He Said: Sea Hag

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So, we both blog, and we decided this year we’ll blog together, separately. We call it He Said, She Said. I write my perspective and memory of an event or circumstance and she writes hers and we post them at the same time. We each take our own photos, and tell the story our way.

So this is Wednesday, and Wednesday is date night. It’s something I won’t surrender. It’s so easy to lose connection with people if you’re not intentional. It happens to me all the time. Last year was way too busy — I lost a lot of people. Hopefully we can rekindle some of those relationships. No major falling outs, didn’t fight with anybody, just couldn’t stay in touch as closely or often as I would like because I was going flat out full speed keeping a schedule. Being music pastor at 2 churches at the same time really took it out of me, and I loved it and I am also grateful to have more time to focus on family and business this year.

No matter how busy life gets, there are a few people I simply WON’T ALLOW myself to lose connection with, can’t even settle for kind of almost connection. Not 1 bar, not 2 bars kind of connection, needs to be 4 bars working on 5 all the time or as often as possible. With that in mind I say over and over to myself, “never surrender date night!” Busy will happen, let work go around, let ministry go around, let business go around, but whatever happens, NEVER surrender date night.

Ok, off my soapbox. I may repeat it one last time at the end. Yes, who are we kidding — I’ll definitely say it again, but here’s a little about tonight’s date.

Dar and I are doing this thing called 40 Day Pray. For details, check out www.40daypray.com. I heard about it from the co-founder of our company and she’s really all about it right now, so I looked into it. Dar and I started it last Wednesday, on a date night, actually. But then I traveled this weekend and we weren’t face to face for a couple days. Technically, we could have prayed together via FaceTime or Zoom, but we didn’t so we just started over this week, so … 40 Day Pray, Take 2.

I’m loving it so much, I don’t want us to stop at 40 days. I just want this to be a thing we do.

After we prayed together this morning I had this idea to take Dar to the beach this evening. See, I would usually wait until summer when it’s light out until 8pm and we could get there with a couple hours to hang out before sunset. I figure what’s the point of going there with only minutes before the sun goes down? Plus, it’s a rainy day, and then we’re looking through rain at the gray coast and that’s not very awesome, is it? Turns out it is!! And turns out she likes going to the coast when it’s rainy and stormy and I had no idea! So yes, I learned a few things about her this evening that I didn’t know and we had a great time.

I had planned on going to Lincoln City but she has memories of this place in Depoe Bay, called the Sea Hag.

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I got to play around with the camera bit and that’s fun for me. I love taking pictures. I don’t set aside time to pursue photography so instead I just take the camera  everywhere  and shoot when I have a spare moment and something catches my eye.

It was after sunset when we arrived. So I got to play around with low-light photography. This is the front of the restaurant with aperture wide open and a long exposure. You can see the people inside, but the neon sign is glazed out.

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This is the same facade shot with small aperture and fast shutter. This way I get the neon sign but can’t see the interior.

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Once we got inside and seated, I had to get a shot of this light fixture because I think it’s gorgeous!

_MG_6400Of course a shot of my lovely wife, and not one all color-drained like the one directly under the title Sea Hag up at the top.

Internal dialog: “Smart move putting in a glamour shot, Lenn.” “Why thank you Lenn… thinking ahead, want there to be other date nights, you know?”

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Obligatory food pic, proof of roughage, and beets…

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There was dessert. Strawberry shortcake. Look at this thing. It’s a monument._MG_6425

I was talking with a friend recently about what it takes to build good close relationships. That conversation wasn’t about marriage or even romantic relationships. That was actually about church community.

These four ideas will apply in any case: VIP?

VULNERABILITY — I’m learning a lot about it in theory, from the work of Dr. Brene Brown. I’m learning a lot about it in practice, from my life includes a new marriage, a blended family, 2 teenagers, a toddler, a newborn, a daughter-in-law, a 20 person worship team, a marketing organization, and a plethora (yes I got to use that word) of unforeseeable situations. Take 12 or 25 learning curves, stick them in a bottle, carbonate, shake vigorously, that’s my life right now.

