Tag: music

When you’re down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night…
All you’ve got to do is call and and I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend – James Taylor

It was the summer when my family of four became split into two part. Mama and I packed up her car and set out to all that was new. We left friends and the known for unfamiliar and oh, so different.

Her new job, her new life, took us from family and the familiar in Arkansas to Baltimore, Maryland. We moved into a comfortable apartment for the two of us. While she settled in her new job as bookkeeper, I spent the rest of the summer in this little space reading and listening to the radio. I found comfort in the soothing voice of James Taylor, and others. This song that played over and over the summer of ’71 brought peace in the midst of loss. God used these words to remind me of his friendship. That he would never leave me. That he’d be there.

around the center

I sometimes compartmentalize my friends. Not them so much as our relationship. I have…

…long time friends and new friends, music friends and sewing friends…

…friends who know my middle name and friends who are uncertain of my first.

I have friends who know parts of me better than I know myself and friends who only think they do.

I have Facebook friends, blogging friends, photography class friends and Instagram friends.

I have flesh and blood, I’ve met face to face, I recognize their laugh kind of friends.

For some, friendship has taken time to build. And the time has paid off.

Sometimes the best friends are the ones who aren’t so much like me. The ones who open me up to different perspectives and expand my view. They lead the way to new.

In our role as pastor, I’ve found it hard to make friends that go beyond the surface. Knowing our appointments are determined by our organization has made me hold back from committing to deeper friendships. It’s just to risky…the pain of knowing and loving and leaving.

Inviting people into your life can be scary. God didn’t create us to be alone. While God provides all of our needs in Christ Jesus, he often uses people to meet these needs. Unlikely people. People who don’t look like us or believe like us. They might even be people we never meet face to face. Or they might be family.

My life is richer because of the varied places these friends represent. They brighten up my darkest night. They are one of God’s many gifts to me.

 

faith Five-Minute Friday Music

Much of my childhood I felt I didn’t fit. We moved so much in my junior and senior high school years I didn’t have time to join so I didn’t have time to fit. By the time I figured out the rhythm of this new school we were moving to another state where I’d have to observe and learn again.

Move from Arkansas to Baltimore: note to self: they don’t say y’all here
Move from FL to Utah: LDS means Latter Day Saints (and everyone but me is one)
Move from FL to TX: my seemingly ancient, though kind, English teacher called Jim, in Huckleberry Fin, Negra Jim. hmmm

Fitting in seems important because it feels comfortable and known. Maybe that’s why it surprised me to feel like I fit in with a group of addicts and alcoholics.

 

I don’t think I can adequately articulate this because I don’t completely understand this. Except that I know I’ve been lost and am found. I’m the sinner saved by grace. Broken and being put back together one jagged edge at a time.

Switch foot isn’t a band whose music you’ll likely hear on Sunday morning. They don’t write what we call praise and worship songs. They’ve gone so far as to resist having their music put in the ‘Christian music’ box. They write music. They are Christians. They view the world through the lens of their faith. That informs their music. I find that refreshing as I’m not a fan of that ‘christian box’.

Beautiful Letdown album by Switchfoot

I like their sound. The crashing guitars, real drums, their energy and passion. The lyrics are a bonus.

In a world full of bitter pain and bitter doubt
I was trying so hard to fit in, fit in,
Until I found out
I don’t belong here

They are singing my song. Words I with which I can connect, learn and grow.

It was a beautiful let down
When you found me here

This song, in particular, reminds me I’ve been found. In each of the 13 schools I attended, He found me. In the nine states we’ve lived, I was found. God found me in his love.

Their words are counter-culture to what is often espoused in today’s Christian circles. They sing of the calling to follow a Savior who wasn’t accepted by his own. This song reminds us following Jesus will bring ridicule and scorn.

We are a beautiful let down,
Painfully uncool,
The church of the dropouts
The losers, the sinners, the failures and the fools
Oh what a beautiful let down

This is who I am, where I find myself found. These are my people because they are Jesus’ people. Nothing to prove. Only grace to receive. And the songs final reminder that I don’t belong here. Not on this earth. Our home is in heaven with Christ.

faith grace Music

It would be a safe guess that Jesus Loves Me was the first song I learned to sing. Sunday School songs came long before Romper Room and Mary Poppins. I was raised with the kind of choruses that had motions. We sang about Zacheus being a wee little man as we held our hand out low and then we pantomimed his climb up the sycamore tree.

