Saturday, September 19, 2009

To Thine Own Self be True

There is a magazine aimed at women of "a certain age" that is supposed to be focused on their concerns, interests and needs. If I could grade them, I'd give them a D. For all their efforts, they failed on so many levels that I cancelled my subscription.

This magazine assumes women over 40 have "made it" career wise, income wise. They publish preposterous stories about female lawyers, doctors, executives etc who take year long sabbaticals to "find themselves" in the Yukon, Africa, Timbuktu -- or quit the working rat race altogether to reinvent themselves by following their long lost dreams. They leave their jobs to make jewelry, crafts, design handbags, whatever ad nauseum.

Well, good for them but the average working woman I know can't chuck it all to follow pixie dust trails or give in to the itchies of wanderlust. The women I know are working hard to send their kids to college, pay their mortgages, and many find it a luxury to have their hair and nails done. Who are these women who can afford to chuck it all? I don't know them and I can't relate to them.

The other thing that bothers me about this magazine is their push for us to all look like what we're not. You can't be 50 and look 50, no you must look 40 and 40 is the new 30 and so on. The message is to not to be all you can be intellectually or personally. The message is all about the physical. And, to drive in that point month after month like a wooden stake, are the the "this is what 40, 50 looks like" spreads. Of course they don't look like any of the woman I work with or see on the street. These "models" showing off their age are well preserved Dorian Gray types who must either have plastic surgeons on retainer, great genetics or are sucking someone's soul via a painting stuck in their attic!

This section doesn't inspire me, it makes me feel bad about myself and worse--it also makes me feel sad. I feel sad that women are put under such scrutiny and pressure to be what they are not; to continually surround themselves with smoke and mirrors. In the end the message we get is that it doesn't matter how good a person we are, how loving, giving or how accomplished. No. In the end what matters is what size you are, how many wrinkles you smoothed over and hid and whether or not you were able to fool others in to thinking you are far younger than you really are. What a brass ring to strive for!

Whatever happened to celebrating our true selves? Shakespeare said, "to thine own self be true" but we aren't and we're not encouraged to be either, not by society, not by the media, not by one another. Now, I'm not saying we stop covering our grays or wearing makeup. What I am suggesting is that we embrace who we are, wrinkles and the lumps and bumps that come with years of gravity. Let's remember its all the years we've lived that made us who we are inside our hearts and minds: women of courage, faith and love.

If we allow this path to continue, our daughters and grand-daughters will continue to buy into this plastic culture that equates personal worth with beauty, not character or intellect. Already we are witnessing the effects with young women starving themselves in the name of "beauty," young women devaluing their bodies by sex-texting images of themselves to boys who could care less about them, never mind love them. Sadly, what these women don't "get" is that unless they value themselves first, no one else will.

It's the women who need to raise the bar, not men. (men are at fault too, but that's another post). If young women didn't voluntarily take their clothes off to pose nude, there would be no porn, no Playboy etc. If young women didn't want to play into the "sex sells" mentality, there would be no Hooters or risque ads. But, somewhere along the way women bought into the idea of being validated through sexuality. For all the brave generations of women who fought sexism in order to gain the vote and equality, what a let down. This was not what they fought for.Why did things go so wrong?

What young women may not realize is that they hold alot of power. They can rise up and reject being used as sexual objects for men's entertainment or business profits. They can stop being expendible by not giving themselves so easily and freely. They can and should expect fidelity. They should just say NO. It's a simple as that. And, while I'm at it, young women shouldn't live with anyone prior to marriage and commitment. Let men work a little harder for your love and body before you so easily share it. Most of all, let yourself be cherished.

That message also can be applied to women of other age ranges. Let's cherish who we are--from age 6 to 86 and beyond! With each age comes new growth, adventures, wisdom and lessons. Let's embrace who we are at every stage in our lives otherwise one day we'll start seeing magazines making octogenarians feel badly about themselves too, telling them that this "is what 86 looks like" and strutting someone who looks 20 years younger because the are air brushed, photoshopped and is really the exception to the rule, not the norm.

Ladies, let's live and love who we are! We may not be size 0's, might have a few wrinkles, lumps and bumps but I predict that once we start loving and accepting our true selves, men will too--and eventually, dare I say it, so will the magazine and entertainment industry.

