The heart is a fragile thing 


A heart is a fragile thing. It has four chambers: one to fill with sorrow, one with love, one with longing and one, secrets. 
And like an old home, we store our old things in the chambers, things we cannot bear to throw away. We wander from chamber to chamber, holding these things in our hands, letting them soak into us, feeling every fear, pain, joy, cheer and grief until it overwhelms. 

Sometimes we stay too long in a chamber and we can’t seem to find our way out again. The fragile walls of the chamber squeeze in around us, suffocating us, paralysing us. We wallow in our sorrow too long and our skin becomes pruny, hanging from us like the droopy jowls of a basset hound. We love too deeply and the sting of unrequited feelings burns us until we become numb. We sink into longing until the ache tightens our chest becoming a corset, leaving us gasping for air. Our secrets isolate us in a tower of our own making and our own destruction. 

The heart is a fragile thing, and a prison.

And in my life I’ve only ever known one who can release me from my prison, who can stop the walls from collapsing around me. Holy Spirit. He alone can ease suffering. He alone can reinforce the walls of the four chambers to keep them from falling in around us. 

““The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.””

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The heart is a fragile thing, but it doesn’t have to be a prison. It can be a temple, a place of divine contemplation. Instead of sorrow, joy. Instead of being broken by love, we are renewed by it. Instead of longing unfulfilled, we are content beyond measure. Instead of secrets to isolate, honesty to open us. 

These are Holy Spirit’s doings. 

My only job: when my heart becomes a prison I must remember who liberates me. 

The heart is a fragile thing, but I’ve given it to the one who restores all things. 

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I’m 103 and other musings plus another gold nugget from Oswald Chambers


Mr. Chambers does it again. This. I NEEDED to read this. It is just another huge confirmation that the decision Nick and I recently made for our family was the right thing for us. 

It would be hard for me to explain why this meant so much to me without telling you a lot of our personal history and I don’t think I want to do that… But it is still an amazing read for any Christian. 

If you don’t own a copy of My Utmost for His Highest, I highly recommend getting one or downloading the phone app or having both the book and the phone app, like me. Be forewarned, however, there is more than one version. The original version written in the early 1900’s (1911-1917) and an updated version that puts Mr. Chambers old timey speech into more modern language. I personally prefer the original old timey one because I think the way Mr. Chambers phrases things is poetic and makes me think. Also, I’m secretly 103 and kindly request that you get off my lawn, you dang kids. 

Anyway… go read it. HashtagGoodStuff

When you feel evil: Pt 2

Basically… I’m trying to work through this feeling – the feeling that I am evil. The feeling that I am a bad person. Like at my core. I don’t just do “bad” things, no, deeper than that. I am weird, crude, strange, foolish, socially inept, and a lot more junk. 

It’s a pretty pervasive feeling inside of me right now. It’s like suddenly a flood light has come on and I’m seeing all of my flaws with stark, blinding clarity. And it’s no fun. 

I’m not trying to bum you out or get sympathy. I’m not looking for praise or encouragement. Because even though these feelings keep erupting in me at the most inconvenient of times of late, they are almost always followed by a whisper from my loving Father, that I am loved. 


In Mark 10, verse 18, Jesus said that no one is good except God. That verse actually brings me a lot of comfort because I know I’m not alone. No one is good. Everyone sucks. It isn’t just me. 

But as my good friend, Austin Crooks, likes to quote, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

We all suck but God loves us anyways. That’s the message of the gospel. Brennan Manning is famous for saying that God loves us as we are and not as we should be because no one is as they should be. And I need to hear that right now. I need to feel that right now. Yes, I’m no good, but God loves me. 

It’s true that I’m a big mess. It’s true that I’m weird and strange. I overshare. I gossip even when I’m trying not to. I lie. I’m lazy. I’m crude. I enjoy things that I really shouldn’t. But God still loves me. I don’t know how or why. I just know that he does and I need it. Oh, how I need it. 

I hope and pray that people around me can see that I’m a work in progress and even though I’m a mess, I really don’t want to be. Even though I’m a jerk, I love God and want him to change me. I hope people can see that, because I’m sure it’s not obvious. I’m sure my pride is what shines brightest. I’m positive that, at times, I seem like the most arrogant, butt that has ever existed. And at times, I am. 

