**To be read after reading the noted verses Psalm 103:6-18 God does not hold a grudge against His children. God does not treat His children the way they deserve to be treated. He does not enforce punishment according to His children's sin; Instead He forgives. He removes His children's transgressions as far as the East is from the West (this means he doesn't ruminate and dig the past up in His current/future thoughts/speech). God is a compassionate/tender FATHER toward His children. Just as God has compassion on His children's human frailty (disorders/ disabilities of the flesh); parents [spouses] are called to extend compassion to their child(ren)'s [spouse's] spiritual/physical/mental conditions. Colossians 3:12-25 Wives, be [a]subject [submit] to your husbands [out of respect for their position as protector, and their accountability to God], as is proper and [be]fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives [with an affectionate, sympathetic, selfless love that always seeks the best for them] and do not be embittered or resentful toward them [because of the responsibilities of marriage, (such the sacrifice of your time, money, emotional growth/accountability)]. Children, obey your parents [as God's representatives] in all things, for this [attitude of respect and obedience] is well-pleasing [c]to the Lord [and will bring you God's promised blessings]. Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or exasperate your children [with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by favoritism or indifference; treat them tenderly with lovingkindness], so they will not lose heart and become discouraged or unmotivated [with their spirits broken]. When God tells wives to submit and be subject to her husband He is speaking a concept that suggests mutual submission and intimacy to LOVE. This concept is characterized by a husband's servant leadership (not enforcing his hand) and a wife's (voluntary) submissive cooperation. The husband's consistent obedience to adopt a servant leadership awakens the wife to develop the skills to temper her desires and cooperate with the husband's servant leadership. The Texas saying “Ladies First” when interpreted and applied by God's biblical principles doesn't mean ‘Woman! Submit first' it means ‘husbands lead by placing your wife's needs/desires before yours– in the menial things and grand things'. Father's are reminded God calls them to make their child(ren) and wife FEEL wanted. Unreasonable demands (criticism, nagging, rigidity, nit-picking) will provoke their child(ren)/spouse to anger and push them to perpetual bitterness with the result of causing/inflicting spiritual/mental harm (that could reach the point of impairment)– not to mention the damage it does to God's kingdom when non-believers witness such strife in a home that professes their belief and love for Christ! This type of strife squelches hope regardless of one's belief in the Lord. Fathers/husbands when you experience your child(ren) or spouse exhibit increased anger, disrespect, distractibility, decrease in daily academic/occupational functioning, covert and overt disobedience, rebellion, physical & emotional withdrawal (outside the developmental norm for that child or spouse) this is a clear indication to you they don't FEEL wanted by their earthly father– it's rationale for the husband/spouse to take what may seem like an uncomfortable amount of their time to humbly consider the degree to which the strife in their home is a result of their provocation, consequently leading outside of God's will (what He says is good for you). The heart behind God's word is often only experienced when the leader of the home intentionally commits to actively pursue God to place a new spirit in your husband and replace his heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Wives fervently pray this very thing over your husband daily AND believe God to grant you the desires of your heart (for your spouse) that is in God's will (Psalms 37:4, Psalms 20). 1 Peter 3 Sarah, Abraham's wife, trusted our sovereign God by giving Him time to work. There is a caveat to Sarah's example of obedience when the pattern of abuse is established as part of the marital homeostasis in the home: God does not condone abuse– physical/sexual/verbal/financial/spiritual. The ABBA father's intention for the wife's individual right to be safe is prioritized over His call for her to submit when she (or her child(ren) are experiencing spousal/parental abuse rather than servant leadership from a God fearing/obedient husband. Does this mean automatic cause for divorce? Not always. A wife and mother's pursuit to obtain a safe living environment IS within biblical principle. A wife is allowed and will be supported by Christ to live in separation from an abusive spouse- yes, this means a life of living separately if the spouse does not repent and restore his relationship with Christ, church leaders/mentors, and his family.
