Monday, May 25, 2009

Musical Monday

Last week we visited South Ridge Church here in Fairmont. I haven't gone elsewhere to church in a while, and it was nice to visit another fellowship. We all had a nice time.

One of the songs that we did has really stayed with me since last Sunday. My sister Megan shared it with me right around Easter, but with kids running around, it was hard to really have a chance to listen to it well. But having an opportunity to sing it with their team definitely helped cement it in my brain. I've been humming it off and on all week long.

There's really very little I can add to this lyric. It's pretty straightforward, and is a beautiful prayer for all believers. This is Fire Fall Down by Hillsong United.

Cause I know that you're alive
You came to fix my broken life
And I'll sing to glorify
Your Holy name, Jesus Christ

You bought my life with the blood
That you shed on the cross
When you died for the sins of men
And you let out a cry, crucified
Now alive in me

These hands are yours
Teach them to serve
As you please and I'll reach out
Desperate to see all the greatness of God
May my soul rest assured in you

I'll never be the same
No I'll never be the same
Cause I know that you're alive
You came to fix my broken life
And I'll sing to glorify
Your Holy name, Jesus Christ

You've changed it all
You broke down the wall
When I spoke and confessed
In you I am blessed
Now I walk in the light
In victorious sight of you

Fire fall down
Fire fall down
On us we pray
As we seek
Fire fall down
Your fire fall down
On us we pray

Show me your heart
Show me your way
Show me your glory

Thursday, May 21, 2009

To be fair...

Just so my friend Tina doesn't think that I only have it out for birds, I figured I'd better post this video. And she can remember the little kitten on my shoulder from back in Sarver. He probably would have been thankful to be in this game!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Reminder -- Jars of Clay Drawing

Just a reminder that today is the last day for the Jars of Clay drawing. Leave a comment at this post in the next 9 hours or so and you'll be entered to win a free copy of Long Fall Back to Earth!

Musical Monday

Today is kind of a reflective day for me. It's the anniversary of Kack's passing on, so I'm feeling a bit misty.

I don't have a lot to say about today's song, other than it seems like one Kack would have liked. It's not one that I was familiar with before Jars of Clay recorded it on their cd Redemption Songs, but I've really come to like this one. This is "On Jordan's Stromy Banks I Stand."

On Jordan's stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan's fair and happy land
Where my possessions lie

All o'er those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day
There God, the Son forever reigns
And scatters night away.

I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land

No chilling wind nor poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore
Where sickness, sorrow, pain and death
Are felt and feared no more

I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land

When shall I see that happy place
And be forever blessed
When shall I see my Father's face
And in His bosom rest

I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land

On Jordans Stormy Banks I Sta - Jars Of Clay

Saturday, May 16, 2009

First Shave

My oldest turns 11 in just ten days and she recently asked if she could shave her legs. I know this is kind of a silly thing to avoid doing, but I've never really pushed the leg-shaving thing because it just seems so darn grown up! But I guess one of her friends gave her a little grief over her unshaven legs, so we went ahead tonight before her shower and I helped show her how to do it.

It was a nice little moment. She reminded me when we were shopping earlier today that she wanted to pick up the supplies. I found some nicer disposable razors and let her pick out whatever shaving cream she wanted. Then tonight before she took her shower, I helped her lather up and cut through the hair! Can I just say that disposable razors have come a long way since the first time I shaved. I think we only ended up with one small injury from the first time out -- I think I had one whole leg that was bleeding! Overall, it was a positive experience and I think she's pretty excited about her new legs!

For me, it's just another reminder that my kids are growing up. I know that it's inevitable and good, but I can't help being just a little scared for her! At least I'm blessed enough to have her want to involve me in these big moments right now. It might feel soon for me for stuff like shaving, but as long as she wants to share it with me, I'm going to be right there with her!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Musical Monday

Sorry for the little hiatus there. Hopefully I'll be back to blogging this week.

After about wearing out my new Jars of Clay cd, I decided to listen to something that I haven't listened to in a while and pulled out Shawn McDonald's Simply Nothing. It's an older cd, but I think it's still really good. It's very simple -- mostly acoustic guitar with a sprinkling of piano and strings. Today's song is one of my favorite worship songs from the disc.