This morning, in the midst of feeling broken, God used a very unlikely source to remind me that, “He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3. 

What an amazing God I love! Here I am, feeling so broken because I know that I’m a huge butt, and He reaches down and tells me He loves me. He’s not looking at me saying, “You’re right, Bonnie, you are a butt. Now, repent so I can fix you.”  Instead, He’s saying, “Shh, shh, shh. It’s ok, sweetie. I love you. Just put your head on my shoulder and cry it out, I’ll hold you.”


As the one and only Toby Flenderson said in a moment of joy, “I’m gonna chase that feeling.”  I’m gonna chase that feeling too, that God loves me as I am right now, not as I should be and it’s gonna be ok. 

John 17

Wednesday nights my husband Nick and I teach the youth group at our church.  He takes the older kids, 8th grade through 12th, and I take the younger ones, 5th through 7th.  The group is called Journey Youth.  It’s lit, fam.  (Youth culture forever!)

Anywho, I’ve been taking my kids through the last chapters in the book of John.  We started in John 13.  Tonight I taught on John 17.  This is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  Jesus, with full knowledge that he is about to be arrested and executed for crimes he did not commit, does something extraordinary and beautiful.

He prays.

That’s not the extraordinary part.  Praying is common.  Praying is something everyone has done.  What is extraordinary is WHAT he prays.

Because he doesn’t spend his time praying for help or bargaining with God.  Instead, he prays for his disciples and… he prays for us.

I submit to you now, my notes from tonight’s lesson.  Maybe you’ll see what I see in this beautiful prayer.  Maybe it will change your life like it did mine so many years ago.  Maybe you’ll see the God of mercy and love that I see.  Maybe.  I pray.

jesus-praying-10-7-13

So, without further ado, John Chapter Seventeen:

John 17

1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,

The hour has come… Jesus knows it is time for him to go to the cross.

Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you… How will God glorify Jesus?  And how will it glorify God?  God glorifies Jesus by sending him to the cross.  This doesn’t sound very glorifying.  This sounds humiliating.  This sounds painful.  When we think of glory, a painful, humiliating death does not sound like glory.  But remember what Jesus says in John 12.

John 12:32 – And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Jesus knew that even though his death would be painful and humiliating, ultimately it would draw people to him.  So even though a death such as the one Jesus had does not sound glorifying, Jesus knew that the results would bear much fruit.  And when people were drawn to Jesus they would see the truth of who and what God is and he would be glorified as well.

1 John 4:8 – Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

John, the same John who wrote the book of John, also wrote 3 letters in the New Testament called First John, Second John and Third John.  Here we see in 1 John evidence of how Jesus’ death glorified God.  We see this new understanding of God, that God is love.  No longer is God viewed as a wrathful judge, but now a God of mercy and love.  Jesus’ death and resurrection revealed God’s plan for humanity and we could finally understand just how much he loves us.

So here in John 17:1 we see Jesus acknowledging that it is time to fulfill his mission and reveal to the world God’s plan of redemption and love:  “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.”

2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 

 You have given him authority over all people… God has given Jesus authority over everyone.

To give eternal life to all whom you have given him… Jesus was given the authority to give eternal life to all the people given to him by God.

So the important question is, “Am I one of those people?  Have I been given to Jesus by God?  Have I been given eternal life?”

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

 The word “believes” here isn’t the same kind of believes like “I believed in fairies when I was a kid” or like “I believe that Russia exists because I’ve seen pictures”.

 It’s the greek word “pisteuo” (pist-yoo-o) And it means you put your faith in, entrust yourself to, commit yourself to…

We could then rephrase John 3:16 to say:  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who commits themselves to him may not perish but may have eternal life.

How do we know if we are one of Jesus’ people and have eternal life?  The answer is found in this question: have you put your faith in him, entrusted yourself to him, and committed yourself to him?  If the answer is yes, then you have eternal life.

So what is eternal life?  This question used to keep me up at night.  I used to really suffer and worry over the question: Why were we created and what does eternal life look like? But then one day I discovered John 17:3 and it completely changed my outlook on Christianity and what it means to be alive.

3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 

IT’S SO SIMPLE!  Eternal life is knowing God and Jesus.  We were made to know him and we will spend eternity coming to know all about him.  That is eternal life!  It’s not sitting on a fluffy white cloud playing a harp.  It’s not running around heaven trying to find all our ancestors who died before us.  It’s having a real relationship with God and finding out everything about him.

And this verse proves something really important guys!

God wants to be known!

We spend our time saying things like, “God works in mysterious ways.”  Or “God is unknowable, his ways are too great for me.” Or “God is a mystery.”  But the truth is, God doesn’t want to stay hidden.  He wants to be known.  It’s part of the plan.  All those pesky questions you have about life and why things are the way they are, God wants you to have your answers.  He wants you to understand him. He wants to be known.

When we commit ourselves to Jesus, like it says in John 3:16, we begin the adventure of discovering God and knowing him.  Eternal life doesn’t start when you die.  It started the nanosecond you committed yourself to knowing Jesus as your savior.

If we are doing this thing called Christianity “right” then we are spending our time seeking God and trying to know him, just as Jesus said in John 17:3.  Eternal life is knowing God.  And it begins now.

 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do… Jesus glorified God by doing his work on earth and becoming the sacrificial lamb that would save us from our sins.

So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed…  Soon after Jesus’ resurrection he ascends into heaven where he will sit at the right hand of God and await his triumphant return to earth, he’ll once again be a king and retain the position he had before the world was created.

That’s one possible interpretation of those words.

 Here’s another:

Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus:  “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  So “the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed” could be referring to this truth, that Jesus was chosen to be slain before God and Jesus ever created the earth.

Either way, Jesus is telling God that he is ready to die.  He is ready to be the lamb.  He is ready to pay for our sins.

It was time for the plan of God for love and redemption carefully crafted before the earth was created to be realized.

6 “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world… Jesus preached the truth about God to the disciples (which God gave to him).

They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word… The disciples that followed Jesus have kept God’s word.

Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me… Jesus taught the disciples only the words that God gave him and the disciples had received them completely and believed that Jesus came from God.

There were more than 12 people who followed Jesus during his 3 years of ministry.  The Bible says that multitudes followed him to hear him preach and to see him perform miracles.

There were more than 12 disciples too.  Luke 10 tells us that at one point Jesus sent out 70 disciples to preach and pray for people.

So what made those 12 11, that Jesus is praying for, so special?

Jesus said it in those verses: they REALLY believed.  They weren’t just followers or fans or curious.  They were DISCIPLES.  Students who wanted to become like their teacher.  And these disciples were the ones who really believed that Jesus really was the Son of God.

Really.

9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me… Jesus isn’t just praying a blanket prayer to cover everyone “just in case”.  He is specifically praying for the ones that God gave him, those who really believe in him.

And this is what he is praying for them:

 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 

He is praying for their protection.  He asks God to protect them for a specific reason, though.  That we may be one as God and Jesus are one.

So what does it mean to “be one”?  Unity.  Love.  Grace.

Chew on this:

Ephesians 4:1-6

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

This is what it means to “be one”.  It means unity, love, patience, gentleness, humility, etc.

Does “being one” mean you always agree?  No.  But it means when there are disagreements among believers, they are handled with care, love and empathy.  It means putting others first.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Serve.

Human nature is selfish, prideful and unkind.  And Jesus knew this.  He knew that we’d struggle to be in unity with other believers.  But he prayed that we would “be one” because he knew that when we committed ourselves to him, it was possible to change us into selfless, humble, kind people who put others first.

 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

Why did he say “do not belong to the world”?  Who or what do they belong to then?  They belong to God.

He said the world hated them because they do not belong to the world.  Is it any wonder that our current society tends to despise Christians?

 1 Corinthians 1:18 

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

It is foolishness to them.  We seem like idiots to the world.  Backwards, superstitious, ignorant and foolish.  They don’t even understand what they hate about us either.  And unless God reveals himself to them, our clever arguments will not work.  If you can talk someone into belief in God then someone else can talk them out of it.  They have to have an encounter with God for themselves.  And until they do, they will hate us and never know why.

 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

 Again, Jesus asks his Father to protect us from the evil one.  Does that mean that if something bad happens in your life that God has let you down and is no longer protecting you from the evil one?

Think about this:

 Matthew 9:1-8

1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. 2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”  3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?  5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house.  8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

 What do we see in this story?  A heartless Jesus who doesn’t heal the poor guy until everyone freaks out?  Or a loving Lord who knows that the condition of our hearts is exceedingly more important than the condition of our bodies?

Bad stuff happens, guys.  It always has and it always will until Jesus returns.  How we deal with it is what matters.  Jesus was praying that God would protect his disciples’ hearts from the evil one, not necessarily their lives.  After all, most of the disciples died in the name of Jesus, being killed for what they preached.

 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

 Sanctify them in the truth… What does that even mean????  What does sanctify mean?!?!?!?!?

Sanctify means to make holy, purify, consecrate.

 Hebrews 10:10 – …We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 Jesus death on the cross is what sanctifies us or “makes us holy, purifying us”.

Does that mean when we become Christians that God taps us on the head with a magic wand saying, “Poof, now you’re holy” and you never sin again? No.

In Romans 7, Paul the apostle talks about an inner conflict that believers go through.  He says in verse 15, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Paul clearly expresses in Romans 7 the struggle that believers go through, trying to follow God’s Spirit but getting tripped up by our human nature to sin.

Sanctification doesn’t mean “I’m holy now so if I commit a sin that must mean I don’t really love God.”

Jesus said, “Sanctify them in your truth, your word is truth.”  That means he is using his word and his spirit to make us holy.  It’s going to take time.  We’re going to mess up.  But… It. Is. A. Process.  It’s not going to happen overnight.

God gives us grace.  Does that give us a free pass to Sin Town, USA?  Nah, bro.  It means were incredibly loved.  And we need to get right back up on that horse and try again.

Jesus asked God to sanctify us in God’s truth which is his word.  We should expect that if we are committed to Jesus, our desires will change over time.  Maybe not all at once.  But as we grow in the Lord and as we embrace his word, it will change us, making us more holy.

Because of Jesus death, we are already holy in the sight of God but the process of getting us to match up with what God sees will be something we experience our whole lives.

Imagine you’re looking at an old photo of yourself.  You no longer look that way.  Time has changed you, aged you, helped you grow.  But the process of going from young you to older you took time, pain, hard work, life.  It’s the same for sanctification.  As you grow in Christ, you will change and you won’t look the same from year to year.

 20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,

 This is us.  This is the verse where we find out that Jesus hasn’t just been praying for those 12 disciples this whole time.  But he’s been praying for all believers.  Those who will believe in me through their word

If you believe in Jesus because of the word that the disciples preached then this verse is talking about you.  And now you can point to this verse, John 17:20, and tell everyone that you are in the Bible.

 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

So that the world may believe that you have sent me… How is Jesus revealed to the world?  How will people know who he really is?

That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us… Jesus is revealed to the world when WE ARE ONE.

Remember this?

 Ephesians 4:1-6

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

It is through love, patience, kindness, humility, etc. that Jesus is revealed to the world.  Not through our perfectly crafted arguments and speeches.  Not through viral videos or powerful songs.  These things can point to Jesus but they don’t reveal him.  He is only revealed to the world when we ARE CHANGED BY HIM.

That change reveals the power of God because if God could change a sinner like you, there must be more going on than I realize.

This is why we must begin seeking for God to change us and seeking to walk in the kind of love and unity that Jesus is praying about here.

 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one… We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus dwells in our hearts right now.  And his greatest desire is for us to “be one” with each other and with God.  He is drawing us into himself so that we may be sanctified (made holy) and through that we will become one (united, loving, humble).

This is how God is revealed to the world.

 24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am… Where is Jesus?  Current location: God’s throne room.

