1 John 4:7-21:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
I know... I haven't been blogging much lately... I could blame it on work and rehearsals because I did a show this summer. I may have shared before, but I find that I don't write as much when I have another emotional and artistic outlet... like a production. I was in a play this summer and so I kinda... sorta... stopped blogging. And then, when the show stopped, I found that I just didn't have much to share, music-wise, or anything-else-wise, so I just didn't write.
Today, though, I have a reason to write and to share a song... thanks to Sia.
I love Sia's music. Her songs are powerful. They resonate with me and I can't get enough of them. Her latest video is no different. I'm mesmerized.
A friend shared the video along with an article from Huffington Post on the video that the article says is a tribute to the Orland Shooting victims. There ARE forty-nine dancers, along with Maddie Ziegler, Sia's dance muse, for every one of the Orlando victims. As you watch it, you can't help but feel the terror, the heartbreak of what happened in that nightclub.
And the lyrics, "Don't give up, I won't give up, don't give up, no no no."
They were dancing. They were living life. They were our brothers, our sisters, our sons and daughters. They were image-bearers.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Psalm 37:7-11 (ESV)
It's been a year...
Life has gone on... Differently... but it has gone on.
I have a granddaughter now. She'll never know her Papa, but she'll hear the stories. She'll hear of the man that brought his family to a new place, a new life. She'll hear of the man who liked to laugh and tell jokes. She'll hear of the man who loved his family. And she'll know that love.
I've shared this song before. It was part of the memorial video I created shortly after my father passed. It reflects so much of who he was as I remember him. It reflects much of who I am, having grown up in Texas... as his daughter. I am my father's child.
I miss you, daddy.
A truly special young lady was born on this day sixteen years ago. It was the same year that Coldplay's first album, Parachutes, came out with it's breakthrough single, Yellow. I love this young lady. I also love Coldplay and I find it especially... felicitous that they essentially... came to be in the same year.
Happy birthday, my beautiful Kyla. You know I love you so...
Got to hear Robert Ellis live tonight at the Cactus Lounge in Hollywood. It was a lovely intimate venue and you felt like you were at a small get-together with friends and one of them could sing and play a mean guitar. Got to chat with him briefly and got a selfie with him and told him I would catch him the next time he was in town. I Robert Ellis...
He sang this song tonight. Did I say I Robert Ellis...?
Crazy weekend trip to visit family in the Central Valley. The older boys and their dad had gone off white water rafting on the American River until Saturday. Talked with my daughter, their mom, and we decided it would be a good time to take the two littles to visit Nana and the rest of the family. We decided to head out Friday evening after I got off work. We were on the road by 6 pm and everything and everyone was good to go. Baby girl decided she was hungry about an hour into the drive, so we stopped in Bakersfield to feed her and grab a bite to eat and then we were back on the road, this time with Gaga driving. It was an easy drive until I noticed a light come on the dashboard... low pressure on the right front tire. Pulled into a gas station in Delano and found a large screw in the tire. Not quite how we wanted to start the weekend.
Short version... I discovered I can still change a tire! I do have to admit that I did have some help from the young man at the gas station where we turned to check the tire. He helped put the spare tire on and tighten the lug nuts. I also had help from the tow truck driver when he FINALLY showed up. He helped get the damaged tire back under the car and then followed us up to Tulare where we stayed the night. Yes, we stayed the night in Tulare.
There is more to the tale and much of it providential (ok, all of it providential...) and there may come a time where I share more, but suffice it to say that we did finally get up to Oakdale the next day after getting a new tire in Fresno and we had a lovely time visiting with family. All too soon, though, we were back on the road heading home.
On the way home I heard this song. I've heard it before, but tonight I felt it needs sharing. The words hit home, particularly during this season of politics, this season of the world, this heartbroken, heart-hurting, mad world.
Hit rewind and
Stand face to face with the younger me
All of the mistakes
All of the heartbreak
Here's what I'd do differently
I'd love like I'm not scared
Give when it's not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on you, on you
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)
Heard this song on the radio a couple of nights ago. Shazamed it to find out who the artist was. New to me, but it seems they've been around a while.
Just now getting around to posting the song. The sound is described as synthpop. Fascinating.
Heard this song last night and it spoke to me powerfully during this mad time in which we live.
I've a tattoo on the underside of my left arm, "Philippians 3:10-14 ...Pressing On." I love that passage, but the part that speaks most deeply to me is verse 12, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own."
He has made me His own. He will hold me fast. Because He has made me His own, I can press on. He will hold me fast.
