Many of you know I help support our inner city Chicago homeless shelter Cornerstone Community Outreach. Please have a look at one of my dear friend’s initiatives for CCO and it’s amazing, needed services!
Yesterday the two flights I was to take back home to my Wendi in sweet home Chicago were backed up. Weather, traffic, whatever.
So the gate agent for the first flight apologizes, I just pray inwardly for grace and figure “Whatever, it’s all good”. He hands me the two tickets and off I go.
Did some work on and offline, let my girl in on the changes, finally boarded and sat next to a sweet lady on the plane and hit the pulled pork at Carolina BBQ when I got to Charlotte. Nice.
Second flight about to board I take a closer look at my ticket. Says “First” and “Priority” on it. What??
This has only happened three or four times in my many, many years of flying, touring the world.
They bumped me alright… they bumped me -UP-!
I wrote this sitting in first class sipping a second diet coke which was mysteriously served at my wide, comfy leather seat while I was in the immaculate bathroom freshening up. Ha!
I mean I am USED to the service entrance, economy, last-class. You know, it kinda goes platinum, ruby, stone, stick and ewwww-class.
Got TWO gratis bags o’ kettle corn for Wendi on this flight. But I did eat the cashews.
“Abase and abound” is what I read in scripture.
O.k., yesterday I came home to my amazingly beautiful wife and a date night, and she’s made me a special dessert too for my “every 10-day eat whatever you want” meal. Wow. No joke, it was one of the most memorable treats she’s ever made me. I’ll spare you… but wow.
The crosses come: embrace them. The kisses come also: enjoy and thank God.
“In everything rejoice, for this is the will of God…”
Following up from my last blog (Killer Dreams) I just think I must be very blunt:
If you allow your focus to aim at and essentially demand your own fulfillment you’re likely to hit a brick wall. If you keep doing it, the damage will be extreme. Why?
I am as convinced as I could be that there is a God and He isn’t you or me. If He and others are not our focus, we take His place. It’s a practical reality and a pretense beyond all others.
If we refuse to face up to this- that “banana” we’re continually stretching our necks out to eat will effectively take His place. Well, INeffectively, but you get my point.
Whatever your target, if He’s not it I am convinced you (and I) miss every time. Telltale signs of this?
How about arriving at your destination and sensing a very real letdown once you were there for a while?
Another job, a different location. Change of boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife.
“If only [THIS…] THHHEEEENNNNN I’d be satisfied!”
“All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.” (Ecclesiasties 1.8) This was penned by an incredibly rich and wise individual who “went for it”, who “HAD IT ALL”.
Prior my own surrender to the true God I pretty well gave myself full-on to the search for fulfillment. At several points along the trail it all came together… I got exactly what I wanted. And it came up empty, much to my surprise. “It”, “she”, etc., did not make my life worth living for very long.
The fact was, my myopic self was slowly killing me.
“Yeah, well that’s YOU Glenn” right?! “NOT me buddy! I KNOW what’s going to make me happy!”
See, my take on things is that my personal sense of happiness is itself a moving target. My own emotions, feelings, even wants and desires have often been the cause of more negative, non-productive struggle in my own life and a source of pain to others as I acted out of my own frustration. Sound familiar?
Read that last paragraph again please. Then consider this: if there is a God and if that God indeed created you, made you, it is firstly for Himself in relationship. Secondly it’s for others, not merely for you to stare in the mirror self-focused much like the mythical Narcissus.
It’s about service, not bliss.
It’s about loving, not being loved.
It’s about others, not self.
Chasing ones own tail is exhausting. Expecting others to “jump through your hoops” in accord with your plan/s and desires is a lost cause because in the end, you are the center of your own universe and therefore your biggest problem regardless how others “perform” with regard to your own wishes.
Considering others “the enemy” because they don’t kiss up to you, your plans and your dreams is a disease plenty of us need to admit we either have or are in danger of catching.
Believe me, I’ve been there and in those moments over the years when I have gotten off track this is where I “left the rails”.
If you think about it you might say “Trains don’t have freedom of movement, they can only travel where the tracks are laid”. You’d be correct in that sense. Then again, a train off its track isn’t going anywhere. It’s stuck. It’s not where it was created to be, to travel, to serve. It carries no one. It has arrived at it’s non-moving destination. Rust and decay is it’s epitath.
Maybe this is yet another reason as a blues singer/player/writer I so relate to trains.
All this very much reminds me of a long-ago penned article in Cornerstone Magazine titled “The Failure of Success”. I did not write it but fully related to it’s points.
It also brings to mind a lyric I wrote and sang many years ago.
