signifies a deep, intimate love. This goes much deeper than a love for say, ice cream or the timeless hits of 80’s band Journey. This is a knowing love. A knowing love that recognizes every name ever given to you and still calls you beloved.
I am beloved…..I am Lashandra.