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Summer Lovin’ part 2.

Summer Lovin’ part 2.

When I heard that he was coming, I initially thought this is terrible. I don’t want to see him. He had promised that we would stay friends. That we would do it better than others who sucked at staying friends. Then he never called, he never tried to see me when he came to town, he never reached out at all..in any way. He “tried me out for a while” and decided that he didn’t want me and so he tossed me aside. And I did not want to see him again. Ever! Never again!….. Although, there was another side of me that said this could be awesome! I mean, I am no longer that little girl that sat next to him at Red Lobster and feigned mutual agreement for a dismissal that I did not want. I am no longer that girl who needed to control food like a substance to exhibit power over it just to prove that I could. I am no longer that girl who waited by the phone for a call that proved I was worthy to be called. I am no longer some little child that drooled at his every word, or touch, or slight recognition of my existence. I am a healthy, confident, accomplished, respected, on-my-way-to-being-a successful and intelligent woman with a plan. Going to college to pursue something I love and not needing him to validate me. Let him come. And let him see how many friends I have and how happy I am in my life. Let him come. Let him see what he missed. And if he recognizes it and tries to renew old feelings? Well then, I guess I’ll just have to let him down easy. Ya know, tell him “we could still be friends.” 

The summer got off to a great start. Alexa, Kenzie, me, Chad, Kory and Steve were pretty much inseparable. Praise God that little stint with Chad didn’t ruin anything! We would be soaking up every second together until the end of summer. I knew I was going to Liberty, but everyone else was staying local, so I’d have to say goodbye to my best friends and I knew I was a terrible long distance friend. It wasn’t on purpose. I just focused wholeheartedly on people, projects or whatever that were right in front of me. Not that I thought our friendship was dead after I left, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same when I came back. I knew I would have to make the most of our time together before I left.

We just basically co-habitated for the first week. We’d spend the night at Kenzie’s house for a night or two and then move over to Lexie’s house and then mine. During the day, we’d meet up with the guys and go to movies or go to the beach or just do nothing over at the church. It was amazing.

It was very soon in the summer that I saw Jordan at church. He would walk in the sanctuary, usually from the choir loft entrance on the platform since he was singing on praise team or choir, I would see him and basically spend the entire service trying to avoid eye contact without looking like I was trying to avoid eye contact… but look amazing at the same time. Let’s just say my ability to focus on God during the time of worship was severely tested during that summer… and I can’t say I passed any Sunday that summer. I was adamant that I was not going to let him affect what should be the best summer of my life. There was no reason it should affect me, so I just let him do his thing and I did mine. No big deal.

One of the things we did every summer was help out with Vacation Bible School for the children’s ministry. A lot of the students would help in the classrooms, or with snack time or whatever. I would usually help out with the music during the big chapel service. The songs were always super silly and we did ridiculous hand motions. Not only were they ridiculous in and of themselves but we were encouraged to make them less choreography and more “landing a plane arm motions”. We would jump around and wave our arms over our heads while looking like complete idiots, but it was fun and the kids got a kick out of it. Since Jordan was the intern, he would be leading as well, so I, unfortunately, couldn’t avoid him that week. And instead of him seeing me every day as a classy, grown-up, mature woman, he would see me every day looking like a complete idiot in a t-shirt and jeans. Whatever. I didn’t care…. a lot.

We did each service twice since we had so many kids, so we would finish one service and then have about a half hour break before the next one started up. I would normally take the short walk from the fellowship hall, where chapel was, to my dad’s office in the next building. I started that walk, and when I stepped from the carpeted fellowship hall to the tiled hallway, I could hear someone walking a few steps behind me. As I turned to walk toward the three sets of doors leading to the next building, I saw in the reflection… it was Jordan. Ok, no worries. Just keep walking and don’t fall. If he wanted to chat, I’d be happy to engage with him, but I wouldn’t start it. I decided to walk to the automatic door that would open when I got close enough, so I could get away from him as soon as possible. I mean, I didn’t want him back, but I still had no idea how to talk to him in coherent sentences. I walked to the automatic door and stepped onto the mat in front of the door, ready to make an escape from his presence. Nothing moved. I waited for half a second. Nothing moved. I dropped my head like it was on a hinge. Well, that’s embarrassing. I heard a laugh behind me.

“ I hate it when that happens.” He chuckled as he reached for the handle on the manual door.

“ Right? It’s the worst.” I tried to seem nonchalant and charming as I walked through the door he held open for me. “Thank you.”

“ No problem. How ya doin?”

“ Doing good. Glad it’s summer.”

“ Yeah. You’re planning on going to Liberty, right?” He held open the next door into the FAITH building. How far was he planning on walking with me? Where was he going?

“ Yeah. I’m really excited. Where are you going now?”

“ UNF”

“ Oh cool. You like it?”

“ Yeah, it’s fine. Not sure I’ll go back.”

“What are you gonna do?” I asked as I approached the door to my dad’s office.

“ Not sure yet. Just don’t know if it’s right. Maybe Mobile.”

“ Oh! Roger Breeland’s program right? I’ve heard it’s going well.”

“ Yeah me too. I really have no idea yet though. Just thinking through some options”

“ Huh. Well, I hope you figure it out.” I reached for dad’s knob.

“Me too.”

“I’ll see ya in a bit.” I said as I stepped in the door.

“ Yeah.”

That wasn’t bad!! I didn’t say anything stupid or fall on my face. Whew! Ok. That was it. I had talked to him and shown that I wouldn’t ignore him. Maybe that would be enough to count as enough interaction for the summer. He couldn’t say that I was rude or distant. We just had a very pleasant conversation. Now, I could just exist normally. We could do polite head nods across a room to each other and keep walking. Perfect.