This is a story of meeting the girl I know as my sunflower, who grew and filled a hole in my heart I didn't think could be filled. At the time, I was still coming out of a relationship with my previous girlfriend of 3 years. Yeah. Big change and a lot of pain. I was depressed plain and simple. She sat in front of me in the wind ensemble I was a part of. I spent most of my days staring at the back of her head. The few times I saw her without her mask on in the room, I found her to be beautiful. She was so far beyond that to my eyes. Due to the fact I didn't know her, we didn't talk for the longest time. Some higher power must have interfered. That is my only explanation for the sudden failure of my friend's gall bladder that resulted in surgery. Don't worry, she's fine. Her surgery did however give away a crucial duet part that this lovely girl in front of me played with my friend. I had a similar enough instrument and ended up playing the part. Flute Girl, as most people do, actually had a name. Sabrina played the duet at the beginning of Solas Ane by Samuel Hazo. I joined her on a low saxophone transposition, and the music made together was beyond perfection. Our music intertwined, connected, and met in the air. The twisting chords were similar to two angelic beings flying in perfect synchronicity. The music was heartbreak, hope, love, and joy. Everything that made life worthwhile compressed into a form of sound you could reach up and touch in the air. Some people mention love at first sight. I experienced love at first note. Every practice session we had brought our souls closer and closer together. The time came for the concert and we were still uncertain how we felt about each other because we hadn't really spent all that much time together. Dear reader, that night at the concert? I have never, in my nine years of music education, felt more in tune with someone. The first notes of the duet began with us together. Every practice we held hadn't even come close to the sheer power I felt from our unity. We didn't just make music, I fell into her sound and she fell into mine. As we played, our notes held one another and rejoiced in the company of kindred souls. We kissed without ever touching and we held on tight to an auditory love that had never graced the ears of man. I knew at that moment that we had to be together.
Husbands, has your wife ever asked you something like: “Do you think I'm the most beautiful woman in the world?” [Hint: to any literal communicator's analyzing the logical response to your wife's bid for love] She is not asking you to crown her as the next Mrs. America— she's asking if you have crowned her as your Queen to be the most beautiful girl in the only world that matters to her—yours. At first glance some may assert a wife who asks such questions to her husband is simply insecure and it's on her to deal with those insecurities. When have matters of the heart, love and marriage ever been simple? Hopefully, if you're still reading (HA!) you are open to a more in-depth look at the Psychology and Spirituality woven into the essence of women, by our Creator, that rightly motivates a wife to desire such validation, admiration and belonging. For those of you who are husbands stumbling across this in a voluntary pursuit to better understand your wife— STOP— take a moment and receive the Holy Spirit's ‘high-five' for walking out 1 Peter 3:7 (May your dedication to your marriage be recognized and admired!): “In the same way, you husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way [with great gentleness and tact, and with an intelligent regard for the marriage relationship], as with someone physically weaker, since she is a woman. Show her honor and respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered or ineffective.” [1 Peter 3:7 AMP] In statistics a ‘raw score' is simply a number that represents the correctly answered questions (i.e. 60) but a raw score does not convey any meaning until some standard is applied with which to interpret the raw score. A wife can hear her husband say “You look nice, sweetie” or “Sure, I think you're beautiful”. These are a collection of correct answers that make up the sum total of a raw score. Now imagine you're leaving church together and a fashionable, tall, fit, attractive woman stops and talks with the both of you. You exchange pleasantries and continue about your day. Gentlemen, I introduce to you the standard your wife is now using to make meaning of and interpret the raw score. You're input greatly informs how the raw score is interpreted. The wife is thinking: “There is no doubt in my mind that woman at church is beautiful. She had it all: perfectly styled hair, flawless make-up, tanned legs for days, straight/white teeth that would land her a job as the new poster woman for the American Dental Association… My husband's told me before that he thinks I'm beautiful— just this morning he said I looked 'nice'… but next to her does he see me as ‘that kind' of beautiful… am I the most beautiful women in the world— to him?” Later that night she reluctantly discloses she's been wondering if you thought she was more beautiful than the woman at church. Just as God needs for us to tell him we adore him more than anyone or anything in the world your wife needs to hear you say she is the most beautiful woman in the world to you— after all, we are each made in God's image. Insecurity is not the primary motivation to her question, rather it's her desire to be chosen above all other women (as Christ desires for us to choose Him). If, as her husband, you find you're hesitant or flat out unable to see your wife as the most beautiful woman in the world to you… in that moment lean on the Holy Spirit to speak these affirming words to your wife through you and take note of your disbelief. To speak these words is to provide her with emotional safety and security that symbolizes clean air for her to thrive and breath life into the marriage, children, and the home. It's okay to lean into the Holy Spirit to be your provider and intercede on your behalf— to allow His words to flow through your mouth. This is not a lie or deceitfulness. This is the living, loving, active marriage covenant at work, circling around your strengths, weaknesses, past hurts and ensuring the future vision of you and your wife's marriage/family/ministry is fed and protected. It's crucial for you to: 1) Intentionally go to God, your men's group, and/or seek counseling to discover what's driving your hesitation/disbelief. 2) Take steps toward being able to truthfully see her as the Holy Spirit see's her. 3) Place the crown upon her head as your Queen. “I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Revelations 3:11 NKJV) 4) Experience the rewards of watching your marriage THRIVE and your wife step into the woman God created her to be.
