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Sabotage

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Sabotage
Is the name of the game
With a sickle and a blade
In the drizzling rain

Killing
Until dead is good and dead
And not one limb twitches
And there’s no more pain

If I have to stand here
A fortnight until the deed is done
And you look at me and hate me
Then my race will have been run

If I have fallen
From the maid you thought you knew
And all of my bright colors have turned to darker hues
Then remember me not, if it’s easier for you

As for me I’ve retired
To the prison where murderers they throw
But it’s better than the prison
Of watching you go

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Letting Bob Dylan Go Home

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I am a Dylan fan. Been enchanted by his brilliant marriage of melody and prose since the age of sixteen.  I liked the spirit of the songs. I am a vocalist and for me the heart of a song is in the vocal.

I have this uncanny ability. I know now that it is uncanny because until recently I thought it happened to everyone. It was a rude awakening to find that a) it did not, and b) people doubted this ability in me. I have the uncanny ability to hear souls when they sing. To hear souls in vocals. You can talk to me all day long, and though I may get the essence of who you are- for I also sense quite strongly your spiritual energy- I will not hear your soul. If you open up your voice to sing, however, your soul becomes crystal clear to me.

I used to think I was drawn to music for music’s sake. But I have come to realize that I listen because I am drawn to the spiritual aspect of it. While it is true that instrumentalists translate their souls through musical instruments, moving as that is, it is not as powerful as a musician who translates his soul via his vocals. I believe this is because the communication of the vocalist comes directly from within oneself, while the instrumentalists’ form of communication comes second hand. Once removed, so to speak, through his piano, guitar, or drum.

My ears pick up the spirit, the essence, the soul of the vocals. It’s a very powerful medium. Powerful enough for me to turn a technically brilliant tune off, if it is not pleasing to my heart or upsetting to my heart in any way.

That is probably the best way for me to describe it. I am sorry if t doesn’t resonate with you. Either you will believe it, or get it, or you won’t.

When I first heard Mr. Bob Dylan’s vocal, I was only a child, really. And with this gift of unique interpretation, child likeness was definitely an asset. For children see and hear things clearer and purer than adults. I may not have had the life experience to relate to everything he was singing about, but I did tend to have a keener spiritual intellectual ability.

And so I heard him. Plain as day I heard his soul. After one song I knew who he was.

Bob Dylan
• Is pure
• Longs for innocence, though does not always find it in himself
• Is a very old soul
• Is honest
• Is just

There is, of course, so much more to Bob Dylan. You and I could fill up pages of identifiers for Bob Dylan spanning from the intellectual to the artistic, the humorous to the sarcastic. But for some reason I am mostly drawn to people who appreciate his above-mentioned list of attributes. For I believe it is these things that most accurately describe who Robert Zimmerman really is.

So suffice it to say that I am in love with Bob Dylan. But you will probably forget that and everything else I just said when you hear what I am about to say next.

I think, today, that Bob is a little lost. Maybe Bob has always been a little lost (for haven’t we all)? But I think that he has always tried to work through that honestly. I think, even today, he is trying to work through it honestly. But we just aren’t hearing him. Let me state it as plainly as I can. I believe Bob has a broken heart. Bob is a regular soul, limping. You see, as much as Bob sees right through people and into their shortcomings, he also desperately loves people, longs for their approval, and yea, still hopes to find angels among the masses. Bob is a sensitive soul and has been profoundly hurt (the degree of your sensitivity dictates the profoundness of your pain). I get that. Bob has high standards. He expects and hopes for people’s motives to be pure, even if their actions fall short. He understands failure for he can see in himself that his actions don’t always line up with his ideals. But his desire is to always go at things with the right motive. How disappointing it is when he discovers that the motives of the ones he chose to love and trust weren’t near as lofty. I get this. In a sense Bob has had too much. He has been overwhelmed. He has given up.

If ever Bob needed a true friend, it is now. But instead, we are trying to make his wrongs into rights. We make excuses for bad behavior and words ill spoken. We have determined that our golden calf will not topple. But the pain of this world can turn even the most golden hearts bitter, and the most pliable hearts can become hardened. I am not saying there is no more goodness in Bobby. There is tons of goodness still there. But sometimes, even the best of us go a little wrong.

Maybe my assessment is behind the curve. Maybe he is coming out of it now. Maybe he is finding his way back to joy. Maybe satan’s grip is loosening, while God’s grip is tugging.

I don’t fault a man for doing what he loves. Even right up until his death. But don’t expect me to have a huge desire to go. It’s not an enjoyable experience for me to hear him sing. Because in the singing, I hear the soul.