INTENTIONALITY — I meant to be in touch with people last year, but what you meant to do isn’t what feeds your relationship. It’s what you actually do. So it’s super important to be intentional about quality time.  For us, it’s starting every day in prayer together and having date night once a week. One of my friends always reminds me “You schedule what you value.”  Seems like a great place to say this again: Never surrender date night!

PROXIMITY — Nothing beats face to face. No substitute for closeness. Even though I live in the same house as my wife, this 40 Day Pray thing has us looking into one another’s eyes on a daily basis for a minimum of 5 minutes, and that definitely increases proximity. For non-romantic relationships, take church or business relationships for example, there’s still no substitute for face to face. I traveled to California with one of my business partners and his wife last weekend and we got to sit next to each other on the plane and then we spent a couple days in close proximity. Although I speak with Mike 4-6 times a week, and although one of our weekly connections is a video chat, it’s still not the same as being able to see him face to face.

? (QUESTIONS) — I’m learning how important questions can be in building relationship. John Maxwell, in his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, talks about the importance of Curiosity. People are complex and many-layered. I found out things about my wife this evening that I never knew before and we’ve been best friends for over a decade! You just never know what you might find out with a few well placed questions. Stay curious about other people. Also, stay curious about yourself. The better you know yourself, the better you can grow yourself and share yourself. That’s the Law of Reflection.

It’s been a great evening. These are some of my thoughts. Darlene is right next to me blogging her perspective on the evening, which will likely be a much more beautiful,  inspiring post than mine. Thankfully, it’s not a competition, unless I’m winning.

You can find her post at: She Said — Sea Hag

Blessings to you, friend.

#LennDar

Webslinger

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That face, though!

We’ve had a great summer. My daughter has owned more and more of my heart as days go by. Today is day #479 of the Alliance and it’s also her first day of 8th grade.  I was given the great honor of driving her to school this morning!

Of course there are challenges that come with parenting a teenage girl, even if you were in her life from the beginning. When you’re stepping in at her 12th year, there are so many attitudes and mindsets that have already settled, so many beliefs that have already taken hold, some good and some not so. There’s much to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

To be completely frank with you, it’s scary and hard sometimes. I’ve always been interested in personal development, and lately I am learning a lot about leadership. The first and most important leadership assignment I carry is to lead myself in a way that is worthy of being followed.

Sometimes as a leader, you have to question patterns that were solidly entrenched before you got here. You have to lead yourself by the path of “Calm is Strong” at times when you would rather let your emotions lead you. You have to initiate crucial conversations that would be much easier to avoid. If we don’t have those conversations, we are not doing our job as protectors. We get to nudge (because love does not control) the trajectory of young leaders as they set their course in life.

This one’s a leader, a firecracker. I love her fiery spirit and insatiable joy! I’m stretching to be a good leader to her and for her, because that’s part of my mission. She keeps me following Jesus, because I’ll have to be a great follower in order to lead this one! Chuck Pattishall says the art of leadership is really the science of follower-ship. Those on step 4 follow those on step 5, who are following those on step 6.

One of my great motivations to grow consistently is that there are more people following me now, and some of them live at my house.

Maybe someday I’ll be famous outside my house. For right now, my goal is to be famous at home.

Are you feared or trusted by those you lead?

Are you loved AND respected?

Are you a super-hero at your house?

What do you have to do or become for that to be the case?

 

Best to you today!

#LennDar #Strender

 

Rest and Connection

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Yesterday I sat with a gifted young man who is about to embark on an exciting  new adventure — he’s getting married!

This is Brock from McMinnville. We haven’t had many chances before yesterday to sit and enjoy conversation. In recent months we’ve served together on the same worship team, first Sunday of each month. Brock is a brilliant drummer with an elegant musicality.

During our collaborations, I’ve been able to observe one of his great super-powers — he carries peace. I don’t just mean that he is not argumentative or quarrelsome, which he isn’t. It’s deeper than that. He has the ability to infuse peace into the people around him. The Peace Quotient of any situation rises upon his arrival. People feel comfortable to try things they would not have tried otherwise, to take risks they might otherwise avoid. He has a calming effect on those in his presence.

How is that a super-power?

See, in the beginning, back in the garden, before the law, before grace, before the need of grace, there were two things built into the source code of the world: Marriage and Sabbath, a.k.a. Connection and Rest. All throughout our story, the enemy, the world, call it what you will, has mounted a vicious campaign against those two foundational elements of our heritage. If he can keep us from Rest and Connection, keep us off balance, distracted and disconnected, he won’t even need to defeat us; we’ll simply self-destruct.