Our fingers numbered 1, 2, and 3 when we sang about Peter, James and John and we folded our arms in some kind of makeshift sailboat. We climbed and sailed and marched and clapped. We didn’t let Satan blow (insert a blowing sound) out our little light but we did let him sit on a tack.

church stretch

Over the holidays our family played a questions game and one asked what song did we know every word by heart. My immediate answer was Happy Birthday. My son questioned, “not even a U2 song?”. When I gave it a moment’s thought the songs I know every word to are the ones learned in church. Some with motions, most without. Songs seldom sung these days.

Bible stories were taught in these childhood choruses and theology sung in the old hymns. Not all of the theology we sang was sound but stories were told.

When Alzheimer’s was taking more of mama’s mind and she didn’t know me as her daughter, her foot tapped and head nodded as she mouthed the words to the old gospel tunes. Music has a way of working deep into our core. It engages our brain and wraps around heart.

Music has a profound impact on my life. Its melodies and rhythms move me, often literally, and the lyrics instruct, remind, articulate and celebrate so many things in life.

Nearly every Sunday in my daddy’s church ended with the song Just As I am. These words accurately convey the gospel invitation that Jesus wants us just as we are.

The 5th verse says:

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Its old words use to get in my way, the Thee’s and Thou’s, but the meaning was always clear. I’m coming with all my baggage because I believe the promise of God. The Promise that he sent his son into this world to save us, to receive, welcome, pardon, cleanse and relieve us from our sin.

It was a song sung as an invitation. As daddy stood behind the pulpit leading this song inviting people to come forward to the altar or to pray in their seats but come to Jesus. Just as you are.

Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

faith Music Salvation Army The Church

Some songs are as sacred as scripture to me. I know they are inspired by the Spirit of God. Does it matter to God what brings us closer to him? Does it matter if it’s music or poetry or nature that helps us understand his love for us? Words find their way into my soul combining with the music allowing me to make an offering to God more than I could on my own.

music

record albums

Switchfoot is a band whose combination of sound and lyrics infuse me with energy. I sing along in my car, beat the rhythm on my steering wheel. I close my eyes while the quieter melody plays through my earbuds allowing the mood to wash over me.

There are many of their songs I could choose. There are other bands whose words and rhythms capture me. I go back a long way with music, from the children’s choruses sung in Sunday School that taught me Jesus Loves Me and that he loves all the children of the world, through the decades of the 70’s with FM radio and my first record player.

In this month of practicing self-care and mindfulness, I’m sharing these words with Lesley for her write31days series on music. Click here to read more.

 

faith family

Our fingers tap impatiently on the steering wheel, waiting for the light to turn green. We rush through our to-do list as though we’re competing against an unknown and unseen opponent. The first one to finish wins…..what?

Phil Laeger
Phil Laeger, image ©Debby Hudson

His fingers move masterfully over the ivory keys. He reads the notes, feels them in his being and it shows as his body leans with the movement of the music. They fly across the eighth and sixteenth notes and hold the sustained chords and then, perhaps the most dramatic of pauses in music, they rest.

1, 2, 3, 4 play

Even music knows to rest.

rest notes
image from Unsplash

The rest symbols are clearly printed in the music. Each have an assigned value as do the notes played. They are equal in importance and one enhances the other. What would music be without that crescendo or the cymbal crash? What would the Star Spangled Banner be without the part the piccolo plays? The tiny instrument often overshadowed by the volume of the others, yet it shines in it’s few measures of spotlight.

The signs for rest are clear in music. Perhaps they are as clearly marked in life but we choose to ignore or dismiss. The stress headaches we play off as allergies or the fatigue that we are sure is caused by hot summer days.

We are doers and goers but we are woefully poor as resters. We’ve assigned it to the category of laziness and surely there is a commandment that says ‘Thou shall not be lazy.” It’s un-American!

I use to think rest meant napping but I’m not a napper. I’ve learned that, for me, rest is recharging.

It’s reading a book on the patio in the early evening.
It’s writing.
It’s catching up with a long distance friend.
It’s painting.

In music, the rest is a pause. It accentuates the rhythm of the piece  giving it fullness. Rest makes it whole. It’s like that in life too.

Rest makes it whole.

Linking up with Kate Motaung for a free-writing prompt called Five-Minute Friday.

