Musical Musings: "Let It Be" The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....

This is a beautiful song, one I grew up hearing thanks to a mother who LOVED the Beatles. I once heard a friend play it on the piano, changing it from a vaguely Catholic song into a Protestant one (instead of Mother Mary, it was the Holy Spirit, if I recall the changes she made correctly).

If it were possible for The Beatle's music to experience a resurgence (if it ever lost popularity enough to need a resurgence), then certainly the film "Across The Universe" would help provide the momentum necessary for surge in popularity. For those unfamiliar with the film, it was directed by Julie Taymor (the woman responsible for the Broadway adaptation of Disney's "The Lion King") and is the story of a young man in 1960s America, told through the music of The Beatles. Jim Sturgess is Jude, and Evan Rachel Wood plays his Lucy.

In the film, this song is sung at the graveside of two different people; a young child killed in Detroit, and Lucy's boyfriend, killed in Vietnam. This song has always been beautiful; as a funereal anthem, it is stunning and moving, carrying a new weight. It is a plea for peace, both in our own hearts as we try to understand the seeming cruelty of life that would seize two young people with so much ahead of them, but in the larger sense of the world as a whole... for peace in place of war.

I am not Catholic by faith, and I don't believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, provides guidance to me... that those who have walked the Earth come back to guide those still struggling our way through life. That said... the advice voiced through Mary here is excellent.

We all have questions; the heartbreak of life that raises doubts and uncertainties is common to us all. We ask ourselves the same thing: "If God is so loving, then why does He allow suffering. If good exists, then where is there good in the suffering of innocents? Why do the good die young?" There are more questions, more doubts, more uncertainties that plague us in the dark night of the soul, when we are at our most vulnerable. It is our nature to want answers to our questions, to want to understand why things are the way they are. We want to understand before we trust, to weigh our options before leaping in... faith is a hard muscle to exercise and use.

That's where this advice comes into play. You have questions you can't answer: Let them be. Let the questions remain; answers will come in time. Faith comes when you let the questions remain and trust that life is worth living, God really is good, and understanding will come as it is needed. When you don't understand why you must suffer, let it be. Trust that justice will be done, that wrongs won't go unanswered, and just let it be.

This is a prayer that God's will would be done, a declaration of faith, a plea for peace. It's the English translation of the Hebrew word "amen". Each time we end a prayer with Amen, we're invoking the Peace of God to transcend our problems, the Grace of God to overcome our weakness, the Justice of God to right our wrongs, and the Faith to survive it all, arriving safe into the arms of the God who can provide the answers we lack.

I don't understand it all. I can't provide adequate answers for why we suffer, why we lack, why injustices are done. I can't answer all your questions, and I can't understand all the mysteries of the faith (don't ask me to explain the trinity; I know it is, but I can't put it in words adequately). But I know I don't have to. I just have to let it be. I have to trust that my God has the answers I need... that in my long dark night of the soul, my God will come and whisper the words of wisdom I so desperately need.

Let it be. Let it be. There will be an answer... but for now, Let it be.


More Fun and YouTubage

I've discovered Jonathan Coulton. A friend at the Game Shop played Re: Your Brains, and when I went back to find it to play it for John, I found it had exploded all over YouTube. Wil Wheaton refrences it in his own blog, and in his TVSquad reviews for Star Trek: The Next Generation, making nerds everywhere squee in delight. (squee: to squeal, squeak, or make other noises of unabashed delight and excitement). (Side note: It seems Wil and I follow one of the same comics, a fact I discovered while looking through the archives to link to the specific JoCo references... I SWEAR I wasn't reading xkcd because Wil does... that would be just a bit too Trek Stalker, and I'm not THAT girl!)

I also found that he wrote the title music for Code Monkeys, a show John really enjoys and that pokes 8bit fun at the 80's early game developer culture (They aren't Atari, but they might as well be!)

Then, about a week ago, a friend sent me the youtube link for Still Alive, the closing song for the video game Portal. I have to say... I'm almost thinking that The Orange Box might be worth getting to get Portal and Still Alive. This, too, has exploded over You Tube, including this video, of a little robot seemingly created JUST to sing Still Alive. Further exploration introduced her older brother who loves to dance.

I've also been enjoying Weird Al's stuff on YouTube, too...

And that's not even all the memes I've seen blown up everywhere, but it's all I want to follow for now. And, as always, I am not responsible for the time you waste at YouTube, even if I was the one who pointed out cool videos there. :D

PS: Can anyone figure out how to litter this post with MORE links?

I feel fantastic and I'm Still Alive!


There's a difference

There's a difference between obeying out of fear of the law and walking in faith of the grace.

There are those who do what they do in life because that's what you do. They view salvation as a sort of fire insurance. They wouldn't admit it, but the there's a certain amount of fear in their obedience to the law, as though if they do enough good, if they are obedient enough, then God will forgive them of their sins and let them into heaven (or, and forgive me the offense, my dearly, DEARLY beloved Catholic friends) out of purgatory. They live their lives in obedience because of fear of the law, and the consequences of disobedience, even unconsciously.

And then there's the other way. There's what I aim for, though I know I often miss. Walking in faith of the grace. What does that mean? What's the difference?

