Monday, October 20, 2014

'Neath the Sun-kissed Sky


So, Will is an Auburn fan.  In fact, he's not just an Auburn FAN, he's an Auburn GRADUATE. (Some of you know the importance of that distinction to me.)  He's also from a family of  "Auburn people."  Both of his parents graduated from Auburn and met during their time on the Plains.  Just like mine.

Contrary to popular belief, "Auburn fan/grad" was not on my "non-negotiables" list when looking for a partner.  I dated people from all over the country with various (or no) college football allegiances.  In fact, I had given up on finding an Auburn graduate.  Even when I moved back to Birmingham two years ago I figured there was no way an Auburn fan was lurking in the weeds that are the Alabama fans in the greater Birmingham area.  Turns out he wasn't. He was 80 miles South in Prattville.

So far during our nine months of dating we have been to the A-Day game in April, taken a "tour your alma mater" date in July, and attended several home football games with several more and a few away games coming this fall.  As we have done these things I have reflected on how the fact that Will is an Auburn man is such an obvious display of God's goodness to me.

To me Auburn is not just a football team, or even a place I went to school.  It is a part of me and has been since I was born.  It is my family.  It is friendships that will be life-long.  It is a place where I grew tremendously and learned much.  God could have given me a wonderful man with every admirable quality in the world who went to a different school.  That man, I'm sure, would have appreciated this relationship I have with Auburn and what it means to me, but it's doubtful he would have understood it. Will not only appreciates it, he understands it, because he's lived it.  This place is equally a part of him as it is a part of me, and now it is a part of us.  We walked the same concourse, sat in the same stadium, and frequented the same local restaurants while in college, never meeting. During that time I never dared to imagine that someone was doing all of this at the same time I was, and that God was using this place to prepare us to meet one another almost 10 years later.

God didn't have to do that.  It would have been fine had He not.  But He did.  He has, once again, done "more than we could hope or imagine."*  He has proven His goodness by "giving good gifts to His children."**  He has provided not only a mutual team to cheer for on Saturdays in the fall, but also a way for us to connect.  A way for our families to bond.  An understanding of parts of each other that would be lost on most.  It is as though God wrapped up this (messy, but beautiful) package that is our relationship and said "oh, by the way, here's a nice shiny ribbon on top.  Enjoy!"

As I constantly ask "what's next" and struggle to trust God in the present, I look at this little gift he gave us and I am reminded that He is indeed good and has in mind so much "more than we could hope or imagine."

*Ephesians 3:20
**Matthew 7:11

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Four Songs

I love making fun of Christian music.  Or really Christian anything. What's the quote?  "The word 'Christian' is a wonderful noun but an awful adjective."  Something like that.  I couldn't agree more.  So yes, often in my life I like to feel like I am "above" Christian music.  So much of it doesn't paint a full picture of humanity; doesn't always "tell the full truth" about the human condition. Doesn't leave room for anything but lifted hands and shouts of praise--even when those aren't where we are.  But then I'll hear a song that will break down my pride and cynicism.  It will remind me of how the Lord uses my love of music to speak to me.

I recently made a playlist of these songs which I think are "acceptable" Christian songs.  Songs that (in all my doctrinal knowledge) have solid theologies.  Some are songs I've recently heard.  Some are "contemporary Christian" songs I've sung since high school.  Some are age old hymns I feel like I've known since birth.  All are songs that, when I hear them, take me to a very specific time or incident in my life.  And in that moment I can tell you a story and show you why that song, at that time, told the story of MY human condition.  I'll also tell you that some of these songs may be "cheesy" or stale Christian music to others, but to me they are soundtracks to the Lord's work in my life.  This observation humbles me and (when I let it) causes me to pause before I judge the Christian music someone else is enjoying.

This morning I was listening to that playlist and realized I'd heard songs from four distinct eras of my life thus far.  High School. College.  Post-College DC. And recently.

I loved Third Day in high school.  One of the first "contemporary" Christian artists I discovered, their songs were sung at my youth group, at First Priority, and on many a retreat.  As I grew up I realized that in my favorite song of theirs they were singing scripture.  They were singing Psalm 36! As a teenager I just repeated the chorus over and over and as an adult this would be an easy song to judge based on its repetitive nature, but when I realized they were singing scripture on repeat my attitude towards the song changed.  Now, when it comes on this playlist, I sing it or just listen and claim the Truth that the Lord's love does indeed reach to the heavens and His faithfulness to the skies.