A song by Jonny Diaz, "A More Beautiful You"
Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazineSays she wants to look that way But her hair isn’t straight her body isn’t fake And she’s always felt overweight
Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see That beauty is within your heart And you were made with such care your skin your body and your hairAre perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump throughYou were made to fill a purpose that only you could do So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one the things that you’ve already doneAnything to get ahead And you say you’ve got a man but he’s got another plan Only wants what you will do instead
Well little girl twenty-one you never thought that this would come You starve yourself to play the part But I can promise you there’s a man whose love is trueAnd he’ll treat you like the jewel you are

So turn around you’re not too far To back away be who you are.To change your path go another way It’s not too late you can be saved If you feel depressed with past regrets.The shameful nights hope to forgetCan disappear they can all be washed awayBy the one who’s strong can right your wrongsCan rid your fears dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big worldHe will take your dark distorted viewAnd with His light He will show you truth And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lifelong Learning

When medical students graduate they are doctors but they still must do 3 more years of Residency to practice, hone their skills and grow. They are doctors in title but in reality, doctors in training.

It's no different with Christians, especially those new to the faith. But, like doctors, our training isn't finished after 3 years. In fact, we should consider ourselves in training and growth every day for a lifetime, not just once a week for an hour or two.

Why go to church?
Isn't God everywhere?
Why go to school?
Aren't books everywhere?

People who aren't ready to commit spiritually always use the argument that they can pray "anywhere" and God is available "everywhere" so why bother with church. They say this to excuse not going to church and even though what they say is truth (ie God IS everywhere), this truth is distorted to suit their needs. What they aren't grasping is that "the church" is a living, thriving community of fellowship, not merely a place of 4 walls and a roof. It isn't the structure that helps you to dive deeper into faith, its the members, the growth groups, and the Pastor. These people are the tools who help us to connect with God's Word.

So, that argument is an incomplete pass.

Can you imagine if your child decided he didn't have to go school anymore because "information" is available everywhere, on the internet, in the library, and on tv." Would you say "ok" and let him educate his mind this way? I bet not.

But why? Isn't it true that information is everywhere? Yes, of course. But, how can we filter, digest and make any sense of it?


That's what the church offers too-- a teacher in the form of a Pastor to help us filter, digest and make sense of things when we can't; to help us stay on track, keep walking our walk and to stay in God's Word. the church also offers us mentors who are experienced Christians to help lead us in growth. And, then there's the members who volunteer their time, help, support and encouragement to one another.

How can you learn, encourage and grow by yourself? Think about it. Yes, God is everywhere. He is God! But God also wants us to have fellowship, pray together and be the church so we can spread the good news as instructed in the Great Commission.

Don't go it alone, thinking you don't need to belong to a church community. Reach out and pray with others every Sunday and other times. God will still hear you, really He will.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Decyfer Down Review

Decyfer Down
by Brielle Coronet (reprinted from my music review column in ChristineEzine July 2009 issue )

Last night I was totally engrossed in trying to build something in Second Life (not too well) and as I hyper-focused on the task at hand, I began humming absentmindedly to a song playing on the television.

After a few bars, I realized with a start that the song was, “Forever in You” by Decyfer Down! The kicker was that it was playing over a promo for a show on the Soap Network! (don’t ask) It was sort of a déjà vu moment for me. After all, this is almost exactly how I was introduced to The Afters a couple of years back. That time it was the theme song, “Beautiful Love” from the popular teen soap drama, 8th and Ocean.

This got me to wondering how many Christian bands are played on tv without much fanfare. More so, was it by chance or choice of the producers? When you consider how secular Hollywood is, it does raise an eyebrow. But, no matter what the reason, it’s refreshing that Christian music is getting airplay on tv.

Decyfer Down is classified as alternative metal, alternative rock and post-grunge. They’ve toured with the likes of Thousand Foot Krutch and Skillet. This summer in New York City, they will be sharing the stage at Rock the Sound with Red, Pillar and Remedy Drive and yours truly will be there rocking out with the best of them!

As of this date, Decyfer Down is the 20th most requested artist of 2009 according to Their last cd, “End of Grey” had no less than four singles reach the coveted #1 slot on the Christian rock charts. I predict “Crash” will have equal or more success. The song, “Fading” moved up the charts quickly and has already reached the top.

Don’t let this band’s genre labels scare you off. If you appreciate good vocals, strong driving rock (sans the metal core screaming), you’ll enjoy DD. “Crash” offers a nice balance of hard rock music and slower ballads. And, most importantly, all of us will identify with their soul searching:

I am made new,
I want to live like every breath matters.
I wanna love what you love,
I want to see what you see,
I want a heart that burns like a fire in me.
I want a light in my life,
I want my heart renewed,
Here I am…
Forever with you.

I can’t wait to see them August 1 at Rock the Sound! **
addendum 8/2/09
Saw DD last night and they rocked the roof off the Manhattan Center's ballroom! They are truly hard, driving rock with octane energy---the perfect band for the Red/Pillar lineup!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Weekend Warriors

Did you know that you have 640 muscles in your body? That's alot of muscles to move but if you exercise regularly they respond and grow. But, if you exercise every once in awhile and push yourself hard like a "weekend warrior," you will get sore. So, what happens? You stop exercising, only to start the cycle again.

