Monday, September 27, 2010

     Who is a heroine?  As much as I'm impressed with Joan of Arc if I had a choice I'd probably choose to hang out with Mother Teresa.   And if you had a choice of who to live next door to-- Queen Esther,  Mother Angelica or Joyce Meyer, who do you think you'd run over to borrow a cup of sugar from?  Which one would answer the door, or invite you in for a cup of tea?  And if  you had a choice of who to sit next to on an airplane, would it be Amy Semple McPherson, Kathryn Kuhlman or Wendy Alec?  Which one would share her chips with you, engage in a conversation, ask about your family?  And if you had a serious problem you needed help with, which Bible character would you like to sit down with you?--  Miriam, the sister of Moses;  Sarah, the wife of Abraham; Mary Magdelene, or Priscilla?   Who do think could be a true gal pal or your best friend?--  Deborah, Elizabeth, Heidi Baker, Sarah Palin?
     I think of the famous women of faith who have made their mark in history and I wonder how many of them would want to know me.  When you name your favorite Bible heroine, do you think she'd want to  be your friend?  We admire them, but do you think she would admire us?  Is our favorite Bible heroine the kind of woman who would care about our lives as much as her own?
     How about our contemporaries?  I have the privilege of knowing and spending time with some of our most well-known female leaders, and there certain qualities they each share.  One: they're busy.  (It's a given.  Famous people are busy.)  Two:  they're vitally concerned with their own ministry and calling.  Three:  they're anointed with favor.  I could add a fourth quality because I've observed those who are the most genuine and pure-hearted in their life and work are blessed with a godly wisdom that is really wonderful. and refreshing.  I love being around people who are kind, caring and also wise.
     I'm truly thankful to know great women of faith who are not world famous, but who are huge influences in my life.  My personal Bible favorites like Deborah and Ruth, brave women, are treasured in my heart, but the true heroines in my life are my friends, the ones who pray for me, love me and actually care about me, my life, my family, my calling.  These are the ones I appreciate, want to honor and celebrate the most. 
     Being on the stage performing in plays and musicals is a wonderful career, but when the curtain comes down there needs to be a true friend waiting in the wings to walk home with.  When I was in the theatre I found that friend in the Lord Jesus, my true hero.  In every woman whom I consider a heroine I will always see His face, hear His heartbeat, and rejoice in the beauty of His presence.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yom Kippur 2010

Happy New Year to us all!  There's a wonderful Jewish song that talks about things being better next year, which is kind of the DNA of Jewish thinking.  Things will always be better, God willing.  Oi.  Have some apple dipped in honey for a sweet New Year.  This is my favorite time of year because I absolutely love Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  To me it all speaks of what Jesus (Yeshua) did on the cross for us.  Late tonight I danced away in the kitchen to the beautiful, exhuberant Hebrew songs and my kids watched somewhat amazed (disinterested is more like it) -- but with my Jewish blood I can't help myself.  I love the Israeli dancing, love it, love it.  When I dance in the circle with other dancers it's like personifying the wind.  Jesus (Yeshua) is the Lord of Dance-- I imagine He must have loved to dance. I know He danced because all Jews all over the world at least dance the Hora.
Kol Nidre, which is sung on Yom Kippur, asks God to forgive us of the sins we may commit in the coming year. We bless one another with the words, Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."   We toss from us the sins and shortcomings of the past year and start the new year with a clean slate.  The service of Tashlich has us off to the ocean, sea, lake or  river to recite the Tashlich prayers and symbolically cast our sins into the water, in evocation of the verse, "And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea."  This takes some serious honesty with onesself and the walk in holiness before the Lord.  To me the active practice of ridding ourselves of past defeats, sins, failures is quite beautiful.  In my former practice as a psychotherapist I would have certain patients physically engage in the act of writing out their faiures, sins, shameful deeds guilt-producing acts, thoughts -- on pieces of paper and then tossing them  into a fire ( I didn't have a lake or river in the office) -- and together with therapy and the Holy Spirit, miracles happened in these dear people's lives.  (We tend to remember experiences that we take an active part in.)
Placed under the blood of Jesus, the One who is our atonement, makes these ancient Jewish High Holy days rich and freeing-- makes forgiveness so incredibly beautiful.  I know that as followers of Jesus we are under Grace now -- and I know "religion" puts us under a sort of bondage-- but we would do good to look at the beauty of these High Holy Days, and indeed all the feasts and festivals, and feel their deep spiritual embrace.  
So what has Yom Kippur have to do with a life in the theatre, you may wonder.  My answer to that question? --Everything.  Yeshua, our Atonement, releases us to be all that we can be in Him on this earth.  You and I were destined for freedom, saved by His Grace-- no longer forced to carry the weight of the world on our backs.   Wow.  Leshanah tovah .  Happy New Year.  May you be inscribed and sealed for a truly good year.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Welcome Home

Welcome home. 
I knew I was home and okay with the Lord when I saw the fresh expansiveness of one Ethel Barrett.  She showed me I wasn't weird or outrageous even though I could sing and dance and act. God was okay with who I was!  I had tried hard to be what I thought the Lord preferred-- a girl in a high-buttoned shirt with head bowed, hopefully with some talent at the piano.  I took piano lessons, but after months of practicing six hours a day it became clear I'd never lead worship anwhere.  I wrote, of course; I always written poems and stories -- I wrote for magazines and Christian newspapers, I wrote children's church curriculum, I wrote a line of gift cards, I wrote radio and television scripts, but I never thought of myself as a writer -- that is, until my first book was published:  City Pslams (Moody Press),  a book of poetry that the Chicago News named Poetry Book of the Year.  I'd been writing poetry since I could remember-- and now here I was, published and recognized.  This was shocking.  I bought a pair of glasses to look more intellecutal and poet-y, and staggered around dizzy as a clock.  The glasses actually made me nauseous.
I put away my tap shoes and my toe shoes and pulled out the (gasp) typewriter!  (Yes, typewriter.  One of my young writing students asked me the other day if I knew how one of those things worked.  I laughed, shrugged-- how could this boy understand that I had actually composed two full-length 300-page books on a typewriter?)   You may not believe this, but our book & tape order department in my ministry offfice uses a typewriter to type labels.  The orders we send out go with love, let me tell you.
'Til next time--
 Dancing IN the stars--