Posted in NaBloPoMo, NanoPoblano

Wirth a Mention

I attended a class at church today in which we learned different methods for sharing our faith. During one of the exercises we were given a worksheet  with a few questions to help guide us to write our faith story. One question had to do with identifying a person who has helped you to have a relationship with Christ.  My immediate and first answer is my husband, Gil. He is the one constant in my life who pushes me to walk out my faith every day. But, there was another who came in a close second.  It’s my pastor, Paul Wirth. I wrote about Paul back in 2011 for a website called Random Writers .  Even though I wrote this post over 5 years ago, so much of it still holds true, so I thought I would just share it with you tonight.


Random Writers Week 4 Topic: What is the greatest discovery you have ever made? (In honor of Columbus Day this week)

As a child, I attended a small southern Baptist church where a Sunday with 35 people in attendance was a good day. For me, church meant Sunday School, then preaching on Sunday mornings, Sunday night services, and let’s not forget Wednesday night’s prayer meetings. Let’s just say that as a child I attended church a lot but I was never really present. And when I was there, most of the lessons I heard were sermons preached to adults. Even though I heard what the preacher was saying to us, I’m not sure I ever truly understood what it any of it meant. At some point during these sermons, I completely missed the message about having a personal relationship with God.

My greatest discovery has been the discovery of my love affair with God. Yes, I said ‘love affair’. I read a book a few years ago called The Sacred Romance and it changed my life. (I invite you to read a blog I wrote back in January that tells a little more about just how this book affected me.) I took the message from that book and applied it to everything I had learned in that small southern Baptist church. I took those previous teachings and turned them all upside down, shook ‘em up sideways and out spilled this phenomenal new view of what it means to have a relationship with God. And not just what it means but that God is and has been romancing my heart all of my life. He has been fighting for my love and I’ve been too blind to see it.

Besides the book, there are two other things that I found on my path to this incredible discovery. The first was Relevant Church. For years I said that visiting a building once a week would not bring me any closer to God, I knew him and I loved him. It wasn’t until I discovered (through a friend) Relevant that I found out just how incredibly wrong I had been. For the first time in my life, I look forward to Sunday mornings. I crave the message that our pastor, Paul Wirth, is going to deliver. He has never failed me. Maybe I should I say God has never failed to deliver His intended message to me through Paul. Every Sunday is like the biggest Oprah a-ha moment ever. I am more often than not moved to tears by witnessing Paul’s love for God. It is impossible to deny God’s love for us when you watch what He does through Paul.

The final stepping stone on my journey to discovering God’s love for me has been the music of the band Needtobreathe (discovered through Relevant and a friend). I struggle to find words to describe how their music affects me. I’ve never been a fan of Christian music and Needtobreathe doesn’t promote themselves as a Christian band but there is so much spiritual emotion in their lyrics that it’s almost impossible for me not to find God when I listen to them. Here are a few samples of lyrics from a few different songs:

I’m giving you my heart to break again, Oh I’m leaving you a way to get back in, Return to me ~ from the song Return

I want you to know, I’m leaving to let you go, And someday we’ll walk upon, The streets of gold ~ from the song Streets of Gold

If you’re lost and lonely, broken down, bring all of your troubles, and come lay ‘em down ~ from the song Lay ‘Em Down

This new discovery of the old teachings from that small, country church Sunday school classroom has changed my life in unimaginable ways. I’ve always known that God sent His Son to die for my sins but it wasn’t until I witnessed Paul Wirth standing in front of all of us, tears streaming down his face, that I felt it. I truly got it in a way that had never been clear to me before. Today, I sit in church on Sunday mornings and I am more present than I’ve ever been.

I feel that sometimes people think of making discoveries as being something grand and on the scale of a Christopher Columbus type of discovery. Sometimes, a discovery can be as simple as finding new meaning in old ideas.

 

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Posted in 40 Bags in 40 Days, Inspired by Music, Uncategorized

First Love and Transformation

I took a vacation day today so I could go spend some time with my first love. Now, don’t go thinking I was stepping out on Gil today. It was nothing like that. The first love I’m referring to is the first BAND I fell in love with – The Oak Ridge Boys. I think they were the first band, or artist, that made me feel what one is supposed to feel when music touches your soul. You know, that feeling deep down, the one where you know a spark has been lit. And then every single time you hear their music or see them live, the spark just grows brighter. Well, I can tell you that today I’m absolutely beaming.

Even though my first concert was not The Oak Ridge Boys, I do think it was my second and third concert (my first was Marty Robbins and I was very young and have almost no memories of that). I have such fond memories of TORB on Hee Haw, or some music awards show. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, we were lucky to catch our favorite artists on one of the three channels maybe 2 or 3 times a year. But when we did, it was a family affair. For me, The Oak Ridge Boys represent a time of innocence. It was before I discovered boys and rock and roll,  and my dad was the only man in my life.  He loved this group of musicians, and because of his and my mom’s love for them, I loved them too.

As I developed into a teenager, my childhood innocence faded. It was replaced by boys, and booze and even a few drugs along the way. The Oak Ridge Boys were replaced by Iron Maiden, Ozzie Osborne, and Judas Priest. Family time was no longer spent watching silly variety shows. Actually, family time became much less important as time with my friends took priority. What was a simple child who loved God, family, and country music, became a teenager who wanted none of that.

