Get it Together

Been pondering what I wanted to say today to honor 9/11, knowing this day in history rightly deserves something. In reading dear friends’ words and tossing around thoughts of my own, all I keep landing on is how much this time is in contrast to then. Those were scary times. Hard times indeed. And I won’t pretend sin wasn’t rife in our nation then. Yet, there was also such a period of solidarity that sprang up out of tragedy that unfortunately faded far too quickly and hasn’t been seen since




Was it really so long ago

Devastation rolled across our screens?

Did the skies really tear open and explode?

Did the buildings crumble ?


Did our high hopes tumble

As city streets began to fill with  screams?

Has it really been that many years

Since we met the challenge with prayerful tears?

Has it all faded from memory

The way we united on bended knee

And shared in the burdens and the fears?

I am loathe to think we have forgotten.

Yet, I must acknowledge the pledge

To stand hand in hand has gone rotten.

Did I know this would happen?

With a twinge, I have to admit I saw it somewhere down the road.

I cringe at the way humanity

Slips away so casually,

Our ardor toward our Lord grown so quickly cold!

Oh, Father, that remembrance would stir!

Oh, that useless rants would cease

And peace in Christ would be allowed to occur!

Oh, I know our downfalls,God.

Yet, I also know You can lift us beyond.

Though we too often neglect to

Do as we ought,

Guide us yet to Your truth

And teach us again to forsake You not.

Oh, disentangle us from this tether of sin,
And help us to come together again!

Watch “”Cheap Birds” ~Apologetix” on YouTube

Ok. Bring on another song!

If the last needed a few words, this one could use…well, a few paragraphs. 😏

First things first:

I discovered Apologetix in what feels like another lifetime.

I was riding home on the long country road that connected my first husband’s college to our little apartment.

We had the radio tuned in to WayFM. They played the more “rock and roll” side to Christian Contemporary, something very appealing to my ears in those days (And still can be depending on my mood. πŸ˜‰).

All of a sudden, there was what sounded like Simon and Garfunkel.

Now, I love me some folk music, but “The Sounds of Silence”, beautiful song that it is, was not the standard fare of this station.

I puzzled for a moment at this turn of events, then, began to listen a little closer:

And I realized-they were singing about the ministry of Paul and Silas!

Not the sounds of silence.

Huh?

For it was done with all the same purity and solemness of tone, with all the same pretty guitar work backing them up.

But, but the lyrics were all turned to sharing a Biblical story!

Cool! Like Weird Al with a Christian message! 😁

Who were these people?!

I simply had to know. I listened eagerly to the end and heard the DJ refer to “Apologetix” with an “X”.

I did my research thing, which, in those days, still involved a brick and mortar store.

I found a couple of CDS and snapped them up, quickly discovering these guys were not one song ponies.

Anything from classic rock to Eminem they could do quite handily.

The lead singer, J. Jackson, seemed to have an elastic voice that could stretch itself to any genre you could think of.

The band members could recreate whatever intricate guitar, keyboard work, and what have you.

But, best and most important, was the mission to share Christ, to pull out the incredible stories found in the Word of God through these highly unusual means.

Over the years, they have continued to produce one awesome album after the next, full of Biblical truth, humor, and tunes that opened all sorts of chances to witness.

And all with such humbleness and honor to the Christ that redeemed them.

I was ever in awe and wishing I could meet these guys, but never getting around to writing them or anything like that.

I was just a little shy about it, as is my way. 😏

And, then, over time, I discovered J. has an autistic child close to my oldest boy’s age.

And, so, being such a fan and finding that really interesting connection, I finally got the gumption and wrote an email.

That became the first of many as we swapped parenting stories and encouragement in the faith, the hardships of trusting God for provision when things get tight and the way He keeps taking care of us all the while.

And, then, about three years ago, he invited us for the opportunity of a lifetime-a chance to be guests at Apologetix’ 25th Anniversary concert.

My kids, especially my oldest boy, are even bigger fans than me-if that is possible! πŸ˜‰

Needless to say, we were thrilled to accept and over the moon to finally meet J., the band, and their families and shake hands, express our gratitude for all their music ministry has meant to us.

