where I occasionally share about inspiration, songwriting, screenwriting and my faith journey…
Aka .. a bit about me:
I’m 45 as I embark on this mission. I won’t bore you with years of “herstory”, but I want to share a bit about my “year of 44”.
I entered 2008 embarking on a personal spiritual journey. I didn’t know much but I did know that I’d been too many years without God playing a significant role in my life. So I went seeking… I wanted to understand how I’d gotten to where I’d gotten, I wanted to find out what it would be like to have a personal relationship with Him, and I wanted to immerse myself in His Word and come to know the impact of doing so on my life. I went about this simply: reading a daily devotional, journaling, and spending time with my study Bible. I began to use my drive time to and from the workplace as my time to converse with God. This was nothing fancy, mind you — I just talked with Him as if He was sitting beside me, and in order to keep this new territory comfortable, I kept things really informal. It was not uncommon for me to address God with a “Good morning, Sunshine” or “I need to know what you think, Big Guy”. I didn’t see this as disrespectful — it was merely MY way of trying to feel alright about having these conversations. It took a good friend to enlighten me and tell me this was simply my way of praying. Huh, imagine…
On January 12, 2008, I turned 44. Was not jiggy with it, but truly — what can one do? A few days later, “something” drew me to a website for a local triathlon club, on which I found an ad for a beginner’s triathlon training program. I’ve talked about wanting to complete a triathlon for years. Went and watched one once and thought it’d be cool to do that … but I never did. So I’m 44 when I see the ad and nearly 170 pounds. I didn’t know how to swim — certainly didn’t know what freestyle stroke was — and struggled to get from one end of a 25 yard pool to the other. I biked only for pleasure. And running? I couldn’t run around the block without being winded. But there I sat with this ad — the training started that coming Saturday. I emailed the Coach and received a response that she had “one more spot” available. I nabbed it.
The rest, as they say, is history… I’m bought in to triathlon — hook, line and sinker! And while I may never ever be a speedy triathlete, I love this sport immensely and will keep trying to improve in each facet of it. Much as my Coach warned me, there has been a distinct intertwining of this sport of triathlon and my spiritual journey. Lessons learned in one find their way into the other.
Skipping ahead to summer of ’08… I was training for sprint distance triathlon #2, slated for early August. At the end of June, I took a work trip out west, providing myself some amazing windshield time in Idaho, Montana and Washington. I totally fell in love with Bozeman, MT — still remember standing on the Montana State campus looking to and fro at mountains in either direction and thinking that I certainly wasn’t in Kansas anymore… Upon leaving Bozeman, I took a drive out to Bridger Bowl and back. I lost count of how many times I pulled over from being teary-eyed about the beauty surrounding me or how many times I rolled down the window and shouted upward, “Great job, God!!”
The day I drove from Missoula to Spokane was quite simply one of the most memorable days of my life. I had three hours of drive time and I used it listening to inspirational music and talking with God. I talked and talked and talked. I commisserated and questioned and cried. Early on I spoke with Him about “legacy” and how might I leave my mark on this world if I’ve not brought children into it. I commisserated about dying young (my folks died in their mid-60’s and I’d always had it in my head that I would as well…) until light was shed that day that perhaps my life was only half over… perhaps instead of dying in my 60’s, I’d still be standing on triathlon starting lines!!
What was my “year of 44” suddenly became my “year of 44 more”…
A bit later in this drive, I apologized to God. I talked about my faith walk, my desire to find my way back to Christ, and my hesitations about doing so. I tried to explain what it was in my past that was holding me back. I reassured Him (and myself) that finding my way back was what I wanted and then I asked Him what to do when I was ready again to accept his son — how do I go about that? Do I need someone to hear me, witness me asking him in? I asked God: Or is it as easy as pulling off the side of the road and having a conversation with You? … If there’s anything I’ve learned in my growing relationship with God, it’s that He’s always listening, He’s practical and He enjoys humor. It wasn’t a minute after I asked this question that plopped before me was Mile Marker #22 (my all-time fave #) WITH an exit off the interstate! I about died…
I thought .. But I’m not ready!! And so on I drove, not pulling off, and watched that exit disappear in my rear-view mirror, tears streaming down my face. Divine opportunity missed? Perhaps.