Upon careful observation, you may notice a campaign for busy-ness, a seduction into stress, an agenda for anxiety, an onslaught against marriage, family and relationship, a diabolical intentionality leveled against those moments and spaces that allow us to catch a breath and share our gifts. Seems we have exactly enough time to do everything except be what were made to be.

In what ways are you besieged by Distraction and/or Disconnection? Where do you see the foothold of these two deviants in your life and style? Top of mind for me is the smart-phone addiction that I see all around. I see us sitting together at tables not talking to each other, texting superficial factoids to anyone and everyone but the people in front of us or next to us. I see how it sends the message that “you, sitting here, are less important to me than just about anyone. In fact, I’m going to spend this time building a facade of connection with someone who isn’t even here, rather than a real connection with you — that’s how unimportant you are to me.”

What? Too blunt? I totally agree. I just wish we were that blunt, because then we’d hear ourselves say it and realize what we are communicating non-verbally. Use your phone like you use a lawn-mower — turn it off when you’re in a conversation.

Anyway, back to my friend Brock. His ability to exude tranquility facilitates Isaiah 30:15. Quietness and trust that give strength. By aiding others in coming to stillness, he allows them to experience Psalm 46:10.

I see him building teams of people into families and communities. I see him leading leaders. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

Here’s to you, Brock PeaceMaker; thank you for your quiet strength.

 

 

Solar Eclipse 2017

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I rest on Mondays.

Saturdays and Sundays are work days for me at church. Lots of people. Lots of listening to people, creating space for people, contributing energy and vision to people. Monday is the day I unplug and honor the introvert within.

Yesterday there was a solar eclipse, visible in totality from my small town in Oregon. People came from all over the country, most of them descending on Salem, the state’s capital, conveniently 45 minutes from us. There were an estimated 1 million additional travelers to the state for the purpose of viewing this celestial event.

Last thing I want to do on a Monday is see more people and be around a crowd, or even a group.

So Darlene, AKA Queen D, tells me that she wants to watch the eclipse with her friends and their family and she’d like us to go there as a family and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make memories together as a tribe, and all I’m thinking is, Blessed Aloneness, where Art Thou?

Over the decade of forming this Alliance, we’ve gotten a pretty good sense for recognizing when something is truly important to the other person, and I sensed that definitely was the  case, so I decided to go along with the family and watch this solar eclipse, blah blah, ho-hum…

Turns out I had a blast! We all did! From the first time we looked through our special eclipse glasses and saw that the moon had taken a bite out of the sun, and Sage said, “it looks like the Apple logo,” we were knit together into a shared experience that I suspect we will treasure for years. Is it possible that trust is built of memories such as these? My video was not of the magnificent display in the heavens, but on earth, the shared energy of a group that had gathered to be amazed together.

While we were all yelling and ooh-ing and aah-ing as the sun went out, I remembered this Ted Talk that I watched several years ago about how shared experience binds us together. Now me and those 20 people from yesterday have a shared memory of the eclipse that qualifies us to say, “hey remember that time?”

Relationship is made of many things. I believe an important ingredient is the memory of that one time, and that other time, and the time we did that thing…

JWrigley Final Friday — Healing out loud

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September 30 Final Friday at JWrigley was dimly lit, and warm with the chatter of friendly conversations wafted on the earthy fragrance of pinot noir.

I haven’t been performing at wineries for the last couple years.  Partly because I wanted to simply focus on team-building in my role as worship pastor at a church. That effort is developing nicely and we have strong leaders emerging on that team, so I feel a bit more free to take on other projects.

Still, and mostly from habit, I’ve been saying “no” to winery invitations. Until a couple months ago Jody asked me to play a Final Friday at JWrigley. As soon as she asked it was “yes” in my spirit. Then as we drove back down the hill Darlene said, “I hoped you would say yes to this one!”

I’m very glad I did! We had a blast. This gig brought about a musical reunion with my two of my friends from the band We Three. They are a brilliant sibling trio band, who used to be my bandmates many years ago. We’ve not performed together in over 5 years, and this past Friday we got to revisit some of those magic memories.