For me, walking in faith of the grace is yes, obedience when I don't feel obedient. But instead of being afraid of what would happen if I weren't obedient, instead of obeying because that's what you do, or to keep my scale balanced, I opt for something different. I am obedient because I am convinced that the grace I've been promised in reward is far far better than any fleeting percieved reward know. It's in recognition that obedience has produced rewards otherwise unimaginable, and it's built my faith in His ability to keep His promises.

We all face trials in life, and we come out of them in one of three ways. We can be delivered from the trial, and not have to face it. This builds our faith, because we see prayers answered. We can be delivered through them, as Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego were (or, better, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, as they were named to honor the God who spared them). They faced a fire so hot it killed the guards charged with throwing them in, and walked out of it, with neither scorch marks or even the SMELL of smoke. This tests our faith; can we have the faith that He will keep our promises, or even, as they said, as Job said, "Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him." Or we can be delivered by the trial into the arms of God, completing our faith, perfecting it in the ultimate act of grace (Thanks Beth Moore for this idea). Yes, we are dead in this life... but if we had faith in God and in His gift of grace, then we can conceive that we've not lost anything.

Obedience in fear of the law may accomplish good things, but it is imperfect. Perfect love casts out fear... so we can't operate in fear to reach perfection. Walking in faith of the grace that's promised eliminates the fear. It allows victory, it allows perfect love... It's grace. The amazing thing? When you walk in faith of promised grace, you leave room for grace to be poured out upon you, building your faith in future outpourings of grace. You get the grace you need to experience victory over whatever requires obedience now.

Yes, I obey even when I don't feel like it. I obey because I've experienced the grace I need to experience victory. Walking in faith builds faith and is powered by and rewarded with grace.

Maybe I've talked in circles. Maybe it makes no sense to you. But I understand, and beloved, I choose freedom. I choose to exercise my faith like a muscle, and delight in the victory.

Which will you do? There's a difference... in why, and what results you recieve. But then... there's a difference when your name's been written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Musical Musings: Nichole Nordeman "Brave"


The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and
quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been
'Cause it's been fear that
ties me down to everything
But it's been love,
Your love, that cuts the strings

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I am small
And I speak when I'm spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
I say Your name
Just Your name and
I'm ready to jump
Even ready to fall...

Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I've never known a fire
that didn't begin with a flame
Every storm will start
with just a drop of rain
But if you believe in me
That changes everything
So long, I'm gone

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
I wanna be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

OK, really, who didn't see this coming? Seriously? After I talked about making the choice not to be locked in by fear following a nearly-disasterous near-accident, you couldn't tell that Brave was going to be done in short order? We need spend more time together; you clearly don't know me well enough. ;)

Once I could turn the repeat off of "River God", I went for more songs that would help calm, soothe, and yes, build me up. I started with "Finally Free", and considered blogging that, but kept listening while I caught up on my Sunday morning comic strips. I opted for "Brave", choosing it intentionally when the computer started playing "Is It Any Wonder", which, though it is a good song, wasn't quite what I needed this morning. Now it's the one on repeat while I blog, and while I can't be certain, I think I might be brave enough to drive my own car home... choosing not to be a prisoner of fear may have thrown the bars wide open for me.

Now, I'll grant that Nichole isn't talking about bravery in deciding to drive after an almost accident. In fact, when she sings "Why did I take this vow of compromise" I kept hearing "foul compromise"... rather stronger language that she used, but no less than it deserves.

Christ, in Revelation, speaks of us being neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. He asks us to be one or the other. I did a study by Beth Moore, and she explained that the location of Laodicea, the church He addresses here in Rev 4: 14-22 is spoken to in rather surprising (for us) detail. You see, Laodicea is equidistant between the cold water of the Mediterranean and Hot Springs... so that the water that they had in Laodicea was neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, and useless for anything special.

I discuss all that to ask this: How often to do we settle, or worse, aim, for mediocrity? We look for some middle ground that isn't dangerous, that pleases all sides. Why? Because we perceive it as safe. Now, excuse the strong language, but to Hell with that idea! No, really... I mean that literally! Christ wasn't safe; He was radical! Look at the Sermon on the Mount. Not just "do not murder" but "don't even hate your brother!" Not, "don't touch her," but "don't even think about thinking about touching her!" Christ teaches things that were radical in his day: men and women as equals, Jews and Gentiles as equals, Slaves and Free as equal, and all deserving of the same salvation. Look at what He tells us when we start to follow him: We will have no where to lay our head, we must leave all we have, and if we look back, we're not fit for the Kingdom. Where is there a middle ground in "Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect"?

You want to be like Christ? Christ was radical. You want to be like Christ? Christ was unlike any other. You want to be like Christ? Christ was stoned in his own hometown and hung on a cross. There's no room for cowards if you're going to be like Christ. You want to walk His walk? You want to be shaped by Him and made new? You have to be Brave.

But you know what? Christ is worth it. He demands our sense of security be surrendered, and replaces it with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. He demands our lives on earth and gives us eternity. He asks us to surrender to give us the Victory.

So long status quo! I think I just let go! You make me want to be brave! The way it always was is no longer good enough You make me want to be brave! If you believe in me, that changes everything! So long! I'm gone!

