a Sunday night, early June

sigh.  Sunday night, June 1.  It's quiet except for the tumbling hum of the dryer, which has been going nearly all day.  I do a pretty good job of enjoying rest on the Sabbath in recent years...but I failed to prepare yesterday, and well...there was not a single bath towel clean and dry.  So here I am with the dryer going and everyone finally asleep, including Dasher the Dog who breathes deeply on the bean bag nearby.  Toby and I treated ourselves to a couple old episodes of Arrested Development, but even he fell asleep.  :)  "Writing when I should be sleeping"...ha.  Well, that's why I took my little nap this afternoon--so I could enjoy this moment.  

Yesterday the band and I performed outdoors for an event here in town.  Minus Mandy--we let her off the hook, because of the new baby, but we missed her very much.  It was crazy hot, and I have to admit the heat affected me much more than I anticipated!  What a baby, right?  :)  Well, the keys were literally hot beneath my fingers, and my jeans stuck to my legs when I stood up, and I forgot lyrics or chords at least three times.  (Thank you Simon, Louis, Jamie, and Reagan for being the kind of people who have fun even when you're uncomfortable!)  But you know what?  As much as I want to be perfect, I'm realizing more and more the truth in this:  It does not matter.  It does not matter if I perform brilliantly or not, if I'm funny or not, if I'm pretty or not, if I'm anything or not anything.  God has given me some kind of story to tell OF HIM with my life experiences, my way of melody and lyric-making, my interactions...I want to take even the "my" out of those phrases, because of how little it has to do with me. I am meant to value my story in that God and others are served by it, period.  Do you get that? Are you aware of the power of God through your unique story?  (Read Building a Better Brand by Chris Hilike)  Do you have any idea of the freedom and joy that comes when we realize the possibilities that exist when we stop depending on ourselves to make it all happen??  I'm just beginning to and I long for more of it.

I've just read my friend Angie Smith's recent postings on her blog (see Audrey Caroline on my list above) and been broken for her & Todd, for the Chapman family, and now for Sponbergs.  And closer to home, for the family of Meredith Edwards who also went home to Jesus not long ago.  How unfathomably painful life can be... How unfathomably Good is our God in it all.  Angie said this: You either believe it or you don't.  And I constantly ask: how do you possibly survive if you do not?  This is a sincere question.  Where in the world do you put the weight if you have no eternal hope of heartache redeemed?  

Toby chides me that I write a lot about grief.  There is some truth to that, yes, but I also have written about joy and love and desire.  But I think it is the conversation that faces grief without flinching and follows with hope that resonates most deeply with people and is most remembered.  The longer you are alive, the more you interact with grief and loss.  I have been indirectly touched so much by it in the last few years, that I have found I can't possibly say everything I want to say about it in just one song.  There are too many facets to the process of pain.  And the longer we live, the more we need to sing that there is REAL HOPE.  Objective, unchanging, unbeatable, promised, present, eternal, personal, perfect Hope.  

And when the Person of Hope becomes really, truly, deeply and functionally our focus in life (Meaning beyond being just part of the standard Christian response: "God first"), we will begin to think less about ourselves, our image, our failures and flaws, and more about the people around us who need to experience Hope.  When we become less wrapped in self-consciousness, self-pity, self-gratification, self-help...maybe we will notice our neighbor who needs an encouraging word, or a meal, or a hug.  Maybe we would take the extra minute, make the extra effort, to have a conversation with someone we don't know well and whom we assume we have nothing in common with.  Maybe we will smile at the tired cashier and be patient and loving when she has trouble with the credit card machine.  Maybe I will speak softly to my daughter when she gets out of bed and interrupts my peace and quiet after a bad dream.  Maybe...

I'm rambling, I know.  This is what happens when you leave me in a quiet room late at night.  (The dryer has stopped, and so will I.)  But maybe something here will make sense to you, too.  I am so hungry for wisdom, aren't you?  Sunday night, early June, almost summer...