Pressure Points…

Every body has their own form of “zen”. It’s that activity or thing that enables you to completely relax and forget about all the stresses of “mommying” or work or that family member that is driving you crazy. For some, it’s reading. For some it’s a relaxing bath. For some it’s exercise. For some it’s sitting on the park bench watching everyone whose thing is exercise. For me, one of the things that helps me “zen out” is a massage.

I remember when I first went to get a massage. I was incredibly creeped out at the idea of being rubbed on for an hour by a complete stranger. Am I the only one who broke out in sweats at the idea of being basically naked in front of a stranger while being pushed and poked for “relaxation”. That sounded like the exact opposite of relaxation. That sounded like my equivalent of Chinese water torture. This whole idea seemed ridiculous to me. Some person that you’ve never met is supposed to be able to “feel tension in your body, sense a pressure point and release that tension by applying pressure” (read all of that with the most arrogant, condescending voice in your head because that’s how I felt towards the idea). And then I went… you all know what happened next. I WAS HOOKED!  Why had it taken me so long to try this?! This was life changing. I laid on this table for an hour but it felt like I was there for 10 minutes. I didn’t want it to stop! I was so relaxed. I love massages!

I am not the kind that loves the painful massages. You’re not going to see me waiting in line to have some 300 pound guy walk on my back because it’s good for my aching muscles. I am a feel-good massager. I like to be pampered with light to medium pressure rubs while soaking my feet in water infused with essential oils whilest being serenaded by easy listening instrumental music in a dark room lit only with a candle wall feature designed to set the client at ease. This is the only kind of massage that is worth the money to me…normally.

I recently went to visit a friend of mine from church that runs a massage business. It seemed like every other person I talked to had gone to see her and just raved about her, so I finally decided I would see what all the fuss was about. Believe me when I tell you, I have never had a massage as amazing as the one I received from Holly (if you are in the DFW area, you have to check out Sanctuary Massage and Wellness…trust me.  She found pressure points I had NEVER known existed! The first few minutes were somewhat painful, but the good kind of painful, ya know? She found a spot and just hung out there for a bit until, finally, it was like I breathed out a long exhale and all of the tension that I hadn’t even realized was built up just vanished out of that one spot completely. She would pin point somewhere that no one else had ever seen or been able to detect and place her fingers in the exact correct position. Then she would apply pressure… and then more pressure…and then MORE pressure. It hurt but when it was done, there was more flexibility, more relaxation…more health than when I had come to her. She found an area that NEEDED improvement…that I had no knowledge was even in error until she started trying to improve it.

In Mark 10, there is a very well known story. It’s unfortunately a tragic story though. Throughout the Bible, we see story after story of people that searched Jesus out and were healed both physically and spiritually. People like Zacheus, Niccodemus, and my favorites, Mary and Martha. I love their story so much. How Jesus showed them how to love people like He did (if you missed that post, you can read it here). I find it so beautiful. However, this story, is notorious for being one of the saddest in the gospels.

It is the story of the rich young ruler.

I love where this story sits in scripture. It follows the story that teaches “let the little children come to me”. In this time in history, children were of little value (except as workers). Nowadays, we coddle children and protect their childhood like its GOLD! Back then, not so much. It’s not that they were hated or treated as slaves or anything, they just weren’t respected or valued in the same way as other citizens. This is the understanding when we read that disciples REBUKED those that were bringing children to the feet of Jesus, but the Word says that Jesus became INDIGNANT ad said “let the little children come to me.” These children had no rights, respect, possessions or authority, but Jesus said, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Cue the next guy. He had rights, power, respect, possessions and authority… a stark contrast to the children the Lord had blessed a moment ago.

We don’t know much about this guy but that he was, of course, young and rich. We don’t even have a name for this tragic figure…that seems terrible. I’m going to give him a name so I don’t have to keep typing “the rich, young ruler”…let’s call him “Rich”. He is called a ruler in Luke, but simply a man in Mark, but otherwise the story is basically identical in both gospels. In verse 17, he comes to Jesus and asks a good question, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Now, this is every evangelistic believers dream right?!!! Everybody wants someone to come up to them and say “Hey! I’m interested! What do I need to do to go to Heaven?” SCORE! That’s like putting a tee-ball in front of Babe Ruth. Surely, Jesus will recite the Roman’s Road here or break out the old FAITH Evangelism script and lead this young man in the sinners prayer! Nope, Jesus pauses and gives a rebuttal to the question…why? Let’s look at the question again… “GOOD TEACHER, what must I DO to INHERIT eternal life?” There are three things in here that stand out.

I remember my dad preaching on this passage, and I remember him saying, “He’s asking the right question” and he is, but with the wrong assumptions.

Rich greets Jesus with a favorable title, “Good teacher”. This is a title that Jesus himself used in describing himself in the Word, so why does He argue when Rich uses it here?… I want to skip this and come back to it because I think it will make more sense after considering the rest…

The second problem is that Rich asks what he can DO to inherit eternal life. We all know the problematic assumption with this right? He is assuming that he can DO something to merit eternity with Jesus.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-    not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Except that if we look what Jesus says in response, He gives him something to do!!! Jesus doesn’t say, “ask forgiveness of sins and know that I am Savior”. He says honor the law! He lists off 5 of the 10 Commandments specifically…those dealing with how we treat other humans. Why would He do that? We’ve all been taught that we cannot attain salvation through works.. that is stated over and over in the Word, so what is being meant here?

Rich looks at Jesus and says, “Teacher, I’ve done these since my youth!” Wow. First off, if that is true, I need to be this guys friend because he has got to be one of the nicest people that has ever lived. He may even have Jordan beat on the “good guy scale”. However, the problem still remains that the ASSUMPTION that Rich held was that salvation could be earned through his good deeds…through his “goodness”.

