A Safe Place To Land

Carol Burnett is one of my heroes. I watched her on television growing up and she always made me laugh. I think it’s what made me want to do the same thing. It always seemed like pain was fleeting but laughter seemed to last.

Not too long ago I was watching an episode on Pioneers of Television that highlighted Ms. Burnett. She told a story about being on the Gary Moore show early in her career. On one episode, the sketch Carol was in required her to jump through a fake window. When the time came she gave her all (after all it was “LIVE” TV) and hurled herself through the window. To her surprise they had placed a mattress on the other side. When she landed safely she spontaneously blurted out off camera, “Thank you!” The audience thought it was part of the bit and roared.

We all need a safe place to land.

But sometimes it’s hard to know where that is. There are people who place the mattress outside the window and there are people who close the window when you’re not looking. Lately I’ve experienced both.

I count myself blessed that I have friends who let me land. They don’t try to judge the landing, criticize the fall or even tell me how to do it “right” the next time.

They listen and they love… regardless. Recently I had a late night exchange with one of my “safe places.” It went something like this:

Me:     You up?

Her:     Yeah. What’s going on?

Me:      I think I’m going crazy.

Her:     You’re not crazy.

Me:      Let me tell you what’s going on and then you’ll see. Yada Yada Yada

Her:     You need to get out of your head.

Me:      I feel better now that it’s out of my head.

Her:     I love you. Good night.

Let’s just say if we are comparing friends to mattresses, she’s a “SLEEP number”. She’s firm when she needs to be and soft when I need her to be.

Sometimes my “safe place” friends are actually behind me- encouraging me to jump. I don’t know why sometimes it’s easier to see the potential in someone else- it just is. Speaking belief into someone else is one of the most important things you can do.

And then there are the friends who jump with you- you’re just flying through the air together; squealing with delight and wondering where you’ll land together.

After all, what is life if we can’t jump? Where is the adventure? How can we truly test our limits? How will we know if we are living the full life God intended for us through Christ?

These friends inspire me to be that for others: to speak the truth in love, to speak belief into their challenges as well as their dreams- to grab their hand and jump with them, high-fiving them in the victories, consoling in the defeats. I’m not perfect by any stretch, but I have wonderful women who are showing me how it’s done!

Thank you sweet, safe-place friends- and now a little verse to close:

Bid me jump- and my heart will leap

And after the fall- sleep, sweet sleep.

Up bright and early to do it again

This is the joy of safe-place friends.

Midnight Special Harmonies

My friend Bob recently posted a video on Facebook of the Bee Gees singing on a show called Midnight Special. Midnight Special was a musical variety show in the 70’s that prided itself on playing music LIVE. At the time most television musical acts were lip-syncing to background music.

Say what you want about disco but the Bee Gees had it going on when it came to harmonies. When I finished watching “Nights on Broadway” I got sucked in the vortex of watching videos of several acts I grew up with. As I did it occurred to me that a lot of the bands I grew up with had phenomenal harmonies: Simon and Garfunkel, CSN&Y, Eagles, Pure Prairie League (You know that’s Vince Gill on the high harmonies in Amie, right?)After about the 50th time I listened to Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree” I started thinking about “harmony” in general.

har·mo·ny noun \ˈhär-mə-nē\ the combination of different musical notes played or sung at the same time to produce a pleasing sound : a pleasing combination or arrangement of different things

The musical definition is easy to grasp but what does it mean to have harmony on our teams at work, in our family or in our friendships? What’s the key to making beautiful music together?

Sing your part –Your part falls within your vocal range. Do you know your range on your team? What is your equivalent on your team of being a baritone? A soprano? Sometimes we spend all our time wishing we were the lead singer and ignoring the beautiful, unique song God has placed in all of us. What voice have you been given to blend with others to create even a more beautiful tone?

Balance the tension– “Harmonization sounds pleasant when there is balance between consonant and dissonant sounds. In simple words- a balance between “tense” and “relaxed” moments.” We’re all aware of the tense moments, but how often do we intentionally build in the relaxed ones. My husband and I have had ridiculous schedules lately. I didn’t realize the toll it had taken until we both heard words coming out of our mouths we would never say. In that moment we were determined to get away and just be together– clear the calendar, turn off the cell phones and regain our balance. (4 days away!)

Don’t fake it! I hate lip-syncing. Since I’m married to a musician I understand the challenges of live performances but what I like about LIVE is it’s not perfect, not produced- it’s real. One of the biggest challenges to harmony is when we give “lip service” and aren’t really bought in to what we’re doing. In friendship sometimes it’s holding back and not being honest. Most people don’t like conflict but the “song” on the other side is worth it. Have the real conversations. Become a “pleasing combination!” And to quote Dave Mason “There ain’t no good guys. There ain’t no bad guys. There’s only you and me and we just disagree”.

"I don't know if I'm coming or going!"

It’s a crazy thought, isn’t it?  I mean I’ve never been confused if I was going to work or coming home. I’ve never wondered if I’m going on vacation or coming home. And yet I’ve made this desperate somewhat comical cry when I’ve been so distracted I couldn’t remember why I walked into a room or something important on my to-do list. Distraction costs us.

So when I think about the new year I want to drive a stake in the ground- put my foot down to stop the room from spinning. (Metaphorically of course- it has nothing to do with any NYE “celebrations!”) 

So I’m asking myself with regards to my faith, “Are you coming or going?”

Are you coming to God with a need or a request?                                                                           Are you going out with a mission/directive God has already given you?

In Luke 17:11-19 ten lepers come to Jesus wanting to be healed. “Have mercy!” Jesus responds, “Go show yourselves to the priest.” As they went, it came to pass.

These lepers waited for Jesus to come by. They knew what they wanted and when he came near they shouted! If you knew Jesus was going to walk down your street and you had one chance to ask him for your greatest need, what would you shout? Give me wisdom! Heal my marriage! Bring my wayward son home! What are you coming to Jesus for this year?

As they waited for Jesus’ answer I bet they wanted to hear, “Poof! You’re healed!” (Don’t we all?!) After all he had done that for others. But instead of doing something for them, He asked them to do something- “Go and…” Has God asked you to do something? Are you waiting for the “poof?” Could your healing be on the road of “going”?

“As they went it came to pass.” As the lepers went they noticed their sores don’t hurt anymore. They aren’t as red. They start looking at each other in disbelief. Big smiles spread across their faces. They pick up the pace as they realize with each step they are being healed. They sprint up the temple steps like teams on the Amazing Race meeting Phil at the pit stop. The victory celebration begins! Right?

ALL left. ALL were healed. Only ONE came back. “Where are the nine?” Jesus asked. Maybe visiting family, perhaps writing a best seller, “How I Healed Myself by Walking.” We don’t know but we know where they weren’t.

For the one, however, an additional blessing was waiting. The leper who once stood at a distance and shouted loudly, “Have pity!” was now at Jesus feet shouting praises.  Jesus responds to his gratitude, “Your faith has healed AND saved you.”

Lastly, a bonus question. Has God done things for you you’ve taken for granted? Are you coming back with praise for His goodness? Giving Him the glory? What “AND” might you be forfeiting? What closeness with Christ might you be forsaking?