Wineskins Archive

February 5, 2014

Drawn Into Christ by the Music of Family (Sep-Dec 2004)

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by Lucy Diaz Kruz
September – December 2004

This is a story about the life-giving, transforming power of the gospel of Christ. An entire family line was affected and the ripple effect flowed over me as well and reverberated in my soul. When the chain reaction started, however, I had not yet been born.

During my childhood, my parents were not Christians. There were many desperate times in the life of this family.

My maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Mexico. They were migrant farm workers. At one period in her life, my grandmother used to swim barrels of whiskey across the Rio Grande. Both of them loved music and liked to dance. My grandfather moonlighted as a dance hall musician and was known to jump off stage now and then and pistol whip someone over dancing too close to my grandmother. Of course, all the alcohol being consumed only worsened the situation. Later, at home, my grandfather would beat my grandmother for her misbehavior. My grandmother liked to make my grandfather jealous.

My mother recalls trying to defend her mother only to end up inviting her father’s wrath toward her as well. My mother—a brave soul—would wind up under the bed hanging on to the metal bars, absolutely terrified, as my grandfather tried to extract her so he could beat her, too. In a drunken rage my grandmother would also turn on her at times, thus getting the attention off her own plight. Of course, when they weren’t drunk, they were kind, hard-working people who desired to keep the family together.

One day, my grandfather wandered through the flaps of a revival tent as a curious onlooker, drawn in by the music.

In that tent, my grandfather heard the gospel preached for the first time in his life and gave his heart to the Lord. He was so impressed by his new birth experience that he rushed home and begged my grandmother to go to the next evening service. She refused; they had been Catholics all their lives and Catholics they would stay!

My mother recalls that as my grandfather left for the service each night, my grandmother would light candles and hold a vigil of her own, gathering her family together and praying to the Virgin Mary for this nonsense to stop. She did not know what my grandfather was into, but she resisted just the same. At length, my grandmother grew curious and decided to investigate this new found experience; after all, says my mother, she had expected her husband to force her to go, but he hadn’t, and she didn’t want to miss out if it was good!

From the moment they gave their lives fully to the Christ, they were transformed. Singing at the bars gave way to singing at church, cussing gave way to praising God, tobacco gave way to chewing gum—but not in church! But the changes were deeper than a change of habits. For example, my grandparents’ abusive use of alcohol with all its devastating effects was banished! All the gusto of partying with friends was replaced with passionate witnessing, a desire to see God transform the lives of all their family and friends.

After he was saved, my grandfather would use his energies in productive ways. To anyone who would listen, he would tell the gospel. Bible in hand, he would endlessly go over the message of salvation and the promises contained in Scripture. He saw himself as a disciple of Christ. He helped those in need, went overboard on giving, and even left his children to go hungry, as cooked food was taken elsewhere to those he deemed more needy. In one season of his life, he would drive into Mexico and return with those he thought needed to attend revival meetings in Carlsbad, California. Apparently our border was more porous in those days—he would simply drive back and forth, collecting the saved and unsaved in his pick up truck.

My grandmother also had evangelistic zeal. After becoming a Christian, she took a job in a factory. She was a servant of the kingdom of God. For instance, she once had gospel tracks printed up and would go door to door witnessing, and she would also invite people to park rallies. She would hire the preacher, coordinate the musicians and work the event, all in a drive to get souls saved. She visited and prayed for the sick and kept busy long into her later years. Like my grandfather—and this is very important—she relentlessly prayed for the salvation of their children, family and friends. And I am sure that, privately, and maybe not so privately, they also helped pray me into existence and salvation as well. Our obedience and faithful prayer has a profound impact on the spiritual lives of others. It did on me.

My grandparents were both very active Christians, but my parents weren’t interested. Prior to my birth, my mother had a baby daughter that was stillborn. Several doctors told her that she would not be able to have any more children. My mother was a Catholic, so she prayed to the Virgin Mary, begging her for another baby. Nine years later, I arrived. My mother adored me. She was immensely protective of me and emotionally walled me in; I was her daughter, her possession. But her temper also possessed me.

Perhaps because of her upbringing, my mother had vices of her own—most notably a violent temper. She ran my father off more than a few times. She was a harsh disciplinarian. You did not cross or challenge her. I can remember hiding in the closet—along with an array of other coping measures—as she stormed through the house, leather belt swinging in her hand. One day I was in the school bathroom showing a trusted friend my welts, and the teacher walked in and saw them. She drank them in, and I tearfully begged her not to tell my mother she had seen the marks. I’m sure the teacher was amazed at my vocal outpouring. My teacher moved me up to sit by her desk and from then on I was her little pet. God must have intervened for me that day through my teacher. And I had many teachers who cared for me over the years. Maybe they were Christians, maybe not, but just the same, I believe God used them to provide tender love, affirmation, shelter, and sanctuary while I was in their care at school.

When I turned nine, my mother finally became a Christian. And over time the beatings in our house stopped. Her walk with the Lord deepened, bringing further profound changes to the core of her spirit and outward personality. Now she prayed to the Father fervently and was a gentle flower with others, with me. She impressed even her most hardened enemies as they began to see the sweeping changes the Lord wrought in her.

I can see now the pressures she faced and how, when comparing herself to her parents, she honestly did not think she was that bad. But I do remember hating her as I began to head into adolescence. Most of us seemed to morph into something not so good as we left childhood—probably due to bitter resentment over how we were treated and the dysfunctional emotional state of our home prior to my parent’s conversion. We also blamed our father for never being around and never stepping in. He hardly even spoke to us, exhausted from working two jobs, providing for a wife and six children; he had burdens of his own.