The song that inspired me to write this post was the one I heard this morning from my "college" era.  Watermark's live medley of "Gloria/Friend for Life."  I loved Watermark in college and to this day appreciate many of their lyrics.  In college I went through a pretty strong "outdoorsy hymns and worship songs" phase.  Any song/hymn using nature was immediately my favorite.  I'm talking to the extent that on the way to a lake weekend with friends once, it was like 45 degrees outside and I DEMANDED that we keep the windows down as we blasted Chris Tomlin's "Indescribable" so we could see/feel/hear creation as we sang.  I'm laughing as I type this, but I shouldn't.  Because the Lord truly used His creation and my amazement of it to speak to me in that time.  "Gloria" was one of those songs.  Its images made an impression on me.  "Friend for Life" was never a favorite of mine until one line stopped me in my tracks.  "Come and ruin me with your love/Til no other is enough/Come and leave Your mark on me/Jesus, more of thee."  Sorry to steal your word, Watermark, but that line "ruined" me.  I remember praying that prayer in college, trying to pray it earnestly, but most of the time praying it scared to death that Jesus WOULD ruin me with his love and that no one would be enough (read: EVERY Auburn female's worst fear: I'd never find my husband).  As I heard it this morning I realized that prayer has been answered.  Jesus has revealed his love to me in such a way throughout my life that it has ruined any other source of love or satisfaction battling to take his spot.  No other is enough.  Not Will. Not my family.  Not my friends.  Not my job.  Not money.  Not acceptance.  They just don't compare.  They are gifts and they point me daily to Jesus, but I am ruined as far as these things go.  They will never be "enough" now that I have tasted the love of Christ.

Moving from my college love of Evangelical contemporary worship music to my time in DC full of the RUF and Indelible Grace Hymnal and "liturgical hymns" we find ourselves with the queen of Calvinism, Mrs. Derek Webb--Sandra McCracken.  I had listened to Sandra in college but grew much deeper into her while in DC.  She was a regular in our "Round Table" worship times on Monday nights and this particular song always made me giggle b/c everytime she sang "surety" it sounded like when a rapper sings "shawty/shorty." Regardless of this silly glitch, this song's chorus of "love cannot from its post with draw/nor death nor sin nor hell nor law/can turn this surety's heart away/He'll love his own til endless day" stayed with me daily as I navigated metro stops, Capitol Hill and my early twenties.

Finally, we get to recent songs. If you'd asked me during my time at Auburn or even my time in DC if I would return to my mid-sized Baptist church in Birmingham upon moving home, I would have said "no way."  It wasn't that it was a bad church.  It was a wonderful church in which to grow up, it just wasn't "where I was" at the moment.  But then I moved home.  Somewhat suddenly.  And took a somewhat visible job in my hometown.  And I needed my old church and my old church family and people who knew me when I was 5 and 10 and 15.  What I found when I went back to Brookwood Baptist that first Sunday is what I'd been suspecting the past couple of years as I'd visited on my trips home: Brookwood was changing.  Not in its mission. Not in its theology. Not really even in its worship style.  In fact, I don't know what it was, but this place still felt like home to me, while also feeling like a new place. It had become a place where I saw other  young 20-somethings claiming a spiritual home.  I saw young families joining and putting down roots.  These are things I hadn't seen at Brookwood in quite a few years.  Half the church was full of people who didn't even know who I was--can you imagine? ;) And then I noticed a some new faces leading worship.  Some young college dude who was ridiculously talented.  A new minister of music who could play the accordion.  And a couple of folks who had been members for years showcasing their musical gifts in a way I'd not seen before here.  There were old hymns.  New hymns.  Contemporary songs. Worship music in the style of bluegrass. And even one Sunday the piano music played in the background as everyone lingered and chatted after the service I recognized as Coldplay.  Sneaky.  I've come to love this service and these musicians.  Recently they introduced me to one of David Crowder's newest songs (full circle, am I right?) "Come As You Are."  It feels like a fitting song with which to end this post because when I first heard "there's hope for the hopeless/and all who've strayed/come sit at the table/come taste the grace/there's rest for the weary/rest that endures/earth has no sorrow/that heaven can't cure" I thought "I'm home."  Not because I was a Brookwood again, but because I was hearing the Gospel again.  In yet another stage of life.  In another musical form.

