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the path back is the path forward


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peel back the layers. [two artists tuesday]

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“don’t judge a book by its cover,” my sweet momma used to say.  i’m missing her today as i write this post for tomorrow.  four years ago today she left this good earth and i could feel it tilt on its axis, trying vainly to readjust.  she was generous when it came to people.  she saw past what was on the outside; she sought to see what was inside.

the rough exterior we sometimes see on the outside of people is quite often a guise.  we all know someone we believed to be gruff, but turned out to be quite the mush, once you were able to peel back the protective layers.   we believe we know what someone else thinks or feels, but we are actually unable to physically pare back those visible and invisible outer layers, the extrinsic stuff, to get to the raw of their heart, to feel their actual worries or concerns or fears.

we each have our bark-masks, carefully designed for the venue or situation within which we find ourselves. we choose what to share with others, rarely brave enough to shed all that outer bark.  for there have been times when you have peeled back the layers, revealed truths in confidence, perhaps looking for wisdom or common ground, and have been torturously walloped with judgement or scorn.  it becomes much harder to allow the next shared peel.

it takes courage to BE who you really are with others.  it takes courage to meet on common ground.  we fear the gruff outermost skin, we are afraid of what we see and don’t understand.  we may not realize someone else feels that same fear.

but there are cracks in the bark; there are fissures in the icy exterior.  the tree may be shedding, the trunk expanding, growth waiting in the wings.  allowing for cracks, fissures, reaching toward and not away – those can be the gps to another’s heart.  it’s not always what it looks like.  growth is waiting.  because, you know, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the two of you. [k.s. friday]

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the two of you:  two reasons why i breathe ~ my children (cd liner notes)

this will never change.  most of the things i gather around me are things that make me think of them, feel them near.  it’s as simple as framed photographs or collages or a peace keychain or lanyards that say ‘colorado’ and ‘boston’.  it’s a screenshot of a text message i want to remember.  it’s a note jotted on my calendar about something My Girl or My Boy said to me or a date that is important to them i want to remember.  it’s notes they wrote as children held by magnets to the refrigerator or in small frames bedside.  it’s laughter saved in a video.  it’s moments of tears driving away from their homes.  it’s a rock saved on a hike in the high desert canyonlands with The Girl; it’s The Boy’s childhood favorite ny taxi pencil on my piano.  nothing is huge.  everything is huge.

most of my also-mom-friends will agree that, outside of spending time together, the one thing certain to lift them up on any given day is a reaching-out-to-them by a grown-up child.  it’s the moment ANYthing else stops.  it’s the silently-agreed-upon, strictly-held-to and always-welcome interruption in the middle of visiting others, working, hiking, cooking, sleeping.  both The Girl and The Boy knew – and know – that they can call or text at any time of day or night and i will be there; i will answer.   ‘always there’ is a fierce inner motherhood promise designed to both ground and frustrate children, whatever their ages.   it’s a guiding principle, a mom-creed.   it’s absolute.  it’s truth.

from the moment they were born everything changed.  and, from that moment on, one thing didn’t.  the two of you ~ two reasons why i breathe ~ my children.  ❤️

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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THE TWO OF YOU from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 


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what they value is on the wall. [merely-a-thought monday]

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my poppo was staunch about a few things.  tires, brakes and windshield wipers were three of them.  not only staunch, he was particular; his tire brand of choice (for him and for anyone he loved) was without-a-doubt-michelin.  and so, with the exception of the time i had a tire blow out on a highway far from home, on a sunday, with no specialty tire store open, i have always bought michelins.

we’ve sat at kenosha tire many times, really for every vehicle:  the vw, the minivans, the jeeps, the xb.  having new tires mounted or a tire fixed or having all four rotated, they are courteous, informative, and speedy.  i never truly mind waiting for something like this to be done; i love to watch people so i stay amused most of the time.

this establishment has been there since 1970.  it’s not a fancy place; there’s a variety of chairs, a variety of plaques with sponsored-team pictures, a variety of tire samples and tire signs and a large screen tv.  sometimes there’s a dog or two and i suspect maybe there is a cat back in that office with the counter-level swinging door.  this is a family business and their dedication not only to their customers but also to the community is obvious.  i always feel like they listen to me; i always trust them.

before we went out west, we had our tires rotated…i could hear my dad nagging, er, reminding me all the way from heaven.  on the wall next to my chair was this sign.  the four-way test of the things we think, say or do printed on rotary international paper.  it struck me as a simple tool…something to help frame our thoughts, the things we blurt out or defiantly or unthinkingly state, the things we do that have the potential to hurt others.

it is clear to me that kenosha tire values people.  it is clear that they support their community.  and now it is clear to me that they found this simple guide to kindness was important enough to put on the wall.  we should all have a wallet-sized copy to which we can refer.

i’m betting my dad would be pretty staunch about using this shop to buy our tires.  kindness in business was another one of those things he was pretty particular about.

as a matter of fact, i’m also willing to bet that, other than 2x4s, i-beams, sheetrock and maybe shiplap, this is the only wall-related-discussion he’d be interested in.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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self-control. [flawed cartoon wednesday]

