Soul Food

Last weekend was great. We went to the All Sons and Daughters concert Friday night.

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Joey was helping sponsor their stay in Norman, so he got to eat meals with them, hang out at a local recording studio, and get a preview of their next album. The band members are quality people. Kind, humble, seeking the Lord, and fantastically talented musicians. Joey and I haven’t worshiped beside each other in a very long time (he’s usually on stage at church).

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It was good for our souls and our marriage.

The lyrics that affected me most:

I could hold on. I could hold on to who I am and never let You change me from the inside.

And I could be safe. I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home;

Never let these walls down.

But you have called me higher. You have called me deeper;

And I will go where you will lead me Lord.

It’s so much easier to be safe and unchanged by the Lord’s refinement…but He’s called me higher.

This year, All Sons and Daughters are supporting a global food ministry called Feed One. It’s based on Mother Teresa’s wisdom: “If you can’t feed one hundred, then just feed one.” The ministry ships and delivers food to hungry children all over the world. Only $10/child per month. I said in my previous post that I was looking for more ways to give. Well, here’s one. Joey and I are thankful to be able to provide food for two kids/month. Hope you’ll join us!

Saturday night, Joey played a set at a local coffee shop.

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He did this often in grad school, but hasn’t performed for friends or coffee-sippers in several years. It was so good for me to watch him have fun playing music.

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He is such a humble, gifted musician. There was a great showing (thanks to all who came to support!), he played mostly originals, Jay played the banjo with him for a couple songs,

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and there were well-deserved “encores” at the end. I’m so proud.

I fell asleep Saturday night feeling dehydrated. I gulped down the water on my nightstand around midnight and dreamt of clear mountain streams and buckets of cool water all night long. Pregnancy calf cramps reminded me of my need for more liquid, but I couldn’t bring myself to heave out of bed, so I remained parched; lips cracking. Upon waking, I plodded down the hallway to the kitchen to fill a glass of water from the fridge. Ahhh. It’s that easy for me. I’m thirsty, so I go down the hall. I thought of those children around the world who go to bed thirsty or hungry…and feel the pangs of discomfort for days; weeks. So unjust.

Paisley and I had our first shower this weekend.

Bump

Bump

It was hosted by a few of my clients and co-workers.

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Baby carriage deviled eggs!

Baby carriage deviled eggs!

I am so blessed to have such smart, strong, beautiful women in my life. Cassie made one of her fabulous cakes–strawberry and cream cheese. Unreal.

Divinity by Cassie Cakes

Divinity by Cassie Cakes

I’m grateful today for raw, worshipful music. Joey.

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Baby showers. A duallie BOB stroller, and the women who made it possible. Clean water. And food in our bellies. Amen.

 

 

A New Song

We had such a fantastic time with family last week. Now that my parents are closer, we got to visit them for two days and spend Thanksgiving with Joey’s family for three days.

Joey, Chad (my brother), my grandparents and I had a great conversation on Tuesday evening about worship style–what we prefer and don’t prefer to sing on Sunday morning. It was so interesting to hear their perspective. I honor their perspective because I honor them. Loud music doesn’t seem reverent to them and they like the tradition of the “old hymns.” Us “young people” love hymns too. Seriously. I think they have the best lyrics. I just prefer not to sing all five stanzas from a hymnal. Maybe that’s because I’m not a good sight-reader, so I spend more time trying to figure out the next note than actually internalizing the words.

Gram and Gramps said they don’t like the repetition of contemporary Christian music. Eww. Joey, Chad and I wholeheartedly agreed. Singing the same phrase over and over again doesn’t seem very creative or artistic. And music–whether secular or religious–is art.

Chad made a good point: we should sing something new and fresh. Old hymns in a new way. Or a new thought about God put to music. If the Holy Spirit is living and breathing, then its changing and adapting like all living things. Not in an indecisive way, but it bends and flexes with culture. The piano was once seen as the instrument of the devil–a symbol of drunken saloon music. Now the piano is sacred in churches.

Papa Terry made Finn the coolest table for Christmas...so he can play in his wheelchair. A new perspective Finn will love!

Papa Terry made Finn the coolest table for Christmas so he can play in his wheelchair. A new perspective Finn will love!

