“Eye” Opening (A Lesson in Perspective)

The fingerprints of God are often invisible until you see them in the rearview mirror. -Levi Lusko

It had been a long season…one of more “downs” than “ups.”  Sometimes life is like that.  They say that a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child…and, wow, do I get that now.  Still, I held out hope (even if it was just the tiniest glimmer.) I had been looking forward to this day, a day where we could all unceremoniously start a new chapter.  It had arrived…without fanfare and without jubilation.  Only numbness and fatigue.

I had gotten so used to the old pattern, the barely breathing pattern where the emotions were so close to the surface that it was practically a miracle if no one noticed.  The questions still resounded in my head, “if only…could I have…and what if?”  Pointless questions really.  I had gone over them a thousand times in my mind. Day after day.  I prayed.  And I kept praying.  I trusted that the lesson would reveal itself.  Maybe.  Someday.

In the quietness of that afternoon I found myself searching out a needle and thread.  Crossing a “finish line” meant that I could now tend to things that I had put off.  The scattered stuffing of the basement tiger could no longer be set aside.  I asked, “Don’t you think it’s time we got rid of this?  Maybe it’s time to throw the tiger away….”  No.  It was a gift.  It was still useful.  It was a part of the family.  In reality, it was huge, it had a hole, it was getting stuffing EVERYWHERE.

When I finally found the sewing supplies I needed, I headed downstairs.  Needle in hand I realized that I forgot to bring my reading glasses.  “There’s no way you’ll be able to thread the needle without them,” the voice in my head noted.  Uggghh.  I tried any way.  Nope.  Tried again.  Ain’t happenin’.  On the third attempt I adjusted my perspective.  Moving the needle in front of the golden belly of the tiger changed the background just enough…allowing me to focus.  Suddenly the eye that had eluded me stood out clear as day.  The black thread easily went through.  Victory.  (I needed that.)

I stitched up the stuffed tiger and ran my fingers over its new battle scar.  Not bad.  For the most part, the new stitches were practically undetectable…that is until the last few.  Probably where the hole started, I thought.  Damaged faux fur, but totally fixable.  With the right perspective…totally fixable.

For I know the one in whom I trust.  And I am sure that He is able.  2 Timothy 1:12

Advertisements

Love Story: The Pen Remains Mighty

More than kisses, letters mingle souls. –John Donne, author and poet

When my children were little, they loved to sing this little ditty from Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues:  “We just got a letter, we just got a letter, we just got a letter…I wonder who it’s from?”  Maybe you’ve heard of it? (And if not, sorry for the brain worm!)  They would sing this song on the way to the mailbox daily.  The song continued no matter what kind of mail had arrived.  Electric bill…sing.  Junk mail…sing.  Not at this address…sing.  You get the picture.  When an actual package, card or letter would arrive (grandmas are awesome for this,) there would be absolute pandemonium–sheer unbridled jubilation!  As holidays approached, especially birthdays, the anticipation level in the house was off the charts.  Today, they’re “super chill” teenagers, but I can still feel this same anticipation meter slowly (and in the most cool manner ever) rise like in the “old” days! It makes my heart smile.

I had one of those heart smile moments just the other day at church.  As part of our CARDS ministry, a large display sits in the gathering area outside the Sanctuary.  This portable, mini Hallmark booth houses handmade greeting cards for all occasions.  Anyone is welcome to browse and choose one of these colorful creations in exchange for a $1 donation to the larger ministry which sends these amazing little gems overseas to our service men and women (who then fill them out and send them home to their families and loved ones.)  It’s a beautiful circle of love, one that mutually benefits the card crafters, our country’s service personnel, military families and friends, our church community and, above all, brings honor to our Creator.  It’s such an amazing mission ministry, but here’s the part where my heart smiled.  While walking through the gathering area with a group of elementary girls, one young lady stopped to pause.  And while it’s not unusual for the kiddos who participate in our Wednesday night children’s ministry programs to check out the display, she pointed several out to me, and shared that she had recently bought one herself.

I was taken aback, fourth graders aren’t your typical greeting card shoppers.  She said it was for her mother’s birthday.  Later, when I had an opportunity, I asked her about the card.  She told me that she had been scoping the cards out for weeks, trying to pick the very best one.  At the same time, she started saving her coins.  When her mother’s birthday arrived, she had reached her $1 goal and chose a card.  She said, “I’m a kid.  I can’t go to the store…I wanted my mom to have something beautiful to open on her birthday.”  And just like that, the mission field expanded.  Heart smile…can you feel it?

I always tell people that amazing and wonderful things happen at church!  And while I believe God is truly everywhere, it seems as if the Holy Spirit is palpable here…how else could we get filled up each week, ready to share the Good News and be Light to others?  When I went home that night, I thought about that little girl and the card she gave to her mom.  As a mother myself, I know what treasures these gifts are!  Written on that card in ink pen she would find more than her sweet child’s fourth grade handwriting and autograph, she would experience thoughtfulness, a child’s innocence, and unconditional love.  Words written on mere paper, yet guaranteed to leave a permanent mark on a mother’s heart.  In an age of texts and emails,  it is gratifying to know (that on so many levels) the pen remains mighty indeed.

 

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.  Proverbs 3:3

 

Food Network is Winning (aka Writer’s Block)

Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.  –Charles Bukowski

Ugggghh.  In case you haven’t noticed, things have been a little quiet.  Not by choice, but basically because of choices.  Kind of like no one gains 50 pounds by avoiding potato chips.  (Does that even make sense?  I’m pretty sure that’s not even a real saying.)  All foolishness aside, I’ve definitely hit a season of writer’s block.  It actually came on in the summer.  I could feel it (barreling at me like a big truck,) but I didn’t know what to do about it.  I figured if I ignored it, it might just go away.  (It could happen!)  It didn’t.

The experts say look for every opportunity to write.  Create goals for yourself.  Write, even if you have nothing to write about.  My solution to the whole problem was to create a blog series and force myself to write every day.  Every.  Single. Day.  I can laugh about it now.  What started out as a “Countdown TO Summer” became a “Countdown THROUGH Summer.”  Still, it was writing and they say some writing is better than nothing.  Ugggghhh.  (What do they know?  I wonder if they ever had writer’s block?  They think they know everything.)

It seemed like every time I sat down to write, nothing new or interesting was happening.  In reality, everything uninteresting was happening.  Time was marching on.  Life was moving fast.  And Food Network just kept calling my name…and you know that I am absolutely not a foodie.  So what gives?  I wasn’t watching to improve my cooking skills or to discover cutting edge cuisine.  I wasn’t watching because of some celebrity chef crush.  I wasn’t watching for the original programming (ha–that made me laugh!)  It turns out that nothing new or interesting was happening on the Food Network, either.  Maybe this is where misery just loves company.

Ok, it hasn’t been all that bad.  I found joy in painting.  (Painting furniture.  Painting my daughter’s bedroom.  Painting wall décor.)  I fed that creative drive with baking.  I took on a new project at church.  I watched (and continue to watch) a lot of baseball, softball and soccer.  I helped my son learn to drive.  I have racked up hundreds of hours listening to (and learning from) podcasts.  Still, it’s a strange season that I’m in.  One where I long to hear the clickety-clak of the keyboard, but  wonder if I have anything truly worthwhile to say.

Every writer knows that writer’s block is unavoidable.  I don’t want to call it a necessary evil, but it is a reality…especially now.  Perhaps, just maybe, this is how a writers knows he/she has arrived…yeah, I’m just going to go with that.  Clickety-clak, clickety-clak!

To give an appropriate answer is a joy; how good is a word at the right time! Proverbs 15:23

 

 

 

 

KEEP CALM, Summer’s Coming (15 Sunshine-Inspired Songs) SONG 15

Laughter is an instant vacation.  –Milton Berle

Me in Hawaii…being eaten alive by tropical mosquitoes. Yay!