Do you want to be brave for a change?

River God

I just blogged on this one last night, and here I am with it on repeat on the laptop, listening to it over and over again. It's very soothing, and at the moment, soothing is what I need. It reminds me that God's hand is in everything, and while our choices may take us contrary to His will, He won't let us go where He can't reach.

I took John to the airport, and by that, I mean I rode while he drove, so that I could drive the car home afterwards. I hadn't even gotten 5 miles from the airport when I hit a slick spot on the roads; there was enough rain to lift the oil from the pavement, but not enough to wash it completely away, so it was at that dangerously slick stage roads reach sometimes. I spun out, doing about 360 degrees of rotation over about 100 yards, on an entrance ramp raised high above traffic...

I didn't hit anything, or anyone, and physically, I am unharmed. I figured out that the car had stalled out (after sitting, trembling, on the outer curve of this curved over-pass ramp for several minutes while I tried to gather my thoughts) and restarted it, finally getting it moving. I started towards home and just wanted somewhere to pull over and calm down, but as I got off the highway, I hit another slick spot and lost traction again. I didn't spin this time, but it was just one more peice of alarming than I could handle. I pulled into the gas station across the way and sat there, trembling, figuring out who I could call on a Sunday Morning to come and help me get home. I found someone, and she came and drove me home; we'll go back in a few hours to get my car. I thought of calling her back, and saying I could drive home, but the more I thought of the idea of driving, the less fond of it I was... the more I trembled.

I'm home now, waiting for church to be over (she offered to take me to church, but all I want right now is to have a good cry and take a little nap) so that I can go with her and her 15 year old to pick up the car. I found I needed music to calm the savage beast of fear that is roaring in my head and chest... and the sweet, simple, haunting echoes of this song seemed perfect.

This is an opportunity. Will I thank my God for keeping me safe through my stupidity (I should have been going slower; I might not have spun out quite so badly if I hadn't hit the slick as fast as I did, though for the life of me, I have no idea how fast I was driving), or will I curse Him for scaring me like that? Will I take the opportunity to learn something and move forward, or will I stay locked in the patterns of fear, unable to progress, trapped in the prison that, just like my father died in a car accident, I will too? Will I accept this incident as an opportunity to be smoothed by my River God, polished to a sheen by the events of life, change my habits, or will I see it as yet another thing taken from me, see it as a flaw, a fatal crack in who I am?

I think you can guess... I do thank my God for keeping me and my car safe. I will eventually even try driving it again (maybe even as soon as when we go to pick it up) and will use this experience to help me become a better driver. After all, little stones are smoothed only when the River passes through. I would be a little smoother in God's hand... and live my life in the victory He says is mine.

You know, writing this has been immensly helpful... I'm calmer and more collected already. Thank you, God, for Your mercies that are new every morning.


Musical Musings: Nichole Nordeman, "River God"

River God

Rolling River God
Little Stones are smooth
Only once the water passes through
So I am a stone
rough and grainy still
Trying to reconcile this river's chill

But when I close my eyes
and feel you rushing by
I know that time brings change
and change takes time
And when the sunset comes
my prayer would be this one
that you might pick me up
and notice that I am
just a little smoother in your hand

Sometimes raging wild
sometimes swollen high
never have I known this river dry
The deepest part of You
is where I want to stay
and feel the sharpest edges wash away

And when I close my eyes
and feel you rushing by
I know that time brings change
and change takes time
And when the sunset comes
my prayer would be just one
that you might pick me up
and notice that I am
just a little smoother in your hand

Rolling River God
Little Stones are smooth
Only once the water passes through

This song opens with a haunting piano solo, and it took me some time to understand the lyrics. I was already in love with it though; the simple melody that is echoed repeatedly through the song really sticks with me. It makes me wish that I'd had the opportunity to learn to play the piano when I was younger, and more able to learn... and that I would take the time now.

I like this comparison of God to a river; I've made a similar comparison of God to an ocean before. It's not that He is changeable, as an ocean or a river, but rather an acknowledgement of His power in seemingly insiginificant manifestations. By itself, water can seem tame, powerless. But there is great power in that water, power to erode and change, to carve great canyons, to move glaciers, to smoothe stones in its course.

I also like the idea that the changes brought into our lives as God is shaping and changing us to look like the perfect, glorified versions He sees us as isn't necessarily the most pleasant to us. I've spoken of the Terrible Mercy of God in the past. We want to avoid pain, we want to avoid discomfort, and the idea that we might have to go through some terrible things to get to where God would have us, well, it's not exactly popular, is it? And yet, we were promised that hard times would come, that trials and temptations would come. That's why we were given the Comfortor, the Earnest of God to seal us to himself. That's what refinement is all about... burning away the dross, the waste, and leaving only the precious, valuable, usable material behind. That's what pruning is about... cutting away the old to make room for new growth. That's what surgery is about; removing the dead and decaying to allow for health and life to flourish. That's what polishing a stone is about; chipping away what doesn't belong, polishing out the imperfections and making it shine like a gem.