I have already spoken to how the week began with family and friends celebrating the nation's independence and MY birthday. I loved having family and friends around me to mark the passing of time with me and celebrate this new score of years.
And then the week went to hell in a hand-basket. Not really sure I can put it any other way. News story after news story carries heartbreak and anger and madness here and abroad and I struggle to make sense of it, if any sense is to be made...
Found this video on Facebook today and knew it needed to be shared, for this time and place, for hurting hearts, as I know others are hurting as mine hurts.
I also found a choral version of the music that Samuel Barber composed. Thought it worth sharing as well, to help with the healing.
It's okay to grieve. There is much over which to grieve, but then let that season pass and then let us move on to healing, to reaching out to others with open, healing hands.
Have spent the past few days with family and friends as I marked the beginning of a new decade, a new score of years of this life that I live. Family came down from the central valley and we had fun eating, playing games, and just celebrating life as my family is wonderfully wont to do. We laughed, we were loud and it was all beautiful noise to which my grandsons contributed joyfully in their own ways. I love my family.
Coming back to the 'real' world after the long weekend, I have repeatedly read of heartbreak and senseless deaths and grief and I'm stunned, I am heartbroken. Found this song tonight and though it's a song for praying for the persecuted church, I think it appropriated for all of us today.
And, in case you don't quite get what I'm saying... listen to this message from David Platt. You may think prayer is the last thing we need in these situations, but I say it is the ultimate thing. It is a drawing closer to God and in the drawing closer to God we are then able to minister to this heartbroken, heart-hurting world. And don't get the order wrong...
"Selfless love for others springs FROM Supreme love for God"
Bear with me...
Story... after story... after story... and my heart is broken for those who call themselves Christian and still support Donald Trump. My heart hurts as I read of people who call themselves Christian crying out for religious freedom here in America... but... not... for... Muslims...
It's Us against Them as has been the case since time immemorial... and my heart breaks as I sense God grieving over His children refusing to be blessings as He has called them to be blessings. As Israel was called to be a blessing to the nations in the Old Testament, we New Testament Christians are called to be a blessing to this world... and we, in America, are forsaking that call for our own selfish desires.
Mind you, I'm preaching to myself as much as anyone. I, who felt God calling me to serve in the mission field, am here in southern California, yeah, La-La Land, living life, just living... while bombs go off in Istanbul... and children are suffering in Syria.
Mind you, I pray for those I know who are serving in the hard places and I pray that God would send more workers into the harvest field. I pray. And I know and believe that "more things are wrought through prayer than this world dreams of." But my heart still hurts... for this country, my country, that is... so far removed it seems from the real world.
We're so caught up in "what about me" and "what about mine" that we fail; we fail so grievously, to see the bigger picture. God is still in control. And again, I'm preaching to myself... God is still in control. And what He is doing with America may not be what I think should happen or want to have happen with this country. He is working His will out and it may be His will to bring judgement on our selfish, self-serving, self-motivated behaviors and actions.
This political season has been the most depressing season that I can remember. Seasons past, I could find some redeeming qualities in the candidates, but this season... there is none. I'm grieved that my choices come down the two who are the presumptive candidates. And don't get me started on the fact that we finally could have a woman for president, but I cannot support her because she does not support the unborn. And yes, you can call me a one issue voter, but if I don't represent the least of these, what am I good for. Where is my humanity.
Don't worry, I won't throw my lot in with the other candidate who one day says he's pro-choice and the next day says he's not. He has changed his mind on so many things... what or who's to say he won't change his mind again further down the road. I was born in this country, but I'm of Mexican descent and I'm terrified of what could happen should he become President.
This is where I stand. I'm praying. I'm praying for this country. I'm praying for my family, near and far, that they be safe during this unsafe time. I'm praying that God's Will be done, yes, that His Will be done. I'm praying for strength to endure to the end. I'm praying, knowing that prayer availeth much.
Ralph Stanley passed away today. You're probably asking, "Ralph Who?" It's ok. He's an icon in the bluegrass world. Being a lover of bluegrass, I'm paying my respects by sharing this song.
Gotta share another video of Dr. Stanley... this one with Patty Loveless. This music is in my blood...
Just saw today that Bastille released a new single from their upcoming second album, Wild World. Realized I hadn't followed up on them since their first album, Bad Blood, of which I posted a few songs. Could only find the new song on Spotify, so have shared that link, but not sure you can access it unless you have a Spotify account, which isn't a bad thing, because Spotify is pretty cool for playing music online... just sayin'.