And they are still busy at it-coming up with songs, ministering to folks all over the world. I will leave the website link at the bottom of the page for any interested.

What they do may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I understand, but it sure has opened doors to drawing others to Christ! πŸ™‚

So…onto the song…finally.

If I couldn’t decide last week about what Rich Mullins song to share, Apologetix is even more the challenge to pinpoint one definitive tune.

So many amazing ones and they are producing more all the time! I can’t explain how they do it except to say “but God”…

However, this one, Cheap Birds, based on “Freebird” by Lynard Skynard, has meant so very much to me as one struggling for a sense of worth, as the message pertains to how much we mean to the Lord.

I chose a video that posts the lyrics so you can see just how profound they are.

I suggest watching as well as listening since it sounds so spot on with the original you might miss the message listening only. I hope it blesses you as it does me.

Thanks for reading and sharing ! Much love and many prayers, dear friends!❀

And the Apologetix website for your perusal:

http://apologetix.com/

My Storymaker

Just some pontificating on my unfortunate tendency to attempt control over my little world, as framed through a writer’s perspective. Ironically, I wrestled a fair bit with pinning down the phrases for this one. Kept getting lost in the words. πŸ™‚

My Storymaker

Ah, my life-it often feels a long series,

One stumbly chapter to the next,

Where emotion both swells and

Wearies.

And the writer in me queries-

How best to play out a story

So complex?

Well, as I amass the content of my

Days

And lay them all upon my lap,

I fall quite handily into my own

Control freakish ways

And never quite see the trap. 😏

For, in the desire to possess said

Control,

I must confess

It’s largely about this for which I am

Equal parts cursed and blessed:

Words. Glorious words.

How I love to weave them-

From the poignant to the absurd.

Words! Glorious words to aspire

Toward,

Thereby propelling

Forward my intricate plans,

Thoughts of relinquishing authorship

Rarely occuring, compelling in me

The stress of trying to arrange things

Strand by painstaking strand. 😏

And so, I pick up the narrator’s pen

With relish,

Ready to begin, to tweak and to

Embellish.

Fresh page flipped open…

How shall I tell my tale?

How shall my life’s lines today

Unveil?

I sometimes think I know.

So I go to scribble down thoughts’

Shape

And only then do I note the troubles

That set in to grow…

Panic thumps my heart then,

As players and conversations away

From my hands spin.

Events take course in a direction

Wholly unintended.

And I feel all the worse for it-

Baffled, bereft, unfriended.

So…I attempt to crumple the errant

Papers of my existence,

Too spent to begin again with any

True sense.

Ah, but then comes the hand of my

Creator

To still my agitated own.

“Let Me, ” whispers the voice of He

Who is greater,

Smoothing out my wadded up life and

Reminding me I am not tinkering

Alone.

For, He is to be my Storymaker,

He points out with a Father’s

Smiling tenderness,

Lovingly showing me where I have

Gone remiss.

With kind shepherd’s crook

He causes me to pause and look

At what He has written for me,

Chastening me, yes, but oh-so-gently,

And hastening me to His side,

The very best narrative there could

Be!

And so I surrender my pen, my

Beloved control

And leave the wordcraft of my soul

Wholly over to Him…

It’s difficult many times, but may we indeed surrender control of the stories of our lives over to the Lord, knowing He has the very best in mind for each of us. Thanks for reading, dear friends! Much love, many blessings and prayers! ❀

Watch “Calling Out Your Name – Rich Mullins” on YouTube

Ok. I decided. These are fun. I love music. Can’t play a lick and only sing a little, but, oh, I know what I like. πŸ™‚

And, in addition, I discover that I really like to share.

So…I will try to do these maybe weekly…ish. I have no schedule on here and do better without one, frankly, despite my need for an ordered world elsewhere, but we shall see. 😁

I have a lot of songs I am eager to share!

And this particular one begs a few paragraphs to introduce…

I first discovered Rich Mullins in high school.

Immediately, I was captivated. His honest, heartfelt voice, combined with his incredible gift for painting word imagery and ability to play a variety of instruments as effortlessly as many of us breathe had me in awe.