People used to use the mantra, "no pain, no gain." We know that's not true anymore. If you feel pain, that's not so good and you are probably injuring yourself. However, some soreness is to be expected. If you don't push yourself, you won't grow. The soreness is caused by tiny tears in the muscle causing lactic acid. When these tears heal, this is what creates muscle. So, a little pain ain't so bad.

The key is consistency because if you do this off and on without a pattern, nothing much will happen in the long run. Setting some goals also might help. Why are you exercising at all? If it's to get strong and muscular, then the off/on program won't acheive this. The only thing that will is a steady-as-you-go approach, upping up the program levels as you grow.

The very same concept applies to spiritual growth. Your soul will atrophy if you don't attend to it on a regular basis. There will be no growth without regular attention to scripture. Are you an on and off again Christian, much like the weekend warrior? Do you only "grow" once a week at church, then forego your walk the other days of the week? Much like exercise, this won't help you to grow nor make you strong in faith. Your soul needs consistent exposure and immersion with God's word, just like your body's muscles need to be consistently challenged in order to grow.

So, what are you? A committed person looking for growth or someone just passing the time treading water until Sunday comes rolling around again? Where is your commitment level and why?

Think about it but don't tell me, there's a Man Upstairs you need to discuss this with. After all, in the end, it's your soul and your walk, not anyone else's.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

To Be or Not to "Be": Is there really any question?

Today while driving home I was listening to a talk radio show to pass the time. The story they were discussing was disturbing on many levels but even more disturbing were the call in responses from the listening audience.

Apparently police were called to a domestic dispute. Once on the scene they found a young mother seated on a couch nursing a 6 week old baby. The problem? She was drunk. She was drunk enough to be arrested and charged with neglect.

The amazing thing is that caller after caller defended this woman's behavior and choices! One caller said it was a free country and she could do whatever she wanted to do, including being a drunk nursing mom. Another took the pity route and said maybe she could only afford beer and not formula! Ok, now let's stop at that one. Let's pick that argument apart: if she were really strapped for cash, would alcohol really be the drink of choice to consume and feed her baby through nursing? Why not Kool-Aid? Doesn't that cost under a dollar or less for a packet of that high caloric junk drink? Think how far it would go for the baby, never mind the sugar high as an added bonus. Plus, there are all those pretty colored flavors to choose from. Beer is just pee gold. Well, maybe not on St. Patrick's Day but for the most part, it is. Even milk, that good ole fashioned stuff that comes from the cow has got to be cheaper than a six pack.

Then a lawyer called into the show. She said neglect isn't defined by one incident and that maybe the mother didn't have the resources to make better choices for herself blah was all about the woman being the victim, not the baby. It was all about her needs, her issues, her needing understanding. The baby was a nonentity, not even a blip on the moral radar screen.

And, so it seems to be in this society. It seems we are a culture that has devalued life, especially the young and defenseless. Trust me, if this had been a story about a drunken woman who was feeding beer to a puppy, people would have wanted this woman tarred and feathered and locked up in a jail cell. Seems to me that people value the defenseless and dependent only if they are covered in fur.

But, a defenseless, dependent human being seems to be considered expendable. The woman's needs, wants, desires, conveniences, choices all supercede that of her child, whether that child is a fetus or an infant.

Yes, a fetus. There is a huge chunk of society that regards budding life as nothing more than a clump of cells--but not human being cells, just cells. What they think these cells will become is beyond me but maybe they can't (or won't) consider that these cells are human because to do so would define it as a person; a unique being with its own DNA. To accept that idea would mean changing what they believe are their "rights" with choice; in other words whether or not these cells live or die.

To peel away the illusion of what these cells really are, legislation has been introduced in South Dakota to have doctors explain that abortion is procedure which ends human life. Whoa...harsh, eh? Not as harsh as to the fetus being destroyed. Reality checks can really suck sometimes.

So my question is, when do rights for being human begin? In the womb, at birth or later? And, if we don't step up to protect the defenseless and vulnerable (at any age or state), then who will?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Genchi Genbutsu

Genchi genbutsu means "go to the trouble spot." It does not mean go around it, hunt for it or go past it. No, it tells us to go directly to the spot with the big X on it.

After 10+ years of training in the martial arts, I've acquired a fondness for the simplicity and directness of the Asian culture. They call it as they see it.

The phrase genchi genbutsu got me to thinking how often we circle around the root of our problems because we don't (or can't) take the time to pinpoint it's epicenter. Yet, everything, when you think about it has an origin; a catalyst if you will that births the process.

