Kim McLean

I'm left handed, I love guitars and anything that makes music, I write songs, I sing them for you, and that makes me happy.

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My Soul Only Sings For Thee

My heart is not swayed by the minutia of circumstances. I am amazed, albeit touched, by the concerns of those who wonder if I will lose faith because my heart is broken. Hurt. Angry. Afraid. What else would I be? But these emojis are not the only ones on my playlist, and it does not go without saying that I must become disillusioned. Scott Peck said it well in The Road Less Travelled, “Life is hard.” We know this. Life is hard because of what people do to each other, if you ask me. Only a fallen race could scowl in the face of a God, whose name and nature is love, by perpetuating jealousies, fear, rage, and inexplicable selfishness. But why should I lose faith in God because of what people do? I can’t even seem to lose faith in people. 

You know the danger of looking at “the man in the mirror” and owning the part you have played in the human conflict? It is risky, because so many people prefer to blame rather than to take responsibility. Taking responsibility can get you the whole blame sometimes, but in the end, you’re the one with a quiet soul. The only reward for winning the blame game is a jutted chin and a few drooling cronies patting you on the back. Only Truth with a capital T really wins, and that victory is never forced. It just IS.

My tragic flaw is desperation. I wish I could do God’s job for Him and make everyone get along. You know, I’ve been reading five Psalms a day for many years now, and I get the idea that David and the other wisdom poets felt the same way. They add a twist of “I’m right, they’re wrong, get ‘em God,” but I do think I know better than to take that attitude even if it is in my Bible. A wise friend recently reminded me that the hard things are not happening to me; they are happening for me. (Prepositions on steroids). A nice perspective even in the moments when I don’t buy it. It still rings true. 

Still...still...and still...none of this has to do with my love for God. My faith is not contingent. It is a relationship. Invisible as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may be, I sense a Presence with me that is more real than what my eyes behold around me. I am aware that God is for me. I am alive with knowing that God’s love is bigger than my wishful vindication, and I’m glad for that. God, don’t make all my wishes come true. I don’t want to love my enemies. They aren’t very nice. Defy the logic of emotion, and let me see the world as You do. I will be healed the day I can shed a tear for the ones who have hurt me the most. Until then...my soul only sings for Thee.

Be Thou My Vision

As I walked through the airport to catch this flight, I felt a welcome peace. It is a reassured peace, not the peace of giving up and going numb. I feel anticipation, excitement about where I am going. I feel God’s help though I have become a terrible traveller. I pack way too much, surrounding myself with security and comforts to make me feel safe and connected to home. I prayed that I would get the TSA pre-checked status and I did. Silly, I know, but it made me smile, like God gave me a kiss on the cheek. 

 As I walked onto the plane, I thought about the people gazing as I went down the aisle.  In an instant I thought, “I love them. I love people. God loves them. Christ died for them.” I looked at their faces and into the eyes of the ones who were comfortable with it. I wondered what their lives are like, what they think about, if they pray. Then I wondered if I would love them if they treated me the way some of my “friends and loved ones” have.  I wondered how many of them would harm me if I confronted them too directly with words that delve too deep. Would they attack me for seeing too much, for knowing too much, for benign sad attempts to love well? Would they be jealous? Would they lie about me or worse yet, ignore me like a faded FOR SALE sign in overgrown weeds? Would they judge me for being as guilty as they are?

Suddenly I didn’t feel so noble for loving these strangers. Sure, I’d probably die for them. I might die for the loved ones, too, but sometimes it feels like I already have. When at last I forgive betrayals and hurts and condescensions, part of me dies. When I stand up for myself in the face of humiliating accusations, I feel that innocence should speak for itself - and part of me dies. Christ in me is to live, to die is to gain. I am nothing to any of them, but maybe to be nothing is to gain everything. I can’t do anything for any of them. They don’t even want me to. If you look to please people, you always find that you can only please them for as long as you have something they want. We’re all that way.

Oh God, whose name and nature is Love, show me the strangers through your eyes. Show me the loved ones through your heart. Show me myself through grace and forgiveness.

Mother-Son

August 5, 1996

Once I had a vision, one of those awake dreams, so vivid I could touch it. There was a white room, almost like the inside of a sun effused cloud but solid as the grass in CS Lewis’ description of Heaven in The Great Divorce.  As I stood there waiting, a little fella marched up to me, straight as an arrow like he had something to say. He must have been about three, maybe four years old. His thick little boy hair framed his cherub face, and his clothes were soft and baggy.. He came and stood in front of me, and looked up at me like I was his. He paused, and then smiled with the biggest grin you ever saw, a wide smile that said it all. And then I knew that he was mine.

Two years later my son Will was born. He was three or four years old when I remembered the vision. It was a sunny day, perfect as can be, and we were walking out to the bird-feeder when I paused on a stepping stone. He stopped beside me and looked up and grinned. I smiled back, well, really the happy spilled out in laughter, and I said, “You wanna dance?” Without a word he just started moving, and so I danced, too, and those stepping stones became our stage. That was the moment I remembered, and I knew again, as I have always known, that he is a gift from God.

Today he is 21. His birth time will be tonight at 10:03pm. August 5th. Five is the number of grace, if you notice that sort of thing. His Dad and I are still as proud as the day he was born. Will lives up to his royal name. He is a lion who roars with conviction, and has an fearlessly undivided heart. There was a day 20 years and 8 months ago, when Joe and I were walking a Radner trail, and a million butterflies landed on me, only me. They covered my shoulders, arms, and especially my watermelon belly. A lady walking near us began to prophesy about the blessing of this child and how the butterflies knew. Blessing, hero, amazing son...Happy Birthday! You deserve the best.

I wrote a song for Will when he graduated high school. This day marks another mile, so I’m singing it again, this time to let go a little more as I watch him take the stepping-stones to places where I can’t follow.

YOU WANNA DANCE?

YOU WANNA PLAY?

TILL WE FIND THE HEARTBEAT OF A HAPPY DAY

AND IT MAKES US SMILE

I’M SO GLAD FOR WHO YOU ARE

I KNOW HEAVEN MADE A MILLION LUCKY STARS

FOR YOU TO CATCH WITH STYLE

JUST REMEMBER YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE MY HAND

WHEN YOU NEED A PRAYER, A PROMISE, OR A LOVE THAT NEVER ENDS

YOU WANNA DANCE?

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I Think, Therefore I Love

 

I THINK, THEREFORE I LOVE

Descartes walks into a café and orders a coffee. The waitress asks, “Would you like cream with that?” He strokes his goatee and ponders, then thoughtfully replies, “I think not,” …and disappears.

I get it when people are uncomfortable with deep thought, and I get it when they don’t choose to go there, but I don’t understand it when people make fun of it, as though deep thought is dumb, or non-communicative, or “won’t sell.” It’s fascinating, really. If you don’t think, you won’t thrive. Maybe that’s part of the deal about having the mind of Christ. We are body, soul, and mind, (according to Plato’s clever assessment of a human being), and we humans need the discipline of nurturing all three. When we take care of all aspects of ourselves, we feel better, function better, and make a greater difference in the world. When we don’t take care of our whole selves, we become like pinballs, shooting out of some prescribed abyss with no purpose or aim other than to score as high as we can and make the bells and whistles go off, only to fall back into the same dark hole. I want more. I want meaning. I want purpose, and I don’t believe I can find that purpose by making it all about my personal score card. NOT thinking tends to reduce us to little fat babies whining for our basic needs to be met. Seen Maslow’s hierarchy of need lately? Reflection, on the other hand, brings meaning to the clichéd lives we all live, brings intention to the individual activities we race around doing, so that our uniqueness as persons facilitates our unity as people.

The thing that fulfills me the most is to share the sky. There is room for us all to dance, and it’s alot more fun together. But irony upon irony, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to keep up with the celestial ballet. And it really is all in your head. You have to be mindful. That’s where the habits start. You have to pay attention to life a certain way. Otherwise fat baby takes back over as you splash around in the shallow waters where timid hearts like to frolic. So take care of yourself even though it’s not about me, me, me, or getting attention, or looking out for number one. It’s about being your personal best, which will inspire others to the same. It’s not a competition or an ego trip. It’s about loving what you do for the love of doing it, and then giving it away. Music taught me this. Once you hear my song, it is no longer mine alone. Now it is ours.

