The Christmas Story – Rock’n It Out

Dear Jesus,

Happy Birthday!  I started thinking about things after church the other day, like I’m supposed to do, and one of the things I thought about was when Pastor Daryl talked about how Christmas has become a contact sport because it’s all about the good deals on all the gifts, and people display everything they can about the Christmas season, but a lot of people have forgotten about the gift that You, Jesus Christ, are to us all, the gift that God gave, his only begotten son, to give the gifts of Faith, Hope and Love, and the gift of salvation…thank you, thank you, Jesus.  So, the pastor said that before we get to carried away with gifts, we should light some candles on a cake and sing “Happy Birthday.”  Now, you know that I’ve done this before, when I’ve gone out and bought a cake for your birthday, and this year I was thinking about baking one.  But…as you know, I’m giving a go at my mom’s famous stuffing for my wife’s side of the family, and I’m making a nice, but modest, Christmas dinner for the eve of your birth for my crew.  I have a little bit of culinary pressure going on here, and plus, none of us need the sugar. 

But,  hey, I’m not a baker anyway!  I blog and rock…and make videos.  And since I am a child of yours, you know what kind of child I can be…not so traditional, but very grateful, loving, and sincere.  Thank God for You!  You are the greatest birthday gift of all.  I hope you enjoy the musical story to follow, especially my video at the end…I hope it finds you in good humor.  In your most Holy and Precious name, Lord, I glorify, praise, and pray.  Amen!

Sing along!!  It makes you feel good!!

Make a wish!!


Happy Birthday to My Daughter

Dear God…

On this day, seventeen years ago, you blessed the world with a little girl, although some joke and beg to differ.  I don’t have the memory of being able to look back and share how many pounds she was, or how many inches, or whether she cried when she first saw the light of the world, and no, I didn’t get to hold her.  Those precious blessings were reserved for her mom and dad.

When she came into my life, she was just a couple inches beneath my shoulders, but I could pick her up if I wanted to when we were horsing around.  I was never the kind of person to be able to handle “girly” things, so it took some getting used to when I would shop for things she would like, pink things, young-girl make up, cute clothes, stuff that I had no interest in when I was in my youth and stuff that I never thought I would ever buy, as I always prayed for a son, and I was blessed with, even though he made it to Heaven before I did.

It didn’t take me long to figure out this “daughter” situation though, as natural instincts of parenting started kicking in, and then further instincts of parenting a girl kicked in, being extra mindful of those clothes and make-up as she grew older.  And when boys started becoming more a part of her life, an over-protective nature started kicking in even more.  Yet, along the way, over the years, I’ve fine-tuned those instincts and been able to reserve my actions and reactions, for the most part, so as to not actually just lock her up in the highest room in the tallest tower forever.

As you know, Lord, there have been a lot of struggles and trials along the way, some of which have gotten completely out of control.  Emotions get the best of us when we care about somebody so much that we love them so much and get hurt by them at the same time, but thankfully, Lord, because of that love, we always have it to come back to, no matter what the struggle was.

And aside from the struggles, we’ve had fun.  We have our memories, we have our inside jokes, we have our own things that we just know about each other and it’s okay, even if those things annoy us sometimes.  Like when she follows me all around just because, even at the age of, well, now seventeen.  But she’s been doing it since she was twelve, so unless I really don’t want the company…why say anything? 

But, Lord, we wouldn’t have any of these things at all if you wouldn’t have blessed her mom and dad first with her.  So thank you for that.  And thank you for letting me be part of her picture.  Amen.

Jukebox Novel

First, I’m going to say that I’m going to be praying that the words that I find to be able to tell you all that I want to say, describe all that I feel I want to, and the ability to not turn it into a three day novel, come to me with little ease, yet, with accurate meaning and emotion.  Amen

Hopefully, that will start working soon.  I struggled even to type that prayer out.  It’s easier just to feel it in your heart and know it your mind, and God, knows exactly what your heart means, ya know?  It’s like…if you over-think that emotion, try desperately to figure out every little thing about it, including it’s name, so as to put a word to it, the more you will struggle with the entire emotion, or sentence, as a whole.  Does any of this make sense?  If not, oh well…it makes sense to me.