Bethany is just a monster bassist and Joshua is a percussionistic force of nature! It’s so much fun playing the old tunes with these guys.

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I played alone the first hour, just Man With Guitar. That was fun too, and I think I tapped into a reservoir of passion, the insinuated sadness of our miscarriage from 2 weeks ago. We are joyful and happy, we’ve never been closer to God or one another, all that great hope-filled stuff, but the sadness is still true and real and I think some of it surfaced in my singing. I call it Healing Out Loud.

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The other thing that I felt and expressed as I sang was an ever-increasing love for my life partner best friend wife. I remember a different performance last year when I sang Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” and Darlene was visibly annoyed that I wasn’t singing it to her. What she didn’t know is that I actually was singing it to her — I just hadn’t told her yet! Last Friday, everybody knew who I was singing to.

I’ve been singing with Holly Kirby lately and I’m excited about where that collaboration will go. She joined me on vocals for some of my originals at this gig. Great vibe, powerful voice!

Those of you we met for the first time at Final Friday, so nice to meet you! Please do stay in touch. We love sharing our lives and stories with you! Thank you so much for your love and support. My wife and I totally felt embraced by all of you!

Pockets and veins of Joy everywhere, healing out loud!

Next stop, Youngberg Hill Winery on Wednesday October 12 (That’s Darlene’s birthday). Join us if you’re in the area. I’ll be performing with Petra Bolton that evening. She’s amazing, and so much fun! Ask her why we call her Blueberry!

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Love,

#ManWithGuitar

Facebook.com/lennoxflearymusic

 

 

 

Alliance: Month 3 — I have a daughter!

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Wow, what a ride!! We are now 95 days into this alliance and I have already learned so much. I’m being stretched and challenged constantly. I’m also enjoying family life immensely!

One of my favorite revelations of the past couple months is the great difference between the statements “I am a father, ” and “I have a daughter!”

The first statement is about an offer of relationship on my part. My children may or may not accept that offer. I’m offering protection and provision and care and emotional support and presence, and commitment and on and on… That’s my offer and it’s wrapped in the statement “I am a father.”

The second statement is about how that offer is received and reciprocated. Will you simply take the provision and protection, or will you also return honor and affection, and submission to my authority?

When I last opened a window into this part of my life, both of the younger members of our team were adamantly refusing to be my children. They wanted a dad, but had no idea what that looks like and how it changes their lives. So any assertion of authority on my part was met with staunch defiance. The proverbial shaking of the fist and the cry “I am not yours.”

I’ve learned so much about the way I have related to my earthly and heavenly fathers. How deliberate am I about sonship? I have the best possible father who is in heaven, and He has blessed with an amazing father here on earth. So statement one is covered, but how am I doing at being a son to them? How am I doing at seeking their interests, their vision, submitting to their authority which seeks only my highest good? Am I operating as son or orphan? Do I want only the blessings but not the responsibilities of relationship?

The question applies across the board to all types of relationship. Do I simply have a great wife, or am I a great husband (pronounced: servant) to my great wife? Am I a son to my father in heaven? Am I a son to my father on earth? Would my actions indicate an identity of stranger, slave, servant or son? Am I honoring and affectionate or sullen and stand-offish?

Are you a son?

Are you a daughter?

On earth as it is in heaven?

Would God say of you “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased,” or is He only able to say of you “I am his/her father.”

Nothing pleases the heart of a father like watching his children walk in their identity as sons and daughters.

Great News, Y’all!!! I have a daughter!!! She was my daughter anyway because her identity is true regardless of her response. She was no less my daughter before she owned it. But now she knows it and that means she can receive so much more of the abundance encoded within that identity. Be at peace in this, friend, that you are a child of the King whether or not you have walked in that identity, but there is such favor and fullness when you put that identity on and wear it like a treasured robe!

She waits for me when I get home in the evening, she comes out to the car and takes my laptop, my camera bag, the food bag, she literally insists that I carry nothing. She won’t even let me open the door! Then she orders me to wait at the table while she dishes up the scrumptious meal my wife has created, and my daughter serves me dinner.