Perhaps not. What that day reinforced in me was God’s listening. And when I am ready, He’ll be there waiting for me.
In September I visited the church that would become home for me … and eventually for Patrick too. The first series I attended blew me away, hit me square in the chest many times over, and had me in tears nearly every week. About this same time came a monumental revelation of understanding about a situation back in college that I allowed to throw me off my faith game. To suddenly learn over twenty-four years later that the grudge I was carrying was not against a friend but against Christ .. well, that’s the stuff that rips at your very seams, let me tell you. And yet, it was exactly the knowledge I needed to stitch back together the fabric of my faith.
October 22, 2008. Months before — after coming home from the trip — I’d started a poem about that Missoula-to-Spokane car-ride converation. Started but couldn’t finish it. On October 22nd as I was thumbing through journal entries and email exchanges, I found a note from a friend about that very day. She’d written: “Jesus was in your passenger seat that day, my friend.” Well, there was the line I needed to finish that poem. I got her approval to use it, finished the poem, and then shared the poem.
I’ll share that poem herein: Mile Marker 22
When my friend read the poem, she came back with a question: Are you still seeking .. or are you following?
I dodged and deflected as best as I could. She’d dipped her toe in this pool before, but this time was different — this time the water was warm. So she went swimming… She sent me back an email that got up in me. Within it she posed the question another way — this time asking me outright “Do you accept…” and telling me I was only allowed a one-word answer, either three letters or two, no more, no less.
On October 23, 2008, after shutting my office door and putting pen to paper to write down all that was on my heart and praying and accepting Jesus Christ as my savior and asking him back into my heart and into my life, I replied to my friend with the only brief email I’ve ever sent: Yes
No punctuation even
Hence, the significance of October 22/23.
Now … this songwriting thing requires a bit of explaining. I’m going to skip the beginnings and why I walked away from playing guitar and writing songs — suffice it to say, I had my reasons .. or thought I did. At the point of Fall 2008, I’d not picked up my guitar or written any songs in .. oh, about ten years or so. Let’s just leave the backstory at that for now.
In December of ’08, I indulged in my typical year-end review and personal goal-setting. I read Max Lucado’s “Cure For The Common Life”. Not that I understood at the time the seed that was planted, but when Max prompted me to consider when in my life I was in my “sweetest spot”, my immediate answer was when I was playing guitar and writing songs. I noted my reaction, put the book away, and moved toward ’09.
As I thumb through journal pages for early January ’09, it’s fun to see notes from church, from the Ortberg book “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat”, and from continued immersion in my study Bible. Themes: “a calling”, change, having faith in God’s plan and in the gifts bestowed upon me, growth, saying YES, imagine, use your gifts at once — don’t tuck them away like fine china boxed up in the attic.
For my birthday, I made myself a bracelet whose beaded message is all about “Following God’s plan for me” … whatever that may be. That same week came the day the music began… I was driving home from work one day and something compelled me to turn off the cd player. I started to sing. I sang and I sang — first part of one song, then part of another, and another. I didn’t recognize one of them. And then it hit me: these are MY songs! I’m delighted to share that each of them was what I’d call a worship song — inspirational, contemporary Christian. I got home, scribbled down lyrics fast and furious. Thus began a routine — I started using part of my commute time to sing. Sing, sing, sing (albeit not well, mind you) to nail down the lyrics and melody. And then, after nearly a 10-year hiatus, I pulled out the Guild guitar and tried to play. And yes, my fingers hurt immensely in those early sessions. But I kept playing, working to find the chords to support the lyrics/melodies I’d created a capella. On January 19th, I completed the first song: “VESSEL”. And since then I’ve just kept writing — several completed songs and many more in some state of creation.
It’s a crazy thing to welcome back into one’s life something that’s been missing for so many years.
In 2008, I did that with God.
In 2009, I did that with songwriting.
I’m thankful for it all, believe me. I can’t even wait to see what’s in store for 2010!
For now, I’m content to dive into this challenge/mission and share with you … whoever you are … in the process.