Saturday, April 24, 2010

Birds and Windows

This morning I woke up to a bird flying continuously into my bedroom window. He would fly beak first and hit the window. He would then take another stab at it and do the same thing over and over again. This process kept going for an hour!

I remember the first time this happened. I thought the birds had gone mad. I was living on a hill in a wooded area, when I woke up to two or three birds flying directly into my window.
I did a little research, cause I thought this strange and sure enough, this happens each year around this time. The bird eats a particular nut that gets stuck in its beak and he has to break it out, so he flies into stuff.

I happened to live in a home with a huge window so over and over this silly bird would fly head first into the window. I thought for sure he was a goner, or high, or something.

Birds flying into windows almost always make me think of spiritual things. Okay, not really but this one did this morning. Most of the time, birds flying into windows simply makes me laugh or annoyed. This morning however, the bird flying head on into my bedroom window continuously for an hour and a half, starting at 6 a.m. didn't make me laugh, it made me annoyed and puzzled and then made me think of spiritual things.

In our lives as people who follow after the way of Jesus I am quite certain there are practices we have that make us look as crazy as the bird flying into my bedroom window. Things like, forgiveness, loving our enemies, praying, listening to God, reconciliation and many more can look just as a crazy to a watching world. But just like me with the bird, I realized that the bird was just being creative to get a job done that needed to be done.
(as i type, bird flies into my window again... oh it's now been about 15 times!)

So anyway...

As we follow Jesus sometimes we look as crazy as this bird does right now. But to us and to this bird, our crazy makes perfect sense and is actually good. Sometimes we have to do what looks crazy to follow well. Paul talks about foolishness and wisdom. He says the wisdom of man is foolishness to God. It is also said of the cross that even the cross is foolish to those who do not believe. I know that there are times where I've felt crazy for following after what I believed was the wisdom of Jesus.

[Now this is not to say that some birds flying into windows really are foolish and some people who say they follow Jesus really are fools. that is something to write for another time.]
But there are times where being foolish in the eyes of the world is just where we need to be.

What does it look like in your life to follow after Jesus even when it makes you look like a fool?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on wisdom and foolishness.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Have you ever had a conversation with someone and thought you were having one conversation to find out later the person with whom you were talking, although in the same room, with the same words said and heard had a completely different conversation? It's like someone says, "I like you," and the person hears I like you, you're a good buddy and they respond with, "of course I like you too." Gives the other person a soft punch on the shoulder and walks away.
One person was declaring their feelings towards someone and the other received it as a statement of the obvious, friends like each other. One person walks away totally hurt and destroyed, the other walks away thinking, what a great friend I have, how lucky am I.

I was just in a conversation with a friend who is struggling with communication in a relationship that he's in. He says one thing, the other person responds, there maybe one exchange of words, but there are two different conversations.

I dated a guy for a while a few years back. He and I make a commitment to be honest with each other and to tell the truth. He had a friend coach him on how to approach different conversations with me. I remember this one night he called and said we needed to have a conversation. Of course I was already jumping to conclusions in my mind as to what we needed to talk about. The first words out of his mouth were, "Cari, I first need you to know that I am not planning on breaking up with you in this conversation." Immediately the stress left and we were able to have the conversation... and actually just have one conversation.

It is amazing what perspective can do to a conversation. He set the table for me to hear what I needed to hear. We often hear things with a filter. We hear things through insecurity, fear, pride, love, care, concern, self-pity, and the list goes on. When our filter is shame, we do not hear observations, we hear value judgments. When our filter is care, we hear with an intent to express such care. Sometimes our filters hear more than what is actually being said, and assumptions, good or bad are made.

I have a friend who when I tell a story of personal struggle, this friend immediately feels guilty because they believe it is their responsibility to get me out of the struggle and already believe that they are failing. So I share a struggle just to share a struggle and this friend walks away hurt, because they are not enough for me. Once the above friend and I talked about it, we were able to engage conversations differently

Perspective AMAZES me.

When I think of how Jesus interacted with people, I wonder how people perceived Him through their various perspectives.

Can you think of an interaction with Jesus where perspective played a role?
Have you had a conversation or encounter with a person where perspective got in the way of listening?
Tell me about it....


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Inside Out

I was speaking with a friend recently who made the comment that she had made a change to her physical appearance with hopes that it would make her feel something different on the inside. I know she isn't alone in that. For years I thought if I could just look this way, or if I lost that weight or had this or that, I would be able to have filled the loneliness in my heart or make the pain I felt go away.

