De-Light-Full

Heidi Rosner's "Pick me!"

Heidi Rosner’s “Pick me!”

“Life is full of light and shadow.

Oh the joy and oh the sorrow…

Oh the sorrow…”-David Crowder Band

I have a friend who is a very talented artist. A relative of mine had just met her and was exposed to her artwork at the Celebration of Fine Art.

She said to me, “Your neighbor is just delightful!”

I love that.

Delightful.

Don’t we need more of that in life?

And my artist friend is delightful. She says of her own art, “I paint happy.”

I love knowing the “heart behind the art.”

One of my favorite works of her art is a fabulous watercolor with these joyous sunflowers. I believe she titled it– “Pick me, Pick me!” It was her description of the process that has stuck with me.

It’s been years since she described it, but this is my recollection:

“It is one of my goals to capture the process. I paint to capture the movement of a flower lifting its head toward the light of the sun.”–Heidi Rosner

Nature reflecting life. Truly.

If you’ve ever received a bouquet of sunflowers or been in a field where they grow, you’ve felt the mass that makes up the flower—it is quite heavy! Then, when that bouquet is a few days old, and the neck of the flower grows weary, you’ve seen the head drop, as though it bears the weight of a thousand pounds.

Isn’t this how we feel at time? Burdened, carrying the weight of the world, downright exhausted, anything but happy.

Oh the sorrow…

Yet life is full of both, light and shadow.

Some are great at painting “happy” while others reflect more of the “shadows.”

What would you “paint?”

There are times in life where it’s difficult to look to the light; to find joy when your heart is sorrowful, to find the ease when everything in life feels toilsome. It’s just NOT a “Joel Osteen”-day.

We are all going to have stormy days. Dark times will come our way; some self-inflicted and some not.

“We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, felling our way like men without eyes.” Isaiah 59:9

We live in a broken, fallen world. Keep in mind, we’ve been warned, “In this world you will have trouble”—John 16:33

But there is hope.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

“He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light,” said Job. And he knew some pretty dark times. Job 12:22

I have this friend whose husband arrives to work before the dawn rises. Yet, every day, as she awakens from her empty bed at home and rises to get her coffee, she is greeted by his text message– he sends her a picture of the sunrise.  Every morning.

Sunrise from Bruce

Sunrise from Bruce

Not all of those texts are full of light. But he is faithful each day in doing this.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:23

There is something so mysteriously fabulous, so hope-filled in the dawn of a new day.

“Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by your presence, Lord.”-Francesca Batistelli

“Your love, O Lord, is like the mighty mountains. Your faithfulness stretches to the sky.”-Third Day

Another sunrise from Bruce

Another sunrise from Bruce

Like each new dawn, God is faithful to us. When we stumble around in the dark, He is merciful. When life pitches us into some dark depths, He holds our heads in His hands.

As I have brought to the light the many areas that I stumble in, God is faithful to forgive, to love and to assist in healing those areas.

Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:46

My hope and prayer is that, regardless of what this broken and shadowy filled world can throw at you, in spite of circumstances filled with darkness that each moment you choose to look to the light, exposing your sorrows and places of darkness to the healing light of the Lord, that your weary heart finds new strength to persevere for another day.

And, as life imitates nature, that your heart and head are uplifted with the light of every new day.

Tomorrow, or the next day, or the next… May you take the time to witness God’s faithfulness stretch across the sky and may you have a moment to bask in the dawning palate of hope that lights a new day of de-light.

ANOTHER sunrise from Bruce

ANOTHER sunrise from Bruce

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Kids these days…

Frank A Clark from quoteswave.com

Frank A Clark from quoteswave.com

 

What if you had someone in your life who said to you, “You are the only thing that matters to me. I love you fiercely. I will never, never, never, NEVER give up on you. Ever.”

