The Observation Deck

February 1, 2016 - In Memory of Jon Perez 

Today’s blog is dedicated to the memory of Jonathon E. Perez.  He passed away yesterday morning after battling cancer and it sent a ripple of sadness through our Sunday morning church services.  Jon was truly a very special person in so many ways.  His heart was bigger than most, he served relentlessly, he smiled unceasingly, and lit up whatever room he entered by his mere presence.  As I took my place at the table yesterday at Liquid Church to teach a class to new believers, I realized this was Jon’s class.  He was the one who always taught this particular class - the go to guy for getting people excited about God!  I thought of that this morning as I read from Psalm 19 about how the heavens display who God is and the work of his amazing hands.  Without a single word the clouds, sky, raindrops, and stars point us right back to God and his awesome ways.  I thought to myself, “that’s what Jon did.  He pointed us to God in all he did whether by word or deed.”  A friend at church said to me that he didn’t know Jon that long but somehow he had a profound impact on him – he left a mark.  Yes, he had a contagious magnetic love that made you feel like God was in the room.  I pray that we could all leave a mark on those around us that points them to God and his grace and mercy. We love you Jon and hold on to the hope that someday we will see you again making everyone in heaven laugh a little bit more!

January 18, 2016 - Open 

Yesterday I was driving home from church listening to a CD in my car.   A certain song struck me – it spoke of getting closer to God and doing everything possible to get to Him.  It occurred to me that heaven’s throne is open.  That’s right, the sign on the door says OPEN FOR ALL.  It took me a moment to wrap my head around that concept.  There are no qualifications, no secret code, and no experience necessary to access the greatest power in all of the universe.  Picture this, the God of that very same universe is standing with open arms waiting to embrace each of us and have us check in with him.  He offers to listen and provide whatever we need.  It’s open.  Yes, the throne of God is open today, right now!  How often we race right passed it or ignore it and continue with our busy, broken lives without even stopping to take a look.  I pray we can each pause today and step into the presence of God.  The throne is open and God is waiting for you. 
**As a side note, the song I was listening to was called Gotta Get To Jesus.  Ok, I wrote it which makes it doubly awkward to write this but God sometimes uses our own words to minister to us.  Here’s a link to the tune:

January 4, 2016 - Happy New Year! 

2016.  It’s got a nice ring to it.  Nice even numbers.  Makes me feel at ease, happy, safe, and comfortable somehow.  Yeah, it’s just a number – has anything else really changed?  Well that part’s up to me isn’t it.  We want the world to change, the co-worker in the next cube to change, or maybe some of our family or friends, but we got nothing that can make that happen – nothing!  All we’ve got is our perception, our outlook, and our attitude and those are things we can turn around, wrestle with, and stumble over until we realign the looking glass.  It’s true.  I can’t control anyone – how they think or react – but I can certainly do something about my thoughts and actions.  Some people’s words and actions have this way of penetrating our skin and holding us hostage – time to put on the rubber suit and let them bounce away.  I’m not responsible for what someone else does or says and they’re not responsible for what I do or say.  Good.  Okay, we got this.  So let’s make 2016 a year of becoming the best we can be by changing the things we can!  

 God, grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change, 
Courage to change the things that I can, 
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Tuesday, December 8 - Push Them Off the Ledge 

Be anxious for nothing . . . a man must have written that!  Yes, it was a man.  This is Paul to the Philippians.  I know it’s truth and I know it’s the Bible but somehow I find it very tough to do.  My sister recently sent me a link to an article about anxiety and things that anxious people want you to know.  Everyone I know whose read it, cried. You can read it here.  Many of us could echo the sentiment of the items listed.  So how do we be anxious for nothing?  Well Paul goes on to say that we do it by prayer – making our requests known to God.  I do that and I’m sure many of you do that too.  What I also do when feeling anxious especially during a busy time like December, is I remove myself from the anxious environment.  I get out and run or bike or go to a choir rehearsal or whatever.  I’ve simply got to do it!  Yes, pray, pray, pray but then get up and move.  That’s probably the hardest part, stepping past the numbing, terrifying, and debilitating thoughts that keep us chained. I also like to push my anxiety off the ledge.  Now that may sound strange but it’s a visual reminder to me to simply let them go.  Let them float on faith, suspended in air to let God work them out all in his own magnificent way.  That means not taking the bundle back or trying one last thing or manipulating the circumstances – push them off the ledge with a, “I’m trusting you God”.  Pray, pray, pray and pray some more.  I wish I could say I’ve mastered this but messing up once in awhile reminds me that I need a big, loving God to carry me through.  He’s got this!  Let Him carry you and your load too!

Monday, November 23, 2015 - More Than Just a Facebook Post 

Last week I was sitting upstairs watching TV with my husband.  He was fixated on his laptop and then told me he posted the word “colonoscopy” on Facebook.  It received some interesting and funny comments to say the least.  At first, I was annoyed because I was the one having the colonoscopy not him.  Now if you’ve ever been through the experience you’ll know why you don’t want to post it on Facebook.  It’s a long and ugly process to prep for this necessary yet seemingly easy test.  He assured me that my name was not anywhere on the post.  Well, within a few minutes he got a private message from a young cycling friend who told him that he had several of these tests.  You see, this young man, who is an outstanding bike racer, was writing this message a few days away from heading to the hospital  – he’s got cancer.  Chris responded immediately and asked about his health and which hospital he was going too.  The young man was very open and appreciative of Chris’s concern.  He looked up from his laptop teary-eyed.  Who would have thought that a post done in jest could initiate a conversation like this.  We looked at each other and realized there was something much bigger going on here than just a silly post on Facebook.  I love the way God uses everything and anything!  The back and forth exchange resulted in a promise to visit some time this week.  I know God will be in that room with them because this was absolutely God at work.  That’s just what He does!  He can even use Facebook!  I pray that we could all be his hands and feet to a hurting world this Thanksgiving!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone – there is indeed much to be thankful for - even Facebook! 

