Love and Redemption

I’m continuing my mini-series on the thread of redemption found in some of my favorite musicals. You can click here and here to read the other posts in this series.

Next up is The Sound of Music. As a child I wore out our VCR copy, later I owned the DVD version and now I have the Blu-Ray. I also may or may not keep a digital copy on my iPad for those days when I need to get into my happy place 🙂 Here are some lessons learned from this wonderful movie:

sound-of-musicBe Who You Are

I love the character of Maria. Despite the nuns desperately trying to figure out how to “solve a problem like Maria”, she naturally refuses to be “fixed”. She just is who she is. When she gets to the Captain’s house, he quickly realizes she is a handful and asks her if she was this much trouble at the Abbey. She answers “oh much more”. Isn’t that just fabulous?! 🙂

There will always be people in your world who think you need fixing. They want you to be who they think you should be and they invent all these “rules” you have to follow. Sometimes that’s okay. It’s good to follow the rules when they keep you out of harm’s way but when the rules start wounding your soul, when they start harming your essence that’s when it becomes a problem. That’s when you need to stand up and say, this is who I am, warts and all. The people who love you and support you won’t care and the people who do care and can’t accept you don’t deserve a space in your tribe.

Sometimes Love Comes Softly

They hardly know it is happening but slowly Maria and the Captain fall in love. My absolute favorite scene in this movie is of them dancing The Laendler. It is at the end of the dance that we see their love for each other, even if they haven’t yet figured it out.

I think sometimes we have a misconception about love. We think love is real only if it is filled with goosebumps, fireworks and all the superficial things romantic comedies lead us to believe is love. But real love, the kind of love that lasts for decades, sometimes that kind of love sneaks up on you at the most unexpected times and in the most unexpected places.

I think the Father’s love is like that too. Sure there are moments when you stand in a church service and you weep because you feel His presence so strongly. But I believe the Father’s love is most present in the breathtaking stars of a clear summer night and in the kaleidoscope of colors in the sunset. His love is on display in the beauty of the Redwood trees, the majesty of the eagle soaring in the sky and the beauty of the Monarch butterflies in flight. Those are the moments when His love whispers softly and we stand in awe of what we are beholding as something deep within us stirs. That stirring is our heart remembering home and without fully understanding why, we exhale and relax into into the beauty of His love. Click here to see what I mean.

Letting Go of What’s Familiar

The Sound of Music is set amidst the backdrop of the Nazi take over of Austria. Captain von Trapp is ordered to join the German Navy, something he is unwilling to do but refusing them is not an option. He decides, instead, to take his family and leave Austria and everything they have known behind because it is the only right choice.

Sometimes doing what’s right, means letting go of what’s familiar. A job, a relationship, a friendship might have been right at one time but now it no longer fits and the only right thing to do is walk away. Walking away is never easy but if you can remember that in every The End is the promise of a Once Upon A Time, then maybe you can embrace the courage to let go and step into something more honest and right for you.

Love Redeems

It’s easy to see how Maria’s love rescued the von Trapp family from the life of sterility and order they lived. But she was also rescued by their love. She was headed to a life that was not right for her, a life that felt like what she “should” do but not what she really wanted to do. That’s the way of love, it rescues and redeems our stories from what we think they “should be” to what has been Divinely meant to be. That’s the way of the Father’s Love. As we embrace who we are, stay open to love, and let go of what’s not right, He WILL write an amazing story of redemption with our lives. That’s just how He rolls 🙂

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What Brings Me Joy {Coffee For Your Heart}

I’m linking up again with the lovely Holley Gerth for our weekly Cup of Coffee for Your Heart. So grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage (my current addiction is P&G Tips from England, it is literally heaven in a cup) and settle in while I share a little about the things that bring me joy.

annie_v2I was 10 years old when I saw it for the first time. We had done the stage version for our 5th grade show that year and since a movie of it had just been made, we were taken into Manhattan on a field trip to see it on the big screen.  I had lived in Brooklyn most of my life but this was my first time in the CITY. I have a vivid memory of looking up and thinking how big and tall all the buildings looked. The movie started and I instantly fell in love. Three decades later the opening note from that movie STILL transports me to my happy place.

