Here we are, well into the spring months and much of the country is in great need of a thawing! But in California, we never really saw winter! We are in desperate need of rain, but the rains didn't come. Mandatory water rationing has been ordered by Governor Brown and lifestyles have to change. That old saying, "Less is more" is becoming quite the reality here in the Golden State.
Change, good or bad, is hard. I think we can all agree, the Israelites in captivity in Egypt were due for some major change and having God as their champion with Moses to facilitate was a good change. Why did the people complain then? Why did they so quickly and easily resort to idol worship in the wilderness at the base of God's mountain? There are many intelligent and scholarly opinions about this, but I think, quite simply, because change, even good change, is hard. Change is a part of life, but we don't normally adapt to it too well.
And then there are the changes that come that are seemingly not good changes at all. Like the death of a loved one. I have experienced this in the last 2 1/2 years with the deaths of my own parents, just 10 months apart. I have lost several friends to tragic circumstances as well and, most recently, just this last Saturday morning, had to mourn the death of a dear friend and fellow musician from Seattle, Ya'acov Reuven. Nearly 12 weeks ago, I held the hand of my dear friend and mentor, Karen Meissner, as she lay close to death after a massive stroke. Her life, the life of her son and those who love and respect her have been changed forever.
Believe it or not, I see something "good" in all of these circumstances, or at least I am trying to. I would much rather that Karen did not have a stroke and not see this kind of pain and struggle in her life, but I still hold fast that God has a plan, even in this. In just under 12 weeks, she has already come farther than I ever thought possible and our faith is encouraged and strengthened by it.
My daughter is graduating from high school next month. We've homeschooled her for 13 years. Someday soon, she, the last of our 5 kids, will be off to college and we will be "empty nesters". Change. *Sigh* Good for her. Not so good for us, her father and I. But I know this is good and right and a vital part of life, especially for her. So, embrace the change.
So, I think, some of what we are writing for the new CD will be about change and life experiences. There will also be some straight up worship tunes on there because, after all, its all about God and the things He wants to do in our lives. Are we willing to praise Him, even through the changes....the good and the bad? Do we dare continue to follow Him, trust Him and worship Him through it all?
I hope your response is "yes"! But if its not, or you're just not sure, let me encourage your heart, dear one. God loves you. He wants to impart good things in your life, even if you can't quite see it (yet). Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season." We will trust with you, together, that your seasons serve great purpose in your life and from season to season, you are growing, getting stronger, becoming a warrior and feeling the Love!
I decided to change the name of our newsletter from "Monthly Musings" to "Music Musings" because, frankly, I have a little trouble sticking to a schedule with such things. Sometimes, I just feel the need to talk to you when I have a thought or idea and I might even have an important announcement or prayer request. So, forgive my impulsivity! Its only because I love you so, Chaverim! (Friends!)
So, today, I want to share with you a piece I wrote a few years ago for a speaking engagement at a women's retreat. Since I penned my thoughts below, our family has come a long way, with more and more victory on our side, and what I'm about to share is by no means exclusively for women! There are so many people I come in contact with who are facing horrific challenges and devastating loss. I hope you will be encouraged by this short read and on your own path of healing. God loves you so!
In His grip,
by Corry Bell
Several years ago, when my son, all of 20 years old, experienced a sudden psychotic break down that changed our lives forever. I remember the shock, the disbelief in what I was seeing and hearing, the anguish in my heart as a mother. At times my grief was debilitating. My son had received what felt like a "death sentence" when they told me he had chronic paranoid schizophrenia and the best we could hope for was a "somewhat" normal life for our son that would include psychiatrists, medications, periodic homelessness, addictions, social ineptness, unemployment, educational failures, loneliness; basically a life without hope, for the rest of his life!
