Black Sheep Bass-ic Training

Doing The Christian Walk With A Funky Strut

Visiting different pasture, washing feet, and time warping

Hey der ya der hey der.  Busted the gates and committing sheeply mischief in Northeast Wisconsin.  Grew up 30 miles south of where my carcass is currently parked, and get up here every now and again to visit family and take care of business.  In this case, visiting brother in Titletown USA, had him rebuild my desktop, and claiming furniture from parents which is currently being refinished.  I’ll be coughing up sanding dust for weeks.

Time warping.  As I remarked to my brother the other day, coming back here, and especially driving through certain towns, feels like I’m traveling back in time.  Life here is very different than it is in the Windy City.  Pace of life is slower and there’s different things that tend to occupy people’s time.  Certain landmarks from my youth still exist, almost in the exact same form.  Just the weathering of time is noticeable.

And yet…time marches on.  Went to visit a high school buddy today and we met up at a diner that’s been around since we were kids.  It’s still in the same place, but the roads leading to it have completely changed.  Old stores torn down, new ones in their place.  Road reconfigured in spots.  I was unsure exactly how to get there but did manage in the end.  Was a trip traveling through an area where the past has been all but erased though.

In either case, one point is solidly driven home:  This is not where I belong.  I mean, I’m a weirdo and don’t completely fit in anywhere…but I truly feel like an alien here.  Even when I don my Packers gear, something still doesn’t feel quite right.  Other people wear their swag too…

…but they walk different, talk different, just ARE different than me.

Like this last weekend.  My brother has been talking for some time about attending Green Bay Community Church.  On Sunday, I made sure to insist that we go.  I can’t do Sunday morning without church anymore.  So we went.

About as different from my home church as one could get.  I did not see one non-white person in there…and considering the congregation was at least a couple thousand strong, that was intriguing to me.  Service was good…it turns out they need another A/V person and my brother is gifted in that area, so he’d be able to lock in there…but it was just different to what I’m used to.  I’m used to knowing everyone’s name and seeing every God-drawn color of the rainbow.  Good church to visit, just thankful to call FCC home.

Home.  The parents are still in the same house they’ve been in since the mid ’80’s.  Both of them in rapidly declining health.  Went over there Tuesday with intent of a quick stop-by on the way to the family estate for more work on the above-mentioned furniture…when requests for help were given.

My sister-in-law and myself ended up assisting with household chores, and we plus my brother ended up hauling some fitness equipment up from the basement.  A quick stop turned into 4 hours of sweating and swearing.

It was washing feet.  Tasks were unpleasant but necessary, and neither of my parents was up to doing them physically.  The fact that my brother and I jumped right in without hesitation is a testament to God’s healing power in our lives.  Both of us had a lot of strife with the parents growing up, and I actually did not set foot in that house for 10 years.  Had they asked me to do those things 7 years ago, they would have gotten a point-blank “go to hell”, and my brother probably would have responded similarly.

Forgiveness goes a long way.  It creates a heart with a desire to serve.

I know I have much growing to do as a Christian, but that day encouraged me…it’s evidence that some change has taken place, in an area that was a stronghold for years.

This trip was worth it for that alone.  Still have until Monday night to see more miracles happen.

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Beracah, and the absence of anointing

Random observation before I begin–my homepage no longer displays the 3 blogs I was following–have I been thrown off due to inactivity?

Inactivity.  On here, yes, in real life, excess of activity.  A lot of the summer spent “being led where I do not wish to go”.  Many trials.  God led me through all of them to what appears to be the Promised Land.

But it doesn’t look like I expected it to.

For over a year, I’d expected my next (final??) residence to be a modest sized house.  Had certain things I wanted to do with the space that I felt I was being led to do.  So searched diligently for a house, put my life and finances on the line multiple times…and ended up very burned by the whole experience.  I don’t know if I’ll ever try buying real estate again.  Not to say I won’t, I just don’t see it happening in the near or mid range future.

So I found an apartment.  Where I can do everything I’d intended to do with a house, except build a music studio.  Place is huge, landlady is an active believing Christian, great neighborhood, within budget, good neighbors.  Plenty of space to host small group and accommodate guests.  Just need the furniture…and I know that will come when it’s supposed to.

Feels like  a place I can truly call Beracah, for it is a God-ordained blessing.  He made this place happen.  Very little of my effort got me here, the circumstances were just too wild.

There’s just one thing making me hesitate.

The music thing.

I made a list of criteria for housing that I prayed over.  This place literally hits on ALL of them EXCEPT being able to play my music.  I do have means for “silent” bass practice, but long-term I was hoping for someplace to have an acoustic drum kit so I could learn to play.  And silent bass practice isn’t as much fun.  There’s also not really enough room in here for any other additional music gear–keyboard, recording equipment, etc.  Jam sessions would be an absolute no-no.  The downstairs neighbor would flip.

As if that weren’t enough to raise an eyebrow, there’s the strange thing happening with what I do have.

The passion’s been deflated, and the hands and ears aren’t working right.

Been feeling a disconnect in Worship Team for several weeks.  I show up, I play.  I feel nothing.

Then, while practicing this evening for tomorrow’s service, I had such a hard time trying to get a groove going with certain songs that I just put the bass down and gave up.  One of them is a song we’ve done plenty, it’s just in a different key to usual.  Transposing should not provide such a block.  1/2 step shift, big whoopie.  I know I’ve not gotten much time in on the instrument this summer due to the circumstances, but getting back on the horse should not be this hard.

So.  Could be a lot of things contributing to this, but my gut tells me that the anointing’s been lifted off my musical gift at the moment.   I don’t know why.  I have my suspicions.  Only thing I can do is pray and fellowship with the Holy Trinity to get the blockage cleared.






Hat tip to a fellow bassist doing life God’s way. Wise words, sir.


John 15:2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Pruning isn’t much fun for the thing being pruned.  It involves apparently integral parts being cut away, leaving a reduced and rather sorry-looking remnant.  In the hands of a skilful gardener it’s the key to a healthy, growing, fruitful plant.  The parts that were cut away were drawing nutrients away from the rest without delivering any benefits.  What remains has a chance to really flourish when the season for growth and fruit comes around again.  No plant is fruitful all the time but if well-tended it will continue bearing fruit, year in and year out.

You are portrayed here as the ‘vinedresser’ or gardener.  You know exactly what needs trimming out of my life to make me more productive for You. …

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It’s Rocktober 16th, y’all.

A day to celebrate the birth and life of a man who brought a lot of joy to a lot of people.

Never one to miss a good time, Christopher James Allen left us in April of this year to go where the REAL party’s at.

But before he left, he taught those of us who knew him how to live.  He made a point to make newcomers feel welcome.  He always had an encouraging word when people were down.  He always had a dumb joke or hilarious story to bust up the tension when some of us were taking life too seriously.  He was a great listener and didn’t go spreading people’s business.  He enjoyed good conversation with good friends over good food and drinks–he was always a blast to hang out with.  He spent a lot of time sowing positivity and life into the young people in his life and in his neighborhood, helping them realize their potential.

Was he a saint? Far from it.  But who of us is??  At the end of the day, he was a guy comfortable in his own skin and did a lot to help others feel the same.  He made lives better in his time here on Earth.  Period.  I celebrate his life today and consider it a huge blessing and honor to have had his life cross mine.  I know I’m a better person for having known him.  I thank God for bringing him into this world 42 years ago today.

Devoted dad, empowering coach, poet, artist, singer, comedian, dreamer, life of the party, compassionate human being and wonderful friend,

Chris Allen.

Chris Allen Superstar

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Holy Soup

with Thom Schultz


An Autistic Christian Techie


Bring it on

Grace for the road

Seeing God's goodness in the unexpected path.

Hartin Soul

Spiritual reflections, random musings, and commentary on life.