Mary, Queen of Arkansas

One of my ministry friends said to me tonight that she shared in my comment of 2017 being one of our most successful and yet hardest personally we have ever faced. Another made reference to my penchant of sharing quotes from a certain musician from Freehold, New Jersey. It has become a minor tradition for me to write about our current state of affairs on my birthday and tonight it begins again.

On social media tonight, many of my friends and colleagues made literary allusions referencing that same musician. I guess maybe, our millennial generation doesn’t necessarily get what it was like to grow up during the late 60’s and 70’s and to have someone your age begin to write about the disconnect you feel from the world we live and how that molds into your very fiber of being, like he was living in your head.

As believers, we lean into God and build a trust in him that transcends space and time and tends to, by his grace, scar over the pain. But that doesn’t mean as Kris said tonight that things won’t trigger those old wounds and that you are not still that kid transcended by the music of a generation. Or, how you deal with parts of your soul being stripped away in pieces.

Over the years I have been betrayed by more people than I can count, by princes and potentates and last year by more than all the others combined and the only remaining constant was God, a sweet girl from the dark side of town and my boys.  Preston asked me yesterday how I was doing and how I felt about the future, for the ministry and personally because he had been asked by others—how was I doing? Truthfully, I shared that I had been unburdened completely by our Praise and Worship Service a few weeks ago and again by a man and his music and have great peace and look forward to what God has in store.

My “Shively” answer, at least in my head was not as nice, but for him to ask was a kind pastoral thing to do.

Last night we sat holding hands I shared with Shelly what I felt like God was leading us to next as tears rolled down her cheeks. There has been no one that has taken this journey as hard as she has and she’s done so never complaining, never demanding something earthly and has always loved with a servant’s heart.

So maybe the question should be, how is she doing?

George Bailey learned in It’s A Wonderful Life that he was the richest man in town because of the lives that he touched and the family that loved him.

For us, that circle is so small with God, my best friend and our boys and a little dude named Byron. I thank God for that every single day.

So, on the drive home tonight I dug out some old dusty CD’s and popped them into the player and listened to the same music I did on my 16th birthday. The drums, the chords, the keys have never sounded so fresh because I am still that lost and lonely kid out there on the highway just trying to find my way back home.

And you can never take that away.

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.II Corinthians 12:9