Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sweet Soul Music

The Joyful Content of Our Lives

The Queen of Soul

As of late I have come to some convictions about my life here on Earth. These convictions are mostly born of and driven by a decade long journey into sobriety and a growing faith in a triune God as represented in the Gospels and teachings of Christ Jesus. These convictions are that my purpose here on Earth truly, is only to provide joyful content and that content is derived from the objective daily pursuit of growing my relationship with my Creator, the Source of all that was, is and ever shall be. So for today, with one more step, I will attempt to further fulfill my purpose here on Earth.

I want to dwell on one Miss Aretha Franklin. This lady with Mississippi roots born in Memphis, Tennessee began in earnest her life of creating scintillating vocals in and throughout the soul music genre by singing in the gospel choir of her father's Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. I do not recollect the exact circumstance or timing, but I remember her recording of "Natural Woman" being spiritually moving for me. It has always epitomized the essence of "sweet soul music." Her life's artistic accomplishments as far a providing content would most certainly be pleasing to our Lord/Creator.

Natural Woman

Stop and consider for a moment how far and wide Miss Franklin's soulful voice traveled around this globe we inhabit. Ponder how deep her notes penetrated across cultural lines and barriers or how thoroughly they permeated people's daily emotional experience. Consider the distances in miles and social strata from the dirt roads of the deep south and the industrial inner city streets of the Midwest's Motown stages to metropolises like Amsterdam and Melbourne half way around the globe. God's is happy when we bring joy (content) to our immediate neighborhoods. Imagine the size of His smile when our joy spreads around the globe!

It is hard to imagine a distance greater in culture and language than the expanse between the roots of deep south cotton field Gospel music and the passionate Italian origins of Opera. Well, thirty years after bursting onto the music scene in America as a twenty something "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin bridged a gap spanning four centuries. With short notice she stepped in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and performed the aria "Nessun Dorma" during the live worldwide telecast of The 1998 Grammy's from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It was nothing but a miracle full of Grace. Her recorded performance of "Natural Woman" decades earlier had been spiritually moving but watching her transcendent performance on live television shook me to the bones. If providing joyful redemptive content for our world is our purpose here, then Miss Aretha Franklin you have set a standard to strive for.

Take a moment and experience Aretha's soulful performance of " Nessun Dorma."

Pure Grace

Amen Soul Sister
Bradford Bosworth
April 2014

Friday, March 9, 2018

It's Okay to Go.

Notes from Wesley Meadows - Part two of a two-part series.

I have come to believe that indeed my life has been one in two parts. The first part are the years, or days or hours where I think I am in control. The more I think I am in control, the more chaotic life happens. It is at my point of surrender- the second part- of letting go and letting God, when I come to the oasis of peace in a dessert of bedlam. Now, the wilderness places are fewer and farther between as my relationship with our Creator grows.

I had the wonderful blessing just a couple days ago to be a present and supportive witness as a sweet soul made her final surrender into the eternal arms of the Maker. (See:Part 1 Notes from Wesley Meadows.) I have never been in this position before of sober mind. I was humbled to have been invited into a place, an inner sanctum if you will, of pure grace.

The journey began with a phone call from my sweet friend fiancĂ© Patti. Her mother Pat’s health and condition was in steep decline. Patti, being a week out of a rotator cuff surgery required arm sling, did not need to be driving solo for six hours. I became her partner for the sojourn. From the moment we hit the road in the driving rain, a lingering question echoed in my mind, “How long?” And a lingering answer kept following it, “Not for you to know!” Still my need for control forced me into possible future chain of event scenarios. Again, I had to surrender and turn it over to Abba. It will be according to His will. It was in this place of the obedient present moment where I would experience educative wonders in the everlasting.
Wesley Meadows

Toward the end of our first afternoon with Miss Pat I was invited to read to her. Patti gave me her copy of “Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson. It was bookmarked at a section titled: Relinquishing Fear with a heading “Perfect love casts out fear.” It is a direct reference to one of my favorite pieces of scripture, 1 John 4:18-19. I began reading to Miss Pat. I knew she could hear me.

It has occurred to me, there were times when Miss Pat appeared to be struggling, perhaps in pain, perhaps in the decision to let go and leave her loved ones in this world. On occasion a nurse would bring a small dose of pain medicine. I had a feeling that she was stuck in a should I stay, or should I go dilemma. But what do I know? I have never been in this place before! After a very long day we said goodnight to this lovely Christian lady born and raised in Texas.

When we arrived at Wesley Meadows on Wednesday we found Miss Pat’s room had been rearranged. Her bed which had been flush to the far wall was now protruding from the wall. This way the family in the room could gather around her. The hospice folks at this facility knew what they were doing. I took it as a sign. I was able to take a different position when I read to Miss Pat this time. I chose to read from “The Greatest Thing in the World” by Henry Drummond. It is a wonderful treatise on Paul’s 1 Corinthian’s 13.

During our time with Miss Pat there were instances when she would make verbal proclamations. Two times stand out for me. Once we heard her say something that sounded like, “I got to get out of here.” I could only imagine her beloved husband Bob, Cindy and Patti’s father, standing just beyond the precipice hands outstretched. Another time we heard Pat exclaim, “Oh Shit!” Her outcry transformed a somewhat somber mood into a realm of heavenly humor. Family remarked it was an expression seldom heard. For me these words carried completely to my heart. My late mother Jeanne was very fond of this expression. So fond, she had it printed on a golf ball she used exclusively for putting. I could very well see Mom, a coaxing angel on the other side of the threshold, calling out to Miss Pat.

The sun was approaching a golden Mississippi sunset and I was anxious for Miss Pat. My perception was that she was struggling to let go. Just in the past two weeks I was involved in a discussion with my good friend Chuck whose mother was in a similar circumstance. I had asked him what he thought about the idea of saying to her it was okay for her to go. He said he had been thinking of doing the same. I decided to call my friend and found a quiet breezeway with some rocking chairs. In our conversation, he said to me that the family along with their Pastor had told their mom it was okay. Immediately after Chuck and I ended our conversation, Patti came to sit next to me. She and Cindy had decided to stay overnight with their mom. Patti, as well, let me know that Miss Pat's girls had let their Mom know it was okay.

I did not plan to stay but went out to pick up dinner. When I returned, Elizabeth was in the room with Patti and Cindy. Multi-generational agape love was once again flowing there. We began eating our dinner. Suddenly, the room became quiet except for the whoosh of the oxygen system. The three women, in unison, gently and softly moved to Miss Pat’s bedside. Patti was up on the left caressing her mother’s forehead. Elizabeth was kneeling waist high, also on the left holding “Grandmommie’s” hand. Cindy was on the right-side shoulder high caressing her Mom’s hair. I do not know how long. Time stood still. All I know is it is the most beautiful scene I have ever witnessed. I am assured Miss Pat knew it was okay, smiling ear to ear as she walked into the arms of Bob Young and our heavenly Father.

Miss Pat's Obituary

Amen Sisters

Bradford Bosworth
March 9, 2018

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Notes from Wesley Meadows

Part One of two parts:

A Transitional View

(Author’s note: This post is from excerpts of a journal began the morning of March 7, 2018)

I am sitting in a chair facing a bed in which lies the 83-year-old mother of two daughters. This lady, who is as well a great grandmother, is living out her final days here in a facility I have always referred to as a nursing home. Nursing homes have never been a place that I looked forward to visiting, but as I am ever nearer to a similar consequence for myself, I am okay with it now. I am here in this room now visiting Miss. Pat with her daughters Cindy and Patti, my future bride.

Cindi, Patti and Miss Pat, (2nd Trip)

I have been to this facility just outside Memphis, Tenn. twice before. The first time - six months ago- was to meet Miss Pat for the first time. The second time was to express to her that I wanted to marry her daughter. The first time she initially did not recognize youngest daughter Patti. The second time at first, she did not recognize Patti or me. This time she was not conscious enough converse with any of us. It is my first experience seeing someone in the transitory life stage knocking on heaven’s door. And there is no doubt in my mind she is readying for the entrance through heaven’s gate. I know and love her daughter who I am assured was raised by Godly parents!

When a visitor turns into this senior living facility, the sign at the entrance - Methodist Senior Services- leaves no doubt about the guiding principles that provide the underlying foundation for the care administered behind these doors. Here the attention to residents is Gospel driven. Upon entering the front doors in a few steps on a table directly ahead, one will come face to face with the Word of God. On this day it was opened to John’s Gospel 10:25-11:30. The staff informed me it changes whenever one of the residents stops to turn the page.

As a sign of what is to come, I was walking down the hallway to Miss Pat’s room and inside a residence a few doors down I noticed a man solemnly gathering and packing belongings up. Then a bit later, I walked by and he was sitting holding a personal item in quiet reflection. Even later I met that man with a cart full of clothing. I held the front door for him and we had a revealing conversation filled with hope. His name is Doug. He was clearing out his sister’s room. Betty had passed the day before yesterday. Doug knew she was in a better place. Just a few hours later I was standing in front of Miss Pat’s bathroom mirror and noticed a picture fixed to the corner of the mirror. In that picture with Miss Pat was Miss Betty who had been a close friend. I no longer believe in coincidences.

Miss Betty, Wesley Meadows staff member, Miss Pat

A late afternoon moment of pure grace occurs when Elizabeth, Cindy’s daughter and Miss Pat’s only granddaughter arrives from her work. NOW there is multi-generational love flowing in this room. This agape is crystalline and many faceted, like a rare and precious gemstone. And “grandmommie” recognizes this outpouring as if yellow roses and angels for she almost sits up in bed, eyes wide and arms outstretched

There are many questions that arise and many decisions that need to be made, or not, during this world’s end of life process. Both of my parents died suddenly without warning, so at this place, I lack experience. I am unqualified to act. But by witnessing two daughters- who for their day jobs are nurses- at vigil with their beloved Mom, I realize that Love is the only qualification needed. It is the same redemptive love of Christ that can flow through us all.

“Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die -ever.” (John 11:26) HCSB

Amen Miss Pat

Bradford Bosworth
March 7, 2018

Writer's note: Miss Pat walked through the gates of Heaven approximately 10:40 est on March 7, 2018. Part two will tell that story.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A River Flows From Within

Heavenly Question Marks
It was only a little over six weeks ago when the first major Atlantic Hurricane of the season hammered the coast of Texas and wreaked havoc in the Houston area. The wettest tropical cyclone on record in the US dropped over 40 inches of rain in a four-day period. Massive flooding caused death, destruction and heartbreak for thousands of people. Harvey, as the storm was named, started a pattern where over the next few weeks three additional Hurricanes would form and either threaten the United States or make direct contact on Florida and Puerto Rico.
Houston Flooded
As we approach the second half of October, the colorful peace of autumn has settled in as a welcome contrast to the fear filled chaotic atmosphere of early September. The mood in this flood ravaged city is rising due to recovery and the march of their beloved baseball Astros toward a World Series birth. I am reminded of a providential day at the end of August.
It was 6:30am on Wednesday, August 30. I was one of five men sitting around a table at our local Chic Fil A. For about seven years now we have been getting together every other early Wednesday morning. We talk about what is going on in our lives, we read scripture, study devotionals and pray. We call ourselves BIC (Brothers in Christ) Reunion Group. On this particular morning, brother Monte suggested that we engage in some serious servants’ work pertaining to the crises in Houston from Hurricane Harvey. Local broadcasting powerhouse WSB was conducting a -water drive- to collect donations of bottled drinking water for the Houston populace which was suffering for vital clean uncontaminated water.
WSB donation center
Being recently retired, I had time and a pick-up truck available. Brother Monte being his own boss had time. Our BIC brothers ponied up some financing. So we collected enough to stock up my small bed Ford Ranger.  Monte and I surmised we could meet in an hour, stop at the local Costco, deliver to the TV station and be free for the afternoon. But, we learned again the best laid plans of mice and men according to the great poet Robert Burns, "Gang aft a-gley."
Monte decided to post on our Smyrna First UMC and Smyrna Walk to Emmaus Facebook pages what we were doing and invited folks to participate.  By the time I got to Monte’s house he had received notification of support for a second truckload of water! At this point our effort began to take on another feel.  All of a sudden the divine intervention of amazing grace began to rain down and flow through the relief effort. At the TV Station the organizers were overwhelmed by the response. They had to summon additional tractor trailer transport. By the time we had finished delivery of the first load, we had social media commitments for two more loads. Have you ever heard of “Fishes and Loaves?” I now know firsthand the meaning of that story.
Water for life.
Our Creator continued to place little miracles in our path. A couple from our Church called to say they had a bigger pick-up available and we could consolidate the final two of four loads into one. This gift allowed Monte and I to complete our work before the crush of Atlanta rush hour. We delivered enough bottled water to place one each in the hands of 4,000 residents! Perhaps the most gracious moment of the day was during the assembling of our final load outside Costco. As I was handing cases to Monte standing in the truck bed, a kind gentleman approached.
Father Tannous

He asked, “Is this water going to Houston? I have relatives there."
We replied, “Yessir.”
He then began picking up cases to help us. Over the next few minutes this meek man dressed in black showed us another example of the body of Christ. When we asked his name, he told us that he was Father Tannous and invited us to: Father Tannous' Church

I constantly marvel at how God places juxtaposition, contradiction and divine paradox in our lives. Sometimes these are front page news stories, situations, people, places and happenings that dangle a heavenly question mark in front of our eyes. Here was a city, Houston, overrun with water, people flood forced from their homes. But they were desperate for good water, the water that quenches a thirst, water to cleanse the heart. And so it is with all of us. We, the world, desperately thirst for the true Living Water.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
John 7:38
Bradford Bosworth
October, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sisters, Drivers and Teddy Bears

(Final in a series) 
Angel Guides

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

John Fleming & John McCorkle

Our mission team has arrived back in the USA. For me it happened in earnest this morning waking up in my own bed. Starting with emotional goodbyes to the young men guides we have grown to love, to proceeding through the Haitian side of an endless maze of airport check ins and customs inspections, the journey road felt full of pot holes and speed bumps much like the streets of Port-au-Prince. Then a somewhat bumpy flight followed by the Atlanta side customs process and we were back on familiar soil with traffic lights, paved roads and, most of the time, a right of way. I thought of the atmospheric reentry that astronauts experience when they return to our planet. The pattern of the world we experienced in Haiti does not conform to the pattern of the world we live in here in Georgia.

Our mission to Haiti was about healing. Yes, it was medical in substance with the subscribing of fungal cream and blood pressure pills all of which provide corrective physical healing over time. This is the healing of our worlds whether Port-au-Prince or Atlanta. The true healing that took place on this trip was expressed in a young sister, another of Abba’s daughters, who could not hear or speak, teaching us to sign “I love you”. It was healing played out watching our adept driver learn to swim in the Caribbean and opening his eyes under salt water for the first time. For this writer, it was a big hug from a three-hundred-pound misty eyed teddy bear who would be a security guard.

This week was about the healing that is born of the Holy Spirit. It is a healing that cannot help but to travel both ways. It is the healing that transforms the giver into the recipient and the student into the teacher. It is the renewing of our minds. It is the testing and approving of God’s will for us. And we know for certain we are abiding in His good, pleasing and perfect will.  Se’ yon bil bagay!

Father thank you for always being present and ready to heal us when we conform to the pattern of the world. Amen

Bradford Bosworth

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Have No Fear

(eighth in a series)

1 John 4:18-19

Patti Cox & Brad Bosworth

Yesterday for the first time in seven days our Haiti Mission Team took a day of rest and relaxation. We traveled to a distant beach where we lounged, frolicked in the salt water of the Caribbean Sea. Our Haitian guides, the translators, security guards and driver came with us. Gel, Achka, Jhon, Benson, Blanc, Eric and Patrice had the day off in a place they would not normally visit. Today our team ministered to them and thus ourselves and it was glorious.

There is a bond between the team and these Haitians. It is a connection through our Maker. God is Love and we speak to each other in the language of God without fear. On this day with no duties or responsibilities to distract us with doubt and petty fear, we come closer to perfection in love.

I have witnessed extreme conditions of poverty this week. Our medical mission team has attended to about three hundred patients who otherwise most certainly would not have had access to any kind of treatment. In many a religious circle, there is some belief that God punishes for the sins of humankind. But God is Love! Therefore, being perfect His love is infinitely certain. There is no doubt here that God loves his children who are, in total, humankind. Since Abba’s love is perfect, there is no fear for God does not punish His children.

Since arriving last week we have had two sizable gentlemen displaying badges and wearing “Security” splashed across their backs. They possess a solemn demeaner and holstered firearms. Their presence is to first give the team distance from danger and threat. In truth, they are here to help assuage any fears we have in this very foreign, but not hostile environment. At first they remained distant, in the shadows, almost out of sight. As they witnessed the Grace of God raining on their fellow Haitians, Patrice and Eric came gradually closer, smiling more and more until it was the perfect Love of Christ moving between them and us allaying all of our fears. We have loved each other because He first Loved us.

Father, we long for the certainty of Immanuel filling us with His perfect Love that drives out all our fears, Amen
Bradford Bosworth

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Find Your Gifts

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
(7th in a series)

Haiti Missionaries

1st Peter 4:10

Jeannette and Ryan Karstensen

It is a monumental responsibility to lead a mission trip to a foreign land. The people who will be the recipients of your charitable efforts will most likely gain a lifelong impression from the team’s comportment. If there is a language barrier, then our demeanor and body language speaks for our faith. On this Haiti Mission trip, there are eight folks from three different Churches with two on their very first excursion. The bottom line is “God has given us some special abilities,” and it is up to us to make them blend and become faithful stewards of God’s Grace in all its forms.

Our repasts together, breaking bread, are always a time to coalesce once again. Tuesday our team was having lunch together and I presented them with Jeanette and Ryan’s scripture passage from 1 Peter. We went around the table and each member of the body reflected on how the Word spoke to them. I took notes as they shared. The Holy Spirit translated as follows:

The mission becomes our great commission when the true goal is “to make disciples of all nations,” (Matt. 28:19).  As the “Body of Christ,” each one of us is a single chapter in Yahweh’s epic novel of grace titled “Humankind.” The mission now becomes a gifted quilt made of individual scraps, throwaway fabric that now stitched together warms each soul it comforts. Our unique gifts manifested become a tapestry of colors woven into Abba’s glorious creation of Love in His Son Christ Jesus.

Often it is through our willingness to serve and at the point of our Christian action where we begin to discern what are the gifts we have received from our heavenly Father. Surely for us to keep and maintain those gifts we must give them away.

Father, may we always remember your precious gift of grace can never be earned and we will always be engulfed by it as we give it away. Amen

Bradford Bosworth