Here I Am: Burkina Faso

Yes, here I am.

I confess, I’ve been incredibly unfaithful to my blog as of late. I make no promise to be better. I promise only to reward you for coming back by sharing a beautiful song at the end of this post.

So I’m reading a fascinating book right now called Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I highly recommend it. It’s interesting how God teaches us, don’t you think? Here is a book about Community and how that should function and look within the Body of Christ, and what am I taking away from it?

Well, I’m learning a lot about Community, to be sure. I’m also learning a lot about music; about the Psalms in general; about the Lord’s Prayer; about Hebrew Parallelism; about the relationship between individual and corporate prayer and praise; about marriage. It’s fascinating to me that a book about Christian Community would deal so squarely with so many topics that are already on my heart and mind! God sure has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?

But this morning, as I sat at Starbucks reading this heavy (but thin) book, I was taken aback by the issue of bread and poverty.

The table fellowship of Christians implies obligation. It is our daily bread that we eat, not my own. We share our bread. Thus we are firmly bound to one another not only in the Spirit but in our whole physical being. The one bread that is given to our fellowship links us together in a firm covenant. Now none dares go hungry as long as another has bread, and he who breaks this fellowship of the physical life also breaks the fellowship of the Spirit.

(p.68, emphases his.)

It hit me square. This is a difficult idea to accept; I dare say, it is impossible to digest without the working of God’s Spirit. It reminded me that we are not merely commanded to love one another with emotion, but with action. Perhaps D.C. talk said it best back in the day: Love is a verb.

It is our responsibility, friends, to care for those in need. It is our obligation as the Body of Christ to view His blessings upon us as gifts to receive and administer rather than entitlements to possess. We are not blessed for the sake of attaining some socio-economic status. We are not given gifts for the sake of tucking them away to be used only for our benefit and glory.

No, brother; sister. We are blessed to administer blessing. If today you find that there is bread before you, may God quicken your heart to love and bless those who hunger. And if you don’t know what that looks like, allow me to offer a small suggestion of where to begin: Compassion International. By sharing your bread (your financial blessings, but also your heart and encouragement and prayers) with a child in need, you are not merely changing a life–you are changing the world by breaking the cycle of poverty. And by sharing your bread, you are honoring and promoting the fellowship of the Body of Christ. What will you say?

What will I say?

Sharing my bread with two young men in Burkina Faso has been the greatest blessing of my adulthood. My spirit attests to this idea that we are bound in fellowship, that we are obligated to one another. And that is why I am convinced more and more that I not only desire to go to Burkina Faso and meet my boys, but I need to do so. I need the fellowship of breaking bread with them, and simply of loving and being loved by those who share with me both in blessing and in poverty. Because I’ll tell you something, friends: There are two boys in Burkina who are economically impoverished, but who are spiritually full of life and hope and joy,  and they give freely of these loaves and fishes.

Take a leap, friends. Sponsor a child today.

As promised, a song to end my post today. This is an original song, written and performed by a friend of mine, local musician, Troy Graham.

Audience

Roberta and I met Friday morning for coffee. It was remarkably good fellowship, which is saying a lot. Roberta is always great company, but this was more. More than just catching up with someone I love. This was heart to heart, the benedictions of life and peace and joy upon one another as fellow members of Christ’s Body. What a wonderful experience.

One of the things we spoke about is my complete lack of desire to sing or make music for an audience. We can speak honestly about this, folks. There was a time when I longed for audience. There was a time I believed my heart was there, on a stage, speaking life and hope to people too close to be strangers. And I don’t know precisely when it changed. I remember even in leading worship at the Tab that I made a subtle transition from wanting to “lead” to wanting to accompany and support a “leader.” When my brother got married six years ago and they asked me to sing a duet at the reception, I was so uncomfortable at the thought–but so comfortable with the reality.

I forget little things. For instance, I really do like the way my voice sounds in a microphone. And I really do enjoy looking out at people and making eye contact. And I love–more than almost anything in the entire world–noodling on the piano as I try to speak the words on my heart.

But I have long desired the solace of having no audience, no stage, and nobody looking at me.

The question is, as a musician, how do you love and pursue music without desiring an audience? This is a question I’ve pondered for years, and I am no nearer an answer than I was when I first posed it.

As Berta and I discussed this the other day, she–in her typical, gentle but challenging manner–suggested that maybe it would be good for me to be exposed to a bit of audience again. I love Roberta’s manner of making me feel totally uncertain and yet entirely certain. Of course audience is good for a musician, even if performance is not the aim.

So there I was, yesterday, sitting on the edge of the stage at the bandshell all alone, my bare, cracked feet swinging off the edge like a little girl, and my guitar in my arms. And I sang softly. There was no one nearby, so I allowed myself to have a little fun and let loose (which, if you know me, needs to happen more often). And so I’m singing one of my old favorites by Rich Mullins–My One Thing–and I’m hamming it out. And…?

This guy comes out of nowhere. With his dog. I figured he’d walk right by and all would be well, so I just kept going. Every night, every day, ya hold on tight or ya drift away, and you’re left to live with the choices ya make. Oh Lord, please give me the strength to watch and work and love and sing and pray…

Aaaaaand he sits down.

Wait…what?

Like, I know it’s an actual stage, and I know there are benches for the audience during concerts, but the fact that no one else is there and I’m sitting on the edge of the stage without any equipment other than a guitar (without even a pick, I might add) should clue you into the fact that this isn’t a concert. But he sat. And his dog sat. And wow–that was awkward.

But what the heck, right? I kept going. And I know that the pure…the pure in heart…and I know that the pure in heart shall see God. Yeah, I know that the pure…the pure in heart…yeah, I know that the pure in heart shall see God… and out of the corner of my eye, I see a young man with a lot of hair walking towards the bandshell. And I’m thinking, he’s headed for the restrooms. And the dude with the dog is just sitting there watching me with a silly grin on his face, but the song is over so instead of stopping and having an awkward moment with the stranger and his dog, I went right into another song–another favorite–Thankful by Caedmon’s Call. Of course, it isn’t nearly as awesome without the trash can beat, but…•shrug•

So I’m singing along, trying to be a little amusing for the guy with the dog, but secretly wishing I weren’t dumb enough to sit on the stage where people might mistake me for entertainment. Cause I am just like Lazarus, and I can hear Your voice. I stand and run my eyes and walk to You…because I have no choice. And I am thankful…

And the young guy with the hair? Nope. He isn’t headed for the restroom. He turns toward the stage, walks right up to the very first bench, and sits down.

Oooookay. If I hadn’t left my cell phone home to charge, I likely would have paused right there to call Roberta and make her come out to witness this odd moment of my existence. But I couldn’t, because I did leave my cell at home.

So I finish the song and pause long enough to say, “I wasn’t expecting an audience.” They both seemed amused by this remark, but neither made a move to leave. And since the dog had laid down on the ground by his walker’s feet, I figured–what can I lose? So I sang them another song–this time (be proud, folks), I sang one of my recents–Daisies, which I shared the lyrics to here on my blog recently.

And as I’m nearing the end…singing my very own song for these total strangers–a family of four walks up behind the benches. Mom and Dad and two little girls. And Dad just held the younger girl in his arms while Mom held the older girl’s hand. And me? I capo-ed the third fret and I sang the song I always sing over children, another one by Mullins–Let Mercy Lead.

And as I watched these people, watching me, I thought–being heard is not such a bad thing. It is that “being heard” that allows us to minister to one another, to speak truths through music that we are often unable to speak conversationally, to connect with people that we may have absolutely nothing in common with other than our humanity.

I stopped after that song. The family left. The man and his dog left. The young man with the hair spoke with me for a moment about guitars. And as I walked alone to my truck, with my guitar slung across my back (as no guitar-respecting young woman should ever do, because there is too great a risk of it falling [and trust me, duct tape does not fix a broken guitar]), I heard myself pray.

“God, what was that?”

But I didn’t really need to ask the question. I knew the answer.

