Beauty everywhere

I’m home on my first ever snow day. A freak wintry mix has been spreading through the south, causing mass hysteria. Much warranted hysteria, I might add, with the crazy traffic issues that have happened in Atlanta. Here in Florida, it’s not nearly that bad, but the entire town is practically closed. Many are rolling their eyes, claiming how much we’re overreacting when we didn’t even get any snow.

I’m quite glad that our town overreacted, because the much anticipated snow that never fell wasn’t the issue. The potential for icy roads and black ice that none of us have a clue how to drive on is the scary part. I think the smartest thing the city can do is keep as many people home as possible.

So, here I sit, warm and dry in my home. I’m thankful that we’re safe, and that I’ve not heard of any major accidents. When I awoke this morning, it was with anticipation at the possible snow fall. Although we didn’t technically get snow, there was definitely cold stuff falling from the sky. Freezing rain, hail, ice pellets, whatever. It’s still something we don’t see, and it’s still beautiful.

I’m amazed when I sit back and think of all that God created. Frozen stuff falling from the sky is just plain cool. (Northerners, don’t punch me in the face please.)

As I walked through my crunchy front yard, I smiled at the beauty in simple frozen water.

Snowed in
Frozen birdbath

Alzheimer’s Stories

This semester in community chorus, we're learning a tough piece of modern music. It's called “Alzheimer's Stories” written by Robert Cohen. We perform the piece in a little over a week.

I can't sing the third movement without choking up. It's entitled “For the Caregivers.”

Keep faith

They sense what they cannot show

Love and music are the last things to go

Sing anything

My best friend lost her mom to Alzheimer's last year. Their journey was a rough one, as they watched her diminish from a lively woman to bedridden silence. My friend would visit her often. When her mom reached the point where she couldn't really communicate anymore, she would sing to her. And her mom would smile.

When I was 8, we visited my Granny in the nursing home. I didn't recognize her. Her normally curly hair was flattened against her head. She smiled, but it was blankly. My grandfather walked to the piano and began to play The Entertainer. Her foot started tapping along, always keeping the tempo.

There are many things in life that I simply do not understand. Alzheimer's is one. And yet, I am always amazed at the power of music. It holds more weight than we realize.

I think God intended it that way.


Gratitude: Puppies and pumpkin pie

In the midst of a very busy month, I'm still thankful.

  1. Thanksgiving. Long weekend, family time, good food, and a reminder to be thankful.
  2. My sister. We've always been close, and I love the inside jokes we have. Nobody makes soupy mashed potatoes like we do.
  3. Mom and Dad. Thanksgiving has been at their house for the past few years. Even though it's not the house I grew up in, it still feels like home.
  4. My nephews. Love these guys.
  5. My husband. So thankful that he does all the driving on long road trips and never complains when I sleep half the time. I feel so safe with him.
  6. My African “kids.” A friend posted an updated photo on Facebook of some of our African Children's Choir kids. I was amazed at how they've grown. So proud of them and the way they're growing into amazing men and women. 
  7. This precious little thing (unfortunately not mine). Puppy cuddles undo loads of stress. 
  8. Cuban coffee. Yum.
  9. Singing some tough Dvorak and Haydn. Beautiful melodies make my soul happy.
  10. Pumpkin pie. Quite possibly my favorite dessert.

What are you thankful for?


Life happens

For the last few weeks, I have missed my Monday blogging deadline. Deadlines are good; even self imposed ones. That deadline kept me working, kept me writing.

But sometimes life happens.

Life has been full lately. Too busy somedays. I remain thankful for a better paying job and awesome coworkers. But working lots of overtime has sucked most of my time and energy. That Monday deadline approached, and I had nothing to offer.

I will continue to post, but it may not always be on Monday. I will continue to write. Some posts may be great, some not so much. I’m thankful for those of you that stick with me, even when the writing sucks.

I look forward to some rest this weekend, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

The room where I fell in love with music

Walking through those halls felt really weird.

I returned to my high school this week. My choir conductor and favorite teacher had the school’s choir room named after him. There was a special dedication ceremony, and alumni were asked not only to attend, but to surprise “Doc” by singing. We joined current Lincoln High School choir members and formed a large choir. Autumn Farewell’s a cappella harmonies bounced off the auditorium walls and surrounded Doc with love. He even got to conduct us. It felt like Mr. Holland’s Opus.

It’s always weird to return to a piece of your past. I walked past familiar old buildings, having déjà vu again and again. Memories flooded back. I remembered the insecurity I grappled with for so long. I walked down the long corridor that led back to the math and foreign language rooms. I found the hallway where I used to sit with all my math nerd friends. It felt familiar and yet not at all like I remembered. Everything was so different.

And then I walked into that choir room, and it was just as I remembered. Things were different, for sure, but that room felt comfortably familiar. There might have been new pictures or paint colors or chairs, but that overwhelming feeling of “home” is ever present.

That room is where I fell in love with music.

Doc and his wife Miss Bobbie are very special people in my life. In that choir room I began to learn about quarter notes and key signatures. I learned how to form proper vowels and produce a beautiful tone. But I also learned how powerful music is. How a simple, beautiful melody can bring a tear to your eye. How a certain chord progression can weigh on your heart. How singing made me feel whole.

I walked into that room with a small, timid voice. By the time I walked out for the last time, I was singing in front of audiences by myself. Without the love and encouragement I found in that room, I would not be the person I am today.

I’m so incredibly thankful for that room, and the reminder that music still burns deeply inside me.

Soften my heart, thicken my skin

“Lord, soften my heart and thicken my skin.”

This is a prayer I pray often. Because I’m learning two things in this world:

  1. This world is filled with a lot of people who need grace
  2. This world is filled with a lot of people who are really mean

I have grown cynical in recent years. Movies/songs/everyday life that used to inspire and fill with warm fuzzies usually make my eyes roll now. I hate that. I want to be moved by things and filled with joy and inspiration. It’s just really hard to do that when there are a lot of jerks in the world. My guard is up.

And I don’t want to let my guard completely down. I don’t want to let the jerks all the way in. Some people shouldn’t be allowed too far into your life.

I want a soft heart toward the beautiful and the broken things in this world, but I don’t want to be so shaken by the mean and hurtful things.

How do you keep a soft heart along with thick skin?

When worship is disturbing

This post originally appeared in September of 2012.

Years ago, when I first became a Christian, worship meant happy. I equated it with warm fuzzies and an emotional high tied to the music. If worship didn’t have those basic ingredients, something was wrong, and it obviously wasn’t worship.

It never occurred to me that worship might have the opposite effect.

My husband and I have been certified lay speakers in the Methodist Church. We sat through a weekend of classes that then qualified us to stand at the pulpit in our church and share a message. My husband preached more than I, and he is dang good at it. After one sermon, he expressed a frustration. Everyone came to him after, shook his hand with a warm smile and said, “That was a wonderful message.” And then they’d walk out happily into their Sunday afternoon, chattering about where to go to lunch that day.

My very wise husband said, “If I’m really doing my job right, then I should be making them uncomfortable.”

Sometimes worship disturbs me and sometimes it affirms me. I prefer affirming. The warm fuzzies emerge and all is well with the world. But if I want to progress in my faith, I need to be disturbed. Something needs to spur me onto something greater, rather than encouraging me to stay put and relish in the happy feelings and all the good in me.

I want to be a better Christian. I want to be able to love God more fully and offer grace to my neighbor. In order to do that, sometimes my boat needs to be rocked a bit. I need that slap in the face that all is not well with the world and I need to make some changes.

It’s not pretty, but it’s necessary if I want to become like Jesus.


Worshiping even when…

This post originally appeared in November 2012. I need to constantly remind myself to worship, even in the hard times, even when I don’t feel like it. 

It’s been a rough year for me. Through it all, I’ve fluctuated between firmly believing God is in control to pity parties because I’m so flipping miserable.

My health has been the issue that tends to throw me into a downward spiral. I’ve shared briefly in the past about an issue I’ve been having with my left ear; a constant feeling of pressure that will not go away. In the last year, I’ve had blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, allergy tests, steroid prescriptions and a minor surgical procedure done. I’ve spent more money on doctor visits than I ever have before.

After all that, I was finally (properly) diagnosed. The problem was given a name: Pulsatile Tinnitus. (I’ll let you google that if you’re really curious.)

Even though it was a relief to finally know what was going on, I was crushed to hear that there was nothing that could be done for it. Luckily, it’s not life threatening or painful. It’s just really annoying to live with.

I’m left wondering, “Why, God? Why? You’re the great healer, so why not fix this?”

And maybe He will. I have faith that He could. But He’s not fixing it right now. For whatever reason, I’ve been plagued with this weird ailment that sometimes makes me dizzy and exhausted.

I’ve thrown my pity parties. I’ve been angry at God. I’m annoyed that He gave me this thorn in my side.

But what good does that do?

I know that God does not always give us wonderful days and easy times. I’ve known that from the start of this whole Christian journey. So why should I be surprised when things don’t go my way?

When it all comes down to it, He is always faithful and still deserves my worship. If I only worship Him when things are going well, that makes me a pretty shallow person.

So I’ll continue to thank Him for all the good in my life (because there is plenty) and tell Him how awesome He is. Even if it’s just a little prayer eked out here and there because that’s all I have energy for. My worship right now won’t be big and energetic, but that’s okay. It’s coming from where I’m at; low energy and tired, but still trying.

He is still worthy, no matter how bad things get.
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Question: How have you worshiped through the hard times in your life?


Tired of me

I'm trying to think of something to write about. Some days I think I'm out of subject material. Some days I just got nothing. Really, I'm just tired of thinking and over analyzing things.

Today, I'm tired of thinking about me, of talking about me. I'm tired of me.

Today, I'd love to hear about you. What's up in your life? Tell me something fun or interesting.
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And thanks for reading. You guys are awesome.