And oh, the songs! Each one cutting me to the quick, challenging my faith, causing me to pause in my day to soak in the truth of God.

Then, of course, as I always do with those I am drawn to, I had to know more of the man.

In reading his philosophy for life, how I longed to be able to similarly shed the trappings and give my all to others as he did throughout his career.

His mission through The Kids of St. Frank, his willingness to kick off his shoes and humble himself, his determination to live the antithesis of a successful musician…just…wow.

My grief in his passing from this earth was profound, needless to say.

Yet, his demeanor showed readiness at any time. He knew where he was going. He wasn’t worried. So, I owed it to him to rejoice in my sorrow.

For what a legacy!

I wanted that. Want it still.

Life may’ve given me a different mission and different things to care for, but I pray the essence of selflessness and assurance in my Savior can be the same.

In sitting down to determine which of his plethora of amazing works to share, I was honestly very, very torn.

I love them all. How do I ever choose?

Ah, me!

But, I knew it should be one to feature his beautiful hammer dulcimer that so captured my attention early on and one whose poetry was most inspiring.

So, I came to this one, Calling Out Your Name, which may be a bit prejudiced by the fact he mentions my home state of Kansas, where I am proud to say he spent some time studying and I once helped babysit his dog a little while through quite a chain of events. πŸ™‚

Not to mention it just seems to suit the current weather patterns around here. 😏

At any rate, may it encourage you that God is still God. The creator of all the universe and everything in it is yet on His throne, yet speaking, yet reaching out to us in everything around us. Give it a listen and be blessed, friends. Much love and many prayers. ❀

Dying to Self

Something that popped in my head after our sermon today. Our fill-in preacher is doing a great job of carrying on the challenge Pastor Don set to deny ourselves and live for Christ.

Warning: A fair bit of sarcasm begins this. It just kind of poured out of me. πŸ™‚

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.-Matt. 16:24.

Dying to Self

Jesus loves me,

This I know.

And so, He’s going to buy me a pony,

White as driven snow. 😏

I am His special chosen flower;

What some church meanies still call “wrong”

He has “progressed” to permission for

And grants me full favor every hour.

Every day is to be filled in a flash

With rainbows, sunshine, and steady cash,

Cotton candy clouds

And everything dandy allowed…

A life of pure ease

And all because He sees

How much I truly want and need

To be happy in these things…πŸ˜‡

Ahem… Poppycock to the extreme. πŸ™„

Oh, yes, Jesus loves us and this we do know.

But the Bible never says

Problem-free existence in this time

Will be so!

Sin remains sin no matter the face put

Upon it.

The pieces you’re attempting to insert

Simply do not fit.

We need a savior’s love-so true.

But do not then cheapen His

Sacrificial love

To suit you!

Grace abounds, yes,

In the precious blood shed

For you and me.

But Christianity has never meant Jesus

Is ushering in an approval to sin,

The proverbial cash cow we lust to

Revel in,

Nor a spinning pinata to whack out a

Load of freebies!

Oh, dear ones, I survey this sickened

Land today

And to my grief and dismay,

I must say-

We ask a lot of Jesus.

Oh, with audacity do we ask from Him!

We wheedle and whine,

And don’t even recognize

Half the time what should be

Our shame and chagrin.

And, then, of course, begs the question-

How much do we give in return, my friend?

Now, this isn’t about works.

We know works can’t save us.

But, the life of a believer should never

Center on the perks!

For setting our hunger to such serves

None but to re-enslave us!

Oh, when will we ever die to self,

Deny ourselves,

Take up the cross and follow Him?

When will it stop being about what we

Wish to gain

And begin to be about the change

He wroughts within?

Ah, a quest to continue, I’m afraid,

Never to be fully achieved in these

Earthsuits in which we

Currently reside.

But, praise God the price has been

Paid!

May we keep placing our hearts in

His hands

And seeking from Him the strength to

Endure and abide!