(From “Awaiting Your Reply”, Resurrection Band)
They told me about a golden road paved with dreams and fame
I though I’d try to walk it-get down and play the game
The treasures of the world kept comin’…all my dreams came true
But I didn’t realize the price I’d paid for the changes I’d gone through,
Changes I’d gone through
Clinging to the shape of a fantasy, rolling down the slope of desire
Most of the time spent pulling it out of the fire
I turned away from God and His love, and I worshipped myself
The idols that I’d built, all crumbled on my shelf,
They all crumbled on my shelf
But all along I realized
That if I had to…
If I had to choose
Between love an’ my own sweet lies
Love was bound to lose
Love was bound to lose
They told me about a broken road paved with death and shame
I though I’d try to find it…get away from playing the game
I finally realized the price He paid for changes I’ve gone though
I finally realized the price He paid for Changes I’ve gone though
Changes I’ve gone though
Straight up, the real, risen Jesus Christ has changed my life and perhaps larger than His freeing me from several intense addictions was and continues to be His deliverance to the worst of addictions, that being my addiction to -me-, to self, to chasing for fulfillment rather than seeking Him for Himself.
Serving God and others is my life and any time I play around with ultimate pursuits other than those I find waste, decay and something less than relationship with the only eternal Love there ever was, is or shall be.
His revealed will for us -best as we can discover and walk it out- is the ultimate priority in a world He created. He created you and I in this world in order to have fellowship with us, active and indeed, satisfying relationship for eternity.
Everything else is likely a distraction, often a temptation and perhaps saddest of all, a waste of one’s time and life.
God give you and I grace to keep the Main Person THE Main Person and pursuit!
This is a blog about 2 things: dreams and rejection.
In our journey through life it seems we all swing through the bright joy of personal fulfillment and even high exhilaration of success and others affirmation -as well as- suffering the pain of rejection and maybe equally tough, indifference people may signal us with regard to our offerings.
As a musician and speaker, colleague and friend I have encountered all of these. Regardless of your gifts, desired (but maybe not so real) gifts, talents, abilities and calling/s you have or will also.
It is certain somebody sometime will truly love your cookin’ -and someone else will feed it to the local dog…
HOW, not merely “if” you learn to negotiate your own feelings and temper both your excitement and sense of satisfaction -as well as deep sense of personal hurt will in large part determine your own sense of peace, wellbeing and indeed, quality of life.
The old (when I was young!) Rolling Stones song “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” was all about a young man getting a girl’s attention. When it didn’t happen he was left unsatisfied. Happens every day world-wide.
When it happens in marriage, a family, among friends, a band, art school, church, university, at your day job, you-name-it, often relationships burn out and frowns, anger or at very least self-pity rise up in us.
How would i know?
Been watching it and experiencing it myself over my lifetime. In my travels all around the planet regardless of the connections or “kind” of relationship, casual or business I’ve seen it again and again.
So often one if not -the- major conclusion seems to be “WHO gets to RUN the show?” and “If it isn’t ME I’m done with this person/these people/this gig.”
There is a time for such division, turning away and re-booting one’s life or geography, efforts, etc.. But here’s the rub from my own admittedly personal experience:
If you look around the web you’ll find some mention here or there about my younger life in the music scene up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Looking back some years later I realized as a teenager I had been in some 16 bands from ages 13-18. Why? I was continually unsatisfied.
Oh, I’d be “happy” for a few months, maybe more, but eventually there were the “personality conflicts”, the rehearsal or gig schedule, issues with the style or song lists, who got their way in major decisions.
Some of the musos were so personally addicted to this or that you never could depend on how they’d act, what they’d say to a promoter or booking agent, nor if they’d show up to practice or on time to leave for a show.
Yet the major issue was me. Me. Me-me-me.
Reminds me of an early Muddy Waters tune “Can’t Be Satisfied”.
Troubled and worried in mind. Angry. Just can’t keep from cryin’.
Now you might (often rightly, not always) think “Wow, some peeps need medication for depression, maybe especially creative types!” and I’d say you may often be correct… but I personally can’t claim that.
Sooner or later, off and on, all of us have to ride the wave of “YOU are THE MOST COOL” and the next wave “GET LOST- YOU HAVE ZERO VALUE TO US”.
All I can tell you is that my focus is on Father, Son and Spirit, HIS Words, prayer, learning to serve and give and expect both currents will come my way as they always have in life -whether or not you’re a person of faith and loving obedience to the risen Christ.
Either you get your eyes up and out or you keep ’em on yourself and your own personal sense of gain or loss. Either you serve or get ticked at your perception of others “lack of” or downright mean “service” toward yourself and your dream/s.
I do not camp in my dreams. I believe this is at least part of why I’ve been more a happy camper than not over my years.
I bring my creative dreams before Jesus and ask Him to slam the door shut if they are merely my own versus part of HIS plan for me. If they are, what I do will ultimately benefit others- in which case I ask Him to then blow the doors open and I walk through.
“My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow Me”.