Five-Minute Friday

I want to retreat. To hide out from people, people I know, and just pretend I have this normal life where I’m a housewife (I was good at that role) and I can tidy up things that are a bit in need and cook a healthy dinner for us and maybe pay attention to the art class I’ve had to ignore due to schedule or do something else creative, but solitary.

IMG_1161

I’d rather do that than prepare for this conference (that I love you know) and spend 2 1/2 days of go-see-do-sleep repeat. I’d rather ponder quiet thoughts and put fingers to the keys than wait for Ruth to die not knowing when, again, we’ll pack a bag and take a journey that feels so unnecessary and too much.

I am feeling selfish and needy and I just want to take a nap. And I don’t nap! Yeah, that’s where I am.

It will pass. It always does. Some caffeine and a game day face and I’ll benefit from the need to carry on.

But….this feels more. A little. This time. I think it’s death. I think it’s the waiting and the life that won’t wait. I plan. I need plans. But life, and death, have plans of their own leaving me to choose my response.

The game day face hasn’t worked too well today and I’m afraid people have seen more of the real me than they ever should. I could feel it in my walk, fast paced with purpose. My words clipped and the anxiety crawling across my shoulders.

IMG_6808

We are using the chapel this Sunday. Period. There are chairs in it and the piano was put in today and will be tuned by the end of the week. We will be in there Sunday because I need to be there where we all sit together and I am not apart from them. Dorothy needs a piano to play and not the junk she’s be struggling with to get a melody played.

We don’t know how to use the new audio/visual system and the installers have made no attempts to train us. A call today informed us the techs are installing a system for someone – IN THE BAHAMAS! No matter. We can go low-tech. We have chairs, we have a piano and we have the Word.

Henry and I were trying to see what we could figure out on our own and as he was trying to get audio I was crouched on the small platform, bowed over when I knew I had to stop. Stop fussing, stop rushing and release, again, it to God’s control. To His purpose. Again. And in those few moments I knew it will be okay. If I step out of God’s way, if calm down and let Him be, He will.

IMG_6822

He will care for my mother-in-law in her dying moments as He’s cared for her all these years.

He will care for our family as we sort out the details and make room in our lives for another loss that will mean eternal joy.

He will tend to audio and air conditioning and time limits.

He will be thanked for his graciousness toward me when I don’t deserve it.

He will surprise me with his truth in a new way and I will praise His name.

He will get me through today and that’s all I have.

faith

They weren’t pews but not chairs either. Some kind of wooden folding seats with two hooked together. Were it not for a photo of my 5-year old self sitting next to little brother  I’d not remember what we sat in that makeshift chapel in the early 60’s in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

The building had seen other uses and been condemned is how the story was told. It became the first Salvation Army outpost in that small town south of Little Rock. A chapel that wasn’t a chapel but I remember Sunday nights in that small building. Sunday nights were different because the songs were faster and there was a lot of clapping. It was the old hymns and the people loved singing them. It seemed every week we sang “I’ve got a mansion, just over the hilltop…”

In concert with Phil Laeger

In concert with Phil Laeger

The platform was cleared for the grand piano to take center stage. This chapel, large, light-filled, padded pews. A departure this week, a joining with the congregation down the street, graciously hosting our guest and allowing more room than our little place.

In concert with Phil Laeger

This week, fingers commanding every key, a voice that is more like a heart singing and we’ve come together expecting more. This is why we gather. This is why the Word tells us not to neglect the coming together as a community.

A voice behind me sings out, not a note in key, but their heart was full of joy and I know his voice was like an angel as it reached its intended destination. I looked at faces and many looked absent in some way and I have no idea how this was possible except to know how many times I am absent in this moment. Focused on the mechanics and time more than being open to a moving from God.

In concert with Phil Laeger

Something about that singing when I was a little girl stayed with me. In a condemned funeral home, songs of praise and promise rang out from feeble voices and proclaimed life. It wasn’t the skill but the hearts because I knew they were singing with whole hearts.

In concert with Phil Laeger

In concert with Phil Laeger

A row of little ones were behind me. I am the older one now. They don’t know the songs, aren’t old enough to read the words projected on the screen but paged through the books as if they could. Just listen, dear children. Just listen to the hearts around you. Hear the ones singing with their hearts because this is the music of love.

faith Salvation Army

IMG_5002

We were in church Sunday, not the service we lead but another. The music team was leading songs and this one I’d not heard but immediately couldn’t sing the words. Not from my heart.