There are many layers of meaning to that phrase “with me where I am” but we’re only going to talk about one layer, the one that matters to us right now, at this very moment: Jesus wants to be one with us.  He wants that unity, love and relationship.  That is the layer we need to focus on.

The other layers of meaning laced in this phrase?  When is Jesus returning?  Who is sitting with him in God’s throne room right now?  Who stayed with him when he went to the cross? These are not the questions we need to worry about right now.  Only this: are we seeking unity with Jesus?  Do we want to be one?

So that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them… Jesus’ greatest desire, that we know God and his love.  That we may be one.

Take this with you:

Accept that God loves you and wants to be known by you.  This is eternal life and it began when you committed yourself to Jesus.

So did sanctification, the process of being made holy.  God is sanctifying you by his truth, which is his word.

And when that love changes you and you walk in oneness with God and other believers, Jesus is revealed to the world.

~~~~~

Okay, that’s it.  All my notes from our lesson.  I hope you got something out of it.

 

 

 

If We Knew

Here’s another little diddy for you by yours truly.  Nick and I have been listening to sermons by Brennan Manning lately and they’ve made me realize just how much we don’t understand the love of God.  Hope you enjoy the song.

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 7.36.55 PM

 

Broken by the love of God

Today I am utterly broken by the love of God. I’m in grief over the ones who scorn him.  I’m aching to love him and aching for those I love to love him as well. 

God, I pray you open the eyes of our heart as Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17. I long to see you and I long for those whom I love to see you. Thank you for your grace and mercy. I thank you that you love us as we are and not as we should be. 

I leave you, beloved, with this: A song and 5 quotes by Rich Mullins. Enjoy. 

Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.

Never forget what Jesus did for you. Never take lightly what it cost Him. And never assume that if it cost Him His very life, that it won’t also cost you yours.

I grew up hearing everyone tell me ‘God loves you’. I would say big deal, God loves everybody. That don’t make me special! That just proves that God ain’t got no taste. And, I don’t think He does. Thank God! Because He takes the junk of our lives and makes the most beautiful art.

I take comfort in knowing that it was the shepherds to whom the angels appeared when they announced Christ’s birth. Invariably throughout the course of history, God has appeared to people on the fringes. It’s nice to find theological justification for your quirks.

I look back over the events of my life and see the hands that carried Moses to his grave lifting me out of mine. In remembering I go back to these places where God met me and I meet him again and I lay my head on his breast, and he shows me the land beyond the Jordan and I suck into my lungs the fragrance of his breath, the power of his presence.

Dear Five Iron Frenzy,

Last night I saw you guys play in St. Louis.  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen you play even though I’ve been a fan since 1999. I’m a heavy set woman in my 30’s. But that didn’t stop me from standing up front, singing, skanking, and just generally being an idiot.

I brought my two girls to see you guys too. And unfortunately for my oldest, I became “that mom”. She genuinely loves your music. She’s been on a one girl crusade to convert her pop music loving friends to punk and ska. But she’s so shy, I spent half my time telling horribly embarrassing stories about how much she loves your band. 


I wish I could have told you how this show affected me last night. For one thing, having been in bands myself, I know what it’s like to have fangirls (or boys) come up to you after a show. You’re tired, you’re analyzing how good or bad you did and if you’re a Christian, you’re wondering if God was able to use you at all. Then some chick (or dude) you’ve never met walks up to you saying a bunch of weird crap and/or just generally being strange. Even though our bands never got out of Missouri, I’ve still experienced the odd fan or two. So when I go to a show, I try to be respectful and stay away from being “that fan” but I feel like I massively failed last night. 

So here I am, fangirling again. If you ever somehow find this blog, I apologize now. 

Here is where we come to the portion of the post where I ramble on forever and ever. Ready? Okay, here we go.

The year was 1999. I had been a committed Christian for all of about 2 years, maybe.  I no longer identified with the group of friends I used to belong to and so I was that strange Christian girl who didn’t even fit in with the other Christians.  Throughout my junior and senior years of high school I had discovered that I had a deep love for Jesus and that all I really wanted was to share the love of Christ with others.  

