Tag Archives: music

The Least of These

My church talked about what worship means today. And that got me to thinking about the different ways churches I’ve been part of have viewed it.

There are many ways to look at worship. People who teach primarily from the Old Testament talk about worship as a series of postures, attitudes and sounds. David danced naked before the Lord in worship. You’re supposed to raise your hands. Kneel. Clap your hands. Dance, shout, and if you’re a little Charismatic too, shout or sing in tongues.

The Old Testament is all about the rules and having a theology of worship based on the Old Testament will give you a legalistic, rule-based worship model that can feel very chaotic at times.

I attended a church like that for a while. When I attended this church, there were several times when revelers took me aside and scolded me for not being “worshipful” enough. One particular incident occurred when a woman pulled me aside — actually taking me outside the building — to talk to me about how I was sinning because I wasn’t dancing and she wondered if I was “really saved” since I was living in such rebellion. I am a contemplative person. Worship aerobics is not my thing. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off does not bring me closer to the heart of God. It just doesn’t.

John 4:24 says  “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” I don’t claim to be a great theologian, but my understanding of that verse is that God is saying that He wants our worship to be honest. If we want something to touch the deepest part of the Spirit of God, it needs to come out of the deepest part of our hearts. Wild gyrations and screaming at the top of my lungs isn’t in the deepest part of my heart and my behaving that way in worship does nothing to sway Him because He hasn’t put those things in me. If I did those things, I would be allowing myself to be manipulated into being something someone else wanted me to be instead of being who God created me to be. I don’t think God responds to or cares for manipulation or worship birthed out of manipulation. Most of the time, I was adamant about not participating in this ritual because it did not feel genuine to me.

I moved to my current location 7 years ago and the culture here is so different. No one cares what I do in church. For the longest time, I would find myself bawling in church because I had the freedom to be who I am. No one cared if I raised my hands. No one cared if I clapped my hands. It was pretty normal to not dance or gyrate or holler in church, although sometimes it happened. But no one expected it and no one cared one way or the other. It was a very liberating experience for me because I was finally allowed to be myself in church. It was a beautiful thing.

If those things are your thing, then by all means, knock yourself out. Not literally. But, if God made you a dancer or a shouter or a tongue-speaking screamer, then by all means, you just do you. No judgement from me. I love to see how people are different. Everyone is unique and no one’s personal worship style is wrong or bad, unless it contains things like murdering children or seducing or raping people. I draw the line right there. Treat yourself and everyone else with respect and you’re good.

But, as I was talking with a couple of friends about this today, one of them asked me what I think worship is. If screaming and jumping around isn’t your thing, then what does it really look like?

And I said, “I have no clue.”

I mean, I probably could have thought of something if I had had more time. But in that moment, I wasn’t coming up with anything. This is what I came up with later:

One of the verses discussed in the sermon follows:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1 (NIV)

True and proper worship involves offering your bodies as a living sacrifice. Once again, I am no great theologian. The original scripts are Greek to me (and probably everyone else too, since I think that verse was actually originally in Greek) and I can only draw my conclusions from English translations. That’s the best I can do. To me, offering yourself as a living sacrifice involves sacrificially loving and serving those around you. It means going without something you might want so you can provide for someone else’s need. It means taking two minutes to sit with a blind person and describing the sunset so they can experience it too. It means taking a minute to tell a child who can’t talk that they are so very important and so very loved. It means sitting with an elderly woman who lives with dementia and is terrified because she can’t remember. It means buying lunch for a homeless person or sitting in silence with a mama who has just lost her unborn baby and doesn’t have words to describe her grief and hopelessness. It means sometimes taking a minute away from those needs to attend to your own needs so that you can be a truly living sacrifice because if you run yourself into the ground, you might be sacrificing, but you’re not truly living in the process. Self care is actually a service to God. Taking care of yourself is worship.

I got to thinking about my work. I truly have the best job in the world. I get to sit with a sweet little boy all day and play and read and have dance parties and sometimes we just work really hard at breathing, because sometimes that is a very hard thing to do. A lot of times we snuggle and share lots of love and stories and music. Sometimes we talk about all the things that matter most, like life and love and happiness although his part of the conversation is hard to understand sometimes since his language is smiles and giggles and grunts and moans and moving his arms and legs. But we talk, and everything he says matters. Everything he does is noticed. We giggle together. We talk. We sing and we just have fun.

And all of it. All of it. Everything I do with him is worship.

I was reminded of this passage:

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:34-40 (NKJV)

And the awesome thing about it? None of it is hard. It comes out from the deepest part of my heart and it blesses my little guy. It blesses his family. And it blesses the Father, who put that kind of worship within me with the intention of seeing it flow out of me from morning until night, every day of my life. He didn’t put crazy, boisterous stuff in me because “the least of these” that I am around every day don’t need boisterousness as much as they need gentleness and kindness and attention and love.

True worship….It’s being who you are and loving those around you.

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
James 1:27 (NKJV)


Leave a comment

Posted by on June 3, 2018 in Current Events, Profundities


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hold Me Jesus

I began writing this in 2016 and just discovered it. Oops. I don’t know how to bring it to a conclusion so what you see is what you get.

Well, sometimes my life
Just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains are so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, cuz I’m shaking like a leaf
You’ve been King of my glory
Won’t you be my Prince of Peace?
(Hold Me Jesus, Rich Mullins)

Those eight lines describe how my life has been the past several months.

It was one thing after another.

Attack. Rejection. Anxiety. Depression.

Trying to cope.
Every person and place I turned was a dead end.

I went through all the options and found no comfort.
At times it has seemed too much to bear.
The things that are supposed to help didn’t.

I cried a lot.
I was numb a lot.

I have cried through church so many times.

Through all the times I’ve cried “WHY??” and tried to give up on my faith and my convictions, I can’t. I’ve wanted to. There are lots of things I’ve wanted to do through the tortuous fog of pain. Convictions I thought I no longer cared about.

But I can’t.

Because no matter what anyone does, Jesus holds me.
When my life makes no sense, He is holding me.
When it’s too hard and too big, He is holding me.
When my faith is almost gone, He is holding me.
He sees my small and broken self, searching desperately for a place of rest and safety.
He holds me even then — even when I’m convinced that there is no rest and no safety, even with Him.

Through the pain, He is the Prince of Peace.
The nights I toss and turn, my mind and stomach twisted in anxious knots, He is the Prince of Peace.
The days that I’m overwhelmed by dirty dishes and snow and bills and having to go grocery shopping, He is the Prince of Peace.
The times I’ve tried to go to church and, He is the Prince of Peace

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 16, 2018 in Current Events


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

30 Things, 4 Years Later: Day 24

30 Things to Accomplish in my 30s:
#24. Buy a camera. I loved my old one to death.

I did.

Within a couple of months after writing this goal, I purchased a newer version of the camera I’d loved to death.

It wasn’t the same.

I’ve taken some pictures with it and they haven’t turned out anything like the ones from the old camera. And it doesn’t work like the old one either.

I would love, love, love to get a digital SLR camera. I love art and music and crafting and all that good stuff, but my favorite creative outlet is photography. Bright eyed babies, frisky puppies, sunsets — I love capturing beauty.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 14, 2016 in 30 Things


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

30 Things, 4 Years Later: Day 9

30 Things to Accomplish in My 30s:
#9. Be involved in music to the extent that I don’t get freaked out about singing solos anymore.

I sing solos all the time.

I sing about Green Speckled Frogs.
And T-H-E-Y spells “they,” T-H-E-Y spells “they”….
An Octopus Swam in the Ocean…..
It was an Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini….
Write Your Name at the Top of the Page….
The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round….
The Sun will come out Tomorrow!

You get the picture.

“Mari! Can you sing me a song about Jesus? And then sing Jingle Bells?”

I spend a lot of time with 6 year olds.

As far as actual performances are concerned….

That chapter in my story is gone and done.

Several years ago, I sang on the church worship team almost every Sunday. I was in the choir in college. I sang at funerals and weddings.

After being cruelly criticized by people who said they were my friends, I developed a devilish case of anxiety. I didn’t want people to look at me. I didn’t want people to hear me. I just wanted to hide.

I moved away from that environment and I thought I could maybe get back into it later — hence this goal.

I’ve thought on it a lot the past few years and I’ve concluded that there were some beautiful moments in music for me. I learned a lot. I developed a lot of friendships. I had a lot of fun.

But that part of my life is done.

I have no desire to be in front of people for any reason. My singing voice is gone. It’s just not something I’m good at anymore — and it’s not something I enjoy or want to do anymore.

So, I’ll stick to singing solos about spelling and green frogs and octopi and the wheels on the bus to audiences of 6 year olds. They seem to enjoy it more than grown-ups do anyway. It’s a win for everybody.

And on that note….

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
You don’t have to try
(Colbie Caillat, Try)
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 18, 2016 in 30 Things


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


One thing that I really like about my church is that they almost never do music that I did with the worship team I used to be part of.

Today was an exception.

Instead of thinking about Jesus at church today, I thought about how messed up the whole situation was back then.

Back then, there was a question as to which key to play the song in. Being a soprano, I typically enjoy singing more if the song is in a higher key. I cast my vote for the higher key — and I was promptly criticized by another worship team member because “the only reason you want the higher key is so you can sing higher notes.”

Um, yes. Isn’t that sort of the point of playing a song in a higher key?

Apparently higher notes are evil or something? Maybe? Does this make me evil because singing high notes is sort of my thing?

I spent several years feeling guilty for preferring to sing that song in a higher key. I’m not making that up.

Today I realized that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being able to sing the high notes — and there’s also nothing wrong with enjoying doing something that you’re good at. I also realized that there was no reason for anybody to be critical of my opinion. My opinion is just as valid as anybody else’.

And, I’m incredibly grateful that I’m no longer part of that group.


Posted by on June 9, 2013 in Current Events


Tags: , , , , , ,


Somewhere between my first and second birthdays, I got hair. Like, actual hair. I sported that reddish fuzz for roughly 19 months. Then, all of a sudden, I had two little boy cousins, another brother and…. hair. Soft, blonde, wavy hair.

But my hair isn’t that important in this chapter.

Let’s talk about David.

David was born 2 years, 2 weeks and 2 days after me. I have an adorable picture of me holding that bundle of irritation for the first time. I loved that baby! I’ve been told that when Grandma was going to change his pants one day, I said, “NO! I’m going to do it! He’s MY brother.”

I was two.

It didn’t take me too long to figure out that MY brother was nothing more than a brat.

I remember one day, David, in all his preschool brilliance, was going to take a swig of ammonia, just to see what it would do. Being the over-protective, attentive big sister that I was, I screamed at him not to do it. He didn’t. (Good job listening, Lil Bro!)

But Mom heard me scream and I was put to bed early for screaming.

The only thing I had to say about that for many years was, “????” And then I got older and wondered how it was better to have a kid drink a cleaning solution than to hear someone speak (perhaps) a little too loudly, encouraging him not to. I’ve never understood that one.

I was bitter about that for a very long time.

David didn’t speak until he was 3. As far as I understand, he didn’t even do the “mama, dada, googoo gaga” thing. But when he was 3, one day he decided to talk. And when he did, he started speaking in complete sentences. It wasn’t that he couldn’t do it. He was just being a brat.

I say “Brat” with as much affection and gentleness as I can muster.

Davie was the baby of the family for quite a few years. He still has bits and pieces of the Baby of the Family personality. Like, he says really outrageous things to try to get a reaction out of people.

Dave has a variety of interests, and a personality that doesn’t let him stop pursuing something until he’s mastered it. Like, flying, for example. He began with kites. Then he moved on to flight-related computer games. His interest in aviation led him to join the Air Guard. He served for 6 years and hated the “military” aspect of it, so when he was done, he pursued his second passion. Frying donuts. (Really.) And since that doesn’t exactly pay well, he pursued his third passion: Music. He’s been part of several bands, and has spent lots of time and energy teaching himself all about sound in preparation to open his own production company, which he did earlier this year.

It took several years, but I did get past seeing him as Brat. We will explore that topic at a later time.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 21, 2012 in My Story


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sharing my learnings of being a mother

Jjmum14's Blog

Just another site

Mindy Peltier

In the Write Moment


Stretching out to touch His hem with 6 kids in tow:)

Just a few things I've been thinking about....