May we indeed wake up each day with Matthew 16:24 in our hearts, strive to deny self, take up our crosses, and follow Him! Thanks for reading! Blessings and prayers, dear friends! ❀

Unmasking Kindness

Ok. I am about to burst. I just have to do this.

It’s tough to venture to in this current situation, but (deep breath) let me just out with it:

I. Hate. Masks!!!

Ahhh. That is better. Not unlike when you get home from being out in polite society and (carefully) yank off said mask. 😏

Oh, let me reassure you, I am not saying this to be a political activist or a fist-shaking rebel.

Longtime readers know I am not your typical fan-the-political-flames or rebellious sort.

No knee-jerk offerings here. πŸ™‚

For, where I will most unapologetically say as a Christian, I don’t think we should be wallowing in panic, I neither presume to know best on this or just how to sort through the maze of confusing information, conspiracy theory du jours, and what have you.

Because, doggone it, Jim, to flip what Bones always said:

I am a mom. Not a doctor.😏

And, yet, being a mom-a mom of special needs as well as one with her own neurological and physical differences, I just can’t help it.

I hate masks.

For what they do to my children and I physically.

Emotionally.

Socially.

Oh, yes, I know we ought to be above it all for others’ sake.

Kids are resilient (And, in many ways, they actually are. This is not news to me!).

You get “used” to it. They’ll get “used” to it.

It’s for the good of our fellow man.

If you struggle that much, just shut yourself in your home 24/7.

I have heard it all.

Yet, it’s not so simple for some of us and I wish others would acknowledge this without talking it down.

You see, it’s been a rather painful period in our little community.

We are at a dismayingly cold war over this issue.

Between balancing caution and compassion as school begins again.

Frankly, there are no easy choices. I get that.

Firstly, I know this point without a doubt:

Online education cannot replicate everything.

My kids did all right in the spring, praise God, but we all know there are things they love and thrive on that I just cannot provide o solo mio.

Yet, we mustn’t be careless in the process of reopening. I do believe in Godly wisdom. We can’t be wily-nily on this and expect good results.

And, yet…we are all becoming so sharply opinionated around here, we are forgetting what our small town has always shared.

Namely, friendship. Or so I thought from my admittedly, nearly perpetually, introverted distance. πŸ˜”

But, then, maybe, this highlighted to me what is disconcerting to realize is still true- that I really don’t get that word, “friend”.

For, what is a “friend”, really?

I use the term often here and I want to be clear-I genuinely mean it in referring to each of you I interact with.

You are each very dear to me. I have felt your fellowship on an authentically personal level.

Yet, I fear to broach the question, but feel I must for the sake of my honesty-is it easier for me to do here because it’s not in person?

Hmmm…

Probably, to be frank.

The written word is my forte.

In person, I am a gangly-mouthed mess (Add a mask and, boy, howdy!).

Shoot, even the phone is not much better.

I have to practice basic conversation.

Seriously.

It’s rather embarrassing, folks. πŸ™„

Anyway, moving on…

A further thought on this-

We sometimes sing at church, “What a friend we have in Jesus…”.

And I love and believe and embrace that fact in Him.

No doubt there.

And, yet, there is a persistent lack of truly knowing that word “friend” well in my heart or life experience.

So much so that I don’t know that I really know sometimes what it even feels like-in person, anyway.

Whenever everybody was pairing off on the grade school playground, I was off in a corner, gathering sticks or wandering the perimeter, eyes downcast, affecting an unconcern that I most definitely did not feel.

For, those eyes were fixed down out of abject fear.

Fear they’d collide with another’s.

Fear they’d see into my soul.

Fear the pain of that and the sure judgment to follow was just more than I could bear.

I could sometimes bear a swift glance in the vicinity, though it was more likely to be a nose or mouth I was comfortable fixing on.

Especially the mouth. For, there I could at least discern frown or smirk or smile.

I wasn’t always sure if what I saw was genuine, but it was easier to interpret for the most part.

And, now, all these decades, two marriages, four kids, a career, autism acknowledgement and, most importantly a life decision for Christ later, I am still so often that little girl on the perimeter.

Even here in everybody-knows-everybodyville.

Oh, I have found my ways and my niches, facilitated my kids in the same.

