Posted in My life in pictures

063/365 Why I Forgot to Post Yesterday

 November is stacking up to be a month filled with gratitude….literally. It’s going to be a month filled with love, friends, family, food, fun, music, and charity. The day after tomorrow I’ll be rocking my face off at the Needtobreathe show in Gainesville. The next day we travel a little farther north for our dear friend Lindsey’s wedding on 11/11/11 at 11AM.  We’re attending a party for two of the Twitter Kids of Tanzania in town next Tuesday, then Rock by the Sea/Lyrics for Life on th 18th. My sister will be here the 17th thru the 20th, as well as our awesome friends, Jeff and Lindsey (a different Lindsey), and then Epic Thanks kicks off Monday, Nov. 21. That will last 5 glorious days and I can’t wait to see the outpouring of gratitude that week. Oh, and then there’s that little holiday known as Thanksgiving on the 24th. And to finish off the month, I’ll be packing up and leaving for Alabama again on the 27th so I can be with my family for the rescheduled trial date.  And we can’t forget we have basketball and soccer sprinkled all in there, including a game down in Cape Coral, 2 hours away,  on the 19th. Oh, and full-time jobs. Can’t ignore those since they are what allows us to live this life. Whew….anyone else exhausted yet? What’s that saying…..”Idle hands are the devil’s workship?’ Yeah, there’s no room for the devil here.

I was half way to work this morning when I realized I forgot to post my Project365 picture yesterday. I really hate when I forget but I’ve come to realize it’s going to happen and I just need to get over it.  I decided to do this make-up post, not with photographs, but with the two images that always bring a smile to my face. Plus, these two images represent the reasons I didn’t post last night. I was helping out with a project for Rock by the Sea when I had to pause long enough to take a call from our friend Cate, who is organizing a little welcome party next week for some very special guests (see above Twitter Kids reference). She was asking for a little administrative help and we were happy to jump right in. Well….Gil was happy to jump right in. We were tag teaming our two favorite charities last night. While I finished up my project, Gil completed Cate’s request. Can you imagine a more wonderful night? Sitting side by side with the person you love most in the world, using your time and talents to ultimately make someone else’s life better. Our part may be small but that does not mean it doesn’t matter to someone. And that’s why we do this.

Posted in Random Writers

My Greatest Discovery

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.

To read about my fellow Random Writers’ discoveries, please check out thier blogs (Gil, Jeff, Lindsey) or read them all at the Random Writers website.

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Inspired by Music, Post A Day Challenge

How Church Found Me On The Rock Boat

(30 Days of Truth – Day 10 – )

Today’s topic is “Something at which you’ve been a champion or the best”. I have to be honest and say this is totally not what I want to write about today so I’m going to bank this one for another time. What I do want to write about is how I found church on The Rock Boat. No really! I did. I found church on The Rock Boat. Even among the loud music, crazy virgins, booze, chaos and costumes, God whispered in my ear, right there on Rock Boat XI.

When we boarded The Inspiration (kinda ironic huh?) on Thursday afternoon, I had no idea what was in store for me. I expected to see good friends, hear amazing music and eat until I couldn’t breathe. I did all of those things and then some. What I didn’t expect was the crazy amount of new friends we would make, the rediscovery of old music, and my new love of self-serve ice cream cones. There was one more thing I didn’t expect to happen this year and that was to be completely and utterly overwhelmed with the feeling that God was on that boat with me.

I was most excited about this year’s boat because of several bands, but the one I was most looking forward to seeing was Needtobreathe. Gil and I had seen them twice last year and knew what their live shows were like, but nothing prepared me for the combination of The Rock Boat AND Needtobreathe. Every time those boys took to the stage it became a spiritual experience for me. It was a magical combination of rocking my face off and filling my heart with grace. It was impossible to make it through a set without the tears flowing.  And these were no sad tears. These were joyful tears. If you’ve ever shared a moment with God, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It is because of Needtobreathe that I was able to find church on this year’s Rock Boat, or how church found me.

One of the great things about music and lyrics is that it’s always open to interpretation. You and I may hear a song and come away with a completely different feeling of what that song means. Needtobreathe doesn’t promote themselves as a Christian Rock band but their music is most definitely God-inspired. During a special pre-concert meet and greet last year, Gil actually questioned Bo about this. Bo explained that they never set out to be a Christian band. Their father is a pastor so they write about what they know. He said if their father had been a truck driver, they would probably write songs about that. What a blessing for us that their “daddy was a preacher”.

My most memorable Rock Boat XI experience was when the band sang Valley of Tomorrow. All three times. Since the moment I first heard the song Valley of Tomorrow, I’ve known it had special meaning for me. I have no idea what the guys were writing about when they came up with these lyrics but I can tell you that all I see is hope and the need to have faith. The lyrics to this song simply break me down every single time I hear them.  This song is my reassurance that God is never more than a whisper away, that we are never alone. All we have to do is listen and have faith. I can tell you that right there on the Lido Deck and in the Paris Lounge of the Carnival Inspiration, I heard what God was saying to me and it sounded like a scream. I heard it and I won’t second guess it.

I am a troubled mind, I am a calloused heart
A failing engine from driving way too hard
Trying way too hard
I pulled a 38 out of my bleeding heart
I killed my selfishness for bringing me this far
This far away from you

When the daylight breaks through the buildings of Chicago
I will stand alone in the valley of tomorrow

Oh, this is the way I wanna go down
(This is the last time) I’m starting over with you
This is the way I wanna go out

I never second-guessed the little voice I heard
It’s just a whisper, that sounded like a scream
I aint never felt so free

When the daylight breaks through the buildings of Chicago
I will stand alone in the valley of tomorrow

Oh, this is the way I wanna go down
(This is the last time) I’m starting over with you
This is the way I wanna go out
(This is the last time) I’m starting over with you

I never second-guessed the little voice I heard
It’s just a whisper

(This video is NOT a video from The Rock Boat XI but this version of the song is very similar to Needtobreathe’s performance on Saturday night on TRB)

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

A Desirable Point

(30 Days of Truth – Day 5 – Something in life that gives you balance)

There were a few things that came to mind today when I started thinking about what gives me balance. My first thought was God, but that’s was too easy so I kept thinking. I thought of how my time at work balances out the chaos (chaos = good) in the rest of my life, but couldn’t quite find the words to make that work. Then I thought about God again and thought I should be challenging myself, digging deep for these posts. “I’m not writing about God,” I told myself.

I thought about how I love art and crafty things and how it makes me be creative and step outside of my everyday thought processes. But again, the words were just not coming to me. I thought about it some more and again it was God that popped into my head. “Nope, not gonna’ take the easy road.”

My cats. They are important to me. My cats calm me after a crazy work day and love me unconditionally, even when I’m at my worst. Nah, I really don’t want to write about them yet. I’m going to save this tale for another day. I was completely stumped. I had no idea what on earth to write about?

DOH! Yeah, it was that obvious to me, too. I have no idea why I resisted. I think I just wanted this to be harder than it needed to be. I resolved myself to the fact that this topic, this story, was going to be the easiest yet. The one consistent force in my life has always been my faith in God. God has always been my stabilizer. He has been beside me at my best and at my worst.  My faith has carried me through when I had nothing else. God has been with me in some pretty incredible moments, too.

God shared something with me once and it has made me feel pretty darn special ever since. It was a moment that defined the rest of my life. Not only was it the darkest and saddest moment of my life, but it was also the time I witnessed perfect peace. My family had gathered around my father’s hospital bed after a two day vigil. We had watched the life leave his eyes during those two days as he drifted further and further away from us. We joined together around him when we knew he was about to take his last breath, and in that moment, God allowed us to view heaven through my daddy’s eyes. It was a split second that I will never forget. My father awoke from his comatose state, sat up in his bed, arms reaching for someone we couldn’t see, smiled the biggest toothless smile I’ve ever seen, and took his last breath. My father saw what is waiting for us on the other side, and we were able to see it too. I was completely unable to cry again for some time after that because I was so completely blissful. My belief that something beautiful is waiting for me was sealed in stone that day.

Wikipedia defines the metaphysical form of balance as a desirable point between two opposing forces. On the day my father died, God picked me up from my grief and sorrow and put me right smack dab in the middle of contentment. Just as with many other times, God knew the exact spot I needed to be and placed me there, away and protected from any turmoil that may come to find me. My faith in God has been and always will be that desirable point for me.