Church, Death, Depression, faith, relationship

Our Jesus

The perfection of my Father never ceases to amaze me. I’m thankful He is all knowing in the face of my ignorance. He reveals things to me when I need to know them, and if I don’t need to know them I am comfortable in knowing He knows what to do. That just made me think of an old hymn.

Needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Life is exceedingly painful, and I’m not going to say one season of life is harder than another because suffering is suffering, and when a one-up-man is at play it doesn’t serve to relieve the suffering one of pain. That’s not God’s purpose. When you read the book of Job I think you learn a powerful lesson in how we are to respond to any kind of suffering. Most of the time complete silence is order. Being present with the one who is hurting is all that is needed. Holy Spirit reveals to our hearts and minds when words need to be said. Life itself is a teacher, and our filibusters do more harm then good. We get off on some rant of what we think that person should have done in any given experience, but no one knows what they would have done until they go through it. Walk in that person’s shoes, and then if something needs to be said it will be revealed.

Listen from different angles, suspend judgement if life is not at stake, and when you can rationally discuss details then and only then should words come.

My friend Lynn got me to thinking about these things earlier in the week as we sat in her living room. Our mutual friend Landon was a our topic of conversation, and he has built a life and ministry around this very principle. He’d shy away from this kind of spotlight, but nonetheless we are two who have been transformed by his willingness to be moved the way the Spirit has moved him.

We teach each other don’t we? We move each other in the way we listen, speak and sit silently with each other because we have One who came here, and He showed us perfection in being with people.

Standard
Arts, Church, Death, faith, Women

Bonnie Rose

Scan

I taught 5th and 6th graders at Madison under Bonnie Rose. I got to know Malcolm and Bonnie and Malcolm III there, and now Carey and I are good friends with the Roses. 

This amazing woman is no longer with us, and it saddens me beyond words. Her Malcolm and Malcolm III are hurting deeply because now they have to go to Wilson Boulevard without her.

I think what I loved most about her was her tireless desire to make the gospel attractive. Her talent for art at Wilson Boulevard, Gallatin Road, Franklin Road and Charlotte Avenue displayed the greatest Artist with poise, dignity and beauty. Her hand of artistic expression honed at Lipscomb Academy and Harding University will live on in her absence, but I would not be surprised if our Father is gazing upon her beauty now.

Bonnie Rose was first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ. She was Mac’s wife, and Malcolm’s mom, and my tears are heavy as I bear some of their grief.

Their generosity and love I will carry with me to my grave, and when I stop by Wilson Boulevard to visit my dear Mac I will forever remember the lady who was with me in my darkest night of the soul. She was not only there in the pit of my depression, but she was present as I “rose” above it in my groaning. I groan now because there are two men in my amazing city who have a void that will never be filled this side of eternity with our Father.

She took conflict as beautifully as she accepted her arthritis, and when I’d sit with her and Malcolm I could never tell she was in constant pain. She’s not in pain anymore, and the only thing the consoles me in this loss is that the smiles I see on Facebook, and the memory of her in my head are real and enduring. She will be one of the ones I will search for when the new Earth is created. Her place now at the right hand of an all loving Father wherever that is is assuredly a place of warmth and not pain that we can only imagine.

She had a plethora of voids in this life I know because we spent hours sharing our hurts with each other, and as the Holy Spirit worked through both Mac and Bonnie I can look upon our relationship with unadulterated love for the hope I express. Her hope is complete now, and her physical pain is no more, and though I have no idea what happens after death I suspect it’s better than here. I’m not ready to leave because I don’t think my time on Earth is through, but I long for the day to be where Bonnie is.

Bonnie was obviously a beautiful lady, but her heart and devotion to God, Malcolm and Malcolm made her beautiful on an entirely different level. She wasn’t out to compete with anyone, and she did not flash her money to shame anyone. Her heart was open because Jesus transformed her life to love the unlovable unconditionally.

We love you Bonnie, and we’ll miss you terribly as it’s already begun, but we know that when we join you “quietly, quickly and gently” that we’ll see your art, share your heart and hum songs of praise that will raise goosebumps on our arms in the presence of the One who conquered death.

Standard
Arts, Church, Depression, faith, relationship, Story

Improv

 

IMG_1571

This is the room I write about in this post, but it looks silently different. The piano is in the same location. 

Crafting something from nothing has always intrigued me. The book Free Play was introduced to me a few years ago, and even though it’s premise is improv the principles can be applied outside of acting.

I’ve found a new place in the house to read and write. It’s our music room. It’s where my guitar and our piano reside. I’ve read many writing books where they tell you to write in the same place every time. This is is my second day in a row coming here, but I’ve been here several times before. I just haven’t consistently come here consecutive days. Habit and routine are important in creating. I think that’s the trouble with my muse in the context of learning to play the guitar. Kevin is divinely patient with me as I work through the blocks that prohibit me from learning, but as that fire burns within me I will not give up unless death stops me. The artist life is not for the faint, and stage fright is really only a symptom of something much deeper, in my case a life-long struggle with depression.

My dad was pastoring a church in north west Kansas in the middle of nowhere really. It was a typical mid-western Church of Christ, and though I don’t want to demonize them because they are still in existence I will write that all of us have demons to deal with. My brother Jeremy had just been born in Arkansas. It was the very early 80’s, and the church convinced my dad to move his family to Kansas. They only had enough money to pay him for a year. They did not volunteer that information. A year in he’s looking for another job. My nightmares and struggle with depression began. Somehow in the course of that experience I also became a Christian, and I remember vividly thinking that if I wasn’t baptized I’d go to Hell. I also remember growing spiritually in that same day as I stood in the shower after my baptism thinking I get to spend eternity with my Father.

The nightmare was very specific, and I remember it to this day. I was part of a concentration camp on Ellis Island constructing the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty was complete from the waist up, but we had to lift her so another work detail could finish from the waist down. We never completed her construction. There was no resolve or closure, and when I’d wake up I’d either have wet the bed, or I’d be in a cold sweat that I’ll never forget so long I don’t battle some sort of dementia. Those dreams were especially intense and repetitious when dad was gone interviewing with different churches.

My family of origin loves the arts. We always have, and my family now loves the arts even more that we shake our heads in disbelief at those who boycott Twilight and Harry Potter. Spoiler alert: Good wins over evil. Moving on.

Family is very important to me, and even though some of us argue over what a family looks like if love is shared is the main question in any relationship. God created Adam and Eve, and He created us for monogamous relationships that last a lifetime.

I shared the following with a group of people at a round table during a parenting seminar we attended led by my friend Frank Scott.

I grew up on average about 500 miles away from my grandparents. That wasn’t by design. It just was. While in Kansas mom and dad decided to record a cassette tape of a dramatic presentation similar to Lake Wobegon Days and Prairie Home Companion. We sent a copy to my dad’s parents we called ma and pa, aunt Sue and my mom’s mom grandma. Grandpa died in 1977. Grandpa was in his 30’s when he married grandma at age 15. In any case dad wrote an entire script like Garrison Keillor does for his radio broadcast that sometimes is broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium. All 6 of us had speaking parts amidst the variety show my parents concocted. I’ll never forget it. It still amazes me that they were able to do that in a very tumultuous time of their lives. It was probably like a glass of wine or a good novel that gave them escape.

Even in the midst of darkness if those who believe in light turn the light on it’s amazing how God sends hope to those who don’t have it.

It’s what keeps me going.

 

 

Standard
Church

Wednesday Night

cropped-img_2454.jpgI was going to go to a different Celebrate Recovery than I had in the past. It was at a Baptist church in Hermitage. That was before all this happened. And it was good.

We recently went through a study of James, and now we are studying the Johns. I take a very high view of Scripture as you already know, and Bible study is very important to me. That’s not what this post is about.

We opened the Word tonight, and I’m always glad when God’s word speaks into my life. I compartmentalize however because that’s what I do. The Holy Spirit went to work tonight on our hearts, soul, mind and strength, but I want to emphasize the heart aspect. We always share deep happenings in our lives, and the language you’ll hear on any given Wednesday night is that of love. Sure, we rib each other as most guys do, but we are familiar enough with each other’s stories that we know the pain each has gone through. We’ve had some to come and go as all small group do, but the covenant we share in Christ keeps us accountable as each Wednesday night after Wednesday night comes and goes. It’s a special place that Christ shows up in the middle of to give a group of “knuckleheads” hope. Face-to-face time in a Facebook world is important. Texting, social media and FaceTime are no substitutes for real interaction.

Calm, meditative encouragement is essential in a rushed and loud culture that still communicates survival to the fittest. The fittest is not always the loudest, and sometimes a entire meeting time when you may choose not the say a word. I do not want to stereotype the strong silent male because words are oh so important, but activity doesn’t always mean progress. Words do not always mean depth, so choose them carefully. Every sentence doesn’t have to compare to The Gettysburg Address, but God forbid it be a sentence from the latest sitcom. I’m not writing that sitcoms aren’t a good escape, but when you are trying to heal from something like depression find depth where true healing takes place.

We celebrate recovery, not because Saddleback came up with a cool ministry, but because the Christ conquered our chains at the cross, and He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell with us at this very moment to put our past behind us. We find this reality in the presence of those who we trust, and they trust us to deliver depth from a heart yearning for reconciliation with goodness. It’s there because God gives it, and because it’s “more real then the blood in our veins” nothing can fail it. Oh, our hearts and our flesh may fail, but it’s only temporary. The absence of those we loved is palpable, and it always will be, but our confident expectation that our LORD stays and sustains is real beyond measure.

We come to this in a myriad of ways because God is too broad and powerful not to speak through a plethora of mediums. And He continues to do so through things like Celebrate Recovery, professional counseling and Wednesday night covenant groups that have each other’s backs.

Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Standard