Monday, November 9, 2015 - A tribute to Herb Neumann 

Today is November 9.  A day that will be forever etched in my mind and especially on my heart. One year ago today, we said goodbye to Herb Neumann who endured a long battle with cancer – a battle he fought valiantly.  Some say he was a pioneer, an engineer, an inventor, and an artist.  For me he was a friend and someone who lived his God-given place in life to the absolute fullest – there was just something very special about Herb.  I am truly blessed to have known him in his last few months of life and sometimes am amazed at how profoundly he impacted me in such a short time.  I wrote a song during the last few weeks of his life.  It’s called Say A Little Prayer.  I’ve attached it below.  Every time my husband and I visited Herb at the hospital, he asked us to pray.  Everytime.  This song is Herb speaking.  I hope it touches you as we remember this amazing man today and for always!

October 26, 2015 - Grace 

I had the privilege of attending Amazing Grace on Broadway before the show closed this past weekend.  It was a last minute decision and one that I’m glad I made.  I didn’t know all that much about John Newton, the writer of the song Amazing Grace, except that he was a slave trader.  What a great story.  What a real, beautiful depiction of God’s grace in a life.  He wasn’t interested in God and yet the seeds that were planted by his mother at an early age about God and the Bible remained in him for many years.  She passed when John was just 7 years old.  I’m guessing that his mom prayed a great deal for her boy and although she never saw the fruit of her prayer, John experienced his “great deliverance” at age 23 during a severe storm while on board a ship.  It was here that he asked God to show him mercy and his life was changed forever.  I love knowing this story – it will forever affect me whenever I hear or sing Amazing Grace.  I love grace.  It’s my story.  It’s my heartbeat – it’s my lifeline.  You can’t bottle it or capture it or even understand it.  It’s the unmatched, undeserved, unexplainable favor of God poured out on a life.  I am so thankful for grace – it truly changes everything!  Don’t ever give up on those you love – God’s amazing grace is still saving “wretches” and finding the “lost”.

Tuesday, October 13 - A Bigger View 

A little village outside Leon, Nicaragua – Talchocote. That’s where I was last week.  It’s a village that will forever live inside me and the team that was unleashed there to serve, to work, and to give.  I think if you asked any of the 10 participants, they would all say they had been stretched in some way during their visit.  Whether it was lugging heavy pipes, trying to communicate in Spanish, getting up in front of a crowd of strangers to teach, doing silly things to make the kids laugh, or just getting a bit uncomfortable in the 90 + temps and relentless humidity, everyone looked past themselves to the need in front of them.  You could see the need in the eyes of the children as they longed for your hugs and attention, in the unity amongst the men of the village to do their part in preparing the site for the much needed well we were about to drill, or in the cheers and laughter when water came gushing through the PVC pipe!  When was the last time I cheered for having clean water?  That’s never happened and being in Nicaragua , for me, was a great snapshot of the bigger picture.  I admit, I went there with fear.  I was concerned about my stomach and getting sick, I was concerned about my feet that don’t handle heat so well, and many other little things.  What I learned was that in giving, you never even think about yourself.  There was so much need and my attention went to the need not to myself.  That’s a gift I cherish and I hope will continue now that I’m back on my home soil.  Thank you God for all the amazing ways you teach us to be a bit more like you!

Monday, September 28 - An Unexpected Surprise 

The blog is back.  I took a small vacation from writing this summer and I am back to hopefully inspire and encourage you as I give you a glimpse into my life.  Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege of attending a concert at Brooklyn Tabernacle. The Collingsworth Family was performing there and they had recorded two songs that I co-wrote on their most recent project.  The CD had just been released so I was excited to finally get to hear some of the songs live. It was a bit of a surreal moment for me as I sat in my seat and listened to Courtney sing “Gotta Get To Jesus”.  I looked around and saw how people were visibly moved by this song.  I saw tears, hands raised and heads bowed as so many moved forward to the altar.  I closed my eyes and thanked God for taking something I had a part in creating and using it to touch so many lives.  Tears rolled down my cheeks as I realized that this had nothing to do with me and my co-writers – God took it and made it something very special for that NY crowd that day.  I love the unexpected ways of God.  He shows up in little ways and sometimes amazingly powerful ways when we least expect it.  I really had no idea of any of this as I wrote that song with my two friends – we were just doing what we do.  Isn’t that the great part?  We do what we do in our day to day life, whatever it may be, and God can do something great with it.  I just love that and I am truly humbled by his grace to me.  Feeling so beyond blessed today!!

Monday, July 27 - Beautiful Messengers 

Yesterday was one of those days.  I recently stepped down from my position as Producer at my church and am training others to run the equipment.  The tension mixed with a ½ cup of technical issues and ¼ cup of emotion and another ¼ cup of the unknown made for a rough day.  God was determined to not let me sink.  It started when a dear friend brought me a cup of my favorite tea in the midst of the frustration.  I was so deeply touched by that incredibly thoughtful act.  She just knew and God sent her my way.  Then another dear woman stopped by that I haven’t seen in awhile.  She was someone that I had the opportunity to pray for almost a year ago.  Her family was in deep crisis and so I prayed and still do.  She approached and chatted and then told me she was praying for me.  What?  How the tables turn.  God carried me again.  Finally, I was about to leave and another friend had the most kind words for me that I got teary eyed.  Really?  God you go through great lengths to hold me up and remind me that I am deeply loved.  I am so blessed by the messengers God brings my way.  Praying that I can be that for someone else too!