How Alice in Chains Changed My Love

During and after his high school years, my son went through a rebellious phase in which he and I didn’t get along very well. But one Saturday, we worked on a household project together and I asked Abe if we could listen to his music. I wanted to know what music was meaningful to him, thinking it might provide some insight into his thoughts.

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Come As You Are

I travel a good bit, teaching and preaching, in all kinds of churches. Most are filled with people who appear contented and at peace but inside they’re desperately yearning for someone to love them…just as they are…tired, frustrated, confused, often afraid, ashamed, and often unable to tell anyone how they feel.

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Songs of Hope
By |   June 29, 2012 |   in Blog, Music |   2 Comments

It’s been a difficult few days in the Colorado Springs satellite office of Conversations Journal. For those of you who aren’t aware, I work out of my home remotely as Conversations‘ Senior Editor. On Tuesday evening, a wall of flame from the Waldo Canyon Fire raced down the bluff above our home and our neighborhood was engulfed in orange smoke.

We had less than an hour to grab clothing, sentimental items and pack up our dog and get out of the fire’s path. As I write this, our home is still in an area under mandatory evacuation. We are staying in the basement of a friend as we wait for news. At this point, we believe our home was spared significant damage, but we know several families who have lost everything.

The afternoon that we evacuated, I spent time writing a blog post on this month’s theme, how music has made an impact on my spiritual formation. Although I’m hoping to post that entry soon, I wanted to speak to the gratitude I feel to God and to the Conversations community for all of the support and prayer my family and my community have received over the past few days.

As blogger and friend Winn Collier quoted in a post this morning, “to love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.” He went on to say

We all need people to remind us what is true about ourselves, pointing out with great delight our strength and beauty and splendidness. We need people who believe in, and trust, the deep good God Almighty has firmly planted within us. You can go anywhere and hear someone sing a song of rejection or regret, duty or obligation, judgment or dismissal. We need more songs of hope, more songs of everlasting friendship. We need more blessings before the sun sets. 

I want to say thank you to all the people who have sung those songs back to me and to everyone in the Colorado Springs community during this traumatic time. Thank you to our managing editor, Joannah Sadler, our Executive Editor, Gary Moon, and my assistant, Lorien Magnus, who have shouldered the load of running the journal and continuing to work on producing Issue 10.2 while I focus on the events here in Colorado. Not only are they picking up the slack, but I know that they are praying for us as well. Thank you to my incredible team of section editors who have also expressed their support. Thank you to you, our Conversations community, for your prayers and support.

A dear friend sent a song to me as a gift on iTunes yesterday as a show of support and prayer. Once again, I heard God reaching out in song to hold my heart in this unstable time,

But when I’m alone
When I’ve thrown off the weight of this crazy stone
When I’ve lost all care for the things I own
That’s when I miss you, that’s when I miss you
You are my home
You are my home now

Please continue to be in prayer for those families who have lost their houses. If you’d like a way to help practically, at the end of this post are links to a number of organizations who are helping victims, evacuees like myself and the firefighters who are so valiantly battling the fire still burning here.

With great thanks,

Tara Owens

Ways You Can Help:

McCabe’s Tavern—offering the “Adopt a Fire Fighter” program. Customers can purchase a meal for a fire fighter and McCabe’s will match it. The meal their our famous house made Green Chili Mac & Cheese and the cost is $8.95. These men and women are growing very tired and hungry, lets give them a hot meal and a warm hug to keep their spirits up and let them know how much we appreciate them.
No fire fighter will be turned down for a free meal at McCabe’s.

Wildfire Tees—100% of proceeds from t-shirts purchase go to help the victims of Colorado wildfires

Get Help, Give Help—a resource from where you can find links to the Red Cross, United Way, Care & Share and other organizations helping the evacuees and victims.

The Song of the Church

As a professional church music, the attempt to a reasonable number of songs and hymns that have formed my soul to discuss in this blog post is impossible. Therefore, I will simply give a few highlights.

By the age of 5, I could sing the liturgy by heart. The song of the Church, sung since the time of Pentecost Monday in different languages and to different styles of music, has deeply formed my soul. I think liturgically. On the Sundays of Advent, it feels wrong to me to sing Christmas carols, for example. The music of the Church is my channel to the numinous, the path of God into my soul. The genre is immaterial though it must have integrity in both tune and text, if there is one. A mis-match between the theology of the tune and the theology of the text frustrates and saddens me. I am also very aware of the dangers of sung bad theology as it goes into the heart more deeply and is harder to rectify.

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When We Have No Words

A number of years ago, I was traveling through a really difficult stage in my spiritual journey. My walk with God had become empty and stale, and my work in ministry had become meaningless. The most painful part was realizing just how much I had been stiff-arming God and resisting his Spirit’s movement in my life. I had allowed fear to paralyze me spiritually.

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Holy Darkness

A brief passage in the Old Testament captures my response to music. When the temple was being rebuilt, “all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the Lord was laid.” But those who had seen the older temple “wept aloud” when they saw the foundation being laid. “No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away” (Ezra 3:11-13).

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Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

One of our family rituals when our daughters were young was to sing hymns to them to help them go to sleep. This seemed like a wise and calming thing to do and sometimes even worked! But in the process of doing this I learned a number of hymns that I still sing to myself when I want to calm and redirect my spirit.

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Music for the Journey

I spend a lot of time on the road.  Especially travelling around Indiana.  And no matter how you route it, it’s a long way from Indianapolis to Evansville.  Especially if you go via Seymour.  That’s two hundred twenty five miles, give or take a couple of tenths.  So on a recent trip, as usual, I loaded up with music.

I pulled out of Indianapolis to Carrie Newcomer.  Then from Seymour to Evansville “God Help the Girl” streamed out of the speaker.   Next up was Jan Krist, an indie artist who composes singable melodies and thoughtful lyrics.

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How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

In the spirit of this month’s blog theme (“Sing a New Song: Lyrics or Music that Have Formed Your Soul”), I took some time to prayerfully reflect and respond to a hymn that has come to be very meaningful to me recently: “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.” That title captures a theme that I need to be reminded of continually because of how slow I’ve been to trust it.

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From Labyrinths to Songs

After my cancer diagnosis in 2009 I decided that I would no longer put off some of the things that I had longed to do. I have wanted to sing for a really long time. So I decided to take singing lessons. A friend suggested a voice teacher who happens to live within walking distance from my home. Whoopy, how perfect!

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