Friday, August 5, 2011

The Memory is in the Music

Dear Isabella,
I plug my headphones into this laptop, with every intention of making a playlist of dramatic ballads and classical music for my budding dancer... that would be you Bella Beautiful...
don't feel bad if you are reading this at the age of twenty or thirty and you are a waitress or a teacher. 
You don't have to be a ballerina, I think for you dancing will simply always be a part of who you are.
 You have done it automatically since you could control your movements.
I've seen Vivian starting to show signs of it too... 
Daniel does it as well, but in his own violent boyish way that will probably need to involve a drum set for him and ear plugs for the rest of us... nothing wrong with that.

Music seems to run deep on both sides of your family.
On my side you have a bit of talent....
does guitar hero count?

(I can hear my mother screaming now that she played the french horn... and she did.
Noted Mom! She also did it while marching in uncomfortable clothes which says something about her character and her stamina.) 

Mostly what you have from my side though is love and passion. My Aunts, my mother, and my sister will often end up in a puddle on the floor after certain songs... and the list of "songs that require kleenex and chocolate" is long for us. You should have seen us trying to pick songs for my wedding.... never mind, you will there are very funny photo's!

If you put on a song we love every woman in my family (especially Andrea) will freak out and reach for the nearest spoon, hairbrush or water bottle and pretend to be Celine Dion for just a few minutes,.... except we are way more into it than she ever was!

On your fathers side there is a lot of measurable talent for every imaginable instrument. 
I am told that your great great Grandmother could play the piano so well she could be handed a piece of music and play it immediately. I love to play and I only dream of being that talented one day.
Your Grandfather (who I sadly never met) played something like Jerry Lee Lewis, or so I am told.
Your Dad has often told me how amazing it was to hear him play, and how your Grammy would hold on to the lamps and picture frames so that the pounding, pulsing honky tonk music wouldn't destroy her home. Someday maybe your Dad will try to find that sheet music and bring it to life again.

Why always someday... one day soon? 
Why not today?
I think we need to start living more in the moment.

But ironically even as I say that my point in beginning to write here tonight is because as I was looking for songs for you, Bella, songs you would like to dance to in your terribly serious and graceful way, 

I instead found my self drifting through time.
 
Music is a time machine, and I am helpless to do anything but walk away and shut my ears or follow and endure the bittersweet memories with the ghost of FM stations past.

Bitter mostly for a time left behind, and people too.
The ones you can't get back... either because they have left this earth and they will be forever young, 
or because you have both changed too much... and to say you even know each other anymore would be absurd.

Sweet for the good times remembered forever in that one song....
that takes you at breath taking speed right back to that one summer.
That one place. 
That one person.
That one party.
That one dance floor.
That one road trip.

And sweet again because even though that song is yours in a deeply personal way, it also belongs to a thousand other people who have loved, and lived, and cried, and danced to it.
And love it as fiercely as you do.

That's why I'm not naming any of my songs here.Because it might shatter the picture I am trying to paint.

Yours are not mine... but chances are if you know me enough to be reading my blog then we share a few awesome memories and songs. And I am sure Bella, that you and I, and Tommy, Daniel, Vivi, and Daddy will share more real life soundtrack moments than anyone before us.

God tells us in His word that dance and music and praise are powerful.
I think that is why a song can hold us in its grasp all our lives. 
God knows we are a people who will react to song. We will hear a song and remember something. 
If we love Him it will often be His love and the blessings we have that we will remember first,
and our biggest blessing on this earth is each other.

So for now I will leave past to itself.... the oldies, and the 80's pop, and the grunge rock, and the hair bands.... and I'll get back to your playlist of Disney Princess classics, Chopin, Debussy, Hannah Montana, Nicole Nordeman, Adele, and Celine Dion.
I hope you like it, I hope you love the dance lessons Nana and Pap got you this fall, I hope more than anything you will use your love of dance to glorify the God who placed it in you when you were just a faint idea, a beautiful hope at the end of a long nine months.

Week 7 Weigh In!

So along with religion, faith and loving our fellow man there are of course many other very important topics of interest. Namely the size of my hips and whether or not my jeans are gonna fit by fall.

I kinda forgot to post my weigh-in last week. 
 I say kinda because I kept thinking I should but it just didn't seem like to big a deal...
it was an unimpressive but very motivational half a pound.
But it did put me over the ten pound mark AND I knew that if I stuck to it I would probably have a bigger loss this week.

I was right!
Week 7 was a loss of 3.8 pounds!!!
I am past my 5% goal and THIS close to 15 pounds lost.
Its actually great motivation for this week ahead which will be filled with potential landmines for unhealthy eating. Family reunion, trip to the amusement park, and the annual farm show with all those yummy gyro's and corndogs!!! 

I fully intend to indulge within reason, walk my but off and have a great time,
not only through out the week but next week on weigh in day as well when I will hopefully get my 3rd Five Pound Star!

True Religion

I am a bad at keeping up here with any thing resembling regularity.
But in my defense I have been busy thinking very deep thoughts.

And watching very pointless tv, and wasting time going on endless Wikipedia rabbit holes, 
and doing the mundane things that homemaking requires.

But otherwise I am thinking about faith, morality, legality, the bigger picture.