sound-of-musicGrowing up I watched it every year when it came on television, usually around Easter. In high school, my boyfriend gave me a VCR copy and I WORE IT OUT I watched it so much. I know every line to every song and every piece of dialogue. Me, Maria and those Von Trapp kids we have us a special relationship that goes back decades. And to be clear, there will only ever be one Maria Von Trapp and that is the incomparable Julie Andrews.

les-miserables

I saw it for the first time on the Broadway stage when I was in high school. I could not recall having ever being moved as much by a stage production as I was by this one. I would eventually see the stage version so many times I’d lose track – in New York two or three times, Boston a couple of times, Atlanta, Richmond, Charlotte, Raleigh, the list is long. The 10th Anniversary recording was my constant companion on the road the year I traveled. To say I am in love with this musical would be a gross understatement.  When they made a movie out of it in 2012, I saw it opening night and wept in practically every scene (I actually took a box of tissues with me because I knew there was no chance of me getting through it without crying). I have seen the movie 6 times and I have cried EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. I love it that much.

I love musicals! They are the one thing that is guaranteed to put a smile on my face no matter how bad of a day I am having. Even Les Mis which brings me to tears every time, still makes my heart happy. Musicals are the things that bring my heart the greatest amount of joy. I know that’s not spiritual but I light up in a way I cannot explain whenever I watch a musical. And it really doesn’t matter the kind of musical. It could be animated or not, it could be cheesy or not, I have yet to meet a musical I didn’t like.

I love them all but Annie, The Sound of Music and Les Mis are my top 3 and each always takes me to my happy place. Even writing this post has brought such joy to my heart; just thinking about them makes me happy. And I may or  may not carry them around on my iPad just in case I’m having a bad day (I know I have issues).

It might seem silly that something as seemingly trivial as a musical can make a heart glad. But my prayer for you is that you have a go to item or person, where you go when life knocks you around a bit or something is trying to rob you of your joy. For me it’s definitely musicals. How about you, what are the things that bring you joy? You can share in the comments below and while you do that, I’m off to go watch one of these because after writing this post I can’t not listen to at least one of them 🙂

Sending you much love from my heart to yours,

Makeda Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

**all movie clip images taken from public domain and do not belong to me

52 Photos Project – Week 43

I came so close to not posting a pic for this week’s 52 Photos Project (as is evident by my very late submission). The prompt this week was Hearts. I’m not a hearts kind of girl and because it was Valentine’s week it was as if hearts had thrown up everywhere. So sure finding hearts to photograph was not that difficult but who wants to post a cliche picture of some Valentine’s Day hearts?! I didn’t but I also wasn’t really all that inspired about what else to post. So I almost gave up on the whole thing but I am determined to do all 52 weeks of this project so I pushed through and came up with this idea:

week 43_heart

I picked up a bunch of rocks when I was at the beach back in October. I have big plans for these rocks (we’ll see if those plans ever come to pass) but for tonight they act as my heart inspiration. As I made this heart I was reminded that…

Love is Pateint

Love is Kind

Love Never Fails

Even when it gets hard, LOVE still conquers all. I needed to exhale into that truth tonight. So my post this week is mostly for me.

There are some really great pictures in this week’s gallery, not a single cliched Valentine’s Day heart just lots of fun pictures. Go check out what the lovely artists have posted and remember to leave them some love.

Where I Learn He is FOR Me

“When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; this I know, because God is for me” Psalm 56:9 NKJV

I have read this chapter before, no doubt a hundred times but today the last four words in this verse really jumped out at me. God is for me. How would my relationship with God change if I started from the place of believing God was for me? Instead of thinking that I was being punished for something or that He had forgotten or abandoned me, what if I chose to start from believing that He is FOR me? Trusting that whatever I am walking through He is aware, He is present and He is at work even when it doesn’t feel like it. What might change in me if I let the truth that He is FOR me settle deep in my heart and soul?

I read a quote once that said “God provides in a way that bends the whole of the cosmos to the good that He wills”. Did you catch that? All of the cosmos, the entire universe is bending toward the good that HE wills. There are some serious implications for how I view God and my circumstances when I understand that everything happening around me is bending toward the good that He wills; it’s all marching toward an ending He has orchestrated and it is GOOD. This is so hard for me to wrap my limited thinking around when I’m in the middle of a struggle and things don’t feel so good. It is hard to imagine that the awful things I may be facing today are meant for good.  But if I can trust that God is FOR me then I can hold onto the hope that some way, some how God is working this out not just for my good but for the good of others too.