The next problem I have is with the word “inherit”. If you googled this word right now, you’d find several different variations and definitions. One of them is the “archaic” definition. What does this mean? One of the ORIGINAL meanings of the word and it means to “come into possession of (something) as a right (especially in biblical translations and allusions). AS A RIGHT. This word denotes that Rich felt He had a right to eternal life. He had earned it. Yes, I realize that this is more support for the last assumption, but this is particularly strong. He stood in front of Jesus and felt comfortable enough to use language that denotes a feeling of entitlement to Heaven…while looking in the face of the man who would soon go to the cross to make it even possible for people to reject Him. I don’t know if it’s arrogance or not. I can’t say that if I were there that I wouldn’t make the same mistake. One of naivity maybe? or ignorance? One I cannot say would be impossible to make for any of us at the time, but, praise God, we have the gift of hindsight!

Go back to Rich’s greeting of “Good teacher”. Why would Jesus correct him in this greeting? It’s not because it wasn’t true, but because Jesus saw the emphasis that Rich had on his heart. He didn’t see Jesus as THE GOOD TEACHER because of His nature. He greeted Him as A GOOD TEACHER based on His performance. Jesus had “earned” that title by all the good things He had done. He lives constantly in a mindset of works=worth. A product of his culture, he could not see past his own experience to the truth that sat in front of him. Jesus’ face illuminated by a small campfire, maybe, but Rich still left completely in the dark… because he felt he had the RIGHT to INHERIT eternal life.  All of these pressupositions make this ALMOST right question, wrong.

So what did Jesus do about it? It’s one of my favorite sentences in all of scripture!

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him…”

Praise God for this! Jesus knew the absurdity of that remark, but knew that Rich’s motive was genuinely to uphold the Law which he thought would make God proud. That was commendable. Not only that, but he showed tenacity and vigor in chasing after Jesus to find out what else he might do to secure his eternity. But Jesus next statement was one that diagnosed his need. He had looked at Rich, felt the muscles and found the point of tension. “You lack one thing…” There was a knot in the spiritual muscle that Rich needed to let Jesus press out in order to be able to get to Ephesians 2: 8-9. This is why Jesus answered in a seemingly “works” way. He knew that in order for Rich to be willing to sell all of his worldly possessions it would be only because he had a genuine heart change. His priority would be on Jesus and not on self. This passage is not teaching poverty gospel. We don’t all have to go sell everything we own and give it to the poor in order to “earn salvation”. We are to be generous, of course, but this does not teach us that that is how we obtain eternal life. This is an example of Jesus scanning the spiritual muscle of an individual and applying pressure to a knot, trying to make the body healthy again. This is Jesus realigning Rich’s assumptions.

This is an example of Jesus seeing a man and loving him; of inviting us to have intimacy with Him by exposing what will keep us from Him.

When I left Holly, my body ached. I actually didn’t drink enough water, so it REALLY ached for about 24 hours after she was done. Because it never feels good when knots are found. It’s painful and sometimes I just want to look up and say, “You know what? Can you just move to a different spot? I’d rather keep that knot then experience the pain. It doesn’t bother me that much anyway.” because pain can deter us from experiencing true health.  That’s Rich walking away. It’s a man having seen the possibility of health, but not willing to sit through the pain in order to get it. Scripture says, “he walked away sorrowful for he had great possessions”. It’s the idea of being so close to getting what he wanted, but realizing that he was entangled in something he couldn’t release himself from. Knowing that “what could have been” “would have been” so fulfilling but unable to release the “is now”. Realizing how close one came to full health, but walking away so full of knots that you know will never be relaxed…simply because the pain was too great in the now.

I pray that I have the courage to sit through the pain…whatever it may be, so that he can knead me at those pressure points, so that nothing keeps me from a healthy and holy perspective of Him.

THE CHAD THING….part two

THE CHAD THING….part two

We walked into Sunday the same as we always had. Usually, very mundane, run-of-the-mill…except we were holding hands. No one really noticed until our teacher gave us a quick double take and said, “hey are ya’ll together finally?”

We laughed and Chad said, “Yep. Took long enough, right?”

After we mingled and talked to everybody, we took our normal seats on the front row. This is great. This is exactly what everyone thought would happen. This is exciting. This is… awkward.  I loved this guy. I mean I really loved him. Chad was always like a brother to me, but we’d only been “dating”, “going out”, “boyfriend/girlfriend”…whatever you wanted to call it for two weeks and I could not shake this feeling of “weirdness”.

He did nothing wrong. He was kind and a gentleman. He was the same guy he’d always been to me, but we were trying to make “us” something it had never been. And the shape of the “Chad” and “Kayla” that we had always been was trying to fit into this mold that just refused to fit.

Maybe we just needed more time. Maybe if I gave it some more time then we would settle into this “relationship mold”. Maybe if I just waited and rode this thing out then I would lose the “Chad is my best friend” feeling and it would change into the other thing! The only problem was that I didn’t really want to. I missed the old mold. I missed my best friend. I missed our old relationship. I missed us being silly and goofy and not caring. I missed him. Ugh.

Great. The only guy that I actually had a crush on, outside of the heart-wrenching pain of Jordan, and I can’t even make that stick… with a guy I already loved (albeit in the wrong way, but still). I was truly pathetic and apparently destined to be alone forever.

I know Chad and I will survive this. I’m pretty sure, if I know him well, that he feels this way too, but I really wish it could be different. I wish I could love him the way I want to. If I did, I wouldn’t feel the pain of being in love with a man who didn’t want me.

 

Journal,

So funny story… the group hung out tonight. Chad and I decided to go separately since Kenz asked me to ride with her. As we were driving down the road she asked how things were going with Chad. Normally, I would’ve made some generic statement like “It’s good. It’s weird transitioning from ‘friends’ to ‘more’, but it’s good.” But with Kenzie this would not have flown. She knows me way too well. I sidetracked for a while, but it didn’t take long until all of my reservations came spewing out of my mouth like verbal vomit all over my poor best friend. She took it politely and quietly, allowing me to fully empty myself of all of my anxieties and frustrations. When I was finally done, I was almost crying and just said, “I just miss my best friend, Kenz.” She was quiet for a minute and said, “Kay, you guys HAVE to talk. He literally said the same thing to me yesterday.”

I was so relieved. Neither one of us would have to be hurt! Maybe we could even go back to how things were before! I know it may be weird for a bit, but maybe we can just forget this whole thing happened! We can be stupid and joke and be normal again! 

I can’t even say how excited I am. Here’s hoping I have myself and him back!

1st Day at a 1st School!

This is not happening. I feel like this cannot be happening, but it is! I am sending my daughter off to school. Not mother’s day out. Not a two day a week day care….SCHOOL! What is happening!?

 

We found a great, Christian school in Queens and were blessed enough to find a way to get her in at the last minute! She was so excited that “going to school” became the go-to bribe for the whole week before she went. I would say, “Now Joz, you need to obey Mommy like a big girl. Big girls get to go to school, but babies stay home with Mommy all day.” Like I was actually going to consider not taking her to school! lol.

 

She picked out her outfit and I bought her a new jacket. Kenny was even unwittingly excited…not realizing she was going to be without her best friend during the day now. My big girl smiled the whole morning even though we had to wake her up earlier than practically she’d ever been woken. New York is amazing, but since we moved here during the summer, it’s been hard to for her to find friends. And Jozzy is a social girl, so no kids around is a bit of a problem for her. I knew school would solve a lot of her loneliness and have been so excited to see her little eyes light up like this!

I am so going to miss having her infectious energy with me all day, but am so excited to see how she blossoms in this new environment! I just hope the teacher can contain her! lol

 

Just can’t believe it how big she is getting!

 

No minivan to school for us! School is just a few stops away!

 

Day one was a family event! So proud of our big girl!

 

Story of Us…BARBECUE BUSTED

Jordan was coming in town today and I could not wait to see him. I had tried to lose a couple more pounds before he got here and felt pretty good. Normally, I am a ball of nerves when I know I’m about to see him. Okay, I was still a ball of nerves, but at least this time I was a slightly smaller ball. I had lost 23 pounds so far and I felt great. I managed to lose weight but keep some curves…best of both worlds! I just knew that Jordan would notice and be impressed. I wanted him to see me. I wanted him to notice my body. Usually, I wanted him to like me in spite of what he had to look at, but this time I was hoping he would actually like what he saw. Maybe I wouldn’t feel like hiding when he looked at me now.

Momma Sue, Jaime and I met Jordan and his mom at a barbecue restaurant called  “Sonnys” when they got into town. Well, at least it wouldn’t tempt me. I hated that place…not that it mattered anyway. It was one of those restaurants where they smother everything in sauce and gravy and the proportions are huge and you sit in benches instead of chairs. It wasn’t my favorite, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t wait to see him.

We got inside and saw that they hadn’t gotten there yet, so we took a seat, or bench, and waited. Momma Sue could see my excitement, “ Baby, you better calm down or you’re gonna fly right off that seat.” She said with a grin. I chuckled as the waitress approached.

“ Welcome to Sonny’s. Can I start you off with some drinks today?”

“ Diet Coke for me please and I think for these girls too.” She said and motioned to Jaime and Chelsea.

“And for you?”

“ Uh a Dr. Pepper for me please.” Food was not a problem but don’t ask me to give up my soda. I had never been able to kick that one.

The waitress walked away and Susie said, “Sandy texted saying she was almost there a few minutes ago. I don’t know how we beat her.”

“ Cause you drive like a crazy woman!” Jordan said as he made his way toward the table.

“ I do not. Ya’ll are just slow!”

“ I just drove the speed limit.” Sandy said as she headed toward her seat next to her sister.

Jordan came and sat at the empty seat next to me and wrapped his arms around me to give me a hug.

“Hey.”

“Hi” I said with a huge smile on my face.

“ How are you?” he said but didn’t let go of me.

“ I’m good. Glad you’re here.”

“Me too.” he said as we sat back up. “Hey ‘Jame’, Chels! How are ya’ll?” He said as he bonked them on the forehead like a big brother.

“Oww” they both said as they half laughed.

I was so glad he was finally here. I had missed him. He grabbed my hand under the table and squeezed it and left it there on my leg.

We all caught up on life and what was going on. This family was hysterical. Half the time they were making fun of each other and the other half they were singing each others praises..sometimes literally. They were a singing family. Jordan tried to fight it sometimes. He wanted to be the jock, but he couldn’t run away from his gift. He was by far the best vocalist in the family and most everybody knew it, but he wanted to do his own thing and so did sports. It didn’t take long for the football team to require that he miss church to be a part of the team, so he dropped out. Only then did he really give singing some of his attention, but as soon as he did, he was winning competitions and being used everywhere…boy could sing.

The waitress came and dropped everyones plates in front of them to start eating. I didn’t really know what to do. I ordered food…because I HAD to order food, but now what do I do? I couldn’t NOT eat it. They would notice that immediately. I decided that I would cut it up into tiny pieces and move it around on my plate to make it look like I had made a dent in the meal. There was turkey, mashed potatoes, collard greens and this huge piece of toast. Perfect! I would hide some food under the bread and in the mashed potatoes to make it look like I had eaten more. Throughout the meal, I would find a time when Jordan’s attention wasn’t on me and slide some food under the toast. I pushed some bigger pieces off into my napkin as well. I was laughing and talking with him, when Jaime asked him a question. He turned his face to her and I slid a big piece of turkey into my napkin beside my plate, but I hadn’t quite gotten it all the way off my plate before Jordan turned around to face me again.

“What are you doing?” he kind of laughed as he asked me.

“ Oh that piece had a lot of fat in it and it kind of grossed me out. Not sure I really want to eat any more.” I said trying to sound convincing. He kept his smile on his face but kind of looked at my plate funny.

“ Are you not hungry?”

“ No. Not really. I had a big breakfast.” I lied. Ugh. I hated that I lied to him. I didn’t want to lie to him. I just didn’t want him to know this. It wasn’t a big deal. This wasn’t going to be a long term thing or anything.

“Ok”

We finished lunch and headed out. I couldn’t stay and hang out today, so I had to say goodbye to Jordan for a while. I was kind of ok with it though. I felt a little guilty about lying to him and needed a little distance to qualm my guilty conscience.

“I’ll talk to you tonight.” I said as I wrapped my arms around him before Momma Sue was going to drop me off at my house.

“ I’ll call ya later.” I knew he knew. Crap.

Danger in defining Worship?

Danger in defining Worship?

I was originally going to title this post What your worship pastor really wants you to know, but I am not a worship pastor, don’t speak for all worship pastors. I am married to a worship pastor, but I don’t even pretend to speak for him. So this is just the passions of a woman who loves to worship God and is heartbroken when people misunderstand what worship is for what we can more easily understand.

If you ever engage Jordan or me in conversation for more than about 10 minutes, our faith is probably going to come up. It’s just something that drives us and has become entwined with our DNA. We see this as nothing but a positive thing. It helps us have compassion, generosity, love, humility, grace, and patience… all of these attributes are not ones that come completely naturally to me, for sure. And don’t get me wrong…. we are far from perfecting these actions, but we are working on it.

One thing that has helped me is to stay intellectually motivated by a good library of books. I am proud (and shocked) to say that I have recently (very recently) become a lover of books! Why this love did not develop in high school I will never know! It would have been very helpful in getting through Oscar Wilde. I love authors like Francine Rivers, Gail McWilliams, Tim Keller, and, of course, Josh McDowell. Recently, we’ve been absolutely obsessed with a book by Zachary Neese out of Gateway called HOW TO WORSHIP A KING

We took our last team through this book, and the kind of discussion that was brought out due to its content was humbling. It’s provocative and unafraid. It dares to ask questions of our thought processes and traditions. It challenges you on what you think of when you hear the word “worship”. What worship is and isn’t. Is there danger in defining it? Is there danger in NOT defining it? Why do people care so deeply about it in our churches?

“Worship” is a very controversial concept. Whenever change is considered to the “worship”, people get very upset. Why? Why is it that the worship seems to cause so much conflict within the walls of the church? But what is meant by “changes to the worship”?  Most of the time, it’s referencing changes to the music style or atmosphere.  We have all heard “worship is a lifestyle”, but is that true? And what does it even mean? If it means, it’s anything we do with pure hearts in motives… is that biblical worship? Or something else?

Though, I know well intentioned, I hate this catchphrase. It does nothing to further our understanding of worship. It was intended to encourage believers to live a life focused on God, but what it’s become is to believe that everything you do FOR God is worship. And that is just not true…biblically. We can do a lot of great things for God. We can praise, we can serve, we can teach, we can pray, but there is an actual definition of “worship” and, I would say, that actual “worship” is something that makes a lot of believers incredibly uncomfortable and so not done often.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… leave a comment.

Here are a couple things that have really stood out to me when speaking with worship pastors:

  1. We want you to engage!– I know this one seems obvious, but I’ve come across some people who, I swear, seem as though worship pastors are trying to be solo artists and don’t want the congregation to be singing with them. Now, I’m sure there are some bad eggs who are in it for the wrong reason, but, trust me, most of them are not in it for the “glory and high pay”. Please don’t go to service with a critical spirit ready to tear apart the heart of the guy/girl who is doing her best to create an atmosphere conducive for the Spirit to move. If it didn’t “work” for you, check your heart before you grab the scalpel to dissect his/hers. It’s not their job to make sure you worship. It’s their job to “carry the arc” (read the book…so good)/usher in the presence.
  2. It’s not actually for you. – You’ve heard this before, but really let this sink in. This guy has considered you, has thought about how best to prepare the atmosphere with music as David did that will calm your spirit, so God can battle as little distractions as possible. But at the end of the day, corporate worship is not about or for you. The phrase “I really liked” or “hated the worship today” makes no sense. We all know what is meant, but the theology of it is flawed. You may think this is just semantics, but words matter. Words are how we carry thought and teaching to other people, namely younger believers. Words are important. Once you define “worship”, that phrase literally doesn’t make grammatical sense nor is it possible for someone else to affect your worship.
  3. Worship is not music. – I feel like someone is going to get mad at this one, but it must be said. I love music. I have sung since before I could speak. Music has always been part of my life and part of my worship, but it is not synonymous with it. I feel like this got really confused during the 90’s (maybe before but this is where my life experience has showcased it). It was with an absolutely fantastic heart that people went from calling the guy that led music in church the “music director/pastor” to the “worship pastor”. Why? Because that guy’s responsibilities shouldn’t be to just wave their hand and conduct a song but to usher in the presence of a Holy God. What he was doing held more spiritual authority than just music…it was worship. The only problem is, the only thing this guy was over was the music, so we taught the church that music and worship are the same things. They are not.

Worship in scripture was a physical posturing before a Holy God. It actually meant “to bow”. (To learn all the usages and meaning, please read the book…can not recommend it enough) Now, before someone says that that does not mean that you cannot worship in music, let me say…of course you can. But it is by no means synonymous with the word. When you can understand that your worship is not affected by the music because you can reflect on God’s character and nature no matter if there is a rock band or an organ playing, then we can stop the battle happening on both sides of the proverbial aisle. Everybody has a preference of music. My husband is trained in opera and sang in a metal band. He would sooner put on some band I refuse to name because I don’t like it enough to remember the name than my Broadway stuff. That’s just a preference of style. There can be no music at all and we can reflect on how holy God is. If you CANNOT WORSHIP due to the style played…that is a reflection of your heart, not the “worship”. No leader can affect your response to God…it is solely your choice to worship Him or not.

My husband was encouraged to write a philosophy of worship in college. We’ve spent many times in the car (when we had one) talking about it. I’m sure it will be ever changing but here’s what God has brought me to today:

 

 

 

 

I think when we are in a space to understand the awesomeness of God, we will have no choice but to fall on our face in worship.

If you are someone who has ever been frustrated at the music or the leader or been that leader, I seriously encourage you to read the book.

Love,

the Grizzards

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Story of Us…“SPRING BREAK! TIME TO GET CRAZY!”

The first year of high school was great. Still awkward at times, but overall great. Or maybe I was just on a high because Jordan told me that he and some of his friends were coming to Ft. Myers for spring break; which meant basically even if I had been thrown aside as the high school equivalent of a societal leper, this was a fantastic first year! I was so excited! Jordan and I had talked on the phone a lot this year but we hadn’t actually spent very much time together before and they were going to be here for a whole week! I started sweating. I’m fairly certain I’m going to make an absolute fool of myself at some point. What if I say something stupid? What if I get a pimple? What if I do something clumsy like fall in my heels? Maybe I should just wear flats. No, I look fatter in flats! I’ll just practice until he gets here. Please don’t be your usual idiot self that week!

Mom had cleaned the house to the point of exhaustion. She was always like that. She would clean the house before a maid came in to clean the house. If anyone, and I mean anyone, was planning on coming over, they may as well have been the Queen of England the way my mom would fuss. Of course, by the time they actually arrived, mom would be able to entertain them for whatever period of time and then was basically down with a migraine or seizure for a few days afterwards, so the house got to be a mess while she was down. Then she would get up when she felt better and run rampant to clean it again…to the point of exhaustion. And so the cycle went.

But the house looked great before everybody got there. As much as mom fussed over the house, I matched her nerve by anxious nerve over myself. I tried to stay calm and say, “Kayla, just be yourself. Its not worth it if he doesn’t like you for you.” But let’s be real, I didn’t like me for me, so I wasn’t going to expect him to. Nope, that would not be good enough. I’d have to make sure I didn’t eat too much this week. Maybe I could get  a few pounds off before he got here. The house was going to look great and I would do my best to look great too.

Jordan rolled into town with his buddies Robby, Ian and Matt. His friends were hysterical. Robby was a tall, skinny guy with spiky blonde hair and glasses. He was smart and sarcastic; the kind of humor that I was deathly afraid of. He would often make people the subject of his jokes and I was terrified that I would become the butt of his rhetoric all week. He never meant to be mean and he rarely was, but still. This was a big week and I did not want to become the center of negative attention in front of Jordan. Ian was a shorter kind of geeky looking kid. He was equally sarcastic, though no one could match Robby in that category. He wore khakis and a plaid button up shirt tucked into his pants. He seemed a bit of an odd man out in this group of guys. Ian and Jordan had shared a love of music. They both sang and played instruments. Ian and Jordan were in a heavy metal band called Negative Zero. He was a pretty amazing drummer. To look at Ian, you would have no idea how he fit in that environment, but kid could play. Matt was a bigger guy. He wasn’t fat. He was broad shouldered and seemed much larger than he was when he stood next to Robby. He could contort his face where it closed like a crater or a sink hole or something. The guys would say “shut your face” and he would shut his eyes tight, and somehow scrunch his face where his features were basically unrecognizable… a rare and weird talent. But that was this group. They were completely unique from each other, but to see them hang out, it was obvious that they felt completely comfortable around each other. Was that unique to these guys or are guys just completely different than girls?

That week was awesome. We spent the days doing random stuff around town and then at night, we would normally hang out at my house. The boys called it “the castle”. Our house was slightly larger than the homes they were from, so that became a bit of a joke throughout the week. There was a large open landing upstairs that overlooked the living room and kitchen that led to my and Heather’s room. The boys called the part of the house that my sister and I shared “the west wing”. Robby would go up to the landing outside of our rooms and make a fake “royal speech” while waving his hand like a really overdramatic beauty contestant.

We had a music room over the garage that my parents had built when we moved in. It was just a large room with a drum set, some recording equipment and a full wall of mirrors for dancing. My parents were awesome about supporting our passions, so they built it so we could spend time doing the things we loved. I spent most afternoons up in that room just wailing my little lungs out. The group made its way up there one night and we were all hanging out being goofballs. It was me, Jordan, Jaime, Schusty, Robbie, Ian, Matt, Alan, Brycie (Jaime’s other best friend), and Merri Beth. After a while Schusty picked up the guitar and started strumming clumsily. She had just started taking guitar lessons and hadn’t learned but probably 5 chords, but that didn’t stop her from snatching the thing up and going to town on it like she was Mick Jagger. I envied her self confidence. Jordan’s brother, Kyle, was about to get married in a couple of months, so Kayla felt inspired to write a song in dedication to our soon to be bedded friend. It was simply entitled “The Sex Song”. She strummed rhythmically on the guitar while seamlessly creating rhymes for Kyle and his soon to be bride. She was hysterical and everyone was laughing at her witty creation. If you picture in your head Phoebe playing her song after Chandler and Monica tell her she can’t play at their wedding, you’ll have a good mental picture of the tone of this performance. After she was finished, she took a bow and left her spot at the center of the room for an empty chair on the back wall.

The “stage” was not empty for long as Ian stepped up and grabbed the guitar Schusty had left and sat in the spotlight.

“I’d like to dedicate this song to all of the pagans out there! To those men whose hair hangs below their ears and women whose skirts hit above their knees.” He strummed on one single chord as if trying to build suspense. “ I would just like to say that the Lord loves you, but I have to say… YOU’RE GOING TO HELL. YOU’RE GOING TO HELL. YOU’RE GOING TO HEEEEEEEELLLLLL.” Everyone bellied over in laughter since he was, obviously,  joking as he screeched on a ridiculously high note. He finished his song and I could barely see through the water that had built up in my eyes..

“I just thought I’d give you all a little melodic theology lesson today. You’re welcome.”

Everybody was cracking jokes and having a good time but it was getting late. Merri Beth and Brycie went home, but Schusty and Jaime were spending the night. The guys were going to stay the night too. They would sleep downstairs on couches and pallets with us girls up in “the west wing”. My dad seemed ok with that as long as there was a flight of stairs and about 2,000 square feet separating us.

The girls all headed upstairs and the guys settled in for the night. Jordan and I stayed back and lingered to talk to each other for a bit.

“You think you’re dad would be ok if I walked you upstairs to your door?” he asked.

“Well Schusty and Jaime are up there too, so I’m sure it’s fine.”

We walked up the stairs and across the landing and stood in front of the door that took us to the hallway where our rooms were. He held my hand and we talked for a bit. Wait. What was happening? Is it just me or is he setting up for something? Is he going to kiss me tonight??!! Oh my stars. This is it. My first kiss. And not just my first kiss but my first kiss with Jordan. I genuinely had no idea this was going to happen this week. Ok, relax, Kayla. This is supposed to feel natural and perfect. We stood talking for a minute. Good gracious he was cute. He had the most adorable dimple on the right side of his face. Well, he had dimples on both sides but the right side was deeper than the left. He had these incredible grey eyes that were slightly lighter around the center. I’m not sure he had ever been this close to me before.

“I had a lot of fun with you today” he said.

“ So did I. Our friends are nuts” we laughed.

“ Yes they are… bunch of crazies.”

“ yeah”

“ Well, goodnight.” he said, but he didn’t go away. He lowered his head and kissed me! I couldn’t believe it. Jordan Grizzard, the guy I had been thinking about since before my braces had come off had just pulled me close to him and kissed me right on the lips! What in the world? It was perfect. I mean, it was quick and a little awkward, but perfect.

I smiled as he pulled away from me, “goodnight”. And with that he went downstairs as I tried to regain my composure. I only had about 10 steps worth of distance to my bedroom where Jaime and Schusty were and I couldn’t look like I was still on cloud nine. I should play this cool. Who am I kidding? I’m not cool! I’m ecstatic!

I collected myself as best I could and walked to my room. I just could not wipe this dopey grin from my face. I opened the door and walked in to see Schusty pulling her night clothes out of her bag and Jaime getting tucked under the covers of her pallet.

“Oh heeeeey,” said Jaime with a toying tone.

“Hello” I said basically singing.

“ I still cannot believe he hasn’t kissed you yet” Schusty snapped.

My mouth curled up even more, “Who says he hasn’t?” I said coyly.

Schusty and Jaime’s heads whirled around and looked at me dumbfounded. They were’t silent for long. They let out the loudest squeal I think I had ever heard come out of their mouths.

“SSSSHHHHH! You guys are killing me!” Well I guess playing it cool is a lost cause. Fairly certain the neighbors down the street heard that, so the boys downstairs were pretty much a guarantee. Oh who cares?! Jordan kissed me!

Story of Us… CHILIS

Story of Us… CHILIS

To say that we went out to eat after church every now and then, would be a gross understatement. I’m fairly certain the people at CHILIS off of College Blvd. would be out of a job if not for our business. We probably could’ve invited them to Christmas dinner and not felt awkward about it. We saw them a lot.

So, when Jaime leaned over to me during my dad’s sermon on Sunday and whispered, “Want to go to CHILIS for lunch?”, I, of course, answered with “Yeah girl.” We wrapped up service, gave an abundance of hugs, and jumped in the car to go to lunch. It was the usual gang. Me, Jaime, Momma Sue, and anybody else that wanted to jump in. This group had always felt like family, but now, more than ever.  I mean, after all, Jordan and I were basically a for sure “item” now. So this crew was my boyfriends family! Even though, we hadn’t actually talked yet. I was sure it was just a matter of time to solidify the details. I wonder if he’d thought about our first date yet. I wonder if he’d planned how he would ask me for our first date. I wonder if he had thought about what we would talk about on our first date. I’ll bet he had it all thoughtfully and carefully crafted to a perfect experience!

We talked like normal that night. I was less in a state of euphoria over the thought of Jordan and more just peaceful about the thought of him. Thinking about him used to make me feel anxious and self-conscience. Now? I just felt confident and calm. I liked this feeling.

After dinner, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and Jaime said she needed to go too (after all, girls go in packs right?). So, we headed off to the bathroom. After we finished “our business”, we were at the sink washing our hands when Jaime got kind of awkward.

“Hey, so I need to tell you something,” she said, still looking at the water basin.

“ Ok,” I said weirdly. “ What’s up?”

“ I know Momma Sue told you a couple weeks ago that Jordan had noticed you…”

“ He didn’t?” I said, anticipating the worst possible news.

“ No! He did! He said he thought you were cute and all, but…” she paused for an INCREDIBLY long time, “ he’s actually talking to their pastor’s daughter up there now.”

WHAT??! Why?? How was this possible? I literally spent years thinking about this guy and I find out he’s interested in me only to hear he’s no longer interested in me before I even get to talk to him??! WHAT THE HECK?! This was so not fair. Remember when I said I was anticipating the worst possible news…. I was wrong. This sucked.

“Oh, Ok. That’s no big deal. I was kind of getting over him when Momma Sue said that anyway, so now I’ll be able to actually get over him for sure.” I lied. “ You ready?” I said, trying to escape that room as soon as possible. I dried my hands and bolted back to the table.

Praise God, we were all basically done and would be going home soon. I excused myself from the table and decided to go outside until everyone else was ready to go. I sat on the bench outside the front door to the restaurant and just sat. I didn’t cry. I didn’t even think much. I just sat. Completely silent and completely still. And then all of those emotions came back—anxious, nervous, self-conscience, and doubt. My old friends were once again plastered back into the wall I built around myself. And it was definitely time to refortify my fortress. He didn’t even get to know me, but he saw enough to know he didn’t want to see any more.

*Jaime,

I’m in Algebra class right now. Anyways, how about I get to what I’m meaning to talk to you about, but first I want you to know that as my friend (my best friend) you are sworn to secrecy! Jaime, I lied to you. When you told me about Jordan and Ashley… I still like Jordan as much as I ever have. I’m sorry, but it’s hard to explain everything. Why I lied, how I feel, and what I am going to do. The latter is probably the most difficult because I don’t know what I am going to do! I’m sorry I lied to you, but I was surprised. I mean, I expected it just not right now, which was dumb because everything was going so good; what with CINDERELLA and my mom feeling good and Jordan. I should have expected something to go wrong but Jordan? That one hurt. I haven’t been talking about him lately because you had said when I do it got annoying and people said that was all I ever talked about, so I shut up! 

I didn’t think he’d give me up so soon! I’m not mad at him Jaime. Maybe one of the few true things I said was that I was happy for him and that it was time to move on. It’s just been really hard for me to let everyone know who I like. I’m not an emotional person. Well – better wording- I’m not a person who likes to have their emotions known. It’s not comfortable to me. I’m always scared I’ll get hurt! I guess I’m a good actress last night was the first time I’ve truly been able to lie to you. I let my guard down when I got home. Mom knew something was up. I told her last night and she just let me cry. I don’t want my dad or brother to know because my dad won’t be sympathetic and my bro will just be mad at him! Don’t tell anyone. If anyone found out…well, just don’t say anything, ok? 

You know what I’m gonna miss though? Sometimes he just “hit me.” Not physically, of course, but you know how sometimes things will just “hit you”? Like when you think about eternity. Sometimes it just rolls off of your tongue so easily, but other times it’s like God allows you to have a glimpse of understanding as of to how long eternity is? It’ll just hit you? Well, sometimes Jordan would just “hit me”. I remember how I used to feel, knowing that FINALLY, Jordan had noticed me. After two years! Now, I’m so insecure. I always feel like someone’s making fun of me. 

I will continue playing my role as the one who doesn’t care. Because I think that we are friends and should stay friends. It’ll take time, but I will get over it. I need someone I can talk to, but you can’t tell anyone..especially Momma Sue, ok? I don’t want anything getting back to Jordan.

Story of Us… “Kind of Cool”

Story of Us… “Kind of Cool”

Jaime and I had gotten really close. I actually spent a pretty equal amount of nights at her house during the week as I had my own. One afternoon, I was in the car with  Momma Sue, and I just about broke down.

“This is so stupid. I have been obsessed with the same boy for like 2 years and he doesn’t even know I exist.”

“That’s not true.” Momma Sue tried to console me.

“ No, you’re right. He knows that I’m his cousin’s dorky best friend.” I was in tears not even trying to stop them at this point. “ He doesn’t see me as anything else.”

“ I don’t know about that.” Momma Sue said with a tone that I could not ignore.

“ What do you mean?” I said. My tears stopped flowing while I waited for an answer.

“ I’m just saying I don’t think you should give up so soon.”

“ So soon?? Momma Sue, it’s been 2 and a half years of a 14-year-old liking the same guy that I don’t even see but maybe 4 times a year. I think it’s getting a little pathetic at this point.”

“ I just think he may have noticed you more than you think is all,” she said with that same tone.

“ Why do you think that?”

She gave an innocent, albeit completely unbelievable face.

“ Momma Sue, what do you know?” I asked

“ Well, he may have told us that he may have noticed you and thought you were cute.”

“ He said I was cute??!”

“ Well I think my actual question was ‘Hey, what do you think about Kayla Powell?’ and he said something like, ‘ I mean she’s kind of cool. I could be interested.’.”

“ So you told him I was interested??!”

“ No. I just asked if he would be interested.”

“ and he said yes?”  I squealed a little bit. This was not happening. This had been two and a half years in the making. Now granted, I had it planned where he would tell me to my face or down on one knee, or riding on a white stallion while declaring his love for me, but through his mom’s twin sister with a half-hearted declaration of interest would do for now!! This was awesome!

the MET’s fashionistas!

the MET’s fashionistas!

I am loving seeing old friends here and meeting new ones, too. Today, we got to hang out with some very old friends. Laura Beth and I have known each other all my life. My dad pastored their church in South Carolina where I was born. Her family has always been one of the greatest encouragements to my dad during his ministry and now she lives in Brooklyn with her husband. They are church planters over there and she invited me to go to the Met with her! Her dad was even in town!

There was a fashion exhibit with elaborately designed dresses that we thought the girls may enjoy. Kendall seemed less interested in the dresses and more interested in touching everything she wasn’t supposed to so she remained confined to the stroller… only one meltdown… WIN.

we probably could’ve taken a train, but it was rainy and it just felt like a cab kind of day.
the kids first time at the MET.
they really were works of art… beautifully crafted.
Jozzy fit right in!
Mr. Jeff! It was so good to get to see him again.

Jozlyn with Laura Beth and her 2 kids, Jackson and Neely.

 

It ended with costumes that looked like they belonged in WICKED. People are so talented.

After the museum, we were planning on going to the park for playtime, but the weather was not working with us. We walked a few blocks to a NEW YORK STAPLE! haha. That’s right. I go to New York City and still Panera is one of my favorite lunch spots! I’m so classy.

 

We had so much fun hanging out with our new friends. Praise God for momma’s in the city who are a few years ahead of me in this thing.

 

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I'm Kayla. Mom of two, wife of one and new New York transplant. We're a family of four fumbling our way through our new normal in Manhattan! We're excited to learn as we go... we can't mess this up too bad, right? :)

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