Epidemiologists refer to Patient Zero as the source of infection, 9/11 is called Ground Zero, the birth of a star is a nova and the ultimate beginning of all time is named Genesis. Even tumors have a primary beginning that causes the spread of cancerous cells. No matter what it's called, it all boils down to the same concept: a creation or event that heralds the beginning of what didn't exist before. In other words, cause and effect.

For instance, maybe we have continuing trouble with relationships--either picking the "wrong" partner or subconsiously messing things up ourselves. Relationships crash and burn as a result. This might be something that is repeated over and over again until the root of the problem has been identified, dissected and treated. But, in order to do that, we have to become transparent to ourselves. We have to get figuratively naked.

Don't know about you but that's hard. It's hard to strip away our emotional defenses and be totally vulnerable. But, remember to "be strong and courageous" as advised to us in 1 Chronicles 23:12. With God by our side, we can face what needs to be faced, cut out what needs to be cut out so we can live fruitful, loving lives. God promises to "keep you from all evil" and "he will keep your life," so there is nothing to fear. (Psalm 121:7-8)

Going to the spot of trouble can bring healing and with healing will bring change. Are we ready for change or do we want to stay with the status quo, no matter how much it hurts or is not working? Not worth the trouble, you think? Well, think of it this way: if you keep sticking your finger in a dike will that fix the leak permanently? If all you want is a temporary fix, then you won't take the time to dig deep in prayer to heal your "spot of trouble." Permanent fixes usually take alot of work. It usually requires dismantling and rebuilding, like a cracked foundation. Yet, in the end, isn't all that work worth it?

Aren't you worth it?

Change is scary. Sometimes the familiar is easier, even if it fails or promotes hurt; even if it is toxic. If you are too scared to make that first step to fix your genchi genbutsu, think of these words from Jesus:

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flames shall not consume you."
Isaiah 43:1-2

I don't know about you, but to me that's some incredible warranty! Jesus has our backs at all times. There is no way we can fail. So, why not take a moment to identify your spot of trouble and go to it, face it and destroy it?

You've got everything to gain by doing so! Why not start now...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This Way, That Way with God's GPS

There was a time when I thought of life like one big chess game. In my mind's eye we'd plot our strategies, and execute our moves and countermoves. If we weren't careful and aware, we could be checked at any given moment.

What an exhausting mindset!

Now, I live differently. I know better. My heart accepts and understands that we are usually right where we are supposed to be. I say "usually" because many times even the most seasoned believers get impatient with the Lord's timeline and go after what they want because they think they know better. Waiting and staying in faith during a holding pattern can certainly test the best of us.

Have you ever been in a plane waiting and waiting to get clearance to take off --or even worse, circling high in the sky above your destination point, anxious to land and get where you're supposed to be? Can you imagine if you took matters into your own hands and took over the cockpit controls because you wanted--no, needed to land or take off now?
Well, in a way, that's exactly what you're doing when you decide you know best and take the reigns! There will be times, perhaps many times, when where we are isn't random or without purpose. In other words, we possibly could be precisely where we're supposed to be because God is setting up a divine appointment.

When I first learned about divine appointments (or DA's), I automatically associated them with incredible "can you believe it" tales. A part of me was wow'd by the stories and intense declarations of the blessings people had experienced....but I have to admit there was a small, secretive part of me that, envious. I mean, I kept hearing stories left and right from fellow Christians about all these death-defying interventions, last minute saves from financial ruin or miraculous healings and I had nothing to share; nothing, nada, zip! My DA cupboards were bare.

How could this be, I wondered? Wasn't I worthy of a DA moment myself? Yesssss, I know we aren't supposed to expect them or heaven forbid, demand that God wave his magic wand and conjure one up for our benefit so I could have my own DA story but come I didn't get one?

I pondered what I perceived as the Lord's oversight when gradually the mental fog lifted. Well, shifted is a more accurate description. Wait...hmmm...maybe I hadn't been deprived after all!
Maybe I had overlooked subtle, arranged situations. Shifting my perspective suddenly revealed a world full of DA's once I turned down expectations from visions of floodlights and angelic choirs. The DA's had been there all along but I had needed to quiet my soul in order to "open the eyes of my heart."

I tried that approach. I wasn't good at it at first. Ok, I'm still not that good at it. I still tend to fill my head and heart with "noise." Yet, it's exactly this mental busyness that filters out the gentle whispers of the Holy Spirit.

So, once I stripped away my expectations of dazzle and bling and shock and awe, what happened?

Well, to be honest, nothing much at first. I think the eyes of my heart needed some time to adjust to the light once I took off the rose colored glasses. But, soon I started to notice little things, like maybe feeling a certain way and then hearing just the right words I needed to hear from a song on the radio. Or, struggling with a faith issue and then having someone pop up out of the blue with an email discussing the very same struggle and offering insight without even knowing my own private issues. Or, hearing a right-on sermon the very day and hour my heart was heavy and full of doubts.