Have you ever tried vacationing with an introvert?  It’s the absolute worst!  I know because I am THAT introvert.

Basically, I’m a home body.  I’m perfectly content with staying inside ALL DAY.  This becomes problematic when your entire family is made up of extroverts.  They like to do things (like go out of the house,) hang out with friends, see new things and try adventurous stuff…in the HEAT of summer!  Ugggghhh.  I’m not “anti” all of this…I’m just a lot more particular about how it all gets done.  Thus, the worst introvert to vacation with.  EVER.

So what does this have to do with the last song on my summer playlist?  A lot actually.  “Vacation” by the Go Go’s was a smash hit in 1982.  Quirky, fun-loving, and surfy…these girls really nailed the pop/punk rock/girl power kind of sound.  A tune about trying to use a vacation to get over a guy–well what could be more practical than that?  (Introverts LOVE practical!)  “Vacation” further cemented the popular girl group as 80s icons resulting in the song earning the number eight spot on both the Billboard Top 100 and the Rolling Stone Best Summer Songs of All Time list.  And while these ladies seem like the “vacation” type, interviews and soundbites reveal that they were actually a little salty.  Group members wrote their own songs, learned how to play their own instruments, scoffed at the record label executives, and basically did everything on their terms.  Which sounds a little bit like my approach to vacationing…why do we need to go, what will we see there, how much is this going to cost, is it really worth my time, is it safe and (my favorite question) how many people are going to be there?  So who wants to travel with me now?

Seriously, I love this song and remember thinking as a kid how cool it would be to perform synchronized water-skiing with my best girl friends.  We all wanted to be Belinda Carlisle and the catchy chorus still brings a smile to my face.  Besides, the music video actually depicts the best kind of vacation ever–virtual!  Enjoy YOUR summer!

 

KEEP CALM, Summer’s Coming (15 Sunshine-Inspired Songs) SONG 14

Worst. Summer. Ever.  -author unknown

I wish summer could be all sunshine, popsicles and flip-flops, but we all know the truth.  There are bad days out there.  Sometimes the bad days have our names written all over them.  And yes, sometimes those bad days occur in the middle of summer.  Like when you friends can’t hang out, some kid vomits in the local pool, its scorching hot outside or worse- IT WON”T STOP RAINING!  Then…there’s evil humidity.  Boo.

Leave it to a rebel music icon like Eddie Cochran to write, sing and sum it all up perfectly in the song, “Summertime Blues.”  If they say, “expectation is the root of all heartache (Shakespeare,)” then summer expectations are the worst.  Cochran was a rising star in the late 50s and (depending on sources) co-wrote this Billboard Top 100 song about being broke, working all the time, and life as an overlooked youth.  Ouch!  Still, this upbeat, rockabilly favorite has become a summer anthem for a number of generations.  Originally a B-side single, “Summertime Blues” has been covered countless times and in a variety of musical genres.  Cochran was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and his song is ranked number 73 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  His untimely death further cemented his legacy as a rock-n-roll legend.

I’m pretty sure I came across the song via pop culture…most likely though the 80s comedy, Caddyshack and especially the biopic, La Bamba (love, love that movie.)  Now it’s a permanent fixture on my summer music playlist.  Cochran’s guitar and the juxtaposition of such a cheery-sounding song with the teen angst expressed in the lyrics…it’s just so relatable.  And you can’t beat that hand clapping!

UP NEXT:  Song 15…”vacation, all I ever wanted….”

 

KEEP CALM, Summer’s Coming (15 Sunshine-Inspired Songs) SONG 13

Walk towards the good life and one day you will arrive.  –Atticus

I’m not gonna lie…”500 Miles” by the Proclaimers is on several of my personal playlists.  Both catchy and campy, this song contains a quality that resonates with many…especially since one does not have to know how to sing in order to sing along with this little ditty.  And who doesn’t love a song like that?