Reading amazing books,
Books which are in no way wholesome but make me feel as though perhaps I am not as crazy as I often feel.
Books that ramble through strange stories about a person (fictional or otherwise... doesn't matter really)  and their life experience and end on a note that makes your heart feel full with the realization that you have found another person who sees the same truths you do, good or bad. Pretty or ugly. 

These are the "truths" which are subjective, not truth at all in the real definition of the word. They are simply the things left when the smoke clears and you can look back on a thing in your life and pick these gems out of the rubble and carry them with you from then on.

And I wish I could condense it all and pass along these things more easily.
Its the sort of thing where you go to explain it to someone else and they look at you sympathetically but stumped as to what you are trying to convey. And you feel helpless to make them see, but desperate too because I think at the core of all of us is a need to be understood.

What am I saying you wonder?
Have I been drinking?
.... sadly no.

I am rethinking my faith and what it should look like.
Have I become legalistic?
Have I ever really been used by God to serve or am I self-serving?
I think I need to try to take "me" out of the question all together.

I watched a documentary not long ago.
Lord Save Us From Your Followers!.
I laughed at the title too. But we must admit that it is spot on.
What has Christianity become in the sight of the general public?
Anti-abortion, 
Anti-gay marriage,
Hypocritical,
Legalistic, 
Republican,

These are all the things I thought Christianity was before I slammed head first into the gospel of Jesus.
His love overshadowed those stereotypes for me and I was changed. 
But on my road through this faith I had failed to look back (in any serious way) and ask what it was about Christians that made me feel that way.

I suppose when I did think of it I assumed that others felt "convicted" of sin and therefore were defensive, or that Jesus said we would be persecuted and it was a simple as that.

(I have to say to my young naive self that you have NEVER and possibly will never experience a measurable amount of persecution in your charmed life.)

But watching that documentary made me see something ugly inside me.
I was more like the people chanting against abortion and speaking in stupid slogans toward transvestites...
"love the sinner, hate the sin." 

It is a mistake to reduce your faith and your savior to a bumper sticker slogan.
Don't do it... and don't put it in your facebook or your twitter either!

It is also a mistake to see another persons sin as greater than our own.
James 2:10 says that the sin of lying looks the same to God as the sin of murder.
So why have we decided some sins deserve special treatment?

How would you feel if you were gay hearing James Dobson say
"Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage.
It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."
hmm... more likely I think they simply want to have civil rights which I myself enjoy.
And I could point to a whole lot of heterosexual people who are not monogamous,
and quite a few homosexuals who are. Ridiculous stereotypes are not helpful
Why are we concerned about keeping gay marriage illegal but not creating a law against adultery?
Or lust even??? Doesn't the bible call all these things sin, and all sin equal?
  
How would you feel.... if you were not the seemingly self-righteous Christian with the slogan and the Lord on your side....if you were instead the woman who made a desperately difficult decision to abort her "pregnancy" rather than face the pain of being stuck in an abusive relationship, or going through giving away a baby, or any number of other scenarios you have failed to think about.
 
. One woman told me that she would,
"abort an unwanted pregnancy tomorrow,
but if I found a baby on my doorstep I would raise it as my own"
... my point is she is not a monster, she is a good mother of three and has a heart to take care of a child who isn't even hers. She just doesn't see the world the way you see it. She doesn't see sin because she doesn't know Jesus. And when she looks at you does she see Jesus or condemnation, 
thinly veiled or otherwise?

It was at the end that I was moved to nearly uncontrollable tears.

At the end of the documentary we see a group of people who say they love Jesus, and that he is their Lord.
We do not see them rallying on the steps of city hall, or speaking on "Meet the Press". 
They are not picketing in front of the abortion clinic, or buying a bumper sticker or a fish, or spending money on another fallible politicians campaign.
These are not the sort of Christians you would find packing out the mega church's that spout off a lot of self-esteem and self-help nonsense.
They are not at church on this evening having a "spiritual experience".... 
on this evening they are being the hands and feet of His Church.

They are under bridges in the dead of night, feeding, clothing, and even washing the feet of the homeless people of their city.

They are loving their neighbor as they love themselves.

With a haircut and a warm meal they meet real needs, and with God's grace and a lot of time spent they listen and build relationships with people most of us hardly glance at.... they do this because most of us hardly glance at them. Because Jesus commands them to love the least of these.
Because they know what a freely given, undeserving love feels like... God gave them that when they had nothing to offer in return.

It is so much easier for them to give to these people who have nothing than to give to us who have too much, they are desperately in need of a Savior in every sense.

We have to much time to sit and pick apart the Bible.
To sit and turn Jesus over and over in our minds to figure out what we should do to be like him....
or really how little we can do while still doing enough.

 Its making me rethink how I am writing here. Am I always being honest? 
Am I writing for my kids? To my kids?
To or for myself?
To the future in general...or is this just a flowery and incomplete log of what we do?

Sadly I believe the last is most true.
But happily I intend to change that along with the way I have been living my life and looking at others.

I know for me I will be pointing more to Jesus and less to the "sins" of others.
If you think I am writing this to you, I am not doing that anymore than I am writing it to myself.
I think its something everyone needs to hear, to see. To hold a mirror up to ourselves and ask what we look and sound like.
Jesus or Judgement?

he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?""The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 
'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
 Love the Lord your God with all your heart 
and with all your soul 
and with all your mind 
and with all your strength. 
The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:28-31