05 October 2016

From Mourning To Dancing!

Sarah Jane Mouer
April 20, 1923 - September 25, 2016
A eulogy I delivered at my grandmother's memorial service on September 29, 2016.

Good morning. On behalf of the family, I'd like to thank all of you for being here today. You honor my grandmother with your presence. And you honor us. 
I have many specific and vivid memories involving my grandmother, who I called Nana. Although I’m not a talker like she was, I could share stories until long after you’ve grown tired of hearing them. She was a very “hands-on” grandmother. When I was a kid, she was always very involved in the things I liked to do, from playing ping-pong and board games to cheering us on w/ her cowbell from the porch as we lit fireworks on New Year’s Eve. When I was a young adult, she was always interested in the things that interested me, namely the friends I brought back to Waynesboro to visit, each of whom I reached out to when my dad shared the news of her passing on Sunday; and all of whom had very specific things to say about how she took a liking to them and how she treated them, using words like “warmth,” “kindness,” “beautiful life,” “strong,” “sweet,” “Godly woman,” “wonderful,” “welcoming,” “loving,” and “quite the character.” And now as an adult with a family, Nana took an immediate liking to (and gave her unqualified approval of) Angie as my wife and savored the fact that she lived long enough to see God bless Angie and I with two children.

A general observation that comes to mind is that Nana’s spunky, light-hearted personality was the perfect complement to my grandfather’s more reserved, serious and contemplative nature. You didn’t have to know a lot about love to understand the special relationship that Nana and Pop Pop shared. Point in fact, when I told my son, who recently turned 6, that Nana had died, his response was: “I bet she’s having a good time with Pop Pop.”
So a 6-yr old figured out they had something special; and that’s in limited visits to Waynesboro from our home in Harrisburg. The legacy of their sacred love, based on the foundation of Christ's love for us, has reached three full generations. Incredible!!

“I bet she’s having a good time with Pop Pop.”

There's another truth embedded in that statement from my son. And, believe it or not, its even more important than an earthy love between Pop Pop and Nana. 

You see, this statement speaks directly to the hope that Nana had b/c of her faith in Christ. A hope that death is not complete; that death is not the end. But rather, a new beginning. A gift of grace to live as God fully intended us to live.
Let me just flesh that out a bit. So there's this one time in the ministry of Jesus where he's preaching and healing in Jerusalem – doing all these amazing things. The Jewish leaders catch wind of what's going on and they confront him, charging him with heresy against God. But Jesus doesn't back down. In fact, he turns up the heat. This is just a small part of his response:

 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, for they have already passed from death into life." [John 5:24]
Did you catch that? Those who believe in God have passed from death to life. So Nana hasn't just passed away. No...She's passed from death to life. From darkness to light. From pain to perfect healing. From seeing in part, to seeing in full. From mourning to dancing!

You know what? I too believe Nana's having a good time with Pop Pop and Jesus!
I stood in this very spot almost 2 years ago during Pop Pop's funeral and talked about a choice he had made many years ago. That was the choice of life. The choice to believe in God and walk in His ways. Nana certainly made that same choice. It's a choice we're all given the opportunity to make.  If it's not one you've made yet, I pray that Father God would touch your heart right now and that you would believe. Reading from the Gospel of John:

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, or of human decision, but born of God. [John 1:12-13]
Today, may you truly know Father's great love for you! Amen.

Sarah Jane Mouer Obituary

29 July 2016

Strong Foundation

Bruce E. Mouer
July 27, 1953 - July 23, 2016
A eulogy I delivered at my uncle’s memorial service on July 27, 2016.

Good morning.

As I was thinking about what to share this morning, a number of things came to mind, but two specific memories really resonated with me.
The first is a bit of a family secret. You know how every family has some unspoken rules? Well, in our family, there’s this rule that us grandkids needed the approval of certain members of the family before we could even think about getting married to whoever it was that we were dating. Well, in our family, both Nana and Bruce served in that role!

In fact, the first memory I had of Uncle Bruce on Saturday morning after I learned of his passing, and the one that brought tears to my eyes, was his unqualified “approval” of Angie as a potential wife after meeting her for the first time. It was a big deal to me. BTW: I also got Nana’s approval shortly thereafter! And have been happily married to Angie for 8 years!

The second memory occurred more recently. At some point in 2014 or 2015 I heard that Uncle Bruce was interested in learning to play the banjo. In April of last year I was listening to some music on my way to work one day that featured a banjo...so my thoughts turned to Uncle Bruce and God laid it on my heart to put together a collection of songs that were meaningful to me to share with him and encourage him. A couple of Sunday mornings later, my phone rang. I distinctly remember this because it’s not common that your phone rings at 7:30 on a Sunday morning! I was getting ready for church so I didn't get to it, but what I found ten minutes later was a voicemail from Uncle Bruce thanking me for the music, telling me how much it meant to him and telling me how much he loved my family. A week or two later he emailed me a short note thanking me again and sharing that God had blessed him in so many ways and that my family was part of that blessing. It was a huge encouragement to hear from Uncle Bruce in this manner, and a blessing to know that the music I shared found a home in his heart.

I also wanted to share more of a general observation of Bruce's life. We know that Uncle Bruce could build a good house, whether through carpentry or plumbing. He would be the first to tell you that the foundation was the most important part of the house. Whether that be the concrete upon which the framing of the house was set, or the furnace that served as the foundation of a heating system. But, more importantly, Uncle Bruce understood the importance of having a solid foundation in his personal life. And, for him, that foundation was built upon the rock of Jesus Christ.

By the grace of God, Uncle Bruce was a man of great faith. He wasn't the kind to stand on a soapbox and tell the world about it, but I'm almost certain that if you ever got him alone, and engaged in the right conversation, he would tell you what Jesus meant in his life. That Jesus had rescued him many times over. See, he understood that in the greater design of God's redemptive plan, true life is ultimately offered through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

In one of Jesus' teachings, he said this:
“[E]veryone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” [Matthew 7:24-27].

Now, this is a familiar passage to most of us. But don't miss the point here. This is not a teaching on storm avoidance – both houses faced the storm!* No, this was Jesus telling us that his way of life, the path he sets out for us in the Bible, is not meant to be a bunch of rules and regulations that hold us back and weigh us down, but a path to true life...a path to freedom…a path that opens us up to the power and transformative work of Jesus in our lives.

Uncle Bruce understood that Jesus was both the door to heaven and the path in this world that leads us into a new way of living.* He understood that the door and the path work together.* And the proof of this shown through in the way Uncle Bruce lived. For instance: All of the times he volunteered to run emergency plumbing calls on Christmas to ensure that the guys with young kids didn't have to go out. Later in life, he ran his business with honesty and integrity. In the way that he treated and loved Aunt Tammy. And the way he loved and nurtured Syndi.

He also had a firm understanding of the power of Jesus. He never missed the opportunity to tell you that Jesus healed the cancer that invaded his body a number of years ago. And I'm almost certain that until he drew his final breath, he fully believed in his heart that Jesus would heal him again.

The last interaction I personally had with Uncle Bruce was on July 4th, when a number of other family members and I gathered around him and Aunt Tammy and prayed for strength and healing. You see, I too fully believed in my heart that Jesus would heal him completely. And I don't say that lightly. Jesus did not choose to heal him here on earth, but to give Uncle Bruce an ultimate healing, that of a new and perfect body in Heaven. As family and friends, we certainly mourn his death, and will miss him greatly, but we do so in full knowledge and understanding of God's promises about what happens next…eternal life in the presence of Jesus.

Grace and peace be with you.

*Taken from the sermon, The Choice IsYours, by Pastor George Davis

17 January 2016


A finely curated collection of sounds that captured my ear, heart and mind in 2015. I'm still leaning heavy on SoundCloud as my go-to for discovering new music. I also continue to find new stuff on Noisetrade, the ISO50 blog and Twitter. I'm pretty sure I only purchased one CD this past year, so I'm finally letting go of that format for my music purchases. Definitely purchased more vinyl this year, as I'm buying all of my "forever" music in this format now (with the added convenience of the immediate digital download). The rest of my music was purchased digitally from iTunes -- due to the ability to access the music across all of my devices. And without further ado...

Purity Ring . Begin Again
Electronic pop in all it's glory! Solid track here that works best on a real set of speakers.

Mutemath . Joy Rides
I was a fan of Mutemath's self-titled debut album in 2006, but hadn't really followed their career since then, until a friend turned me onto their new album, Vitals. It's a solid album from top to bottom, featuring an evolved sound and fresh production. "Joy Rides" immediately grabs you by the hand and effortlessly leads you into the good vibes!

Young Brother . Kamikaze
Infectious indie-pop with some crazy good falsettos! The hook in this one will be stuck in your head for quite some time.

The Weeknd . Can't Feel My Face
There's a strong Michael Jackson/"King of Pop" sensibility to this track that makes it a guilty pleasure of mine. Repeat listenings are definitely in order!

Gungor . One Wild Life
The title track from their album, One Wild Life: Soul -- one of my favorite albums of the year -- brings more of Gungor's indie-pop sensibilities to the table. I had a tough time choosing between this track and Lion of Rock, another standout from this first in a series of three albums titled One Wild Life.

Missio . I've Lost My Way
Cinematic, alt-electronic goodness. Lyrically simple. Philosophically complex.

LEVV . Arrow
Lush, cinematic soundscapes, angelic vocals and pointed lyrics -- the perfect recipe for a song.

Cubicolor . Falling (feat Tim Digby-Bell)
Haunting vocals combined with that glitchy, mid-tempo synth action. For fans of recent Radiohead, Thom Yorke and Duologue (whose lead vocalist is featured here).

Fleurie . Fire In My Bones
Smoky, digitally-altered vocals that show signs of fragility at just the right times set the stage for this edgy electronic track.

Frida Sundemo . Sun
More of that cinematic, electronic goodness, which seems to be a theme in this years list. Unique vocals that dance in the realms from time-to-time set this one apart from the others. The soundtrack for your journey to the sun -- if you dare go.

Josh Garrels . A Long Way
This song tells of a journey both lyrically and musically. From Home, an album that explores family, forgiveness and homecoming -- it's another one of my favorite albums of the year.

Liza Anne . Low Tide
A singer-songwriter track with airy vocals and the perfect touch of mid-tempo instrumentation that gently lifts the spirits.

Sufjan Stevens . Should Have Known Better
Carrie & Lowell is a graceful and honest meditation on mortality, memory and faith. I fully echo the sentiments of Dave Eggers (The Guardian) who says the album "is a fall-down gorgeous and emotionally devastating masterpiece prompted by the death of [Sufjan's] mother, Carrie, in 2012. It features some of the most beautiful music ever made about loss, and some of the most direct explorations of death ever recorded. It is a brutal, extremely sad, relentlessly wrenching record that, because it’s so exquisitely crafted, you might keep on a loop for days." And for that reason, it's one of my favorite albums of the year and "Should Have Known Better" is the standout track.

The Oh Hellos . Dear Wormwood
Honest, gritty, indie-folk featuring a complex song structure that somewhat follows the track of a roller coaster as it comes to a perplexing climax before quickly and quietly trailing away as the song ends. Uniquely meditative in nature.

John Lucas - We're Lions, You and I
This is the standout track from Lucas's debut album, Promised Land -- a true, piano-driven, singer/songwriter track that turns into an upbeat sing-along when you least expect it.

Mutemath . Remain
A very different track off of Vitals, "Remain" is contemplative, downtempo gold that calls to you from the edges as it builds and moves you with its delicate beauty.

Bora York . Vibes
A delicate, slow-building, indie-pop track that leaves you with nothing but good feels at the end!

Sego . Fool Around
Quirky, feel-good alt-pop!

JGivens . Super Lowkey
The unexpected tempo and sparse production on this one from JGiven's Fly Exam makes this my favorite hip-hop track of the year.

Wolf Alice . Moaning Lisa Smile
Wolf Alice is a throwback alt-rock band with just enough modern production to keep them interesting that features an edgy, female vocalist. "Moaning Lisa Smile" is definitely the hardest-hitting track on this year's list -- for those times when you just need to let go and give the mind a rest.

Cubicolor . Clime
Next level electronic production on this track that builds and builds in the most unique of ways.

George FitzGerald . Full Circle (feat Boxed In)
FitzGerald's brand of house hits the perfect nerve for me. Rolling, hard-hitting beats with the perfect compliment of that mellowed-out synth.

Previously: 2014 IN SOUND . 2013 IN SOUND . 2012 IN SOUND . 11 IN SOUND . twenty-ten in sound . 08 IN SOUND . 2007 In Song . Six for '06