These, I've learned, are my divine appointments. They aren't as grandiose as other peoples' maybe but I'll take them just the same. They were designed especially for me by my Lord and Savior and since I am his creation, I know he knows how best to not only reach me---but to teach me as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Newboys "In the Hands of God" cd review

I bought two new cds the other day. Yes, I have an ipod. I just like the real thing. Call me old fashioned but there are always a stack of cds in my car. For some reason, the sound quality seems better to me with a real cd. Another reason is I detest the whole cd-transfer-to-itunes-to-ipod-with-cable process, a major pet peeve of mine. Come on, we are nearly out of the first decade of the 21st century and they can’t figure out how to offer wireless transfers of music data in a less cumbersome setup?

But, I digress, back to the cds. So, while driving along one of the busiest interstate roads in my state, I blindly plucked one of the new cds from top of the pile. Head bobbing, foot stomping, good ole solid rock worthy music immediately streamed out-- not too heavy, not too pop. I was getting into it—and then the singing started. I stopped mid-head bob from shock.

I quickly ejected the cd. Instead of it being the band I thought it would be, it was the other band’s new cd; a band better known for fun pop/rock songs like, “Go (I Wanna Send You),” “Wherever We Go” or slower worship music like “Presence (My Heart’s Desire),” “He Reigns” or “Devotion” but sure enough, the cd label said Newsboys. After I heard the distinctive vocals of Peter Furler, I knew this cd would earn membership in my personal favorites hall of fame. The cd’s first cut, “The Way We Roll” starts off with a bang and instructs us to:

Put on your backpack,
Throw out your roadmap,
God’ll use anything, check it and see.
He’s using us more than we could ever ask for,
That’s the new way we roll cause we’ve been set free!

Another fun song that gets your heart pumping and singing in the car is Dance. The song urges us to shed our self-consciousness.

Dance like no one is looking
Sing like no one can hear
Love like you’ve never been hurt before,
Live like there’s nothing to fear

Ok, I know Chris Tomlin said basically the same thing in one of his hit songs but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate this message to the masses.

One of my favorite songs on the cd , “Lead Me to the Cross” is one I sing in church. They didn’t fiddle with the original Hillsong arrangement too much either so it comes off pure and sincere, just the way it should.

With busy lives, we tend to forget we are mortal with a “finite number of heartbeats.” The song, “This is your life” doesn’t sugar coat its message. I may put these words in my profile:

This is not a warm up round…
This is your life
Treat yourself right,
Treat others right.
Live like you know you should…
Fight the good fight,
Fight for what’s right.
Do what you know you should.
Every living soul completes a finite number of heartbeats…
The devil knows you get just one shot…
Did you forget that heaven’s calling for your best shot?

That’s a good question to ponder. The Newsboys cd, “In the Hands of God” is a great addition to your collection.

Update: On March 9, 2009 the band announced that Michael Tait (formerly of dc Talk) will replace Peter Furler as the Newsboys lead singer.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

No Right on Red

There was a time not so very long ago when I thought of life as one big chess game. In my mind's eye I'd plot out strategic moves, then make counter strikes for the desired outcome. I always felt that if I weren't careful or mindful enough, I was in danger of being checked at any given time.

What an exhausting mindset! If Dr. Phil had been in my head, he would have asked his infamous, "so how's that been working for ya?" question. Not having Dr. Phil to nudge me, my learning curve proved a bit long and steep.

However, I did eventually learn to live differently and I now know better. My heart now accepts and understands that despite what we may think, we are usually right where we're supposed to be. I say "usually" because many times even seasoned believers get impatient. Even though we know we are not in control of things, our wants and desires urge us to go for it anyway because in that flashpoint moment, we think we know what's best. We say to God, "I'll take it from here" with the hope that he not only understands but agrees with us too! Are we delusional?

Yes, I know waiting and staying in a holding pattern can be tough. Been there; done that, designed the tshirt. It's alot like sitting in a plane waiting on the runway for takeoff clearance --or even worse, circling high in the sky above your destination point when you are anxious to land and get to where you are supposed to be.

Can you imagine how much easier it would be for you if you took control over the cockpit? Things would then happen according to your needs, wants and timeline. Sounds good, right? Wrong! When you take control you are essentially taking control over God's cockpit and flight plan. But wait, what if you were being delayed for a reason? What if God wanted you right where you were at that very moment? Maybe it was for your safety, maybe you were supposed to talk to someone or maybe he was moving things on the other end for your benefit. This is a time for trusting in faith, not cursing your misfortune or inconvenience. When delays or detours happen and you don't underestand why, pray on it.