Every time I hear a “go for it” concept of what I’ll call “dream-chasing” I ask myself if I am caught in that myself. Or rather, if I am indeed seeking God and His will and plan -in His timing.
Whether others fully love or hate me -or- my offerings is not the point nor in the end, even my focus.
Last point: all of us love to be affirmed, but we really must check our motives and super-importantly, attitudes when we hear something other than “YOU are a GIFT!!!”
When the Lord -commands- me to love my enemies (and He sure enough does) it is me who needs to change, grow up, suck it up and face the hurt in His arms and with the faith and knowledge that I walk with HIM in this journey whether bearing a cross or roses and the adulation of other people.
The issue as always, is “do all you do in love”, not personal fulfillment or satisfaction. I learned long ago personal satisfaction ebbs and flows like the tide. The only constant is God Himself.
“The Lord is my sustainer”. Yes. THIS I experience right through the journey.
Recently a dear friend, also a prison chaplain, contacted me about learning to play harp. In my answering q’s and trying to encourage him (as is another mutual friend who also works with him and blows harp) I thought it might be cool to share the following…
So indulge the old guy (me) a little. Started playing the old Hohner Marine Band (not my fave…) wooden-combed harps when I was around 8 yrs. old. Mom got one from somewhere. Hard to bend notes. But When the Saints Go Marching In, When the Caissons Go Rolling Along and Dixie (a little harder re. a note or two) and the very tough for me, Moon River came singing (or screeching) out eventually.
The joy of a little instrument one could put in one’s pocket, take anywhere incognito, even out into the woods and freak out the critters all seemed pretty cool to me. Acoustic. Didn’t -have- to have an amp. COULD mic it via a little tube amp cranked… or even a trashed boombox by connecting a 1/4 inch input to the record head of said box, plug in a mic w. 1/4 inch plug and blast your speakers (or via headphones, brains) out! Yep.
Played harp and sang in a couple blues bands as well as in jams while a teen.
Until using one here and there w. REZ Band later, the one or two I had just sat in the drawer.
My friend Tim (aka Spike) played (plays?) one some years later too. Loved walking into our laundry room or up the 10 story stairwell hearing him blowing away. Nice.
So from time to time I began to bring it out and even play it live. Then my serious return to blues came around ’84 when demoing Spontaneous Combustion project. Enjoyed that. Then working w. Darrell Mansfield and eventually and more recently Joe Filisko moved me to work on my chops a bit, write and record more harmonica.
Truth is, when I do live solo sets blowing harp is one of the most enjoyable moments for me.
Have gone through Shure Green Bullet mics, Astatic, Shaker, using your basic go-to mic, the Shure SM58, all sorts of no-name mics via small amps (including my Zeppelin Design Labs Percolator https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCLnMGK99io and Trimmed & Burnin’ Spanky, both 2-4 watt tube amps, cranked and mic’ed via a p.a.) as well as just played right into vocal mics for an acoustic harp sound. Start at 3:16 plz, for an acoustic harp tune from a benefit I was pleased to do for friends in Colorado: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLy0m50TRXA
I’ve used every harp I could try… usually land on Joe Filisko Harps, also Hohner Blues Harps and sometimes Lee Oskar brands.
For fun, for blues, country, bluegrass, rock, folk, just noodling around harmonicas often fit the bill. Frankly I’m more an EIEIO player, lots of peeps can play me under the table any way you look at it, chops, tone, knowledge of where the notes/chords are, etc.. For me I suppose it’s more about feel and fit than anything else. Tone is important of course! Practice as in all things, is massive and I admit I don’t rehearse harmonica enough.
Then I sometimes laugh about St. Peter handing out… what… harmonicas (harps) at the pearly gates?! Ha. Well…
So there are LOOOOTTTTTTSSSSS of cool old black and white vid clips of amazing electrified (mic via amp) and acoustic (harp right via vocal mic into p.a.) players up on YouTube. Too many to name. Delta blues, country blues, electric blues players galore to listen to are there.
Among plenty of sites and players you can look at online for playing, charts playing along with guitarists and instructional info. -nobody I know does it better than Joe Filisko. He is at:
http://www.filisko.com/ and also more and more in YouTube. The man is amazing and would rather teach and encourage harmonica playing than eat. So blessed to call Joe a friend and getting to do the occasional show together!
Another cool site w. cross harp playing chart (drawing in more than blowing, playing along with guitarists/keyboard players means they play in one key and you in another on harp) is:
SAT OCT 29
GK Blues & Message @ Celebrate Recovery Special Event
With Special Guest Jason Snobeck
Broadway Christian Church 7335 E. Broadway Road
Mesa, AZ 7pm
A Celebrate Recovery / SpringsInTheDeseret Production
SUN OCT 30
GK leads worship
Calvary Chapel North Phoenix
14201 N. 32nd St.
9am and 10:30am
Hope to see some of you! As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn