In the Studio with Lennox

 Sitting on the cold hard wood floor in a large room where cords and guitars hang on the wall I kept thinking, “I am a blessed woman” and “I’m the luckiest girl in the world”!

First, a little back story. Nearly 6 years ago I found myself in a dark place. I believed only a little and I slept many days away. Lennox would remind me of who I am, but more importantly who Christ is and who I am in Him. I had a hard time sleeping at night, though the day I slept just fine. So, I asked friends to pray and I created an 8 hour song list in iTunes that would play all night. One of those songs is titled “Wings” by Lennox.

So when your heart is broken
You can’t even breathe
Spirit is willing,
but you’re tired and weak
Don’t let yourself worry
Do not be afraid
Remember what He told you
Remember what he said…..

For the rest of that go over to Lennox’s site and follow along as the song gets recorded. Be one of the first to hear it in its completion.

So there I was, hearing a completely remaking of one of his old songs. A song that helped me hold on, it reminded me that God said I would fly on the wings of an eagle, walk and not faint. Rest on the Lord and He will renew my strength. That’s all I need to do. Rest. Simple, right?

So there Lennox was in the sound booth. I saw something incredible. I saw the Spirit of God flowing through him and speaking through him. This is what Lennox was made to do. Speak the heart of the Father through music. One day when we were talking about his latest project I saw a spark in him I’ve not seen for some time. There was light.

His voice is coming through the headphones and I’m remembering the woman I once was. Afraid. Worthless. Covered in shame. Unlovable. Frozen. So very broken and mostly convinced that I could never be not broken. Hopeless. I would’ve said I have hope because that’s what good Christians do. Now, who do I think I am? I think I am a pretty amazing piece of work. I really do, but it isn’t because of my own merit or goodness. God is good and His word is true. He changes lives. All I did was hang in there. I say “hang in there” as if it wasn’t work. It was hard work to just hang on sometimes, but it got easier because I got stronger.

All I know that there was a moment when Lennox was singing the bridge that something in that place changed. He looked different and sounded better. My heart got soft and tears came to my eyes. I nearly cried, like actually full on cried. I sat there looking down at the floor because this kind of softness is so new to me, I’m a little embarrassed by it.

I am so looking forward to the completion of this song. I don’t write about or promote Lennox because he’s my friend. I have lots of friends who are musicians that I don’t endorse. I like his music before I knew him as my friend.

You can hear more from him at lennoxfleary.com.

Follow him on twitter at: www.twitter.com/lennoxfleary
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lennoxflearymusic
Youtube: www.youtube.com/flearylennox

Check him out, tell him I sent you. Let’s follow his journey together. It’s going to be a great ride!

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Stitch in Time

Many years ago I made a quilt for Christopher. I traced and cut out each piece by hand. I carefully wove the needle and thread through the fabric to create a blanket to cover his bed. My dear friend Rebeca bought all the material for it and helped me pick out the fabric. Another friend, Michele, taught all us young girls how to quilt by hand. I missed most of the lessons because I needed to stay home with Christopher, I learned everything second hand. That quilt took me 3 years to complete. I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d make mistake after mistake, get frustrated, and finally put it away. Eventually, I’d drag it out and get on with it. I didn’t know how hard it would be for me to make that quilt. Had I known I wouldn’t have done it. Back then I didn’t do the things I thought would be hard, I did what I knew I could be good at.

That quilt hides away in a box now. It is threadbare and worn by love.

Several years ago I bought fabric to make another quilt, but it wasn’t for anyone in particular. Soon after that, we built a house and moved. Then we added 3 kids to our family. I’ve moved twice since that time. The fabric stayed hidden in a box.

A couple of years ago I decided I’d make pillows for the girls so I used that fabric to make Dusty’s pillow. I’ve since then pieced together a couple of more blocks. It’s been in my head that I’d make a quilt for her out of that fabric, but it’s been in the back of my mind until recently. My friend, Erica, hosted a DIY project day at her home. I started planning the quilt and even cut out pieces for 2 more blocks. (One of them is nearly pieced now.

