Treasure hunt!

I watched the movie Moneyball the other night at a friends house.  The main character is Billy Bean, played by Brad Pitt.  It was a movie that highlighted a job that I didn’t know existed (general manager) for a sport I generally don’t care much about (sorry/not sorry baseball fans). Ever inquisitive about how things work, and what life is like for other people, I couldn’t help but like it. Even more, I was caught up in the story. Because getting caught up in a story is one of my favorite things ever, I decided to put it in my “Movies Worthy of Recommending” category.

The general story line is very sport-sy and American independenc-ey about baseball, money, picking teams right, this guy that did it differently than other people and thus was unpopular. Will it work out for him?  Will he go down in flames?  Should he be sticking to his gut instinct like this?  These are all questions a viewer is asking.  This is the backdrop. But, as usual, there are relationships happening left and right that impact the story.  One of said relational blips is the relationship between Billy and his daughter.

Billy and the Mom are separated (maybe divorced?) and he hasn’t been very involved in his daughter’s life up to these, her teenage years. But he decides that he wants to do things a little bit differently, so he has his daughter fly up to visit him.  In one scene, he takes her to a music store and they look at all the guitars.  She is drawn to several that are pretty because they have red on them.

Even in her awkward teen-ness, he convinces her to play the guitar and sing in the store. She does.  And she sings this song that has a really catchy tune.  Catchy enough that I decided to you tube it the next day.  As I listened to the song (originally by Venka), I resonated with words.  Like much good art, they echoed my internal, lived experience.

“I’m just a little bit caught in the middle, life is a maze and love is a riddle, I don’t know where to go, can’t do it alone, I’ve tried and I don’t know why.” And I am like, “Right on, Venka! You are peppy and cute and I resonate with your message.  I KNOW this kind of unrest and confusion!”  But I still thought that I liked the smooth sweetness of the actress’ version of this best.  So I looked up the Moneyball clip.

Casey picks up the guitar, hums and plays it a bit.  Dad watches. “You need to sing.  That’s SO good.  It’s beautiful.”  Casey says, “Sometimes I sing.  It’s fun to sing with your song. But I don’t want people to listen to me.” Dad, “Aww, honey.  I think people would love to listen to you, that is beautiful.” Pause. “Would you sing a little for your dad, right here in the middle of the store?”  She smiles, unsure.  She looks more closely at him, weighing the pro’s and con’s through squinted eyes.  And she acquiesces, saying, “Little bit,” which Dad repeats back to her, “Little bit.” “You ready?” she asks. “I’m ready.”

Watch Casey closely.

Now, I want you to think of the awkward teenager that we all have inside of ourselves. The small, questioning, raw version of ourselves.  It asks,

“Am I going to risk it?”

“Am I going to put myself out there?”

“Will they laugh at me?”

Ultimately, we are asking “Can I handle the stage?  Am I enough?”

Casey does all of the subtle things to channel this version of ourselves.  She takes a measured risk.  She hums instead of singing, scans the store to determine how large her audience is, looks at her Dad’s face to reassure herself that he meant what he said, and makes stabilizing eye contact with him during the middle of the song.

Have you been there, dipping your toe in the water?  Deciding how much of yourself you would put out there? If you have, I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself.  There is a reason.

There was a time when your needed cheering the most, but the stands were empty. Or when the cheerleader’s words rung patronizing/ condescending/less than true. And your take-away. .  it stung.  It forever defined your gifts.  Worst of all, it defined your value.

If this happened to you, I ask you to slow down in this moment and take a deep breath. Lean in to your raw, fearful, not-enough self.  And this time. . . this time, watch Dad.

Hear your Father’s voice in the room with you.  See HIS face.  See HIS value of what you bring.

HE is proud!

HE is impressed and YOU are impressive!

And HE is the only one that can make us YOU believe it.

Please. . .

Lean in.

The world is wanting for you!



The single-tasker takes a hit

So, I might have come across as Pollyanna-ish in my first post.  Joy, happiness and beauty to be celebrated.  I believe it.

It was present on this very day.  When I brought the guy at the bar a thick, beautiful slice of cake and explained how much I longed to taste it’s goodness.  But that this dream in my heart inevitably placed 15 more pounds on my body during the winter months.  This happiness burst through when he made the counter-cultural suggestion that I eat all the cake I want in the fall so that I can gain 15 lbs by winter and feel like a warm and happy woman, instead of cold and sad one.

It also shone through in the awkward teenage boy who was so pleased at having 4 servers sing for his birthday. . .   in the other waitresses who were helpful like fairy god-mothers today. . . in my best friend’s husband who got my car un-stuck (from where I parked it) and helped shovel out the spot in the front of my house so I can drive to work tomorrow.

Still, it was a rough day, putting to test all my knowing God’s goodness in the land of the living.  Where I mess up.  In front of other people.  And feel. . . less than.