It is just like God, too, isn’t it? We think we understand some aspect of our lives, our hearts. Someone (thank you, Roberta) speaks challenge to our assumed desires, and suddenly, God places the people and the circumstances in our lives to give us the opportunity: We can grow and learn, or we can remain as we have been.

I still have no desire to perform. But if you see me with my guitar, I hope you won’t be afraid to ask for a song, because the truth is–I don’t mind the audience.

Pax Christi.
Sar

Ten Things I Love About My Job

I thought it would be fun to stretch the topic into other areas of my life. :) It’s important for me, particularly after a day like today, to reflect on the things I truly love about my work.

1: There is one woman I worked hard with to establish a monthly payment schedule that would work for her. Every month, she sends a check, and attaches a little post-it note with her appreciation and a smiley face. In today’s instant media world of sideways smileys and emoticons, I love an old-fashioned smiley. It brightens my day!

2: The Nurses on staff are so fantastic. I love that I can ask them any manner of question, and that I can bring to them any odd manner of patient phone call (and believe me, I have had some odd phone calls).

3: My Doctors? By far, and without any hesitation, the best doctors. They are exceptional practitioners, exceptional employers, exceptional individuals, and exceptionally fun. I love their hearts for the health of women and their babies. I also love that they laugh at my cow jokes. And no question–I would trust any one of them with my life. (I also love that I can tell them the strange dreams I have about them and they laugh at me.)

4: Ladies? When you find out you’re pregnant after months of ovulation induction and ultrasounds? Yes. We LIVE for those phone calls. You don’t see or hear it, but that one phone call sets the office abuzz. Some of us get misty-eyed. Every-single-one of us smiles.

5: I know you won’t believe it, but at the beginning of every month, I get the distinct honor of counting how many obstetric appointments each of the docs had for the previous month. It is dorky, but I love doing that.

6: I don’t have to sell anything. I loved my job at the bank, but it is incredibly fulfilling to not have sales goals! If that ever changes, I will be calling all of my girlfriends to schedule their girly appointments.

7: My jobs allows me to invest financially in things that I am passionate about–like music, books, and two young men in Burkina Faso.

8: We stay busy. I know it sounds odd, and I almost loathe myself for saying it after a day like today, but I am so thankful that we don’t have time to stand around and do nothing. It makes the day go quickly. It keeps us sharp!

9: There is a very blurry line which separates coworkers from friends. I genuinely care about the people I work with, and I know they care about me. That is a rare gift.

10: And finally? What is the thing I love most about my job??? I may be a softy, but…more than anything else…I love when the ladies come back for their post partum visit and there’s a beautiful 6 week old baby needing to be held and cuddled. Babies make us happy. :)

I hereby challenge you to tell someone what you love about your own job!

Pax Christi!
Sar

Ten Things I Love About Me

I want to tell you ten random things that should make you absolutely adore me.

1: I write the best ridiculous poetry.

2: I surround myself with characters, and I love them fiercely.

3: I desire resolution in every aspect of my life–relationally, theologically, physically (don’t jump to conclusions), musically.

4: I sniff books. And I enjoy it.

5: I write letters out of a crazy desire–not only to know another person, but because I long to share myself with others.

6: I can find a message of Hope in a field of blueberries.

7: Though I’m not always successful, I do try to look for the good in others. I have an acquaintance that I see several times a week, and even though she makes me crazy, I find that I want to see good in her. I want to understand what is lacking in her heart that causes her to behave as she does.

8: I’m a quote junky. I love quotes.

9: I have a box full of letters to my future husband…and a journal of letters to my future daughter.

10: You will never, never, never-ever-ever find someone who makes veggie dip as well as I do. Not even those who have the same recipe. It’s all about the dill, folks.

And there you have it–ten things about me that you may not have known. Now…tell me something about yourself!

Pax!
semmie

Family

Family

My brain is running a thousand miles a minute. I have so much to contemplate! Like…

1: How, my friends??? How am I ever going to preserve the documents that’ve been handed to me?

2: How am I going to share the information, making it accessible to the extended family?

3: What is the best way to communicate with extended family? There seems to be a generational gap, an invisible force that separates the f@cebookers from the letter writers; at present, I see one option: I must employ both methods of communication for the sake of the Family Tree.

4: When did Clayt grow up? And how did I miss that? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was rocking him and singing over him?

5: I never sang over Hannah Lynne. I never realized how that has impacted my relationship with her until this weekend. Don’t fret, my dear; we will find your song.

6: What is the best way to encourage the family to preserve their stories?

7: I love that I get to love my uncles. I am so, so ridiculously thankful for their place in my life and in my heart. God knew.

8: A cousin approached me at the reunion and asked if I was Sarah, Heidi’s daughter. He proceeded to tell me that he knew my mom many years ago when she was a candy striper. My mom, who I then introduced, was quite embarrassed, but admitted that she still had a picture somewhere of her in the uniform. Two questions: where is that photo? And what is a candy striper?

9: Isn’t it amazing how resemblance happens within a family? I love seeing the common traits and personalities, not merely among siblings, but among cousins and extended family. It boggles my mind!

10: There is no greater gift…than belonging.

Pax Christi!
Sarah

Family Reunion

It’s hard to believe that the Schmitzer Family Reunion weekend is upon us. I am so excited. I am so exhausted. I am so simultaneously ready and not ready. What a beautiful paradox!

Life has been insane this summer. If I had the words to tell you what has been going on in my life and in my heart, I’m not sure you would even believe me. I’ve been lost in a universe of emotions, it seems. Have I always been so emotional?

I have. I always will be. I feel big emotions. It is (for better or for worse) one thing I really do love about myself: I feel. So when my sister in law tells me she is pregnant again, I don’t just feel happy; I am overcome with joy and excitement. And when she tells me she miscarried, I’m more than sad; I am crushed. It has its own advantages and disadvantages, but the struggle has never outweighed the blessing.

Still, for my many (and enormous) emotions, I have always considered myself a rational person (except once when someone erroneously called me irrational; that was not a pretty scene to behold; he repented). Just because we feel something strongly doesn’t mean we are inevitably governed by that feeling.

But folks? The past few months have found me on my face, weeping into the keys of my piano. I feel raw. I feel vulnerable to infection (spiritually, emotionally), like an open wound, throbbing and desperately needing to be cleansed and bandaged. And if you asked me what was wrong, I’m not sure I would even know where to begin. Cookie? The Night of the Fire? Overload at work? My sister in law’s miscarriage? Finances? My truck? My family unknowingly speaking words of judgment on a friend who means a lot to me? My own inability to deal with the misconceptions the community has about my niece’s adoption? Secrets that I’m tired of carrying but can’t let go of? The toilet seat?

I wouldn’t even know where to start. The truth is–it doesn’t matter. Life is messy. “Where there are no oxen, the stables are clean.” Right? All of things things–big and small–are part of some grander scheme whereby Christ is drawing me closer to Him. And maybe some of it needs to be discussed; but I know much of it just needs to be silenced.

So am I ready for the Family Reunion? Am I ready to spend a day with long lost family?

I am ready. Ready for joy. Ready for laughter. Ready for the safety to cry. Ready for Uncle John’s garage get-together. Ready to see the fields of Frankenmuth. Ready to be silenced with embrace. Ready to honor the memory of my great grandpa’s daddy, Johann Michael Schmitzer–who was supposed to die, and lived somehow.

I am ready.

Thank The Lord for Family Reunion weekend!

Painted My Face

semmie:

Words from a friend. I love how she writes! Encourage her by following her blog! Tell her Sarah sent you. :)

Originally posted on christian spinster:

Hello, Friends! It’s been more than a year since I’ve visited you here at this blog, but I’ve thought of you often and hope to spend more time here in the coming months.

As something of a mea culpa, I’d like to share a recent lyric that I’ve written about the last time I was “in love.” It is therapy for me to share this piece of my history. I can only say that my reasons for not sharing it sooner were my own. Still, I hope at this point in someone’s life, these words offer a bit of a smile–even if it is only to feel reassured that others have been through crap and survived enough to make light of it. :)

it’s been six years since you’ve been here
And eight years since I fell.
It’s been ten years since I wanted.
Well where does time go?…

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