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”–1 Peter 4:8

Parenthood–

“That heart-swelling, earth-shattering, all-consuming love for your kids is what creates the challenges of parenting, yet make them all worthwhile. It’s the cause of your woes, yet also the cure. It’s the force that drives you to near-madness, yet the balm that soothes your battered heart. Love makes parenting tougher, but it also makes it easier.”—Annie Reneau from her blog “9 Reasons Why Parenting is the World’s Hardest Job” (For some encouragement and perspective, check out Annie at: www.facebook.com/motherhoodandmore and www.motherhoodandmore.com)

 

“I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes

They’re just children from the outside

I’m working hard, I tell myself they’ll be fine

They’re in independent But on the inside, I can hear them saying…”

–Sanctus Real lyrics to “Lead Me”

 

In a world where the names of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight bring to life every parent’s nightmare, where “Sandy Hook and Columbine” conjure up images of terror instead of learning and when “Century 21” is no longer a night at the movies; I cannot imagine how much more difficult, terrifying and crucial the job of a parent is these days.

It is 2 a.m. on a snowy, cold Colorado night…um…morning–

ME: Breathing heavy through my sniffles, “Mom, come pick me up.”

MOM: “Where are you? Are you okay?”

ME: “Come get me.” Sniffles turn to sobs, “It’s too–I can’t–I can’t do this anymore.”

Mom: “Calm down, honey. Deep breaths. Are you okay?”

ME: through sobs, “Yes..yes..I’m okay.”

MOM: “I’ll come get you, but why don’t you get a good night’s rest? If you feel the same in the morning, I will come get you.”

ME: Breathing a little calmer, “Promise?”

MOM: “Promise.”

–I was twenty and living away from home for the first time at the university located 30 long minutes away from home.;) The terrible visions I had branded in my mind as I walked in on “the situation” that night did not seem as devastating by the morning light.

Sometimes you must shake the dust off your shoes and move on. I learned this that night.

All the unsolicited advice, the tumbles I took as I learned to walk, the countless band-aids and “mom spit” rubbed on wounds and that heartbroken night I made the phone call, I needed to know I had someone who wouldn’t give up on me.

mother-daughter[1]

Even at age 20, I still needed my mom to “pick me up.”–And she still does.

I told her I hated her and never wanted to talk with her EVER again when she grounded me for my junior year of high school (which, in hindsight, I totally earned!) ;)—And yet, she loves me anyway.

Just last week, I received a care package from her.

 

These days parents are working in a culture counter to effective families, working in homes that are divided in divorce and preparing kids for schools that have a common procedures for “lock downs.”

Kids these days are making decisions in a world cluttered with collisions of faith and strewn with newer and more addictive drugs. Our youth are facing temptations in a society laced with violence, bullying and media outlets where it is all thrust before them 24/7.

I watch as friends and family who joyously embarked on the path of parenthood, begin to struggle, wrestle and battle with things as their children discover this big, awful, terrible, beautiful, tragic, magnificent world we live in.

I don’t believe I have the resilient heart required for that of a successful parent these days. – I stand at the sidelines of this nail-biting adventure and cheer you all on…

Because of these life threatening hazards in raising kids these days, there ought to be a warning label affixed to those darling newborn babies. I think it would read like this–

Surgeon General’s Warning to Parents:

May cause: sleepless nights, headaches, heartaches, nervousness, extreme worry, depression, discouragement, disappointment, anger, sudden bursts of uncontrollable rage; May interfere with: your work life, your social life, your home life, your relationships to all, your ability to get up in the morning, your immunity to all illnesses…

 

“They step on your toes when they are young…”

-Good thing babies are so cute and innocent, because…

“… they step on your heart when they get older.”

-And then one can so easily forget their innocence.

But love them anyway.

 

I can name several parents who’re wishing they had the warning label.

—I wonder, would they make a different choice??

If you are one of those brave souls on the path of a parent, warning label or not, your heart must be strong, your skin must be thick and you MUST lead them through the hazards of this life.

No matter the age, in spite who your child decides to hang out with, regardless of those hormones changing their personality, and no matter how much they say they hate you, your child will ALWAYS need you by their side and to be willing to “pick them up.”

lead me5-Sanctus Real “Lead Me”

 

They need you to be their advocate in a world that is overcrowded with newer, more dangerous, more lethal avenues of life. As they journey, their paths can lead into more harrowing repercussions; they know NOT where they may tread.

They need you to set boundaries. Let them know that there are choices that take them too far.