Don’t give the Lord your same-old-same-old…because that doesn’t take much effort. It’s easy to worship Him with what’s familiar. Write Him a new thought in your journal. Pray a new prayer. Maybe rid your language of Christian cliches–the ones you’re not sure what they mean anyway.

Sing a new song to the Lord;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to Yahweh, praise His name;
proclaim His salvation from day to day. (Psalm 96: 1,2 HCSV)

Sing Him something new. Try something young and hip. Or try a hymn. Find its beauty. Uncover a new Christian artist; one that’s creative and genuine. Give the Lord something fresh and let Him breathe His life into it.

Love these musical boys.

Love these musical boys.

Praying for new life in my family, my relationships, my career and my church this week. Join me!

Step Out

I’m a crier in church. If you sit behind me or beside me, you’ll see me wiping tears throughout worship. I’m okay; my heart is just really sensitive during church. I think I asked God once to soften my heart toward Him…I used to be pretty cynical about the institution of church and the hypocritical, flawed people who attend it (like myself). Well, He softened me; leaving me sobbing in the pews.

This morning we sang Oceans, a Hillsong tune that Jane introduced me to. (Kaitlin, you sounded beautiful!) I connect with this song deep in my gut. I’m Peter and Christ is asking me to step out on the waters, “the great unknown where feet may fail.” To get out of the comfort of my boat and trust Him in the impossibilities of life. I love this passage in Scripture:

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14: 29-31). 

Peter, eyes fixed on Jesus, did the impossible. His feet coasted above the waves. He was the protagonist in one of the world’s most bizarre miracles. But when he “saw the wind,” noticed the danger around him and entertained fear, he began to sink.

I was sinking this Saturday. Eyes were NOT on Jesus. I was a brat, really. Joey even said I was mean. I was whiny and having a one-woman pity party that no one in their right mind would want to attend. I was mad that Finn’s disabled. Mad that my recently drilled tooth was hurting. Annoyed with the noise in my home. Feeling insecure. Jealous of kids who can jump and play. It was miserable.

Finn's first OU game

Finn’s first OU game

Joey and his saint-of-a-father installed new doors in our home this weekend! Hooray! photo 1I was sitting on the carpet Indian-style, slathering ivory paint over the primed door panels late Saturday night, and I just decided to stop being a child. photo 2

My complaining turned to thanksgiving, eucharisteo, and I thanked God for all the good things in my life…the OVERFLOW of blessings.

My eyes shifted back up to Jesus, His arms reaching toward me, calling me forward into His miracle. The impossible. Forget the waves, forget the fear. Focus on Him. This morning’s song nailed it home:

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I want to go “deeper”…step out of the delusion of my “safety boat” and experience all Jesus promises to offer. It’s hard for me, and I cry and pout about it, but it’s what life abundant is all about.

Jesus Paid It All

We sang my very favorite hymn this morning in church. My eyes well with tears and my stomach quivers every time these lyrics pass my tongue. I feel the Spirit thick around and within me, and I’m compelled to respond.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.photo

So, here’s the truth: Jesus has redeemed my life. There’s no other way to explain it. I was crimson and lost and He found me and washed me white. All life’s questions–why I’m here, what’s my purpose, why so much bad, why should I be good, who am I–are answered in Him. I don’t really even understand it and sometimes Scripture sounds crazy to me. But I believe He is all I need.

Humans are relational by nature. We commune, we marry, we procreate, we communicate. Humans need other humans to be healthy. So it makes sense, then, that we have a relational Creator. One who is Three. One who loved His perfect Son, but released Him to the earth to show us imperfect humans how to live and how to die.

He paid it all for me. And for you.

Guilt. Shame. Fear. Greed. Lust. Pain. Neglect. Anger. Frustration. Wrong Motives. Lies. Envy. Death.

This morning I almost audibly heard the Savior speaking to me as a “child of weakness.” I haven’t felt very strong lately. In fact, I’ve felt fragile.

So I should “watch and pray.” Sounds so simple. Watch for His everyday miracles, watch the skies transform above me, watch for His blessings, watch my tongue. And pray. Continually.

“Find in Me thine all in all.” Fullness and richness of life is found in Jesus. Not in Finn or Joey, my career, a self-help book, my friends or myself. All of me and all I do is found in Him. Because He paid it all.

Beautiful Things

At some point in April we plant seeds. Onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro (can you tell we like to make homemade salsa?!), basil, zucchini, brussel sprouts, broccoli, lemon verbena, mini snacking peppers, green beans…photo-4

And the following day Jersey jumps the garden fence and digs, scattering the seeds in the northeast corner. Every year.

And then sometime in May once we’ve had plenty of showers and tornado sirens, followed by plenty of sun-shining days, little plants peek up from the soil like submarines. First come the green beans. Then the zucchini. Peppers are always last.photo

Despite the hail storms, the days/weeks we forgot to water, Jersey’s destructive paws, amateur homemade compost, Oklahoma heat, lack of fertilizer, and general inattentiveness from me;

Something good always grows.photo-3

I’m crazy about the song, Beautiful Things, by Gungor.

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

photo-2I think about how my life is so much like our garden.

Despite my carelessness, I have too many blessings to count. My life often lacks the meticulous pruning that so often produces healthy buds and luscious fruit.

Yet something good always grows.

Spina Bifida feels a bit like chaos sometimes. Like the monster that crept under my son’s bed and stayed there. I’m often surprised that anything good can come of this menace.

But something good always grows.

Encouragement from a local news story about a three year old wheelchair racer, our therapist declaring that Finn is “so incredibly smart,” an SB cover story on a friend’s running magazine, watching a disabled friend ride his hand-cycle around the block.photo-5

Something good always grows. Even from our often neglected garden, the birth defect that crippled my son, and the dust of my life. Something beautiful.

Out of These Ashes

photo-200Isaiah 61:3

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.

I’ve always connected with this verse for many reasons–one of them very selfish–I find my name within its text. Ashes. The idea that God offers me beauty  instead of ashes (myself) makes me smile. Sometimes I don’t feel so beautiful, inside or out. Tuesday morning I woke up ugly…I was mad that Finn got up before 6:00am for the third week in a row. Mad at Jersey for flapping her ears too loudly. Mad at the toast for being too dry. Mad that my son has Spina Bifida. Mad that he has to wear AFO’s and that his Tiny Tom’s don’t fit over them. Mad at my dashboard for being too frosty and mad at every car in front of me that was going too slowly. I was exhausted and couldn’t, for the life of me, find beauty in my day. Only ashes.

After a too-short lunch break, I was heading back to work to train three more clients and teach a class. Zero energy or creativity left to give. As I was pulling into the parking lot, Shawn McDonald’s Rise song rang out through my speakers. I turned it up and sang along.

Yes I will rise, out of these ashes; rise.

From this trouble I have found and this rubble on the ground; I will rise.

Cause He who is in me is greater than I will ever be, and I will rise.

I so needed this little reminder that it is HE who makes me beautiful. He sweeps the ashes from my heart and provides “festive praise” instead of the despair I so often feel inside.

Where You Shine

photo-198All Sons and Daughters performed a concert at our church this evening. They are this hipster man and woman team, Leslie and David, accompanied tonight by a talented cellist named Cara with cool bangs. David plays the piano and sings with a smooth, raspy voice. Leslie strums the guitar with grace and groove, and the purity of her voice is so easy to listen to. It reflects her beautiful heart. Joey orchestrated the concert, and it was so fun to see it all come together. Finn and I were deemed cool enough to join them all for lunch at Victoria’s. Fun people. Yummy food. If you’re not familiar with their music, I suggest listening to their album, The Longing.photo-199

As I was sitting at a stop light on Main St. after lunch, Finn babbling in his car seat, I watched a blind woman walk down the sidewalk with only her white stick to guide her. I was amazed at how brave she was to walk completely in the dark, trusting the touch of her stick to keep her away from passing cars and dog poop. I was in awe. I thought about how sometimes I think I’m in the dark. Like how it’s difficult to trust the unknown future, to step forward in uncertainty. I wish I had her kind of bravery.

This scenario fit well with one of my fav songs by All Sons and Daughters, “Oh How I Need You”:

Light glorious light
I will go where You shine
Break the dawn , crack the skies
Make the wave right before me
In Your light I will find
All I need, all I need is Youphoto-197