While in grade school I used to read the Bible a great deal. I suppose my mother’s fervor hit me too, but as I grew older, my attitude began to change. My academic experience seemed to change perhaps because my heart began to turn in the wrong direction. I attended an all-Anglo junior high school and was mocked daily. Yes, I’m going to say it: racial discrimination took its toll on me. Yet, ironically, my mother did not want me associating with minorities—like myself—because she wanted me to assimilate and do well. She wanted me educated—not married, educated. She wanted me to have everything she had not had, and so I was not taught how to be domestic. She wanted me to read. She enlisted my brother’s help in buying me stacks of books. I was not a fancy dresser and certainly no dater. I was intentionally separated from Hispanic women and families, even my own! (Don’t take a dim view of my mother; realize that she hasn’t been able to tell her side! She is a remarkable Christian woman to this day, and I adore her.) She wanted me to go to charm school and learn to play the piano. I refused.

I was left-handed. My mother thought that was a sign of slowness or mental deficiency. She would tie up my left hand, leaving me to use my right hand to write. I wrote poorly with my right hand, and my teacher noticed and talked to my mother. From that time on I was allowed to use my left hand. Yet till recently even the prospect of using my left hand created anxiety. I failed typing courses and later in life used a typing program to re-learn. The program emitted a strike noise when a mistake was made, whereupon I would burst into tears. I realized that I was crying out of dread and fear that I would be punished or make a mistake.

My memory is that from my junior year in high school—when I started working—until my senior year of college, I turned my back on the Lord completely. I believe I was saved as a child but only have vague thoughts of that experience. I do, however, remember two devastating turning temptations: two lies the devil convinced me of were these. Number one, there is no place for you in the body of Christ. The Hispanic church does not believe women are to do any significant teaching or hold any real leadership positions so you clearly don’t fit in. Your ambition as a woman will always keep you out, separate you and they will never accept you. Number two, you really aren’t spiritually fit since you have lied, sinned and, like Esau, there is no blessing for you. What if you live your entire life as a goody two shoes only to find out that you can’t get into heaven anyway?

Obviously, the devil told me many lies, but these are just two of the predominant ones that I remember most clearly. To this day I firmly believe that children should be properly taught the Bible. Do not give them a watered down version, and if they are reading the Bible, find a way to explain it to them so that the devil is not able to misconstrue passages and paint the word as fictitious. Arm them with the truth of God’s word so that they can combat the enemy’s deceptions.

God completely forgave me when I recommitted my life to Him, and Jesus began the process of completely cleansing me of all that I exposed myself to when I was not walking with Him. How I wish now that those years would not have happened. It all starts out feeling so fun and harmless, but the years take their toll, and I found myself cleaning up baggage for years and years afterwards. Ugly painful images haunted me until I learned how to firmly keep them under the blood of Christ.

God was also faithful to restore my life in remarkable ways. After graduating from the University of Southern California, a series of small jobs led me to Maranatha! Music, and that’s where I began my career in Christian music. From there I went on to represent hundreds of artists and projects over the years for various record companies, including Sparrow, Integrity, GospoCentric, and B-Rite Music.

I had wandered into the revival tent, drawn by the music. The same sacred music that had attracted my grandfather now strengthened me, and I was eager to share it with others. And many of the good things my parents had instilled in me were now shaped by the hand of a loving God and led to good success.

Even though I was working in a Christian product industry, I was stressed, worn out and had begun to crack around the edges. My workaholic lifestyle left little energy for much of anything, and I badly needed some spiritual rest and relaxation; I found it at a retreat along with the “something more” God had been speaking to me about.Thirty years earlier, I had prayed for a man like Frederic Lynn Kurz to be my husband. I met him at that retreat. He was in his fifties and had never been married. He came to the Lord in his forties and lost a lot of his luggage right then and there. By that I mean all the baggage he had collected not knowing the Lord, living a heathen lifestyle all over the world. He was always looking for his next adrenaline high, so working on global projects provided just the excitement he was looking for. He was a highly prized and talented, intellectual proficient in many areas, dashing, and daring.

But on the day I met Fred, he was just this sweet, humble, gracious man who always had a bit of conversation to share, but mostly he just listened. And as those who know me attest, I can talk.

As we look back on our lives, we both know that God in his mercy spared our lives several times. We know that he transformed our lives entirely, pulling us from muck and mire into green pastures on which we fed for many years before meeting one another. We both know that had we met earlier in life we might not have connected—too much ego, pride and bluster would have stood in our way. We compliment each other perfectly, enjoying a deep and fulfilling relationship with each other spiritually, mentally and physically. God did not shortchange me in any area. Both my husband and I wanted to marry once for life, and by God’s grace that’s just how it will be.

The Lord has given me everything I searched for spiritually in childhood but did not know how to acquire. Today when circumstances or feelings bewilder or throw me off course, I know how to use the Word of God, prayer, and fellowship with others to effectively defeat and stop the enemy in his tracks. I am improving daily and am determined to grow in my Christian walk day by day.

The music still draws me ever closer. And someday I will dance to that music with my grandfather.New Wineskins

Lucy Diaz KruzLucy Diaz Kurz has more than twenty years experience in the Christian music industry with various labels and companies. She continues to consult with her Lucy Diaz Kurz Consulting firm (LDKC) [Email Lucy Diaz Kurz].

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