With a prognosis like that, I had to make a choice. I quickly became very familiar with the fibers of my carpet, as I spent many hours, face down, on the floor, crying out to God for mercy! I was in so much pain and desperately clung to whatever hope I could find in the scriptures, in articles and books about mental illness, in natural remedies, in diet and exercise; even radical surgery! I brought people over to my house to "do deliverance" on him - many times! In all these pursuits, I realized I was needing to become a worshipper. I found the more I praised Him, the stronger I got. I learned to stand in the middle of my storm, speak to that storm and declare out loud that I CHOOSE to praise my God and King!
My son still has a mental illness, but I no longer have an emotional and spiritual one. I know the power of praising God who is able to "keep" me from falling. "Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." (Jude 3:24-25) I thought it was interesting that this passage mentions the promise first, with the acknowledgment to God made at the end. It seemed like an invitation to me, like God was enticing me with His promise, giving me hope I needed to then enter into praising Him!
As you probably have guessed by now, I love music! I love the poetry of it, the romance of it, the power in it and the drama of it! So, I leave you to ponder the lyrics of one of my favorite songs; "Praise You In This Storm" by Casting Crowns. (Many of you are probably aware that the lead singer of this group, Mark Hall, is battling cancer. His attitude in his "storm" is an inspiration to me.)
I was sure by now, God, You would have reached down and wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day, but once again, I say "amen" and its still raining
As the thunder rolls, I barely hear Your whisper through the rain, "I'm with you"
As Your mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away
And I'll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands, for You are who You are no matter where I am
And every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand; You never left my side
And though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm
I remember when I stumbled in the wind; You heard my cry to You and You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone, how can I carry on if I can't find You?
But as the thunder rolls, I barely hear You whisper through the rain, "I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away
I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth
In His grip, Corry
January 2014 - 1st ever newsletter!
As I sit down tonight, unwinding before turning in from a very long day, I had the sudden urge to begin what I've been putting off for a very long time....writing a monthly newsletter. My schedule is jam-packed...all the time! I don't have one free moment in my day and adding to that already full schedule is not very appealing to me. So why am I doing this now? Why am I adding a monthly newsletter to my many duties? Well, to be honest with you, I want to connect with you to express my appreciation for all the support over the years that so many of you have given our ministry and to give you ongoing opportunities to pray and support us in an informed way. I want to connect with you all in a deeper, more personal way.
As I turn on the TV, I'm disheartened at what I see and hear most of the time. Crime on the rise, financial woes, wars and rumors of wars, sexual immorality abounds and what was called right is now wrong and wrong is now right. Its enough to make one cower into a corner somewhere or crawl back into bed and pull the blankets up over our faces. But God has called us to stay in the fight and trust Him with all we have. This is what Lev Shelo is all about at our core. We are not interested in careers or recognition, making lots of money or being famous. What we are interested in is reaching as many people as we can, through our music, with the Good News of our Messiah, Yeshua, and communicating Him in an authentically Jewish way. We want to help the seeking church see Him through our Jewish perspective, the Messianic community continue to experience Him in the ways of our Fathers and the greater Jewish community see Him in a whole new way...as our JEWISH Messiah!
We have a few projects coming up that we need your prayers and support on, so that's where I'll start. I'm going to keep you informed, engaged and challenged. Without you, there is no Lev Shelo Ministries. Do you like our music? Does it move you? Invite us out to your congregation! Support us with your donations so that we can continue to produce quality music. And most of all, pray for us! In fact, send in your prayer requests and we will pray for you! (Keep them short and to the point so I am not totally overwhelmed, though!)
Lev Shelo has been in existence since 2006. We released our first CD in 2010, our second one in 2013 and are in production now of our first, professional quality music video. Do you want to see our video come to fruition and make a positive impact in our society? Played on VH1 and MTV, for instance? Then please consider donating when you receive our first fund-raising campaign notice! I know a lot of people are asking for assistance all the time, but we are trusting God to speak to the hearts of those whom He instructs to give.
Every month, I will pen a newsletter, short and sweet and to the point, to let you know what we're doing and where we're going. I'll bring you along on this journey and if, at any time, you decide you want to unsubscribe, you can simply click on the link at the bottom of the page. Its that simple. I'm looking forward to having you get to know us better and sharing with you all that God is doing in this particular corner of our Messianic Jewish world!