Just know that it has been an incredible week.  A series of blessings from our Lord has me feeling like I’m wrapped in a blanket of spiritual coziness and contentedness.  While it’s been a rough week, one in which fears and concerns lingered around matters of our hearts, both physiologically and figuratively, all of our prayers were answered and we are all alive, well, and together…Glory be to God.

I already took a time out from writing this because I got stumped with my words.  Words are definitely going to be hard to come by, other than for story telling, as I’ve told you before, God talks to me through my music, especially this week.  So, I guess I’m just going to have to tell you a story, and provide the soundtrack that went along with it.  Now, one could say that it’s easily coincidental, considering that most of these songs are on my MP3 player already, and I am therefore bound to hear them.  However, because it’s set on shuffle, I am going to hear them in whatever order I am destined to hear them.  Can God control my electronic devices?  Yes He can!  When he knows that I’m not going to be the one to open The Bible and expect a certain verse to stick out, and I’m not the one to get goosebumps in 110 degree weather following a prayer, nor am I the one to hear His voice call out to me in the clearing in a forest, He places His will unto my MP3 player and it is through that I hear Him telling me all that I need to know.  Sounds silly, huh?  I actually call my MP3 player my HIM-P3 player, originally because all that was on it was the band HIM, now, also, because of Him.

Since Monday, I’ve already had a song in mind for this weeks blog.  I’m not sure why it came to me, and I’m not sure why I considered it, considering that it’s actually quite a special song.  In fact, I didn’t really give it too much thought when I first thought about it, thinking that it was early yet, and that, surely, something else would come along.  But, much like the reason behind the special nature of this song, my mind and my heart refused to give up on it, and, from that point on, it’s as if everything else just seemed to fall into place.  I noticed the singer from a movie I had seen before, albeit, not one that kept me very interested.  When we got the all clear that my mother-in-law was alright to come home from the hospital, it was the first song to come on my player when I went to go get the car yesterday.  No, I hadn’t listened to it yet, the song had just popped into my head earlier in the week, and again, I wouldn’t let go of it.

God is like that too.  When He’s got you, He’s got you…mind, body, and spirit.  And when you’ve got Him, you’ve got Him, no matter what, and no matter what is going on around you.  And when you surrender all those things, including yourself to Him, then you can finally be in a relationship with Him.  A relationship is not just with one person, you can’t just have it with yourself, and you can’t control it, both people equally interact within it.  In a relationship with God, it is no different, there is still giving and getting.  You still have to give yourself to Him to be able to receive Him, and however the dynamics work, it can be a beautiful story.

So I sang out loud to that song, as I was sitting there waiting in the car for my wife and Mama-T, before I decided to play it one more time, just to listen to again.  And then I moved on to the next one, a song I had known since the mid-90’s, one in which I had always moved me and found a bit of myself in.  The song has come up a few times before in the past, that is, when I’ve chosen to listen to it instead of skipping over it once the newness of it wore off, in times when I’ve probably needed to listen to it most.  It still invoked the same emotions in me, although my inability to really describe emotions to you write now, unfortunately, leaves me with little else to say about what that means.  However, when I consider the other times that my spirit has told my mind to tell my body not to let my finger press “skip,” such as when I lost my son, and my best friend, and when I consider some of the darkness that I’ve been stumbling in and out of, I’m grateful to have received the blessing of this song as well.

On the way home, I didn’t get a chance to continue to listening to any music.  My wife was making phone calls and I had the window down to smoke a cigarette, which in her terms, means it was to loud so I needed to sacrifice one or the other.  It’s not being mean, it’s just too much road noise.  I decided to turn the player off, which I usually only listen to in the car unless I need it for something else.

That night, I needed it for cooking.  When I’m spending a considerable amount of time in the kitchen, I like to have my music going.  And since the family was in the living room watching t.v., I listened to my MP3 player instead of just grabbing my laptop and listening without headphones.  It was like picking up on God’s messages from where I left off.