As I did, something began to change in my heart. It began with a conversation on Facebook. I took a picture of table of contents from Michele’s quilting lessons and posted them on her wall. What happened next warmed my heart. Several of us began commenting on that thread planning a get together for May. We set a date, time, and place. Here’s the thing, as we were commenting my heart began to long to see these women and share some of our lives together at the same time and place. I don’t know the details of all of our lives, but I know we all fight hard battles. We’ve been able to come along side one another at times because of how we can stay connected via facebook. I want to hug everyone, especially the ones I’ve not seen in so long.

My heart is daily being softened. I’ve been feeling it over these last few weeks. I’m not all that happy about it, but I think it’s a good thing. I don’t tend to be a cry-er, but these days my eyes are wet with tears often.

Today was a rough day with one of the kids. It started of being rough with 3 kids, but 2 changed themselves around and were so very pleasant and helpful. The one, though, he had a chip on his shoulder all day. I didn’t want to deal with it. I wanted him to go away, he even asked if he could go somewhere else for the day, but I said no. As I said that I wondered if I had just lit his fuse and should brace for impact. Fortunately, I found a way to maneuver through that; we made it through the day without any huge blow ups.

We even made memories and connected. At least I’d like to think so. Dusty and Ireland stuck pretty close to me today and were helpful without being asked. When I reminded them of one of my expectations there weren’t any arguments or attitudes, for the most part. Dusty has been watching me piece her quilt. I’ve been very intentional about it. I want her to know that I love and value her enough that I am willing to make her a quilt. I worry about her feeling valued. I know there isn’t anything I can do to make her feel anything, her feelings are totally up to her.

I’ve also prepared myself to face the fact that she may never appreciate the quilt. As I was thinking about that, I realized that Jesus still died for us knowing that many of us wouldn’t appreciate it. I don’t mean just the unbelievers, but the believers, too. I’m talking about me, too. He died for me so that I could have relationship with the Father, yet sometimes I choose to sin. I choose to fill my emptiness with something other than Him. And you know what? Recognizing that has actually softened my heart more toward Dusty.

So, today I sat on my office floor sewing. She comes in to watch and says, “I’m so excited” and my heart sang. We spent much of our day like this. Me sewing, her coloring or doing something else. I’d look up and she’d be looking at how it’s all coming together and I wonder what she thinks.

I would pray for her, “Lord, as she wanders through life with this quilt, let her know she is loved with an everlasting love and underneath are Your everlasting arms. When she covers up, let her feel Your love for her. She is a gem.” My eyes would fill with tears as I imagine the life she may live and the loneliness I know she feels.

Then I would look at my quilt and think, “Oh my word, look at those corners. They are not perfectly aligned. What? How is this piece longer than that piece, are you serious?!? I can’t do this. I don’t even know how big to measure the batting and the backing. I don’t know what I’m doing.” My eyes would fill with tears and I’d take a breath.

This is life. It doesn’t all line up. I am doing this for love, not for an award. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s ok that I don’ t know what I’m doing because I have friends who will walk me through it when I need them to. I’m not alone.

I look at this girl and remember how much I love her. How much we’ve been through together and maybe one day we’ll be best friends. She’s going to be amazing. I wrote about her a few years ago. Things were breaking in a terrible and scary way. We have made our way out of that dark place. I think the moment I realized we were indeed in a dark place was the moment light began to shine. You can read about that in a post titled, Mothering.

A Memory in the Making

A Memory in the Making

Snow

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It’s 9:00 pm. We bundle up and head out for the night. We’re staying at a friend’s house with her kids while she goes to be with her laboring sister. The walk is quiet and voices echo. All I hear is the crunch of our footsteps. I only see one car at a time on the road. The roads are slick and we’re not prepared for such weather. It’s fun and inconvenient at the same time.

The snow steadily falls in slow large flakes. They float and dance through the air as though they’re in no hurry.

Some kids are playing Legos; others are watching something on Netflix. I’ll need to get them some food soon. Why does the cold weather make me think of baking things?

It is now Saturday. Not sure what today will look like.

