Tag Archives: gratitude

Dance Before the Lord with All Your Might

Worship Hands Raised Stained Glass Window Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

It was the early seventies. I was 20 years old. In simple math, a long time ago. I’d been invited to a dance. A first date. I bought a new tangerine silk wrap dress, for the occasion. I wore a pair of strappy heels, that hurt terribly, proving I’d achieved sexy. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

My date arrived in his 1971 Volkswagen bus, dressed in Levis, a Led Zeppelin T-shirt, completing the iconic image, with messy hair and mutton chop sideburns. We conversed in “first-date-ESE,” each asking the other prepared clever questions. You know, like, “What’s your sign?” Or “What band do you groove on?” Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

When we arrived at the Broadway Grange Hall, he excused himself, pointed to the punch bowl, and joined his buddies across the room. It was one of those moments when mundane tasks feel awkward, like standing, selecting a facial expression, or breathing in and out. Looking around the room, I noticed the crowd was, different. Then I remembered… my date works at Yakima Specialties, with disabled adults. He failed to mention this is a dance for his clients. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

Just then, a young man in plaid pants and platform shoes approaches, asking if I’d like to dance. The dance floor is empty. The song is Jim Croce’s, Bad, Bad, LeRoy Brown. I want to say no thank you, but instead say,

“Sure.” Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

As I practice the dance of inconspicuousness, my partner multi-jives, using arms, legs, feet, hands, head, utilizing every inch of the 20 by 40 foot dance floor. Looking back, I realize now, his dance was brilliant, ahead of its time and exactly what people strive for today. But, being the age of “everyone is looking at me,” I was embarrassed, wanting to disappear. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

Contrary to the insistence of my inner narcissist, no one was looking at me. My date was engrossed with his buds, talking shop, or sports, or who cares what. Before I can slip away, the next song begins, enticing a fellow in a ruffled tuxedo shirt, to join us on the floor. Moments later, a girl with a rhinestone tiara, pushing a walker, and a few others boogied onto the scene. By the fifth number of the night, Elton John’s, Crocodile Rock, the dance floor is packed with non-couples, dancing free style, not only to the beat played by the band, but many others, as well. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

It took longer than it should, but I came around. Who could resist? They were free, real, alive. They trusted the music, the moment, the calling. They exchanged uptight for “out of sight.” That night, they set me free as well. My self-absorbed fears melted away, leaving me worthy of my partners. We tapped, river danced, dosey dohed, and did the alligator on our stomachs. I witnessed a pirouette, and an impressive leap across the floor. It was exhilarating.

          Unadulterated joy!

Fast forward, 30 years and much life, good, bad, and ugly, to the year 2001. I walk through the doors of the Vineyard Christian Church, the same as I attend today. I’m late, uncertain I want to be there. The service has begun. I choose a balcony seat, in the corner by an exit, where I can keep watch over the entire church.

The music is unlike any I’ve ever heard before. I’m fascinated with the interaction between it and the people in the pews. Many are standing, hands raised, swaying, eyes closed. Others remain seated, eyes open, one or both hands outstretched. Some weep. All, appear at ease, or at least content. Mid-investigation, to my surprise, I feel tears streaming down my cheeks. Good tears, comforting, like warm water when you’re chilled. The kind that shows up at reunions, weddings, and births.

I didn’t know what to think.

Back then, I thought people sang in church for the same reason they joined a Barbershop Quartet or rang doorbells with Christmas carols. I must have heard it referred to as worship, but did not make the connection. After witnessing worship, and having been introduced to the Holy Spirit, I hung around. Like a starving cat given a bowl of milk, I wanted more, and knew where to find it.

The mysterious tears continued to show up in the balcony, dripping down my face. Eventually my fascination with the worshiping lessened, and my own desire to praise grew. My familiar enemy, I call, oppression, kept my arms dangling awkwardly at my side. One day, I ignored the nagging oppressor, shooting my arms straight up. I laughed out loud, because for a moment, I thought I might fly up through the air with my limbs. Such bliss, beatitude, joy!

Freedom to praise, love, honor, adore, worship my Lord, in MY way. I’m not saying, animated worship is for everyone. For some, sitting still, basking in His presence is THEIR worship mode. I practice this style as well. But, one of God’s coolest traits is knowing each of our hearts, style, idiosyncrasies… our nature. I was trapped in a safe mode of worship, by fear, not choice. It suits me, to raise my arms, sway and sometimes dance. It’s fair to say I’m a David, when it comes to worship.

“And David danced before the LORD with all his might.”

When worship sunk in as a verb, I was set free to show my heart to the Lord. I pray all will find the place of worship that unlocks the boundless praise, longing to escape.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

Psalm 150:6 | NIV

In Spite of Us - Chapter PreviewCheck out our book in progress. Read a sample chapter here. Sneak Peek Chapter 14

Labor Day – Celebrate a Job Well Done: The American Dream? Go Get a Job

work5
1960’s dime store, similar to the one I worked at.

As the daughter of a Union trucker and his hard working wife, who waited up to serve him dinner on a lap tray, I learned four basic rules of life:

  1. Say please and thank you
  2. Take a weekly bath (using the same tub water, beginning with the eldest to youngest).
  3. Clean your plate, never leaving a scrap of meat on the bone

AND… the most important…

  1. Get a job – keep it – be grateful for it

One day early in my job history, my boss politely asked if I would please duck under the counter. To which I replied, “ Uh… okay.”

This was a time when a power outage meant using a crank on the electric cash register. It was a year before we were allowed to wear slacks, not jeans to public school. A time when dime stores like Woolworths and Ben Franklins carried everything your heart desired without a supersized building a city block long. The uncluttered shelves did not have 30 competing brands of toothpaste, but you could buy fabric by the yard, stock your aquarium, select a gallon of paint and have a key made for your front door while enjoying a chocolate soda from the fountain.

I was fifteen and although this was not my first paid job, it was a ladder rung above my prior burger joint positions. If I’m asked to duck under the counter, I’m there waiting to see if I’m told to quack. In my household, earning a paycheck was more important than good grades, perfect school attendance or even being kind to your neighbor. Besides, the early job release program meant abandoning my jobless classmates three hours before dismissal bell. It just never got old… slapping my book shut, rising to exit as if called on a mission doomed to fail without my assistance.

I noticed the request to hide under the counter or slip out the back door of The Main Street Variety Store happened whenever two fellows wearing drab brown suits with matching brief cases appeared. One day, when curiosity outweighed the suspense of hiding, I dallied long enough to get eyeballed by the men in suits.

Minutes later, Alice, my elderly co-worker (who later fought my plight to wear pants to work because she’d been traumatized by a large woman in pink stretch pants), summoned me to the office. My boss was sitting at his desk, looking as if he’d been pistol whipped, but no blood or bruises backed my theory. He introduced me to the men from the Labor Union who asked me redundant questions, taking notes as if the weight of my “yes sirs, no sirs” were a matter of national security.

One month later, I received a check for $250 with a notation reading: Retroactive Payment. In addition I was given a raise from $1.50 to $3 per hour. This was before the Washington State lottery, but to me I had won, big time. I felt bad for my boss… for about 10 minutes.

The point is, I’m grateful for a family who instilled a strong work ethic to the core of my being. Certainly we need to stop and sniff those roses and not neglect our families. Just as anything we put above God, a job too, can be idol worship. I’m not saying the unemployed should be damned. I am shouting praise that my life is better because I was taught to embrace work as a privilege.

My na-na loved her job so much she lied about her age, enabling 10 additional years of labor before retirement. Her job? Scrubbing floors at the hospital.

Mom diligently served our family, taking on the never ending task as if paid a worthy salary. When a financial emergency arose, like dad falling off a tanker truck breaking his hip, she took a paid position at a nursing home, caring for the patients most basic needs, like diaper changing. After hours, or days off, she’d visit the patients, giving haircuts and clipping unkempt toenails. Many times I witnessed Mom and Na-Na both, physically spent with aching backs, swollen knees and red, chapped hands from harsh detergent water, proclaiming love for their jobs.

I’m proud to say, I have this too (except I’ve been known to complain… okay, even whine). Still, I love my work. I’m blessed with no patience to stay at a job I hate, but resourceful enough to make it into something I enjoy. I could never survive living for the weekend, like many who hate their work.

My heart aches for those who falsely believe work is “a have to” instead of a “get to.” They miss the blessing that comes from “a job well done.” If you are among the fourth generation welfare age who’ve learned a paycheck comes from the mailbox, I’m sad for you. You’ve been deceived. The good life is not staying at home watching reruns on TV. A check you did not earn is not a gift, but more so a curse that traps and keeps you unemployable. It steals your opportunity to dive into the work force making your first of a thousand mistakes, each error a personal trainer pushing you into self-sufficiency.

What’s the solution? I don’t know. I do know we need to squelch the lie that says we are owed a life of slothdom, and remember that living the American dream means we have the freedom to work. The benefits go way beyond the paycheck.