They need you to forgive them when they say they hate you; they know NOT what they say.

They need you to lead them; to go before them and show them the way.

“I will go before you… and level the mountains and smash down the city gates of brass and iron bars.”—Isaiah 45:2

And they will always need you to pick them up; for when they fall these days, they fall hard.

And parents, I pray you would be encouraged. For all who have chosen the pitfall-laden path of parenthood, may you always remember that there is One who has gone before you. The Sidewalk Prophets sing “Love Me Anyway” which is a song that paints a picture of God’s love for you:

“I am the thorn in Your crown

But You love me anyway

I am the sweat from Your brow

But You love me anyway

I am the nail in Your wrist

But You love me anyway

I am Judas’ kiss

But You love me anyway”

 

—May God strengthen you for this journey—for He goes before you and He is with you.

 

He loves us anyway.

He is the One who shows us how to forgive when it is counter culture.

He is the one who shines light into the dark places.

And He is the one who helps us to love when it seems much easier to give up.

And He will never, never, never, NEVER give up on you. Ever.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

il_570xN.391168237_40n4[1]

I DON’T UNDERSTAND…

“You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown

My feet may fail

And there I find you in the mystery”

–Hillsong “Oceans”

Image

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Malignant Melanoma.

We helplessly watched as cancer swarmed in on our father’s organs and took his last breath of life, dying in the battle against this disease. Our family saw the terror of treatments that seemed worse than the cancer that overtook him. We were in shock from watching. Why does this disease even exist? Why does it shamelessly attack grandmas, fathers, aunts and…children?

I didn’t understand.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

“In oceans deep

My faith wears thin”

–Hillsong “Oceans”

 

One month later, still reeling from the loss of our father, we lost my grandfather to dementia and lung disease.

I found myself in the depths.

“And I will call upon your name

And keep my eyes above the waves”

–Hillsong “Oceans”

 

That year I sunk deeper and deeper. I would be overcome in sorrow; brought to tears lying sleepless in bed every night, sitting at my desk at work, in line at the grocery store… Then, (it didn’t seem possible,) but things went from worse to worse.

The big “D” began visiting my house and he brought his other “D friend”.

These deaths, now divorce and depression—all in the same year; all as a faithful, praying, seeking Christian.

“Time heals all wounds…”

Really?! I wanted to just barf at the well-meaning people saying this to me.

It wasn’t fair. This wasn’t what I signed up for when I gave my heart to the Lord.

I didn’t understand.

But, I loved the Lord. I clung to him with everything I had. The Hope I had in Him, and His power to get me through, and to bring light into dark places, kept me holding on.

 “Your grace abounds in deepest waters”

–Hillsong “Oceans”

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding.

In all your ways submit to Him,

And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

So, if I loved the Lord, and trusted in His grace to get me through the deepest of my despair, didn’t He also deserve my understanding?

“You’ve never failed and you won’t start now.

So I will call upon your name

And keep my eyes above the waves”

–Hillsong “Oceans”

 

A couple of years into the depths of this dark time, my Pastor, Jason Daye was preaching on the story of Elijah. (1 Kings Chapters 17-18)  What struck me most in the story of this great prophet of God were the three years of drought that the Lord sent on the land he was in. He endured such fear, such total need, desperation and reliance on the Lord for every single second, of every single minute, of every single day, of every exhausting week for three long years.  Three years of threats against him. Three years of having nothing, being stuck out in the cracked, parched desert and the only thing he had left, for all of his trusting in the Lord, was his life. He survived solely on the Word of the Lord.

“Your sovereign hand will be my guide

My feet may fail and fear surrounds me…”

–Hillsong “Oceans”

 

God was so near to him for every one of those seconds, providing for him by day and by night.

Those days and nights when I was feeling so lost and emptied, I fixed my eyes on Jesus.

The truth is, in looking back, even as I endured the storms and felt like I was drowning in the engulfing waves–this raw, pure need of feeling so broken and so desperate is when I have, like never before, felt so unfathomably and intimately close to God.

He was my anchor.

As I approached my own three year mark, I felt a foundation beneath my feet. I more often found myself “on shore” and was less and less frequently taken over by the waves. I was blessed with friendships that helped me along, blessed with help from all around me. Blessed to see how God provided for each day and each night.