"...he will make your paths straight" Proverbs 3:6

Or, maybe God is setting something up and positioning people and events like a heavenly chess game-- not for you but for someone else. Maybe, you are someone else's divine appointment. You never know what God has planned but make no mistake, there is a purpose and nothing is random.

Not too long ago a single mom somewhere in Tennessee stood by her car off a busy hightway in the pouring rain looking at a flat tire with a sinking heart. With little money and no one to call, she didn't know what else to do but pray. She asked the Lord to help her out because she was alone and scared. On the other side of the highway, a man from out of state was driving on his way to a job assignment. He normally wouldn't have been traveling on that road at that time but had decided to get to his hotel earlier in order to be rested for the next day. He looked over to the other side of the highway in time to see the woman standing by the side of the road. Something about her looked familiar to him so he made the first u-turn to get to her side of the road. And indeed, they knew one another! He recognized her as a waitress from the restaurant he frequented when working at the out of state assignment. He wasn't supposed to have been on that road at that time yet God had put him there in answer to her prayer. God put him there so she wouldn't be in danger from strangers.*

Some may think this was simply a case of good luck or merely coincidence. Those of us with faith see it as divine intervention. So, the next time you want to take matters into your own hands, wait. Wonderful things may come your way, things you never imagined nor dreamed of. Or it just may be as simple as an answer to a prayer for help to change a flat tire. Whatever God's reason, let him be at the steering wheel and be patient. It's not your trip, it's his.

"Wait for the Lord," Psalm 37:34

*true story told to me recently by one of the people involved in that incident

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Music to Soothe your Soul

Tenth Avenue North
By Brielle Coronet

I don’t always read every part of a cd’s insert. You know, the places where the band gives all the obligatory thank you’s to friends, family, producers etc. I generally stick to the heart of the music; the lyrics. For me, seeing those words in black and white brings a new understanding and appreciation most of the time.

But, for some reason I decided to read what Tenth Avenue North had to say. I was curious about this band hailing from West Palm Beach, Florida because their music brought me great comfort during a time of need.

A few weeks ago I was all alone in a busy hospital emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack (and so did everyone else for that matter). All I had with me was my i-pod jam packed full of Christian music. Shaking from fear and with my heart racing like I had just performed in an Olympic track and field event, these words from the song, Hold My Heart brought me quiet comfort:

“One tear in the driving rain
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breaking heart?
One life, that’s all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If you’re everything you say you are
Would you come close and
Hold my heart?”

I listened to those words over and over again, praying for my Lord’s healing touch. After maybe the umpteenth replay, I realized with a start that for the first time since my conversion nearly four years ago, my professed faith was being tested. This was my moment of truth. With the rubber hitting that proverbial road, was I really ready?

I was.

And, so with my eyes closed, acutely aware of my body doing its own thing, I relinquished earthly control and submitted to Jesus. I was in His hands and whatever His will, so be it.
Soon, I felt a warm presence by my hospital bed. Was it our Lord or an angel? I can’t say. All I know is I felt no fear, just peace. At this time, I was listening to another song. I believed the promise of Tenth Avenue’s #1 2009 hit, By Your Side. This song was still at the top of the charts this past February.

“I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
Please don’t fight
These hands that are holding you,
My hands are holding you…
And, I want you to know
That I,
I’ll love you
I’ll never let you go”

You don’t have to be experiencing crisis to enjoy the music of Tenth Avenue North but should you ever need music to soothe your wounded heart or soul, they are the right band for the job.

If you like Jars of Clay, Mercy Me, The Afters, Snow Patrol or Rush of Fools, then Tenth Avenue North’s cd, “Over and Underneath” will become a favorite in your collection. Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Maelstrom: in the Scandinavian language is a very powerful whirlpool; a large, swirling body of water....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Matters of the Heart

For many years I ran out of my house to go save people. It didn't matter what the weather was like. It didn't matter if was day, night, weekend, a holiday or my birthday. I was a volunteer emergency medical technician and my job was to respond to a stranger's call for help.

So, when on February 27 I started to feel slightly dizzy, with a racing pulse, short of breath and began sweating, my first thought was denial. Despite all my training, which included CPR and AED certification (automated external defibrillator), despite working in a hospital, despite all my knowledge, I made all the wrong decisions. And, I realize I am very lucky to be writing this blog as a result.

Monday morning quarterbacking is lots easier than to be in the midst of crisis for sure, however I knew better. I knew better and I still made wrong choices. I thought I was invincible; that my head could control my body. But, with that misplaced arrogance I endangered not only my life but those of others as well.