I know for me, whenever I'm not feeling the presense of God, it generally has to do with my posture. Am I closed off, or am I actively seeking His company? Certainly there are times when I feel like He is hiding His face from me, but generally I find those are the times when I haven't been digging in and looking for Him or standing with my arms crossed, waiting to see what He'll do next. However, I can definitely relate to the pleading in this song.

Here I Am

I lay myself at Your feet
Asking You won't You meet
Won't You meet me
I cannot do it on my own
I cannot do it all alone
Here I am, oh, tonight
With my arms open wide
Won't You come inside
Won't You come inside, God
Come and fill this heart of mine
I'm in need of You
Of Your touch, of Your life, of Your love
I need You
I need You

Monday, May 04, 2009

Musical Monday -- Contest Edition!!!

I know that my Musical Monday posts are generally confined to a single song, but I simply can't decide which of the new Jars of Clay songs to post about, so instead, I'm going to post about a bunch of the songs. And since the cd is relatively new and I can't find many songs on YouTube to share, I'm going to host my first contest and give away a copy of the cd to one lucky reader! (Rules at the end of the post. So you can at least THINK about reading what I wrote!)

The latest work from Jars of Clay is called Long Fall Back to Earth. For a full list of lyrics to each of the songs, you can go here. I find that these guys write some pretty strong songs, so I would recommend going and reading through them.

1. The Long Fall -- This cd opens with an instrumental piece. It's absolutely beautiful, and it sets the tone for the album very nicely. It opens with a lovely piano pattern, adding in pads, guitars, bass, and percussion gradually. It has a very other-worldly feeling to it that has a floaty feeling to it. I think it's a great start to the cd. And it shows that the piano is going to have a prevalent place in this cd, which, as a pianist, makes me super happy!

2. Weapons -- I'm not sure that I would have gone straight from The Long Fall into this song (I probably would go directly into the sixth track, but that's me). This song has a pretty traditional rock groove. I particularly like the last line of the second verse, "We didn’t notice that grace had run so thin, till we’re falling apart and the cracks in our hearts let the truth sink in." I think that we often mistake the wrong person as the enemy. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but so often we do indeed battle with the people in our lives. This song is a great reminder of who it is that we are fighting.

3. Two Hands -- We hit my first favorite song (I know that favorite is generally a singular thing, but that doesn't apply to me!). What a powerful lyric! The songwriter juxtaposes various areas in our lives that conflict with one another. I love the bridge here:
And if we just keep digging we can reach the foundation
Of our souls
And if we just keep cutting all the chains from our hearts
We'll lose control
Losing control with our hands held high -- that's a pretty awesome place to be.

4. Heaven -- Probably my least favorite song on the cd. Musically it feels really out of place, which makes it difficult for me to get into. Moving on...

5. Closer -- Another one that I'm a bit "meh" about. There's nothing really wrong with it, it's just not one that really speaks to me, because it's just not something that I've really struggled with in my marriage (I hear it as a marriage song). Even during difficult times, my husband and I have generally been pretty close. Closeness isn't really something that is a problem with us, so the song just doesn't move me and musically it's nothing that really does much for me either.

6. Safe to Land -- Another song I really like. This song is a plea from one who has wronged someone to know that it's safe to pursue the relationship again. Sometimes when we've hurt someone and we've asked for forgiveness, we need to know that the relationship is safe, even if it's been damaged. I know sometimes there is a separation that occurs when there's been a big hurt, and getting back to a "regular" relationship seems almost impossible. This song addresses that tentative nature in a fantastic manner.

7. Headphones -- If someone forced me to pick a favorite song, I think this would probably be it (it's the one that I've listened to the most). This one has touched me in a more powerful way than any of the others. I think most of us long for relationship, but it can be so difficult and messy. The potential for hurt goes up so much when we have real relationship, and it's much easier to engage only on a very shallow basis and block out that deeper need with other things. What particularly moved me was the way that the writer pushes his own feelings onto the other person to justify his own withdrawal. I know that I am guilty of this. I assume that the other person doesn't want to hear, so I just avoid being real, even though there's a good chance that we both would benefit from the interaction. Aside from the amazing lyric, the music is just amazing. This is a fairly depressing lyric, and it's paired with a great, bubbly song, with just enough tension in it to keep it from being simply a sarcastic song.

8. Don't Stop -- Maybe if this song were somewhere else on the cd I'd like it better. It's just situated very awkwardly between two pretty strong songs, and just feels out of place.