Maybe there was something to this whole “time healing all wounds” thing.

Three years gone by–I am changed.

I appreciate more. I breathe deeper. I laugh more. I enjoy the sunsets, flowers, and “little things” a lot more. At a different place now, I trust God more.

Just beyond those three years, I took on an additional job and was learning a totally different profession, I was struggling in this new place.  Even after all that I had been through; I still recognized my deep need for God in the ordinary stuff of life.

I distinctly remembered praying to Him for Help.

Then she showed up; the “new hire.” A chance convergence of life paths at this job–Was she my help?

As we navigated the job together, we bonded like we women can do when thrust together in the trenches of life. We shared our stories.

If, as Shakespeare says, “Life is but a stage…,” then I believe that friendships are the musical underscore of this life; two distinctly different instruments, coming together on the stage and creating harmony, melody and rhythms. Creating music that makes us smile and dance, moves us to tears and fills us with laughter. What a joyful tune a new friendship is! And this hand-delivered, divinely unique relationship has become such a spirit-filled one.

Pammy and me

We no longer work together in the trenches of that job, but we’ve kept our friendship flourishing across miles, through life events and all around this stage of life.

Trusting like Elijah.

Then it happened to her:

Her father was diagnosed with cancer, and then died unexpectedly.

One month later, her grandfather passed away.

Then her marriage crumbled and now divorce continually slaps its waves at her face as I watch her sinking into a deepening depression.

All in the same year; all as a faithful, praying, seeking Christian.

I watch her tears flow freely at lunch, at the movies, at the grocery store and spilling across the stages of her life.

She doesn’t understand.

She can’t see above the waves right now.

I hug her. I tell her she’s not alone.

I refrain from telling her that “time will heal all her wounds.”

Instead, I tell her that I don’t understand either.

But, I do know One who understands.

He is our ever-present Help, the Anchor in our storm, the Living Water to quench our thirst and the firm Foundation of this whole stage we play out our lives on.

And I secretly watch her with a twinge of envy because I can see how close the Lord is to her right now. The Hands of God are cradling her. He holds her tears in His hands and draws her into an embrace like the sea around the shores.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”

–Hillsong “Oceans”

 

Whether you are in a drought-scorched desert, a raging tempest, or if you may be cresting a mountaintop, May your trust in the Lord go beyond all the borders of our own understanding.

BENCHES

bench

You see them in parks. You see them in playgrounds. They are found on front porches and in the front of the grocery store.
Besides a place to sit, what is it about benches?

When I asked Heidi Rosner, the artist behind the cover of my book “grace,” to add in a bench at the river scene, she said, “No problem. I do it all the time in my artwork. People love ‘em!”

A gentle man in his 80’s had finished “grace” and told me the bench was one of his favorite scenes because of what it meant to him. “In my marriage,” he said with a glimmer in his eye, “Oh yeah… Connie and I have had our ‘benches.’”
In the scene, and apparently for his relationship, the bench is a place of reconciliation; a place of confession; a place of releasing fears, finding comfort and new beginnings.
When I picked out the bench (and I never knew there were so many choices!), I chose the simple wood slats with iron bolts keeping the posts together. The bench was special for the characters in the book; it represented vulnerability and risk. But this bench represented all these things and more.

There are similarities that I hoped the reader would find there.

There is a “place” made of wood and iron that we can go to find a new beginning; a place of hope, confession, healing and rest. A place that we can lay our burdens, place our trust and release our grip of things we hold tightly.

“Lead me to the Cross where you love poured out
Bring me to my knees, Lord, and rid me of myself” (Hillsong United)

“At the Cross you beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees,
And I am lost for words so lost in love
I am sweetly broken…” (Jeremy Riddle)

So, the next time you see a bench, take some time, bend at the knee and take a seat. Rub your hands along the splintery wood. Thumb over the iron bolts holding it together and know that there is a place you can come to pour it all out, a place you can find peace, a place of healing and a place to release.

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrews 12)

The Cross is the place is where you find the One who can hold it all together for you.