I am reminded of the story of Joseph and how God used the awful circumstances of Joseph being a slave and a prisoner to work out good not just in Joseph but also for an entire nation. We cannot see the big picture. We only get to see a small part of what He is doing. He is orchestrating details of stories we don’t even know about yet and the things we are facing are meant to work out for good. Joseph said it in Genesis 50:20 what was meant for evil God used for good. Paul tells us in Romans 8:28 that He works all things out for our good. God is good! And because He is good, He will always be FOR those He loves. God is for me! May the truth of that bring peace and comfort to this, all too often, restless heart.

I’m going to leave you with a video of the song Your Love Never Fails from Jesus Culture. I may be just a little bit in love with Jesus Culture 🙂 This song in particular was on repeat in my head as I wrote these words today. At 3:22, they repeat the refrain “You make all things work together for my good”. May you and I both never forget.

Where I Learn His Stories Tell My Story

I am slowly making my way through Frederick Buechner’s book Secrets In the Dark. It is a collection of sermons that he wrote and gave over a span of several years. I am reading them slowly because he has a way of presenting timeless information in a way that really makes me think. His words are not meant to be consumed quickly. They require a slow process of sitting with them and allowing the words to really settle on your heart.

In his sermon, The Truth About Stories, he makes the following statement:

“It’s too bad we know Jesus’s stories so well, or think we do. We have read them so often and heard expounded in so many sermons that we have all but lost the capacity for hearing them even, let alone for hearing what they are really about…The worst of it, of course, is the way we think we know what Jesus’s stories mean” (Secrets in The Dark, pp. 133)

He goes on to talk about the fact that we have heard the stories of Jesus so often that we fail to see anything new in them other than what we already “know”. We’ve figured out the point of the story long ago so we hardly hear them anymore. But Buechner challenges this idea of getting the point. What if, he says, the point of the story is the story itself? And maybe, just maybe, the stories of Jesus tell are our stories and are meant to help us figure out our part in The Story. Buechner proposes that at some point in all of our lives, we have played a character in all the stories Jesus tells because He is who is Truth, is revealing the truth about us as He tells His stories.

The implications of that hit me as I considered the story of the Good Samaritan. I have heard that story hundreds of times. I’ve seen myself as both the priest and the Levite who look the other way. And I have tried to be the Good Samaritan who helps the one who is different from me because that is what I’m supposed to do as a good Christian. In all the times I have heard that story, I’ve never considered that I might be the one hurt and wounded on the side of the road. But what if I am? What if I am the one who has been mugged, beaten and left for dead? And what if love comes along in the form of someone who is different than me? What if love shows up in an unexpected way, with an unexpected face and what if that love heals things in me I didn’t even know were broken? How do I respond to love when it doesn’t show up the way I think it “should”? And what things begin to shift inside me when I consider those questions?

I think of the story of the Prodigal Son and I see the same thing unfold. I’ve been the prodigal son who strayed away from love only to end up broken and defeated. I’ve also been the son who stayed home and resented the father’s response when the other one came back. But I’ve never been the father, looking out for my son, wanting him to come home, longing for him to find his way, trusting that God would bring him home to me. I’ve never seen myself in that character but I’ve been the father too. I’ve lost someone or something important to me. I’ve had a dream die much like the father’s dream, of having both his sons with him into old age, died the day his son left home. I too have looked longingly down the road, hoping and praying that some way, some how God would cause my dream to come true. In some areas I’m still waiting, still looking, still trusting. And maybe, just maybe, this old familiar story can renew my hope as I allow myself to see it with new eyes. What shifts inside me when I consider this new perspective?

Buechner’s words have opened scripture to me in a new way. May I never again approach the Bible stories as if I already “get it”. May I instead read them with wonder and curiosity, eager to find out more of how His stories help tell my story. I suspect I’ll be surprised at what I find.

What about you? Have you learned to see yourself in all the characters in Bible stories? What new things do the familiar stories reveal to you?