True Worship

This summer, the youth at my church decided that we wanted to do worship. So far, we’ve sung and played on two Sundays. We’ll have one more before I leave for college.

As we’ve been preparing and practicing, we’ve noticed a lot of repetition in modern worship music. So much so that we’ve felt the need to supplement additional melody or musical changes.

After all, repeating You make beautiful things with minor variation can only do so much. Now, I don’t mean to say that repetition can’t be beneficial in worship. In fact, among our group, I was one who didn’t always find that monotonous.

Regardless, this has brought up within me questions of true worship. Do I truly worship God when I sing to Him? I was recently at camp again, and I was surprised to feel…almost nothing. I had memorized the songs, and I sang them. I knew my voice sounded pretty. I knew that the combination of the voices I could hear sounded even more beautiful in my ears. But I felt…nothing.

Then I heard something. A shout. At first, I thought someone was injured, and I waited a moment for a counselor to escort a camper to the nurse. Instead, I heard another shout. A cry. A yell.

One of the senior high campers that week was struggling, though I don’t know whether it was a mental or physical handicap. Regardless, I listened to him shout out to the living God. No shame. Nothing holding him back.

I thought to myself, In God’s ears, those shouts are probably more beautiful than my singing.

To us mortals, the boy was disruptive. It’s hard to keep track of the beauty of our own voices and music when someone’s heartfelt cries are echoing.

I am in no position to judge hearts. But I do wonder, because I wonder it of myself…

How often are our arms raised out of a genuine inability to keep them down, because the living God must be praised? Or are we raising them because others are raising them? Because the bridge of this song sounds powerful? Out of habit?

For those who are comfortable in their own voices, do we sing well because we want to bring glory to our God? Or because we like the sound of our voices among the others?

For those who are uncomfortable, do we sing loudly with no one to impress? Or do we keep ourselves quiet?

True worship is not singing. It doesn’t require a guitar. Music is powerful, and true worship can be experienced through music. But I think true worship would be to mean everything you sing to your Father; and then living it out because of your love for Him.

That’s my new goal for myself: just like love isn’t about feelings, worship shouldn’t be about feelings. Even when I feel nothing, I need to remember what I’ve declared to my God and act on it.

Join me?

Published…Again.

I know, I can hardly believe it either. I published another book.

Wow.

Incredible.

Unbelievable.

What will I do next.

See, that’s the thing: I have no idea.

I’m off to college, guys. I have about eleven days until move-in and counting. I’m freaking out. My bedroom looks like a warzone of personal belongings. My heart is just about as cluttered. I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep up with the workload. I’m going to miss my parents. I’m wondering who’s going to give me hugs to remind me I’m loved, since I won’t have any family nearby and I tend to be (cough cough) intimidating.

…this post is supposed to be about my book, isn’t it.

Yeah. So.

It’s amazing.

It’s heart-wrenching.

It will punch you in the feels.

Repeatedly.

And you’ll cry.

Why should you put yourself through that? Because I gotta pay for college somehow (you know, the thing I’m freaking out about), and books aren’t a half-bad way of doing that.

Except for the fact that, um, I get less than three dollars per book, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, they’re good. (I’m not talking about those black-and-white ones, I’m talking about the yellow ones.) They’re funny and meaningful and insightful and worth your time. Because you’ll connect with the characters, just like my readers have.

Swoop is good. I cried. My editor teared up a little.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, college.

I don’t know when I’ll write another book. I doubt I’ll have a few extra hours the month before finals to type up a New York Times Best Seller (ha, ha): not that I have any ideas for one right now.

So, what will you do in the mean time? If I’m not writing anymore? (Oh, I’ll be writing. Papers. Lots and lots…and lots of papers.)

You can go buy my books. The yellow ones. SoarSteadySwoop. In that order. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder at my obsession with titles starting with the letter ‘S’. It’ll be a great time.

…so that’s www.amazon.com/good-life-decision.

But wait! There’s more!

I’m the author of these books. So, if you don’t take my word for how good they are, I don’t blame you. I probably wouldn’t, in your shoes. But a dear reader has taken the time to give a review for each of those yellow books: so trust what that says.

In other news, it is midnight. I am half-asleep and think it in my best interest to head to bed before this can become anymore…fun.

cap

Just kidding! Now I’ve gone and thrown in a Captain America reference!

(Full Disclosure: I likely have not seen the film this GIF originates from and have no idea of the context. So be it.)

I’m Not a Superhero

“Captain Lexitronics!” the police chief’s voice warbled through the telephone. “We need you!”

I clutched the receiver. “Is it the giant monkeys again?”

“Worse,” the police chief choked out. “The flying pigs. We’re dropping like flies out here, and we’re all out of pearls, Captain. We need you to save us.”

In a flash, I donned my supersuit and threw a leg over my tricked-out, refurbished Garelli. The engine revved, and we sped through the tunnel into the outside world. I squinted at the sun, desperate to weave through the city blocks to the heart of town. The echos of oinkaw, oinkaw, rang in my ears.

There was little time.

My bike and I pulled over to a dramatic stop near a local vegetable cart. The owner had been cowering beneath his tomato crop, but his face brightened at the sight of my silvery suit.