I pressed play, and I admit, I did hit the skip button, opting to skip over a song by my favorite band HIM, a song that I usually listen to ALL the time, but really just didn’t feel like listening to this time.  It took a nano-second for my spirit to tell my mind to tell my body to press skip.  And then a song came up that I had heard earlier this week, at the local holiday boat parade, actually.  I was excited when I heard it the first time, and even more so when I heard it this time.  It was like God was my DJ all of a sudden and my kitchen became my dance floor.  It was as if a weight had been lifted from me.  In light of all the recent conditions and conversations going on in all the facets of my world, it was then that it felt like it was like a Friday night at the club and I was in my 20’s again, and all I was doing was dancing around my little apartment kitchen, cooking chicken parmesan for my family, just letting the spirit move me in everything I did and felt.  I was grateful for everything I had in that room and the fact that God was letting me have them all another day, so his blessing was like my drug, made me all starry-eyed.  He can do that to you, ya know!

Dang it, I got so caught up in dancing, I forgot to pre-heat the oven!  Oh well, I just had to listen to another song and dilly-dally around the kitchen a little longer before I put the chicken in.  The next song that came up was just a classic song that I had been rockin’ out to since I was young.  It’s just a feel good song, but this time, I wasn’t dancing quite as crazy.  I think I put a little air guitar in there somewhere right before our daughter came into the kitchen, not that there’s much room, and wanted to know what I was listening and dancing too.  (To see if I had the right rhythm perhaps?)  I informed her of the song and she didn’t know it, I wasn’t surprised, but she took my other earbud and popped it in her ear to listen for a moment so she too could experience the amazing sound and beat.  But more than that, going back to what I said about being grateful for everything I had in that room, when she grabbed my other earbud, I didn’t freak out.  Normally, it’s something that I wouldn’t allow.  I’m a mild germaphobe and I don’t like when other people use things of mine that are somewhat personal.  I don’t allow her to use my earbuds, drink out of my cups, I don’t eat anything of hers after she’s eaten it (like a bag of chips), stuff like that.  This particular instance, however, it was as if it went completely unnoticed or it was something totally usual and something I didn’t mind.  Patience and tolerance IS something I’ve been praying an awful lot for lately.  That God of ours…

Alright, the chicken went in the oven and it was time for a cigarette.  I bolted out the door, player still on, and the next song was just about to cue up.  Wait…this isn’t like all the others.  I can’t dance to this one.  Ahh…I see!  This one is meant to make me think.  It’s funny that this song came up, it takes me forever to even try to find it when it’s on shuffle, and it’s the only song I have by this particular artist, and I’ve referenced the person that introduced me to this particular artist quite often this last week.  It made sense that this song came up, again, because of all the darkness I’ve been stumbling through, not just recent, but lifelong.  But recently, it seems like I feel the need to put the weight of the world on my shoulders when I know it doesn’t belong there and I know my shoulders cannot, and has no business holding the weight.  God did not intend on me carrying the weight I’ve carrying, so I just needed to take a moment, walk around, smoke, and really think about dumping those extra pounds.  Yes, I can care.  Yes, I can love.  Yes, I can feel bad about…  Yes, I can be angry that… But, I can’t control what others do with whatever it is that I had to with it, ya follow?  It’s like trying to push a boulder uphill and it keeps rolling down, like Sisyphus, in ancient Greek mythology.  (Another interesting story for another time)  And I don’t have so much control over life that “if this…then that…”  Like when our cat disappeared earlier this week, I felt like I had done something wrong, and it was therefore my fault and I, was therefore, being punished.  Really?  Does God really work like that?  (That is just a mild example)

I came back inside and got dinner ready.  That means that I portioned it and plated it up all nice and pretty the way that I like to do.  Then we sat down and ate a nice family meal together for the first day since Monday.  Later on that night, The X Factor came on.  Yep, more music!  One of the first songs that really hit me was a song from a long time ago, a song that I had burned to a CD for my mom for Christmas at one point.  But when I heard it last night, everything about it changed, and I knew, for sure, to whom the song belonged to, at least in my heart.