Someday, somebody, somewhere has to get that there is more to Robert Zimmerman than music. There is more to Robert Zimmerman than poetry. There is more to Robert Zimmerman than Bob Dylan.

There is a corruption in fame that eats the souls of even the greatest men. “There’s a certain part of you that becomes addicted to a live audience.” (Bob Dylan 1997) is in direct contrast to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life…” in 1 Thes 4:11.

The girl from the Red River Shore was on the mark when “she gave me her best advice and she said go home and lead a quiet life.” Whether her character was made up or real, her love was true and deep, and in his heart Bob knew she was right. Songs pen themselves when led by the Holy Spirit and the genius of Bob is that he let the Spirit fully in.

There was a time when a small handful of us saw the goodness in Bob and the leading of the Holy Spirit in his life….and we prayed! We prayed God would reveal Himself to Bob and draw him unto Himself, for “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draws him…” John 6:4 And God heard our prayers and did that very thing, as was abundantly evidenced in his astonishing gospel songs!

Would it be too much, too un-cool, too anti-Bob Dylan-forum, too seemingly judgmental to ask you to pray again?

I silently pray for Bob that he may finally be able to let go of the bright lights and the accolades, and live a quiet life by the seashore. I pray that he is able to pour himself into someone who needs him to be there for them day in and day out. I pray for quiet days on a bench by that seashore where he can pour over scripture and meditate the profundities of nature. I pray Robert has opportunity to love silly, beautiful, flawed, and awkward Robert- just because that’s enough. Robert Zimmerman is enough.

Maybe those of us who love him need to give him permission to stop leading us? Maybe it is time for us to stop being selfish and let the man get old? Maybe we ought to let him go quietly to meet his God? Maybe it’s time for us to let him breathe without breathing down his neck? Maybe it is time for Bob to have a really good, long, cry and to pour out his heart to the skies without anyone else around? And maybe it really is time for the skies and his God to be enough. A big enough audience. A big enough healing.

I love you Bob. I’ll love you until I die. But as much as I love you, I’m willing to let you go….

The One Thing

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I am a professional singer. I am not a professional guitarist. Believe me. I know. I have performed and recorded with some of the best in the business.

I am also a realist. And, unfortunately, a perfectionist. Perfectionists aren’t perfect. They just desperately want to be.

So you can understand why I don’t want to play guitar.

I used it as a songwriting tool when I was young, naïve, and untrained. I actually wrote some pretty good songs on it. But that was a spiritual yielding and had nothing whatsoever to do with skill. That was a God thing.

And then suddenly, for ten years, I put my guitar down. I’d been going through a lot- a divorce and struggling to make it on my own- a spiritual displeasure with the music I’d been doing (both secular and gospel)- and an incredibly long journey back to self.

Finally a few years ago I wandered into the basement, found my guitar and an old CD player, and started playing along with some of the old favorites I’d grown up with. And a strange thing began to happen. I was hearing better than I ever had before. I was picking things up pretty fast. I was dismantling every song and putting them back together again thoroughly and completely. This was odd. To become a better musician one must practice. I hadn’t been practicing. I had, however, been growing spiritually in leaps and bounds. I’d thrown off some heavy burdens, emerged from an oppressive relationship, found time and space for proper healing (thank you Tim), and began to understand what “freedom in Christ” really meant.

On other levels, too, I can recall a huge surge in thirst for knowledge. I wanted to know everything. I was at the library every week checking out books. Organic gardening and landscaping books. Books detailing the design and structuring of irrigation systems. Woodworking design and refinishing, environmental issues, astronomy, solar energy, farming and homesteading, holistic health, and the list goes on.

Then, too, I took a certified IQ test. I was surprised with the results. Granted, I’d had a little wine beforehand and no doubt my brain was a little more…ummm….free…lucid. It was as though I’d been struck by a lightning bolt!

But I digress. My whole point is that music is a spiritual thing. Deficiencies in spiritual health block our ability to receive this highly attuned medium. Wow! That is my conviction and I hold fast to it.

And so I played. And I played, and I played. Sometimes learning up to five songs a day.

I started thinking about playing out again. All of these songs that brought me such genuine joy. These oldies. These love songs. These Dylan tunes. I knew, of course, that when it came time to perform live, I would just sing. I’d find a “real” guitar player. Someone like the people I was used to playing with in the past.

