Things I've been saving up...

We drove down back roads to get to Tennessee last week for Thanksgiving. The thing I love about back roads is the sheer entertainment you get for your money. We were still in Kings Mountain, NC, not too far from home, when we crested the hill. I was delighted to see a really tacky church sign with a big tongue of fire...like clip art with red, orange, and yellow...and the name of the church was "Faith Ablaze" Foursquare Church. I was still reveling in the clip art and blazing name when I read the Pastor's name...it was William Maze.

Then, as I am wont to do on long car trips, I had some fun in my head...

"Good morning, welcome to Faith Ablaze.
I'm Pastor William Maze.
Trust in the Lord with all your ways
Because You know it pays
When you need a raise
Trust the Lord, for He stays
By your side always.
That doesn't mean you can laze
Or wander around in a haze
Work diligently all of your days
And the Lord will bring you through this phase.
Now, can someone give the Lord praise here at Faith Ablaze?"

Yes, this is what the inside of my head looks like. These are things I think of. I really could probably go on, but I'm the only one who would really enjoy it.

Another thing that happened earlier this week was my intense reaction to our new Super Bi-Lo grocery store. It's really close to our house, and since the loss of my dear Harris Teeter (grocery store) right next to campus, I was excited to have another store on my way home from work. But as big and shiny and new and nice as it is, I am crestfallen (yes, crestfallen) at the invasiveness of it. (what?)
The produce section was ginormous and beautifully arranged...every apple in place...but as I continued to wander through the wide aisles and eerily well-placed food items, I was overcome with advertising. In the milk section there's a TV telling me which yogurt to buy, then the CEO of Bi-Lo comes on to tell me how great his store is...rounding the corner to the frozen foods there is a TV with a 24-hour news channel on. Passing that I hear Christmas music over the loudspeaker simultaneously with the 12 TV's at the end of every third checkout lane with a Bi-Lo lady explaining something else. Facing the checkout lane I could see and hear yet another news outlet against the front wall of the store.
I really like the relative quiet of a grocery store on a Sunday morning before the Baptists and Methodists let out. What happened? I had at least 4 noise sources competing for attention that I wasn't willing to relinquish!!!!! It's inevitable, I guess...even while you're in the store, they're advertising for the store. I wanted to scream, "I'm already here, buying your stuff! Don't be a Bi-Lo bully!!!" But that would have just added to the noise.

Please turn off the TV's in the grocery store.

That's all I have to say today.


my to do list is longer than my body

It's just one of those weeks. You know those weeks, when you're not sure how you got from point A to point B because you're thinking, "Get someone to take care of the dogs for Thanksgiving...Thanksgiving...that's NEXT WEEK! Crap! I'm supposed to bring desserts...I could run by Harris Teeter as I noticed there's a sale on pies...but then, there's no space in the fridge until we make the chicken for small group tomorrow...CRAP! small group tomorrow, I need to make that chicken tonight because I have to work late tomorrow...where was I? Dogs...oh, I really need to make an annual appointment for Tink. DIAL PHONE. MAKE APPOINTMENT. 8 a.m. next Monday? Shoot! I'm off on Monday, and won't get to sleep in. But then there's so much to do before Thanksgiving it will be good to get up and get going..."

Take a deep breath. And believe me, that's just a sliver of what's going on. Not that you care...you have free time to read pointless blogs, don't you?

And then as I was sitting watching my other dog nap in the yard while I was listening to the radio, reading a photography magazine, and looking at bills during lunch...I had a random thought, "I wonder if our squirrels realize that Barley is blind?" They act like it. And so I think they know...because they are pretty brazenly walking around collecting acorns as if a 60 pound Shar Pei with giant teeth is not sitting there at all. When he catches their scents, it's very fun to see them go running...and then maybe they second-guess that whole blind dog thing.

There's something very satisfying about taking ten minutes to write about such nonsense when there is so much real "stuff" to be done...like refilling my prescription, setting up tomorrow's dinner, reading chapter 4 and doing the assignment, designing a poster, working on my portfolio, and hello....READING THE BIBLE or PRAYING!