The very last song brought tears to my eyes, in fact, if I took a breath through the entire song, I wouldn’t have known it.  I’ve loved this song since I first heard it, although the first time I heard it was in the movie Shrek.  There’s really not much I can say about this song, it just is what it is.  And when there’s nothing else, there’s always a “Hallelujah.”

After the show, we watched the next show, “I Hate My Teenage Daughter.”  It’s a funny show, and my wife and I laughed our butts off the entire time, finding absolute ironic humor in the fact we can laugh at some of the same situations that this t.v. family goes through when we struggle and scream through them.  Then we attempted to watch a movie, but my wife was tired and started to fall asleep, so I started working on a video for our daughter’s birthday.  I came out to the kitchen to grab a snack before I got started and she was out in the living room uploading songs to her computer that she purchased from her Itunes birthday card from her dad, which was totally unexpected, and which she was really excited about.  As I was fixing up a snack, she was playing a song in the background that sounded familiar, however, I couldn’t quite place it.  I liked it, and I knew that I had heard it before, so I asked her about it and went on about my night.  But then, it made sense.  I heard it on X-Factor also, which is the version I’m using because Josh’s revision is more “me”, but it summarizes so much of the last seven years of my life, our lives, where we’ve come from, and where we are now.  It started way back with The Greatest Story Ever Told.

~Lord, I can’t express enough, my gratitude for all the blessings you’ve given us throughout this week.  Your Love and Truth shines bright upon us, and I glorify You for all that You are and all that You do.  Thank you, also, for the healthy blessing of the new baby girl in the family.  Please continue to watch over our health and happiness as we continue to celebrate the upcoming anniversary of your birth, Oh Lord.  Please continue to shine your light on us all around the world and make us open to receive your light and Truth.  In Jesus name, I pray.  Amen~



It seems like the majority of our lives are filled with “remembering” things.  Especially around this time of year.

Did you remember to get all those end of the year projects done?  Did you remember to get all the holiday cards out to everyone you know?  Did you remember to buy all the presents that you wanted to buy for everyone?  Did you remember to pay those bills?  Did you remember to…

It’s the same thing that happens every year around Christmas.  We remember everything that we wanted to do for Christmas, buy everything, send everything, but we forget why we’re celebrating it.  It’s as if we should just start calling the holiday Presentmas, or Partymas, or Debtmas.

I’m not saying that people don’t know that Christmas represents the day that Jesus Christ was born.  I’m just saying that, once the season pulls around (which gets earlier and earlier every year due to retail mind-plucking), most of what people do has nothing to do with the upcoming celebration of Christ’s birth, or, Christmas.  It’s about buying in excess, making sure one person’s house is decorated prettier than the next, partying in excess with the convenience of Christmas as an excuse, and when Christmas Eve finally pulls around, how many of those Christians come out on Holy days flock to the Churches and Thank God for His only begotten son.

In short, the holidays bother me.  I’m not saying that I’m totally innocent either.  I went shopping and bought a few things here and there, what I could afford, nothing on credit.  No, I haven’t had any spare change to toss to the Salvation Army bell ringers, but I know that there have been quite a few people that have benefited from my kindness.  I decorated our apartment but it’s not overdone and there are plenty of apartments that are far more flashy than ours.  We haven’t had a party but we did enjoy an afternoon dinner with some friends from a church and a friend from our complex…just because.  Sorry, no alcohol.  Tea, Tang, Water, and Coffee.  We sent out a few Christmas cards and have a few more to send over the next couple days.  Other than that, the season, thus far, has been mostly relaxed and calm…as it should be.  After all, we’re about to celebrate the birth of Christ….again!!  And Christ represents joy and peace, not stress and chaos.