Do we turn away from those in need? Of course not. But when does a handout slap the purpose of a helping hand up? I believe everyone is blessed with something to give back in return for financial aid. Who wouldn’t benefit from knowing they had contributed in order to receive their support? What homeless shelter couldn’t use some help? What government office wouldn’t be more efficient with extra hands? How many zillion tasks could non-profit organizations use some help with? Those with physical limitations could read to patients, water flowers, be an extra set of eyes for security. Everyone can do something… lick a stamp? Stuff an envelope? Greet people? Listen to someone?

I think we should all have a calling, a motive, a purpose. One that we know is a blessed gift from God. One we are compelled to share. One that we know enhances the lives of others no matter how mundane it may seem.

My heart aches for those who have had this basic right stripped away. I don’t blame them. They are innocents, trapped, held in bondage, by one whopper of a lie.

HAVE YOU MET WITH JESUS AT THE WELL?

well imageThe Samaritan woman? You know, the one from the Jesus at the well story? We could be great friends. I picture us meeting at Starbucks…

Hurried, face flushed, she places her Venti nonfat caramel macchiato on the table where I’ve been waiting, wondering why she’s late.

“You’ll never guess what happened to me this morning,” she’d say. “I met a man who knew everything about me. I can’t explain it. He knew the details of my past and present without me saying a word. He spoke and I walked away changed.”

“Yes, I know Who you’re talking about. I know Him too,” I’d say.
We’d be great friends. And boy, would we have some stories to swap. Yes, indeed. No, not the bourgeois ugly stories of our past. Why bore each other with those? Instead, we would share that glorious encounter with Jesus.  Like how she felt when Jesus spoke and asked her for a drink. A lowly woman, Samaritan at that. Not worthy to be near this man at the well, let alone serve Him a drink. Then, this stranger engages conversation revealing that He knows … her darkest secrets.
So similar is my encounter with Jesus. Alone, ashamed and broken. He beckons for me to approach. He points to a mirror reflecting all, even what no one else could know. Shifting my eyes from the mirror to Jesus, I stand awaiting shame, condemnation, certain death by smite. Instead in His eyes, I see something unfamiliar, new and life giving. I see GRACE.
If He had not revealed the soiled reflection in the mirror, would His love have worth? If He loved me only because He did not really know me, would that love matter? The power of my grace encounter comes from knowing that even with secrets revealed, He loves me. He silenced the nagging, gnawing words in my head that scream “you are unlovable!”
Like the woman at the well, I’m told to go and sin no more. And like her, my heart’s desire is to do as He says. Will I succeed? Yes, sometimes. Will I fail, yes, too often. But, when I do, Jesus will be there, at the well, asking for a drink. My prayer is that I will always be willing to serve Him, whatever He may ask of me. My gratitude for His Grace is undying.

 

John 4
Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

SEIZE THE SUN – A Seattle Mantra

bikini2

You learn to seize sunshine in Seattle. As a teen in the late 1960’s, if the clouds parted and the temperature peaked 60 degrees, my newly licensed friend and I slipped bikinis over goose bump skin and cruised the lake.

In my mind’s eye, we circled Lake Tapps, in a yellow Corvette Stingray, hair sailing behind us, voluminous breasts overflowing our string bikini cups, every head turning our way. Reality recalls a sluggish Renault Gordini, empty bikini cups and a red headed, freckled little brother in the back seat, beaming a victory smile from the moment Mom said he could tag along.

Four decades later, living on the God blessed eastern side of Washington state, I still practice my Puget Sound training, seizing golden orb moments. Bikini days are gone, but I get a thrill knowing I don’t have to wear socks for several months and my car radio still blasts 60’s tunes.

Other defining summer moments remain, like barbecues, popsicles, hissing sprinklers and welcome evenings with lingering light. I even appreciate the sweaty nights in our two story air condition-less house and the pesky yellow jackets dive bombing my grilled burger.

Besides, summer mostly brings pleasantries. I even have pardon for wearing wide brim straw hats with big silk flowers, claiming, I need to protect my skin. The same skin I abused, days past, hat-less and nearly naked.

I certainly don’t usher in the season solo. The ratio of “howdies” and smiles is ten fold, strolling the streets in the summer, versus a gray drizzly winter day. Soon enough, we’ll be inside, noses pressed to windows summoning subliminal orders for the icicles to “DRIP AND DIE ALREADY!”

So, while it lasts, until my toes turn blue, I’m swearing off socks, parkas with hoods and mittens. I will embrace our Creator’s colorful, aromatic, fresh serving of summer with gratitude.

lake tappsLake Tapps