I will continue to laugh at Christian music because some of it is silly.  (Note: I'll also laugh at pop. rock, country, etc for their ridiculousness.)  But I am so very thankful for the canon of songs that have carried me through various stages and always pointed me to "home."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Working From "Home"

This morning I attended the "new teacher breakfast" for Mountain Brook.  Last week I attended the Learning Conference that our Foundation helps fund.  Next week I will attend Institute Day--a day dedicated to the faculty, staff, and administrators in our system to get them prepared and motivated for the upcoming school year.  Then, on August 13th, a new school year will begin.  It's been a great summer, and as much as May felt hectic, I am ready for that new beginning.  I really don't have any explanation for that other than I have the best job in the world.  

I don't know how many of you have the opportunity to work in a place you call home.  Perhaps a church or school where you grew up.  A family business.  Maybe you're simply working in your hometown.  I also don't know how many of you have the privilege of working in a place that produces excellence in everything it does.  Somehow, I lucked into the combination of both of these things.  

Today I stood at a podium to address the newest crop of teachers in the Mountain Brook School System. As I looked out into the crowd I saw not just new faces, but old ones.  My high school principal who is now our superintendent. My high school volleyball coach.  And even the Trig teacher who is solely responsible for me passing high school math after spending his daily free time helping me understand concepts that felt foreign to me.  Eleven years after I graduated high school these people are all still there.  Still impacting lives. Other faces have changed.  There are new teachers much younger than I am, nervous and excited for their first jobs.  There are veteran teachers who have come to Mountain Brook from other districts for the opportunity to work with (as one said today) "the best of the best."

As I stood at that podium I felt ownership.  A sense of home.  A sense of pride.  Not just because this is an excellent place, but because it is MY excellent place.  This is a place and a school system that reared me.  A place that taught me what it was to learn.  To strive to be my best.  It challenged me.  Or, I should say, the people in it did all of those things.  It is not a perfect place.  Now, like when I was a student, it has its struggles, as all places do.  But it is a place where excellence is the standard while at the same time individuals are cared for and nurtured right where they are.  It's not a private school.  But it doesn't really feel like a public school either.  It's hard to explain to someone who has never been a part of it. But today I heard it described as family, and I can identify with that.  

Somehow, after nine years away, I was able to come home and work with my family.  For that, I am extremely thankful. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Riding with Meme and Paw Paw

Almost a year ago we moved my mom's parents from their house of 50 years into an apartment at St. Martin's in the Pines.  They are getting older (my grandfather turns 90 next month) and growing more frail, both mentally and physically.  In addition to the move, another result of their age is the preference of my mom that they not drive at night.  Seeing as how St. Martin's and Fox Hall are practically neighbors, this has given me several opportunities to play "chauffeur" for them anytime we have a family gathering.  These car rides have become precious to me as they have been times for us to catch up, for me to update them on my life and for them to tell me about the most recent speaker or musician to visit St. Martin's.

Last night on one of these rides, as I was taking them back to St. Martin's, somehow we got to talking about the Bible or church or something.  My grandfather casually spit out "Yeah, I just finished reading the book of Isaiah to Meme."

Sidenote: Meme is my grandmother who, up until just a few years ago, was the quintessential grandmother.  Dodding on her grandchildren.  Cooking for us.  Keeping up with our every move.  Thinking we were perfect.  Then the dementia set in.  And although she still (thankfully) remembers us, it is easy to see how this disease has taken a toll on her spirit.  The roles are now reversed.  We are now charged with being HER biggest cheerleaders and reminding her of how wonderful she is and how much we love her.  My grandfather is still with it.  For being almost 90, he has all of his mental faculties, but it's easy to see how Meme's disease is also taking a toll on him.  I remember one day thinking "this is kind of like The Notebook."  He has to constantly bring her back to reality.  Remind her where they live.  One time he even had to convince her he was her husband, not her brother (who has been dead for most of my life).  Last night, I realized this is a lot more like The Notebook than I had originally thought.  Except instead of re-reading her the story of their lives together, every night Paw Paw reads Meme THE story.