Reflecting on the Lord...singing a worship song for just the Lord to hear...making some space to dream...to envision what the Lord's TO DO list would look like for me. I'm certain He's not satisfied with my car-prayers alone...you know, the ones peppered with frantic thoughts of things to do. So I'm taking some space here...a few moments to gather myself on "paper." Some space to allow dreams and words to flow through my fingertips. I'm putting down all the instruments and gadgets I've rigged up for my one-woman band...losing the harmonica, the kick drum, and the accordian for a moment...I'm breathing deeply and allowing myself to just sit and soak.

So, I'll see you later, I'm sitting and soaking.


The Tall One and I brave the water-arch.

Botanical Garden pics

My best version of the Cowardly Lion by the lion-bush.

Heart Surgery is Painful...

I left church yesterday feeling a bit sore in the heart. I think my pastor performed some tricky heart surgery on me from the stage. No lasers or scalpels, but just as real I think. We have a little tagline at our church, "Liars, Dreamers, Misfits welcome."

The idea being that we are all in need of and under RENOVATION...of our desires, our hearts, and minds. Just about anyone could agree that most people in the world could use some renovation of the soul. Just look around at the atrocities, genocides, fighting, and obsessions with things such as Britney's panty-status. But all along, I've had trouble with the "Liar" status. I don't like to count myself among the liars of the world. A tribe of people like politicians (all of them...I'm not pointing at any parties here), used-car salesmen, and crooked CEO's. People who lie and don't think twice about it. "That's not me!" I think. "I will happily join the dreamers and misfits, but I don't like to be called a 'liar'." But, I saw the value of being honest as a church...that maybe SOME PEOPLE in our group would be in that designation, and that was fine. ("Hello, Pride. Meet Shelley. Oh, you already know one another? You hang out a lot? How nice.")

But, as was revealed during my surgery, we all live in a stew of lies. We all listen to lies and adjust our lives around them...lies that purport the meaning of greater success...financially, physically, emotionally...if you buy this lipstick, you will look sexier...if you drive this car, folks will envy you...if you hide this part of your personality, you will be more successful at your job...the list could well be a long page on my blog. But think of your own lies. Really, when all is quiet and still. What are you "listening" to that shapes your actions, purchases, and words?

I spent a lot of years trying to show the world a perfected version of myself (or should I say mymess?). Perfect clothes, grades, hair, lipstick, jokes, CHRISTIANITY, etc. I thought I was a poster-girl in a lot of ways. I measured myself by the bad things I didn't do, instead of really investing in good things I could do for others. My world was so much about me, I wasn't even a REAL person. I was a plastic version of a Shelley. In rare moments when I allowed Him, God would attempt to break through, to show me my heart in all its ugliness...to show me Himself and what He could do with it.

My heart has been breaking now continually for about 12 years. A painful process when you look at the mess you are. The lack of love and compassion you really have for others...how little time you've made for things besides getting/gaining/entertaining. Hopefully, each time He breaks my heart, some of the ugly leaks out...some of the selfishness and pride that have shaped who I like to think I am. I have lied to myself over the years about who I am. I have made myself look better than I am. Certainly, this process is life-long, as God squeezes out the sin and glues our hearts back together with His gifts of patience, mercy, compassion, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, and the like.

I am a liar. A liar who is under renovation. I lie to myself and others every time I don't allow God to shape my thoughts and my self-worth. I lie to myself when I wear busyness like a merit badge. I lie to you whenever I appear to have anything to offer beyond what God has given me to share, whenever I embellish stories so that you'll think more of me.

I long to be honest and transparent. Erasing all the lies in our lives is darn near impossible when you really think of the layers of lies we are told and that we buy into. But we can live under renovation, and not in denial.

Maybe I'll buy the LIARS t-shirt now. But then, I might get prideful about how honest I'm being. Surely God laughs at us in the midst of our mess. Then He patiently goes about fashioning the pieces of our hearts with His fancy glue. Thanks, Lord!!