ANOINTING

spreadthewordnotgossip.comThe scorched expanse of our life-weary existence is in need of something. Whether it be depression, discouragement, selfishness, gossip, envy or pride; what do you let in?
Something seemingly small can be deadly.

He was a young child, barely six when the family decided to gather and reunite with long lost cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. The farm house in Nebraska could handle all of them. The children were shepherded to the basement to their sleeping bags for the evening. After all the giggles and jokes subsided, the children fell deep into sleep. A tiny beetle made its way into the one child’s unsuspecting ear canal and immediately jolted him out of sleep. His screams awakened all the other children as he ran up the stairs to find his mother. Confusion, pain, the scampering and clawing of those tiny beetle feet in a place they should never be.
When he calmed down enough, through sobs he explained there had to be a bug in his ear. No one believed him, yet he knew it. It was driving him mad. The torture, the unbelief, the exasperation, exhaustion; he was banging his head as though it was just water in his ear from a long day of swimming, but it was much, much worse. Like claws across a blackboard, the beetle was scampering the soft tissue; frightened and near insanity, he gave in.–After the adults found a children’s cold medicine to soothe him and his mother lay by his side, wiping his forehead with a cool cloth, she whispered prayers to his tormented heart.
It was just minutes after the child lay down, temporarily calmed by the medicine and the willing of his mother that she became the sole witness to the departure of the tiny beetle; which she instantly killed.

“You prepare a table in front of me, in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:5)
To anoint usually means to set apart as special—like a gift to God. It also is a term often used in healing.

Back in the day, a shepherd was one of the lowliest of professions (not that it has gained much since!), but it was a dirty job. Working the night shift, tending those stupid animals, defending those silly sheep against thieves, robbers, predators; trying to herd them, protect them, and keep them safe. The tiniest of threats could actually kill a sheep. The nasal fly. That tiny pest could get inside the nostrils of the sheep, lay its eggs which developed into worms and eventually would drive the sheep to the point of banging its head against something to “get it out!” which most commonly lead to its (insanity!) and death.
I can’t even stand one bug buzzing about my ear, let alone it taking up camp in my nostrils and enlarging its family. Ugh.
A good shepherd would anoint the sheep’s head with oil (laced with some other healing ointments). These oils kept the flies from entering into the nostrils and ultimately protected the sheep from the tormentor that would make them “off” themselves.
The song “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns states it so eloquently—“people never crumble in a day.”

Innocence blurs the lines of what we allow into our hearts and minds through our eyes, ears and societal influence. Also, as parents, friends, leaders, servants and human beings all subjected to these things, we are setting examples, leaving legacies and always being scrutinized for our choices. Check out a few of the verses:

“Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow
Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away

People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see”
(some lyrics from Casting Crown’s “Slow Fade”)


Our Father looking down on us with love; forgiving for those “not-so-wise” choices we made.
And our Good Shepherd who anoints and protects our souls with the blood He shed on the cross. He has set us apart. When we are weary, rest is found in Him. When we weep, He comforts. When we are weak, He is our strength. When we thirst or hunger, He is our bubbling water of life and our manna for the day.

Today, I pray that no-thing is able to put a bug in your ear to distract you from seeking the Good Shepherd. I pray that no harm come near your home. I pray that nothing, no height nor depth, no demons or mean people, no distance, no depression, no death nor divorce shall ever separate you from the healing, anointing love that is found only in our Good Shepherd.

WORDS

Word LoveWORDS

One of my new favorite songs is called “Words” by Hawk Nelson (with help from Bart Millard)

“They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king
They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’ve never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began
Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart
Or put it out”

I love it because it is so TRUE. WORDS are powerful.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14)

Luke 6:45 “…What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Matthew 12:34 “…Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”

James 3:8 “…but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.”

“Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.” (Prov 25:11)

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1)

“Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” (Prov 12:18)

As it turns out, the Bible has quite a few words to say about our words.

One of my guilty pleasures is “reality” television. Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) and American Idol have captured my attention for several reasons.

On DWTS, Bruno captivates me.

For Idol, I am horrified by Simon.