9. Boys (Lesson One) -- This would be the final favorite, coming in at a very close second to Headphones. It's also the song that has prompted my recent posts about self-awareness. But overall, I really like this one. Love songs from parents to their children have been favorites of mine since well before I had my own kids (Wide-Eyed Wonder by The Choir is one of my favorite cds of all times, and that's one is all about parents and children). As my kids get older, this one means more to me. This is probably one of the most "traditional" Jars of Clay kind of songs, meaning that musically, it sounds the most like some of their previous stuff. Lyrically, the chorus is just wonderful -- something I'd share with my own children easily.
So you know who you are, and you know what you want
I’ve been where you’re going, and it’s not that far
It’s too far to walk, but you don’t have to run
You’ll get there in time
10. Hero -- Nothing terribly deep in the lyrics here, but this riff is just fantastic. By far the most Christian song on the cd (really, the only one that I would consider explicitly Christian). The driving piano on this is very cool. It has kind of a Coldplay vibe to it, as far as I'm concerned. I'm hoping that Karen is reading this and will consider this for a special some week when I get to play! While I haven't had on KLOVE in a long time, I would expect that this is the single from the cd. It certainly has that feel to it.

11. Scenic Route -- Another relationship song. Going somewhere new with the same person. It's easy to grow stagnant in our relationships and this song is a great reminder to look for more in the relationships that we already "know."

12. There Might Be a Light -- This song is a bit of a rehash of the theme of Safe to Land, in my opinion. Musically less interesting, and lyrically not as strong. Not one of my favorites.

13. Forgive Me -- A great song reminding us not to wait to seek forgiveness. The longer we wait, the more difficult it becomes. The longer we wait, the more the situation escalates, if not in fact, at least in the mind of the wronged person. We are here for a ridiculously short amount of time -- far too short to allow unforgiveness to fester. If you wrong someone, bite the bullet and seek forgiveness.

14. Heart -- Love is a powerful, complex thing. And the love that God has for us is so much more so. He has given us his heart in his son Jesus, and asks us to give us ours in return. It's nothing, and it's everything. But the choice is ours.

And there you have it. The iTunes version has two remixes on it, one of Headphones (hate it -- I don't think that it's well done at all) and one of Two Hands (better, but not that different from the studio cut). Like I mentioned previously, I probably would have moved a few songs around, because I feel like it's a little disjointed, but this has had a permanent place in my car and on my computer for the past week.

Now, for the contest rules. Right now I need to limit this to the United States (sorry to any international readers!). I'll be giving away one copy of Long Fall Back to Earth. There are several ways you can enter. You can comment here or at facebook. Also, mentioning this contest on your blog and posting that link here or at facebook will gain you an additional entry. Please make sure that I have a way to reach you to get your mailing info. This contest will run for 2 weeks, until May 18th. Thanks!

What Defines Us? (Part 2)

In this post I asked,
What defines you? How do you define other people? How far apart or close together are those things?
I've received some interesting answers from people here and on facebook, and I thank you for your input. I welcome any continued ideas. But I figured it's about time for me to answer.

While I expect that the songwriter was speaking more to the idea that one bad decision doesn't define us, I'm still iffy about that idea. I certainly don't think that one has to live forever with the label of that mistake, but even if we move past that, I believe those things will effect future choices. I know that there's no question that some of the worst mistakes that I've made have changed me and have in some manner defined who I am. So I don't necessarily use the labels that might come with some of those bad decisions, but they are definitely a part of me.

Another difficult thing about this question is that, hopefully, who we are is always changing. A couple of years ago, I would have been much more strongly defined by my role as a mom. My kids depended on me pretty completely, and almost everything I did was put through that lens. Now that my kids are a bit older, the mom role, while certainly still a part of "me," has fallen to the side a bit more. So something that might have been a definer of Alise four years ago isn't so much the case now. I hope that some foundational things remain, but I also want my definition to be a bit fluid.

As for others, I would say that, in general, I tend to be a little quick to label based on single events. I'm trying to change that about myself, but I definitely tend to be a lot more generous when defining myself than I am with others. I know that I need to withhold judgment of others in the same way that I would hope that they do with me -- until there is some level of relationship there to actually make the call about who they really are. Certainly the more I get to know someone, the more my "rules" for defining them come more into line with the rules that I use for myself.

Just a few quick thoughts. I may write more about it in the future, but that's at least a little something-something for today!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Why do I care?

