No Longer My Own (music)

When I’m 83…

20160205_113035-1Delivered to my PO Box in this colorful, tie-dyed envelope, was a letter from an 83 year old widow. Mary had seen me on Trinity Broadcasting Network at 1:45am and loved my music. Not sure why the old folks are up in the wee hours like that. I remember my Grandma would often get up while it was still dark outside and get to cleaning the house. Mom always said her house was so clean you could eat off the floors. She ironed the bed sheets, too, and wiped her toy poodle’s back side with toilet tissue whenever Tinker did her business in the yard.

Miss her. And miss her homemade noodles.

But, back to the letter. So, there she was one night listening to me sing. She shared that she’s a born-again Christian and how for many years the Lord has brought things to her at odd hours of the morning. She wrote, ‘Perhaps this isn’t something you’d be interested in; I just know He “informs” me of things when I’m not the one doing the talking!’

Isn’t that adorable?!

That night she heard this…
Jesus is at my right hand; Jesus is at my left hand; Jesus is behind me; Jesus is in front of me; Jesus is above my head and Jesus washed my feet (or washes my feet), I inhale Jesus and Jesus exhales me.

Beautiful words. Oh, how our hearts burn for that breathing in and out kind of intimacy with Jesus.

It struck me that when I’m 83 I hope I’m still listening to Jesus in the wee hours. That when He’s got something to tell me that I’ll still have ears to hear, if even through a hearing aide. Grandma used to wear one. We’d hug her, it would make a little beep, and she’d say, “You ring my bell!” She passed on from a brain aneurysm back in 2010 and now makes her Home with Jesus. I don’t suppose she needs that ‘ole hearing aide anymore.

Thank you, sweet Mary, for your obedience in writing what He told you. I trust He’ll accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. Thank you for being a conduit of His great love and mercy. And painting a picture of His presence that surrounds us, especially in the watches of the night.

“On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I stay close to You; and your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:6-8)

Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale…







Right-Brain/Left-Brain Mash-Up

Nuts and bolts. I get busy with the nuts and bolts of ministry…responding to emails, confirming bookings, focusing on details and logistics, and praying about what God has for the new year, all while the piano sits untouched in the corner of thehuman-brain-left-right-functions-22549476 living room. In a perfect world, I’d do nothing but write songs, then go and sing them for anyone who will listen. But, as today’s independent artists know all too well, there’s work to be done and no longer droves of staff to do it. The industry has changed. And my left brain has been on overdrive trying to keep up with it.

Still, I read this week in Jeff Goins’ book, The Art of Work, “a calling is that thing that you can’t not do.” And for a second I could breathe, reconnecting with that passion deep inside.

Continuing on, one afternoon, again tackling emails, I read one from Nichole. “I’m not sure that Cheri will ever see this…”,  she wrote. Only I did see it. And it made me want to fight all the more for time at the piano. To write what I know to be true. To carry on with the calling…

20160114_192502My first and only Cheri Keaggy concert was at a small church north of Bellingham, WA in the 90s. I went as an opportunity presented to me by my mother. I was in a very dark and depressed state. I had given over my life to temptation and was headed in a horrible direction. When she sang “Child of the Father” I remembered who I was in Christ and prayed. I grew up in the church, sang every song, and participated in every possible function. Although I was never formally taught in a Sunday school, I knew that I was a child of God and that by grace I was saved. I trusted God again when I heard her sing the line “and I know what that means for me, it means I’m redeemed and forgiven…”  Later that Summer I was baptized in a nearby lake. The following Spring I met a group of kids that would continue to shape my life and become some of the closest friends I have today.

I truly credit that concert as a turning point in my life and I am eternally grateful for Cheri and her passion. Keep pursuing your dream and know that God is using you in moments that you never expected in ways that will baffle you for years to come.

Written probably some twenty-four years ago, “Child of the Father” became the title cut of my first album. I penned it back in California after my pastor, Sam Rima, preached a sermon on what it means to be a child of God. Many of my first love songs to the Lord were birthed at that church. And I’m still singing them today. Because while the industry has changed, God’s truths remain. Timeless, tried, and true, and as my dear sister so kindly shared, transforming.

I am working on accepting the fact that I must use both sides of my brain to do this whole music thing. My left brain for the business stuff. And my right brain for the creative. If this neurological collaboration gets me to the desired end, impacted lives, then bring on the mash-up.

Oddly, Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37 strike me in a completely new way…”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The left, the right, all of it. SO cool.

I thank God for Nichole who enthusiastically gave her blessing for me to share her story. God used the timing of her email to fan the flames once more. To shake me out of work mode to remember the greater work. The wondrous work that God does when we do whatever it takes to do what He’s called us to do. Because we can’t not do it.

Until next time…