She asks me daily “Are you busy?” which is code for “Can you hang out with me?” If you know me, you know I’m busy. But I’m never so busy I can’t make time to hang with this beautiful creature/creator. She makes these great little movies on an app called Musical.ly and she delights in showing them to me.

We had a momentary disconnect last week. She yelled hurtful things at me. I put on a brave face, but as soon as she stormed out, I retreated to the office, curled up on the floor and cried. Not long after, she came to the door and knocked. I uttered a weak, “come in.”

She stood near my desk and said “I’m sorry.” I stuck up my hand and said “I love you.” She grabbed my hand and said “I love you too.”

Thank you Jesus! I have a daughter!

Life with Family: It ain’t easier; it’s just sweeter!

 

 

Alliance: Month One

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A month ago today I married my best friend. We’ve lived happily ever after. Wedded bliss. Cake by the Ocean. The End.

Except not.

This has been one of the hardest months of my life.  I was tempted not to write about it, but it may serve someone else to hear this story.

For the past 8 years I’ve known Darlene and her kids and I’ve been fun Uncle Lennox to these children for most of that time. We’ve done museums and beach trips and movie nights and board games and, for crying out loud, they’ve painted my nails and put makeup on my face! We’ve been in each others’ lives for so long I think I expected a seamless transition.

This transition has been anything but smooth. Now I’m not just fun Uncle, but a voice saying chores must be done and rules must be followed and consequences will apply and suddenly I’ve become persona non grata with these lovely kids. I’m confident we will find our way to a mutual respect and collaborative alliance, but that has not happened in these 31 days.

From each kid, at separate times, and at the top of their lungs, I have been told “I hate you! I don’t want you here! You don’t belong here! You ruined my life!”

It hurt! It hurts terribly. I’ve loved these kids for almost a decade. I call them my son and my daughter. Did I just get discarded because you don’t want to wash a dish? Wow, is that the value of this relationship to you? And then here come the manipulative questions of the enemy: Who do you think you are? What makes you think you belong here? Why don’t you go back to the easier path?

I say this for the benefit of the newly married step-dad who has had a similar experience. No, you’re not crazy, this happens.

Time for some good news. My wife has been a champion, always had my back, never wavered. Together we have welcomed help from professionals, from church, and from community. She has spoken over me the prophetic words that we’ve received from God. She has covered me in prayer. We have grown so much closer than we ever were before. Our connection is deeper than ever and our bond tighter than I realized possible. Our routine takes us to God and to each other every single morning.

Where is the goodness of God in this story? Let me show you! Day 18 “we” (pronounced: Lennox) had a melt-down at 3:37 pm, but had to leave at 4:30 to keep an appointment we had made a week earlier. The appointment? To receive prayer from a couple we respect highly, who have also walked the path of blending families.

So we got filled up from them with not only the advice of experienced parents, but they also spoke to the insecurities that surfaced in me. They counteracted and removed the falsehood “Who do you think you are? You can’t do this!”

The lie was exposed and dismissed within 90 minutes after it had been stirred up in my mind and before it had time to sink into my heart and insinuate into some corner where it could breed and fester unchallenged in the dark.

They prayed over me the truth of who I am, a Tarzan swinging from vine to vine, letting go of one vine before catching sight of the other, relying on the sheer confidence that it WILL be there! Bless God– He is faithful!!

They gave us pages and pages of encouragement and truth, and we had to interrupt them in order to get to our next appointment, which was the arrival of a team from Coast Hills Community Church to pray a blessing over our home. Turns out the pastors of Open Door Community Church, Jim and Penny, also showed up, bringing along two friends of theirs who were visiting from California. This convergence of three different worship communities proceeded to fill us up another 2 hours.

So yes, there was the hurt that exposed a lie in me, followed by 4 hours of truth poured on top of the wound, and all of that encouragement already on the calendar at least a week prior to the hurtful exchange. There is the goodness of God. There is His glory. He knew ahead of time we would need that power boost at that moment.

That was just one day of these 31. I can go on and on about how good this month has been, because in spite of this being the most challenging month I’ve ever lived, it’s also the most blessed and highly favored month I’ve ever lived. On all fronts, in family, in ministry, in business we are seeing the goodness of God in manifest ways.

I cannot wait to see what happens in month two!!!

 

Joy, Love, Music, Hope — We did not come here to just survive