Tonight one of the guys in our church's worship team got to talking with me about why I care at all about evolution and what have you. I wish we'd had more time to talk. Instead we had to do a sound check, so our dialogue was cut a bit short. I appreciate these opportunities to talk and discuss ideas. I think too often in these situations, there's little dialogue. It's all debate or grandstanding and so the actual exchange of ideas is limited.

One question he asked before we had to do our job was why it mattered? Why blog about it at all, knowing that it's a controversial subject? I think this is a very fair question, and I figured I'd go ahead and answer it more thoroughly here. If anyone has any questions, I'm totally open to them, either here or at Facebook or in real life. I will state up front that I am NOT a scientist or anything like that, so any relay of deep information will be somewhat limited, but I'm happy to at least chat with you. As I said before, I think sharing with one another face to face is the best way to hash some of this out. For information on how I came to my view, at least in part, I would strongly recommend watching Ken Miller's lecture here. It's a 2 hour video, but even just watching the first hour would be good. We're coming up on re-run season. Maybe instead of watching a repeat of House, the reader would consider watching an hour of a Christian biologist explaining why he believes in evolution.

Anyway, the primary reason that I care about this issue is that I see this as becoming a measuring stick for determining how Christian someone is. One of the biggest defenders of young earth creationism is the ministry Answers in Genesis. In their statement of faith, Sections 1.2 and then in 2.6 states:
The doctrines of Creator and Creation cannot ultimately be divorced from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The special creation of Adam (the first man) and Eve (the first woman), and their subsequent fall into sin, is the basis for the necessity of salvation for mankind.
We have been asked how we can believe in any of the Bible if we don't believe in a literal 6 day creation. These kinds of statements force a choice between belief in God and an acceptance of evolution.

These same choices have been laid out time and again. Believe that the earth is the center of the universe, or you'll be excommunicated. Believe that the world is flat or no God for you. So many profound scientific discoveries have been by people of faith looking for God in nature, and sadly, the Church has presented an us against them mindset. Previously it was primarily the Catholic church, and more recently, evangelical Christians have picked up that baton with evolution.

What is disappointing is that when you place it in those kinds of terms, the overwhelming evidence points to an old earth and many people will choose to follow the evidence. It's a completely false dichotomy, but if that's the choice that is presented, it can create an unnecessary difficulty for some both outside of, and also INSIDE the Christian faith. I firmly believe that one can embrace both Jesus as Savior and a Darwinian evolution, but I'll admit, it's a profoundly difficult thing to read and hear statements like those posted above. I know of at least one other person who has major struggles with his faith not so much because he can't reconcile evolution and the Bible, but because he's been told that the two can't be reconciled by others in the Church.

For the record, I don't think that everyone who believes in young earth creationism holds that similar belief is required for salvation. Heck, it's probably not even most. I expect that many are as puzzled by my beliefs as I am by theirs, but I expect that they are also willing to concede that we can all co-exist in the family of God quite nicely, even if we do shake our heads at one another on occasion. Unfortunately, it's my experience that those voices get drowned out by mocking voices and voices that declare that one must make a choice.

So I mostly care for the folks caught in the middle. I have a few kids who are, at least today, considering becoming scientists of some sort when they grow up. If they choose something in the way of biology, cosmology, astronomy, geology, it's almost guaranteed that they will accept evolution as fact (less than 1% of scientists in earth and life sciences believe in a young earth). I don't want them to feel like they must abandon their faith because of this.

The earth is amazing. It is beautiful. Human life is astounding to me. I've watched several live births and seen a person emerge from another person. I've been pregnant and felt another human living inside of me. In no way has my belief in evolution caused this wonder at the miraculousness of life to change or diminish. That which has caused me to doubt my faith has been when it is tied to specific beliefs outside of the deity of Christ alone. This is why I will probably tend to be a bit more vocal about some of my more controversial beliefs. I hope not to drive a wedge between those with whom I have disagreement, but rather to put a human face on one of "those evolutionists" and also to let those who share my beliefs know that they are not alone.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Shaking my head

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.

My only hope is that because the sample size is small, they just missed all of the evangelicals who oppose torture. But given some conversations I've had since Abu Ghraib first broke years ago, I don't think these numbers are that far off.

You know, I get that the terrorists are bad guys. I really do. But c'mon. Isn't the point that we as Americans are better than that? And certainly as Christians we're to be better than that? And why do I find myself yet again wanting to distance myself from those with whom I share my faith?
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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
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