In His grip,
July 30, 2012
Well, here we go again! The time has finally come to record another CD and, like the first time, we don't have all the funds in order. No matter, though. G-d is in control! He will provide. We just need to step out into the water and He will do the rest. So far, we've had the pleasure of recording with world-renowned violinist, Maurice Sklar, and what a pleasurable experience that has been! Very anointed musician! As G-d has been laying the concept on my heart, little by little, He is reminding me of how dependent we are on Him and each other. We have suffered a bit of a loss this year, as our drummer has had to step down to take some personal time, but its all good. G-d has opened other doors already and filled the void. Still, the changes are sometimes disheartening and I often find myself wondering when will the dust settle in our ministry? The configuration of Lev Shelo, as a band, has changed drastically, and I can't help but think that this was G-d's design all along. We are only now just "getting with the program"!
Its been a hard season, but a good one at the same time. I'm still trying to adjust to my "new norm" with all the responsibilities I've taken on in my life! Recently, I was asked to begin writing for The Messianic Times newspaper, which stretches me even more, but I couldn't turn down a little extra income, experience and new contacts I am making that cross over into my ministry as a worship leader. I absolutely LOVE meeting the new people through this endeavor! My first article was a biggie....to interview and write about country music legend, Glen Campbell! What a treat that was! The following issue, I took on a really fun assignment; to write about surfing in Israel! Surfing, you say? Yes! The March/April 2012 issue has my article on the front page!
As a band, we have also had the privilege of working with some very forward thinkers within the "One New Man" concept that is building and growing in many areas within the Messianic Community. I tend to be more guarded than most when it comes to implementing this idea. I want to be sure it is not another ploy of the enemy to force Jewish people to assimilate! I'm proud of my identity and I think it is worth preserving. G-d has His reasons for keeping the sayers of the Sh'ma relevant throughout the world and in some very tough circumstances! No ham sandwiches for this girl!
November 30, 2011
Many people have asked me, recently, why I don't write the "o" in L-rd and G-d. I thought I'd write a quick summary about my views on it. I call it, "The Missing “O” in
Lord and God"
Now, for the "o" factor! It is done more out of respect and a mindfulness of my Jewish community, than a personal conviction of my own. You see, in the more orthodox circles, the "o" is omitted from L-rd and G-d so that these two "names" (they're more like titles, actually) are never disrespected or taken in vain in the written word. For example, let's say you have a piece of paper in your hand and you've written something about G-d on it, using either G-d or L-rd. Then, you drop it on the floor. In Judaism, the name of G-d is never to be placed on the floor so as to show the highest regard for His name. To avoid any such accidental disrespect, the "o" is simply omitted and the name is, of course, implied. So, when the paper hits the floor, you are not guilty of showing disrespect.
This practice is one of many that we refer to as "fences" around Torah. The more "fences" around His word that you implement, the safer the word becomes - well, more preserved anyway. My family keeps "Biblical kosher". In other words, we, as Jews, do not eat certain foods that are listed in the Torah. These dietary laws called "kashrut", are for sanctification of my people. G-d has used these and His other commandments, specifically for Jews, in order to preserve us as His people. This is how the Messiah was able to come through the line of the Hebrews. G-d used His Torah to sanctify His name and set us apart to do that so that Messiah could be born, incarnate on the earth. We are still set aside for His purposes, as we await the return of Yeshua.
In orthodox Judaism, they practice kashrut to a deeper and greater degree by instituting the teachings of the rabbi's and sages of old. We call this rabbinical kosher (which I do not keep). The scripture references in Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21 all say not to "boil a kid in it's mother's milk". The rabbis have expounded on this to mean that it is prohibited to eat meat with dairy together or to even benefit in any way from such a mixture. I find these scriptures to be obscure in their meaning, so I do not practice the rabbi's version, but greatly respect any Jew who chooses to. There are many more ins and outs to kashrut which I do not follow, but I keep the basic premise of not eating anything that the Bible lists as forbidden, out of obedience, as a Jew, to the word of G-d.
