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In the Path of The Teacher.

July 10, 2013

“Can You do something about that?”  This was the question that I found myself asking out loud in the shower.  I was talking to Top-Gear-S20God, but because of all of the episodes of Top Gear I had been watching, I was thinking with a British accent and had to practice it out loud.  Side note- the difference in the word ‘about’ is that we emphasize the ‘ou’ almost as if it were ‘ow’ and they skip the sound almost entirely.

 

I was asking Him this because of the heart change I was experiencing in how I think about (there it is again) and participate in my life.  Being extremely dissatisfied with my current life’s details, no car, job search, and debt, I was feeling guilty about being a “grumpy Christian.”  Believing that the best way for Him to be known is through how I live, I was wondering what on earth would be attractive to another soul about that?

 

I had a thought, inspired by the Spirit maybe, that called into question what I considered being cared for by my Father.  I let my mind wander into the areas of dissatisfaction and found that basically if things were not going well all around, I felt anywhere from disappointed to outright furious.  With God.fire-and-brimstone

 

Now in the place I was raised, that was definitely frowned upon.  After all, God is the God of hell fire and brimstone type retribution.  But I’ve learned over the years that He can handle anything I feel, it’s futile to try and hide it since He knows everything anyway, and if what He wants is a real relationship with me (and I am 100% sure that He does), then my feelings, as damnable as they may be, are essential to express.

 

What I then remembered was not primarily a conviction of my errant heart, although that was definitely present, but was a picture of the life of Christ and those that followed Him.  And it was not easy.  And it was not free of suffering.  And instead maybe what it looked like to live satisfied in His care is not for Him to meet all of my “needs,” but instead to let Him fill me with peace and grace no matter what “needs” went unmet.

 

So not resting on my thinking, as my mind is very aware that I say I believe He can do anything, I let myself wonder out loud if He JesusCalmingStorm150dpicould actually do a thing like that.  Because that is something that people would definitely notice.  And it would do my tired old soul a good turn as well.

 

And then I read this from Sarah Young in her amazing book “Jesus Calling.”

“When you seek Me instead of the world’s idols (like freedom from struggle?), you experience My joy and peace.  These intangibles slake the thirst of your soul, providing deep satisfaction…  Thus you become a beacon through whom others are drawn to Me.”

 

Nice.  (With a British accent… n-eye-c.)

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What Car?

May 26, 2013

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She walked this way for over a year having lived in the same place for the first time for more than just a few months.   She walked from her house to the coffee shop that her friends owned, stopped to have some water, and then walked back home.  Just like any other story the phrase “this particular day” has to be inserted here because this day there was one thing that was different on her walk.

To get to the shop she walks down a busy street, well the busiest one in the small north end of the city.  The traffic noise even at 7am on Saturday is loud enough to block out most sounds.  As she passed the parking lot of the coffee shop the street sounds were loud enough to drown out anything else that she might hear except the specific high-pitched whir and scratch that the 1970 model Volvo station wagon makes.

The street was definitely making it hard to hear, but she recognized the sound due to the fact that her mother used to have one in the teal blue, four-door version that she owned in 1987.  It didn’t make logical sense that the car was running; she was always looking for things to be logical, because there appeared to be no one in the car.

It was then that it ran through her mind, “This is the scene in every movie right before that car explodes.”

For one second as she passed the car continuing down the sidewalk, she imagined, as she usually did, the aftermath of the moment.  She also imagines her car veering sharply off the side of a bridge and how it would feel to fall and then hit the water.  She imagined, every time she stood on one, what would happen if she fell over the railing of a balcony high in the air.  As she imagined the explosion the visual of such a moment came into view.

She could see a big flame coming from the car like she’d seen in so many movies.  She imagined it catching her back left side and throwing her forward, who knows how many feet, burning her skin and implanting shards of car parts into her body.

She thought about the building and what it would look like with a hole in it and in the parking lot.  Maybe the hole in the parking lot was 12 feet deep and half the side of that building blown away revealing what was left of the pizza restaurant, travel agency and tanning salon.  Her friend’s coffee shop was on the far side of the building and, just because she can, she hoped the blast wouldn’t have any effect on it.

As she passed out of sight of the car she took the last second to look back out of the corner of her eye just to make sure the car had not exploded and she was about to experience the imaginings of her mind.

That moment of suspicion in a movie, when you know something is going to happen, there’s a particular look on the person’s face.  Because she knows it so well after many years of watching gangster films and studying them in college, she made the face.  Squint your eyes a little bit, raise one eyebrow, stiffen your lips and tilt your head slightly to either direction.

She felt very much in the moment that just to pull off that scene that car would have to explode.  It would make the facial expression mean something.  It would become something other than just another dreamed up moment in which she acted the scene perfectly with no one watching.

And just in that moment… nothing happened.

She continued walking down the sidewalk, no one else ever knowing what she had just seen, and went into the coffee shop and said, “It’s a good morning.” to her friends as if nothing had ever happened.  Because it hadn’t.

I Need A Hero!