Last night during our bedtime routine, my daughter wanted to show me her freshly bandaged wound that she had acquired from playing soccer with our dog on our fun day Sunday adventure. She had given the time and attention to carefully mend it before climbing into bed, doing her best not to let any "bad things" get inside the cut. The band aids lay comfortably on top, smothering it intentionally for protection. "Do you want to see my cuts, mom?" She asked me, proud that she no longer needed my assistance in managing her wounds. Careful not to discourage, I nodded with a smile. "I would love to. Have those bandages been on all day? Can you take them off so I can assess the damage?" She thought for a moment, knowing that her reply would mean taking my suggestions, robbing her of the independence she had just gained. "I just changed the band aids, it looks good and feels fine." She smiled in a hopeful way. I knew it was important to keep her in the leader role. "You did great taking care of that. It's nice that you know how to handle your own problems and help yourself get through them, I am proud of you. Do you think it's a good idea to remove the bandages for the night to let it breathe? All cuts need to breathe at times to be able to heal properly." I smiled casually as I became lost in my last words. "All cuts need to breathe at times to be able to heal." Feeling a sense of wonder as my mind reached deep inside, relating this last statement to recent "cuts" in my life that I have needed to breathe from. I felt enlightened as she lifted the bandages to expose the fresh cut that had slight amounts of plasma glistening, trying to scab over the wound for the proper protection that it needed instead of the temporary one. It's crazy how something as small as a bandaged cut can relate to our lives in a deeper form. Often, when we use a temporary cover to guard our "cuts" it can do more harm if we don't let our wounds breathe and heal in their own unique way. Trying to use covers for our “cuts” will only delay the raw healing that we need. Once again, choosing to slow down and listen was the best option. My heart feels a little less at war and more at peace now that I can breathe.
This will be about my first concert in band class. It was the night of December 13th, 2018. It was a clear night and dozens of cars were in the parking lot of our high school. Many people were rushing inside, from grades six through eight. The younger kids like myself were nervous, their hands clammy and their hearts racing, while the older kids were calm, for they had done this multiple times already. As the band kids walked into the high school band room and began talking to each other, their parents took their seats in the auditorium. Our band director wasn't their yet. I remember exactly how I felt even though this was all two years ago. My jaw was trembling and I was sweating. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one. Everyone else in my grade had the same reaction. But underneath all that trembling, I was truly excited. Then, our band director walked into the band room and almost all of my fear went away when I saw him. He was wearing a very noticeable and bright Christmas suit. The suit's design had different colored squares and each one had a different pattern in it; for instance, reindeer or Santas. It was then that I thought, “He's either gone insane or just doesn't care what the dozens of people in the audience think of him. But, either way, there's no way we can embarrass ourselves more than he did by wearing that suit.” I was wrong. It was finally time for us to perform, and we found our way to the auditorium. I was shaking so badly walking down that high school hallway that I thought I was going to throw up. Maybe have to get my parents and say something like, “You know what, maybe this class isn't for me.” For some reason though, when we walked on stage with our instruments just about to slip out of our sweaty hands, as soon as I saw the audience all my nerves magically vanished. It was like being in the eye of a hurricane where everything is suddenly calm. We took our seat, and our band director flashed us a grin before telling the audience a few corny band jokes. He told them about how far we had come, how we had gone from barely knowing which hole of our instruments to blow in to playing at a concert. While the audience was getting ready, we were eagerly flipping through our music. Our band director then faced us and stood at the podium. We clumsily fell into position and brought our instruments to our faces. His baton rose and he looked at each of us and nodded, making sure we were ready. Then, his baton seemingly cut through the thick and nerve-filled air and we started playing our first piece, Merrily We Roll Along. This was when I realized I was wrong about us embarrassing ourselves. Because the saxophones played before our director gave the downbeat, and in turn we all messily began playing at different times, causing our director to cut us off and give the audience a nervous smile. And I remember exactly what he said, because if you had to be restarted in front of maybe over a hundred people wouldn't you remember, too? “Looks like they're still nervous,” he said as the audience chuckled. We lightly chuckled, our hearts quickening once more. We started playing again, this time playing it correctly. Then we moved on to my favorite piece we've ever played in band; Good King Wenceslas, or as my band director called it: Good King Whatcha-mccall-it. We soon became comfortable, our fingers moving smoothly across the keys of our instruments. After we had finished playing our last piece, Jingle Bells, and the baton was lowered, my favorite part of any concert we perform happened. The silence. That silence that happens after you play that last note, where your heart stops, and the room filled with probably over a hundred people goes completely silent. And then, it was the moment where I realized how much I