Was there a hint of sarcasm in Edie Brickell’s song What I Am when she said,  “choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep?” Heck with status quo. I’ll take the ocean.

Angel in the Stone

There's a story about Michelangelo finding the work of art in the stone. Yesterday I was at First Lutheran downtown Nashville where I will be leading worship tomorrow. The best way to prepare for worship is to worship and it was beautiful time of solitude with my Beloved. Then this song came to me. I can't really say I found it. It found me. I am hesitant to share it because it is new and raw and maybe unfinished. But then, so am I. May Life find the angel in you today.

Callings

Bananas. They’re so funny. I just heard a story about someone who feels called to deliver bananas to old people in nursing homes.  Not apples. Not oranges. Just bananas. Oh, the implications. I nearly did a Danny Thomas spit-take, and I think the story-teller would have understood. My great-grandmother would have understood. Old people are funny, too. I look forward to being funny like that. It will be a nice way to wind down this crazy life.  I’ll be the same ‘ol me doing the same ‘ol things, but I’ll be old, so when I eat a banana the same ‘ol way, it will be hilarious. I’ll guffaw the loudest, probably inside, because on the outside I will be my same ‘ol dry witted me. I’ll still hold the banana up to my ear and pretend to make a call. It will be cute instead of stupid then. I’ll display it under my nose like a big yellow grin. I’ll make a crude joke with it and feel insulted when everyone laughs like I shouldn’t be sexy anymore. Or maybe I’ll still be sexy like Mamie Van Doren, and they’ll laugh awkwardly. From inside my aged body, I will hear their patronizing tones, and I’ll think about how surprised they’ll be when they are in my banana slippers. I’ll feel young, so young that when I pass a mirror I won’t know who that old lady is. Bananas will keep me young, not the fruit, the attitude. So here’s to all the banana ministries out there. And the moral of the story is, don’t question your calling. Somebody needs your bananas.

Nothin' but the Truth

I wrote a song a long time ago that I love to sing. It's a "hurt so good kind of song", a cathartic gush of emotion, a Country and Blues kind of feeling. I sang it the other night. Usually it lances the pain of life, memories, and...well...life and memories says it. Need I say more? Yep. I have a smattering of lyrical prose to add to my ever evolving acceptance of life on life's terms, and it is this...

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Love. Is. It's. Own. Reward.

I am grateful that love is it's own reward. Love is a mighty big word. To love people is to celebrate with them, to forgive them, to believe in them. I love learning. I love my stuff, my guitars, my home, my pets. I love my family, my talents, and my need for love, because it brings me back to people, and to God. Love is it's own reward. If I know this, then...

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My Unbroken Heart

So you know what’s crazy? Lately I actually feel myself deciding how I will change, and am changing, and how I will not. Life has happened with gale force, and it does not ever get to be the same again. I could let this toughen me, make me stone. I am stronger, for sure, but it seems like I have choices every day, almost every hour sometimes, as to what my heart will keep.

I am going to keep trust...

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Life Lessons

___Life Lessons

Never let anyone speak with your voice, not even someone you consider to be a true friend. Don’t let anyone think they know you so well that they can tell everyone what you would say or how you would feel. You could end up with someone else’s foot in your mouth, but it’s your reputation that will be on the line.

Lately I’ve been learning...

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I wish I could offer encouragement to everyone hurting or disillusioned or broken or even just stuck in status quo. I find strength in these words from a very famous passage: 

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”...

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Something Better

I knew there was evil. I knew there was good. I just didn’t know how much of it blasted through people in one form or another pretty much all the time. One or the other. Narrow it down. I knew people were capable of astounding good, unimaginable acts of kindness, self-sacrifice, and humane compassion that is as Christ-like as Jesus himself. I also knew about Hitler, Stalin, Scrooge, and the Boogy-man....but I underestimated the power of darkness when it somehow gains access to shiny people...

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