I decorated our apartment the other day, which is at least half the size of the house that we used to live in.  I could have sworn that I packed up the Christmas tree when we moved, but, alas, it wasn’t in the storage closet when I pulled out all the Christmas stuff.  Perhaps we sold it, thinking that we would get a new one this year.  Originally, we weren’t going to be here for Christmas, as we were going to spend time in Texas with my side of the family, so we decided not to get a tree and worry about not getting to enjoy it anyway.  Plus, we don’t have enough space, and it is such a hassle to put up, decorate, then take down again…not to mention the dangers involved with the cat.

But, I really wanted to put some Christmas cheer into this place, maybe put a little bit of a smile on some faces around here, so I went along with an idea that my wife saw, making a wall tree out of garland.  I found the most special ornaments we had, ones that have been following all of us through our lives, ones we had made, and ones that were given to us, and put only those on, instead of all the regular colored ball ornaments that are so fragile that break if the wind blows on them wrong.  I obviously couldn’t put our angel on top of the tree, but she’s out and lit up, along with our nativity set, our stockings are hung under the kitchen bar, and a few other Christmas decorations are out.  It’s simple…but pretty.  And the coolest thing is that during dinner that night, we must have stayed at the table for a good half hour after we were done eating just talking about all the ornaments and decorations, remembering where they came from and what they meant to us, telling each other about them…for the ump-teenth time while Christmas music played softly in the background.  Sounds like a fake, made-for-t.v. night, right?  It’s not…but it’s a nice night to remember.

right above our dining room tableIt’s important to remember…remember that, if not for Jesus Christ, there would be no meaning to life at all, no Hope, no Faith, no Love.  There would be nothing to look forward to hereafter, there would be nothing to be thankful for now.  Everyday would just be another day, but with Christ, we have hope for peace and joy, and a promise of it as well.  Remember that God gave us the greatest gift ever….His son.  Jesus gave us Hope, Faith and Love, and the greatest is Love, which is the greatest gift we should be passing on during Christmas, all throughout our lives in fact.  Remember…He loves you, all of you, whether you remember Him or not.

The song I’m picking this week is a song that my mom and I really love by Mark Schultz.  She once had the opportunity to meet him when my brother hosted him during a concert he played at a church in Texas many years ago.  She brought me home an autographed CD of his, which I then gave to my tattoo artists, who had just been saved and had turned from a life of chaos to Christianity.  I would have loved to have made a video to this song, but our new internet service is so slow that it takes twenty-four years to upload anything anymore.  ~Dear Lord, please help the company we use that says they offer the fastest service be able to provide some faster service soon~

~Dear Lord, Jesus…Thank you, once again, for all of your countless blessings this week.  most especially for your guidance, strength, and faith we’ve faced stressors and struggles.  Please watch over Mama-T’s surgery tomorrow, see that she sings all the way through and comes out singing as well, so that she can continue to sing and glorify you.  Please watch over all of us in our travels and please wrap your arms around the world to help them find those gifts that you’ve given to us, Hope, Faith, and Love, that the world may start to become less chaotic and stressful, within their own lives and towards others.  Lord, all things can be done through you, which means peace, joy, and healthy outcomes can be obtained through you, so it is that which I seek for all of those I love and all those around me, Lord.  It is in your name, I pray.  Amen~

Kyrie Eleison

First of all, I apologize to you, God, for not getting this out on Sunday, the day that it’s supposed to be posted.  I have not one single good excuse to offer that could redeem me in my delay.  I got lazy and decided I wanted to do other things.

It was a good day yesterday though.  We got up and went to church, warmly welcomed, not only by God, but also by a woman that we had only met once or twice before at that particular church.  We invited her to sit beside us, rather than behind us, so that we could better share our fellowship experience together as well.

The service was perfect for my wife, dealing with grief transforming into joy.  At this time in her life, she’s dealing with grief, not loss of life, but loss of the ability to interact with her son, who is in Navy boot camp.  She’s struggling, especially through this holiday season, with the fact that she’s only able to write letters to him, wait for a letter from him, which she has yet to receive, wait for a phone call from him, of which she’s only received one, and not being able to talk to him randomly throughout the day as she would have just one month ago.