I live in San Diego where there are more fake boobs, gyms, and plastic surgeons than any place ever really needs. People here are consumed by appearance. In a recent visit from a friend, he noted, "People are just prettier here." I agree, people are very pretty in San Diego. (must be why God moved me here) But I have to say, in the society of a city who seeks physical perfection, I must admit there is something missing. On weekends when everyone is all dolled up to play, my heart breaks as I see the loneliness and desires to be chosen displayed in clothing choices. I see various body shapes trying to play the role of the pretty girl so that she's noticed. I actually smell the guys in my elevator as they make a statement in their own way. Some might see beauty. I see people wanting to be chosen and going about it the only way they know how.

My response to my friend when she told me what she learned from seeking inner change from making an outward change was something to the effect of, "it's amazing how we seek to change the outside to make ourselves feel something new on the inside, when really our outside is the one thing that really gives away what's going on on the inside."

I said this because I have been experiencing a fairly major outward change as of late. I have lost a bunch of weight and continue to do so. This has happened not in an effort to feel something new (which is what I've done many times before) but to reflect something new that's already been done.

We use our outsides to mask, to tell as story of who we want to be, to invite response, to represent who we really are. Our outsides tell a story. Sometimes we make our outsides up to look a certain way to almost be a catalyst for feeling a certain way. I know when I am having a really crappy day sometimes all I have to do is shower and start over. It is in starting over that I am able to gear up and reframe, but the change is internal in reframing, the external expresses that change.

Our outsides tell the story of our insides. What do you think? Do you agree? Share your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

15 lessons

While training for this marathon I'm running I've learned a few things are very important:

1. Sleep
2. Being dedicated to the process
3. Having cheerleaders
4. Telling my stories of running
5. Eating the right foods
6. Not eating the right foods
7. Eating enough food
8. Stretching
9. Consistency
10. Present moment thinking (if I think of how much I've yet to do, FREAK OUT! but in the moment I can just keep going)
11. Ice
12. Listen to my body
13. Consume calories while I'm working out
14. Epson Salt after a run
15. Don't over do it

These are all new lessons for me as I've not been a runner before.
What are the lessons you've learned that would be helpful for me as I prepare to run? Advice? tips?

I think, as in most life lessons, we can also learn a spiritual parallel. Just as there are many lessons learned to be able to run the race and finish well, there are many lessons to be learned to run our spiritual race and finish well. Here are a few of the things I've learned are important a long the way in my spiritual race.

1. It is a process
2. Don't go at it alone.
3. I need cheerleaders
4. I need to tell my story
5. Ask questions
6. Take time to reflect
7. Study the model (Jesus)
8. Spend time with the model
9. Seek to put into practice as I'm going, not when I have it figured out
10. Own my weaknesses
11. Give away myself often
12. Receive
13. Listen
14. Stay in the now
15. Place hope only in the one sure thing, Jesus... all else will lead to disappointing end.

What are lessons you've learned in your own spiritual race preparation?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Today some friends from Arizona stopped by to say hi and to encourage me. We talked about what I've been up to, what I've been thinking, how we've each seen Jesus at work, things we're learning and... and... and

I felt like Barnabus was sitting in my living room, there only to encourage and remind me of who I am in Jesus. It was an incredibly encouraging time for me. We spoke of the importance of friendship and how it is a commitment and a serious one.

Friendships are incredibly valuable and all too often under-appreciated. We often take them for granted. We are willing to have fun with a person, but the moment the conversation turns to something real, silence occurs, or people become uncomfortable. True friendship involves risk. But risk, is simply a part of loving.

One of the men who stopped by today I'd only met one other time. He paused and said, "I have a question for ya." I waited, he asked. "Cari, what are your weaknesses?" I responded quickly, because I wanted to be known and I was safe in the context of these people. There was an investment being made in me that made it abundantly easy for me to share. When I know that a person is investing in me and I in them, it makes it easier to speak of the uncomfortable.

Jesus not only modeled for us the value of friendship as he chose to walk with a band of brothers. These men committed to life together for nearly 3 years. And the friendships made during that season lasted and spurred them on to love and good deeds.

Jesus modeled the importance of speaking the truth, spending time pouring into, investing in, and growing in relationship with others. It was not always easy, it wasn't always fun, it didn't have immediate pleasurable results, but lives were changed. People were committed. And each of this particular band of brothers lived into a better story.

Take a moment to think about your friends. Are they people who stimulate you to love and good deeds? Are they people with whom you want to gather for encouragement? Are they people who will tell you the truth and also give you the freedom to discover the truth about yourself? Are they people with whom you want to journey through much of life's ups and downs?

