Every weekend, a different Bweinh!tributor will discuss a song or songwriter that inspires or interests them. Read the first nine soundtrack entries here.
The Other Side of Something
Sara Groves is one of my all-time favorite singers; she’s an excellent singer and lyricist. Her lyrics are simple, yet in places provocatively deep. She writes about fights with her husband, funny songs with her kids, then hits you with amazing rewrites of old hymns. And she sings of freedom — one of my favorite subjects — and about getting stuck and unstuck and the processes involved, in case you need more than a placebo in your current walk. She’s brutally honest in her self-assessments at times; maybe that’s why she’s found the freedom that she has.
I was introduced to her at, of all places, a dear, dear friend’s funeral — Tim Grant. One of his daughters shared a story that day of how he had driven out to Rochester a few weeks earlier to bring her Sara’s Conversations CD because of how much it had affected him. He even kept calling her, all the way back to Watertown, to see what she thought of it. Even with that testimonial she was not overly impressed, although it did grow on her a bit.
When circumstances turned out as they did, she felt it was something we all should hear. So she played it. I loved it and looked for it right away. This was early winter, and when I relayed the story at Christmas, my sister-in-law mentioned that Sara actually attends their (mega)church! She told us how she was a school teacher, how “Conversations” came out of her many talks with a fellow teacher, and how she’d made the decision to quit teaching for a Christian recording career just recently. I felt so connected! First because of Tim, then because of Don and Jan actually going to church with her.
The CD I chose to talk about here was her fourth, “The Other Side of Something.” I believe it was birthed out of her deliverance experiences — either personal or ministerial. This is another connection because my husband and I work in this ministry in our church. I recognized her revelatory tone in “The One Thing I Know.” I know what she’s talking about when she says, “The clouds just parted, on a corner of my life, and I can see for miles. And the things I was stuck on, the things I thought would never change, they just broke open wide.” When God healed my fear, I had no idea where it went, I just knew it was gone. And with this song, she manages to connect even more with me, making her feel like an old friend I haven’t met yet.
The last thing I really like about her style is that she’s really in the Word. She sings about real characters and places, exploring and comparing her struggles with Jeremiah and Job, finding both strength and camaraderie with her brothers. Sometimes we think of our struggles as unique to today, and of the Bible as just stories, but she sees the Scripture as real-life practical help. It gives her hope and strength, which she in turn shares with us. And when she gets to heaven she’s going looking for Job, because she’s got some questions for him — like he’s an old friend, along the lines of Rich Mullins or Tim Grant perhaps? I love it. I just love it.
If you haven’t listened to this CD, give it a listen; I even have an extra copy if you need it.
And thanks for the tip, Tim. I miss you, friend.
I’m currently studying for the July NY bar exam, more or less as a full-time job. For most people in my position, this involves getting up early every day and sitting in a classroom every day, taking copious notes on hopelessly dull videotaped lectures. For me, it has involved getting up whenever I want and answering multiple-choice questions on my computer between flying across the country, updating this site, and keeping dangerously informed on strange current events.
We were advised in my law school’s bar prep class to spend something like ten hours a day, six days a week studying for the exam, and to take drastic steps immediately to warn our loved ones we would not be accessible this summer. The book actually gave us a cute little letter we could tear out and deliver to our spouse/children/roommates, impersonally informing them they would need to pick up the slack for the next few months, by doing all the chores, taking care of the kids and pets, and delivering home-cooked meals to our room at carefully planned intervals.
“If you’re planning a large life change for this summer, such as breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, you should really do it now,” the book chirped. “You don’t want to have to deal with it while you’re [*gasp*] studying for the bar.”
Well, guess what? It’s not been that big a deal at all. There’s a lot of stuff to remember or learn, but you don’t have to know all of it, or even most of it, perfectly to pass the minimum competency exam. I’m actually limiting the time I study certain things in order to avoid complacency. And although I’m glad I don’t have any personal or social crises to deal with right now, my second semester of law school suggests that I might actually concentrate better if I did.
So all of that is to say two things:
1 — If we find out in November that I failed, you’re all going to quote this post and laugh at me for the rest of my life.
2 — I’m taking applications to create a specific significant problem in my life. Right now, I’m leaning toward you stealing my car…
|In this corner, arguing that this will hurt her more than it hurts you, is Felix’s mom!||And in this corner, claiming that you don’t understand how much this hurts, is Felix!|
Felix, I am very, very disappointed in you. It seems like we’ve had this discussion over and over again, and you say you’re listening, but I’m just not seeing the changes in behavior that would show me you’re paying any attention at all.
Your father and I have discussed it, as well as your grandparents, nursery- school teacher, your therapist, my guru, and your father’s attorney, and we’ve come to the conclusion that the next step is going to have to be a spanking.
I hate to have to do this, and I’m so very sorry we’ve come to this point, but remember — this hurts me more than it hurts you.
No, no, there’s no use trying to convince me otherwise — I mean it, little mister. I’m telling you the truth. When I see my only son, my little prince, behaving the way you do, throwing Mr. Whiskers at your sister while she’s sleeping and hiding Mommy’s “special” pill bottle under the porcelain Buddha, well, it just breaks my heart, Felix. And it only makes it harder on me when I’m forced to punish you physically, because I’m your mommy, and that’s a really special thing, and a mommy doesn’t want to ever cause her little boy pain and, and —
Do you see this, Felix? Do you see what this is doing to your Mommy?
Oh sweet Krishna, I need a drink.
Where was I?
The pain! The pain, Felix, the pain I feel when you feel pain, or when I make you feel pain, well, that pain, it feels worse than any pain you feel at the same time. Because at that time, I feel both pains. Your pain *and* my pain.
It hurts me.
Do you see?
Oh, forget it, just assume the position already.
Ouch! This really, really hurts! I mean, we both knew going into this that it wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but seriously! I’m sure you have the best motives, and I know you’re not enjoying the whole corporal punishment thing, but I honestly don’t think you understand how much this hurts!
What’s that you’ve got there, a willow switch? I didn’t even think they still MADE those! And have you been working out? That vacuuming/laundry gig you’ve got going must really work the shoulders and arms, because things are starting to get a little hazy.
Dude, are you winding up? You’re really getting the wrist into it, I can tell you’ve done this before.
Judging from the lack of obvious exertion, your cardio conditioning can’t be too shabby either. I’ve been considering going to a Capoeira class with a couple guys from playgroup, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to take myself seriously afterwards. I mean, dance-fighting? That scene’s a little too West Side Story for this cat — Great Caesar’s Ghost, that one really brought me back! I admire your technique, but no amount of psychic disappointment in my behavior or regret at the steps you’re taking to correct it can compare to the excruciating physical pain I’m experiencing.
It’s bad enough you had to give me this freaking name, now you rake me over the coals in the name of societal norming?
Could we possibly take a break? I could really use an ice-pack, or maybe a children’s aspirin? Heck, with the sound drubbing you’re doling out back there, I might even need something a little stronger! Bring on the extra- strength Tylenol, while I still have the muscle control to swallow it! What with the levels of agony you’re inflicting, I’m on the verge of unconsciousness. The room is spinning, and: what? You’re done? That was it? Well of all the wimpy — I mean, that was, bar none, the worst experience of my entire life! And I assure you, whatever I was supposed to be learning through this process, it’s all in there. Peace.
“I keep to old books, for they teach me something; from the new I learn very little.” — Voltaire
“Man’s hand assaults the flinty rock and lays bare the roots of mountains.”
The first knot the Navy teaches you to tie is the one in your stomach.
After the first week of boot camp, called “P Days” for processing, the medical facility stamps your file one of two ways: “Fit for full duty” or “Light limited duty.” The first means you can be subjected to any and all forms of physical punishment the drill instructors might dream up. And after learning I have 20/20 vision, AB+ blood, strong hearing and no skin diseases, I was declared to be “fit for full duty.” Thus began the ballet that is staying off the drill instructors’ radar.
