Night Terrors–and Jesus

I don’t care what the child psychologists or the sleep experts tell you, a night terror is true evil.

And if you ever wondered, say the name Jesus, and watch your child scream the most evil blood-curling scream.  And do it 10 times if you need to. Then you’ll know.

It is no surprise to me  that these night terrors have accompanied my daughter’s sleep the week of my walking away from some lie-bondage  involving my motherhood–ideas/philosophies which I would pass on to her.

When you’re dealing with the evil one….there’s just one perfect little problem with his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11), he is lying.

I won’t waste time describing the awful-ness of a ‘night terror’…but I will tell you how it ended.

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Failing kids…by being their source.

I was circling my house trying to get a grip on what my problem was.  It’s one thing to know I’m not meeting my own expectations, another thing to know that Zach has to put up with a season of me being overwhelmed in his lifetime commitment to me, but it really hits home when you think, “I am the source of my children’s comfort and instruction, and if I am not able to give them that, I’m really messing them up!”  I’ve seen the look on older women’s faces when they recall this season of life. They admit they were deeply afraid that they were messing up their kids.  (They don’t say it out loud, but you get the hint and grimace.)

In the spin of all my questions of why I couldn’t get a grip, I landed in the pit of, “How can I just let everything else go [laundry, cooking, cleaning, social sanity time, shopping] so that I can just try to be what my kids need? I’m FAILING!” Read more

Seeing Ourselves with the Right Backdrop

It’s easy to get in a funk, I’d say. Our lives are changing year by year.  We have seasons just like life, and new growth comes at the price of perfection.

We get angry at others when our choices don’t look favorable on the backdrop of their choices. (If the world would stand still, the whole world could see I’m moving!)  The pace of their lives blurs the meaning of our movements.

Screenwriters know they have to use extremes to get a point to come out. (For something to shine, it must be dark beneath.) In literature, we learn about how foil characters contrast the main guy to make his nuances pop.

So we’re not crazy to get sucked into this game, but we can’t win it. Read more

Whatever Gift You Have

I’m big on sharing our gifts with other people. I don’t think it’s an idea born of arrogance– it’s the way personalities and strengths were spread out by design.  If and since we need each other, we can’t get stuck thinking we’re all alone.  If “no one is helping me,” I can at least get out of my rut in knowing that someone else needs me.

But I find most people off on tangents all around this simple circle.  If everyone shares with others the gift they have, everyone is enriched and encouraged and spurred on. People get off the point when:

(1) They assume they have no talent–or they assume that since other people have overlooked them, they have no talent.  That’s the point, however! They won’t know until you begin to give! Each person must individually decide in himself to GIVE of himself to others. (“Here, let me help. Has anyone ever showed you? Hey, let me see if this will help. Hey, have you tried it this way.”) By waiting for others to affirm you or invite you, you will never learn. The day you are asked, you will not be ready.  In fact, you won’t be asked until you have proven through your volunteering that you are reliable.  It is life’s natural apprenticeship.  It is the practice before the game.

I remember playing songs for my friends for YEARS…and I would tell them not to look at me. I could barely get myself to do it. But I couldn’t deny the fact that I had just written a song. And what was I going to do with it…(except play it for my best friends?)

(2) They assume their talent is the only one. In using their gift, they are simply imposing their strengths on others, lording it over them, blindly trying to get others to become like them. Naturally, they are fulfilling the design of creation in wanting to “strengthen others” in that area of life, but they encircle them with manipulations which feed their ego, to create their own circle in which they are king.  Desperate for an identity that is secure and unchanging, they find their identity in their gift/strength.  They are really feeding their own identity by getting others to believe that this gift is the measure of worth in life. If others don’t “buy in,” their self-worth is at risk because they are banking on the wrong thing. Their manipulations become desperate then to maintain the circle.  They are trying to get everyone to become like them.  And people fall for that stuff!

(3) They know they have a talent, but they think it’s too much effort to offer it to others.  They have never caught a vision of just how fascinating it is that they have a talent that others need. Other people are WOWed by them, but they’re so tired from their 40 hour work week or their 40 years of work before retirement, that they just want a BREAK.  They are missing out on the huge blessing of seeing someone else’s lights come on in admiration and thankfulness.  It’s truly a blessing to bless someone. It affirms to the core that who you are is good (god-created), that your talents are God-given.

Giving to someone else is an act of grace–something they can’t earn.  And when you let your gift simply be what it is, a gift, then everyone wins.

The first time this verse* ever hit me, strangely, was in the context of a children’s book…. Veggie Tales of all things! (I don’t particularly love the series.)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

It’s a free gift to others JUST TO BE AROUND YOU.

Because no one is like you.

I see that. I’ve lived that. I believe that.  And how much more if you freely offer the thoughts in your mind, the trick of your hands, the strength of your muscles, the math in your brain, the couch in your living room.

Use whatever gift you have to build your friends and family up. Then your neighbors. From there your confidence will grow. And who you are will fully bloom.

THEN, (and only then) you might actually find the resounding, “Yeah, they are really good at that.”

Stop Talking About it and Do it

Many times in my life I’ve looked up and found my life a little empty, a little wordy-heavy, thought-heavy without much relationship growth or interaction to show for it.   It seems like I end up thinking, “Well, I know what doing nothing feels like. Now, I have nothing to lose in doing something.” It’s how I started doing music in coffeehouses, how I started helping other people publish, and, come to think of it,  how I fall into most conversations with people.  I know what it feels like to say nothing, do nothing and come up empty.

I helped my dad establish his cross making ministry on the web. He designed a logo; I just put the pieces together.  I have done the same thing for several of my friends’ parents.  Because I have a relationship with them, they are willing to let me help them fulfill their goals and dreams online–big and small.

Tonight I spent a few hours with a friend’s parents who are building two websites of pictures and stories of their rock band days, making old songs available online as free downloads, etc.  To me, it’s a few hours and a few logins, a few uploads. To them, it is part of their lifetime dream realized.

minton sr manila

He brought everything in two manila folders–all the pictures scanned, all the songs moved from tape to digital format, all the text written.  This bad boy is ready to put up in a one-stop-shop.  When I showed him the drafts I had made, he fell in love. A big weight off my shoulders (mostly because I don’t want to revise.) It fulfills me to no end to know that a few clicks on a computer for me can mean so much to someone else.  I know the thrill of putting my hand to the works in my heart.  I know the thrill of moving forward.

And I’ve learned find the thrill in saying,”I take care of three children all day long.  I hope your deadline is far far far away.”

And of making a little money. 😉

I think my point is this: nobody is the best at anything. All you have is what you have.  You can either hold it, hoard it, fake it, or flaunt it ….or you can just offer it, and DO it, just like it is, just as you are.  Or do nothing, give nothing….and then have nothing to show for it.

So many people have given time and energy to me.  I want to be the kind of person who can do things for others, too.



Pleasing Our Parents & Kiki’s “Beauty Inside”

I landed on the couch today, refusing to rush for anyone. I was having that kind of moment. I couldn’t bring my brain back to normal, and I felt the use of music would be futile… just taking me into the soul realm–which was precisely where I felt trapped.  (Not that music isn’t spiritual.)

I craved Kiki’s album. No time to find it. So I went to her website, scrolled to the bottom music player and hit play.

It brought me back down.

I sat there and held my happy baby who was standing up on my sitting legs and just took some deep breaths.

Kiki is neither a powerhouse nor an understatment.  Since she produces her music, I don’t feel its decade. So it has an unassuming, gentle timelessness.  She has a had a successful touring career as a pianist for Christopher Cross and Wilson Phillips and does that to this day as well as running an Equine Healing Ranch out of her home in California.

We became friends through a chance gig in California when I lived there.  Being a songwriter, her stories (like mine) are on her tongue, and I soon learned about her upbringing as the daughter of the famous actor Buddy Ebsen (Beverly Hillbillies), and we bonded in our mutual respect for each other’s music. She came to TN for a few shows, which Zach and I played and sang with her on, including a writer’s round which introduced me to her friend Charlie Peacock.  (That was a big night for me!)

I have heard these songs a hundred times. I pull out each cd about once a year and wear it out, playing it over and over and over… Zach will tell you it’s true.

But tonight it was “The Beauty Inside”–the 4th or 5th track that plays on her site– that hit me hard. I had never connected to the song very deeply (and I knew I ‘should’ have because it was the title track.)  But tonight it finally got through. I was deep in relaxation by the time it played, and it hit me deeply.

“Can’t you see I was not put here on this earth just to make you so incredibly proud. I hate my reflection of you in me, this tainted perception of who I should be in your world of perfection. All I needed you to see–the beauty inside of me. All dressed up in christmas bows, pretty boxes in a row, sitting on a shelf…. so as not to call attention, 1 falls off the cupboard shelf, another falls in spite of itself, the others left to fend for themselves and the wrapping falls apart. ”

It is universal from generation to generation. We are entrapped and enslaved by the desire to please our parents… though we live in a different world than they lived in, with different talents and qualities than they had, different circumstance, different spouses, different children, on and on.   It FEELS so strong, that we assume the pull must be legitimate.  But they feel the same pull from their parents. It’s terrible. And finding it here in this song, really yanked me from down deep with a, “Joni! GET OVER IT! They can’t be your source of affirmation! Let it GO!”

Our parents are limited, just like we are, with one slice of skills/talents, created like no one else, and they’re lucky if we ever grasp their value, much less they ours.

Anyway…. that was my afternoon.

A quiet moment is never lost in my world. Thank God that a moment to breathe brings glimpses of new freedoms into view.

Thank you, Kiki.










I broke my shoulder today…

something broke
and it hurt so bad...

At first I thought it was the floor
the foundations of all I had

Then I thought it was my mind
and I'd never felt like that

When my mind found God's word 
beneath my feet in the aftermath

I knew "It was just your shoulder,"
just my shoulder 
that had snapped 

I really couldn't tell
after all that we had said
then the crumble
then the crash
no telling what was next

A man is made for things 
a woman cannot carry. 
The illusion of strength
ends in a hurry

Thank God that shoulders heal 
no need for desperate pretending
Thank god it's not life, sanity, or 
marriage that's ended

It had made me a liar--
Yes I understand
I will no longer presume to know my husband's plans.

But I do have His Word
My mind CAN stay on that. 
I guess I'll have His Promises, 
His Promises instead.

I need a long bath.