“It’s so easy to love  you, It’s so easy to love you, It’s so easy to love you”

Yes, we were singing to God, yes to the God who I know as love but He is love, not me. Not always and there have been times and will be times it is not easy to love Him.

It’s not the song writer, whoever that may be. Bless them if they’ve come to that point in their life where it is easy but I have squirmed and fought and withheld my love. Asked “why, God?” and I’m not sure it’s easy to love when I’m asking why. Why did he choose that way to live? Why did she marry him? Why are we moving again? Why am I so stubborn? Why can’t I just love?

An employee is especially warm and friendly and free with hugs and she says “I love you” and I don’t respond as I don’t know her. . I return her hug but the words? No, won’t come out. I want to be done with the fake stuff and it would be fake. She’s a nice person and as I’ve come to know her she is genuine and this is who she is

It’s me again. Taking words too serious perhaps, especially a word like love that we throw around about all kinds of things. I love this picture, I love that shirt, I love your purse. So why isn’t “I love you” easy to say?

We sing another song, “There is no God like Jehovah” and I believe that. Believe there is none greater. I believe he is my all in all and he knows my name and of course, how great is our God? Yes, yes! But Lord, it is not always easy to love you.

Forgive my wandering heart as I withhold from you what you so freely give. When you love me in spite of me, of my doubt, my pride, my impatience, my hurt and yes, my shame. Unlock that dam where the love gets caught and stuck in the mire of self-pity and resentment and let me come to you with love outpouring.

I’m a saint and a sinner

I’m a lover and a fighter

I’m a true believer, with great desire

I’m a preacher of grace, prophet of love, teacher of truth

I’ve fallen down so many times

But here I stand in front of you

Take me as I am

But please don’t leave me that way

‘Cause I know that you can make me better than I am today 

(This is Who I Am, Third Day)

 

faith

I’m not a fan of country music so I’m sure I’ll get this wrong, or offend someone, but wasn’t there an old joke about playing a country song backwards? If you play one backwards you get your wife back, your dog back, etc.? The inference seemed to be country songs are sad. They are about loss. I fear it could seem this blog is often sad and about loss.

I write about life as it surrounds me and it is those times of despair or loneliness or grief that grip me most. Those deep feelings that wrench my heart and twist my faith. I wonder if my posts were ‘played backward’ we’d get those things back?

IMG_9568

 

IMG_9550

 

flowers and trees

There is much sadness in families marked by dementia, divorce, addiction. And there is much joy. Much. JOY.

Perhaps it’s the joy voice I need to work on. But don’t you see it? It’s the voice that is spelled F A I T H. In the midst of sorrow there is faith and that carries joy. A quiet, not always smiling but always thankful, joy.

While mama doesn’t remember me, I remember her and all she has given me and still does: JOY

Another relapse, another one falls to the disease in the community that holds my heart but I turn to see three more who are celebrating two years clean, 10 years, clean, 22 months clean. JOY

A friend going through emotional heartbreak with a child but she is true and she faithful and she loves. JOY

IMG_9348

 

IMG_1826

I said something in the class I teach with the men in recovery and it came out wrong and they laughed like I never heard them laugh and my face was scarlet for an hour (I mean really!) and I’m not sure I can walk in that class again. JOY

My life is filled with joy. I am a happy person because I know I am loved by the only faithful One who can be joy in the midst of all life gives us. Make no mistake, when I share my heartbreak with you, it’s God’s way of soothing my soul and reminding me of His great joy.

 

faith photography recovery

“At my church we sing a gospel song called, “Hallelujah anyway”. Everything’s a mess, and you’re going down the tube financially and gaining weight? Well, hallelujah anyway.” – Anne Lamont

I want to be this person. This hallelujah person who can look in the face of sorrow and frustration and say, ‘hallelujah anyway’.

When trust has been broken and lies told to our face, ‘hallelujah anyway’.

When one goes back into their addiction and we’ve cared about him for so long and called him friend, yes then, ‘hallelujah anyway’.

Bethany Children's Home 2473

DSC_0942_2

When I don’t want to hear one more story or take the time to listen to one who needs listening to, especially then, ‘hallelujah anyway’.

Enough petty frustrations and be gone sorrow for I am the child of God who loves me and enables me to say

HALLELUJAH ANYWAY!

faith Salvation Army