It was around this time that I discovered Christian ska.  It was the most powerful thing I’d ever experienced.  It was everything I felt inside.  But I was the only person I even knew who had heard of it. Living in a town of only 16,000, (back in ’99, we’re up to 19K now, lol) it wasn’t likely that I would meet anyone else who had.  But I did.

By chance I went with a friend to her church’s youth group.  They met on a different night than my youth group so when she asked me to come because she needed back up vocals for a song, I said sure.  That night literally changed my life forever.  Suddenly I was surrounded by a group of peers who not only loved Jesus as much as I did, they also loved ska!  I started attending both youth groups (as you do) and it wasn’t long before I was asked to join Oxidizer 5.1.  

Oxidizer 5.1 was the band my (now) husband, his brother and their friend Travis were trying to start.  They were looking for a singer and I fit the bill.  We began writing songs and playing shows.  The band grew.  We added horn players and changed bassists a few times. And despite the fact that I was incredibly awkward on stage, we became somewhat popular in about a 100 mile area of rural Missouri.  Somehow, without even really trying hard, I was getting to do the one thing I had wanted to do more than anything else – sharing Jesus with others through ska.


But as you know, being in a band and playing shows is incredibly hard in so many ways.  In the 2 years that Oxidizer was together we all changed so very much.  Along the way we lost sight of why we formed a band in the first place. We split up for stupid reasons that seemed so important at the time.  We lost touch with each other and went our separate ways.

Shortly after the demise of Oxidizer, my husband and I started a new band called The Throwbacks (as in the ones you throw away).  It wasn’t long before we were enjoying a relative amount of popularity in our hometown again.  We even got a fair amount of air play on the local college radio station.  But commitments our drummer needed to fulfill and the fact that I was 6 months pregnant with my oldest daughter caused The Throwbacks to go on a permanent hiatus.

The history of my husband’s and my music takes a lot of wobbly turns after that and I really don’t want to A) remember things in order and B) make you read about it.  So let’s just say that stuff happened.  Nick started recording people.  I taught myself piano and started writing my own songs. (I have something like 50 now.)  He led worship at a lot of places. We had another kid. (That has nothing to do with music.)  I started leading worship.

And now it’s 2016. (A hard year to be a godly man.)

I’m sitting at my desk and suddenly “When I Go Out” pops into my head.  I decide that instead of being productive I will make a meme about it.  I post it on IG and FIF likes the post! I was so surprised.  I didn’t even know you were on Instagram so I decide to waste more time checking it out.  That’s when I see your post announcing the upcoming show in St. Louis.  It was 2 weeks away and all ages, I knew we had to go and take our daughters.  FIF is my oldest daughter’s favorite band ever.  She practically fainted when I told her we were going to see you play.


I bought the tickets online and had it all worked out.  We’d go but stay in the back and just enjoy the music.  My husband and I were just too old for this stuff anymore.  But after we got there, I knew I had to take my daughters up front so they could really experience everything.  As we were waiting for the show to start we got to meet Leanor, “Jeff the Girl”, which was amazing.  All I really wanted to do was say hi, be respectful, not take up too much of her time, but I looked at my daughter Meghan who is so terribly shy, she was just staring at her and I knew I needed to say something, anything, to get her talking.  My choice of stories to tell was less than desirable.  All I could think of was the most embarrassing stuff.  Even as I was saying the stuff I was like, “What is wrong with you, Bonnie?” But I just couldn’t reel the crazy back in.

Before the show I had every intention of just chilling out on the sidelines.  But again, I looked at my daughters and knew I needed to be bold and crazy and dance and scream and freak out.  Later they told me they loved watching me dance and sing along to the songs. It’s something I’m sure they’ll never forget. Haha. My daughter Meghan told me that the whole experience actually helped her grow.  She realized she’d been hiding herself and that she needed to stop hiding.  