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yesterday on her way out of church one of my friends stopped to talk to me.  she said (words to the effect) that the only reason she was able to sing the last song (which was o beautiful for spacious skies) was because the last line has the expression “self-control” in it.  more specifically, “america! america!  God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.”  she asked if i had picked it intentionally, this one patriotic song she felt she could actually sing at this moment in time – beCAUSE of the expression “self-control.”  i couldn’t stake claim to the wisdom of picking this one; ptom had requested it weeks earlier for yesterday.  but i understood her completely.

self-control.  america.  it doesn’t seem, these days, that these go together.  if you’ve ever had the chance to look at a small child’s coloring book – you know, the ones where they have puzzles in them also…the one where there are four shapes, for example, three circles and a square and at the top of the page it says, “circle/color the shape that doesn’t go with the others”, you will know what i mean when i say this.  perhaps there is a coloring book page with the words “america”, “division”, “polarity”, “untruths”, “inequality”, “retrograding” and “self-control”; the directions on the top of the page read “circle the word that doesn’t go with the others.”  you would be hard-pressed to NOT circle “self-control”.  so i understand marykay’s ability to sing this song with the YEARNING of the soul of God confirmed in self-control.

this coming sunday, the other weekend flanking this week of the fourth of july, the sending hymn will be this is my song, lyrics by lloyd stone and georgia harkness with music by jean sibelius (the tune of finlandia) and i AM choosing it intentionally.  these are the lyrics:

this is my song o God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine. 
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

my country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
so hear my song, o God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

this is my prayer, o God of all earth’s kingdoms,
your kingdom come; on earth your will be done.
o God, be lifted up till all shall serve you,
and hearts united learn to live as one.
so hear my prayer, o God of all the nations;
myself i give you; let your will be done.

for the world i want to live in is a world of peace.  it is people (each of us striving individually and in community) in a world continuing to move toward MORE unity, MORE equality, LESS judgment, MORE truth, LESS division, MORE generosity, LESS polarization, LESS elitism, MORE inclusiveness, LESS hatred, LESS self-serving indulgence, LESS excuses, MORE respect, with the soul of God (or whatever you call this spiritual magnificence) clearly demonstrated in our mindful self-control.

happy independence day.

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really, i always tell the truth sometimes. ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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chicken marsala monday

sometimesfaith WITH EYES jpeg copy 3“…well, i will walk by faith, well, even when i cannot see, because this broken road prepares your will for me…” (lyrics from a really great 2002 song by jeremy camp called ‘walk by faith’)

“we walk by faith and not by sight….” (19th century lyrics from a 1984 hymn ‘we walk by faith’ by marty haugen)

trust.  practice.  faith.  repeat.  not necessarily in that order.  through the ages, a common challenge – faith without seeing.  ‘we’ are no different now than ‘they’ were ‘back then.’  faith.  it’s ambiguous.

it’s funny.  you might think that the most faith-reinforcing moments come during a service and this true for some.  as a minister of music for three decades, i have always sought to create those moments for others…when all things come together:  music, lyrics, emotion to amplify the words (and the word) spoken in the service and resonate within someone’s heart and reinforce their feelings of faith. it is a job i take seriously; sometimes you only have one chance to help connect a service with a person’s heart, one chance to reassure, one chance to raise awareness, one chance to have them ask questions within their faith, to challenge their assumptions for and otherwise.

for me, though, the most faith-reinforcing moments are outside of the faith-based venue, be it a church, temple, cathedral, mosque.  they are the moments that i can feel the hugeness of this universe of God and my absolute tiny-ness within it:  walking in the woods, standing in the sunlight, looking out on a mountain, holding hands, seeing the moon rise over the lake, watching the surf, seeing love pass between two people’s eyes, hearing my children’s voices, finding the right chord for a song, eating breakfast on the deck in the sun with cardinals, hearing music swell…

as a minister of music, i have heard a lot of sermons and been at an un-countable number of services.  think about it.  (and this is not counting all the years not spent in this position, nor does it count all the extra services at certain times of the year…you’re thinking, “ok, ok, ohmygosh, we get it!” )  so thirty years multiplied by 52 weeks multiplied by at least two services a sunday (sometimes three, but we will round it to two, as you roll your eyes.)  that equals 3,120 services and sermons.  and let me just mention, some have been…ummm…way better than others.  so you would likely deduce that i would know all the stories of the old and new testaments pretty well by now.  well, i beg to differ with you.  for me, those stories are peripheral.

what really counts for me is the stuff you can’t see with your eyes, the things you can only experience:  love, kindness, peace, generosity…  simplicities.  complexities.  these are the foundations of my faith.  faith in goodness.  faith in being held.  faith in grace. choosing actions that are life-giving.  knowing that if i fail today, i can try again tomorrow.  walking the broken road, faithfully believing that there is a higher power that i can’t see but i can experience.  one that surrounds me in my joy and in my pain.  ptom, in his lenten sermon the other evening, said, “God is for you.”  it takes a little (read:  a lot of) practice; it’s a new day every new day.  but i believe.

FAITH TAKES PRACTICE – we have different products for this on both www.society6.com/chickenmarsala and www.society6.com/kerrisherwood

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CHICKEN MARSALA MONDAY – ON OUR SITE

 

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‘faith takes practice’ LEGGINGS

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts on FAITH TAKES PRACTICE

 

sometimes faith takes a little practice ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood