Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

Do you know who said that?  Patrick Henry.
Do you know what the words that come before that famous line?

"They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary.  But when shall we be stronger?  Will it be the next week, or the next year?  Sir, we are not weak.  The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.  

Gentlemen may cry 'Peace, Peace!' -- but there is no peace.  The war is actually begun!  Our brethren are already in the field!  Why stand we here idle?  Is our life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?  Forbid it, Almighty God!  I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Now.... I ask you this: Do you have that kind of passion, that conviction, about, well, anything?  I'm not asking if you would die for Christ... of course, that's the first thing that pops into our heads, would we be willing to martyr ourselves for our beliefs... but it is more of a canned response to say "yes" when thinking about this in terms of religion.  What about our country?  No matter what my political beliefs are, I am an American, and I LOVE MY COUNTRY.  It doesn't mean that I am defined by one person, it doesn't mean that I agree with the impositions of lawmakers, but it does mean that I respect the foundations of this country, and the many sacrifices that brought us to where we are today.

Master Chorus Eastside performs a patriotic concert every year, and last year we focused on the Founding Fathers... that is when I truly understood what it meant for those men to commit high treason against the Crown.  They were willing to die for a pipe-dream that was discussed in bars, after hours.  And not in a radical, "blow up the nearest Red Coat" sort of way, but being willing to take action - "The war is actually begun... why stand we here idle..."

George Washington said, "The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of \wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them.  The fate of unborn millions will now depend on God, on the courage and conduct of this army.  Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission.  We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die."

Again - the only options presented were to live free or die - period.

In Rainier Chorale, we are working on a phenomenal piece by Randall Thompson, The Testament of Freedom, a setting of four passages from the writings of Thomas Jefferson.

Guess what, folks - this is what it's all about... and it feels dramatic... and it feels over-the-top... and, on the surface, it seems very ethnocentric when you look at how so many people try to define "America" today, a blend of all cultures, not so much seen as a melting pot anymore, where people come together to be one, but more of a tossed salad, where we all bring our own bit of flavor to the mix... But, you know what?  It still comes down to believing in a dream that is Freedom.  Whomever sits in that Oval Office, we, the people, are more than that one person.  We are the millions of unborn that George Washington was talking about, the millions of unborn that inspired men to risk their lives so that we could be free!  Somehow, we, the people, lost that vision, we lost that conviction.  Instead, we look for the first opportunity to stand divided, to call ourselves "individuals" rather than stand united.  We have forgotten that - in being a tossed salad rather than a melting pot - we each bring our individuality to the same serving bowl.  We need to be able to co-exist without destroying one another, and we need to remember, respect, and honor what America really is.  We need to reflect within ourselves and truly define what it means to be in America, whether you were born here or came here later in life - what does it mean, to be on American soil?  To be protected by the very establishment that so many people protest?  To have the right to protest without fear of death?

I will always stand for the National Anthem and remove my hat.  I will always, always thank the men and women who have protected us, and continue to protect us.  I will always put my hand on my heart and pledge allegiance.  And, from now on, I will always get emotional when I am reminded of what so many have been willing to die for since the 18th century.

I challenge you to re-read Patrick Henry's quote at the beginning of this post, the two paragraphs.  Read it out loud, as if you were speaking to a group of people, rallying the troops, so-to-speak.  I challenge you to speak it, own those words with conviction in your heart, and do it without choking up.  Now, do the same with the words of George Washington.

"For more than half a century, during which kingdoms and empires have fallen, this Union has stood unshaken.  The patriots who formed it have long since descended to the grave; yet still it remains, the proudest monument to their memory."  - Zachary Taylor

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Struggle

"Sometimes we forget what's important.  We struggle so long to establish ourselves that we become addicted to the struggle.  We begin to think that if we are not struggling we are not alive."


~Anne Wilson Schaef, Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much


How true is this?  In personal relationships, professional relationships, faith-relationships... the list goes on.  We all know that person - sometimes we ARE that person - who always seems to have some sort of something going on.  It's not to say that the "right" way out is the easy way out, but I think we really need to take a step back, or help those around us to step back, and try to see a bigger picture; where does the real focus belong? 


"Sometimes we have to struggle... sometimes not.  The issue is not the romance of the struggle; the issue is who WE are as we engage in it."


Are we creating the struggle because it's where we think we need to be?  Has it become our comfort zone?  Is the issue at hand a true conviction for you, or is it more of a matter of pride? 


Reuven Hammer says "It is prayer that restores to us the ability to feel, to see, and to appreciate."


When we find ourselves in a pattern of struggle, we must pray.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I'm still here!

I have not forgotten about this blog, I promise... I just have not felt the Spirit moving me to write much.  I've been witnessing, sharing my gift of song to help people worship, pray, and heal, but no words have come for posting...


I'm working on it.  I am hearing a calling to share more... stay tuned!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

#isinginthechoir

If you follow me on facebook or Instagram, you've already seen these photos... along with the song book and my latte cup, or the trusty "breakfast of champions", thin-cut beef jerky and an energy drink... But these are my favorites, and they are definitely work sharing again! 


