The circle of praise…

circle of praise blog


My son just got offered a promotion. It would mean working more hours in a congested city away from those he loves, but he is proud of the offer and should be. In his case, a promotion means a significant raise and a leadership role in his profession. It is a vote of confidence, a round of applause, a hat’s off, and any other idiom that means “good job!” His company is offering him praise in a tangible way.

And a chance to get his parents’ affirmation.

He called both my husband and me to give us the news individually. He then visited us at home and gave us more details. It was THE topic of conversation through the weekend. Why? In addition to our advice, my son wanted our praise.

Likewise, my youngest son, knowing that his older brother was coming to visit, casually placed his last two trophies earned on the coffee table. In May, he had been awarded “Best Pitcher” from the varsity baseball coach; the next day he was named “Best Actor” for his role as the Beast in “Beauty and the Beast.”

He has since graduated from high school and begun college, but he thought enough of those accolades to get them from his bedroom and place them conspicuously in the family room where they were sure to be seen.

When his older brother didn’t seem to notice them anyway, my youngest son pointed them out.

“Did you see my trophies?” he asked, as he lifted them for his brother’s inspection while explaining their significance.

“You graduated, right?” the older one said, as if the significance of these trophies had diminished with the passing of a few months.

My youngest had just wanted his brother’s affirmation. I’m not sure he got it.

This week at work, the Marketing Associate began sending emails to celebrate the number of inventions that our office had licensed or optioned. My job is creating marketing campaigns for those inventions, and I was curious as to whether our marketing campaigns had influenced the various companies’ decisions to purchase the licenses to market our inventors’ ideas. Part of my desire to know is just good business: Does marketing make a difference? Is the paper campaign effective or are we attracting more potential licensees via our online efforts and social media?

But part of me wanted credit. I wanted at least the personal knowledge that my efforts had contributed to the numbers marking our company’s success. I wanted praise.

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Love makes the worship go ’round…

2 Chronicles 5Once was a time when I attended church for the singing. As I matured, I learned to love the sermons as much as the singing, but a few weeks ago, I realized that I now to go church despite the music. I had attended our church’s “Old Fogey” service (i.e. hymns and old praise music vs. the more contemporary songs) despite my young years and fell in love with the depth of the lyrics. Several months ago, the hymn service, poorly attended, was canceled. I had to attend the services with what some jokingly referred to as the 7-11 songs — 7 lines repeated 11 times.

“They simply aren’t deep,” I thought. “They don’t focus on all the attributes of God and Jesus — mostly just love with a little creation, forgiveness, and salvation thrown in.”

The music seemed to focus on different ways to express God’s love for us and seemed rather repetitive. “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” was not just a song, it was the theme for every service… Singing of God’s love forever and ever and ever… To that apparent lack of depth I added more complaints: The lead singer sang so high I had to either sing like a nightingale or drop an octave and sing like a man; I didn’t have an ear to harmonize. So I considered solutions — such as arriving late each Sunday to purposely miss the singing. It didn’t seem to be a good choice.

In the midst of my discontent, I considered that songs aren’t the only form of worship, and as I rethought worship, I realized that my purest form of worship hadn’t necessarily ever been associated with singing at church, as much as I have often loved it. I worship God when I open my heart to Him — whether I am seeking Him in desperation, joying in an acute awareness of His presence, awing over how well He knows me, reflecting on His incredible goodness, laughing at His sense of humor, seeing Him in His amazing creation, glorifying Him intentionally or by simply attempting to do what He has called me to do and be.  It is when I give Him my all, when I acknowledge that He is my all, when I allow Him to speak through me, to use me, to guide my thoughts and my behaviors — and my writings. Often my blog posts are a product of this personal worship, evidence to me that worship is so much more than a song.

So with this conviction, I entertained being content with my discontent. I felt my worship was rich, after all, even when not set to music.

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