Wanting Memories

Seven years ago today, my mom passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Many of you have been there and you know the pain of never getting to say goodbye; it’s been a struggle.

I miss so many things about her that I could fill volumes recounting, but a few things stick out to me:

1. My mom was my biggest hero and encourager. She was the first person to recognize the God was shaping me for music ministry and she did all she could to encourage me to pursue it. Consequently, she was also the first person to recognize that Deanna was the one for me.


2. I miss our Friday phone conversations. Pretty much without fail, we talked and caught up. The Friday before she died, I was moving into our new home here and I almost didn’t take the call because we were moving. I’m so glad I did. It was the last time I spoke with her. I think about that conversation all the time and what I would’ve said to her if I knew it was the last time I’d talk with her on earth.

Over the last seven years, I’ve realized that my greatest comfort has been in rehearsing memories of my life with her in it. I think about them quite often. When my dad and three siblings get together we recount those memories.

A few years ago I ran across this song attached and the first time I heard it I literally was struck by the lyrics and I spent the afternoon weeping because it described how I had been feeling and hurting for so long. I haven’t really shared this song with many and its profound impact on my life until today, the seventh anniversary of her death. It has become my comfort when I’ve been angry and sad. It has reminded me that I am who I am in part because of her. Take a moment and read the lyrics below and listen to the song.

Psalm 30:11 reminds me that God “has turned my mourning into dancing!” I love you, mama and I look forward to seeing you again soon!

“Wanting Memories”

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.

You used to rock me in the cradle of your arms,
You said you’d hold me till the pains of life were gone.
You said you’d comfort me in times like these and now I need you,
Now I need you, and you are gone.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
Since you’ve gone and left me, there’s been so little beauty,
But I know I saw it clearly through your eyes.

Now the world outside is such a cold and bitter place,
Here inside I have few things that will console.
And when I try to hear your voice above the storms of life,
Then I remember all the things that I was told.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.

I think on the things that made me feel so wonderful when I was young.
I think on the things that made me laugh, made me dance, made me sing.
I think on the things that made me grow into a being full of pride.
I think on these things, for they are true.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I thought that you were gone, but now I know you’re with me,
You are the voice that whispers all I need to hear.
I know a please a thank you and a smile will take me far,
I know that I am you and you are me and we are one,
I know that who I am is numbered in each grain of sand,
I know that I’ve been blessed again, and over again.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.

Click here to listen to the song, “Wanting Memories.”

Light in the Darkness for the Confused

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” Psalm 119:105 (ESV)

“For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness…this God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:28, 30 (ESV)

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him, and he will act.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
The steps of a man are established by the Lordwhen he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”
Psalm 37: 3-: 23-24 (ESV)

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14 (ESV).

We’ve all been through dark times. Some reading this are in dark times right now. You know the kind of dark times that aren’t quite depression, but you feel confused and lack clarity or direction. This confused state is often more stressful than periods of your life where you are certain of the cause due to extraneous factors. Maybe you’re grappling with a decision of epic proportions and the answer isn’t clear. Perhaps you want the answer to be one thing so badly that you try to reason with yourself an answer that God hasn’t given you.

One of the things I’ve been learning and re-learning is that while God is faithful, His answers to similar situations you’ve experienced before are not always the same. Let me explain what I mean by asking an age old question, one that is asked throughout the believer’s life: how do I discern the will of God for me in XYZ situation? Obviously there are truths here that will never change such as the faithfulness of God to answer you when you cry out this question. But, what might change is His response to you. Sometimes it’s change a course or direction for your life and sometimes it’s the continue on the path He’s chosen for you. These answers are not always written in the sky, but He does promise to “light the path of darkness.”

Here’s what I know:

  1. Our God is NOT a God of Confusion. It is in His very nature to be all knowing. He cannot be less than perfect. He cannot be less clear; it would dethrone Him from being God. When you are confused, you can be sure it is your flesh (your mind) and the work of the enemy to keep you from following the will of God for your life. If you are looking to make a change in your life, whatever that may be, do not make a change until you are sure the Lord is in it. His word promises that HE IS the LIGHT and He is the one LIGHTS the path that we should walk in.
  2. Our God Orders our Steps. Because he is omniscient He won’t allow those who follow close to Him to fall. When I have something that I’m praying through and worried about, I’m constantly thinking about every angle wondering if I’m following the Lord’s path. But what I need to do, is stay so close to the Lord and His word (His word is a light for our path) that I’ll never have to wonder which way to go. Don’t stray from the path until His lamp moves you to a new location.
  3. Our God is Faithful. Over and over again, the Bible speaks of His faithfulness.  For this we should give thanks over and over again. When I’m confused and discouraged, my natural inclination is to overthink my situation and that just brings more questions and stress. God reminds me to stop immediately and focus on his faithfulness. To give thanks in ALL circumstances. Stop blaming God for hiding His will and focus on who He is. Be patient and be still. Wait for the Lord. Remind yourself of what He’s done, what’s doing now, and how his faithfulness will endure forevermore.

 

 

The Decline of Church Choirs and Lack of Unity

A few months ago I wrote an article about the rise of choral singing in America from a study from Chorus America.  If you missed that blog post, check it out here: Church Choirs Shouldn’t be Declining Because of Lack of Interest. Last week, I ran across another article called 1 in 6 Americans sings in a choir — and they’re healthier for it.
This article cites the same study, but this paragraph stood out to me:

It’s no secret that America’s social fabric is unraveling. Participation in churches and religious institutions is down. Fraternal organizations are shrinking. Marriage rates continue to decline. Voting is up, but volunteering is down. The differences dividing us seem greater than the similarities.

That last line stuck out to me. Our differences are dividing us and churches are not immune. In fact the enemy has targeted the bride of Christ, who loves nothing more than to create division. This division is contrary to the admonition of Scripture. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesian church urges [us] to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV). 

I’m suggesting that our churches have a unity problem. The decline in church attendance is doubtless linked to the decline of church choir mentioned in this study. The decline of the church choir has removed one of the most visible models of unity on display in our local churches. Week in and out, vibrant church choirs demonstrate unity in worship leadership. Further, when we get rid of graded choirs, we don’t have the opportunity to start this “discipleship of unity” early in the spiritual formation of the students. Sadly, I believe many of displaced church choir members are the reason community choirs are on the rise.

Any choral group, by design, must strive for unity in various ways. While striving for unity, our individuality must take a backseat for the good of the whole. Here’s a quick list of some areas where choirs must be unified:

  1. Vowels, articulation, rhythm, consonants, breathing, phrasing, dynamics, etc.
  2. Often, but not always, dress. Concert dress or robes often hide the individuality of each person for a unified look.
  3. Blend vocally. I included this as a separate number because listening and blending is crucial to choral tone.  In choral singing we must give up our solo tendencies to achieve unity and balance.
  4. Preferences in music or in other facets of choir ministry. Often we don’t always sing everything that we personally like. That’s okay, the person sitting next to you might love what you hate. That’s the beauty of mutual submission—loving one another more than yourself.

The list could go on, but consider this, I learned more about serving others and working together toward a goal in a choral setting than any other facet of the local church. I believe the task of moving many people toward a unified goal will result in greater effectiveness for the Kingdom.

 

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