Meghan is special.  I know, all moms think their kids are special, but Meghan really is.  She was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the tender age of 2 and dyslexia at the age of 6.  And just recently she was diagnosed with scoliosis.  We’ve been homeschooling since we discovered the dyslexia.  So here she is almost 13 years old and like every other kid on the planet, she just wants to fit in.  But she’s diabetic, dyslexic, homeschooled, her back is crooked and she listens to music none of her peers have ever heard of.  And despite all of that, she has a real and genuine love for God.  She’s an incredibly talented jewelry maker and enormously witty.  She’s recently begun learning the guitar and even though she won’t let anyone know it, she has an amazing singing voice.

So after the show, when we were driving home, I apologized for how much I embarrassed her.  I was sincerely sorry for turning into the stereotypical, embarrassing mother at the show.  But she said she wasn’t mad.  She was actually glad I did it because sometimes people need to be embarrassed in order to push themselves.  She said going to the show made her realize she had to open up to people more and let her guard down.  It seems last night may have been a turning point in my little girl’s life.


Back to the show.

It’s the last song.  FIF plays “Every New Day”, which I understand is played last at every show.  This is a song that has meant a lot to me in the past and I’ve actually played it at church on the piano during Sunday morning worship before.  (Not sure what the little old ladies thought of it. Hahaha)  Reese starts to sing “healing hands of God have mercy on our unclean souls once again” and a couple things inside me come undone.  I start to bawl like a little baby.  Gotta say I wasn’t expecting to do that at all.

One – I’m standing in a bar in St. Louis with strangers, many of whom are probably not Christians, and I’m lifting my hands in worship to God, asking Him to have mercy on my unclean soul.  And the thought that it really doesn’t matter what anyone else around me or on stage is doing, that I can be the biggest nerd and just worship God right there and then just absolutely tears me apart.

Two – No matter what the current vision of FIF is, if you are out in the world to tell people about Jesus or if you just want to play music, doesn’t matter to me either.  Something I lost years ago – an innocence, a simplicity – has been found again.  That desire I had back in ’99 to share Jesus through music never really went away.  I still write all the time.  But the simplicity of it and the pure joy it brought me returned to me last night.

My husband and I have been worship leaders and youth leaders and prayer leaders for years now.  We’ve never stopped telling people about Jesus.  But in so many ways we became hardened, complicated, wary creatures.  We’ve been criticized and asked to leave churches and told we aren’t good enough for years.  We’ve burned bridges and hurt too many people.  We’ve seen the messy side of ministry, the ugly side.  But somehow, last night, I was transported back to 1999 where my heart was young and alive and innocent.

You will probably never read this and that is ok.  I’m not sure I really wrote it for you.  But if you do read this someday, I hope you know that whether or not you intended for it to happen, God used you in the hearts of The Cox Family on August 13, 2016.  You helped a young girl to begin the process of tearing down a wall she’s been building around her heart for a long time.  And you helped a burned out couple of ministers reconnect to the motivations that began them down their path so many years ago.

He is the same God that He was in 1999.  The Internet, social media and Kanye can’t change that.  At some point, in all of our hearts (I’m speculating) we had a real desire to change hearts and lives for Jesus with our music.  Recognition, accolades, admiring fans and Benjamin$ didn’t really factor in.  We had a cheap amp/guitar/drum set/whatever and passion and that was it.  Playing a show out of town meant we were “making it” and usually involved cramming as much gear and people into as few cars as possible to save on gas.  We didn’t get paid much, if anything, and didn’t have enough cash to even grab some dinner.  But praying with that one kid or leading that other kid in the prayer of salvation or seeing kids on their faces in worship after they’d just danced those same faces off – well, that made it all worth it.

Last night reminded me that sharing Jesus can be simple and beautiful.  It doesn’t have to be complex, eloquent, trendy or clever.  It can be as simple as telling a 12 year old girl that you like the necklace she made.  Or just singing “Healing hands of God have mercy on our unclean souls once again.  Jesus Christ, light of the world, burning bright within our hearts forever. Freedom means love without conditions, without a beginning or an end. Here’s my heart, let it be forever Yours. Only You can make every new day seem so new.”

Simple.  

Sooooooo, yeah… I’ve been rambling on for a while now.  Guess I need to conclude this puppy.  FIF, keep doing what you’re doing.  God is using you whether you want Him to or not.  He’s God and He can do whatever He wants.

I’m gonna go write another song this week.  

Love you guys,

Bonnie