Sometimes, dare I say oftentimes, the Mercy of a Perfect God is terrible to human eyes. It is the arrow of God, the single son in His quiver, The Word of God that is a two-edged sword, cutting the division between joint and marrow, cutting away all the rot and hurt and filth that we've allowed to persist within us, until he binds us with his own garment to make us whole in Him. We are the stone, tossed and tumbled in the raging river, tumbling through life, wondering what purpose it serves, questioning the pain we feel as our rough edges are broken off of us.

That's what makes Nichole's prayer in the chorus so poignant and beautiful to me. She comes to a place where she knows that this hurt today is leading to the glory of God tomorrow. When the time comes for the Father to pluck her out of the river of life, the River that is God will have taken his time to smooth her, to shine her, to make her worthy of Him. This is naming it and claiming it, not in the popular pentecostal sense of the idea, but in a demonstration of biblically solid faith. We will not all sleep, but behold, we shall ALL be changed.

Rolling River God, roll over me. The only way to smooth me, to mold me and make me whom you have for me to be, is to be caught in the currents. I would be smoother, Lord, when you hold me in your hand... so roll on, Rolling River God. Roll.

Nichole, thank you for the gift you've given in your music. It is a pure and simple joy to meditate on your lyrics and what they say about the Truth of God... it is a delight to find another way to express the Truth He is tattooing on my soul, the beauty and glory He is revealing as He chips away everything in me that hides His glory. Thank you, Nichole, for sharing your gift. Our King speaks through the words you write. If I never see you again on this side of eternity, it will be my pleasure to kneel before the throne of God with you, singing endless praise to our eternally worthy God.


Musical Musing: Nichole Nordeman, “Legacy”

Nichole Nordeman, Legacy

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Not well traveled, not well read,
not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead,
"Well Done" good and faithful one...

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

OK, when I started working on these, I had in the back of my mind that I’d leave these old favorites for last while I worked on the new favorites from this CD. Alas, the not-so-random randomizer on my car’s CD player decided I needed to hear this twice last night, so perhaps there’s a reason for me to move it up and talk about this one sooner.

Humanity seems obsessed with the legacy we leave behind when we’re gone. For those who don’t believe in an eternal life after death, our legacy is all that remains after we’re gone. To some extent, that’s true… those who come after we’ve gone will only know us by the legacy we’ve left on this side of eternity. In an existential viewpoint, we are defined by our actions… what is outwardly visible becomes our legacy.

So, how do we leave something behind for others? What do we want our legacy to be? When people we’ve never met hear our names, what do we want them to think of us? Are we going to be a name on a school that the students within don’t even remember? (I went to C. Vernon Spratley Middle School, and I have to be honest, I have NO CLUE what the man did to get a school named for him!)

If we look at history, it would seem that the existentialists are right: we aren’t remembered for our intentions, only what we actually do. Our ideas go nowhere without us doing something with them, and our intentions are lost to all of time unless we act upon them, and even then, are judged by the results of that action. Judas may have had noble intentions, but all we have are the results of his action, and that is how he is judged.

Nichole talks about her legacy in this song. It’s nice, she says, to have recognition now, but recognition now is nothing compared to what people know of us later. Of what worth is recognition for skill today if what we do with our lives is completely worthless? What use is it to have your name known if it’s forgotten tomorrow, or if what you’re known for isn’t what you want to be remembered for (Names of examples omitted to protect the guilty). Nichole concludes that she wants to be remembered because she pointed to God Almighty. In fact, I think we could go so far as to say that she’d be willing to be forgotten so long as God is remembered because of her actions in life.

Once upon a time, when I still dreamt of my children, I promised myself that I would be content with whatever career they chose, so long as they did the best they could and they loved their God with everything they had. What more could a mother ask, except that her children gave their everything to serve the God of eternity? At the end of my life, nothing will matter to me except that I poured my life out in service of the God who poured His life out for me. I’m not interested in lengthy descriptions of my accomplishments, of everything I’ve ever written or said. I want a legacy that can be summed up this simply: “She loved.”

What will be your legacy?


Musical Musings: I Am, Nichole Nordeman

Wait a minute, wait a minute... you just did "I Am". You said you were going to blog on each of her songs... what are you doing adding a second entry for one song when you haven't gotten to the rest yet?
Yeah, well, when inspiration strikes, I can't really ignore it. Jeremiah expresses it well in Chapter 20, verse 9 when he says "But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."

Look back at those lyrics. There's a common theme through the chorus... "When I am weak, unable to speak, still I can call you by name..."

Have you ever been there? So at a loss for words that you don't even know where to begin? Have you ever had a hurt or a heartbreak that just stole the words from your mouth, and all you could do was sob? Have you ever been so moved that words could not begin to describe it, and you find it's impossible to limit the wonder with mere language?

I've been there, so broken that I could only sob "Oh God, Oh God," over and over again, rocking on my living room floor as tears flowed freely down my face. I couldn't even stay in my chair... driven to my knees, to my face by Almighty God, in all His mercy and love, I couldn't put word to what was overwhelming my heart.