But do you know it’s been over a year and I haven’t been able to find that guitarist. I have found a lovely female pianist/keyboardist. I have found a talented female bass player. But try as I may, I just can’t seem to find the right guitarist. This, too, is odd. Maybe it’s the location. Back in Canada there was always an abundance of good players up for playing with a decent singer. Maybe it’s the fact that we are just a little too far from Austin where all the musicians are.

Or ….maybe….I am the guitarist I have been looking for. The thought has crossed my mind a few times in the last year. A few times I resolved to try it. But frustration, lack of belief, and that wretched perfectionism, would always send me back on the hunt for someone who did what I struggled to do, effortlessly. Then I could finally stick to what I do effortlessly- sing.

But you see, that One Thing that God is calling me to -and I do hesitate to put this down in writing because it sounds like too much of a commitment!- that One Thing he is calling me to is the one thing I must do. Why? I do not know. Why wouldn’t he just hand me a ready-made band on a platter instead? Good grief. Heaven knows I’m not a guitar player.

And then, not one, but three professional musicians told me they did not understand why I wouldn’t just play guitar for myself. “You’re good enough. Your meter- your dynamics are perfect.” They are. I know that (I told you I was a realist!), but that is a result of my vocal instincts- my musical intuition. But because I know my actual guitar playing skills don’t touch the pros, I have avoided this one thing like the plague.

But I will tell you that I have decided to play my own guitar for our trio. I’m putting in the effort and just moving ahead with it, come what may. I am finding in some sense a possessiveness regarding how I want each song played and a slight gratefulness that I know how to convey that probably better anyone else, albeit with less skill, if that makes any sense.

I like to end all of my blogs with a pleasant resolve. Go ahead and look, they all end that way. I’ll even wait months before writing something that is pressing on my heart, if I have not yet found a resolution, a key to a mystery, or a lesson to be learned that I may impart to my readers. But there is no resolve (no musical pun intended!) to this blog. This time I am not trying to impart some great gem of wisdom into your life. This time I am asking you to impart your great gems of wisdom into mine.

Is there One Thing in your life that you have stubbornly refused to embrace? How is that working out for you? If you did embrace it, what have the results been? Are there any more insights you could share concerning some of my thoughts here?

With much love and thanks!

Beauty!

aspen20leaves

 

Growing up in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia with six amazing, exciting, and adventuresome siblings gave me the most enviable of childhoods. OH if only you could have been there to see and experience!

I can still remember seeing the sun speckled between leaves as they turned and danced in the breeze. One side green- now turning to expose silver in their glorious choreography. Lying in the grass with one hand behind my head, the other holding the stem I was chewing, I was mesmerized. Intermittently blinded by splashes of light, my gaze never left the tree-top performance.

I stayed for hours on end. One hour? Two? Three? I don’t know. It seems to me time wasn’t actually measured back then. I was five years old. I was ten. I was thirteen. It was my childhood that’s all I know for sure. One other thing is certain: I had no idea, nor concept of the wisdom I held. None whatsoever.

I listened. He spoke. I believed. He taught. I followed- meditating, thinking. Without interruption. Without distraction. Fear was distant. Pride was absent. I guess you could say I was open. Children usually are. I couldn’t tell you where I went. I don’t recall. Oh, how could I explain the journeys He used to take me on, when human understanding cannot enter in?! All I know is that I know what I know. He sat with me. He played with me. He whispered deep truths to me. I was His student. He was my King. There was no doubt in my mind. I learned more about God and truth in those moments than all of my years of Bible College and Bible studies combined.

Later, He came beside the river. He’d catch my attention where the rushing waters pooled into calm below the rocks. I’d see Him where the terrain suddenly shifted into a steep cliff and water cascaded in a sheer and powerful line, safely landing on horizontal ground, and once again meandering in a gentle slope until it reached the lake.

He’d walk with me in the evening as my eyes finally adjusted to the dark, beholding all of the night wonders. The blue spruce bows reflected moonlight onto our path while we crept over the forest leaves. And millions and millions of stars were so enchantingly revealed, it’s as though they came into view one by one, yet all at once. I can still hear His giggle when I gasped at the falling ones.

You tell me God can be found in the cities too and I agree. I’ve seen Him on the street corner in Manhattan where the messenger stood on the corner and cried, “Repent! Come away and meet God.”

I’ve seen Him in the after-school hours where a teacher missed another meal in order to give more time to a nearly illiterate child who was falling behind.

I have seen Him in the city, but it is harder to see him. To really focus; to meditate without distraction; without pride; without an ever-conscious awareness of time and time management. God’s presence almost becomes a foreign thing- pushed out and unappreciated. Not grasped. Not fully understood.

What is more, we have become a society that holds a warped concept of beauty.

Time Square in Manhattan in inundated with worldly beauty. The billboards are plastered with women in beautiful clothes and silken hair. Is this beauty? Really?

Paved residential streets hold houses with beautiful architecture that are lavishly and charmingly furnished. We admire the taste, the colors, the comfort. But is this beauty? Really?

Jay Leno has a magnificent and enviable car collection. Such artistry. So many beautiful sleek lines. But is this beauty? Really?

In Japan, teenage girls are wearing short skirts and fantasizing over a handsome pop singer. Is this beauty? Really?

All of these things are man’s inventions (or concepts) of beauty.

I urge you to run away! Run into your own quiet place. Listen. Pray. Read the Word. Meet your God. The true God. Do you even know what He looks like? What He sounds like? Build a foundation that cannot be moved. Build it on the real deal. Find genuine beauty.

He designed the earth in such a way that we could walk with Him, talk with Him, sup with Him, play with Him, and learn from Him. (Remember the Garden of Eden)?

Look how we have polluted our quiet place. Look how we have corrupted natural beauty with:
Pride, fear, hate, cosmetics, false sense of security, fame, concrete buildings, vehicles, clothes etc.
None of this was there in the beginning. None of this matters.

I pray for you beautiful journeys with your God. I struggle every day to find my way back to innocence. Do you recall your innocence, child?

Go find it.

Go meet your God.

The Month Of June

dance in the rainI wrote this a few June’s ago while living up North and never posted.  Here we are in the thick of June in Texas, and it has been an unusually and wonderfully rainy month here where it rarely rains this time of year.  I thought this post might be refreshing and a good time to add it.

The Month of June

It is the end of June. I sit on the porch out of the rain, coffee in hand, and without complaint. It’s been uncommonly wet for a while now. Or so they say. But every year we forget. And every year we are alarmed by the downpour. We curse at the rain that threatens our anticipated backyard barbecues, our showcase of form-fitting shorty shorts, the donning of sandals, and lost days that could be spent basking in the sand beside sparkling lake.
But this is June. Our rainy month. Lest we should forget. And a good thing at that.
For too many years, I have been spoiled and impractical. I have been a city slicker. And quite frankly, I have been out of touch. When I curse the rain, I am not living in harmony with nature. I have missed her rhythm- her flow. I have missed kinship with the soil from whence I came.
But this year, for the first time, I have planted a grand and purposeful garden. And I have never watched the weather so much. I’ve anticipated and welcomed the rain with all of my being. I have stood in place- my place- as a human being in the eco chain- deriving life from the elements: The soil (food!), the rain (crisp food!), the sunshine (organic, pure, healthy food!). Even the wind, too, makes hardy vegetables and weathers my skin. Do you have any idea how attractive that is- sun and wind-worn skin- with a dash of rain to moisturize? :)
I have an alternative irrigation source. If it does not rain, I can turn on my hose. I can partake of the city water designated for every family in our town, so I am not entirely desperate for rain. Still, rainy days save on our water bill.
Even though this little bit of gardening has opened my eyes to my place in nature, I am far from experiencing that fully. A scant one hundred years ago, my ancestors relied fully on the rain, and fed their families through it. There are underprivileged people in parts of the world today who have learned to harmonize with the elements in order to feed their families. In order to survive.
And I have to be honest. The idealistic and purest part of my soul envies them. Oh sure, life would be hard if we had to rely on nature so. But isn’t that the path God designed for us? (To Adam, He said, tend the garden, name the animals, drink from the spring). Wouldn’t we be fully alive? Our men would be men, and our women would be…enthralled!
But I guess we know better after all. We know better than God. We’ve designed motor cars after all. Mommy and Daddy have left the land (and the harmony of a family that works together, but separate) for the industrial revolution. We have altered our food taste and nutrition with chemicals. We have so much technology to keep us busy indoors that we rarely have to venture outdoors. And when we are outdoors, we have created machines to till the ground for us, so we never have to get our hands dirty- not really.
Yes, look how far, how fast, and how furious we have come! In our arrogance and our thirst for man-made knowledge and solutions, we have…well….we have….become….
…poisoned by our food, diseased, overweight, dummed down, unhappy, unfulfilled, our families are disintegrating, and we are so out of touch that we no longer know how to read the skies at night or understand changes in the wind. Rain has become the enemy- God, out of date. Is it any wonder the world finds itself in the pickle it is in today?
Hello month of June. Bring on the rain! Our scorching July and August will be glad of these investments you deposit.
And as for me, I sip the liquid of crushed beans and breathe deep the freshest scent on earth as she pours steady in wisdom from the sky. I rejoice with the earthworms on wet walkway, and dream of daring to leave it all behind, running away from this man-made mess and right into the arms of God in mountain wilderness or wild plains.

