Being married to me

Must be tough being married to me

A kiss can turn into a nightmare, intimacy much worse

When the beast of illness rears its ugly head

And convulsive episodes ensue and last and last . . .

You never really know when

Some sweetness will turn to black

Your affections will turn to caretaking

Yielding another failed remedy instead of a back rub . . .

No partner by your side

Others asking about the phantom wife

Does she really exist out there somewhere

Or is it just on paper and within her cage of the home?

She cooks alright and keeps the house afloat

But complains every time you call

Of this dire affliction or that when he’s at work

Helpless, other-directed, and burdened under the strain . . .

Months turned into years

As life tried to move on so we

Try to celebrate this or that, have a nice meal

Only to have her collapse at the kitchen table again . . .

He has gotten stronger

From carrying her burdened frame

To the toilet, the bed, the couch, off the floor

Rolling her over in bed, lifting her up to drink . . .

He has had to adjust to this abnormalcy of life

Never mentioning it unless another asks

For the pain of the story isn’t worth the awkward moment

A thousand times told, untold a bit later . . .

Tis the Lord’s will

The believer in Christ must contend

Yet are we not commanded to fight

For good, for answers, for more faith when tears flow?

Altogether lovely

He remains strong

Goes to work and play

To cope with the madness . . .

She waits at home

What choice does she have?

Her calling different from his

Or is it when bound by love?

There is no right way

To navigate a life gone off the rails

Except to breathe daily in prayer

When being married to me.  JJ

Finding the music you love

Songs of the 70’s hold a special passion for me, perhaps because it’s when I came into adulthood.  Put a swoony love song next to some old fashioned rock-n-roll and I had music to cover the range of emotions of a young adult woman coming into bloom.  Then my taste got lost.  What happened?

It almost doesn’t matter.  I lived a bit of a double life for about a decade after graduating high school:  college student/working professional by day and party girl with friends on the weekends.  The latter covered everything with a disco beat anyways as my personal life unraveled.  Then I got saved.  What happened next left me lost on the radio dial.  Which songs was I supposed to listen to now?

The answer to that question took another half of a lifetime to answer.  Amy Grant was the artist for my first Christian CD followed by Russ Taff and others.  Christmas recordings were easy to select since well, the popular and Christian music are really o.k. no matter where or who you are with most of the time.  Then I started working out.  The worship or pop hits with clean lyrics just didn’t get me moving.  What to listen to  was a question I struggled to resolved as I flipped between my old and my new music discs.

This year I started listening to the noon radio news program for the American Center for Law and Justice.  The host often plays classic rock played and recorded from his namesake, the Jay Sekulow Band.  I love it!  Suddenly my dilemma has now been solved!  I know many believers in Jesus Christ stop listening to secular music when it compromises their thinking and I agree:  we must use discernment to not recite lyrics that dishonor God, His Word, and His creation.  And guess what?  There is quite a bit of toe-tapping, electric guitar music out there that does just that while simply expressing the topics of life in song.  In addition, these days Christian music has come into it’s own with better production, sound, lyrics, and vocal styles to keep me interested.  I’ll end with two examples in just a moment.

So when ya just gotta move to a tune that gets ya going, do a theme check and PLAY IT LOUD SISTA!  Our dog might hide out in the back bathroom until the bass stops rattling the windows or my husband rescues her to send her outside for a run in the yard.  Tuff beans, pup.  Chasing a tennis ball just doesn’t do anything for me like it does for you!  I need my music.

Anyone else know what I mean?  JJ

Taking Turns

He needs me not but benefits just the same

And I am there to fill his tummy, help out at river races.

Then the nights return with my special kind of hell

And he brings me this or that to get the ravages of illness to stop.

Both are love in their simplest forms:

Meant to serve, to go beyond what is comfortable to desires of the heart.

Oh that my end could be gentler, the wretchedness, the pain

Making the care less traumatic between seemingly timed screams for hours on end.

But that is not our story at least for this season of life

(We define our bond in sickness and in health)

In moments at edges of the extreme . . . for over five years now.

We are weary from the journey with bodies broken with fatigue

Where only the Holy Spirit can infuse us with grace to carry us through the nights and days.

So when those pundits talk formulas of 50-50 or equations of sort

Plunge them into our caldron and see how the overflow of energies exceeds the common core.

Marriage is simply the art of taking turns without keeping score

The Heavenly Father sees the man, the woman and makes you what you are:

Instruments of His hands, ministers of His peace

Care that makes love come alive, pictures of His glory.

One day we will know why

 

 

kayak, canoe, racing, paddling, awards, ceremony, St. Joe River, Fort Wayne, competition, C2, Stellar, Steve Horney

Steve on the right, congratulating C2 Aluminum Canoe paddlers George and Tilman during awards the Three Rivers Fest 7.15.17

this all came about

In the meantime I will take my turn when it comes

And serve my beloved for a purpose beyond . . .

JJ

Stand Up, Finish, and Win!

Recently a gal came into my life who has a major vocal talent.  I love the full alto robustness of her singing voice and the special emphasis she can put just about anywhere in a song to make a verse, an ending phrase come alive.  Very few musicians can go way beyond the sheet music and take you with them every note of the way . . . as if you are sharing in all of the emotion and beauty pouring out of the Creator’s expression manifest before you.  I love moments like this.  I love listening to her sing.  Her music gives me goose bumps now and always has done so.