“Captain Lexitronics is here!” he shouted. “We’re saved!”

A malicious flying pig snarled at the outburst, beginning to dive towards me. Desperate to salvage the produce stand, I dove across the street.

Oinkaw!” the flying pig shrieked at its miscalculation, and instead swatted my Garelli with a demolishing twitch of its curly pink tail.

Well, that’s just great. What’s another weekend in the shop with my boy, I grumbled to myself.

“Captain Lexitronics, please!” a voice clamoured from a distance down the lane. “Save us!”

I shook myself, rising from my crouch and staring down the sizable swine. It sniffed its slimy muzzle at me.

“Big mistake, you big pig,” I narrowed my eyes. “I hope you like bacon.”

The electricity shot through my fingers, zapping the flapping boar between the eyes. An eternity seemed to pass as all my energy drained, as the villain transformed into pork with a side of wings.

The victorious stench of bacon permeated the air, sending the other antagonists screeching to their mysterious nests with the fading cries of oinkaw.

“You saved us!” the people cried.

“How can we ever repay you?” the police chief asked.

I laughed weakly, leaning against a shop post for support. “Would a vacation be too much to ask?”

Captain Lexitronics did get her vacation. She took her Garelli motorcycle to her headquarters, and spent weeks reassembling it. In her down time, she experimented with her powers on her own terms, attempting to strike a balance between use and overuse. She also dabbled briefly into writing her own memoirs.

Midway through her manuscript, she received another call from the police chief. He assured her that she wasn’t being called back to work…exactly. They were honoring her retirement…mostly.

But would she mind so terribly, coming into town to educate some students on electricity, electronics, and the makings of being a hero?

Who was the Captain to turn down such a simple request? She was more than capable. Granted, she wasn’t really interested in the idea. But if she was capable of giving, why shouldn’t she?

So Captain Lexitronics left her headquarters, her shop, and her dear Garelli. There was no need to consider her personal comforts or preferences for such a short visit.

She taught class after class, explaining the wonders of electricity; the complexities of electronics; the importance of ethics; and for gifted students, the balance of power use. A few years flew by, and the classes remained the same. Meanwhile, her students grew. Citizens were well-informed, and new heroes were being born.

Within two decades of teaching, there had been a few attacks. Flying pigs, giant monkeys, grumpy hippopotamuses: all intercepted by her students. Captain Lexitronics could have burst with pride.

“Sir!” I called to the police chief.

“Hello, there!” the chief of police smiled. “What can I do for you, ma’am?”

I laughed. “It’s me, Captain Lexitronics.”

“I knew that, ma’am. You haven’t changed a bit,” he laughed, stroking his graying mustache. “Can I do something for you?”

“I was wondering how long I’m expected to be teaching here. It’s been twenty years. I’m ready to be back in the game. I miss my Garelli.”

The police chief knit his bushy gray brows together. “I’m afraid that’s quite impossible, ma’am.”

“Impossible? Impossible,” I scoffed.

“We’ve made a lot of advancements since you retired, ma’am. Our heroes now, well…they operate on a whole different playing field than you.”

“I trained those heroes,” I insisted.

“You certainly did a lot, yes ma’am,” he nodded. “But they learned other things from other teachers; things you just don’t know enough about. I’m sorry.”

“Then what am I supposed to do?” I asked. “I gave up a portion of my life for this school, to contribute what I’m capable of.”

The police chief nodded sagely. “We’re mighty appreciative of that, ma’am. It certainly was the right thing to do. Although, now, I’m sure we can manage without you. Go on home to your Garelli. Enjoy that vacation you were always hounding us for, back in the day.”

So Captain Lexitronics returned to headquarters to a dusty life. She painstakingly restored the wear on her motorcycle, taking it for short bouts inside. The Captain never thought to use her powers for anything. Instead, she spent her time on her twenty-year-old manuscript, trying to jumpstart off her ancient writing.

The tasks she was capable of proved repetitive, until Captain Lexitronics was nearly in tears, knowing that her skills had been left to rot while she felt obligated to help others to grow.

“I’m not even a superhero anymore.”

 

…some days, I feel like Captain Lexitronics. Like all the things I contribute to are just that: things I contribute to. Rarely can I identify ways that people or organizations are pouring into me. Partially, this results because I am a control freak. I can admit that. It’s hard to grow when you’re fixed in a certain area because you know if you do it, it’ll be done right. Still, my lack of growth isn’t entirely my fault. I am not a hermit. I am actively involved in many groups that could offer me varying, valuable skill sets.

Instead, it seems I’m offering my skill sets to others.

So often, I feel pressured to take on opportunities because I’m capable. But capability is one giant comfort zone. If I just hang around there to bring other people there with me, when will I ever get the chance to grow and expand?

Just because I’m capable doesn’t mean I should. Even in the opportunities for growth, I need to evaluate them. Is that something I desire to do?

Should everything be about me? No. I am an advocate to the benefits of serving. But when all you do is serve…when all you do is push yourself to reach insurmountable goals because you can…that just doesn’t seem right.

Don’t be like Captain Lexitronics. Find a healthy balance between pouring into others and being poured into. Otherwise, you’re gonna feel totally zapped: just like her.