More snow. I am sure of that.

Silly Things

My sweetest Ireland labels her drawers then STUFFS her clothing in there and not always putting them in the correct drawer. Then she’ll open her drawers and not close them until I tell her to do so. I’ve stopped telling her because I realized that it doesn’t matter. She’ll figure it out…or she won’t.

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Goodbye January, Hello February!

Well, January has flown by and 2014 is well under way. I thought that last year was full of changes, but I only thought that in retrospect. I didn’t expect them, I merely rolled with them.  This year I am expecting changes. I am even looking forward to them. In fact, I’m even orchestrating some of them.  (Woah, did I just say that? Who is this woman behind the keyboard, anyway?!?)

January brought a a lay off and a new hope. I surprised myself by not being able to be depressed about it. I had a goal of getting to bed earlier, 10:30 pm. I tend to stay up WAY too late and drag the next day. I even printed out a little goal tracker for the month. Looks like I met that goal over half of the time. That used to be discouraging, but guess what? That’s WAY more than I was doing the month before. I felt more in control of my life and I’d like to believe it’s because I was well-rested. Oh, you know, it’s not that I was more in control of my life, but that I was more in control of how I reacted or responded to events in my life.

A couple of my other goals was to read my Bible more and write in my gratitude journal each day. We all have something we can be thankful for. I bet practicing both of those things also helped me to manage my life better.

I finished the Nikita series. (It wasn’t one of my goals, but I did it anyway!)

There are a few other  goals I am working toward, as well. Not necessarily blog worthy, though.

I’m looking forward to February. I’m even excited it for it. I’ve got some things in the works that I can’t wait to share!

I’ll be working on my bedtime, Bible reading (or study), and gratitude journal still. I’m going to add in exercising and letter writing. I won’t write a letter a day, but I was recently inspired to write notes again. Most of us enjoy being thought of, right? Well, a few days ago I cleaned my office. I purged, shredded, filed, and organized. I came across letters I’ve received from all sorts of friends from all over the world. I don’t keep everything, just the really important ones. I felt so loved, even after all these years! I began to think of my friends that I love so dearly. Our lives are busy and full. Facebook makes it easier to connect, but it’s not the same as opening up a letter just for you!

In the past goals have been something that was scary and overwhelming to me. When I fell short of them I chose to wallow in my failure instead of learning from it and recalibrating those goals. I’m sincerely surprised that I’m not upset about not having a perfect record for going to bed on time all last month. That’s something that would’ve utterly ruined everything for me! This time around I’m thinking, “Wow, that was awesome! Let’s see how the next month goes!”

Hey, I have a quilt I want to start! I want to have it done by Christmas! (Don’t laugh, I’m super slow at quilting and it won’t be a surprise for the receiver of said quilt, but it will be beautiful and hopefully treasured!)

What is your new goal for the month? A project you want to finish…or even begin?

 

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

Vegas and Ireland snuggling. This would've been in the Spring of 2010. She would let him lay on her lap, too!

Spring 2010 – Ireland is 7 and Vegas is old. This was not an uncommon occurrence in our home. Sometimes she’d sit on the couch and he would lie across her lap. She’d say, “He’s squishing me.” Yet, she didn’t want him to move.

It’s Thursday. The day is bright and the air is cold. My office is warm. All of January’s bills are paid.

I had my first financial freak out last night. Christopher points to a spot on his arm and says, “We need to get this checked out. It might be staph infection.” I ask him where his antibiotic cream is. He doesn’t know. Mind you, we went through something similar a couple of months back and got the cream at that time. It’s not cheap. I just got laid off. An appointment at urgent care is $125. I have money saved for his eye appointment and glasses, I can’t use that money. I say, “What? You can’t find it?!? Do you realize how expensive that is? I DON’T have a job. I don’t know what to do and I’m certainly not going to tell anyone so that they’ll pay for it!!!” So, I  had a few moments of despair and pride. The room went silent. I went into the bathroom and started cleaning and organizing the drawers. He comes in there soon after and quietly says, “I thought it was up here behind the mirror.” Yep, that’s where it’s been. Sweet relief.