If you've followed my journey over the last few years, you know that I've struggled with where I am versus where I want to be and where I'm supposed to be.  You also know that I feel, 100%, that I am exactly where I am needed.  You are also aware of the... different... ways I've found to experience God. 


Psalm 146:2 says "I will make melodies to my God as long as I am." and that's pretty much my story, right there.  It's not always easy to start the wake-up process at 5am on a Sunday morning, and it's not always easy to know that I will miss so many Seahawks games because I will be singing at church, or that I have to make sure I look presentable by 7am on a Sunday morning, ready to sing and literally lead the masses, but I do it, with a heart of joy, and I would never trade my experiences for anything. 


As I drive to the intimate little church in Black Diamond, I am greeted with God's glory in so many ways!  This is but one that I was able to capture, courtesy of a stop sign... No, I would never attempt to take a photo while driving! 






The sanctuary is set up so the congregation faces each other, and while it took a while getting used to, I like it.  It is, as I said before, intimate. And the organ, piano, and choir pews are set up behind the altar - which was odd at first, but it's grown on me, and I absolutely love it. 

My favorite part about singing is being in the sanctuary alone, with the lights dimmed, just me and God.  I ask Him to use me, use my gift of song, to reach every single person in a way that only He knows they need to be reached.  Sometimes the one-on-one time is just long enough to finish a quick prayer before the lights go up, before the accompanist starts to run through her piece(s), before Father walks in and strikes up a conversation... but I never feel interrupted.  I feel like God reaches me for just the right length of time that He needs, that I need. 





Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Another Soul Cry - Prayers for Anne

A few days ago one of the former church choir member's names kept running through my head.  A whole sort of prayer-aura flashed through my head, and I allowed it to envelop me in prayer for her. 


This morning I received an email sent to the church choir stating that Anne has multiple cancer spots and is choosing not to treat them, as it would be too hard on her body, at her age. 


It feeds my soul to know that, even when I feel distant from the connection I once knew, the Holy Spirit still uses me to help lift people up in prayer. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Just Be There

"Sometimes we need someone to simply be there.  Not to fix anything or to do anything in particular, but just to let us feel that we are cared for and supported." ~Unknown ~






This is one of the images I see going around FB and Pinterest, and I absolutely love the quote that someone has put on it.  I found the image separate, as it has a different meaning for this particular post...  A friend of mine from church & from choir lost her daughter this week, in the wee-small hours of the morning, and she posted a memory of just after it happened, how the morning star was there... this quote, coupled with the solemn image of Charlie Brown & Snoopy with the bright star above them instantly popped into my mind's eye... there really is nothing you can do to make it all better when a loved one passes away.  The most important thing you can do is just BE PRESENT for that person.  If they need you, if they don't, that's up to them.... just be available, be there....






Thursday, September 17, 2015

"I AM Doing This... We ARE Doing This."

These are the words that brought hundreds of people to tears Friday night. 


I friend that I've known for thirteen years is currently battling stage IV cancer.  She calls it "Act IV".  She is a single mother of a beautiful 18 month old daughter, and has more fight in her than anyone I've ever known.  Even before the cancer, I've always said that I'd never want to meet her alone in a dark alley! 




If you know me, you know that I used to be an avid swing dancer, and cannot speak highly enough of the swing dance community, world-wide.  They are the most charitable, trustworthy, loving people I've ever known outside of my immediate circle of friends and family.  Within less than 48 hours we raised over $40,000 to help cover all expenses while my friend goes through her treatment.  There was a fundraiser-dance last Friday to keep raising money for her & her daughter, and it was beautiful.  I cry as I post this because the unconditional love and support was overwhelming.  Whether it was finding a chair for her during the performances or picking up the lei when it slipped off the chair while she danced, people from all walks of life came out to support a member of the dance community.  Professional photographers donated time & talent, dancers performed through out the night.  I kept telling people, it was better than a high school reunion!  Getting to catch up with people I've known for decades - people I actually liked & know they liked me too - it was the happiest my heart has been in a long time! 




Even though there was a lingering bittersweet twinge for the first half of the dance, the speech my friend gave thanking all of us erased any sadness.  The tears I cried were out of raw emotion, an overflow of love being given & received by every single person in the room.  While speaking, my friend said "I truly believe I can be this.  My job is to beat this.  And eat kale." (I guess kale is good for kicking cancer's butt?  I'd be screwed - can't STAND kale!)  then she said, "I can do this.  I AM doing this.  And together, we can do this.  We ARE doing this."  We all looked at each other with tears spilling over, at that point.  The friend who runs the ballroom and put the event together talked about the strength within our community, and I believe there are no words that can actually bring justice to the word "strength" in this situation.
 


I can't even say "God was present" and leave it so exclusive... I mean, of course I believe that God was present, I believe He's everywhere, all the time.... but it was bigger than any definition of God.... does that make sense?  Or maybe it was the first time I'd ever experienced the omnipresence of God.  All of us there have different belief systems, or maybe even the belief that if you do good, good comes to you, and it doesn't matter.  Good people came together to do good for a loved one.