More on them in a moment…

About the same time I started watching reality shows, I also joined my very first bible study.  Beyond knowing what Christmas and Easter were basically about, biblical ideas were all new to me.  We met Thursdays at 10 am in the church lobby and it was here I met Kelly, who I now call quotable Kelly—(QK).

Growing up poor and mostly in the Salvation Army, as a youth QK was rewarded with a case of soda for knowing her scriptures.

Because of this study and my desire to know more about Jesus, I got to know people I never would have interacted with.  These ladies were outside of my circles of friends from work or my fellow weekend warriors. There was something different about QK especially. She had a different way of speaking: her tone was low, her eyes were sincere and these effects were paired up with piercing words she spoke—not piercing like stabbing knife pain, but piercing like tiny acupuncture needles.

We were studying a book by Joanna Weaver titled, “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.” I thought the study would be about having faith like the Virgin Mary in this “Martha Stewart” type world.  How embarrassing. I guess I should have read the actual Bible for a Bible study.  The bible story of the sisters Mary and Martha who hung out with Jesus, and who this whole book was about, was completely foreign to me. I almost quit the first day. My sister, not a biblical scholar herself, talked me out of this with her wisdom. She reminded me that God knows the heart.  It isn’t all about what you know or can recite.

Biblical ignorance aside, not a single woman in that quiet church atrium ever judged me for my lack of knowledge or judged me about anything. All those ladies helped me through the study, showed me who Jesus was through their actions, prayed for me in my marriage AND in my divorce, and cried tears along with me at my father’s passing.

At times their words would sting, but I knew they were pointing out truth and knew they were speaking it in such a way that I heard them. Like those tiny acupuncture needles, the words brought healing to my life.

Now back to Bruno and Simon.

I absolutely love watching Bruno: his over-the-top mannerisms, his accent, his sweet face, his buoyant spirit…

My reaction to watching Simon is the complete opposite: his dismissive attitude, his scowling face, his spirit dampening words… Watching the faces of those he speaks to; it pains me to watch, however; I do love his accent!

I got to wondering why my reactions to these two men are so different. If I saw Bruno, I would hug him and ask him to share coffee or lunch and just sit and watch him talk. If I saw Simon, I would avoid him like an ex-boyfriend wearing a pink Speedo.

I look at these two people who, because of their talent, experience, money, or whatever are asked to be judges. They rate people. They give them feedback, instruction, and WORDS based on certain guidelines that lead to a rating of their conclusion and determine peoples’ futures.

While watching Bruno, besides loving his accent, his enthusiasm is contagious. He gets so excited for almost every single contestant. He will slowly rise out of his chair as the intensity of his words builds, “Oh Daaah-ling…it…was…fun-taastic! You have grown so much since you started.” He waves a hand out at the dancer. Tilting his head, “Your movements were delicious and flirtatious.” Now both his hands are helping his words and he is fully out of his chair and leaning across the judges’ table, “You were sssensual and ssssexy and ssssimply stunning!”

Even when he is giving a low mark, he will say something like, “You bring carnage and mayhem in everything you do, but it’s still a two-step.”(Actual quote taken from DWTS fan website). And yet, even when he gives a low mark, his words seem to be delivered with a salve. Sometimes he makes them feel good about getting the low mark! It mystifies me.

Check out some of his “mean” quotes:

“You looked slightly grumpy more than sexy.”

“It was a bit airy-fairy at times.”

“It’s like a samba from Zombietown. But Zombietown is a hit!”

“Good bum action. You learn how to use it and there’s no stopping you.”

“I know you enjoy the lower regions, but you have to bring the fluidity on the top.”

“You look like a crazy bear lost in a swamp.”

(Quotes compiled from the Dancing with the Stars Fan website)

“Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” (Prov 15:4)

Simon is another case entirely. It would appear he works from a “tough love” standpoint. Simon was quoted from the show once as saying, “I met someone the other night who’s 28 years old, and he hasn’t worked a day since he left college because he’s pursuing a dream he’ll never, ever realize: He thinks he’s a great singer. Actually, he’s crap.

Here are a few more choice quotes of his: (Taken from Simon Cowell’s top 10 cut-downs by Martin Higgins)

“Your facial expressions are ugly… You are a beautiful girl but you’re ugly when you perform.”