I had the privilege of performing and competing in the top choir at my high school for all of my three years there.  Our teacher, Mr. Herr, was an accomplished tenor and pianist who occasionally shared his talent with us when singing the male solos; this included part of Handel’s Messiah one particular Christmas.  Before the concert he took a bus load of us teenagers to an old Catholic cathedral in downtown Detroit to sing the choral sections of the work from the balcony as the giant pipe organ accompanied us at full volume.  I will never forget that sound!  Our voices lifted high as if to touch the vaulted ceilings painted with Biblical scenes that I would not really understand for another decade.  My tender frame shook with the majesty, the magnificence of the moment when all the harmonies blended together in perfection.  The entire church swelled with the sound of music.  What a great experience to carry us through our concert at school shortly thereafter.  Well done Mr. Herr!

A fellow choir student told me early in my senior year that the only reason that I made the Chorale was my ability to sight-read written music.  The comment was a slam for sure.  So my talent wasn’t good enough but somehow my ability to read music made up the difference?  I didn’t understand but still was crushed.  Regardless, I made every early morning rehearsal, class session, and concert throughout the school year.  My mom sewed my blue maxi skirt and plaid outfit herself that all of the girls had to have made for the concerts.  And she did make it to the concerts, thankfully.  She made a point of telling me, however, that I could do better if I would just open my mouth more when I was singing.  Geez.  It’s a wonder I made it through my senior year of Chorale after all of that nonsense.

My interest in singing changed as I went off to college with my 3/4-sized classical guitar alongside me.  My experience got me two “easy  A’s” in beginner piano and guitar classes for creative arts requirements but little else.  Playing popular songs and sing-a-longs diminished from gatherings at the beach with girlfriends (who didn’t mind when the music always seemed to bring the guys around with a harmonica or their curiosity!) to sing-a-longs with groups of patients at various psychiatric hospitals in which I worked as an occupational therapist years later.  Within a decade I had practically stopped everything altogether and my skills, even my voice, eroded.  More recently the serious illness I have been battling has changed my breath volume and vocal cords such that my voice crackles when singing worship songs “in church.”  Although I will still crank the stereo and give it a go occasionally when the Barbara Streisand CD just happens to get turned up really loudly when my hubby is away!  No, no, ain’t gonna rain on my pa–rade!

So I do have a bit of an ear for quality and musicianship which brings me to the point of this discussion:  when a person DOES have a major talent I believe it is a gift from the Lord to be shared openly for His glory.  It really bugs me that my new friend has received “pukey” comments from non-talented, envious people around her.  I hope she can let them go.  We come to faith in Christ and are given spiritual gifts to be used for the Lord’s glory, often showcasing talents or even growing abilities already present in the life of the believer.  Whether we use our giftedness directly in ministry or just to inspire others as unto the Lord, I believe that we are to let that goodness shine!

Matthew 5:14-16New International Version (NIV)

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Especially today for all of us who have a creative ability that stands out from the crowd, my prayer would be that we would stand up, finish the performance out in front of the spaces we are given and win glory for the One Who has entrusted it to our care.  Delight in-and-develop our talent, have fun with it, and don’t let the pukeys, the naysayers get us down.  Going forth with boldness and confidence may just bring each of us the desires of our hearts which is a good thingy, eh?  The Lord may have placed those dreams there, waiting for us to take the next steps He will lead us to and through.  Oh how He loves us so . . . which reminds me of a song . . .

Trusting Jesus

The following is an excerpt from an article entitled, “The One Who Returned Home” by Naomi Zacharias on page 14 of the recent http://www.rzim.org quarterly newsletter (Spring 2017, I believe).  She quotes a letter that recounts a story from Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz, about a friend who was a Navy SEAL.  The closing remarks are from Naomi.  I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did!  JJ

(The Navy SEAL) was performing a covert operation, freeing hostages from a dark part of the world.  When they entered the room, it was filthy and dark.  The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified.  The SEALs initially stood at the door and called to the prisoners.  They identified themselves and asked the hostages to follow them, but the hostages wouldn’t move.  Alienated and frightened, they instead hid their eyes in fear.

This particular SEAL put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages.  He was trying to show them he was one of them.  After meeting their eyes, the Navy SEAL whispered that they were Americans and were there to rescue them.  “Will you follow us?” he said.  The man stood to his feet.  First one prisoner did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go.

(The person sharing this story) reminded me that Miller concluded this:  “I never liked it when the preacher said we had to follow Jesus.  Sometimes they would make him sound angry.  But I liked (this story instead).  I liked the idea of Jesus becoming man, so that we would be able to trust him, and I liked that he healed people and loved them and cared deeply about how people were feeling.”

(The storyteller) shared that it reminded her of what Jesus has been for her.  But it struck me how she has embodied this message in her ministry.  (The storyteller’s name is Analise.)

When Analise hit rock bottom, the reason she found safety in (a program called) the Word Made Flesh is because they were willing to sit in that place with her; they remember their own lostness and the mutual need for a Savior who rescues us.  He did not choose to do this in grandiose fashion.  No, he chose the utter loneliness and pain of the cross.  And so it is he who beckons us by sitting down beside us, showing us he became one of us.  He tells us he is our Savior, and he leads us home — so that we may all be the one who returned home.