He told me last night that he has read through the Bible 10 times now in his life.  He has recently started reading it to Meme.  He didn't tell me this to brag or condemn or even challenge me. He just casually said it as though it were essential to his daily routine; which it is.  "Yeah, we finished Isaiah last night so now we'll move on to Jeremiah."  I wanted to say "Isaiah! That's a tough book! Did you have a commentary?" Or, "Jeremiah, did you know he is known as the 'weeping prophet' and that he also wrote the book of Lamentations?" But I didn't.  Because for some reason my know-it-all self realized in that moment that this was not a time for me to show off my Bible knowledge.  This moment was a gift.  A time for me to just listen and observe what it looks like to love someone for 70 years.  To walk humbly and faithfully.  The realize your need for grace in the most basic way.  So, instead, I just said "wow, Paw Paw, that's awesome!"  To which, Meme replied "Yeah, he's read it enough, maybe one of these days he'll memorize it!"  She still clearly believes the best about the ones she loves!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"He's Been Showin' Out Again!"

On Monday, Will sent me flowers.  For no reason.  Again.  I was left speechless (Yes, for those who know me, he is currently the only person who can have this rare effect on me.), but once I regained my words I called him and showed (what I hope was) the appropriate amount of gratitude for his ongoing thoughtfulness and kindness towards me.  So, I hope that he won't mind my using his gift to me to make a greater point.

I discovered these surprise flowers on Monday afternoon as I was just returning to my office after visiting one of our schools to see a very deserving faculty member receive an award funded by the Foundation (please make your gift today).  It had been one of those "THIS is why I do what I do" moments at work and as the day was winding down I didn't think it could get much better. Until I walked in the front door of the Board of Education and one of my colleagues greeted me with "Girl! I have GOT to meet this beau of yours!"  I found this to be a strange greeting, as I had not been discussing Will with her recently...or ever. She must have seen my confused face because she continued with "He's been showin' out again!"  I laughed and asked her what she meant ("showin' out" seems to be a term w/ which I am not familiar but perhaps means "showing off"), and she just smiled and said "oh I just put a little something from him in your office.  I keep seeing these things he's doing for you and I need to meet him!" I then rounded the corner into my office and found my surprise.

In the days since receiving the flowers almost every female employee in the building has come by to comment on them or ask about them.  This has allowed me to talk about Will, brag on him a little bit, and have all the ladies in the office be excited about him.  Which has been fun, but also thought-provoking and a bit convicting.

My initial colleague's response has been ringing in my head all week.  "He's been showin' out again!"  "I need to meet him!"  These are words she is speaking about my boyfriend.  Based on things she can tangibly see him doing in my life.  For some reason it made me start to wonder what she, or anyone else I encounter, would say about my God?

Would they be able to look at my life and say "Man! God's been showin' out again!  I can visibly see His work in your life!  I need to meet him!"  What are the "flowers" in my life that people can see and that cause them to inquire more about the giver of these good gifts?  Do I treat people differently because of the way God lavishes His love upon me?  Is my countenance different as I recall all the ways God has "showed out" in my life?  Some days, maybe.  But many days, not.

God's given me many gifts and all of them have been for no reason, or undeserved by me.  But do I proudly display them in my life, like a bouquet of flowers on my desk, so that people will have no choice but to ask me about them?  I hope that increasingly my answer to that is "yes."    

Monday, March 17, 2014

Caiaphas and Me

Yesterday I saw “Son of God,” the newest Gospel movie, produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.  I know there is much discussion of its merit as an accurate depiction of the Gospel of John being had by the Church and Christians, and while that can be healthy to a point, I’d rather not get into that in this post.

What I would like to discuss, or rather share, is my experience while watching it.  As with each time I hear the Gospel or stories of Jesus I found myself easily identifying with each of the characters surrounding Jesus.  The film did an excellent job facilitating this by the way it showed each character holistically.  I am Peter who talks a big game but so easily denies Jesus when it’s inconvenient to own Him. I am Thomas who needs everything laid out in front of me before I can truly believe and trust Him.  I am even Judas who, after I betray Jesus (and we all betray Jesus), turns to despair rather than to the hope I have in Him to save me from myself.  This time, however, I saw myself in a new character: Caiaphas, the High Priest.