Do you have people in your life who invest in you with the level of commitment made in the taking of a vow or making of a covenant?

Maybe it's time to take a friendship you currently have and breathe commitment and intimacy into it.

What are your thoughts?
What have you learned about friendship?
Who has modeled friendship well in your life?
I'd love to hear.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

Have you ever seen the movie "A Beautiful Mind"? It is the story of math genius John Nash, who overcomes years of suffering through schizophrenia to win a Nobel Prize. It is a powerful story that I've come to love even more over the years since first watching the film.

The story really is about a man who believes a lie. This lie comes in the form of three persons who do not exist, but he believes do exist. He has conversations with them, they tell him their thoughts on his life's choices and give unsolicited feedback on various circumstances in his life. They, these three persons, visit him for years and years. And he very much believes in them. In many ways, they shape him.

John meets a woman and falls in love and the two end up getting married. Through his relationship with her, John begins to fight his schizophrenia and his wife seeks to be a voice of truth against the barrage of lies he believes.

She has to fight fiercely for the truth for her husband. In one particular scene she is standing on the stairs and he is at the bottom, next to one of the characters in his mind. He yells, "she's right here, she is real!" His wife responds, "Look at me, trust me, she isn't there, no one is there!" "but she's standing right next to me?" "John, look at me! believe me! She is not real!" John looks down again at the girl next to him and realizes for the first time that she has never changed her clothes and has never aged. He realizes in that instance that this girl is a lie. He realizes it, because he chose to listen to the voice of the one who loves him. A voice he trusts.

I don't know about you, but I have at times felt like John Nash. No I don't have schizophrenia in any form, nor do I pretend to know what that is like, but I do know what it is like to take hold of a lie as though it were the truth. I think we can each think of a list of things we've chosen to believe about God, self or others that simply isn't true. God is holding out on me. I wasn't made beautifully and wonderfully. And everyone else is threat in some way, because they could get what I want before I do.

These lies and so many others are formed deep within and we begin to build our lives around them as though they are truth. So instead of wrapping our lives around the truth of Jesus and who are to Him. We allow ourselves to be tangled by a web of lies that binds rather than frees.
We live into the lies as though they are our personal truth.

I've battled a certain set of lies for a long time. Most had to do with the question of where does my worth or value come from or the question of what will cause love to be taken away from me. I built entire systems to avoid loosing worth or having love taken away.

Just like John Nash, I was entangled by a web of lies that kept me from living. And just like John Nash, I too had to listen to the voice of one who loved me to see that I was not living in truth. Jesus says, "the truth will set you free." I believe that with all of my heart. The truth does lead toward personal freedom.

I had to address a long set of lies and had people help in the process. Ultimately it came down to me choosing to believe that Jesus speaks the truth and anything contrary to His words does not hold truth. I had a rubric for discerning what was a lie and what was truth. Anything that seeks to kill, steal or destroy in both the long term, more than likely not true. Those things that lead toward life in both the short and long term, true.

John Nash fought fervently the battle for his mind, his wife fought with bravery as well and he overcame, to win a Nobel Prize. But the movie paints the reality of the situation. John Nash was not freed from the temptation to believe the lie, he just simply knew he needed to look for the truth. At the end of the film, he was leaving Princeton where he had received his award. As he walked across the courtyard John looks to the side and sees all three characters from his mind standing there. He sees them, looks ahead, looks back to them and keeps on walking as though to say, "you don't own me any more." The reality is the lie didn't leave, the lie just lost it's power.

A lot of times when we battle various beliefs in our own minds we believe that we will be set free from them and never struggle again. This itself is a lie. It is deceiving, because it leads one to place their hope in freedom from struggle itself. The truth is, even when we've been given freedom from the power of a lie in our personal lives, the lie may present itself over and over again, because we live in a fallen world. Much of our very culture is formed on a lie. And just like John Nash, we will face the lie before us with a choice. How will I respond? Will I choose to believe the lie offered and give it power over me or will I choose to walk away and take hold of the truth and freedom found in Jesus.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Again with the process

Today I have to run 16 miles. The thought is daunting and to be honest I'm not very happy about it.
Training isn't always pretty or sexy or wonderful. There is no present day reward for training. In fact before facebook, twitter and blogs no one would even know that my training was taking place.
I think that is why people like races. At races you get fans, you get a prize. In training you just get ready.
So today my hope is to find joy in the process and look forward with anticipation to the product.