I also shared another new song (to me) that they released last year. Couldn't find anything saying that it will be on the new album, but it was included in the FIFA 16 Soundtrack.
Will be following up on the release of the new album...
I wrote this post earlier this year about my father for his birthday:
In past years, I've tried to share a new song a day, a different song a day, based on what was going on, what I'd heard that day or even sought out to share. This year may not be the same in that respect, because I want to share a song again that I've already shared this year, these few days that we're into the year anyway. I want to share it again and speak to why I want to share it again.
Today was my dad's birthday. He would have been 93 today, but he passed away last September. I still mourn him, but I am also grateful for the man. Maybe it's because I'm now older and have more life on which to look back, but I can now see, with different eyes than the person I was twenty, thirty, forty years ago, the choices he made and how they affected his family... his move to bring his wife and two daughters from Mexico to America--to Texas; his work as a farm laborer, raising a family that added three more children; his decision to move his family to San Jose, then retiring to Oakdale, with his family still nearby.
He was a good father. He was distant, as was the dictates of a man of his time. I don't recall him ever saying he loved me until these last few years, but I've come to see the love he showed us by how he provided for us. He was always there to get us out of scrapes or help us during hard times, or, in the instances when he couldn't... he still stood by us as we faced consequences of our own doing. I can say it now, he loved us until the end.
But I'm sharing this song, not as a tribute to him, though I do want to honor him, but as tribute to the Father that was/is behind all that my earthly father did to provide for his family. I see God's hand in my father's life, and my life and now my daughter's life and her family. I see the legacy. I see God's mercy and grace in the paths we took and the steps He has guided all this time. They've not always been easy, but the Father's guiding hand was and is good and true and sure.
As I said when I first posted this song earlier this year... okay, this week, I love this song. God is a Good, Good Father. It's who He is. He gave me a good father. I am my father's child. And I was loved by him.
And I am my Father's child. And I'm loved by Him.
It's who I am.
Happy birthday, daddy...I miss you.
And so... I'm sharing that post again to honor the memory of my father this first Father's Day without him...
Happy Father's Day, daddy... I still miss you.
Father's Day is tomorrow. It will be my first without Daddy. Heard this song on the radio recently. Looked it up and remembered it from a Grey's Anatomy episode from several years back.
As I listen to it today, it speaks to what I feel with my dad gone. Just gotta keep breathing... one day at a time... keep breathing.
Happy Father's Day, Daddy! I miss you...
Found this song on NPR earlier this evening. Powerful. I keep replaying it...
It's from the upcoming movie, Legend of Tarzan, which is not an origin story, but takes up the story of Tarzan at a later date, in a sense him coming back to his roots to save his wife and others from a slave trader. May need to see this one.
I shared several songs from Darlingside earlier this year. So glad I got to see them in person when they were in L.A. I found a Darlingside station on Pandora and have enjoyed playing it lately. Heard this song earlier today and needed to share it. Dotan is new to me, but I like his sound. Based on what I read, he's working on a new album. Looking forward to hearing more.
Orlando weighs heavy on us all tonight. When I learned early this morning of what happened there, I sat for a moment, stunned yet again, at the loss of life. It was distant for most of the day as I went about my business, but when I finally got back to my computer, I found out more about the victims as the names were being released.
I remember reading earlier about the mom who spoke of texting her son during the terror and he was holed up in a restroom and was texting her. My heart hurt so badly as she recounted that he texted that the shooter was coming and he was in the restroom with them and that was the last she heard from her son. I later found out tonight that he was one of the victims and my heart broke for that mom. Her son, her baby was gone.
I shared this song before following another horrible, senseless shooting... And, as before, I'm heartbroken, but, as before, and as always I must need go to God with my distress and pour out my grief and anger and finally cry with Job, "though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him."
Trying to figure out how I haven't posted this song yet... Also trying to remember when I last heard it. I think it had to do with a television show... but I don't remember... sigh.
Heard it earlier today as I was getting ready for a show. I've had the honor to work with a quaint murder mystery dinner theater in North Hollywood and tonight was the last show. I got the gig through a friend when the show lost a performer to illness and she posted on Facebook that they were in need of another actress and I responded. So glad I did. It's a really fun group and I hope to work with them again.
Anyway, I heard this song earlier today and wanted to share it because I really like it. As I think about the title, "Welcome Home", it makes me think of the time when I will really be welcome home... e'en so Lord, come quickly.
And here we are, today, listening to Robert Ellis... again... Ok, so I fixate on an artist for a while and you just have to... deal.
