Just Receive

*Warning at the end of this post is a semi-graphic photo of stitches.  If you are queasy, I apologize!*

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“I think we need to go to the hospital,” I heard as I looked up into the concern faces of my college-age students, who had just analyzed the damage I had done to my hand. “It looks deep.”

Those words shot through my gut like a sucker punch. “I’m the leader,” I thought. “This shouldn’t be happening to me.”

I’m a teacher, mentor, and small group leader at Oceans Edge School of Worship.  I had my small group over to my home one Friday night to enjoy a meal together, hang out, and make fun memories. I had no idea that that night would create probably the most memorable experience of this school year.

Over dinner I felt led in my spirit to do what I call an “edification circle.”  As we ate, I asked the students to declare what they love about the person sitting to their right and their left.  It was amazing to hear what they had to say about one another, but as it drew nearer to my turn, I felt anxiety rise in my heart, not because of what I had to say about my students, but what they had to say about me.

I don’t like receiving compliments. I have a difficult time receiving feedback. I feel uncomfortable receiving gifts.  I’m not good at asking for help.

I’m a giver.

It was then that I felt God say to my heart, “Just receive.”  My eyes filled with burning tears, my cheeks blushed with embarrassment and my throat began to tighten as I listened to the students to my right and left edify me. Their hearts were genuine and their sentiments were true.  I heard their words, but was I really receiving from them?

Twenty minutes later, after we had finished eating, I was at the sink, washing the dirty dishes that indicated full bellies and full hearts.  Suddenly, the plate I was scrubbing slipped from my soapy grasp and crashed into the side of the sink.  My instincts told me to reach out and catch it, but I was too late.  The broken dish sliced my hand.

I’m not good with blood, especially my own.  All of my students rushed around me and the sink as I proceeded to squat down for fear of passing out or letting them see the tears that threatened to drop from my eyes.

“I think we need to go to the hospital,” I heard… “It looks deep.”

“I’m the leader,” I thought. “This shouldn’t be happening to me.”

Again, I also heard, “Just receive.”

I had no choice but to acquiesce. That night, I was escorted to the ER by two of my students who prayed over me and kept me calm amidst all of my panic.  The rest of my small group stayed behind and cleaned up my house, my broken plate, my blood.  My roommate met us in triage and relieved my heroes.  She stood by my side while we waited for hours, making me laugh despite the tears that rebelliously rolled down my cheeks and filling in as a nurse while the nighttime ER doc put six stitches into the web and ring finger of my left hand.IMG_6812

“You’ll have to clean the wound and change the dressing every 24 hours,” he counseled. “And then after a few days, put some Neosporin on it leave it open to heal.”

“Doctor, I’m a musician. Will this affect my ability to play?” I questioned.

He told me I wouldn’t be playing for a few weeks, and I began to panic.  I’m a worship leader.  My church and my team need me to play for them.  What was I going to do?

There was no way I could do it myself. I needed help.  And I would continue to need help as long as my wound needed time to heal.

Again I felt the familiar sting of tears forming in my eyes and the squeeze of the tourniquet around my throat. A million thoughts rushed through my head.  “How am I going to do my job if I can’t play music?  Just thinking about blood is enough to drain it from my face.  How am I going to take care of this hand?  My car is a stick shift.  How am I going to drive to work?  Or get food?  Or take a shower? Or… Or…?”

“Just receive.”

God was reminding me that I can’t do it alone.

I have a tendency to need to prove that I’m strong, independent and capable.  I don’t need anyone.  I’m a big girl now, living on my own away from home. My stony heart can take care of itself, thank you very much. 

But that’s not the truth.

We were very much designed for community.  Admitting we need help doesn’t make us weak or incompetent.  Receiving from others teaches us how to freely receive from Father God.  And while we are receiving, we are allowing others to practice giving.  My small group bonded in ways I never thought possible.  My roommate gently took care of my wound, drove me around, and cooked for me.  My worship team stepped up and some substitutes stepped in and filled the gaps that my 6 stitches had left.

The care, love and support I received from my small group and my roommate/chauffeur/nurse/chef and my worship team helped solidify this crucial lesson in my life.  It was a lesson I thought I had learned before, but must have forgotten.

The Father looks down on us and says “I love you. You don’t have to do anything.  You need me. Receive My love.

When I look down at the scars on my hand, I will forever be reminded of the lesson He gently chiseled into my heart of stone.  As I watched the wound on my hand heal, gradually, day by day, and unassisted by any conscious effort of my own, I also felt my heart soften by Love, engraved with a scar of its own:

“Just receive.”

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 36:26

Redesign

In an attempt to rekindle my dedication to my blog, I’ve given it a face lift.

I was reminded today of the discipline that it takes to be a blogger.  My aim here is not to be paid to write or to change the world through my blog, but rather, to once again utilize this space as a means of public reflection and a method of accountability.  I want it to be an Ebenezer.  Or an altar.  Or just a series of marks in my life that I can stop and say, “Hitherto the Lord has helped me.”

I’ve lost the art of rest and meditation, and I need to bring it back.

So, in essence, the redesign is more for my sake than yours.  I can only pray that the victories and struggles that I hope to periodically recount will speak to you, too.

the genesis

so i’m blonde.  God has blessed me with locks that even at 24 years of age are still growing in golden naturally.  i am proud to be blonde, but it is not always easy to be a member of a hair color minority.

lots of people i meet for the first time automatically judge me as dumb, ditzy, an airhead, etc.  merely because the color of my hair carries with it stereotypes from Barbie to beauty queens with very few other women in between.  i’m here to break those stereotypes.  i’m not claiming genius status or an IQ that would put an MIT graduate to shame, but i am not a dumb blonde.  i enjoy math and sciences, studied architecture and engineering during my undergraduate, and in my spare time can be found with a sudoku puzzle book in my hand.  i like to read books that challenge my intellect, am always seeking to expand my vocabulary, and can discuss topics i am passionate about without using the word “like” in between breaths.  art and museums fascinate me.  i stand in awe under a thunderstorm.  a concerto by Beethoven inspires me.  i appreciate poetry and good prose.  i am not a dumb blonde.

but. i would by lying to the world if i failed to admit that i do have my moments… my “blonde moments” i like to call them.  those instants in my life, that happen nearly every day, where my synapses misfire and send incorrect signals across my brain, which scurry rapidly down my nerves, which causes my lips to utter a series of words that fails explanation.  if (and when) one of these moments occur, i simply chuckle, shake my head, and my friends forgive me.  they know i’m blonde.

as of late, my life is taking me on uncharted waters and down unexpected highways.  i’m picking up and moving to ft. lauderdale, florida to attend ocean’s edge school of worship.  (you should check it out at oceansedgeschool.com).  it’s an incredible story that i can’t wait to share with you in little glimpses over the next couple of posts!  this is a radical step in my life, but that’s what i get for surrendering control to a God i know has it all figured out.

more than just the story of my big move, i invite you to join me in my daily blonde moments as i attempt to encapsulate their humor, wit, embarrassment and insight with pixels on your computer screen.  some will be funny, and others more serious, but i want to share my voice with any ears that are willing to listen (or eyes that are willing to read).  you are welcome to laugh.  you are welcome to cry.  you are welcome to tease.  but please, you are not welcome to judge.