 

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I had a child ask me last week, “Why’d you do it?”

I replied, “Why did I do what?”

Child shot back, “Why’d you color your hair white?”(I took that as a huge compliment.  Obviously I still looked a little too young to have grey hair, or at least that is what I preferred to think he was implying) :)

“I didn’t color my hair white, sweetie, it’s naturally white.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”  (I didn’t take that as such a huge compliment, but smiled just the same, knowing I had a wonderful story to tell).

So I began to tell him what I have been telling everyone else who’s felt the unction to ask.  For him, I put it in young people language.  For you, today,  I’m  putting it in big people language.

We tend to go white (or grey) in our family early.  It’s not just me.  It came from Mama.  All of my siblings do so as well.  Here’s my handsome brother Matt:

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Distinguished looking right?  It’s distinguished on guys.  Society accepts it.  Makes them look even more handsome to some.  I’d have to agree with that assessment.

But women?  Not so much.  I knew that, and was in my thirties or forties (memory is not serving me well, but I think in my mid 30’s) when I first started to dye my hair to its natural chestnut brown color at first and then experimented with different shades of red later.

My hair was starting to lose its luster with each new application, but I didn’t care.  Anything was better than those dreaded roots.  Photos started to look phony as hell, especially next to my daughter’s lovely profile.  I started to experience frequent migraines, and spent money we didn’t have every month on a new box.  Ah, well, but we do what we must.

Then one day, while reading my Bible, I came across this verse in Proverbs:

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness~ Proverbs 16:31

I’d read it before.  Mama had pointed it out to me years ago.  Well that was good for her, but I certainly wasn’t ever thinking of adopting it into my set of priorities.

But this night as I read it again, I heard God speak.

“Do you understand what you are reading?  Read it again.  I value it! Me,-God,  I see it as a CROWN- a splendorous crown.” And then I heard him plain as day: “Who would you rather impress?  Your friends?  Other women? Men? Or would you rather please Me? 

“Read it again.  Do you not see that I give it to you as a gift? You get it along the way of a righteous life.  …it is attained in the way of righteousness. ‘ ” (Now I aint saying I’m Ms. Righteous, so that part of the scripture still puzzles me a bit).

“Kathleen, when you insist on coloring your hair, you are telling me that you do not appreciate the gift I have bestowed upon you. You are telling me that the gift I am telling you is so valuable, is not good enough for you.  You are, essentially, throwing my gift back in my face.”

Gulp.  I read the verse again, just like He asked me to. And then I read it one more time.

“I look too young to have grey hair, (okay this was seven years ago folks….lol) people won’t get it.  They’ll do a double take.  I won’t be attractive to anyone anymore.  Women won’t know how to take me.  Goodness only knows what the men will think. ” I hadn’t even factored in all of the precious reactions from children that I would get- and yes, there has been some most precious honesty from the children.

“But you know what God?-  You matter to me more than all of that.  If You are asking me to leave my hair in it’s natural state to glorify You, then I will do it. ”  And I got down on my knees and worshiped and never looked back.  Perhaps the one good thing I did in all my life.

My husband of only a few months was nothing short of amazing when I told him my decision.

“You must do what you feel in your heart God is asking you to do and I support you one hundred percent.  AND you will still be beautiful.”  Sigh…what a doll.

Well God has a way of blessing our sacrifices.  I have never, in all my life, gotten so many compliments on my hair as when it finally all grew out and I got a really nice cut.

One such compliment stands out above all the rest.

I was using the ladies room in an upscale restaurant and in walked the most drop-dead gorgeous black woman I have ever seen.  I mean, she was like perfect.  Beautiful skin, eyes, hair, and the coolest wardrobe.  Just really great taste all around.  I just couldn’t help but admire her.  I finished drying my hands, gave her a smile and started to walk out the door.

“Ma’m, I’m sorry,” she called from behind.  “I just have to tell you before you leave that your hair is truly stunning.  It’s the nicest thing I have seen in a long time, and you wear it so well.  You’re really a beautiful lady.”  Those were her words to a T.  I gushed my thanks and swept out the door.

“Awww, God, you are soooo good to me!”  Thank You, Thank You for that!  I know that came straight from You!”

Beauty is so much more than what we perceive it to be isn’t it?

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