I suppose I’ve always viewed Caiaphas as pure evil.  Threatened by Jesus’ following, he wanted to get rid of him.  And that is certainly part of it.  But this film showed another side to Caiaphas.  As the High Priest he was obsessed with following the Law, obeying God at all costs, and protecting his people and his faith.  He was a Jewish leader living under Roman rule struggling to keep his people together and he just KNEW that if he followed the law meticulously and removed all distractions that God would bless him and his people, preserve them, and deliver them through this captivity. Yet this obsession and devotion to the law (spurred on by fear) caused him to miss what was right in front of him.  It blinded him to the fulfillment of the law.  The rescue from the law.  The answer to his prayers and the prayers of his people for so many years.  In short, Caiaphas was so busy worrying about what he should do and must do as High Priest to get it all right that he missed the Great High Priest who had come to set all to right.

I saw this movie with my boyfriend.  That feels like a weird detail to put in the post, but it’s relevant to my later point, so go with it.  Anyways, as we sat down and the movie began I made a conscious decision, as I had 7 years earlier with “Passion of the Christ,” that I wasn't going to close my eyes or turn away from any of the hard parts of the film.  There are so few times (perhaps once a year on Good Friday) that I let myself really think about and dwell on the physical pain and agony Jesus endured on my behalf that I wanted to allow myself to feel all of it as I watched.  So, I did.  And as the scenes unfolded and I watched my Lord tortured and beaten on my behalf, I found myself having two very normal human reactions:  I cried, and needing comfort and just a human touch, I reached for the hand of the person watching with me. 

But even as I did this my mind began racing towards how I was supposed to act while watching this scene.  There I was watching Jesus being killed on a huge screen.  Being reminded of His sacrifice for me and all I’m thinking is “Is it okay to hold hands during this part? Should I be watching this alone, in the zone with God so that I can just focus on myself and all my sin?  Should I even allow myself to be comforted right now? And by this person I’m dating?”  On and on went my thoughts.  All the while on and on went Jesus’ torture on screen.  For me.  He’s dying, and I’m sitting there asking “am I watching Him die for me in the right way?  Am I doing what I’m supposed to do while I’m watching Him die?” You see where I’m going with this, perhaps.  These seem like silly questions when voiced aloud. 

But, I am Caiaphas.  Even as I watch the very actions that make God’s grace possible for me, I am so focused on “doing it right” or “getting it right” that I lose track of the very grace for which Jesus died.  I am so focused on experiencing God “correctly” that I totally check out of the main point—His grace.  And that IS the main point isn't it?  That hard as we try, we just cannot do it.  We cannot get it together.  We cannot earn it.  This is the message of Lent and it is the message of the Gospel as a whole.

I remember watching the “Passion of the Christ” in college and thinking in my head “I’m so sorry, Lord.  I’m so sorry. I made you have to go through this. It was my sins.”  I remember having those thoughts lead me to conviction and almost despair over what I did to my Lord and how I would improve.  As if my sinning less could have kept Jesus from the cross.   I was Caiaphas, and I still am.  Only now, 7 years later, though I find myself still convicted and saying “I’m sorry"; still mourning my sin, something has changed  There's been a paradigm shift.  No longer is it “oh if only I could do this right.”  It is now “I can’t do it right. So, Jesus, I need you to go through this and to rise again for me.  Because I can’t do it.”  And that is the most humbling part.  It had to be that way.  He had to die, because even at our best, even with good intentions, we are sinful.  It had to be Him so that it wouldn’t be us.  Amen. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Paradox of Ash Wednesday...and Beer

Yesterday was the beginning of Lent 2014.  As has happened every Ash Wednesday for the past several years, I opened a Henri Nouwen Lenten devotional sent to me from a dear friend three states away.  The Ash Wednesday devotional was on gratitude and the fact that we are indeed God's "beloved."  It didn't seem very Ash Wednesday-ish to me.  I was kind of hoping to be reminded of my sinful nature and innate depravity.

However, as I read on, it began to make sense.  Nouwen's point was that knowledge of who we are and who God is creates a spirit of gratitude within us that grows the more we reflect on the Truth of these two identities. I have two identities.  I am a sinner who can offer nothing to God that he doesn't already have and deserves nothing from Him.  However I am also His beloved whom He has saved and called His own.  Despite my sin, I am His now and am washed clean, not because of anything I did, but because of what Jesus did on the cross.  We'll get back to this.