This song is actually a cover that Robert does of George Jones, one of my childhood music icons. Remember, I grew up on Country. And this song is pure George Jones. And Robert does it justice, in my opinion. Gotta say, it gets a lot of memories stirring...
And that's all I'll say for now, other than there may be more Robert Ellis music to come.
Just recently purchased Robert Ellis' new album, called Robert Ellis. Have been playing it on repeat, but have also been listening to his older music. Found this song tonight and being in a somewhat pensive mood, thought I'd share it. The lyrics are so painfully powerful and his delivery is beautifully brilliant. Yes... I used alliteration there.
And yes, I'll be posting more songs from Mr. Ellis.
Another Tiny Desk Concert... This time with Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop. Yeah, I'm not that familiar with them, either, but he's the main person behind Iron & Wine and I shared one of his songs a few years ago. Jesca, I gotta say is new to me entirely.
I liked listening to their concert, though, and so you get to hear it today. Yeah, it's another attempt to share a few songs in one fell swoop to make up for not posting the last few days...
Can it have been 50 years...? Feeling a slight heartache as I think of that, the innocence of that time...
I loved the Monkees. I loved their show. Their music filled my childhood. I crushed over Davey Jones and Michael Nesmith... yes, Michael Nesmith.
I found out that the remaining members of the band (Davey died of a heart attack in 2012) are releasing another album in honor of their 50th anniversary and I found this song, sung by Michael even.
Heart happy and hurting again...
Spent a beautiful southern California Memorial Day with family and friends for a picnic and swim party. There was good food and good company. At 3:00pm I reminded everyone present to take a moment to remember those who sacrificed their lives for this country because that's what Memorial Day is about.
I came home to find a song to commemorate the day and found this article about two Army Rangers who wrote this touching song and just released the video for Memorial Day.
Heard these lovely ladies on the radio tonight as I drove home from rehearsals in LA. Doing a little murder mystery dinner show at a small club in North Hollywood. They were in need of an actress when the original performer fell ill. I got to step in and am having fun with this small group. Excited to be "performing in L.A." And NO, there was no pretension in that... ok, so maybe a little... a lot.
But back to the music. I heard this trio on the radio and was drawn in by their harmonies. Came home to look them up and found some AMAZING music! The harmonies just kill me! Seriously, I had a hard time choosing which song to share, but this is their most recent and I thought it a good first choice. They're on tour right now, but, much to my dismay, nowhere near L.A! Somebody, please fix this!
In the meantime, I'm gonna share more by these sisters. They are so good!
Robert Elllis visited NPR Music's office for a Tiny Desk Concert. So glad he did. His new album, Robert Ellis, releases June 3. I know I've shared "Drivin'" previously, but this version is stripped down and, again, I'm floored by the guitar work.
You get three songs today, to make up for not posting while I was visiting with family...
My dad's been gone almost nine months. Hard to believe at times... For his memorial, I created a video montage of family photos and music to celebrate his memory and our history. I hope to go back to tweak a few places and tighten it up and share it one day. One day. I want to be able to play it for my grandchildren so they'll have an idea of the man he was and the legacy that they now continue. People tell me time and time again, they all look like me. It's the Carmona genes...
I posted a song by this artist earlier this year after my granddaughter was born. It was a perfect discovery and spoke to my heart at that emotional time.
Discovered this video on NPR this evening and heard it speaking to my heart as well. I loved the video and found the music, as it builds, overwhelming. The transition just sucks you in. I realized I had to share this one as well.
Gregory Alan Isakov's music fascinates me.
I caught this video a few days ago and thought it worth sharing. It's another visually stunning video, mournfully beautiful... And the words... heartbreaking.
But if we're strong enough
To let it in
We're strong enough
To let it go
Of course, there's a part of me thinking that it's representative of me mourning my beautiful hair. Long story. Let it all go...
I attend the 5:30 PM Saturday evening service at Grace Baptist Church here in Santa Clarita. It's a more relaxed service, and by relaxed I mean I can wear jeans and maybe go without makeup. The worship is led by strong vocals accompanied by guitar and drums followed by an exciting time in the Word. I love this service.
One of the hard things about leaving Modesto was that I was leaving a church that I had come to love. I loved the preaching. I loved the worship. I loved the fellowship. I loved this people of God. It was community for me and I was moving away from it. I was forlorn to say the least.
As I settled in here in my new home, I attended a couple of churches here in Santa Clarita. I prayed to find that church where I could commit to fellowship and community, where I could be used to build up the body, but nothing...quite...clicked. I finally decided to attend Grace and found that this was where God was calling me. They actually have a process for becoming a member. It's called Journey to Grace and I'm taking those steps and am excited about the journey.
I still miss my old church, but it's not because I don't have here what I had there. God is seeing to that. Maybe 'miss' isn't the right word. What I mean is that it was a defining time for me because it helped me see through all my misconceptions of what being a Christian meant. I was focused for so many years on being a GOOD Christian that I lost sight of Christ, you might say. So much of what I was doing was about me and trying to be a better person, a better Christian. And I was failing miserably. My hope was fixed on my efforts.
Redeemer pointed me back to Christ. It helped me see the Gospel anew for what it was. It was about God and His Glory and about Christ and the Good News that He had come to take our sin upon Himself allowing us to come before a holy God clothed in His righteousness. It was about finding my acceptance, my security, my purpose, and value and significance in Christ. I realized I don't have to transform myself. He is doing the transforming. My hope isn't in my efforts, but in His work and His acceptance of me.
So that's just a smidgen of what Redeemer Church has meant to me. I'm forever grateful for that family of crazy believers who loved on me and refreshed and helped this pilgrim along the way.
And now I'm here... in Santa Clarita... at Grace Baptist. And my hope is in Christ.
We sang this at church last night.
Heard Passenger on the radio this afternoon. I couldn't catch the song, but I knew his voice. Hadn't heard him in a while, so looked him up and found this video that was taped earlier this year. Glad I did. It makes me want to smile and cry at the same time. The music is so lovely and then you listen to the words and your heart breaks. And the harmonies.
You need to hear it and Michael did say to share it...
Went to dinner with my daughter and her family tonight and wound up taking the three boys to get ice cream while mama and dada finished their dinner in peace.
The two older boys chose what they wanted. I got a small scoop of vanilla for the two-year-old (yeah, it's plain...too bad, so sad!) and a vanilla shake for myself (ditto what I said previously).
We sat there talking about this and that and I don't remember how the conversation got to how old I was but Maseo, who had done a report on Sitting Bull and knew he died around the age of 59 said he wanted me to live longer. Uriah said he wanted me to become old like Papa, who died at 92. I laughed at my beautiful boys. They want their Gaga to stick around...
I heard this song on the way home after dropping them off at their home and realized it was a new song by Mumford & Sons. As I listen to it now while I'm writing this, I'm reminded of the conversation with my boys. I don't know if I'll have the time with them as my dad had with his grandchildren. I will have time with them, by God's grace.
One of the things that I miss being here and not there (here being southern California and there being... well, everywhere else, it seems) is the rainy season. Seriously, the rainy season here is a week, maybe... and not even a straight week. It's made up of a day here and a day there that totals a week, but not a solid week. Sigh.
I miss the rain. I miss the cold cloudy, blustery days that I found... everywhere else but here. Now, there are blustery days here, don't get me wrong. I've been quite fascinated, if that's the right word, by the Santa Ana winds that blow through here, scared even when a strong gust almost knocks me over as I'm walking along on the sidewalks at work.
All that aside, I have enjoyed the last few days of relatively mild weather with cool mornings and not-too-hot afternoons. I switched my set of CDs on my player and have been enjoying listening to them in the evening as I write or on a Saturday as I putter around the apartment, cleaning, doing laundry, generally straightening up from the previous week. I like to think I'm settling in here in So Cal. I keep meaning to do some exploring and I know I will, eventually. In the meantime, I am enjoying being close to my daughter and grandbabies and being able to help when she needs. Of course, that will change once I start auditioning again...
In the meantime, here's one of the songs from one of the CDs in my player.
Heard this song and knew I needed to share it today. Today was Mother's Day and I had the privilege of going and spending time with some other moms for a single mother's day luncheon that was hosted by my daughter's pastor's wife. I was there as a storyteller, sharing a storytime with the younger children. I loved being there, visiting with other women, talking and sharing life with them.
I'm a single mother myself, having raised a daughter pretty much by myself for most of her life. By God's Grace, shown through friends and family, I have been able to raise up a beautiful young woman who now has a family of her own.
Jesus was the son of a single mother...of sorts. Joseph married her, but you have to know there were whispers about the timing of Jesus' birth. He then died a most scandal-ridden death, death on a cross. Scandal at his birth and scandal at his death.
And yet, both speak of great Grace, that reached down into the muck and the mire of humanity with hope and love. That hope and love reached a most muck-covered and mire-blemished young woman and raised her up, not by her efforts, but completely by God's scandalous Grace. And I stand because of Him, and I praise Him for that scandalous Grace.