Now a world-renowned hit, “500 Miles” first appeared on the music scene in 1988.  The Proclaimers, made up of Scottish twins Craig and Charlie Reid, first topped the charts in Iceland, Australia and New Zealand…but it wasn’t until 1993 (with the release of the movie Benny and Joon) that the song reached epic status.  From there, “500 Miles” has topped the charts worldwide, been featured in additional films, on TV, and in commercials, rewritten for charity and covered by countless bands.  Penned by Craig Reid (reportedly in less than one hour,) he said in an interview that he knew it would be a hit…although he had no idea just how popular the song would be!  The duo’s only American Top 10, it initially received limited air time, that is until station managers realized the term “havering” actually didn’t mean anything “naughty.” (The slang term actually refers to endless babbling.)

The song has come full circle for me.  While the lyrics seem to suggest that this song is about a couple, I think it can also fit any type of love relationship or friendship…probably one of the reasons so many are drawn to it.  It was my best friend’s favorite song back in high school.  We played it countless times on the way to and from school, while cruising Main Street on  warm summer nights, in the Sonic drive-thru…I think you get the picture.  I carried this song with me to college…playing it over and over as a fun reminder of days gone by.  Eventually this one-hit wonder drifted away from my mind until my teenage son “discovered” it on Netflix via the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”  Apparently the song has regained status among a new generation thanks to the antics of Ted and Marshall.  Today, “500 Miles” has become something of an odd family favorite as we all know the words and typically sing it at the top of our lungs while cruising along in the swagger wagon…a zanny anthem for sweethearts, friends and now…families, too!

“Da da da dun diddle un diddle un diddle uh da….”

 

Up Next…SONG 14…”their ain’t no cure for the summertime blues….”

KEEP CALM, Summer’s Coming (15 Sunshine-Inspired Songs) SONG 12

There are only 18 summers in childhood.  -author unknown

To be honest, I’ve been putting off writing about this song.  I decided to include “Lost Boy” by Ruth B. on my summer playlist for two reasons.  First, I remember it playing practically non-stop last summer (2016) and I couldn’t quite wrap my head around its success.  And second, because (eventually) its haunting lyrics and melody spoke to me in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.

A piano ballad on the Billboard Top 100 might be unusual, but the term “unusual” pretty much describes this song from start to finish.  The Canadian singer/songwriter Ruth B. said she wrote the first line of the song after watching the television show Once Upon a Time.  She then “debuted” her partial song via the Vine app.  Fans encouraged her to write a full song, and thanks to internet demand, she released a YouTube video in late 2015.  Record labels finally took notice and an official music video arrived in Spring 2016.  Many in the industry thought the idea of a song about Peter Pan simply wouldn’t fly (pun intended.)  Several said it was too “Disney” and others wrote it off as anything but a summer music hit.  Obviously, they were wrong.  A ballad about a young boy who refuses to grow up, a rebel of sorts who will not conform, a carefree character who chooses fantasy over reality…it was a song that resonated with so many…even a 40 something year old mom.

“Lost Boy” was the song that played on the radio when we headed to the ballpark and played again on the long rides home.  On nights when our team won, the song’s melody suggested that these were absolutely the very best days.  Peter Pan was definitely on to something–never, ever grow up! On nights when the team lost, the song resounded with a heartbreaking quality.  A reminder that perhaps these were indeed “lost” years, where boys transform into men despite the alluring idea of living in “Neverland.”  Watching your children grow up is something that no one can prepare you for…believe me, I know.  I’ve read all the books, sought out advice from everyone under the sun and I still sit in awe.  My mind can barely wrap itself around the idea that these kiddos are becoming adults and my heart practically refuses to believe this is even a possibility.  Yet here we are.

I remember what it was like to be fifteen.  It was the absolute best and it was the absolute worst.  It was fun and it was lonely.  It was exciting and it was scary.  It was pivotal.  Neverland never looked so good (at least to this mom.)

UP NEXT:  Song 13…”I would walk 500 miles….”