Sunday, October 28, 2012

The More - Why art is a necessity

Why art?  As we place one foot before the other treading this earth, our hearts declare within us that there is More.  As a culture, we tend to respond by trying to obtain more.  We move faster to do more to earn more to spend more to gain more.  But the More to which our hearts call us cannot be obtained.  It simply is.  And if the veil of blue sky and clouds which separates us from Heaven were to be torn, we would see the More, though only for an instant before we were blinded by its brilliance... by His brilliance, for the More is His Glory. 

And so in our humanity we created ones marvel at the intricacy of the veil, Knowing in our souls the More that lies beyond this reflection.  From where I sit I can admire the golden sunlight of an autumn afternoon and listen intently to a symphony as the gentle breathing of my tiny companion plays counterpoint to the birds' chirped melodies.  My eyes linger on the blue of the sky, which is so impossible to reproduce.  My thoughts wander to the human minds which created the shelters in which we dwell, strong enough to keep us safe and warm through the storms.  And like breath fills my lungs, glory fills my heart, and in my very limited way, I imitate my creator by putting pen to page, or by lifting voice in song, or by touching fingers to keys.  Redeemed, created one meets Holy, Uncreated One and we fellowship, and the brilliance of His glory warms me rather than blinds me.  The artist in the thin place.

In the moments of creation and imagination, the More is evident and the veil between Heaven and earth is no thicker than the flesh that separates my hand from touching my own heart as it pumps life blood through my body.  The Life Source is untouchable, but oh so near!  Imagination and the act of creation remind us of this fact.  In the writing, the music, the movement, the sculpting, the painting, we realize the More, the Glory by which and for which we were created.  We then find ourselves driven to places of communal enjoyment, worship services, coffee shops, living rooms, dinner tables, concert halls, art galleries, and why?  Because in sharing art we tear down walls, open ourselves to vulnerability, and give each other wings to fly, eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to grasp the More, the Eternal.  We artists, co-creators or sub-creators with God, guide each other to the thin places.  That is why art.  It is the map, the guide, the bridge, the key to the More - the transformative Glory of God whose image we cannot grasp, and yet in which we are made.

Inspired by discussion questions in Luci Shaw's Breath for the Bones - Art, Imagination, and Spirit: Reflections on Creativity and Faith

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Walking Psalm - The overflow of life

I don't like seeing videos of myself, but this poem is the first I have ever written that needed to be heard, not just read.  It is a simple overflow of my current place in life spiritually, emotionally, mentally.  Enjoy!

Walking Psalm

There are only wisps of clouds in the sky
Just enough to remind me
That we all need rain to grow
The moon is white
Enough to remind me
That the stars come out only at night
But for now, the sky is blue
The sun is warm
And Your faithfulness
And Your grace
Are at the forefront
In these moments between the storms
And everywhere my eyes fall
I see a thousand gifts
Gifts for my heart to grasp
Even if my mind cannot
You.  Are.  Good.
And if there was nothing else given to me
Let my spirit say
It is enough.
For today, if not for tomorrow
It.  Is.  Enough.
Because light or dark
Whispers or shouts
You are here and You are more
Than what my life's about
You.  Are.  My Life.
And every day two hundred little lives touch mine
With joy and eagerness and innocence
And I realize
Sun shine or rain fall
I have so much more than I deserve
A thousand reasons
To live and to sing and to worship
And to give You the glory and the thanks
That You deserve
For You are full of grace and
You.  Are.  Good.

Stephanie M. Frakes
(October 25, 2012)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Breathing Room - Ebenezer moments and a job I love

There’s this place in life that I love.  We only find it right after we’ve been running at break neck pace for a while, trying to meet a deadline.  It’s that moment of exhalation.  Breathing room.   I take the blinders off, stand in place, arms spread wide, and turn slowly, just absorbing it all, rather than being absorbed myself by the million things I had to get done before.  Things feel a little brighter here.  A little easier.  A little lighter.  Blessings appear clearer.  God’s grace is more vibrant.  It’s a good place.

Three months ago, I was struggling, really struggling with the unknowns in life.  I wanted so badly to know where I was going and when.  I had chosen to sign a lease with some friends and stay in Abilene at what I felt at the time was God’s prompting, but as time drifted by and doors remained closed… well, I became depressed and anxious.  I believed that God had a plan – and a big one – for this coming school year.  I guess maybe I believed because I had to, not because I was really trusting.  I’d made a choice and I felt stuck, so I had to believe God was up to something… I couldn’t possibly have been wrong!  (I say that tongue in cheek, but really, perfectionists of the world, I know you can relate!)  Now I’m in that breathing room moment and I can see all God really has done.  He really did have a plan. 

Monday night I conducted my first elementary music program.  One of the songs that I conducted was actually one that I learned fourteen years ago as an elementary student myself.  I didn’t even have music for it.  I just remembered it and taught it to my kids that way.  Then they took it to the stage and I conducted as they performed it.  A dream came true.  I don’t know why it blows my mind the way it does.  I mean, God is good and faithful and true.  He is love.  He is forever gracious unto me.  And yet I stand in awe of His blessings.  I can’t believe I get to do this!  I get to wake up every morning and walk with children as they learn and grow.  I saw the light in their eyes after they saw their hard work come to fruition in a great performance.  I got to provide them that opportunity, the chance to come together and create something more.  That’s big.  I’m watching these kids discover the feel of a steady beat.  I had forgotten how neat that really is… feeling the beat in a piece of music.  I’m watching them create, and learn, and make connections.  I see the excitement in their eyes when I tell them they can share their gifts with everyone in the class.  I'm seeing myself grow too!  I am the most richly blessed woman you will ever meet.  No, I don’t get paid nearly enough.  Yes, this is an exhausting job.  Do I care?  Absolutely not.  Call me corny, but nothing can replace the light in their eyes, the hugs, the smiles, the “aha” moments.  10,000 reasons for my heart to sing!  How many people have the daily reminder of joy, the sense of purpose in life that I have?  How many people get to get this excited about their everyday get-up-and-go lives?!

And don’t get me started on when the day ends and I get to go home to the amazing roommate family I have.  Precious, precious friends!  It is love, and I see it every day in the community surrounding me.  I lack nothing.  Sure, there are things I wish were different.  Some days I act like I lack things.  But the truth is that I lack NOTHING.  My God is so good.  He is so faithful.  It’s hard to trust a plan that’s beyond even my imagination, but it’s worth every tear.  It’s worth every dry and weary day of waiting.  So “here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.”  On with the journey!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The More Things Change - Thoughts on life in transition

The More Things Change

I am not who I once was
I've seen dreams planted like seeds
Grow into reality
Then fade into memory
I've traveled across the sea
Watched You make me
Into Your vessel of ministry
I've sat in the pit and wept
Until You set me free
I've watched friends love and leave
I've loved and left as well
And on this journey
I have seen everything change
And some days I see scars when I look in the mirror
On other days I see a woman of grace
Still others reveal a child full of fear
And things change
But the more things change
The more they stay the same
Because Your love remains unfailing

Stephanie M. Frakes
(October 7, 2012)