My advice would be if you want to pursue a career in the music business, don’t.”

If you win this competition, we will have failed.”

Let me throw a mathematical dilemma at you – there’s 500 left, well how come the odds of you winning are a million to one?”

If you would be singing like this two thousand years ago, people would have stoned you.”

You take singing lessons? Do you have a lawyer? Get a lawyer and sue your teacher.”

It’s painful to watch the crushing of spirits.

I mostly watch DWTS these days and limit my exposure to Simon’s shows.

Matthew 12:36 says, “I tell you this, you must give account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.” (Matthew 12:36)

Ephesians 4:14-15 tells us, “We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…”

I figured out why I was drawn to QK’s words, besides the truth in them: she delivered them like Bruno, with a salve for the spirit. She delivered them like Christ, with more of what we all need—love.

May you always be able to speak your truth in love.

WHEN I DIE

WHEN I DIE

It is hard to deny the power of music. How a song can take you back to an event, stir memories, sometimes even bring on the very emotions you felt the first time you heard it… I still get teary every time I hear Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe;”—not so much in the lyrics, but because it was popular right after my father passed away and it has been forever linked with that emotion in me.
I love all types of music. I have gone through various “music stages” in my life. Starting with the 80’s big hair bands, (one of my fondest memories is of a WhiteSnake reunion concert); to the head banger “angry music,” (I got backstage to meet and greet Disturbed); then alternative, (I won concert tickets three times in a row to Three Doors Down); and country music, (“Bubba Shot the Jukebox” got me through two marathons trying to memorize the words.) –I love all genres of music. Lately I am into the Christian music and pretty much anything K-LOVE plays.
Each of the five parts of my book “grace” begins with a snippet of lyrics from artists that created rhythms, lyrics and messages that were themes throughout the novel. I encourage you to find the songs on iTunes and take a listen before delving into each part.
One of these songs is titled “In Better Hands” by Natalie Grant. The song has been so powerful in my life and every time she sings the following lyrics I get goose bumps:
“It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are one the ground
It’s like the world is silent though I know it isn’t true
It’s like the breath of Jesus is right here in this room”
I know this is going to sound a bit morbid, but stick with me on this—When I die, I want this song to be played at my funeral. –I know where I am going. I know I will be with Jesus when I no longer walk this earth. I want those who would come to memorialize me to not worry but to feel the “breath of Jesus” as He whispers in their ear–telling them that I am okay—that He’s got me. And what better hands to be in than those of the One who fearfully and wonderfully created me in my mother’s womb?
So, I figure I should let someone in my family know, right? It is no fun to not know the last wishes of someone you love when you are left with the task of memorializing them. I learned that the hard way.
So, I told my mother.
She shot me down.
She told me (over the phone, but I could visualize her wagging her finger at me and shaking her head), “You had better go telling someone else that wish because there is no way in hell, I want to bury you before you have to bury me!” (That is a paraphrase, but real close to accurate.)
Not that she has a choice in this—when it is our time, well, it is our time. Only God has the power over death. And, with God, through Jesus, we have assurance of eternity with Him. And this idea of eternity (I’ll spare you all the clever ways people have described to grasp the concept) is a really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY long time.
I know too many friends and loved ones who are parents and have had to bury their child. (Frankly, knowing even ONE is too many). This crazy resurgence of heroine and overdoses that occur with even just one try of this drug, suicides, accidents, hit & runs, domestic abuses, drunk driving, okay—As Justin Timberlake sings, “Are you feeling me?”
Often all that is left is a gaping hole—a void—such loss and despair that each day is a desperate challenge to find hope to carry-on.
The “Why?” goes unanswered like wishing on a penny dropped into a bottomless well.
But this bottomless well doesn’t have to go on for eternity.
Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Forever.
I know this still doesn’t answer the “Why?” but I have found temporary peace in this temporary life believing there is a place where all the questions are answered-no pain, no sorrow, no death and, to quote the powerful words of Mercy Me, “In Christ there are no good-byes.”
So, when I die, please honor this wish of mine (and for my mom.)
And mom, put that finger down because I think you are off the hook 😉