November 30, 2010

Making melody in your hearts to the Lord

As a practitioner of the communicative arts, I love a good turn of a phrase. I love the rare and precious expression that gives a simple clarity to a deep concept and helps people understand.

Carla (Jeff’s wife) and Corliss (Jeff’s mom)
Carla–flute; Corliss–keyboards

I have often mentioned an example of such clear communication from the movie “The Color Purple.” Although not one of my favorite movies, the scene from which the movie derived its name is a powerful scene. Two young ladies are walking through an open field filled with tall grass. As they walk and talk one of the girls stops to look at a purple wildflower. The other girl urges her on, but she lingers at the flower. Finally she says (in somewhat cruder language than I will post here), “I think God gets mad when we don’t notice the color purple.”

In the context of the movie, this young lady was making a profound statement. God loves us and has showered us with blessings—but it is up to us to notice, appreciate, and praise God for those blessings.

Stephanie (Jeff’s daughter)–vocals and keyboards

Yesterday my wife called me—very excited—to tell me that God had stretched our available budget for food beyond all imagination. Our finances were quite tight and we were concerned about putting food on the table. We knew we wouldn’t go hungry, but we thought we might be eating beans and rice for all three meals every day for the next few weeks. But my wife had made a list of all the things we needed for the next two weeks’ worth of dinner recipes and headed to the store to see how much of this we could manage. Unfortunately, she needed to buy some cleaning supplies as well, which further cut into the available food funds.

Wyatt (Jeff’s son)–guitar, drums, vocals

As my wife excitedly told me about her visit to the grocery store, in which seemingly each item on her list was on sale, she became very emotional as she explained that she had picked up a box of very inexpensive breakfast sandwiches. She sends these to work with me in the morning so I don’t have to spend time preparing breakfast before heading out to the commuter lot. She had removed any “luxury” items from the food list in an effort to keep the costs under control—so there were no desserts on the list. But she was hoping to get these sandwiches for me and had decided that she would put them back only if the total cost for absolute necessities exceeded the money she had.

Tiffany (Jeff’s daughter)–vocals, bass, drums

As she picked up the box of sandwiches a coupon fell from the box to the floor. This coupon was for our son’s favorite breakfast food—cinnamon rolls. This was definitely a luxury item that had not been on the list. But the coupon was for those cinnamon rolls if you purchased the breakfast sandwiches. My wife immediately saw the color purple. This was a gift from God. This was a blessing we don’t deserve, and could not afford. But God gave it to us anyway.

As my wife mentioned this color-purple experience, I was reminded that I, too, need to look for the color purple and thank God for his continual blessings.

When we moved to Front Royal just over one year ago, we knew no one from this area. I had no idea if I would be able to get involved in music in the community or in our new church. And music is my cinnamon roll—it is the dessert to my life. I love music.

Jeff–guitar, vocals, leader of the band

For half a year, no musical opportunities presented themselves. My guitars rested forlornly in the corner of my library. My bass guitar amp became a credenza to my desk. Eight months after we moved to Front Royal I began commuting to work by bus. After another month or so I was riding home on the bus one evening and the bus manager sitting in front of me was looking through some pictures. I could see over his shoulder that each photo was of a guitar. And they were very nice guitars. I asked who owned them and the bus driver said, “they’re mine.” As we began to talk about the guitars I found out that the bus driver (Jeff Blakely) is the leader of a Christian rock band (Remembrance) in Front Royal. I told him that I had played bass guitar in a few worship teams but was not playing at the time. (Warning: Huge color purple moment coming!) Jeff said, “my band just lost its bass player, would you be interested in playing with us?”


It is now half a year later. Many things have happened during those intervening months. Jeff no longer drives that bus. I no longer commute on that bus. Jeff’s daughter, Tiffany, decided to play bass for the band just after Jeff mentioned the position to me. But then Tiffany headed off to Lynchburg, Virginia, to attend Liberty University. A whirlwind of events that seem, in my mind, to all point back to that short window of opportunity—the few months during which Jeff was driving and I was riding ... and the fortuitous conversation around the pictures of Jeff’s guitar collection.

Oh yeah, that’s me on the bass
(No relation – just a lot of the color purple)–bass, vocals, drums

God crossed my path with Jeff’s And now I am playing in a wonderful Christian band. We’re doing a benefit concert on Saturday, December 11, to raise money for a local little league team. We have played in Jeff’s church multiple times. And along the way, my family has gotten to know Jeff’s family. And we really enjoy this friendship. They’re a delightful family and they mesh well with ours.

Thank you, God. Sometimes the color purple can be overwhelming.


1 comment:

  1. WOW! Sometimes we don't know what God has in store for us, your blog is beautifully written. When I was in business for myself, I thought that everything was perfect, the business made it possible for me to buy equipment the band needed, and it seemed my schedule was perfect for the band. But now I can see what was missing, You, and your family.


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