“Any time you see the stars, You know that I’m not very far”

I’ve been to two funerals on Valentine’s Day. A time where couples cuddle, exchanging chocolates and roses, instead brings for me a certain somber tone.

Robin was my aunt. I loved her like a second mother. When chaos would ensue in my abusive alcoholic upbringing she was the one I would run away to. Her death was much too soon and she will be forever missed and cherished in our hearts.

Counseling books will tell you that there are five stages to the grieving process; denial, bartering, anger, depression and finally, acceptance. Once she died I went straight to depression. In an effort to alleviate my pain, I became engulfed in drugs. I wanted to escape but instead I became enslaved. In pursuit of freedom, I found chains.

I remember Ray, a talented bass player on the worship team, genuine and sincere; he truly had a heart of gold. He was the kind of guy who’d give you the shirt off his back. He was killed in a tragic car accident one early morning as the desert sun came up to meet him for one last serenade. It was a closed casket funeral and I was one of the people/brothers to shovel dirt on the coffin. As we headed back into the gathering for the memorial service I hid in the restroom to take my elixir of pharmaceutical grade opiates, muscle relaxers, and Xanax in hopes of drowning the pain and numbing myself to the vicious cycle I was in. I left Vegas three days later…

Robin died nine years ago and Ray seven. It has been a long journey now approaching seven years of sobriety on February 19th. I’m a better man for it. Robin and Ray would be proud. I miss them terribly at times. I know that they are in the better place now, beyond eternity’s shore.

In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 Apostle Paul mentions the “third heaven.” Many people have wondered what the number reference is to and some cults have even built doctrine surrounding this somewhat obscure passage. Here is what I’ve learned: the first heaven is the one that we can look at right now and behold the birds flying, hear the wind whispering, and watch the lightening split the sky. The second heaven is the celestial plane where the cosmos collides in a vast array of giant sizes and fascinating colors, God’s beautiful handiwork. And the third heaven? It’s simply the place where God is. It is the better place. The dimension we cannot see but someday will. And right now Robin and Ray are there worshiping the Creator and waiting for us. We are but breaths away, only moments until morning’s final wake when the Son will come up and greet us, too.

“Any time you see the stars, You know that I’m not very far.”

Let that be the song that Robin, Ray and lost loved ones sing over us.

Click here for a FREE download of the ‘Set Us Ablaze’ Album featuring the song ‘Stars’: http://bit.ly/TLhmh6

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Songwriting – Scraping the Surface

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As I look back over my life I am amazed at how far God has taken me and everything that He has brought me through. Today I have a music ministry creating music for the One who has created me. I’ve released two records, had the opportunity to minister to many people locally and nationally-from the lost coming for a rock concert in Hollywood clubs, to the worship lovers in churches and the spiritually curious at outreaches, as well as the broken and addicted looking for the hope I was once desperate to find, and I am very excited for what 2013 holds.
 
On February 19th I will be sober for 7 years having successfully completed the Christian life school Teen Challenge as well as Teen Challenge Ministry Institute, a Bible College equipping graduates for hands-on ministry. The best part? My mother, Rose, has also successfully completed these endeavors and also approaches her 7-year sobriety mark. Today we both have each other, our God, sobriety and more than that, purpose.
 
Through the years that seem to have flown by, there were times when emotion weighed heavily on our hearts. Questioning our mutual sobriety and wondering if it would last. Past hurts returning to render us undone. All along the journey there was threatening silence that found us, alone, in our insecurities… Could we forgive? Could we forgive each other? Could we forgive ourselves?
 
These daunting questions begged for reckoning but with me in the Men’s home in Riverside and Rose in the women’s home in Ventura, strict schedules and limited phone time, the pressing circumstances didn’t afford us the opportunity to share and heal.
 
In the brief moments we shared on those short long-distance calls when time was never enough, when I missed the comfort of family and could only speak with Mom on the phone, I would tell her that all she had to do was look up to the stars on “Miracle Mountain” in Ventura, and know I wasn’t that far away looking at the same stars. Years later I would write a song called Stars to capture that emotion, and though it has the God-creation meaning, the obvious romantic interpretation, and several others, I wanted to share parts of this song-writing process with you, the ones called life, loss, and Love.

Click here for a FREE download of the ‘Set Us Ablaze’ Album featuring the song ‘Stars’: http://bit.ly/TLhmh6