"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bare Feet - #200!

So busy today!

I just wanted to take a moment

To share one of my latest songs with you.

It's number 200,

Another big landmark for me -

That I've done this more than two hundred times

And still can't stop.

All grace!

Bare Feet 

I'm wearing knee-high socks
Hidden beneath my boots,
Trying to live up to
Others' lofty views.

I will pretend that
I have money and class
By dressing nice
And learning how to act.

I believe that all my worth
Comes from how I am seen,
So I will put on a show
Set in a land where I am queen.

All the ugliness
Of my imperfect feet
Is hidden safely away
Several layers deep.

There is no way that
Anyone could know
What is buried beneath
All of my clothes.

I believe that to have worth
I must carefully hide
All the bad things about me,
Keep them tucked away inside.

Will You teach me the truth?
Will You teach me to believe
In something so much greater
Than all these things I think I need?

Will You help me get these boots off,
And get rid of these socks, too?
Teach me to not fear the dirt,
Teach me to live without shoes.

Will You teach me to be humble,
To think little of myself
As I use Your loving eyes
To see everyone else?

Will You teach me to be open,
Help me to tear down these walls?
I wanna be honest and transparent
And admit to every fault.

I've been living for so long now
For all these silly things.
Will You teach me how to walk
With open hands and bare feet?

I pray that I would learn

To live openly,



To not hide everything I consider to be wrong with me,

To admit my faults,

To show who I am,

No matter how terrifying that seems.

After all, I should not need the praise of people,

I should not get my worth from meeting this world's standards,

My hope and my confidence should be in Him alone.

He is the only thing I really need.

All else is gift,


Abundant grace.

I hope these few short, disconnected thoughts mean something to you today.  If so, praise Him for grace!  If not, thanks for reading anyway.

The bold, italicized words are lyrics to the song "Bare Feet" by Mary Schieferstein,  ©2011 Mary Schieferstein.

"The Only Thing I Need" is an incredible song performed by 4Him.  It the version found on the album Streams, Jon Anderson of Yes sings some of the vocal parts.  (It sounds amazing!  I highly recommend it!)

I wanted to join in over here today, but nothing has been posted yet.  Oh, well.  Walking with Him anyway.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Save Me from Myself

We were talking about it at Bible study a few days ago,

How we need to walk with Him,

How we need Him for everything,

For joy,

For peace,

For patience,

For endurance,

For purpose,

For hope,

For salvation,

For every single breath.

Where would we be without Him?

We know we need Him, too,

When things go wrong,

When we have no strength,

When we're sure we won't survive,

When life and weight and the pressing and the crushing just hurts too much.

That's when we know we need Him.

How He must love the way we run to Him during those times,

The way we look to Him,

The way we trust in Him,

The way we give it all up to Him

And rest in Him

Until He calms the storm

And we feel safe again.

And, oh, when we feel safe again!

Then we can go back to our lives,

We can work at our jobs,

Earn our money,

Put it all in the bank,

Maybe buy that new flat-screen TV.

We can love our family,

When we have time, of course,

As work is more important,

Since we need to make ourselves safe

By making as much money as possible.

We don't need God anymore,

So we ignore Him.

Or you could be like me -

You might plan to read your Bible first thing every morning,

But then you stay up late and the alarm buzzes too early,

You find yourself far too tired to get out of bed,

Or, in my case, far too lazy,

And the Bible-reading is put off 'til later.

You ignore God during the day.

After all, there's so much going on.

Classes, homework, studying.

Then, of course, there's the social life,

And, like too much of any good thing,

It can easily cause us to lose our focus,

Keep us even busier,

Take us away from our private time with Him.

If you're like me,

You don't find another minute for God until right before bed,

When it's time for a decent prayer

About all the important things you didn't have time to pray for earlier in the day

(Because you were too lazy to get out of bed,

Then you were to busy for God)

And you make it short because you realize that you don't have much time

Because you need to read your Bible,

Then hurry up and get into bed

So you'll be able to get out of it the next morning,

Ideally in time for some time in the Word and in prayer,

But more likely in time for the first obligation that can't be put off. 

Yep, that's me.

When things are going well for us,

When everything's running smoothly,

We get so caught up in ourselves.

We start forgetting about God.

We start believing we don't need Him for every breath.

After all, we're doing fine on our own.

The laundry actually got done,

The stack of dishes is only half as high as it normally is,

The homework pile is no longer bigger than I am tall,

The to-do list is manageable,

Nothing's falling apart,

The world's not coming to an end,






How must He look at us now?

We think we know everything,

We think we have everything under control.

Is it like watching a child build a block tower that you know is going to fall?

Is it like watching a toddler stack up the rings and clap for finally getting them all to fit?

Does He laugh, lovingly, because we think we know so much,

But we really know so little?

For we are that child,

Doing all those silly things,

Trying to run before we can crawl.

Yet somehow He manages to love us anyway.

I prayed it last night,

"God, I'm probably going to get less than five hours of sleep tonight.

I need Your strength.

Help me get through tomorrow."

I prayed it again this morning,

After I actually managed to find the energy to get out of bed,

Even in time to read my Bible (!),

"God, I know I didn't get enough sleep last night,

And I have so much to do today.

So many people are depending on me

For so many hours.

Please give me strength.

I can't do this without you."

I actually tried it for once, for one small little thing,

Trusting Him when I honestly believe I could do perfectly fine on my own,

And, you know what?

Something crazy happened:

It worked.

I'm hardly tired at all.

Most Wednesdays, I'm so exhausted by 2:00 that all I want to do is nap,

But I feel like I could stay up 'til midnight and still be fine.

Isn't that cool?

It's like a revelation:

When we trust God and not ourselves,

Everything just goes so much better.

Of course, we should already know this,

But it is so easy to forget.

I have some new lyrics for you today.

I wrote them after Bible study

As an additional reminder,

Something to keep me from forgetting how much I need Him.

I'll probably manage to forget anyway.

Oh, well.

It was a nice thought, at least.

I'll just have to keep working on it.

Save Me from Myself

"I'm on the top,
 In control of everything.
No, I don't need You right now.
I'm doing fine.  Can't You see? 

I've got it all
Orchestrated perfectly,
And I am confident that it will
Run easily and smoothly. 

I'm in charge.
I've got all this stuff down.
You can come back when I need You,
But, for now, don't hang around." 

And I know I'll think this way
As long as I feel safe,
Then when just one thing falls,
I'll run straight into Your arms. 

It's like I have no direction.
All I've got's this foolish pride
And the desire to feed it -
That's what's killing me inside.

When did I stop believing
That I should love You in the sun
As much as I love You in the rain?

When did I start thinking
That I'm strong enough
To accomplish anything?

It's You in me
Who does it all,
For, on my own,
I know I would fall,

And still I ignore,
And still I take
All of the glory
That should go to Your name.

Well, God, I guess I will admit
That I'm not really in control of this.
I could use a little help.
Could You please save me from myself?

Yes, God.

That's what I need right now.

To be saved from myself.

Please help me.

Now let this encourage you!

Go live for Him and in Him every moment!

(Not just when you need Him.)

(Yeah.  Not easy.)

(I'll be struggling right there next to you.)

(Do it anyway.)

(It's worth it.)

The bold, italicized words are lyrics to the song "Save Me from Myself" by Mary Schieferstein, ©2011 Mary Schieferstein.

Linking up with Walk With Him Wednesdays at A Holy Experience today,
Because it really is all about walking with Him,
Especially when it's just as easy not to.

Check out these other awesome blogs also striving to walk with Him today!  (links at bottom of post)


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Warning: This Book Not Available A La Carte

Be forewarned:  I am about to be brutally honest about the American church and American Christianity in general (yes, that includes me, though I fight so hard to break free of it, and no, I don't assume every church and every Christian is like this, it just seems to be the trend).

I talked to her this weekend.

It was a long conversation.

We talked about Christianity.

Aren't other religions really worshiping the same God we are?

What if Jesus wasn't fully human and fully God, only fully human?

Society asks these questions, too.

Does the Bible really say homosexuality is wrong?

Isn't the God of the Old Testament different from the God of the New Testament?

Honestly, I don't have all the answers,

But I know how I'd find the answers each of those questions.

I'd look in my Bible.

There's a verse I learned when I was in high school,

One that has been made very real to me in the past few years

As I struggle to understand everything going on in this world,

As I struggle to find truth in the confusion.

2 Timothy 3:16

New International Version (NIV)
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness[.]

"All Scripture is God-breathed."

Not "some",

Not "a little",

Not "most",


(For anyone currently thinking of how we ended up with our 66 books of the Bible and everything that was left out, I fully admit to not knowing everything, but, to my understanding, the books that we have were the ones widely accepted as Scripture at the time, and I believe that the Holy Spirit helped the early Christians to discern which books were true Scripture and which ones were not.)

The problem is, the American church often doesn't preach - or act - as if 2 Timothy 3:16 existed.

I've sat through a sermon about how the Biblical versions of the Christmas story found in various gospel books couldn't possibly all be true.

I've never sat through a sermon about God instructing the Israelite army to slaughter entire peoples.

I've never even heard that read in church.

Why not?  It's in the Bible.

"Well, God is loving, so we want to be sure everyone understands how loving He is . . ."

Yes, that's true.

The problem is, God is not only loving.

God's love is just one aspect of His character.

He is also just.

There's a major issue when we only talking about certain aspects of God's character and we ignore the others:

When we do this, we are not worshiping God, but an idol.

We are making Him less than He is just so that our simple minds will be able to comprehend Him.

There's a problem with this, too.

He is too great for us to comprehend,

And, honestly, I don't want a God I can comprehend.

I want a God so big and great and awesome that I can't wrap my mind around Him.

No, that's not easy.

It's much simpler to imagine God as only loving and leave out His justice.

It's much simpler to imagine Jesus as only human and not also fully God.

It's much simpler to pretend the Holy Spirit doesn't exist.

It's much simpler to worship an idol than to worship the One True God.

Because it's easier to worship an idol and leave important things out (and because the church, consciously or not, tends to promote it), American Christians tend to want to take the Bible a la carte.

"Well, I don't believe that the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden actually happened.  That's just totally crazy."

"Well, I don't believe in the virgin birth because it's scientifically impossible."

"Well, I don't believe Jesus actually said this because it seems like He ends up contradicting Himself."

We intentionally put holes in the Word of God.

I am so guilty of this, too.

I didn't used to think that I needed to read the Bible.

After all, I went to church, I learned the stories.

That was what was important, right?


I was missing all the parts in between the famous stories,

I knew that Aaron made a golden calf and that God took those people back,

But I didn't know that some didn't return to Him and He instructed the ones who did come back to slaughter their idol-worshiping neighbors.

I knew that the disciples believed Christ would come back within their lifetimes,

But I didn't know that they believed that because He told them that some of them would still be alive when He returned.

We ignore these things because they're hard,

Because our idol-god is only loving and not just, 

Because we don't want to wrestle through the contradictions and find the answers.

(And it is possible to find many, though not all, of the answers.  I've found explanations for the "contradictions" I just mentioned through prayer, reading the Bible, and learning to understand God's true character.) 

We want this to be easy.

We want to understand everything.

The problem is, we just can't.

We often ignore passages of Scripture because they don't fit into today's society.

We want to fit into our cultures definition of "tolerant".

We think we can do this if we start believing that other faiths are also true.

We won't have to step out of our comfort zones to love people where they are.

We won't have to deal with society thinking we're weird (well, weirder than they already think we are).

The problem is, either the Bible's right or it's wrong.

If it's right, it blatantly contradicts other faiths.

That means that those faiths are wrong.

Of course, we can't actually say or acknowledge that, because our culture tells us to be "tolerant",

To accept every view as right.

"The Buddhist is right, the Hindu is right, the Muslim is right, the Christian is right, the atheist is right, . . ."

Either there is a God or there isn't.

Either there is one God or there are many gods.

Either salvation is achieved through works or given by grace.

Either the Bible is God's Word or it isn't.

There is no middle ground.

It's all or nothing.

Does this mean we can't/shouldn't be tolerant?

Of course not!

Look at Jesus!

Also, look at a more accurate definition of tolerance:
"Classical tolerance involves three elements: (1) permitting or allowing (2) a conduct or point of view one disagrees with (3) while respecting the person in the process." - Gregory Kokul
If we look at what tolerance is meant to be rather than what our culture defines tolerance as

We'll see that we can't be tolerant unless we disagree.

So, what do you think?

Is all of Scripture God-breathed,

His inerrant Word,

Worthy of our study,

Worthy of our belief,

Or is it what culture defines it as,

Just another book

With nice ideas,

But not any more true than any other?

It's all or nothing.

There is no middle ground.

Are you going to accept the whole Bible or are you going to reject the whole Bible?

I know I'm not a theologian.

I know I don't have all the answers.

I know I might be wrong,

But, honestly, I don't think I am,

Because I believe in God

And I believe in His Word -

All of it -

And I believe that His Word is clear on this matter.

We should start printing Bibles with a notice on the front:


This book not available a la carte. 

It's all or nothing. 

Take it or leave it." 

You can disagree with me if you want,

I promise I'll be tolerant,

But please don't disagree out of principle

Or out of your own thoughts.

Read your Bible.

Discover His Word for yourself.

Find your truth in Him, not this crazy, messed-up world we live in.

I hope you do search.

I hope you only accept as truth what really comes from Him,

Not what someone else claims comes from Him,

And I hope you discover that His word is alive,

Living, breathing, applicable to our daily lives,

And that it is whole and inerrant.

I know it's hard to read that way.

I know it's more than our limited minds can comprehend,

But I hope you try.

Please try.

(Thanks for putting up with my little tirade.

I know it's been awhile since I've written here.

Hopefully, though, I'll have time tomorrow.

It's Walk With Him Wednesday at my favorite blog,

And I'm hoping to join in with some new lyrics on that very topic,

Specifically, walking with Him when we think we have everything under control.

It'll probably be a short post, but after this, that's probably a good thing.

Thanks again!)


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Silly Thing

I've felt very out of the loop lately

On something that's very important to me,

Something directly connected to my passion -

My passion for music,

For singing and playing

And using that to worship and glorify God.

It's been hard for me to be out of the loop

On something that's so important to me.

It makes me feel like there's favoritism going on

And I'm not the favorite,

Which is something I know I should learn to be okay with,

But that doesn't make it any easier.

(Besides, it's probably all in my head anyway.)

It makes me feel like all the people who tell me that I'm good -

That I have talent,

That my heart is in the right place,

Desiring the right things,

Following the desires God has placed in my heart,

Not my own desires -

Have been lying to me all along.

Maybe I'm not any good.

Maybe I'm really awful and no one wants to tell me because they think it'll hurt my feelings.

Maybe I shouldn't be doing this.

It doesn't even make sense for me to think like that,

But the insecurities just get to me

And my overactive imagination only makes it worse.

So I end up being kind of upset,

Kind of hurt,

Yet trying hard not to be

Because it seems like such a silly thing.

Why should I be upset?

Sure, people are ignoring my passions.

It's not intentional.

I really shouldn't be upset.

It's silly for me to feel that way.

Totally illogical.

The problem is the logical part.

My heart's not logical.

Maybe it's a silly thing,

But it's how my heart feels when something I desire is kept from me,

And it's even worse because it's my passion,

And I am more sure now than ever before that it is a passion that comes from God.

I don't want to be upset.

It seems like a silly thing to be upset about.

I just can't help it.

Silly Thing

It seemed to him like a silly thing
When I met him downstairs at one in the morning,
Explaining that I could not sleep
'Cause I was afraid that my voice was beyond saving.

Now, logically, it makes no sense at all.
Why would a worry like that keep me up all night? 
And rationally it's hard to see
Why breath support and quality are matters of death or life.

It seemed to them like a silly thing
That I found their words so very interesting
That I grabbed a pen and started writing
Of where their words had led my thoughts to be.

Culturally, it seemed a little strange.
What is it that I would need to write?
And functionally it doesn't work the same
As a conversation with no literature in sight.

And who said it was a silly thing
For passion to guide the heart?
And who said that it is strange when we
Let our actions reflect who we are?

We're putting lies
Into the minds
Of the ones who'll shape the future.
We're encouraging
Others to think
They can't show who they are.

It seemed to me like a silly thing
When unexplained events made my heart start aching.
It felt like I'd failed to succeed
At one of two things that make my life worth living.

Objectively, it's an overreaction.
One missed thing is no reason to cry.

And, honestly, it's all imagination.
There simply are no facts explaining why.

Must be a silly thing.

Well, thank You, God, for all the people who notice,
Who listen to my fears so patiently,
And thank You, God, for these people who know me
And don't believe that it's a silly thing.

No, they don't think that it's a silly thing.

Related post:  What I Love

The bold, italicized words are the lyrics to the song "Silly Thing" by Mary Schieferstein, ©2011 Mary Schieferstein.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Seek Justice

this image is not mine - I found it on this blog - thanks to its original creator

After watching an Invisible Children screening recently, I've been thinking about justice,

About all the things in this world that are not fair,

All the inequality,

All the violence,

All the hurt,

All the suffering,

And how little people know.

There is such a lack of awareness of what is going on in this world.

Before I started listening to Sara Groves' music, I had no idea that there are about 27 million slaves in the world today.

Twenty-seven million.

Before I saw an Invisible Children screening last year, I had no idea that there has been a war going on in the area of northern Uganda, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo for 23 years.

Twenty-three years.

There is so little awareness of just how huge problems like these are.

Why are we not listening?

Why are we not paying attention?

Why do we allow the victims of injustice to remain invisible?

Thinking about all this has got me writing.

(I know, I know.  Big surprise.)

I definitely don't feel qualified to write about justice,

Having experienced so very little of injustice myself.

Then again, I don't feel particularly qualified to write about much of anything,

But I write anyway.

Hopefully this imperfect and unpolished attempt to address the issue of injustice in this world has something good hidden in it,

Something that will speak to people,

Reach to their hearts,

And call them to action.

So, here we are,

The lyrics to my latest song:

Gonna Be Free

Everything's holding me back,
Tying me down,
Trying to make me crack.

No promise has come through yet.
I'm holding out
For a hope fading fast.

Why's it so hard to believe
I'm gonna be free?

I am just starting to learn
That this is my life now,
And, yes, it's gonna burn.

I work so hard to have faith
That someday, somehow
This is all gonna change.

But sometimes I just can't believe
I'm gonna be free.

For all of us here in this place
We fight hard to imagine that someday
Someone will open their eyes
To see through the schemes and the lies.

We pray that someone will find a way
To break through these chains.

Still, it's hard to believe . . .

'Til someone fans the fire
That had grown so dim,
Gives us reason to fully
Hope again.

And we find the courage to sing,
"One day we're gonna be free!"

One day we are gonna be free,
One day the chains will break,
One day we'll live in Jubilee
'Cause one day we're gonna be free!

One day we're gonna be free,
One day we're gonna be free,
And we're all gonna live in Jubilee
'Cause one day we're gonna be free.

One day we're gonna be free.

One day we're gonna be free.

Many thanks to organizations like the International Justice Mission and Invisible Children that are fighting to end injustice.

Also, I can't resist linking to this amazing song arranged by Sara Groves which happens to touch on this very topic.  The story behind the song can be found here.

Again, the bold, italicized words are lyrics to the song "Gonna Be Free" by Mary Schieferstein, ©2011 Mary Schieferstein.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Notecard

I saw it last week

At the perfect time.

I'd been thinking

About what to write,

What it was that I could say,

What inspired me that day.

Then I saw it.

It was sitting on my keyboard

In its usual location,

Resting on the keys.

I looked at it and thought,

Just for a moment or two,

About how it came to be there,

How it earned such a unique place

In my special artist space.

I'd gone over to her room to do homework.

A couple of other people were there.

We were just sitting around, talking,

Not really doing too much homework.

She pulled out a card,

Handed it to me.

"This is for you."

I glanced at it.

It was a Bible verse.

I saw the reference.

It was one I had memorized in eighth grade.

Thinking I knew it,

That it wasn't important,

Beyond the fact that it was a gift from a friend, that is,

I shoved it in my backpack,

Planning to hang it up on the wall in my room later on.

When I actually got back to my room,

Pulled the card out of my bookbag,

Read it,

I saw the underlines,

Saw the variations in the way the words were arranged.

This was not the version I memorized.

It was a different version,

With emphasis added,

Two underlines highlighting important points.

I looked at it for a moment,

Tape ready,

And began to wonder why she gave it to me,

What made her pick that one.

I remembered that she was there the year before

When a pastor came to speak,

Talked with me a little afterwards,

Reminded me God had a plan for my life.

I cried.

I knew that there was a plan,

But it was so hard to believe because I didn't understand,

Didn't know what He had for me,

Still don't.

The pastor prayed for me.

She prayed for me, too,

And someone else, I think.

I don't remember who.

I don't remember what they said, either.

I was too busy thinking,

Being touched by their care and concern,

And trying to calm myself so I wouldn't cry anymore.

Remembering that day,

That she was there,

Made me wonder if that was why she gave me that verse.

I didn't really know.

It could have been nothing,

But it touched me,

So I put the tape away

And left the notecard on my keyboard

As a reminder that there is a plan.

Months later,

Just last week,

I was looking for inspiration.

I saw it on my keyboard

And I thought I'd write the story.

The Notecard

There's a three-by-five notecard
Sitting on my keyboard
With handwriting that isn't mine.

The white card covers black keys
While the black ink speaks to me,
Words of hope covering white.

I remember the day she gave it to me,
I glanced and saw it was something I'd heard.
I thanked her for thinking about me,
Then shoved it away before I'd read all the words.

It was hours before I pulled it out,
Planning to tape it to my wall
Alongside all the other words I've memorized,
Alongside all the other hopeful thoughts,

But first I read the words she transcribed,
Similar to the ones I knew so well,
And it suddenly hit me that she remembered
That day and those tears that fell . . .

When somebody told me
That there was a plan
And I cried 'cause I was aching
To know where it led.
She was one who laid her hands on me,
Whispered words I can't recall.
It was a day I had forgotten,
But she remembered it all.

Now every time I sit down to play
I remember that I have a friend
Who knows exactly what I'm going through
And wants to see me see it through to the end.

And every time I see the white
Breaking a pattern of black,
I take a moment to stop and give thanks
That there is still a plan,
Even though I don't understand.

There's a three-by-five notecard
Sitting on my keyboard
With handwriting that isn't mine.

We spent some time together this weekend,

Along with several other friends.

One morning, we were sitting at the breakfast table,

Finished, plates long-gone.

I pulled out my composition book to write.

She saw and asked to read something I'd written.

I asked what, and she said she didn't care.

I decided to show that song to her,

Really a better story than a song,

The story of what that one notecard has meant to me.

She read it while I scribbled down my other ideas,

The words that needed to get out of my head before they were lost,

On a tiny square of paper,

One of the ones I carry around to hold my ideas,

Inspirations I plan to get back to later.

Then I waited,

Trying to be patient,

But a little anxious,

Because I didn't really know the whole story,

I didn't really know why she'd given it to me.

I hoped that the song would still be all right.

She handed the book back to me, saying she really liked it.

I told her that I didn't know why she really gave me the notecard,

If she really remembered,

Or if she wondered,

Or . . .

What she said,

The truth,

Was even better than the story I made up,

The "artistic license" I took in that song,

The work of "historical fiction" I created

Since I couldn't possibly know another's thoughts.

She said that it was a God-thing,

That she just wrote out the verse and underlined the important parts,

A technique to make things stand out more,

To help her see it in a new light.

Then she just gave it to me.

Yeah, that story is better than mine,

That God would use a small act of kindness,

Not very deeply thought about,

To remind me to have hope.

That reminder is still on my keyboard.

In fact, I don't know if I'll ever take it off.

Except, of course, to play . . .

And then only temporarily.

". . . I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." ~ New Living Translation (NLT), emphasis added

The bold, italicized words are lyrics to the song "The Notecard" by Mary Schieferstein, ©2011 Mary Schieferstein.
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