I drifted far away from the things that were important to me, not the least of which was God. It seems that overnight, I went from a child with a dream to become a missionary to a young woman who wanted nothing to do with God or His churches. I’m not even sure what happened, or even when it happened. All I know is that for many years, God was nothing more than an afterthought, much like the music of The Oak Ridge Boys during that time.

IMG_8736Now, fast forward 30-35 years. As much as I love TORB’s county and crossover music, their incredible harmonies when singing the Lord’s praises is what melts me now. During the show today, they all came together on stage and sang Life’s Railway to Heaven, a capella. And it was truly Heaven inspired.  As the Boys beautifully sang these lyrics, my heart opened up and was filled with the knowledge that no matter what path leads us to God, the important thing is that it LEADS us to Him.

Life is like a mountain railroad
With an engineer that’s brave
We must make the run successful
From the cradle to the grave

Watch the curves, the fills, and tunnels
Never falter, never fail
Keep your hand upon the throttle
And your eyes upon the rail

Blessed Savior, Thou will guide us
Till we reach that blissful shore
Where the angels wait to join us
In that great forevermore

As you roll across the trestle,
Spanning Jordon’s swelling tide.
You’ll behold the Union Depot into which your train will glide.
There you’ll meet the superintendent,
God the Father, God the Son.
With a hearty joyous greetings:
“Weary Pilgrims Welcome Home”

The beautiful thing about God is that he extends His grace to the lost and fallen. God loves me as much today as He did when I was a young girl living for Him. What I didn’t know during those dark years was that God was faithfully pursuing me. I was running and turning my back, but He never did. Every sin then and every sin now is forgiven. He is waiting for me with His arms wide open, ready to welcome me home.

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Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2

Today’s 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge was another small success, but a success nonetheless. Because I took the day off work, I was able to get in several hours of quality computer time this morning. I caught up on several blogs and even cleaned out several hundred emails. These are two items on my declutter list that I hope to work on each day, little by little. Even though these non-stuff items don’t get a bag sticker today, I did check two items off my list.  I headed off the the bathroom with the intent to only clean out my medicine cabinet, as task that should have taken me only a few minutes. Because so few items needed to be tossed, I decided to go ahead and tackle my other cabinet of miscellaneous items and my makeup. The result was another stuffed grocery bag in the trash.

Sadly, though, I failed to start YouVersion at the beginning of my task and missed out on about 15 minutes of more bible time. I wasn’t going to let that discourage me though. I came back to the computer and pulled up an unread email from Joyce Meyer’s 3030 Challenge. I read her devotional and several bible passages.  I love the verse above. It speaks to my blog post today, as well as this project I’m working on. I’m changing my mind, my habits, and my life.  God is transforming me and I’m loving it!

Posted in Inspired by Music, My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

298/365 It’s a Listening Room, People!

Clearly, people are either blind, inconsiderate, or just plain stupid. We went to Hideaway Cafe tonight to see the Sarah Mac Band perform. It’s just an incredible venue because it’s small and intimate. And because the people who generally attend these shows are actually there to hear the band or artist perform. Unfortunately, tonight was not one of those nights, and sadly, it took away from our enjoyment of the show. However, Sarah has such a strong voice that even with all the chatter in our ears, I was still moved to tears during several songs.

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Posted in Inspired by Music, My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

293/365 Twice as Nice

Due to some scheduling conflicts, I attended church all alone today, which I rarely do, which I really don’t like to do.  However, I’m really glad I didn’t just skip out because it was a super powerful message AND the band did back to back NEEDTOBREATHE songs. The first was my favorite, Something Beautiful. The second was The Reckoning. This is by far my favorite live NEEDTOBREATHE song, so I was a little nervous when I quickly recognized the first few chords from the band this morning. Our band is amazing and I had no doubt they could kill it, but….nothing in this world can compare to the live performance. Carl and the boys in the band did not disappoint one little bit. There was no drum line, but the heavy thumping of the drums on our little church stage, coupled with the incredible service Paul had just delivered,  was just powerful enough to leave me sobbing in my seat. Of course, that is nothing new as I’m regularly leaving the worship area while wiping the tears away.

I don’t have a photo for you today.Instead, I would love to share an example of what I consider to be one of the greatest live onstage moments (one amateur video captured performance of this song), start watching at about 2:30. However, to get the full effect, I would strongly encourage watching the whole thing.

I know an amateur recording doesn’t completely do the song justice. For your listening pleasure, I’m including a link to the song on Spotify.

NEEDTOBREATHE – The Reckoning

Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

259/365 DaniLani

Gil and I trekked down to Ybor tonight to see one of our favorite band, Son of a Bad Man, perform at Collage Ybor. We also got to see another local band that kinda rocks it – Fight Another Day. I recommend you catch both of these bands when ever you have a chance. I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.

We had been to Collage before and I knew my friend Danielle’s artwork was on display here, but I had forgotten. So, it was a wonderful surprise when it grabbed my attention as I walked by.

Danielle’s art is some of my favorite on this planet. Period. She is able to take a few song lyrics, a canvas and some scrap paper and create a piece of art that evokes emotion at a very personal level. I can’t wait until I have one of these special and personal pieces gracing our walls.

Her name is Danielle Lanier and you can find more of her artwork and information here. If you are looking for a special gift for a friend or even for yourself, you can’t go wrong with one of her custom creations.