I earned a high “A” today in single-tasking.  But not in a delight-ful way.  In a hard-on-my-pride way.

The story that follows is for all single taskers that shrink or withdraw when their vulnerability is shown.  And it is for me, because I am one of them. Let me explain.

I am currently employed as a waitress.  I have been for three months.  It was a career leap, which I have adjusted to so-so.  “So-so” you ask?  Fair enough. You see,while waitressing makes sense for the engaging, hospitable parts of my personality, it is strongly hampered by my expertise in single-tasking.  Take today, for example.

Today, I was a great waitress to many people, a decent waitress to almost the rest, and a poor waitress to one couple.  For posterity’s sake, I will highlight my interactions with the couple.

I got them their drinks, salads, and dinners with poise and personality.  Then, I was assigned sharing a large table of people (this is what we call a “party” though it never feels like it).  This is my LEAST favorite thing to do, but I was determined to get it right this time.  This is mostly because of my 3 month history at getting “parties” ‘not-right.’

I DID IT!  I got the party right.

The only problem was, I forgot that one couple.    When I went into the dining room where they sat I didn’t see them. . . although they were there.  Or maybe I did. . . but they didn’t look familiar.  If they looked familiar. . . I didn’t remember they were my responsibility.

My couple was thirsty.  The way they got their drink refills was walking to the bar to ask for them.  This is not traditional protocol.

One of my managers made me aware of this from the other end of the alley (where we prepare our food).  This is area is about 20 feet long and contained about 7-10 of my co-workers.  My manager updated me on my performance over the heads of these 7-10 co-workers, who could not have missed the tense, loud voice which reminded me of the desired protocol, and about how I was remiss in following it.

I kept working away the rest of the shift, but it took awhile to de-escalate. My traditional coping mechanism is to physically and emotionally shrink until I feel like you can’t see me anymore.  But not today.

Today, I took a few (75?) deep breaths, waited for my face to change back to its traditional shade and told myself to

“Be brave.”

“Be brave,” I said.  I said this more than once.

Some of what I meant was:

Don’t let yourself shrink, so small. Back to nothing. 

It is not worth it. 

It robs you. 

It is a lie. 

It doesn’t prepare you to do your best the next time.  

It removes your ability to risk loving others and being loved.  Should you deaden yourself to your next people just because you made a mistake 30 minutes ago?

And guess what was true for me?  And is true for you too?


If you want to learn more about bravery and inspiring sensitive kids to be brave, see this:  Here is a website with an inspirational blog.  In it a Mom talks to her son about bravery.  This spoke right into my heart.  If you have children who are sensitive, pay close attention.  They walk around feeling naked because of all the sadness and pain they see, then feel.  This blog says something I never heard before, and points sensitive children (and their parents) in a good direction.  Bravery.

Union of the slow-paced, single taskers, Post 1

I think I just invented my dream job. Blogging and leading the masses of thinking, slow- paced, single-tasking people. Additionally, weasling joy, wonder, reflection and beauty into the hearts of ambitious fast-pacers.

Who is speaking for delight? For boredom as impetus for creativity and joy? For soaking in life? The depths of the human experience? Beauty? A good book savored over time? Humor?

I have heard Mark Futata speak about the chapter in the center of the Bible. Psalms 27. “I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” He said that it is the balance of Jewish and Christian theology. Jewish which, at that time, only believed in the present life. And Christian, which is ‘pie in the sky,’ believing all good things will click into place in heaven.

Life is hard. I have known the effects of abuse personally and in the lives of others. I have spent much time fighting the darkness for lost years in my own life. I have shed tears. I have striven for the hearts of substance abusers, mentally handicapped adults and foster children in a shining 12-year Social Work career.

I cannot gloss over how dangerous the world is, how much we are harmed by generations of sin patterns, how dark life can be. These things are true. But a question that strikes me in this moment is, “Do I need to settle in with these?”

I think the answer is “No.”

Jesus is our hope. But I embrace this truth more fully than in a pie-in-the sky or philosphical way. Deep in our soul, he gives us the grace to hold out for heaven, amidst life’s struggles. Planted in every day are sprouts of humor, friendship, yummy food and many other wonder-ful things that point to God, to tasting and seeing his goodness in the LAND OF THE LIVING.

I have been celebrating these things for years as an aside to hard work and fighting the darkness.  But, if I am honest, I would say that some days I have been ashamed.  I have thought I was less-than for: SEEING, for Delighting, for fumbling around in this fast-paced world. Sometimes my thoughts were imposed by internal voices, sometimes by stoic Christians, and sometimes by grown-ups that looked at me as if I had two heads.  YET, as it stands today. . .  my new goal is to embrace and lead others in the joy and wonder that pops up in everyday life.

You want to come?