August 9, 2011
Life has been so hard, it seems, these past few months, especially. For everyone, not just for me. I look around and see sky-high unemployment rates, our country's credit rating downgraded, our navy seals crashing in their military helicopter, genocide in the Sudan AGAIN, companies leaving the United States, riots in London, homeless people in my town, the Arab nations turned upside down with unrest, Israel still fighting for the right to exist (what's up with that??!!), the presidential race ramping up, which I'm not quite ready for. (Where did the time go?!) On the personal front, my father-in-law nearly died a few weeks ago during hip replacement surgery, my Dad's Alzheimer's is advancing more rapidly, (I am really missing my Dad), my brother's and their families are hurting, financially. My brother, Paul, fell of a ladder at work and fractured his back and, what's worse, he has no sense of smell or taste since he hit his head on the way down! My husband's overtime at work has dried up completely and I don't know how we're going to make it to the end of the year. My friend is having trouble with her teenage son's rebellion. My other friend, Mishele, is just trying to figure out how to survive day-to-day, taking care of her disabled son, Daniel, while the demonic attacks keep coming. And my son is struggling with heavy health issues that no one can fix. Ugh. It just goes on and on!
Solomon wrote about life's troubles in Ecclesiastes. He said there was nothing new under the sun. Its so strange to me that he actually experienced a time of great peace in Israel during his reign, personal wealth, success......but declared that all was vanity. He was like, "woe is me" and he had everything! He described the emptiness of life and the lack of fulfillment from all the pursuit of pleasure and riches to which he had devoted his life. How does his life and mine compare? What's more, how did we come to the same conclusion? That all is vanity - vanity here meaning emptiness. But in the end, he comes to the conclusion that everything has its time, true friends are valuable, eternity is in our hearts, popularity passes away, fear G-d, keep your vows, let your words be few, don't love wealth, value wisdom, be generous, be diligent, remember your Creator and death comes to us all.
Up or down, it all shakes out the same. What I mean is, whether things are going great for you or whether you are constantly battlling just to stay afloat, the things that matter most to G-d - to us - are what we are to focus on. These things not only help us get to where we need to be, but they help us survive the journey. And if we're focusing on Him, we may even get to enjoy the ride. The true purpose of life; a walk with G-d. That's where I'm going; on a walk with Him.
April 14, 2011
Ok, so I know I'm not good at this and I don't know if anyone even reads this, but I'm going to post anyway. A LOT has happened already this year; too much to go into now. Suffice it to say that I am meeting so many new faces, connecting with so many people; more than in my wildest dreams, and beginning to travel more than I ever have in my life.
We are still running things pretty much on our own, which has been very difficult at times, but it has its rewards. We got through tax season fairly well, set up Lev Shelo as a non-profit ministry (Hoorah!), so now it's "Lev Shelo Ministries, Inc.". Wow, the things G-d is doing! But I've had to step back quite a few times and ask myself, "Is this what HE wants?" "Am I doing this for the right reasons?" "Do I want to even do this at all?"
Ministry, it seems, and a very public and demanding one at that, is very taxing to the finances, the body, the soul and the family. Ever since I've been in Messianic leadership I've been feeling the constant pressure of the enemy breathing down my neck, waiting for me to fail, which I've done so obligingly well at times. I was forced to do some real soul searching at the beginning of the year. Things were coming apart in a way and I honestly wanted to quit. "Why can't I just be a housewife?!", I demanded of G-d! "What is it like to just be a good mother and wife? Why do I have to walk around with an invisible target painted on my back?" It was a real crisis for me. After some very encouraging words from my rabbi and Mark & Rachel, and my husband, Michael, I had to repent. Yes, I said repent. How can I NOT be who G-d designed me to be?! It is HIS work in my life that has gotten me where I am today, success or failure. It doesn't matter. I am walking in the gifts He entrusted to me and I need to learn to do that without question! Do I get weary and discouraged? YES! For heaven's sake. I'm human!
I long to touch people in a tangible way with what we're doing here. I always tell people that I'm not interested in a career. But ministry.....serving G-d in a tangible way.....making an impact in someone's life somewhere......I am interested in that. No matter what the cost. I don't want to get to the end of my life, look back and say, "What did I do with what I had?" The question shouldn't even exist because the answer has already gone before it a long, long time ago.
January 3, 2011
I know, its been a while since I've blogged! The challenges of running and operating in a ministry like this are more than I expected. Just know that we are doing extremely well, we are moving forward and looking with joyful expectancy to what G-d is going to do with us, as a group. We have learned a lot already and know we have much more growing to do. We have many things on our list we'd like to accomplish, but leaving them all in His most capable hands to accomplish them, if He so desires. What a privilege it is to serve in ministry! At this time, we're gearing up and preparing to minister at the MJAA Southwest Regional conference in February. We're very excited and we hope to see you there on 2/18-2/20.
October 20, 2010
The last few weeks have seen us traveling a bit, playing here and there, ironing out the "kinks" in our "presentation" of worship, finding out what works and doesn't work. We have been meeting some really neat people and nurturing new friendships. Its been so cool! Last night we played at a coffee house for the second time and we actually had a "repeat" audience! They were singing along with our tunes! In Hebrew, no less!!! It was awesome! We're meeting with a prospective manager next week. We really need that! I'm getting bogged down with administrative-type duties! I just want to write music and sing and get out there - change the world for Yeshua!
Speaking of writing music.....Mark has been pumping out tunes for CD #2 like there's no tomorrow! Tony has added to the fray as well. I'm left with the task of developing a melody line to Mark's arrangements and writing lyrics! I'm still feeling overwhelmed with other things so I haven't had the chance to really sit and wait on G-d for those words to come, but the melodies come almost immediately when I hear Mark's chords. I think the words are there, but they're stuck inside my head.
Well, I think G-d decided to show me something that was really very humbling. On our way back from a gig today, my 13 year old daughter, Michaela, took notes on a song I wanted to develop. She asked me what I wanted the song to be about, so I told her. Then I played the chords for her on my car stereo and she began filling her paper with lyrics and they were GOOD!!! I think I just found my writing partner!~
October 6, 2010
It's been several weeks now since the release of our CD. Whatever expectations I had for this endeavor are changed and altered forever. I don't mean that in a negative sense; it's just that I am learning so much through the ebb and flow of releasing a project like this. I'm learning about people - their likes and dislikes, what moves and motivates them, how they view us and our ministry now as opposed to before we had a CD. I'm learning about the "business" end of things and how it all gets put together; how it all works. I'm learning, mostly, about how trusting G-d for finances, provision, inspiration, favor with people in leadership and favor with the people in general is something I can't afford to neglect. I feel as if G-d has me in a raft going down a river right now. White water rapids - things are fast and exciting and interesting and I almost feel a little scared, its so exilerating! Then, around the bend, the water is calm and deep and peaceful, but slow and I no longer know if I'm going to make it to my destination, but at least I can catch my breath.
What a ride.....
August 13, 2010
Shabbat shalom. The sun is nearly down, so I gotta go. Just wanted to say that I am thoroughly enjoying the feedback we're getting from the CD. It feels so strange, to put ourselves out there like this. So vulnerable I guess is the term I'm looking for. We poured everything we have into this project, just hoping G-d can use it for His purposes and keeping our expectations a little low. As the music grew, so did our hopes and our expectations. I'm learning so much about how to get good exposure, how to market our product and how G-d changes our course when we think we now have it all figured out! Go G-d! So glad He's steering this boat!
