Sunday, December 17, 2017

Friday Favs with/Marcia Ep5

Hey friends!

I recently started doing a video each Friday on my Facebook page. I call it "Friday Favorites", and I share some of my personal favorite things that I'm loving these days. Other people chime in with their own "Friday Fav's" and it's been so cool to use social media as a tool to learn from one another rather than to argue about politics.  (Not that I would engage in that behavior.... lol).   Anyway, this is keeping me busy on a more positive note!

I decided to start sharing them here on my blog as well, for those of you who aren't connected with me on Facebook.  Please excuse the no-make up/pajama thing.  It was "pajama day" for me and NOTHING and NO ONE gets in the way of my pajama day!

I hope you guys are having a beautiful holiday season...

Lots of love,

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Roby Duke - Bridge Divine

I first heard this song about two months ago, sitting in my dressing room before one of the last Christopher Cross shows on our Australian tour.  My dear friend Andy Suzuki had been telling me about Roby's music for awhile, as Andy had had the privilege of doing some touring and recording with Roby back in the 90's. We were killing some time before a show and Andy brought this to me with some headphones and said, "Hey, check out this tune. I think you'll dig it."

The tears started flowing as soon as I heard the first line of this amazing song. I was immediately captured and captivated by Roby's soulful voice, haunting melody and rhythmic guitar playing.  When Andy's beautiful flute and saxophone playing entered the track it took it to a whole new level.  I was truly a sobbing mess by the end of the tune.  I read where another blogger described this song as "the perfect picture of the heart of a believer as they ponder their own passing and the fate of a lost world."  I couldn't agree with that description more. 

There is live video of Roby performing this song on Dec.23rd, 2007.  No one could have possibly known that he would be crossing the BRIDGE DIVINE only 3 days later.  Why God called this talented and beautiful soul home so early I won't know this side of heaven.  It seems so unfair. We need more Roby's in this world. But God never promised life would be "fair". And at least we have the legacy of Roby's music to help soothe us while we navigate our own journeys.

So sit down in front of some great sounding speakers, or put on a good pair of headphones. Close your eyes. Listen to this masterpiece. It SLAYS me.  I believe you will be blessed by it today too. 

Thank you Roby Duke.... you are a treasure.

Oh....... and thank you Andy Suzuki.  :-) 

When the roll — is called up yonder
I believe — that I’ll be there
Though I am the same
With the same need as always

So they say — the soul is free to
Choose a path — to each his own
Living in the same world
Under the same pale moon

CH:  And some change will do us all some good
It’s good for one to find
That there is no stairway to heaven
Only a bridge divine

They tell me change — change is needed
To keep the world — from growing old
And we all have the same dreams
For our children — as always

He hung the earth — up on nothing
Said to a storm — Peace Be Still
What more could we give them
Something that would keep them safe
Forever… and ever 


They tell me hearts — are torn asunder
By the pain of moving on
We’re riding on the same rails
Upon a train that’s bound for forever

I hope you know
You’re still my good friend
But when the saints go marching in
I would like to turn and — see your face

So be there…..


Friday, November 10, 2017

Social Media and Inflammation.....

INFLAME: To provoke or intensify strong feelings (such as anger) in someone; to make a situation worsen; to aggravate, exacerbate, intensify, worsen or compound. 

I see so much inflammation these days.  All around me. Actually I feel so much inflammation in my joints these days I can barely move.  Ahhhh, the price we pay for “maturing” in life.  With wisdom and maturity comes bad hips and sore knees.  But I digress.  :-).  I’m talking about a different kind of inflammation today. Inflammation of the heart. I truly believe it’s a huge problem right now. We have pushed and pulled and provoked each other so harshly lately that we are ALL inflamed and hurting.  And you know the old saying, “Hurt people hurt people”. 

I hear many friends stating, “I’ve just got to take a break from social media. People are just pissing me off lately!  I can’t take it!”.  But rarely do I actually see them take that break they were saying they needed. Why?  Because many are addicted.  Some people think the addiction stems from living in a culture of breaking news, the desire to stay “in-the-know”, or as some say, “FOMO” (fear of missing out).  But I think the addiction runs much deeper than that. 

I think it is an addiction of connection. Of belonging. Of being heard. Of being needed.  Deep down, we all crave those things in our soul. 

There is so much loneliness in the world, and social media allows us to feel connected, even though sometimes the connection is very shallow, and maybe even false.  For instance, because I “follow” Jen Hatmaker on Facebook and feel a connection/kindred spirit to her, that doesn’t mean that we are BFF’s.  She may be a part of my world as I stalk her FB page to see what she has to say today because I LOVE HER AND WE ARE BFF’S even though if I knocked on her door in Austin she would not have one clue who I am and would probably have me arrested. Hey all BFF’s have their spats, right?  HA.  Anyway, you see my point.  The connections we feel via social media aren’t always true connections and we mustn’t get those confused with the need for REAL personal relationships. Those are the only connections that will help our loneliness epidemic.

However, all that being said, I’m a big “fan” of social media in general. Yes, it can be abused and misused, as can almost anything in the world today, but there are so many great things about it when used correctly.  I recently asked my friends on Facebook this question: 

 “What would you miss the most about social media if it suddenly went away?” 

 Almost 90% of the answers were all about connecting with others.  A few people mentioned getting their news or sports updates, info on current events etc... but overwhelmingly people said they would miss the connections with friends and family, especially those that don’t live in close proximity.  

I was telling some friends the other day that social media spaces— specifically Facebook and Instagram were my LIFELINE this year with all the traveling I was doing.  It can get lonely being thousands of miles away from your loved ones so much. No matter where I was in the world this year, I could always log onto FB and see what my friends and family were doing, and interact a bit, even through the miles and time changes.  It was a big comfort to me and something “stable” I could lean on.  

All that being said, I do think there are good rules to keep in mind when using social media. I’ve been doing a little research about how to make my “internet world” a little better and I thought I might share some of those ideas with you here.

First off, I’m going to try and take a different approach with my social media pages. I’m going to be more intentional about what I’m posting and WHY I’m choosing to post.  I recently asked my FB friends about what kind of criteria they use before posting... or did they just post without thinking how their post might be construed or misconstrued by others. My friend Amy Jean gave a list that I thought was SO PERFECT, so I’m going to use her list here as a great example. She said this was her criteria:

1. Correct spelling and grammar. 
2. Would I mind reading this in front of a group? 
3. Would a potential employer want to see this? 
4. Would future me want to see this?
5. Am I speaking truth? Do I have evidence to back it up? Is what I’m saying honest while still tactful? 

Then she added:

“As much as we think social media is a platform to post or say whatever without consequence, there is always a consequence whether we know it or not. Something I say or post may totally turn someone off to anything else I have to say, so yeah I think it’s really important to filter what you post while still being authentic. ☺️

There is much truth to that statement. (Thanks Amy!). There definitely CAN be consequences to what we post. For example, I’ve had friends in the music business who have noticed their work being affected by posting political views that didn’t necessarily line up with some of the people who had been choosing to hire them. I’ve also known friends who have left their church after reading their pastors private twitter account and feeling like his private thoughts weren’t in line with what they believed to be true. I’ve seen families splinter and friendships end over social media posts. It’s crazy how powerful a few words can be.  Remember the lady who posted a short racist tweet before flying to Africa and by the time she logged back in to her social media account at the end of that flight, her tweet had gone viral, getting her fired and basically having half the country hating her.  She only had a few followers but that “viral” thing can turn your life upside down quickly. Whatever you post, you better get ready to OWN it people. What goes on the internet, stays on the internet FOREVAHHHH.  Think about what you are posting before you put it out there for all the world to see.

I also think we should take a good hard look at WHY we are posting. Am I trying to make myself look cool? Am I trying to fill some need for attention at the moment?   Or am I posting because I think someone else might learn something from my post or just enjoy it?  What are my motives?  I think a good gut check is important, maybe not with every post, but now and then it should be done.

Many folks said they stayed away from any controversial posts, like politics or religion. But I think it’s important to feel free to say how you feel about these subjects. Others might be influenced by what you have to say... as long as it’s done respectfully.  I actually enjoy seeing some people post their thoughts on those “hot topics”, as long as their thoughts and feelings aren’t done in an inflammatory way.

We are back to inflammation again.  :-)

That is the biggest problem in my opinion. It’s not usually WHAT we are saying, but the WAY we are saying it. So much anger, indignation, defensiveness, and judgement towards others who might not believe the same way we do. And so little compassion, sympathy and grace being tossed around. It’s a scary place to be sometimes, this social media world.

All that being said, I’m going to lay down some rules for myself going forward with my social networks. Here is my promise to you friends that connect with me on any social media.

To the best of my abilities, I promise to:

  1. Be the same person online as I am in person.  No presenting things better than they are or worse than they are. 
  2. Make sure any information I share is vetted by me and several other sources before posting.
  3. Always allow for differing opinions, as long as they treat me and anyone else they interact with on my page respectfully. (Someone told me a long time ago that your “cyber space” is like your “living room” online. If someone came into your home and started bullying you or any of your other guests, you would ask them to leave. Same rule is going to apply to my social network pages.)  
  4. Never post anything intentionally inflammatory, but yet not be afraid to stand up and speak when I feel my voice might help contribute to justice.  
  5. Try to make my posts matter. Be informative, funny, helpful... anything that might make someone else’s day a little better.  Don’t post just to POST.  If I need to write my thoughts down about something to get them out of my head, write in my journal. Not all my thoughts needs to be made public. 
  6. Not take myself too seriously.

That last one is KEY. I think we all probably need to lighten up a bit and laugh more. Laughter IS the best medicine and with the state our country is in right now, comic relief is NEEDED Y’ALL.  

To wrap this up, I think we can all agree that social media has changed our society, culture, and specifically the way we interact with each other and I don’t see it going away anytime soon.  So I truly believe we need to all learn how to navigate these fairly new waters in more productive and less inflammatory ways, or we are all going to end up feeling lonelier, less connected, and more angry and isolated than ever. 

Please feel free to share any other ideas you might have for communicating on social media. I know we all have a lot to learn and hopefully we can learn together!  Let’s stop the inflammation and use this powerful tool of connection in the most positive way we can. 

Are we cool??  COOL!  :-) 

Love and blessings to you all,

Monday, October 23, 2017

Dog Tags from Heaven.....

Ya’ll.  God is so good.  Seriously.  He just blows me away sometimes. 

I had a crazy, weird, worrisome, beautiful morning. I'm still so moved.

You Mama’s are going to understand this first part of my morning. One of my children was hurting and when my kids are struggling, I struggle with them. I hurt with them... and I don’t sleep well. After tossing and turning all night last night, I finally just got up before dawn and started a pot of coffee and went out to my sunroom for some early morning before the sunrise prayer time.

As I prayed for my hurting child and how I could help, my Dad’s presence became very strong in the room. I thought of him and how he would have handled this situation. My Dad passed away 2 years ago and I still miss him everyday, but this morning, his spirit felt very close and intense. I asked him to guide me somehow and help me help my child.  I asked God to speak to me somehow and let me know He could hear me. I just needed a sign that I was not alone in this struggle.

A couple of hours later, my husband got up, had some coffee and went outside to the mailbox. He returned with a package in his hand. I noticed it was from a cousin in Kansas that I hadn’t seen in years. I opened the package to find a letter from my cousin Betty Jacobs explaining how she had been going through our Aunt Josie’s belongings (who died a few years before my Dad) and found my Dad’s WWII dog tags. She was apologizing for not sending them earlier, but really wanted me to have them and mailed them this week.

Her timing couldn’t have been any better.  They arrived right when I was asking for a sign.

My hands were literally shaking as I unfolded the packaging to find them in amazing shape:

My husband informed me that there were always 2 tags. In case someone died during the war, they would take one tag off to use to notify their family of their passing, and leave the other one on the body for identification.  Obviously my Dad came home safe, so there were two tags on the chain that he wore around his neck.  I just burst into tears.  It was such a beautiful gift and message to me all rolled up into one.

Betty Jacobs, you mentioned in the letter that you read my blog, so if you are reading this.... THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!  God used you to serve my heart in such a special way today!  Your timing was delayed so that it would come in God’s time and be used to speak to me on this special day where I needed some reassurance.  It was a beautiful and perfectly timed reminder to me that I am not alone.  And the tags spoke to me as if to say:

“I came home safe from my battle, and you all will get through yours too.”

Guys, seriously.  God speaks to us in so many ways.  Some people expect to audibly hear God's messages, but He is much more creative than that!  He can speak with signs.  You just have to have your eyes and ears open. 

With a little faith, and an open heart, you'll be surprised at how many ways God can reach you.

He sure came in loud and clear today.

Thank you Holy Father.... Thank you Dad.... and Thank you sweet Betty Jacobs!

What a blessing.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Abba's Child....

Everyone has a story.  "Abba's Child" is mine.  

Well, it's part of mine. I couldn't get my whole story on one album, but this is a story about the biggest part of me. It's the story of my faith. And it chronicles several events that tested that faith, and then eventually strengthened my faith. For those of you that know me, or have followed my musical journey, I'm sure you have seen an undercurrent of faith in my writing on my 4 previous records, but this is my first record that would fall into the "Faith-based/Christian" category.  "Why now?", you might ask. Well, the answer to that question, honestly, is because of my disobedience. You see, God has been tapping on my shoulder for many years, whispering in my ear to make this record, but I have been arguing with Him.  Yes, that's right, I've been arguing with God for about 10 years... LOL... and well, you KNOW how that usually works out!  He's gonna win... eventually! 

"Sing about Me", God said. He wanted me to make a record about Him, and I kept trying to tell Him why that was a bad idea.  Funny, right?  I had a long list of reasons why I was sure this wasn't a good idea, but God didn't seem to want to listen to my reasons and continued to tap on my shoulder.

"Sing about Me", God said again. "But I'm not a 'Christian artist'", I argued. "What am i going to do with a Christian record?  I'm too old to start a career in a new genre!"  He clearly didn't want to hear my reasons , basically blocking any attempts to make any other kind of record, and believe me, I tried several times to make another record, but my attempts always got thwarted for some reason or another.  

"Sing about Me", God said again. This time I was on the mountain. Literally. I was in our beautiful place of respite that was given to us from my Father after he died (that story is told in the "Go to the mountain" story, coming later).  It was a clear Sunday morning and I was having coffee and bible study on the porch of my Gatlinburg cabin, overlooking the beautiful Smokey Mountains, asking God for direction in my life. I had spent the last several years being a care-giver for my parents during their last years here on earth and now they were both gone and I felt lost. My sense of purpose was completely influx and I didn't know what to do now. I was reading Lysa Terkeurst's book, "The Best Yes" and a quote literally jumped off the pages and into my heart.  "The one who obeys God's instruction for today will develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow."

"Sing about Me".  Well, SHOOT.  Here I am praying for direction, but not obeying God's clear instructions, so no wonder I'm not getting anywhere!  I finally caved that morning.  "Ok, God, I hear you,", I literally spoke out loud to him as I stared out at the majestic Mt. LeConte, (which is the 3rd highest peak in the Smokeys and pretty AWESOME and inspiring to look at. God's creations are just... well, you know, AMAZING.)  "I get it. You want me to make a record about You. And You and me. And how much you love us all. But I don't have any songs. You're going to have to lift this creative block from me and give me some songs."

"The songs are there. You already have them. Just look." "Wh-at?? I already have the songs?  But where are they?", I asked. "Look for them. You'll find them."  "Ok. I'll start looking Lord. I hear you." And I prayed that morning for strength to follow His instruction. I prayed for the songs to show up. I prayed for the financing to come in place to do it, for the right musicians to come into my path, and for everything about this record to be used to glorify Him. 
When we came home from that mountain trip, I started sifting through some old work tapes that had fallen through the cracks and LO AND BEHOLD, GUESS WHAT I FOUND!  :-)  Yep, the songs!  Well, most of them anyway!  I hadn't been writing a lot over these last 10 years, but apparently I had been writing for this record and didn't realize it.  Some of the songs were several years old and as I was listening to them, it was almost as if I was listening to them for the first time.  "Did I really write this?", I was asking myself.  Digging through old lyric sheets, I saw my name as the writer and went, "Well yeah, I guess I DID!".  COOL!  LoL   So the songs started showing up. One at a time, I uncovered the beginnings of "Abba's Child", then I made some writing appointments with close and trusted co-writers and we wrote a few new ones to add to the mix.... aaaaand, for the first time in my career, I recorded 3 songs that I did not write myself.  These are truly special songs to me and I couldn't be more thrilled that I was given the opportunity to include them in this project, (you’ll hear more about those special songs later.)

Next up was securing financing, booking a studio, gathering the right musicians and diving in. It was amazing how smoothly the whole thing fell into place, and another clear indication that I was on the right track. After 10 years of struggling to make a record, after I stopped arguing with God and made the record He wanted me to make, it was all falling into place beautifully! 

I am so incredibly proud of this project.  Every single person that was involved brought their "A" game. The band, the writers, the engineers... all were AMAZING.  And my husband, Mike Waldron produced the HECK out of it!   He spent more time and put more love and energy into this record than I did. I feel like HIS name should be on the cover instead of mine. HA!  It was definitely a co-venture and one I wouldn't have been able to do with anyone else. He ROCKS!   I also have to say a very special thanks to John Albani, who spent extra hours on this project with us, guiding us as our main engineer... but he did OH SO MUCH MORE than that!  This record would not be what it is without his loving care.  He da man!  :-)

SO... on June 16th, "Abba's Child" will be released on I-tunes. I'll be posting all the stories behind each one of the songs here on my website.  I think you will all enjoy hearing how each one of these stories came to be told. Sadness and Joy. Heartbreak and Healing. Brokenness and Redemption. It's all here. It's messy, but it's beautiful.  Join me on my journey, won't you?  

Because everyone has a story to tell…..”Abba’s Child” is mine. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

SECOND WIND.....the story.

I recently saw a statistic that says studies show Americans get their “Second Wind” at age 56.  Well, guess who is turning 56 later this year?  :-) 

I have always been pretty much an “open book” with those around me. My husband sweetly suggests to me often that I might “over-share” a bit, especially on Facebook (HA!), but I pretty much report life as it is around me.  “Marcia, did you really just post that disgusting grey ruined hamburger meat on Facebook?”  Yep.  “Honey, did you really just post a picture of the cat puke?”  Yep. “Honey, did you really just post a video of the dog pooping?”  Yep.  “Wife, I fear I must unfriend you soon.”  Oh well….  I guess my posts aren’t for the faint of heart sometimes!  LoL

But seriously, for those of you who have followed me in life these last few years, you know it’s been a bumpy ride. I gave up writing songs several years ago, for many reasons, but mainly because my parents had gotten to an age where they needed my help and it was clear I needed to enter into a season of “caregiver” mode and my own career needed to take a backseat. I won’t lie and say it was easy, because it was not. But it WAS very rewarding and I wouldn’t change a thing about those last years close by my parent’s side. 

Mom passed first, in Feb. of 2013. Then Dad went to be with her and our sweet Lord in March of 2015. I was beside myself with grief. I had truly never known the deep, dark side of grief that engulfed me, and it stayed with me for many months.  We also lost Mike’s grandmother in the fall of 2013, and both of our beloved dogs, Django and Ellie in the spring of 2014.  We had some friends pass during those years too, and it seemed that we had suddenly entered into a period of keeping our funeral clothes freshly pressed way too often. This was new territory.  A new season of life. I wasn’t sure I was ready for this at all.  I was completely uncomfortable in my own skin and felt lost.  I needed to find myself again somehow. 

My friend Kim knew I wasn’t myself.  As good friends do, she could see what I couldn’t see. That I needed to create.  She gently encouraged me to start writing again.  She thought it would be therapeutic.  Of course I argued with her.  “Nope.  I’m done.  I’m empty.  I really don’t think I will ever write again.  I have written hundreds of songs, and I can’t imagine that there is anything else I need to say.” 

Fast forward to January 2016. My husband Mike and I were meeting Kim and our friend Christopher Cross for dinner in Nashville. I have been touring with Christopher for 3 years now and he has become a treasured colleague and a dear friend.  He has always been a musical mentor and inspiration to me and I still find myself amazed that I get to work with him.  This particular evening Christopher asked if we could stop by a little early so he could show me something before dinner.  When I walked in Kim’s house I could see a little mischievous gleam in her eye and CC had a big smile on his face too.  “What’s going on guys?” I said.  “Wellllll…..”, Kim said, “I told Christopher about our conversation, where you said you weren’t ever going to write again.  And then I told him that I thought if someone were to write you an inspiring piece of music that you could write some beautiful lyrics to, it might be just the thing to get you creating again.”  CC’s smile got bigger and then he blurted out, “So I wrote you something!”.  Let me tell you right now I don’t think I have ever been more stunned in my life.  What did he just say?  Did he just say he wrote something for ME?

Kim took my arm and motioned for me to walk back to the studio. CC immediately pulled up a chair for me to sit perfectly in between the speakers so I could hear the track and then he hit play.  I don’t think it was 2 measures in before tears started flowing down my cheeks!  It was one of the greatest gifts I had ever received. A beautiful piece of music from one of my musical heroes and now I get to write lyrics to it!  Oh wait…. Oh gosh…..Oh CRAP…. I HAVE TO WRITE LYRICS TO THIS!!!!!!!!!   I mean… GOOD LYRICS!!  Can I even DO that anymore??  The high of having this presented to me started sinking in to the reality that I actually had to find my “voice” again.  What if nothing came?  What if I really WAS empty?

The phone rang a couple of days later and it was Christopher.  “Have you worked on the song yet?”, he excitedly asked. “No,” I timidly said.  “You are going to have to give me a little time here.  It’s been awhile. I don’t write prolifically like you do.”  “No worries,” he sweetly said. “When the muse hits, it will come. Take your time.”  C’mon MUSE!  Where ARE you these days???

It was actually about six weeks later when the Muse decided to show up.  And she came at 4:30AM. Boy, that ol Muse picks GREAT times to appear, huh?  LoL  I literally woke up suddenly with lyrics floating around in my head… so I got up, put on a pot of coffee, grabbed my guitar and sat out in the sunroom letting the muse lead me into this lyric.  To be fair, CC had written most of the chorus, and had this wonderful title already.  He generously lead me in the right direction lyrically so I just let the rest flow out.  I typed out the lyrics - put them in an email to CC and hit send.  And then I went back to bed and fell back asleep.  

When I woke up again around 9am, my first thought was panic.  Oh man.. did I really just send Christopher Cross some lyrics at 5:00 in the morning??  What if he hates them?  I checked my email to see if he had responded. Nothing.  Deep breath.  Ok… well, now we just wait and see. Thankfully it he didn’t keep me waiting too long.  His beautiful and supportive email came in and the first three words were, “I love it!”.  I think i burst into tears… again!  (I cry a lot).  We had a song!!!!  I could still write… and create.  And it felt like I had found myself again.  That part of me that I had put away so I could tend to other things was now back in bloom and I knew that I was indeed starting to find my “Second Wind”.

Since then, I slowly started writing regularly again. Soon the beginnings of a new album began to emerge and the last few weeks I’ve been in the studio with amazing musicians, creating a new CD that I am EXTREMELY proud of.  That album, my first faith-based CD, won’t be ready until late spring/early summer of 2017, so while we are finishing that, I decided to release “Second Wind” as a single for a couple of reasons. One, because it is such an important part of my musical journey now, bringing me back full circle into my creative space. And two, because I’m so proud of this special song and I didn’t want to keep it to myself any longer!  

“Second Wind” is now available for download on I-tunes and all online music stores, as well as on Spotify, Apple Music, and all streaming services, featuring Christopher Cross on guitars, Wes Little on drums, Brian Allen on bass, Derek Wells on guitars, and Kim Parent and Britt Savage on background vocals.  Thanks for listening guys!  I hope you enjoy it! 


C. Cross/M. Ramirez

I found my second wind
I think I found my second wind
The dawn is finally breaking
There is a new light in my sky
You know nothing lasts forever
We can get through the darkest night

Life is full of struggles
And everybody gets their share
But every end just means a new beginning
And I’m starting to get there

I take a breath and take a step
Walking my new path with no regrets

CH: I think I’ve found my second wind
Watch out world, here I come again
I think I’ve found my second wind
I got my friends, got my family
and I got my man

There’s nothing like a true love
reminding me to just lean on
The faith that always guides me
And the hope that keeps me strong

CH: I think I’ve found my second wind
Watch out world, here I come again
I think I’ve found my second wind
I got my friends, got my family
and I got my man

I take a breath and take a step
walking my new path with no regrets

CH: I think I’ve found my second wind
Watch out world, here I come again
I think I’ve found my second wind
And I’m playing to win