The verse the service revolved around was John 16 16-24

The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy

    16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

   17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

   19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

While one’s initial thought, again, may limit themselves to think of death when the idea of grief comes up, there are so many other ways to experience grief.  Grief can be experienced, like I said, in just not being able to talk to that one person you really want to talk to, even if it’s only for a temporary time, or it may come from not being able to be as generous as you once were, or feeling as if a world has left you behind while others are in fast forward, and you struggle to understand. 

Whatever the cause of the grief is, it’s important to remember that, first, God does not want us to hurt.  Sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control that cause us to hurt, but it’s what we do with each circumstance that hurts us that makes us each a better person and a better Christian.  At the end of each struggle is joy, we just have to be willing to have that joy that God promised us.  I promise, there is no hurt that any of us could ever feel that is more painful than that of what Jesus felt on the day of His crucifixion, physically, mentally, and emotionally, yet…He did it all for us, to promise us a chance for salvation and relief from pain…to offer us a promise of joy, that being a place we could go to at the end of our journey called Heaven.

At times we fail to recognize the world beyond our own pain and grief.  Our rooms have become so darkened that we don’t even want to open the window to let some light in.  First, when we do that, we create grief and pain for others who love and care about us, but also, we fail to get a glimpse of what else is out there.  We forget that there is more than just that piece of pain in our lives.  We forget about God’s bigger picture, His ultimate scheme in our lives.  Yes, at the end of every struggle is joy, but also, at the end of every struggle is a renewed strength and faith, not only in ourselves, but in our Savior, which we can then preach about and glorify in, strengthening the Faith of Christianity and the Promise of the Kingdom of Heaven to our brothers and sisters around the world.  It’s not that He’s using us, but we are His disciples, and it’s, not only our responsibility, but our honor to spread His word, even if it came at the cost of our own heartaches.  If you’ve read up on The Bible, you know that not many people in The Bible escaped without heartache and pain before joy.

But knowing that the joy is out there, keeping that in your cross hairs is the most important part of keeping the faith.  If we keep in mind that one day, after all our earthly struggles, after our strength has piqued because of our endurance, after we learn to experience joy just because life is sitting right there in front of us, we’ll feel good about what we’ve done with what was left of our lives to live, and Jesus will uphold his promise, because we, as good Christians, have upheld ours, to bring us Home.  And there we can be with our Heavenly father and experience a joy that nothing on Earth can compare to.

We just have to stick it out here, get through, do the best we can, nourish our hearts, minds and souls to make it through our heartaches and struggles, regardless of the circumstances.  Of course it’s fine to grieve, if someone wrongs you, of course you’re going to hurt, but we have to make ourselves stronger from every tear that falls.  And we can’t let ourselves drown in our own tears.  Jesus never gave up, He never gave up on us, and we shouldn’t give up on ourselves either.

Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I had a song picked out this week that kind of hit on the importance of not letting life pass us by.  I usually don’t listen to it because I get choked up when I do, thinking about how one day, that time will come when, in my relationship with my wife, one of us will have to pass on.  But because life is so important, and every moment is important, and every person in it is important, I decided to go for it this week.  Then I came across another song, that seemed a little more like a conversation between someone and God, as if there were some struggles happening, and I somehow thought that one was appropriate also, and then I became unsure of which one I should choose.  But, then, there’s this other song that’s been following me around for the past couple weeks that is kind of like a song for a journey.  So…since I’m at odds with which song to go with this week.  Here’s all three!

~Dear Lord, thank you for all your blessings this week, even if I’ve failed to recognize them right away.  Thank you for allowing others to recognize them and make me aware so that we can share in the joy of those blessings together.  Thank you for the opportunity of new friends and the opportunity to glorify you.  Please wrap your Fatherly arms around those who need you right now, to hold their hearts as they struggle with their emotions and circumstances, help them see that there can be joy, and that You, Lord, are there for them, always waiting.  Please watch over our daughter as she enters into another opportunity for education, help her get her mind in the place it needs to be so that she may take this opportunity to the sky.  Please watch over everyone during their travels and health, Lord.  Heavenly Father, I ask these things in your most precious and Holy name.  Amen~