I will warn those considering a military move such as mine that drill instructors are easily the sharpest cats in the Armed Forces. You don’t outsmart them, trick them or make them like you. They are complete professionals and viciously good at what they do. But what you can do is outsmart, trick and befriend your fellow recruits — and like sacrificial lambs, use them, and their mistakes, in place of you and yours. More on that next week.
Meanwhile the Navy keeps challenging my division and our ranks are dwindling. Last week an 18-year-old kid here complained that he had no feeling in his hand. He was sent to medical, but on his way he ran away — tried to hop the fence and flee the base. Now he’s in the brig. Another kid a few bunks down from him was medically discharged for a psychological problem: inability to obey authority. One-fourth of the division failed the swim test and three-quarters failed the initial physical fitness assessment (both of which I passed because at 27, I get more time to complete my mile and a half, push-ups, and sit-ups).
As a result, a dark pall settles over the bunkhouse at times, as the sobering realization that people can actually fail sets in. We are all becoming more intimate with our weaknesses, and that, my friends, is scary. Weakness in boot camp isn’t something that can be put off, stuffed into your kitchen junk drawer next to the twist ties. When you have a physical or mental shortcoming here, you’d better scare up a physical or mental tallgoing right quick, or buckle up for the consequences.
They gave us our dog tags this week. I was telling a friend how odd it is to be wearing something so iconic around my neck. I shower, sleep, study and sprint in these, and when they jangle I feel part of what I imagine parenthood must be like. There’s no going back now.
My dog tags say “Tate” and “Protestant” on them. Finishing strong is the only option.
Coming in Week Three: The Sacrificial Lambs
As long as I’ve been a Christian, I’ve always loved the balance between the Old and New Testament, and I’ve always found a fullness in reading both on a regular basis. One of the best examples of what comes from this dual exposure is found in the stories of Genesis 24 and John 4.
Genesis 24 recounts the story of Isaac and Rebekah. I have heard it preached as the ultimate love story between God and his beloved — the father (Abraham) sending his servant to bring a bride for his only son Isaac (Jesus). The criteria are set and the woman must pass the test. She must, at Abraham’s request, be pure, of the right lineage and race. She must, to fulfill Eliezer’s prayer, be kind and have the heart of a servant, to not only give him water when asked, but also offer it for all his camels. She must be a virgin and fair to look upon.
It’s a lot to ask but God leads Eliezer to the perfect choice, and she returns with him. Isaac is meditating out in the field and when he sees her, he takes her as his wife. Moreover, we are told that he loves her. It is truly a beautiful story.
If you’re like me, your story was a little different than that, though. Perhaps it’s a bit more like John 4, in the New Testament. In this love story, everything has gone wrong. God the Father has sent His servants repeatedly to draw his beloved, but they have been stoned, sawn asunder, persecuted and killed. At last He sends His only Son.
He finds the woman at the well, but she is not pure at all. She is not even Jewish. She’s a Samaritan, of mixed race and idolatrous religion, despised by the Jews. But Jesus uses the same test of character anyway, asking her for a drink. She answers with sarcasm and smart remarks, questioning his motives and arguing about religion. And not only is she not a virgin, she’s had five husbands and is currently living in sin with yet another man. There is no mention of physical beauty.
But she is the one and he loves her! She receives the fullness of all He has reserved for His beloved. Jesus told the Pharisees, when they questioned his penchant for hanging around publicans and sinners, “I have not come for the whole, but for the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
This is the true love story. The Old Testament story was the way God wanted it to be. The New Testament story is the way it is. For all of us.
How can pride exist under such circumstances? Not one of us can meet the criteria of the Rebekah story. And how can any of us deny the love of a God who sees us as we are, chooses to love us, then makes us worthy of that love?
Ã‚Â©1984-2007 Chick Publications, Inc. Reprinted without permission as fair use (parody).
This Ask Bweinh! poll is sponsored by Judge Joe Brown. “Judge Brown has a sense of chivalry, and enjoys telling moocher guys to stop living off their girlfriends.” You tell ’em, Your Honor!
If you wish to serenade Bweinh!, here’s what you’ll want to use.
|5-6 (tie)||Trumpet; Violin||6|
|7-10 (tie)||Cello; Trombone; Thumbscrew; Didgeridoo||5|
|Other||French Horn; Harmonica; Flute; Harpsichord; Lute; Voice; Airspeed Indicator; Triangle; Bassoon; Pitch/Yaw Stick; Jug||1-3|
A biologist, an engineer, and a mathematician were sitting outside an empty house. They watched two people go in, and then a while later, three came out.
The engineer said, “Our initial count must have been wrong.”
The biologist said, “They must have reproduced!”
And the mathematician said, “Now if one person goes back in the house, it will be completely empty!”
Don’t forget to vote in the Genesis band name FINALS!
This week, Bweinh.com looks at the next three chapters of the Bible, Exodus 12-14.
This week, please welcome our guest pastor, Rev. Bob Mackmer of the Belfast (NY) Free Methodist Church!
The Passover is established, giving the Jews the signal celebration of their faith and a foreshadowing of the redemption to come in Christ.
God’s decisive blow against Egypt (Passover) and a faith-stretching encounter with the Red Sea.
This section boasts arguably the two most incredible miracles of the Exodus account — the death of every firstborn in Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea. Yet probably the hardest thing to understand is why the nation who had just witnessed the first was so surprised by the second.
One of the most powerful sections of the Old Testament, an illustration both of God’s faithfulness and greatness, and exactly why we should fear Him.
SOMETHING YOU’D NEVER NOTICED BEFORE:
The Israelites might be a bunch of complainers, but give them points for sarcasm — “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?”
On leaving Egypt, God led them in an unusual path. He did not lead them on the shortest route. How many times do we look for the shortcut, while God leads us in a round-about way: God-inspired detours.
God got all the firstborn, whether by death or by consecration.
Someone had kept good enough records that they knew it was exactly 430 years of enslavement (to the day) that was ending!
The great anguish of Egypt was communicated so simply, even callously. Pharaoh and every other Egyptian “rose in the night,” and there was a “great cry” — for no house had been spared. From the peasant to the king, death leveled and obliterated the entire nation. What an understated verse.
Have you ever heard a pack of coyotes howl and snarl so loudly that you could swear the next bark would be at your window? Or the soft pattering of something digging in a corner or burrowing in the closet?
I’ve become familiar with these and other noises the last few nights, now that I’m living with my grandmother in rural New Mexico. We’re mere yards from the national forest, so isolated that, as Grandma put it this afternoon, “If something should happen to us, who would hear us scream?”
Therefore I have decided that I hate the desert at night. In the daytime it’s fine — the temperature is high enough that all the dangerous things disappear and the sun bright enough that the beauty is impossible to miss. (Little known fact — you can actually touch the sun in some parts of New Mexico because it really is that close. You heard it here at Bweinh!)
But as evening simmers into night, that vast blue sky that so awes me during the day becomes my enemy, Eliot’s “patient etherized upon a table,” sprawling and lifeless. Looking outside makes me feel blind. The darkness can be felt in the hairs on the back of my neck as they tingle and rise. It is a darkness that nurtures paranoia, and the certainty that something with sharp teeth and quick venom lurks just beyond the window pane is what makes my grandmother cover every window in the house after twilight surrenders the sky.
The worst thing, though, is the noise. When the coyotes bark and yip in packs, I know a rabbit will soon be devoured. When I hear something like the desperate scream of a woman, I know it’s a cougar on the prowl. And when I hear that clicking on the roof, like an alien in the movies preparing to dispose of its prey, I know something is skittering around on the roof, and any minute now it will come crashing through the window to eat me. I don’t care how hot it is — I’m a firm believer in that age-old superstition that my thick down comforter will protect me from the monsters outside, and so I will bear the stuffy heat and burrow deeper until the sun rises again.
“He was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say “When!”” — P.G. Wodehouse
This was not the case for Say You Are My Sister and Five Times Benjamin, so we’ll have them face off too, for third place (and first place among unused names).
Winners will be announced at the beginning of July!
Ã‚Â©1984-2007 Chick Publications, Inc. Reprinted without permission as fair use (parody).