Here’s the thing, though. I didn’t trust in that moment. I feel good because my bills are paid for the month. One small bump in the road and I freaked out. (Although, I did get an organized bathroom out of it and that had been on my to-do list for about a week.)  I want my trust in God, my Provider, to be unwavering. I look back at last night’s scene and know I could have reacted better. I reacted in fear.

The verse I’m focusing on for this week is from Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Emphasis mine.)

Throw off - something you do on purpose, it takes effort, it’s a choice.
So easily entangles – it’s like when you’re traipsing through the field with  your dog and kids and suddenly you trip because a sticky, prickly vine has grabbed hold around your ankles. You didn’t even notice it until it was too late.

The Bible also tells us to cast our burdens on Jesus. When one goes fishing you do not simply drop the line at your feet when you’re standing on the shore, do you? You cast it. Throw it out there. (And this is where the analogy breaks down because it’s not helpful to reel your burdens back into you! Though, I guess I could say that in return He gives you peace so you can reel that in and take it.) The point is that to cast our burden, it takes effort. We have to make that choice to do it.

I have more time to think these days. I’m mostly thinking about what it looks like to throw off everything that hinders.

A few weeks back I had a weird dream. I have those quite often, this one made me laugh. I saw myself on sort of a mountain or hill, but it wasn’t a snow-capped pointy one, it was made of red clay and they were more flat. I saw that I needed to leap over a canyon to another place. The only thing I remember is that I was unzipping something and taking it off of me. Here’s the silly part…it looked like a light purple penguin sort of costume. It was puffy. I remember thinking that I couldn’t go on if I had that on so I unzipped it, shrugged it off my shoulders, and stepped out of it.

It seemed so easy. I guess it is simple, right. Oh look, this hinder me. Shrug it off, step out of it, and walk on. I’m wondering if it’s a trick of the enemy that makes us think that we need to actually struggle with it.

I think we need to recognize it and release it. Tell ourselves the truth. Walk in that.

White Privilege and Racism

“People aren’t racist anymore” said the naive 17 year old white girl. Her friend let out a hearty laugh, while patting her on the shoulder. Then he leaned in and began to tell stories of his life before he moved here to Oregon. Stories that were unfathomable. Young black boys, his friends, getting beat up for no other reason that the color of their skin. My eyes were opened, but I still wanted to believe that we’re all good. I probably mumbled something like, “Well…maybe only in the south people are racists.”

Years later I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I can no longer remember passages from it, but I remember how sick I felt the entire time I read the book. I would read it before bed and cry in my sleep. I highly recommend you read it, just not right before bed. During that same time I picked up an innocent looking picture book to read to Christopher. I think he was about 5. It’s called “Who Owns the Sun”. It’s about a young boy realizing that while the sun, moon, and stars cannot be owned by anyone, that humans can.

I don’t know if violent crimes stemming from racism is happening more or if I’m just noticing more. Perhaps it’s the advent of social media that can broadcast injustices quicker than a flash of lightening.

I do know that I’m concerned.

I have many white friends who have adopted black children. I’m beginning to wonder if they’ve prepared their children for the racism they’ll face. Do they tell them to not walk with their heads down and wear baggy clothes because it could cost your life. A young friend was here today and said he was going down to the bar to watch the football game. I didn’t realize I was concerned about his safety until he came back a couple hours later and I felt relief. I do know that some of my friend will teach their black children these things. I’ve seen them post blogs about it. I read them and I feel confused.

I get that it’s still happening, but I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why and I don’t understand why it hasn’t stopped.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day.

My younger kids spent the last week or so learning about him. My daughter recites lines from a play; she’s so proud that she memorized those lines. I can barely hear her because in my head I’m screaming, “This isn’t a cute play. This is life and death. You don’t understand what this means!”

Then I remember that I don’t understand what it means, either. Not really. I, and my children, have this thing called “white privilege”. It’s the thing that we’re born with. We won’t ever be followed around in a store and deemed “unworthy” of the store because of our color. If I’m driving a nice car, I won’t be followed just because I’m black.

I didn’t even know what white privilege is until I watched the following video, please take the 4 minutes to watch the video.

A couple months back I picked up a book off my shelf to read. I remember just perusing the shelves and grabbing a book thinking, “Oh, this’ll be a nice read.” It was a book by Maya Angelou called “The Heart of the Woman”. I had no idea that it was about her life during the Civil Rights movement. She met both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She entertained Billie Holiday in her home and was even chastised by her for letting her son wear pants with holes in them even if he was just going outside to do yard work. She told Maya that they always needed to look their best no matter what they were doing.

I don’t know what to say. I don’t think I am expressing what I want to on this subject.

You know what scared me when reading the Maya Angelou book? I wondered if I would’ve been like many other white people. Would I be driven by fear of the evil black people walking down the street? Would I forbid my children to be friends with them? Would I let myself be entertained by them, but not sit next to them on the bus? Let them clean my toilet, but not use it?

I felt guilt for what I may have been like.

Today I read a blog over at Daily Kos about what Martin Luther King Jr. really did for the black people. When the author was a young boy he challenged his father by asking what Martin Luther King Jr accomplish over what Malcolm X. He talks of being taught how to walk down the street properly when a white woman is also walking down the street. I recommend reading the the article HERE.

I am still left with questions and thoughts like:

  • what can I do to make a difference?
  • who do I go to if one of my black friends is hurt by someone in authority?
  • how do I teach my children how fortunate they are and what to do with their white privilege
  • one of my very best friends is a black man, I wonder what he sees or instinctively thinks about when we go out in public together?
  • am I a racist? I think of that. When I worked in customer service and I’d come across a name or hear a voice over the phone I’d create a picture of that person in my mind. Whenever I created a black person I wondered if I were a racist. I never thought of that if I created a white person.
  • I’ll say it again, what can I do to make it better? Where does the change come? And how?

You can say that we’re better because we have a black president. Can the mother of a young educated black man who was shot to death while banging on the door of white woman seeking help say the same thing? He had just been in a car wreck. Without being questioned he was shot in the back by a police officer.

I’ll conclude this post with this:

As you listen to Billie Holiday sing Strange Fruit go peruse photos of lynching printed on postcards to send to your friends. The project is called Without Sanctuary.

 

Scrap The List; Live A Little

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It’s Saturday.
My calendar says “Sabbath”.
My list says there’s a bunch of things to get done.
I lie in bed a little extra long so I don’t have to face the list. I want those things to get done.
I just don’t want to do them.
I tell the girls they don’t have to help me, but I have a plan for the day.

It’s just me and the girls today. The boys are away. The list is nagging at me.

I hear again: Sabbath

I know the danger of not resting. It brings ugliness. And migraines.

Today is a gift.
Me and my girls.

Change of plans, we’re heading out.

We head to the beach. We dine. We walk the beach. We come home and nap.

We watch American Idol.

They go to bed.

It’s been a good day.

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Happy girls. Even Ginger, our dog, is happy. She seemed to think that the beach is for dragging me around by her leash even when it wasn’t attached to her. She’d grab it in my hand and start running. One of us is a runner.

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How Getting Laid Off Freed Me…

I am amazed by all
That I have seen from You
Teach me Your Way

Show me your face
Oh Lord

excerpt from the song Whisper - Lennox Fleary

It is the third Saturday of 2014.

In the first full week I created my financial goal plan for the  year. I was so pleased with it. Yet, I kept hearing a quiet sort of voice in my head encouraging me to not hold on to that plan too tightly. So, when I had finished it and saw it was good I told myself, “Self, this is a direction, not a plan set in stone. This may not happen and it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t.” So that was that. I hole punched it and put it in my handy dandy financial binder.