Last Friday I was at lunch with a group of friends, although a few left for a meeting. One of our group, a cardiac nurse was not there that day and now I can't help but wonder if the chain of events might have have been altered if she had been. I had been feeling under the weather with a flu like illness the past week or so and still exhausted and not well despite being on antibiotics. So, like a good little soldier, I kept going into work thinking I could beat it by "being strong." I was "too busy" to be sick anyway. I had things to do and miles to go before I could go to sleep.

Mistake #1
But, while listening to my friends chatter over lunch I began to feel strange; shakey, light headed, slightly sweaty, hard to catch my breath and my pulse felt like it shot through the roof. Instead of saying anything, I got up and said I had to get back to the office. My only thought was to get out of there, a weird sort of flight or fight psychological response. I remember thinking the hallway to my office seemed oddly long and it felt like it took forever to get there. As soon as my assistant saw me, she asked if I was all right and that I looked awful. I said I felt awful and announced I was going to go home to lay down and promised to call the doctor. So I grabbed my coat and left, walking right past the Emergency Room! Now, going home is not as easy as hopping into my car. Because we aren't allowed to park on premises, I have to catch a shuttle bus to go across the city in order to get to our employee parking lot. Imagine doing this feeling this awful. But, I managed to do it.

Mistake #2
Feeling faint I still made the decision to drive home. Like a heat seeking missile, I was totally focused on that task. What you don't know is that this commute takes a minimum of an hour on congested highways and a fast paced toll road. Of course I hit every red light trying to get to the toll road. All I kept thinking was why were there so many people driving at 3pm in the afternoon? Why weren't they at work or home--any place but on the road, holding up my journey home. All I could think about was home. For some reason I felt that if I could get there, I could think clearly and maybe miraculously feel better. How stupid this decision was! I could have passed out while driving and killed or harmed not only myself but others.

Mistake #3
I arrived home and collapsed on the couch. Sweaty, my pulse racing, my chest started to feel heavy. I was not feeling better, I was worse. Still, my mind would not let me even consider the possibility of a heart attack. No, not me. It had to be pneumonia or even a pulmonary embolism--anything but a heart attack! I took my pulse. It was 120! Still, I didn't think of calling 911 or taking an aspirin. I did everything you were not supposed to do and I'm an E.M.T. Instead, I called my doctor, described my symptoms and said I needed to be seen. They said come in immediately. Unfortunately, the doctor's office is 30 minutes away. I called my daughter to talk to me all the way there because I started to get scared. Why didn't I call 911 then? I don't know. I kept thinking that if only I could get to the doctor's office, everything would be ok. They would tell me that it was an anxiety attack or something, anything else but a cardiac situation. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

Mistake #4
I was given an EKG at the doctor's office. My blood pressure was sky high (194/98), pulse still 120 range, sweaty, pale, short of breath and chest heavy with slight pain in my upper back every once in awhile. Doctor decided I had to go to the ER. I was not given an aspirin yet and he decided I could drive myself another 5 miles to the hospital. Instead of saying no, I'm really feeling bad, I say ok. Because in my mind, if the doctor thinks I can drive myself, then I can't be that bad. I should have asked for an ambulance. Driving to the hospital I realized I was taking a big chance. I felt very faint and only wanted to get there as soon as possible. But it was now 4pm and traffic was very heavy. I hit every red light again.

In the ER they gave me baby aspirins. I was hooked up to heart monitors and blood was taken. A few hours later I was admitted to the cardiac observation floor. By now I had an IV pole too. Long story short, I was one lucky lady. The cardiac enzymes came back ok. I didn't have pneumonia. According to the cardiologist I was exhausted and dehydrated from that flu like illness. What a relief!

Looking back now I realize how stupid my decisions were at every step. While I am calm and decisive in a crisis for others, for myself that paradigm is obviously flawed. I think of myself as independent and invincible. I am neither. I was blessed with an angel watching over me. That is my only explaination how I managed to drive a total of 90 minutes and 47 miles with those symptoms. Even the cardiologist said it was a miracle I didn't pass out.

The symptoms of a heart attack in women are not always the classic chest clutching pains men get. You might not have pain in your left arm or in your jaw. It might start as exhaustion, indigestion, a pain in your back or your stomach, you may break into a sweat, feel short of breath. If you feel this way, call 911. Have aspirin in your purse or house at all times if you or your family has a history of heart disease. If 911 tells you to take the aspirin, chew it do not swollow it. Do not wait, do not second guess yourself thinking it will go away. "Time is muscle" as they say in medicine.

And, lastly, don't do as I did! Don't take a chance with your life! Listen to your heart and live.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cleaning Out Your Spiritual Closet

If you were hanging off the edge of a cliff, tired and scared, how long would you hold on? Would you hang on long after your body felt like giving out?