Yet, my longing remains both to be a part and yet to steal away.

Of the aching to trust and the anxiety of whether I really can.

So…needless to say, in this current climate of bickering over social distance and masks everywhere you go, I am experiencing a lot of inner turmoil.

There are those whose faces my kids and I cannot read.

Literally.

I love the clear masks and pray more and more have access to them. They are great for more than just those who lip read.

In fact, as soon as I discovered them, I got onboard and bought some.

But, even that boils down largely to choice. And most are still choosing coverings that conceal the vast majority of their face.

The best we can do with most is a fleeting look into the eyes.

And what we see there is often the disapproving and the fearful if my kids or I happen to be having a hard day with the enforced coverings, compliant though we are trying to be.

Then, there are those whose faces are uncovered save their bright red spots of anger that any would be attempting a mask at all.

And neither is good.

Both strive to seem holy.

One the pious do-gooder.

The other filled with “righteous” indignation.

Yet, neither truly trying to understand the other.

Or, for many, remember they are supposed to be family in Christ.

It’s disheartening, always feeling caught in between.

Wanting to see peace between opposing forces.

To do right somehow by all simultaneously.

And still kindly advocate for my dear ones and myself in the process.

Hoping somewhere out there is a friend in the midst of this mess, knowing we mean well, yet also acknowledging what we are daily up against is much more multifaceted than the mere fight against a virus.

I further hope we can unmask kindness, be it in their eyes or the whole face. πŸ™‚

I have no answers here save the knowledge that even if I still struggle at times with the concept of friendship, what a friend we have in Jesus.

And I know He is the friend that is always here to help us bear it all…

Thank you for reading, you whom I also feel I can always call friends! I love and appreciate each of you. So much I know I can request your prayers as I extend my own to you. These are challenging days and I know we are going to need much strength. Blessings to each of you! ❀

Faith for the Ragamuffin

Hello, friends. So far so good for our college boy. πŸ™‚Mommy, however, is experiencing some unrelated kinks. A poem born from the trenches of this last week…

I think today

On the subject of faith.

And I have to wonder…

What have I to offer?

For my faith feels so meager most days, so frail-

Rags from a tattered old bag really.

Full of scraggly tears and gaping holes;

Not near enough to cover my sin-stained soul!

And I have to question-am I merely destined

To fall and to fail?

Oh, but when I know the Lord, friends,

Such queries, sooner or later, prove silly!

For I know His Word says

More than a conqueror I am;

Never forsake or leave me will He.

And to what do I owe this bright victory?

The fact His Son hung upon a tree…

For ragamuffin me.

And it’s sufficient, this infinite love

To stretch faith enough

To cover my weak humanity…

Praise God He covers us! May we embrace that fact as we navigate both the good and the tough days! Thanks for reading, friends! Blessings and prayers! ❀

These Are Big Days

Hello, my friends! It’s been a few again, hasn’t it?

I confess I have had somewhat a lack of inspiration lately-at least for my favorite deep, poetic word-painting.

Sigh.

It’ll return, I know. It always does.

But, just now, my mind is too stuffed to do more than simply unload.

Forgive me. πŸ™‚

A major part of that, I guess, is the busyness that has steadily crept up in my family of late.

These are big days in our corner of the world. Big days indeed.

Beautifully, dauntingly BIG.

For starters, our middle boy turned 16 late last month and the youngest turned 8 the other day.

Our fanfare may’ve been somewhat more limited than usual due to our country’s current circumstances, but both celebrations had their share of joy, pizza, and giant birthday cookie sugar rushes.😊

Now, we are poised for our only daughter’s 8th grade promotion-a tradition in our community that was delayed along with so much else, but, now, allowed to continue as a safe, masked affair. Grateful for creative minds making something important still possible for our kiddos.

And, perhaps the biggest of all, we recently got to have a safe, socially distanced high school graduation for my oldest.

He will be off to college this very weekend, as it’s rather pertinent his engineering studies remain actually hands-on in classroom.

I am certainly feeling the emotions of this poem I shared earlier this year, let me tell you!