The following Monday I had the thought, “You’re getting laid off…” Okay. That’s interesting. An hour later I received a call letting me know that I was being laid off that day. I turned in my time card almost immediately and began to process this. I was sad. So very sad. I loved my job and the people I worked with. I enjoyed connecting with the customers and getting to know them a little. I worried. I wondered how I was going to make it financially. I do not want to go back on food stamps. I do not want to be cold or afraid that my water or electricity will get turned off. I tried to sleep the day away, as is my custom when I’m stressed; that or binge eating. I couldn’t do either. I knew that I wasn’t actually despairing, I was just sad and that’s ok.

By the end of the day I was good. The kids and I all sat around as I read parts of the book of Job. I realized that getting laid off is merely a small bump in the road. It doesn’t change me or what I am called to. I do not have to be afraid. I do not have to fear neither poverty or wealth. My circumstances do not change who I am or who God is.

When we prayed that evening Christopher thanked God for me getting laid off because we know God has something else in store for me.

From that moment on I’ve been excited. My heart has opened up and I feel a softening. I have options open to me, this is not the end of the road. I didn’t feel burdened by my job, but I feel so free right now. (Mind you, if my job was offered back to me, I’d take it, but I’d also keep this feeling of freedom.)

Getting laid off didn’t actually free me, what it did was show me the freedom I had all along. I have had an INCREDIBLE year. My complete mindset has changed over the past year, but I could only realize that and walk in that after I was laid off.

I have spent the past year listening to and meeting some amazing personal development speakers every week. I have learned, little by little, how to take my thoughts into captivity and not let all the negative thoughts rule. (Truth: sometimes I do let them and I need someone to snap me out of it!) I have so many things I’ve learned from so many people. I can’t possibly list it all here.

I have so many things I am looking forward to in this next year!

What are you looking forward to? What direction is God calling you?

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Running with Him

Do you have those days where you wake up feeling optimistic, even though it’s Monday, but then something just takes the wind right out of you?

I do.

Yesterday was that day.

It wasn’t even a big deal. It was just a stark reminder that life is messy and I’m having a hard time getting over it.

I’ve wanted to cry all day.

I’m more emotional than I used to be. In fact, the other day I sat here at my desk and cried while I listened to a recording of an old song from my friend, John Marr. The song is called Richest Man in the World, but it wasn’t the song itself that made me cry. It was the memory of me holding my tiny newborn baby Christopher while Kelly played bass for John’s band, whatever it was at the time. My Christopher is 7 months away from being 18. I wasn’t even crying over that, though.

I went to bed with a huge ache in my chest as a tear rolled down my face.

I was sad that I had hurt the little hearts of my children due to my lack of self-control. I wasn’t condemning myself, I was just sad.

The condemnation came later. I woke up today and started to feel the big left over feelings from yesterday, but I stopped them right away. I kept telling myself over and over, “There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Condemnation is a weapon of the enemy and any weapon formed again us will not prosper. While I was speaking truth to my spirit, I was also gentle with me.

I’m not always gentle. Isn’t that the way it always is? We’re so hard on ourselves, harder than anyone else would ever be. Grace is not my strong point. I’ve had a hard time accepting it and I have a hard time being gracious. Thankfully, the Lord is changing that in me. He’s giving me a heart for people outside of..well, me.

This weekend I was reminded of the story of a man who pushes his wheelchair bound son in marathons, triathlons, and other races. You may have heard of them, Team Hoyt. The son said to his dad, “When I run with you it’s as if all my disabilities go away.”

Let me say that again:

“When I run with you it’s as if all my disabilities go away.”

Powerful words. Do you hear that?

Years ago a man in my church at the time said, “Dar, it’s time for you to just run with God. He’s calling to you. Don’t stop to look around, it doesn’t matter who is with you. He’s with you. Go run.”

So, yesterday and today, though I didn’t feel like it, I chose Him over and over. I will walk through the muck and the mess and trust that God has the rest covered.

Each day I start my day off with a song called Speak to Me by  Lennox. It’s my alarm clock. I’ll often end my day with this song, too, because I want God to speak to me all of the time, even as I sleep.

Speak to me
Words I can’t mistake for my imagination
Speak to me
Whisper on the wind,
blow my doubt away
Let the sun come shining through

I want to run with God and I want to hear Him.