Sunday, July 13, 2008

Here I Am, Lord Send Me

Today, I am blogging for the 40-Day Fast. Today is also Brody Harper's day to blog for the 40-Day Fast. Please check out his blog too.

I was very excited when I first read about the 40-Day Fast opportunity. I figured it was a great way for me to finally do something for someone else for a change. I signed up and eagerly waited for the Fast to begin. However, as the start day approached, I began to get nervous about being the right person for the job.

On day one, when Brant Hansen blogged about Compassion International, I really started to regret my decision to participate. On one hand, here's Brant who has first-hand experience serving those in extreme poverty. If you look at his picture on his blog, you see a tough, rugged guy who looks like he could dig a well single-handedly with his Swiss Army Knife.

On the other hand, there's me. I'm a soccer mom who is afraid of bugs. Actually, phobic is much more accurate. On day one of the Fast, I was talking with my husband on the phone and filling him in on the day's events. My son and I found a firefly outside of our window. We took some really nice close-up shots of it. My husband was thrilled and congratulated me on my bravery of getting so close to a bug. No, he wasn't being sarcastic. So there it is. Brant visits the slums of Nairobi. I'm cautiously approaching a firefly on the outside of my window.

It's not just my ridiculous phobia of bugs that made me question my appropriateness for the Fast. Since my husband was diagnosed with cancer, we don't do much in the way of service projects. We are the service project. Thankfully, we have had many, many people help us fight this battle over the last two years. It has been a blessing. Still, sometimes we've wondered if we have anything left to contribute, or if we have become the leeches of our congregation.

Recently, the band downhere released their latest single, "Here I Am." This song speaks of being an offering to God. It's a song I am moved by more and more every time I hear it. Here is a small sample of the lyrics.

"When setbacks and failures, and upset plans,
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands,
Are you not the closest when it's hardest to stand?
I know that you will finish what you began...

Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness,
And the fear that I'll fail you in the end,
In this mess, I'm just one of the pieces,
I can't put this together but you can."

You can see the full lyrics and hear the song at Jeremy Thiessen's blog. This song reminds me that God knows the struggles I have been through and despite my brokenness, He can use me.

I got to see this song performed live at a music festival called Lifest and spoke to the downhere guys after the show. I shared with Jason Germain, the guy who wrote the song, how powerful the lyrics were to me. Jason reminded me that even Jesus took a break here and there. He reminded me of the story of Jesus on the boat with his disciples. A terrible storm hit. Where was Jesus? Sleeping. Jason suggested that this was my season to rest. I walked away from Jason knowing that God could use me, that God would use me, but that God was also going to give me some rest.

Today, I interrupt my rest to fast and to try and make a small difference in the life of someone else. I attend a United Methodist Church. Big denominations have big money and big responsibilities. What do United Methodists do well? We host potluck dinners. Besides that? We are good at putting together relief supplies. We have it down to a science. There are a number of "kits" we assemble in a way that makes them usable to a great number of people while also following the strict rules that often govern product entry into other countries. I am joining the United Methodist Committee on Relief to build health kits. My family and I are going to assemble a few ourselves. There is a traveling children's choir from Africa visiting the area. I will join with others in our community, build some health kits, and send them home with the children.

Today I ask for your prayers for me, my family, and people like us who sometimes feel too small to help when there is such great need. If we trust that God can overcome our weaknesses, He can and will.

"Little is much when God's in it.
He changes the world with the seeds we sow."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Downhere at Lifest

Ron and I are at Lifest. Well, we're currently at our hotel taking a break, but we're in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for Lifest. We got here yesterday and quickly went to the festival. We patiently waited for our favorite band to take the stage. It started to rain. It wasn't bad at first, so we just covered up and decided to wait it out. However, then it started to really storm. We decided to get cover, but that wasn't easy. Ron is using a wheel chair for the festival. He can walk, but he gets tired quickly, and festivals generally require a lot of walking. Anyway, pushing a wheel chair on wet grass isn't easy. Thankfully, as I got to a road, a nice man helped us get to shelter. We waited in the media tent. Then some volunteers let us wait in their trailer and gave us coffee.

When the storms let up, everyone around us figured we would just pack it in and go back to our hotel. I'm guessing we looked as cold and tired as we felt. They were surprised when we said that we were staying. Truthfully, I was quite ready to leave, but I knew the next band on stage was going to be downhere, and that was motivation enough for me to stay.

The guys played a shorter set because everything was pushed back because of the storm. Still, they were awesome. I loved hearing their new single "Here I Am", which has kind of become my theme-song for the 40-Day Fast. We got to talk with the guys after the show, and as usual, they were very kind and supportive.

I've been following contemporary Christian music on and off for a long time. It's amazing how much God has spoken to me through this one band. I told Jason Germain that I thought God let him listen to my prayers and that's how he came up with songs. I told him that I didn't know whether to thank him or start asking for a writing credit on the next album. OK, that's really corny, I know, but that's how it feels to me. Such great music. Such great guys.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Which Third Day CD Should I Buy?

As of today, I'm officially a Third Day fan. Before this, I really didn't consider myself a fan. I didn't dislike the group. I just didn't really know their music. That has changed though.

Most people become fans of a band and then check out their blogs. Not me. I was on the blog of Downhere band member Glenn Lavender where I found a link to Mark Lee's blog. It said "This Guy Falls Down." I thought that was a really great title for a blog, so I took a look. I followed it here and there. When Mark posted that he was a fan of the Sammy Hagar years of Van Halen, I knew I liked this guy. I now not only follow his blog, I follow his Twitter feed (very funny), and I joined his summer reading club. Getting to know Mark online has been very educational for me. Eventually, I felt weird following his blog but not knowing his music, so I looked into it.

OK. I had heard of Third Day, but I just couldn't name any of their songs. OK, OK. I admit. I knew one of their songs. I didn't like it, so I didn't think I was a Third Day fan. (No, I'm not going to say which song I don't like.) Once I started paying attention, I realized that there are a ton of Third Day songs I really like. "Cry Out to Jesus", "Show Me Your Glory", "I've Always Loved You", the "Creed" remaket, etc. Mac Powell is really easy to pick out on the radio, so I don't know why I didn't figure out I was a Third Day fan a long time ago.

Well, I need to make up for lost time, so I am going to pick up one of their CDs. The question is, which one? I already downloaded "Call My Name" on iTunes. I blogged about that song earlier too. I could wait for Revelation to come out, but I'm not really a patient person. So, if you have a suggestion as to which CD to buy, let me know. If you are a not a Third Day fan, I encourage you to check out their music. It's good stuff. I wish I would have figured that out a long time ago. :-)