29 December 2008

A New Song.

Psalm 149:1-4 Hallelujah! Sing to GOD a brand-new song,
praise Him in the company of all who love Him.
Let all Israel celebrate their Sovereign Creator,
Zion's children exult in their King.
Let them praise His name in dance;
strike up the band and make great music!
And why? Because GOD delights in His people,
festoons plain folk with salvation garlands!

I’m not a songwriter. And while I love to dance, I don’t necessarily fancy myself a great one. So to think about singing to God a NEW song – a song that has not yet ever been sung – is difficult for me to comprehend.

Music is such a powerful thing in my life. My husband laughs that my brain is a repository for any and every song I’ve ever heard (a road trip with satellite radio brought that fact to light for him). The melodies, the harmonies, the lyrics all blending together, cutting through the silence with mood and emotion and message-

What would a new song sound like, if I penned it? What would others hear if they listened to the song of my life? If it were written right now, reflecting back on 2008, perhaps it would be a symphony in 5 movements. The theme would be time.

There would be strings, hauntingly beautiful, with words of heartache and tenderness. My journeys to Guatemala and Honduras, my travels to the US/Mexico border. My visits to Beaumont, Midland, and Lubbock. Precious moments spent with beautiful children abandoned, rejected, cast aside.

There would the precious sounds of flute and harp and piano. Juxtaposed against the strings, even more beautiful and delicate, the movement would celebrate unity and love and life and tenderness. My husband. My children. My gifts.

There would be an overture of woodwinds – oboe and sax, filled with struggle and angst against a backdrop of drums. My endless hours on the road, trying so hard to remain faithful to the cause despite the whispers and attacks. The music would be enough – no words. And the movement would end abruptly, with one lingering note played from the oboe as the journey ends.

An interlude of flute and strings would then join the oboe. Hope and love remain.

There would be guitar – simple, rich acoustic guitar – filling the room with tender melodies and lyrics of refreshing and healing. The time spent with family and friends in gentle conversation, in worship, in laughter, in writings. The movement would resonate with names of the guardians of my heart.

And the final movement would be voices – children’s voices singing “Holy holy holy.” Voices singing “Great is Thy faithfulness.” Voices singing “I am Thine.” Voices singing to the power and the presence of a truly ALL Mighty, ALL Powerful God. A God Who delights in me and adorns me with His salvation. He indeed is worth celebrating. He indeed deserves a new song.

24 December 2008

My Christmas Wish. For You.

I posted this on my FB profile, and thought I would post it here as well.

Some of you believe.
Some of you don't.
And some of you just don't give it much thought at all.

If you know me, you may think I'm talking about God. But I'm not. Yes, I am a Christ-follower, and thank God every day for His amazing gift of the Glorious Impossible. But this note is about Santa. Because the real story of jolly old St. Nick is a great one:

"Nicholas was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships (because of their importance in delivering food and supplies).

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. He died December 6, AD 343. It is said Nicholas gave everything he had away to help those in need." (exerpts from the St. Nicholas Center)

I pray this holiday season is filled with laughter and cheer and cherished moments that linger as good memories for years. And this Christmas, I hope you will discover the joy that comes from giving yourself away to the poor, the outcast, the fatherless, the homeless, the broken. If you've read my blogs, you know that nothing feels as good as pouring your life into those who may never have the opportunity to repay you. There are a lot of hurting people out there. All the while, you hold amazing gifts to help them - your time, talent, or treasure.

Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless. (Isaiah 1:17, The Message)

A very Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. And here's to a wonderful 2009!

13 December 2008

Two Great Role Models.

It feels like forever since I’ve penned anything. I have note after note that captures thought after thought, yet none of those notes have fully developed into something that resembles anything worth sharing. They will come in time, I suppose. If time is given.

I’m caught this week in the delicate struggle between frailty and immortality. Two role models of mine have died. Two men who were “the good ones,” as a friend aptly put it. The two men lived very different lives and didn’t know each other. One was a small business owner and one was a business mogul. One lived in Oklahoma in a modest home and one lived in Texas in an exclusive neighborhood. Yet both lived with a purpose far beyond success and fame. And I’m so humbled to have know each of them.

I met Ken when, as a freshman in high school, I began running around with his daughter, Rhonda. There was something different about him – different than any man I had ever been around. Ken enthusiastically loved God. He prayed with his family, shared his faith often, and put Christ at the center of all he did. And he was a creative soul who loved color and design – he saw it as a gift from the Lord. I distinctly remember the day he painted the Lord’s Prayer on the dining room wall, diagonally with a crisp font treatment. He wanted his family to always remember Who supplied, Who loved, Who protected. And I wanted my dad to be like Ken.

On Monday, Ken was working on a roof with his son-in-law. He complained of being tired, and sat to rest. His last words were “Praise Jesus. Hallelujah. Thank you Lord.” He slumped over and was gone. His heart simply stopped beating.

When I first met Frank, I thought he was a sales assistant. The television station sales offices were moving, and he had removed his tie and rolled up shirt sleeves to help his staff move boxes. He had a boyish look about him, far from the image I had painted in my mind of a General Manager of a major market TV station. I arrived, dressed in the only suit I owned, with videotapes in one hand and writing samples in the other. He had called me after seeing my resume, and asked if I would be available to meet about a job opportunity. At the time, I was an assistant in the Promotion Department at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City – a low-paying “catch-all” position at the television station. As a struggling single parent dealing with life after an abusive marriage, I could make enough at the job to pay for necessities, but not enough to pay for a place to live. So I stayed with my parents and prayed for better days to come.

Frank and I talked, and he fixed his attention on a few specific projects I had worked on. Those projects involved generating revenue through underwriting and sponsorships. He saw something in me I wasn’t even sure I saw in myself. That meeting was in October 1989, and in February 1990 I was named Director of Sales Promotion for KXAS-TV in Dallas. It was a start-up position – the first of its kind in the country. Frank put his faith in me to bring his vision to fruition. And with his support and encouragement, it worked – very well. My story of Frank isn’t an unusual one. There are countless people to whom Frank has provided career starts, management opportunities, business connections. He was a brilliant salesperson and leader, but he wasn’t filled with ego – he found joy in pouring his life into others.

Frank had been battling cancer – a rare form that baffled doctors. He tried various treatments as he continued to live life to the fullest. But he grew weary of the chemo, and asked that it cease about a month ago. He passed away early this morning, surrounded by family.

Death reminds us all how frail we are – how this life truly is just a vapor. But we can live forever. Ken continues to live on, through the love and faith he shared with his family and friends. Frank continues to live on in the lives of those he counseled, those he coached – those he believed in, like me.

Prov. 11: 25 A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
Prov. 22: 1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Thank you Ken. Thank you Frank. I pray that, should I be given the opportunity to be a role model in another’s life, I will model your character, your faith, your selflessness.

04 December 2008

Just a thought - but from one far wiser than me.

Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christian should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong. --Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sermon on II Cor. 12:9