Tuesday night (Mardi Gras, I suppose), I had dinner with three people for whom I care very much.  It was one of those meals that fulfilled me both culinarily (Thai food!) and spiritually.  We talked, laughed, ate, drank, and told stories to and on one another.  At this meal, one friend ordered a particularly interesting drink.  A "black and blue."  This, I learned, is a Guinness poured on top of a Blue Moon.  Like a "black and tan" but with a bit more contrast.  As we waited for our drinks we had a perfect view of the bar and watched the bartender try (and fail) at making this drink at least 5 times before bringing out a sad version of my friend's order.  Apparently, the Blue Moon is supposed to be poured into the glass first, then the Guinness on top.  When done correctly the two should fill the glass but not mix, creating a light half and a dark half of the glass.  But, alas, this was not to be for my friend that evening.  His glass looked like a pint of off-colored Guinness with some sand at the bottom.

As I read and prayed through Nouwen's devotion yesterday, I thought of my friend's ill-fated "black and blue."  The paradox of Ash Wednesday is much like my friend's drink.  I am sinful.  And yet I am beloved.  I would like to keep the "light half" and the "dark half" separate.  I would like them not to mix and run into each other and affect one another.  I'd like to keep the good from the bad and the bad, well...away.  But that's not how it works.  My identity and my relationship with the Lord look a lot more like the drink my friend received than what he ordered.  My sinful nature always comes crashing into my identity as God's beloved, lying to me, telling me I'm less than I am, tempting me with things far less satisfying than Jesus.  And God's love for me fights back and often overtakes my sinful nature, if not completely this side of heaven, then as closely as possible.  He uses relationships, the beauty of creation, art, music, literature, and so many other things to remind me of the Truth of who I am and who He is.  And though it is often-times messy, I can indeed sense a spirit of gratitude for not only the gifts He gives now, but also for the foretaste of what is to come.

Friday, January 17, 2014

"At Least My Heart Was Open"

During my early twenties I was lucky enough to live with my best friend.  We walked through the ups and downs of the start of post-grad life together, and I learned a lot from her.  One of the main things I remember was that any time I had disappointment or heartbreak, be it relational, vocational, personal, or spiritual, she would pray for me.  And one of her primary prayers would be that my heart would stay open.  "Anne," she would say, "I'm going to pray that God would heal your wounds, but that your heart would not close or become calloused.  That it would remain open."

I remember thinking that was a nice sentiment, but not necessary.  Practical prayers like "God, please help Anne find a job" or "God, please let that guy who just dumped Anne gain 100 lbs unexpectedly" seemed more appropriate.  I didn't need prayers to keep my heart open.  I wasn't some hard-hearted bitch who shut down every time she was hurt.  Or so I thought.  But as I continued to live life, I found her prayer to be a little more important.  With each blow life dealt, I found it to be a bit more of a struggle to continue to put myself out there to new people, opportunities, and places without holding back.  It was easier to close off parts of my heart to prevent further injury.

After one particularly tough heartbreak, I remember telling my friend "hey, please keep praying that my heart remains open."  I had come to the end of myself.  I was ready to close off and self-protect but remembered a quote from C.S. Lewis that I had always found to be true:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

And I realized that the only way to prevent this was desperate and sincere prayer.  I didn't have the power to to keep myself open.  Only God could do that.  So I joined my friend in praying this for me.  And it worked.

I hadn't thought about this concept in a while because my heart hasn't been broken in some time.  But recently I heard a song with which I quickly became obsessed.  Foy Vance sings "I tried to do what I felt was right. And I know I f*cked it up sometimes. But at least my heart was open."  I have not been able to get this refrain out of my head, especially that last line: "At least my heart was open."  It has become somewhat of a mantra of thanksgiving and encouragement as I remember past heartbreaks and disappointments yet examine where I am now.  I was vulnerable and let someone know me, and that person disappointed me, but  "At least my heart was open."  I tried for something I really wanted yet didn't get it, but "At least my heart was open."  I put myself out there in a way that was uncomfortable and didn't see any good from it, but "At least my heart was open."

So now, as I'm in a season of waiting and having to take risks and be vulnerable, I am thankful for this song and the reminder of the prayer my friend taught me to pray years ago.  I am thankful God has answered that prayer and continues to do so and that by His grace I can continue to say "At least my heart was open."