This was the scenario my martial arts instructor would describe for us as we held our legs high up in the air, toes pointed and poised for attack; our muscles aching and on fire, sweat pouring from every pore. He would keep us in that position until our legs turned to jelly. It was his way of instilling in us the concept of “non-quitting spirit.” I trained that way for over ten years until an injury three years ago benched me forever.

Sensei’s message of never giving up or letting go influenced my mental makeup. I was and always have been a driven type A personality but this mantra took me over the top. I became quite successful as a result. Consequently, I acquired lots of stuff in my life -- physically, mentally and emotionally. As the years passed, I held on to it all with dear life. But, I never took the time to evaluate what I was keeping or why.

I know someone who has held on to a house long after becoming a financial burden due to a ballooning mortgage. It was way too much house for her to begin with, but she had been seduced by the initial low payments. Unfortunately, you don’t get something for nothing and soon the payments began to escalate. Instead of cutting her losses, she held on by the skin of her teeth by working three jobs and renting out portions of her living space. After two years of this, she’s finally realized the cost of keeping the house outweighed any loss. It was time to let go.

Do you know how they capture monkeys? I read that trappers take a pot with a narrow opening and bury the pot until the opening is just above ground level. The hunters put pieces of food in it to attract the monkeys. When the monkeys reach inside the pot, their fist full of food cannot be pulled back out of the opening. The monkey begins to scream with frustration as he desperately tries to pull his hand out. Even when the hunter throws a net over the pot, the monkey won’t open his hand to drop his prized treat. The monkey chooses capture over freedom when all he had to do was let go!

In the children’s story, The Berenstain Bears and The Trouble at School, Brother Bear tries to cross a shallow creek but his bike keeps getting stuck deeper and deeper in the mud. Instead of admitting this path wasn’t a good choice, he presses forward until he is so stuck he can’t move. All Brother Bear had to do was let go of the bike but he stubbornly held on to it, just like the monkeys.

We all know people who have held on to hurts, grievances, dead-end relationships or jobs long past their time. It might even be you. I know I have. Instead of letting them go, we held on to them as tightly and passionately as Gollum clung to his “Precious” ring in Lord of the Rings. If you are familiar with the book or movie, Gollum’s ring was anything but precious and was nearly the ruin of them all. How much easier it would have been had he relinquished the ring but like the monkeys, my friend with the house, Brother Bear and his bike, Gollum held on to it and wouldn’t let go, even when holding on caused pain and suffering.

At what price do we hold on to things that we should let go of? The Casting Crown’s song, “Let It Fade” asks the same question and gently reminds us that “things” are just temporary.

Have you been holding on to what this world has offered?
Have you been giving in to all these masquerades?
It will be gone, forever gone.
It will be gone, it will be gone…
Let it fade

We can hold on to material possessions that eventually break, rust or go out of style. We can hold on to hurts and bitter roots, too but none of that will allow our lights to shine. When we hold on to those things, we imprison ourselves and dim our spirit. It takes courage to clean our spiritual closets but what if you did? What would fill that empty space? Emptiness can be scary because you can feel vulnerable and exposed. Letting go to “let God” is not an easy thing to practice. Life is tough. It is a lot easier to hide behind a force field of “stuff” so we don’t get hurt, have to feel or grow. Or, we can replace that stuff filling up our lives, hearts and minds with other things; things that may not have worldly value per se but in the spiritual realm are deemed priceless. Like what? A song by Jeff Deyo gives us these suggestions:

More love, more power
More of You in my life…
More faith, more passion
More of You in my life…

How about filling your life with more of that? What would your life be like then? Of course, embracing a sense of “nonquitting spirit” isn’t entirely bad. We shouldn’t give up easily when the Holy Spirit urges us to continue with a mission placed on our heart. We shouldn’t give up on family and friends who are not walking their walk or who haven’t begun their walk yet. But, we need to learn what to hold on to and what to let go of. However, the one thing we should never let go of like we were hanging over the edge of that proverbial cliff is our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Without that, nothing else really matters. The bible promises that if you “…cast your cares on the Lord, he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22 NIV)

We all hold on to things way past their prime, even when we know it’s better to let it go. So, how about making time to spring clean your spiritual house? Stop and take a moment to examine what’s taking up space in your hearts, minds and souls. Why not start today? Even if you only let go of one thing, it’s the journey that counts. Let me know if you do. I’d love to know what happens when you let go to let God refill you.

I’ll leave you with this thought. When God leads you to the edge of that cliff, trust in him fully and then, let go. Only one of two things will happen—either he will catch you when you fall or he’ll teach you how to fly!

A new life has begun! II Cor 5:17

A new life has begun! II Cor 5:17
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