Monday, November 19, 2012

ThanksBlogging

Well, since last week was my birthday and this week is Thanksgiving, productivity has been - shall we say - absent. So I'm going to give myself a gift: the gift of taking a break. 

But beginning the first week in December, I'm coming back. With a vengeance. 

And I'm going to begin my first-ever series on my blog:

I Call Pulpit.

(Go on, say it out loud, and then realize what phrase it rhymes with...)

Ever seen hypocrisy from leaders in the church? Ever felt uneasy about a ministry named after a minister? Ever gotten frustrated, broken-hearted or angry at church?

This is for you. Me. Us. 

But instead of just complaining about it, we're going to call PULPIT! on these shenanigans and start to do something about it. 

So send me your questions, your thoughts, your ideas. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

I've been a lot more self-revealing on this blog as of late. I'm not sure if it's because of a drive and desire to, or just that I've gotten more mature. Okay, it's probably not the last option, but since my birthday is coming up - the birthday that will firmly entrench me as approaching my mid-forties - I have become more transparent and introspective.

Case in point...

A little over a month ago, I was diagnosed with Secondary Hypertension. I had gone to see my physician because of a pain/pressure I felt just below my ribcage. When she ran a routine test of blood pressure it yielded a reading of 160/105. Bear in mind that this wasn't taken after I'd done a 5K or anything. The most strenuous or stressful moment I'd had that morning was trying to make sure the blueberry muffins didn't burn.

I had no clue what those numbers represented. From what I've been told, high blood pressure tends to run in my family. When I'd go to the doctor and get a reading that was elevated, I tended to just dismiss it as those wacky Lemmons genes up to their zany tricks again. Given the look of alarm on the doctor's face this morning, I quickly figured out that unlike in academia, the higher numbers didn't mean I'd gotten a GOOD score. She ordered a nurse to come in and suck out several vials of blood so that they could run some tests and see what else was screwed up with me. After that, she gave me a prescription for some tiny little pills that were supposed to help regulate the fact my heart was, apparently, messed up.

So of course, I now began to become hyper-aware of every twinge of pain, tingle, or itch on or in me. My Internet browser history revealed a growing love affair with WebMD. And the weeks that followed saw me becoming more Mulder-like in trying to find a conspiracy behind every unexplained ache or odd feeling.

Ashley, bless her heart, has tried to be supportive while simultaneously attempting to bring my paranoia back down to earth by telling me, "You're the same person you were before you found out about this. Nothing about you has changed. You now simply know more than you did." And while she is right and I agree that nothing inherently about me has changed (I haven't sprouted wings, and I still identify myself as a Sarcastic American), some things about me have changed.

I'm becoming more aware of my body, my antiquated biological age, and some of the issues that can come with getting older. But just because I'm starting to know about the possibility of what could happen, it doesn't mean I should become obsessed with it. This, like all my other Magical Medical Mystery Maladies, are just part of me. Any of these could wipe me out just as easily as a random falling meteor could - although being struck down by a meteor would make for a killer tombstone inscription.

I could easily obsess and distress over this, but why would I? Why should I? I don't  need the makeup of my heart to change; I just need to be more aware of what is going on inside my heart.

And yes: there's a HUGE spiritual parallel to be found in that. Go on. Go grab some coffee, and come back to mull it over for a bit.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Guest Blog: Finding Rest

Today, I have the honor of guest blogging for Ed Cyzewski over at In A Mirror Dimly. I first "met" Ed on Twitter, and I had the blessing of getting to know him in real life during my trip to Story in Chicago. Ed's an amazing writer (if you've not purchased Hazardous, you need to go stand in the corner & think about how bad you've been), and someone I am blessed to call friend - and happy that we are actively pursuing keeping our friendship growing. 


After three-plus years of being a full-time stay-at-home dad, I think I’ve learned a little bit about parenting. Factor in the writing (both paid and out of love) that I do on the side, the speaking I do at churches in the area, the day-to-day responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, and – oh, yeah – not completely ignoring my wife, and I’d say I’ve also learned a little bit about time management.
And I’ve learned a lot about sleep deprivation.
Read the rest (pun intended) over at Ed's site.  

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Skool Lurnin' Dun Me Rite

Here's a little known fact about yours truly: my undergraduate degree is in Music. Music Education, to be precise. I realize that some may not be shocked at all to learn that I didn't major in English, writing, philosophy, or the like ("A REAL writer or theologian wouldn't be limited to such a minuscule blog as this..."). Others may be thinking "Wow. Glad to see that student loan debt of yours is justifiable, since you're actively using your education so much." Still others may find humor in that it took me five years to complete a BM.

Personally, I still to this day giggle over the fact that the beginning and the end of my tenure in higher education was spent working with students, helping them to decide on what to major in and what career to pursue. If that's not proof that God doesn't redeem your past and loves irony, then I can't help you.

'music' photo (c) 2010, Tom Woodward - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/One of the main reasons I was a music major as an undergrad? For the longest time, people had told me that I was a gifted singer. And for someone who in high school had such an amazingly low sense of self-worth and self-esteem, those words breathed life into me. Of course, no one ever bothered to tell me what the heck I should DO with a degree in music outside of directing a junior high choir or becoming a barista/starving artist.  And so I pursued a degree in what I thought was the only thing I was good at.

Although I spent half a decade studying chord progressions, music theory, learning to sing in multiple languages, and purging the last vestiges of a Southern dialect and drawl from my voice, what I learned at the end of my first degree wasn't so much about the composition of music as it was about the composition of my life.  

...which makes it fitting that my first degree is a literal and metaphorical Bachelor of ME.

Life threw pop quiz after pop quiz at me about subjects I had never studied and was not prepared for. I failed most of the tests. The finals did, indeed, feel FINAL at times. And yet I still kept coming back, reenrolling semester after semester. I wish beyond anything that I could have taken a CLEP test and escaped some of the lessons I was to learn.

Dropping out wasn't an option. Even Psalm 139 told me there was no place I could go, nowhere I could have run to. Life was going to confer something amazing on me, with all the rights and privileges thereof.

Although the time spent on obtaining my first degree was limited, my life's education isn't terminal. There is still a learning curve, to be sure, and mercifully, there are do-overs aplenty. And despite that some might (justifiably) argue that I wasted five years on a degree I never use, I can still smirk as I flip my tassel from one side to the next. I knew the guy who wore the robe on that day in May. He was not the same kid who enrolled in the Fall five years prior. He had fallen, risen, learned, forgotten some lessons only to learn them again, and even managed to make a new name for himself.

And his educational degree, like his lessons from the school of hard knocks, prepared him better for the next degree to come.

Now, as to why my music has for the most part fallen by the wayside? That's a heartbreaking story for another day.