Anyway, I have the ability to see statistics in our back office of the web site. Its amazing how there are people all over the world taking a peak at our site! How did they find us?! What do they think? Are they looking for something in particular? Can we help? I wish every one of them would leave a comment. I'd like to know what they're thinking and how they came across our site. Hmmm.....sounds like a good experiment.
Well, got to get ready for tomorrow. Its Lilo's bat mitzvah and I'm leading worship at the shul (synagogue). She's 88 years old and has never had a bat mitzvah. If they were having bat mitzvah for girls back in the day she would have missed her first one anyway. Lilo spent most of her teen years in a concentration camp. I can't even wrap my head around that.....
July 31, 2010
On our way home now from Seattle. The conference was a blast. Rachel and I met so many really cool people. The erev Shabbat and Shabbat services were very liturgical which is something we're not used to, but very enjoyable just the same. I'm so impressed with the Seattle congregation there. They are amazing with their Hebrew and knowlege of our traditions and liturgy.
Roman and Alaina Wood played on Thursday night. The worship was so sweet! I'm so glad to have been there to see that! Please go to www.romanandalaina.com to see and hear more about this amazing husband and wife team. Their new CD is awesome!
Tomorrow I hit the ground running! So much to do to get ready for our release date on August 6th! I took CDs up to Seattle and sold a bunch, gave out some and really enjoyed meeting people who had never heard of us, but bought our CD anyway! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! The entire band appreciates your love and support. It is our heart's desire to be used by HaShem in any way possible to lead people back home - to Him! One of the most profound comments we received was how diverse our music is. There is something on our CD for nearly everyone. Except rap. Sorry!
July 27, 2010
I'm getting ready to fly out to Seattle on Wednesday morning with Rachel. The UMJC (Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations) is hosting their annual international conference there. It will be the first time anyone officially sees and hears our CD! As a special treat, people will also see Rachel's amazing silk scarves that she hand dyes. We're both a little nervous and excited about going. I can't wait to see old friends and meet new people. I know they are going to dig our tunes! I'm also participating in a praise and worship music committee that is being formed to help facilitate Messianic Jewish congregations throughout the world with resources and ideas for their services. Its very exciting and I am looking forward to making some kind of contribution to this effort. I'll be surrounded by some pretty amazing musicians in our community so I'm also looking forward to being in their company and gleaning from their experiences. I'll blog when I can! L'hit!
July 22, 2010
Wow, my first blog ever! Hi, everyone, this is Corry Bell, lead singer for the band, Lev Shelo. You probably have a lot of questions, so let's just get to some answering, shall we? First off, many people have asked me, "What does Lev Shelo mean?" Well, Lev Shelo is Hebrew meaning "His heart". Its really easy to get caught up in our own dreams and desires, egos and ambitions, but our joy, our simcha if you will, is to desire what G-d wants for our lives. So, we figured we'd have a name that reminds us of just that. He is the One who giveth and taketh away, nachon? (Right?) So, there it is; Hebrew 101. You just learned 4 new words!
We've also been asked when the CD is being released and where can I buy it? Well, our scheduled release date is August 6, 2010, G-d willing! We'll make it available here on our website, at CD Baby, Reverbnation, Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue's Judaica store and by email if you want to contact me. Hmmm.....I do hope I can keep up. Yes, we think the CD is that good!
We had a few painful experiences during production of our CD. First, our engineer, Billy, lost his dad, suddenly. Then, Mark lost his dad just several weeks later! It was rather bizarre. By the time we mastered the project, Billy had to put his cat to sleep. Also during this time, I had the heartbreaking task of placing my dad, who is deaf and has Alzheimer's, in a home where he could receive round-the-clock care. So, it was a few months of non-stop grieving for us, but a time of incredible growth and blessings as well. We kind of figured we were supposed to just keep our focus on the task at hand - keep our eyes on Yeshua, really. You know, our enemy tries to throw distractions at us all the time, but G-d has work for us to do and a bigger picture in mind, so we run that race and encourage one another and realize that we're probably on the edge of something bigger than us. Well, you get the point.