April 24, 2013

There is an awesome song from the 1980’s used in the awesome film Footloose, and the partbonnie_tyler_holding_out_for_a_hero that sticks in your mind goes like this, “I need a hero!  I’m holding on for a hero till the morning light and he’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast, and he’s gotta be larger than life. Larger than life. Oo Oo Oo Oo.”  You get the picture.

As much as the world, and different movements, from the beginning of time have tried to squash it out of us, the truth is that we were created to need.  Whatever you believe about the origins of creation you cannot deny that the reproductive system of a woman puts her in a unique place of needing what a man has so that the very practical and obvious purpose of this “equipment” can be used to it’s intended end.

And just as scientifically true as that is, the same is also true that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  In this case the action is the de-feminization of women, its equal reaction is to make us more like men, and the opposite reaction is to make men more like women, or so I’m proposing.

That song I mentioned came to my mind when I went to see a movie last night and the trailers for this summers movies came on.  I had goose Star-Trek-into-darkness (3)bumps twice, once during the trailer for the new Star Trek, and again for the new Superman trailer.  Then the thought and then the song ran through my mind – we need a hero.  We are scared maybe in this new uncertain world where we are no longer the safest, strongest, and best country.  Maybe we are longing for the days when we were brave, just and protective.  And maybe, during the continued assault on what makes a man a man, we are looking for that kind of man who makes us feel safe.

As the Superman trailer ended the cry of my heart almost escaped my mouth, which would have had me yelling in the theater, something I was taught not to do, but if I had I would have yelled, “MY PRECIOUS, FEARLESS, COURAGEOUS BROTHERS… BE A SUPERHERO!”  Act on those dreams you have of fighting the good fight, standing for those who cannot stand, and for leading in a way that commands respect and is easy to Man-of-Steel-Movie-Spoilerssubmit to.  (Satisfying both the most basic needs of man and woman, to be respected and safe respectively.)

You are still our heroes no matter what you believe because of what the world has said.  No matter how many times a woman sneers at you for opening her door, DO IT ANYWAY!  No matter how much she protests, on occasion pay for your sister’s meal!  No matter what others will say about having a balance, not being a door mat, or being taken advantage of, look to Jesus on the cross as your only example and sacrifice yourself for the sake of women.

Lead us out in this my brothers.  Set it straight.  Speak truth boldly.  It has eternal implications that far outweigh any lie you believe or any ridicule you may endure.  Be a superhero my brothers.  I love you.

Oblivious Oblivion

April 22, 2013

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About a quarter of the way through the movie Oblivion I leaned over to my friend and said, “We’ve sort of got a Paul and Jesus thing going on here.”  Meaning that the character that was attempting the extinction of a specific group was going to have the redemptive opportunity to be their savior.  (Paul is not the savior, Jesus is, but Paul is given the opportunity to redeem his murderous pursuit of followers of Jesus by giving his whole life to the spreading of the same good news he had tried to prevent.)  That was pretty cool to pick up on and a change from the usual savior story of “out of obscurity rises the hero.”

Then just as the move hit the mid way point the plot got so thin that my fist thought was of the way my coffee mafia friends describe a latte with soy instead of milk – as thin and pointless as water.

It was kind of a bummer that it petered out like it did because it was the first time I have seen Tom Cruise as a movie character without the immediate taint of the jumping on Oprah’s sofa incident made him look like an insane nut job.

But seriously it got thin and boring and oh so predictable.

Doesn’t anyone other than Wes Anderson understand character development?  Or does Hollywood not care just as long as we put our butts in the seats?

If you don’t give me enough, but not too much, back-story to a character – I DON’T CARE WHAT THEY DO OR WHAT HAPPENS TO THEM!

And thus lies the self fulfilling prophecy that those who made the movie hung around their own necks with the title Oblivion as it will surely pass into oblivion just days from now without anyone making even the half hearted attempt they did at making us care.

The Big House. (the pictures for this one are waiting for you in your imagination. :))

April 16, 2013

When my Grandparents were young someone built a huge house in their neighborhood.  It was the biggest one for two blocks no matter if you looked to the right or the left.  I guess it wasn’t so much the side to side size as it was the up and down size that made it stand out.  It seemed so tall, all three stories, next to all the small one story houses feeling inadequate next to it.  It took up twice as much space as any other house because next to the house itself there was a garage the size of a small house and out in the back of the garage was another little house.

I imagine it in its heyday when some of the other houses were not on the street it was probably very impressive standing all alone with its bigness and two whole other buildings under its control.  It must have mattered that it was the biggest.  Everyone in the town probably knew who owned it.   The kids that lived in the house must have gone to the school across the street and they were probably called ‘The Smith kids,’ or the oldest ‘Norquist boy.’  Whatever their names were, most people probably knew it because they knew the house.

Now the neighborhood is full up and though it is still the biggest house and the only one with its whole own other houses, nowadays it gets lost on the street.  Its paint color helps it blend in with all of the tree and moss green around.  It’s got a strange use of lattice running across the front of all three stories.  I think people are so used to the one story houses they probably don’t even look up high enough to see the windows on the third floor.

At night though, you can’t help but be drawn into those windows because they are up so high. They hold a place in the sky and the windows are too big to be stars so your eyes are trying to find the answer to the question of the light.  That is when you see the top of the house.  The roof shingles are dark grey so they kind of blend in with the night sky and it gives it the look of a big box with no lid.  Like at any moment the things and people in the house could float up and out into the darkness.

First the light things like lamps and picture frames.  Although if the lamps were plugged in they might just dangle in space while everything not tied down floated by.  Then maybe their cat would take flight and if it was anything like my cat it would be none too happy and it would make a terrible howling noise that sounds like someone with a speech impediment is yelling at you.  Then maybe cups and candles float away and the candles have melted wax in them and as they tip the wax spills, and it cools in the air so that there a little rain drops of wax in the air now too.    And then maybe the people would be next and since the parents were probably heavy with worry or just being old; the kids would go first.  And what if one of them was jumping on the bed, he would definitely be the first to go seeing how he’s already kind of air born.  And then the neighbors would be saying, “Oh there goes that oldest Norquist boy floating out into space again.”

Heart Attack

April 10, 2013

A year or two ago, I could look back in my blog to find the exact date, but I don’t care enough about dates to do that, I wrote about aKim-Kardashian-Vintage-Vogue-Magazine-Covers-060612-5-491x643 moment I had with the Spirit in which I was driving and thinking and my thoughts began to form a list of things that I wanted to become in my life.  I can’t remember them all now, but one was to be the kind of woman who reads and loves Vogue and Vanity Fair.  Not lofty goals obviously, but they were specific and real.

After several minutes of remembering, I realized that I had become the woman I had always wanted to be.  Not surprisingly, I had never had lofty goals and had achieved none, but where I live, in the details, I had successfully built the kind of woman I admired.  And then almost from outside of myself came the thought, “I’ve made what I wanted me to be like, and it’s just not that great, now You make me who You want me to be.”  I sat quietly for a second with nothing but the sound of the tires on the road making noise while I set my mind and heart to the new path I had just asked to be on.

You know we say those things.  And even if, like I did, we take a minute to think about them, nothing happens immediately other than ameryl-streep-vanity-fair-january-2010-cover change in direction, but you can’t see that.  The unseen hand of God moving around you and in front of you.  That’s why faith and trust are so difficult.  But it’s out there and even after you forget about it, your path forward has changed.  It’s only when you learn something new and your heart leads your will and emotions to alignment with God’s instead of where they would have gone before, even as much as a day before, to your comfort of sin most likely, that you find out just exactly how God is working.

I had no idea when I asked Him to make me into what He wanted me to be that the thing He would change was my heart.  He would begin to change my selfish, fearful, arrogant, ashamed, heart into the heart of Jesus, His loving, kind, patient, gracious, thoughtful, servant, Son.  It may sound naïve, especially considering that my daily chant for the last few years had been, God is after your heart, not your situation, but honestly, I didn’t see it coming.  How would even one as powerful as God Himself change the lies that were at the core of my identity and my belief?

Over the last month or so I’ve been blessed with great relief as I’ve learned that when God gives us a new heart because of what Jesus Tires-on-the-roaddid and is doing, He does not take away our old one.  We are still prone to sin only now we have a new heart that longs for what is good, and right, and perfect.  But the fact that my mind almost always goes to the opposite of that is not a source of shame or stupidity, it is the natural response of a human who lives in a fallen world.  I do have the opportunity to act differently, to choose what is right through the power of the Spirit that lives in me, but not until I am in the presence of Jesus will the old heart be gone forever.

That, however, does not mean that God won’t change your heart to desire Him above all else and respond to His children in the way a loving Father would.  Desiring others to be better than yourself, to have more than you, to be heard before you, to rejoice as they get things that your heart longs for also, those kinds of things.  The first time someone said that to me I cringed.  Having a heart that wanted others to get better than I got sounded an awful lot like stuffing down my emotions while my heart broke.  That was what my head thought about it and my feelings followed.  But when someone said it to me yesterday, the love of Jesus that was so powerful and selfless that it let Him be hung on a cross for me, overwhelmed me and it didn’t sound like such a bad thing. your-heart1

To have the heart of our Savior.  To love others more than myself.  To want others to achieve more even if that means I help them get it and get nothing in return.  To work in the background so that others may stand in the foreground.  To not be defined by what others think of me being in the background.  To trust God with me and with everyone and everything making me patient, slow to speak, gentle, humble, gracious, sacrificial and a servant.  That’s how God is changing me to be the woman He made me to be.

And Even though my heart will rebel and my flesh will strive and I have no idea how to live as that woman, God is making me into a reflection of His Son.  I didn’t know it, but that’s exactly what I asked of Him a year or two ago or however long it’s been.

FYI

April 1, 2013

As much as my brothers are distracted and given cause to stumble by shorty shorts and low cut tops, what seems to stick with them is a disrespectful or discouraging word from a sister.

Love them well ladies in dress and word.