And yet, I've never had sweeter prayer than in moments like that... when I didn't even know where to start praying, what words to speak to my God. It's happened more than once, and I'm not always in a pile on the floor when I am moved beyond mere words. (If you ever see me alone in my car, tears pouring down my face, chances are good, I'm having one of those moments.) In those moments of utter brokenness, of heartache that moves me so far that my normally verbose self is struck dumb, I find that I am able to pray still.

Romans, the "How To" guide for how to live the Christian life, discusses this amazing situation. Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-27 that in moments of this complete weakness, "the Spirit Himself intercedes on our behalf with groans that words can not express."

That may be one of the greatest roles of Christ and the Spirit in our lives... not to say that salvation isn't amazing, but salvation is the ultimate intercession, isn't it? Job speaks of the intercessor in Job 16:19-21 when he tells us that his intercessor is an advocate on high, interceding even as our eyes pour out before God. In fact, a topical search on intercession reveals many many instances.

So what is an intercessor? What is this all about? The American Heritage Dictionary at Dictionary.com defines intercession as an "Entreaty in favor of another, especially a prayer or petition to God in behalf of another" or "mediation in a dispute". An intercessor provides this entreaty, this mediation. What scripture tells us is that we have an advocate, a friend, an ally on our side before the throne of the Almighty God. When we find we have no words to express, when the tears flow so freely that we can only hiccup as we sob, we have an advocate, speaking the truth that is in our hearts. He is putting into words what we cannot.

So what. Why do we need this intercessor, anyway? Because there is an accuser before the throne, too, one who aspired to sit upon it, and seeks to win at any cost. Satan literally means "accuser". He wanted the throne, He needs the grace we are so freely given. In many ways, he's that 6-7 year old kid who goes running to the teacher at every opportunity. "Lookie what she did! She's not so special! Nenny-nenny!" He's going to the perfect, just, sinless God with all our failures and shortfalls, when we are most vulnerable, trying to get us in trouble. Gee, I think I like the idea of a guy on my side, speaking on my behalf.

When I am most wounded, weakest, most completely overwhelmed, unable to do more than sob His name, I have an intercessor speaking the words I can not. Before I was, I had a King who interceded on my behalf even though it cost Him His life to do so. He bore my failures, my errors, my selfishness, all of my ugliness on His sinless self. "See God? Her failures are covered. The debt she owes? I've paid it in full." And then, He rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. "Look, God... see? She's covered. Oh, Father, can you hear her heart breaking? How she loves her sisters. She doesn't know how to help them, how to show them how free she is in my embrace... Father, do you hear her heart?" And of course He does.

I will be weak, unable to speak, still I will call You by name. "Creator, Maker, Life Sustainer, Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer, Lord and King, Beginning and the End" My intercessor... "I am, yes I Am."

Praise God for providing our needs before we knew how desperately we'd need them. Praise God for the intercessor, who stepped from Heaven to Earth, bore my sin, and returned to the Father where He could speak on my behalf. Praise God for the intercessor, who resides with me, who knows the deepest heart of me, and speaks on my behalf when words fail me. Praise God.


Musical Musings: "I Am" by Nichole Nordeman

OK, I said I was doing these in no particular order, but I have to start somewhere, right? I’m starting with “I Am” this morning.

Pencil marks on a wall
I wasn't always this tall,
You scattered some monsters from beneath my bed,
You watched my team win,
You watched my team lose,
You watched when my bicycle went down again,

And When I was weak
unable to speak,
still I could call You by name,
and I said “Elbow healer, Superhero,
come if You can,” and You said “I am”

Only 16,
life is so mean,
what kind of curfew is at ten PM
You saw my mistakes,
You watched my heart break
Heard when I swore I’d never love again

When I was weak,
unable to speak, still I could call You by name,
and I said “Heart-ache Healer, Secret-keeper,
be my Best Friend” and You said “I am”

You saw me wear white,
by pale candlelight,
I said forever to what lies ahead
two kids and a dream,
with kids that can scream
too much it might seem when it’s two AM

when I am weak,
unable to speak,
still I will call You by name.
“Oh Shepherd, Savior, Pasture-maker,
hold on to my hand,” and You say “I am.”

The winds of change,
And circumstance blow in and all around us
so we find a foothold that’s familiar,
And bless the moments that we feel You nearer

Life had begun,
I was woven and spun,
You let the angels dance around the throne,
who can say when,
But they’ll dance again,
when I am free and finally headed home

I will be weak,
unable to speak,
still I will call You by name
“Creator, Maker, Life-sustainer,
Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer,
Lord and King, Beginning andthe End,"
"I am, yes, I am.”

Nichole takes us on a voyage through life in this song, visiting different stages in our lives and expressing what we see in God in each. She starts with the small child first. God is like Superman to us, the hero of the Bible, the rescuer from our innocent terrors. We are still sorting out who He is and what that means… thus we ask him to “Come if You can”.

Next she moves to the teenager, exploring who we are with those around us, learning to test our own independence and yet needing someone to keep us safe still. Having learned that God is indeed the healer of our physical hurts, that He can be with us, we now ask Him for a relationship as we trust him with our secrets and broken heart. Our deepest cry is for a best friend.

We move on to the young wife and new mother, watching her marriage and her struggle with two a.m. feedings. Certain and assured that she has a relationship with the God who healed her body and cradles her heart, she cries out now for peace and a helping hand with the day to day grind. We learn that God wants to be more than just there, more than a best friend, that He’s waiting to help us in every moment of life.

The bridge speaks of the constancy of God, and the way we can cling to Him when life seems changeable and inconsistent around us. It reminds us to go back to the God we trusted when we were young, to the moments when we knew He was there.

Finally, we get to the part that makes me weep with joy every time. Nichole reminds us of the tender care and great joy with which we were knit together, and then speaks of the celebration that will accompany our home-coming. God will be, as He always has been, our Beginning, our End, the Lord and King. We see Him in the full revelation of all He is… and He Is, as He has been always, and will be always.

At the concert, Nichole spoke of the different names of God, but that the greatest of these is “I Am”. This is the name God gave Moses from the burning bush, this is the name Christ invoked in the garden when the guards came to arrest Him. It is the name from which we draw YHWH and Jehova… the first is the literal Hebrew for “I Am”, and the other is a Germanic pronunciation of the Hebrew name.

Here is the marvel of “I Am”… it’s not “I Was,” or “I Will Be”, but rather a constant, an unchanging present. I Am is “I have always Been, I will always Be, I AM.” It is consistency in the midst of chaos. It is His omnipresence. The I AM encompasses everything He’s ever been, will ever be. He is Savior, Redeemer, Healer, Maker, there when we need Him most, our best Best Friend ever… He is all of that and more, because He is the “I Am.”

How can I not weep as I’m reminded that the “I Am” has always been there? It reminds me of an interpretation He gave me once of the story of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46, the skit I just did with John for church). As I wept, brokenhearted by the things that had been done to me, shattered that I’d felt so alone in those moments when I was beaten, abused, raped, certain that my God, as big as He was, didn’t know what it was like to be raped, He showed me those verses again. “I tell you the truth; whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” And then I could almost feel His arms wrapping around me, as I sat there weeping, and I heard Him whisper into my deepest heart, my deepest hurt. “I tell you the truth; whatever you did TO the least of one of these children of Mine, you did TO Me.” My God was there, the great and mighty I Am was there, and He placed His body between mine and every blow that rained on me, between every injury that ever came to my innocent mind and body; the I Am was there.

That is the I Am. When you need Him most, even when you don’t see Him, the I Am is there, coming between you and the worst things you’ve ever imagined, things worse than you can imagine. He comes to scatter our monsters, to calm our storms, to heal our heartbreak, to hold our hands… the I Am sang with joy as He created us and the angels danced around His throne. The I Am is waiting to sing again, for the moment when His hand pulls our eternal soul from our temporal body, when the angels again dance in His victory around the throne and we come home to Him. The I Am is more than you can imagine, more than you can understand, more than you dare dream.

Praise the I Am, from whom all blessings flow. Praise the I Am, all creatures here below. Praise the I Am above, all the angels of the heavenly host, Praise the I Am, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Breath, the Spirit.

I praise You, Great and Mighty I Am.

Musical Musing, Nichole Nordeman's ReCollection

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's that time again. (It's already been that time again this morning when I cleaned out the litterboxes before I was fully awake so that we could get it out before the trash truck came... but that's not what I mean at the moment...)

I went to Women Of Faith in Oklahoma City Nov. 2-3. It's an awesome conference, and I'm still thinking about some of the things I heard there. One of the things we heard was a concert with Nichole Nordeman, and her talking to us on the topic of "Amazing Freedom" and what that means to her. Afterwards, I went out and bought the first CD I could find with the songs she'd played... and that was ReCollection. Standing in the autograph line with my roommate for a little while got us both some autographed CDs, and I can't stop listening to mine.

Before this, I had a Nichole Nordeman Karaoke CD with 3-4 of her hits... "This Mystery", "Holy", "Legacy" and "To Know You", and I loved them all. These are all great songs, and three of them are in this collection. They're joined by several others from previous albums, and two new recordings. I love every song I've heard, and several of them move me to tears. In fact, I started to muse on just one of them, and then I realized that I liked this one and that one, too, and as I'm sitting here listening to the CD while I write this, I'm wanting to talk about more still...

So in no particular order, you will get seperate posts for each song as I have time to tell you how it's striking my heart. Watch for "Why", "I Am", "Finally Free", and "Is It Any Wonder" in the next few weeks to start with.

Nichole, I told you when you signed my CD for me that I loved your music, that it really speaks to me. God has truly given you a gift for speaking truth in a way that it spurs more thought and meditation... not just on the meaning of the lyrics, but also on the Savior who inspires them. I think, before I'm done, I'll have mused on all of the songs on this album (because "Who You Are", playing at the moment, certainly needs discussing, too...). Praise the God of creativity, of wisdom, of wonder, of freedom, justice, mercy, the God who IS Love, and our common Savior who died that we might have a relationship with the Maker and Sustainer of all things. Praise God from whom all blessings flow, and thank you, Nichole, for having the courage to share your deepest heart with us. May the Lord bless you and keep you, May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, May the Lord turn his face upon you and give you Peace.



These may be two of my favorite You Tube vids EVER.

Be warned: YouTube may suck your day away.


I've had these moments...

Everyone take a lesson from Bob the Angry Flower. He was nicer than I've been in some of my rants. The Grammar Nazi will return with another lesson later...


Wishlist Extravaganza

My grandparents (Hi Mama! Hi Papa!) are always asking me what I want for X gift giving occasion, and while I'm always thankful for whatever I receive, I did make myself a bunch of wishlists earlier this year when participating in a secret sister match up online.

It should be noted: NONE OF THESE ARE DEMANDS. These are ideas, thoughts. Shoot, at one point, John and I were memeber of netflix, and then got too busy to watch movies anymore, so we left it, and moved the massive list of movies over to Amazon so that we can work on renting or unboxing or buying them from there. Not only that, some of these are arsty-craftsy sites... either selling artsy craftsy supplies, or selling home-made or lovingly crafted items or perfumes.

I will ask that you be VERY VERY VERY careful if you go OFF the list when buying me fragrances/scented items. It turns out, that's a guaranteed way for me to get bronchitis, very very fast. I stick to very very light scents and use them sparingly. I promise, it's not meant as an insult... I just literally get ill if it's too much. I also prefer fruits to florals or musks.

There's also a picture of the GORGEOUS VASE that my secret sister bought for me in here; that's the accent color we're using in the new house, so we wanted you to see it. :D I LOVE that blue.

(Oooops, almost forgot the vase!)

Here they are:

I have a series of wishlists at Amazon... search for hjourdenjackson@gmail.com and you'll find me. Some are organised by artist/show, some are just random "dumping" grounds where I put items until I have enough to justify a themed list.
I don't know if these links will work or not... but if they do, it might make things easier.
Star Trek
George Harrison
The Beatles
Paul McCartney
John Lennon
Ringo Starr
Munchkin (It should be noted that when the card games come out I buy them for myself so I can support my local game shop. If you wish to support my Local Game shop, you can call Tulsa's Original Game Shop (918-663-5525) and tell Ben you're shopping for Heather Jackson. :D)

I can't figure out how to add my Lush wishlist link... so I'm copying and pasting it in instead...I think the SKU number will tell you what the product is... I don't know... when I tried emailing it, I got a weird file. Like I said, I don't know... Also, if you've used this product and know it tends to be heavy, feel free to intervene on my behalf and email and warn me... I'll take it off the list.
Your wishlist currently contains:
SKU Description Quantity Price
2601 Ne Worry Pas $5.25
2158 Think Pink $5.55
18 All That Jasmine $5.40
2429 Black Pearl $4.45
2159 Sakura $5.50
52 Avobath $5.40
2465 The Happy Pill $5.70
2171 Honey Bee $5.60
2172 Blackberry $5.40
032 Big Blue $5.40
2607 Dream On $4.25
12 Butterball $4.50
Youki-Hi $5.50
2476 Golden Slumbers $5.60
2463 Romance In A Stone $4.45
2363 Chelsea Garden $5.50
2477 Still Life $5.30
039 Fairy Jasmine $5.75
2478 Tea and Sympathy $5.30
22374 Party On $10.70
22371 Whoosh $9.90
741 Bathos $5.95
2487 Flosty Gritter $5.45
2485 Marathon Bar $5.45
2468 The Comforter $8.45
742 Blue Skies $9.95
2151 Ma Bar $6.95
2471 Pop In The Bath $5.95
2484 Temple of Truth $5.85
740 Amandopondo $5.95
2189 French Kiss $7.95
2482 Sunny Side $5.85
601 Dreamtime $5.25
592 Ceridwen $7.75
2154 Something Wicked This Way Comes $5.45
2160 In The Nude $5.45
2153 Elixir $5.25
2156 Youve Been Mangoed $5.50
2387 Whoosh Balm $7.95

Here's my slowly growing Etsy wishlist. It's things that I think look nifty and would fit in well in the house, or things that I think would be interesting/worth trying. They're just ideas, and I'll probably share this with family eventually... since they're always bugging me for ideas, too.

Also Neats:This neatly feeds into my addiction to games.

This feeds into my neat and nerdy mug deal... not that I need more mugs... And actually... this store trips all sorts of nifty nerd buttons of joy in me... I think I LOVE this store.

And this is just kinda nifty...

This is lovely.

And I think this makeup might be worth trying...

Ever been to ThinkGeek.com? I have. You can look for my wishlist there by putting in my email address *gmail, please* or my last name and city and state. :D Isn't THAT nifty.

Some of these things are items I'm wishing for. Some of them are things John wishes for. Some of them, we're both wishing for.

But right now, today? We're wishing for:
Already being moved
Cooler weather for moving
Inexpensive but really good quality leather furniture we'll like for the living room
Inexpensive but really good quality dining room set we'll like for the dining area
Inexpensive but really good quality captain's bed frame
A King sized Select Comfort Bed. :D Any variation on King will do, so long as we can put our nifty Inexpensive, really good quality captain's bed underneath it. :D
Did we mention already being moved?

I'm offline for a bit again, folks... see you when next I come up for air!


Catching up

Lets see...
I went on an AWESOME Cruise at the end of September, where John decided that I apparently knew everyone on the cruise. It wasn't true, but it was fun. :D

I had the knee recovered enough (thanks to my Physical Therapist!!) to do well, but managed to sprain my ankle at our 3rd port of call. It wasn't bad; I was fine after a week or two.

