How does music connect you?

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This picture is both blurry and off center. I could fix it but, it’s how I was feeling being outside of the moment. It is of a glorious Christmas concert at my church and the music, though muted through the thick sanctuary door separating us, was inviting me in and instead I returned to my office just across the way to finish some work. I did leave my office door open so I could at least hear a sample of the beauty being created. Not many people have the pleasure of being serenaded at work by a 20 piece live orchestra and a full choir!

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about connecting with people, intentionally or subconsciously. We connect all throughout our lives, for better or for worse, as the outcome may be. I’ve written many additional posts but a lot of them are still in the draft stage as the story is not always just my story to be told and so my finger hovers above “publish”, never landing and the blog is stagnant. Tonight however, is different. This is my story, or at least a small piece of it.

My connection through music goes way back and is woven like a tapestry through my life. My mom played her guitar and we sang Christmas songs when I was 3 or 4 years old, living in Orange County. As a small child of 6 or 7 in Africa, I would alter the words of songs I loved and sing the new versions to my older brother, who listened and enjoyed them, or at least pretended to… Queen was one of my favorite bands to do this with and I wish I could remember what I did with Bohemian Rhapsody but perhaps it’s better left in the beauty of my memory. Yet another reason I’m glad I grew up before the full bloom of the smartphone age!

I was in cherub choir in church during elementary school, youth choir in junior and high school, played clarinet for 5 years, played guitar for my youth group, went to a fair number of live shows, classical, and…not. Now I perform in musicals at my church and it’s all been such an important soundtrack to who I am. It’s given me strength when I needed it, comfort when I was at a loss, words to express any emotion I may have been feeling. A sense of community when I was too introverted to participate in any other way.

There is no substitute for live music. It’s not enough to just pop in a cd or shuffle the playlist. Music should be felt and observed in person as it is flowing out of the ones creating it as often as possible! Best case scenario of course is to create it yourself, so sing along to the cd! My faith has grown because of the repetition of songs created using the scriptures! I had no idea how many verses I had memorized through song until I attended a bible college and heard so many familiar lines!

Let’s be clear about one thing, I don’t hold a candle to the professional musicians I had the pleasure of hearing! I know just enough about what they go through to be in awe of their dedication and have a deep appreciation of the commitment to perfect their craft. Today, I was able to attend the concert! Enveloped in the music, in person, up front, close enough to see the Snoopy tie on the pianist! When I heard the clear dissonance in a group of singers rejoicing a cappella, when I saw the passion on the faces of the violinist as he closed his eyes and played, when I observed the body language of the pianist as he so passionately expressed each measure on the keys, I felt a connection.

There was a unity between audience and performer, my children felt it as well. Why do stores pump out old classic songs at Christmas time? The connection of nostalgia, past memories mixing with the present is a powerful emotion. I don’t have a favorite song, it depends on my mood. Am I feeling hyper or melancholy or contemplative? Am I looking for fast beats to work out to or sappy ballads to reminisce with? There’s a song for that! What’s your song? I don’t mean some quiz on Facebook telling you what they think based on your favorite color and how many times you eat your favorite foods. What moves you? How do you use music in your life? If you don’t, (perish the thought) I hope this inspires you to find a soundtrack for your life. Have a warm and happy Christmas, celebrating the birth of our Lord in song.

Pervasive, passionate peace.

13-14Apr2012NatBridgesBeachMarineCenter 020Why is peace so often equated with weakness?  Peace is passionate, powerful and potent!  It can be like the waterfall, it’s effect felt much farther afield than just the downward flow of the water hitting and changing the very form of solid rock, the spray nurtures as far as the wind created by such an undeniably pervasive force can carry it! Underestimated by many, it spreads quietly and slowly, rippling through people like cool water over pebbles in a river.  Anger is weakness and begets violence which too often becomes a raging fire and being aggressive in nature, so announces itself through destruction and leaves a visible smoking trail of disarrayed people wherever it’s been. Peace is tolerable, it can be everywhere and leaves a tangible trail of new growth deep in the heart like a fresh rainfall, pooling and soothing the aching soul with it’s promise of reconciliation. Anger tells memorable tales through words and actions which hurt and scar far deeper than any knife can cut, more permanent too. Peace flows to every open scarred cavity, filling voids and creating hope where anger and violence have left a hopeless path of ruin. Anger empties people of love and community. Peace breeds serenity and cohesiveness, filling people up with new found freedom. Anger says you are trapped and there is no escape. Peace welcomes the chance to rebuild and reconnect. Anger builds upon itself and peace can as well. Their commonalities are in numbers. Anger can swell and change direction and force like the wind shifting a hotspot and multiplying the damage done to acre upon acre. So can peace swell, as people generate comfort and solidarity with each other to quench the savage beast of anger, affecting more and more lives the more people embrace it’s saturating properties. Anger leaves people lonely and spent, even in a crowd. Peace encourages a constant renewal through the gathering of like minded hearts, never losing momentum when kept in focus.

So, when do we learn to squelch the angry fire within before it destroys more than just our lives? When do we learn the far greater extending power of reaching out in peace to extinguish the fires of anger? Do you believe anger is a secondary emotion? Do you believe people are sad first and when unresolved or unsatisfied, that sadness grows to a perceived justifiable anger and sometimes beyond? What if that sadness is offered comfort and peace and resolution at it’s genesis, before it escalates to a force of violence? Will you be a force to be reckoned with today? Which force? A forest fire of fear and damage? Or a wave of unconquered strength, seeking out a path of pervasive peace?

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Strengthen what remains, and is about to die.

Wow!  A revelation from Revelations!  Who says the Bible is no longer current?  It’s alive!  It has just as much relevance today as it did when it was inspired!

I had so much inspiration after listening to a day of praying and Francis Chan, I had to write two posts to accommodate all I have in my heart to share! Although this title is from Revelation chapter 3, in Romans chapters 9-11, Paul referred to believers as the remnant when he spoke to the churches over 1,000 years ago! How much more are we that remnant? How much closer are we to the end of this world, which to Christians, is just the beginning?

So, how do we strengthen what remains? Why is it about to die? I feel the answer is the same to both questions. A phenomenal woman of faith, (with whom I have the pleasure of assisting alongside in her ministry), and I were discussing the desperation and attacks which are happening with our next generation. The hopelessness, the busyness, the constant distractions and lack of guidance. Someone needs to fight for these fledgling believers! Someone needs to be bold! We spoke of putting on the armor of God and going to battle for these girls! Staying in the Word, keeping scripture close in our hearts and in so doing, close to our mouths. Pray without ceasing, it’s a great verse, easy and relevant in so many ways. It’s in I Thessalonians 5:17. My radio stays tuned to lyrics which echo my faith 97% of the time so I’m armed and ready to go! Are you? There is a gap of empty space too many of our youth are falling into for lack of anyone filling it in with love and acceptance or bridging it with a path to follow! Let me be clear about acceptance. You don’t have to condone behavior you know goes against the freedom of living in God’s will. You do need to accept the person who is hurting inside and so perhaps participating in a behavior you feel is holding them back from really experiencing God’s love.

I’m going to stand in the gap! I’m going to reach out in small groups and reach out in my personal relationships, and reach out wherever I see need and am able to meet it, again and again and again, to extend a hand with no strings attached, simply to portray a living God to a dying world. How are you going to stand in the gap?