Tuesday, May 26, 2009


"You heal well." At least that's what my dermatologist said as she studied her previous handiwork and scanned for other unfit moles in need of removal.

Her comment struck me as unbelievable.

I look at my skin and see scars. Those that are brighter than others make me self-conscious, knowing that everyone can see such obvious evidence of imperfection.

Take for instance the circular indention on my back where a mole has been removed. Or the pink stripe on my right forearm, revealing a burn from the oven door last summer. Neither hurts anymore or is as red as it once was, but the lingering scars, not the interim healing, is what I focus on.

But after hearing my doctor's comment, I realized there's two ways to look at it: the hurt or the healing. Yet focusing on one to the exclusion of the other doesn't tell the whole story.

The same holds true in our lives.

If we focus only on how great everything is without sharing what we've gone through, it's hard to seem believable or for people to relate to us. But by sharing the painful parts of our stories along with the healing that's taken place, there's common ground because we've all endured some sort of pain.

And more than likely, that pain has changed us. Just look at your changed scars for the proof. Or even better, look at His scarred hands and know that the pain is not for nothing.

I heard a song this weekend by Natalie Grant that sums it up nicely:

"Perfect People"

Never let Him see you when you're breaking
And never let Him see you when you fall
That's how we live
And how we try

Tell the world you've got it all together
And never let them see what's underneath
We cover it up with a crooked smile
But it only lasts for a little while

There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scarred
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God, yeah

Suddenly it's like a weight is lifted
When you hear the words that you are loved
He knows where you are and where you've been
And you never have to go there again, no

There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scarred
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God

Who lived and died to give new life
To heal our imperfections
So look up and see love
And let grace be enough, oh

There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scarred
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God

By a perfect God, yeah
By a perfect God, yeah
By a perfect God
By a perfect God

Be changed by a perfect God
Be changed

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Measuring the Music

Unless you attend a piano recital, it's not often that you get to listen to someone playing the piano sans the orchestra accompaniment. And, it's even more rare to get to listen to professional pianists play in the comfort of your own home. But throughout this weekend, I've had that opportunity.

The sound of solo piano music streams out of my computer speakers. But it's not just any piano music. It's the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The twenty-nine competitors began their individual recitals on Friday, and thanks to the first-time ever live streaming, I'm listening as often as I can to as many of the contestants as I can.

In some ways, it's difficult to listen to the music alone and not have the audience around to chat about the competitors' performances, but the free price tag (in lieu of a $55 ticket) and the extra in-depth interviews and features (like watching the competitors choose which of the three amazing Steinways they wanted to use for their recitals) seem to more than make up for the isolation factor. Plus, I get to compare who gets the longest and loudest standing ovations and can read the critics' columns and the Cliburn Blog to choose which performances might not be worth watching.

So if you're in need of a mini-concert this holiday weekend, indulge yourself in the sounds streaming from the Steinways at this link. And feel free to judge for yourself who you think will make it to the semi-finals (to be announced Tuesday night).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Words to Think On

I just finished reading 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey. It's been on the New York Times Bestseller list for quite a while now, so I don't feel like a review is necessary. However, I do want to highlight two paragraphs both found at the beginning of Ch. 14 (on p. 137 in the paperback edition):

Some things happen to us from which we never recover, and they disrupt the normalcy of our lives. That's how life is.

Human nature has a tendency to try to reconstruct old ways and pick up where we left off. If we're wise, we won't continue to go back to the way things were (we can't anyway). We must instead forget the old standard and accept a "new normal."

Just some wise words to ponder.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

For those who've wondered where I get my love for Jesus, my heart for those who are hurting, my desire for justice, my (former) ability to study for hours on end, my handwriting, my need to accessorize, my gift for baking, as well as many other gifts, they all came from my sweet mother who possesses much more of each of those traits and abilities than I, as her offspring, received. She's my hotline for medical issues, cooking questions, theological dilemmas, and so much more. I'm very grateful to have her in my life!

So Happy Mother's Day, Mother! And a very happy Mother's Day to all of you ladies out there who make the time to read this blog amidst all your mothering duties!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Soloist

It's been three days since I saw The Soloist, and I can't get it off my mind. I'm not sure if that's the mark of a great movie or a guilty conscience. Maybe both.

I keep wondering if I had met musical genius Nathaniel Ayers on the street in LA (or my town), what would I have done? Would I have walked on by or would I have befriended him like journalist Steve Lopez?

I know the answer, and it's not the latter.

I think it nags at me because "my" homeless man Daniel was chased away from the street corner where he made his home. He wasn't always sober, but he didn't impose on people. He took food if offered, but I never once saw him ask anyone for anything other than a light for a cigarette. But someone told him he had to move his knapsack and find a new "home."

Probably to a place where he would fit in better. With other people like him.

But what if that's not what he wanted? Or what if he couldn't handle it?

The movie stresses that medicine and homes aren't really the answer. Instead, it's about relationships--ones that aren't particularly easy.

Similar to those taking place in Waco under I-35 where The Church Under The Bridge meets. When their pastor came to speak to my church earlier this year, he described the church body whom he serves. It's not your typical congregation; after all, how could any church that meets under I-35 be "typical"? He showed pictures of those who lead worship, many of whom share many characteristics with Nathaniel. And yet, they aren't turned away but are welcome to be part of that community. Despite their behavior. Despite their clothes. Despite their past.

I pray that my heart would be changed as a result of what I've seen and heard. Because with anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people homeless each night, this issue isn't going away any time soon.