It stayed hot for a long time, but by the end of November, we got a good foot of snow and ice. :D That was SO AWESOME!!! We've gotten more snow since then, too, including a light dusting yesterday. We had no winter last year; we're getting two this year.

I've started volunteering at church... that's fun. :D I get to be social and useful at the same time! I'm also doing some one on one sort of mentoring and private tutoring with someone from church. I help them learn Spanish and mentor their oldest with her writing, and they feed me lunch. :D

Lets see, what else. Jennifer's son is a few months old now, and Sarah's was able to come home before Sarah, which was a first for them. I got to cuddle him at Christmas... it was very nice.

The dogs spend many nights inside, but John and I had to swap sides (which meant we swapped ends, too, cause I can't really swap sides) because they like to come wake us up in the middle of the night every few nights so they can go outside. Just about the time we think we've managed to get them to stop waking us, they wake us up again. Stinky puppies.

We still love Owasso. John's working from home most days, though he does go in to one or the other office twice a week or so (though when it ices, he tends to stay home).

We did get a Wii. :D We love our Wii. And we've got Lego Star Wars (1& 2) that we've been playing through.

And now that I've rambled pointlessly, I need to go find lunch and finish picking up. :D

Musical Musings: Rich Mullins, "Calling Out Your Name"

Calling Out Your Name lyrics by RICH MULLINS
"Well the moon moved past Nebraska
And spilled laughter on them cold Dakota Hills
And angels danced on Jacob's stairs
Yeah they danced on Jacob's stairs
There is this silence in the Badlands
And over Kansas the whole universe was stilled
By the whisper of a prayer
The whisper of a prayer

And the single hawk bursts into flight
And in the east the whole horizon is in flames
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

I can feel the earth tremble
Beneath the rumbling of the buffalo hooves
And the fury in the pheasant's wings
And there's fury in a pheasant's wings
It tells me the Lord is in His temple
And there is still a faith that can make the mountains move
And a love that can make the heavens ring
And I've seen love make heaven ring

Where the sacred rivers meet
Beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the plains
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

From the place where morning gathers
You can look sometimes forever 'til you see
What time may never know
What time may never know
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world
And shakes us forward and shakes us free
To run wild with the hope
To run wild with the hope

The hope that this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
And I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

And I know this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And with the prairies I am calling out Your name"

There’s a beauty out here I haven’t learned to see yet; I’m still captivated by rolling hills and crashing waves and the mountains covered in trees so tall I have to lay down to see the top. But I know that there are people out here who find comfort and unspeakable beauty in the wide open spaces of the prairies and the grasslands that lie just north and west of us. It seems Rich Mullins may have been one of them.

Actually, though, there’s something deeper here, something that has captured my attention, even if the prairies didn’t. I think there’s something to this song, and while I’ve tried several times to express something similar before, I’m never convinced that I quite do it justice.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of an unbroken colt, the people greeted him with cries of Hosanna. I could discuss the beauty of that word, which means at once “Save us” and “Our salvation is here” (if I remember correctly, that is), but that’s not what I want to do just now. The Pharisees, the men who knew the Law, the men who knew scripture, knew that the cry made a Messianic claim of Jesus. The went to him, and commanded him to silence the people. His reply? “I tell you the truth, if they did not cry out, even the stones would.”

I’m doing Beth Moore’s study on Daniel… amazing book. In Daniel 9, we see a prediction of 70 “sevens”, something that many scholars agree is a period of 490 years. According to the prophecy, the clock started its countdown when the proclamation was made to restore Jerusalem. Beth points out that this was around the 5th of March, 444 BC. According to the Jewish Calendar, the first 69 sevens started counting on that day… and end around the 30th of March, 33 AD… the day Jesus, the anointed one, Masiyah, entered Jerusalem on the back of an unbroken cold. This was the fulfillment of ancient, centuries old prophecy. No wonder the stones would proclaim his coming!

This isn’t about eschatology, though. This isn’t about when the last seven begins, or the end of days, or any of that. I want to talk about this idea, that even inanimate earth would proclaim truth if mankind did not. (I’m crying just thinking about it all!)

I think that, if we knew how to listen with spiritual ears, we’d hear all of creation praising God. Not that creation is animate, with a spirit to praise Him with, but that the nature of His creation can do nothing else. Just as the nature of a volcano is to erupt, of a dog to bark, of a mountain to thrust into the sky… I think all of those things point to the immeasurable glory of the God who created them, and our inability to see that, to hear it in their cries, is temporal. I think when we get to the other side of eternity, out of the grasp of linear time, we’ll see things differently.

I have to admit, there is a part of me that longs to hear the cry of the rocks, that longs to watch jaws drop when even creation bends its collective knee, so to speak, and confesses with its collective mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord. And yet, I doubt I ever will; I’ve known too many believers who could never be silent long enough to give the rocks need to proclaim what God Almighty has tattooed on our Spirits.

I may not be able to hear it, and I may not be able to appreciate the beauty with which they do it, but like Rich Mullins, with the prairies, I am calling out His name.