loved band. How I would and still will sacrifice just about anything for my fellow performers and our class. We had practiced together, told jokes to each other, made friends and rivals with one another, and we became a family. Band was and still is a class where very different people can join one another to make music. Jocks joined the popular girls and the nerds of our grade just to make music. It is truly wonderful. It was in that silence that I realized that I had found something I was truly passionate about and would dedicate myself to from that moment on. The audience then cheered, and I felt a smile and blush appear on my face. I looked at the other people in our class and noticed that they were smiling as well. I never wanted to leave. If our band director suddenly had said, “Hey, what if we just kept playing?” I would've played all night long. But, sadly, we had to leave eventually. I will always remember that night like it was yesterday. It was the best moment that's happened to me. It was when I first knew that I was going to be one of the biggest band geeks to go to our school.
Grief. We all experience it at some points in our life. The death of a beloved pet, the death of a loved one. It comes for us all, eventually. How do you explain that feeling, though? If you haven't lost someone yet, how do I explain that hole? How do I explain trying to fit that square peg of their memory into the round hole of the loss in my heart? Especially when that peg is spiked and tainted with negative memories of abuse and neglect. The person who is gone wasn't a saint, they weren't even a good person, but I still miss them! Amanda Palmer's song “The Thing About Things” put it so well. “If you aren't allowed to love someone living, you learn how to love someone dead.” No one stopped me from loving my father when he was alive except me, and it's a damn good thing I did, too. He was toxic. He was abusive. He was neglectful. He was manipulative. He was everything negative that you shouldn't have in your life. And now that he's gone, I'm trying to learn how to love his memory, the GOOD parts of his memory (because, despite all the negative, there WERE some good parts), and it's so damn hard. Every time I think about him, I think about how he hurt me and how he hurt others around me. Every time I think about his memory, I think about his mental illness that he refused to get help for. Every time I think about his presence in my life, I think about how adroitly he manipulated me every time he was in my life for any length of time. I can't extract the good from the bad. I can't just remember the man who was there for me when everyone else bailed. I can't just remember the man who taught me, as a toddler, about life and death by explaining that he couldn't resurrect the dead grasshopper on the asphalt. I can't just remember the times we would talk and laugh and share stories. I can't just remember the man who took me to San Francisco when I was a teenager, for my 13th birthday, because he knew I loved the city. I can't just remember those things, because those memories are constantly crowded out by the bad ones. I write Dead Letters to him on occasion. The irony of doing so now that he's actually dead is not lost on me. I tell him how he made me feel, how he screwed me up, how much I wished he would have been a better dad. I learned the routine back when I was a kid, from a counselor who gave me many tools to deal with an absentee father. So I write my letters and pour my heart out to a father who never would have read them anyway, even before he died three years ago. Now it just feels pointless, and I realized today that somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought I was writing them to get my thoughts in order to confront him. I honestly thought, deep in the subconscious, that I would be able to talk to him about these things someday. I don't know what I expected to happen, but I thought it would be… cathartic. Some closure. Release. I hoped for it, since I was a little girl--the chance to confront him about what he did to my psyche with his behavior--and now I am faced with the stark reality that I will never get that chance. I don't like permanent doors closing on me--ever. I've never been good with that. I struggle with goodbyes, I struggle with permanence… let's just say I have “commitment issues”. Even when I was a kid, I was afraid to put stickers somewhere, for fear of finding somewhere better later. Now that anxiety plays out in various ways in my life, all because I'm terrified of something going wrong later. That “future fear” is something I've always been afraid of, and it has led me to catastrophize almost CONSTANTLY about the people in my life. When my father died, one of my biggest Future Fears came true. It was one that was in the back of my mind for decades--I even had nightmares about his death, some in which I even killed him myself--but this time it was really happening. Now here we are, three years on, and I still can't process the permanence of it. I still remember his phone number, and every once in a while I will reach for my phone to call him, to try to reach out one last time. I can't parse in my brain the fact that he is actually GONE. The reality of his death is so much different emotionally. I have lost people before, but never someone that I simultaneously loved and loathed. It has made grieving for him difficult. I swing between missing him and hating him, between wanting to talk to him for reassurance and wanting to confront him for the abuse. I am a strange dichotomy of grief. My grief is an ugly animal sometimes, eating me up inside. Other times it lies dormant, just a hole in my heart. Every once in a while, I smell his smoke in the elevators at my apartment building. When I go out for my last smoke, I try to time it where the light is just right, and it reminds me of him--of the good times with him--and I put on music in my earbuds that remind me of our good times.
I hear drums. Is that Ms. Q? Ms.Q is a Drummer and Percussionist for local bands in Sacramento,Ca. She also is known for her Street percussion and activating public spaces with her rythm and unique style of drumming. Drummer for 1. Element Brass Band 2. Endgame live Band 3. Hustle Drummer 4. Boom Shake Music
How many of you grew up without someone who was supposed to be there for you? How many of you lost friends as you grew older, or people you just really cared about? How did it make you feel? Age 3. My earliest memory was waking up in a bed that seemed familiar, but I could not figure out where I was. I left the mattress and explored the apartment that I strangely knew like the back of my hand. I came face-to-face with an elderly couple. I had called the woman my mother, and the man my grandpa. I did not know why. I assumed they were my parents. It wasn't until later that I gained a memory I can still recall: meeting my biological mother and brothers. I know I must have met them before, but my mind at that time had deemed them as strangers claiming to be my family, and all I can think was "why wasn't I raised with you guys?" Age 5. My mother took me and my little brother to a strange place past a fire station (I now recognize it was a police station). We stood there for a whole boring hour until a strange man wearing a black baseball cap and dark sunglasses walked in. He spoke to my mother before coming over to us. He introduced himself as our biological father. I accepted it without question. I expected him to be in my life again like my mother. However, after a few months of constant visits, we stopped going to the station to meet him and I didn't see him for a long time afterwards. By age 6 I began to wonder why he wasn't with my mother anymore, and by age 9 I had almost forgotten he existed until he finally returned to us again. This cycle continues to this very day. Age 10. I now only have a selective group of friends. We were a group of four with a couple of extras we liked hanging out with individually. Then one of us left, never to come back. I can barely remember her face now. Age 12. I was in one of the best relationships of my life. Granted, I had wronged someone, and I regret it to this very day. But we were happy together. That was until someone took him away from me. He went on to a better life (I can only hope so at least), and the night I heard the news I had lost all faith in God and the angels above. I had run back to the man who I had wronged, and in turn he did twice what I had done to him. My love life afterwards had been rocky and unknown. To this day I still refuse to worship such a god, but that boy gives me a hope that perhaps there is an afterlife. He sure as hell deserves the best of them. Age 14. I had made the biggest mistake of my life, and everyone I had once thought cared about me left. Friends turned on friends, relationships broke and mended, and I was shown a pain unlike any other that still haunts me to this very day. In the end, some of them came back and we promised a new life for ourselves. However, the betrayal has me weary and I still cannot trust him with everything I know and love. Not with my whole heart anyway. Age 15. These experiences still mess with my head. As I lay in bed late at night, I am kept awake until the early hours of dawn with these memories playing in my head. The pain becomes hurt, which in turn becomes rage, and eventually settles to sorrow if not quenched with revenge, and it all returns to a stinging numbness that makes me feel both everything and nothing at the same time. I fear closeness to those I care for most in the case of them betraying and leaving me behind just like all the others. As my 16th birthday approaches, I cannot help but wonder how different my life may have been if the choices we all made weren't the ones we had chosen. Would it be better? Would it be worse? Would I still think of the "what ifs" in the end? What is it like? What am I like? Will I ever know, or be kept in this darkness until my dying days? Would I ever be the patient and trusting person I hope to be one day, the person I am working to become, that everyone loves? Would I continue to be a shame to my family and an embarrassment to them, or would I give them nothing but pride? So much could have been different, but would I want it that way?
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