We have actually seen shifts in venue, shifts in decisions, shifts in circumstances even since then, but with equal measures nerves and excitement, ready he is to walk through the doors God has opened.

Ready are they all for various launches and changes.

And my husband and I?

Ah, jury’s still out, honestly! πŸ˜‰

Hard to believe so much is happening so swiftly!

My adorable bonus baby born of my second chance is now only two short years from double digits!

My sweet consolation prize autistic beauty is heading for high school!

My middle boy, my astonishingly mature little rock, is two short years from a graduation of his own!

And my eldest-this brilliant, oft-baffling one who started this whole crazy, amazing journey into motherhood in general and on the autism spectrum specifically, is fully adult and preparing to fly. 😒

It takes the breath and any attempt at adequate words, my friends.

I am by turns proud and terrified.

The wheels in my brain roll to this concern and that thrill.

This hope and that fear.

This coming into their owns in this turbulent season alone is enough to set the mind reeling. 😳

At times, it even momentarily paralyzes me with a dozen tasks yet in hand!

But, then, in the midst of that comes the gentle reminder from the Father to place my reliance on Him.

He who wraps us all in His hands.

And I can push forward with that knowledge, then, keeping my step in time with His, trusting that He who began a good work in each of my dear ones will be faithful to complete it…

He can do no less, after all. He’s God. πŸ™‚

And, so He will do the same for us all, friends, when we rest in Him. Thanks for letting me unload a bit about our big days. Blessings and prayers! ❀

Thought I’d share a few photos for a change…

P.S. Something else big- I noted I have made it past the one year mark with this particular blogging effort and have yet to want to close up shop and run. 😊 Believe me when I say that is HUGE for me! Thank you so much for being an integral reason I have had this breakthrough, dear friends! I pray we can continue to have many years of fellowship to come!❀❀❀

Jesus Is Not Your Political Patron

Something in my craw again, friends….

People need Jesus.

They really need Him.

Far more than any political ideology.

Much more than the pontificating of men.

We each seem so determined to snatch Him for our “side”.

“Jesus would do this.”

“Jesus would say that.”

“He would march for this cause.”

“No. He’d be over here, wearing this sort of hat.”

“Jesus is a staunch conservative,” spouts the one with furrowed brow.

“No. Jesus is a compassionate progressive,” passionately argues the other.

“There’s only one way in this political climate today

That He would choose to live!” both in unison now. πŸ™„

Oh. Brother.

Friends, respectfully, I have heard it all.

And I do believe it grieves our Lord when we commandeer His name for

The sake of what we call

Being on the correct team,

Or so we dare lay claim.

Rare is the consult into scripture

For this lofty thought of ourselves.

Even rarer is the consent to mature

Beyond the clamoring ideologues’ bookshelves.

For, if we ventured to study with open hearts

The Gospel of our Savior,

We’d see His agenda was vastly apart

From our bickering, backbiting behavior.

For His purpose and plan

Was never about setting up our political ideal in this time!

Like the Jews of old clamoring for a kingly man

We have somewhere fallen off the line!

“Look, Father, I fought for legislation,”

We say.

“My sole focus is redeeming the loss of my nation.

Are you not proud?”

Oh, I think where that has a bit of merit, my friend,

I further think we’d be shocked at His dismay…

“For, what about souls?” He asks. “I am looking for lost souls.

Share the cross with the hurting ones;

Draw them from the darkness to the Son.

That was, is, and always will be the goal!

Until Jesus returns,

For this task may your hearts burn!”

“Yes, I love a nation that seeks My face,”

He says.

“But, how can they when all that’s shouted

Is how to build its laws to favor?

And none but a paltry syllable about

How to repent and meet my Son, their Savior?

Time is drawing nigh, my children.

In a blink it’ll be too late to warn anymore!

Getting your way in the government never showed anyone their sin!

But, truth spoken in My love

Just might bring them yet to My door!”

Ok. That’s out of my craw…for now. πŸ˜‰In this tumultuous season, may we eschew politics as usual and focus on sharing Christ and Him crucified. Thanks very much for reading! Blessings and Prayers!