Category Archives: Empty Nest

Just a random from the Journey <3

I have been reminiscing a bit about my piano lesson days thanks to attending a recital at our church and having about ten days worth of life application lessons in my morning devotions because the author was a concert pianist of sorts.

While she is able to pull all kinds of teachings from her years of disciplined practice and study, my recollections produce a gamut of emotions including slight trauma, minor pangs of guilt, heavy doses of longing and fits of giggles.

I would probably need counseling to sort it all out; but in a nutshell, I had a great desire to play the piano well but no disciplined drive to motivate me to do the work and no natural musical talent.

Or at least not the in the measure that my dad had.

My dad could play a song just by listening to it. He tuned pianos after he retired from the Air Force and he did the fine tuning by ear.

By ear.

Perfect pitch.

He understood rhythm and timing and it was more than he could stand when I didn’t.

And that would be where the minor trauma came in…but let’s skip that and move on to the guilt and fits of giggles.

Because back when I took piano, recitals were as rigorous as boot camp.

There was no carrying a book up with you or having your teacher lovingly sit beside you on the bench with her arm gently resting behind your back.

Oh no.

I grew up in the 60’s when piano lessons and teachers were as serious as the white patent leather shoes and ankle socks we wore with our spring frocks as we sat in hard-back chairs and waited our nervous turn to be called up to play.

I was probably in 5th or 6th grade the last year I took piano.

My recital piece was Beethoven’s Fur Elise. With two dots over the u…but sorry…not sure how to produce that either.

I still get kind of sweaty when I hear it played on the Pandora Classical station.

That spring I was more interested in playing outside and riding my bike than practicing, so my mom would set the timer and call me in every 30 minutes to play through my sheet music.

The idea was that retention would come from the repetition.

Good idea…but I would zip through it as fast as I could and then head back out to my friends.

Well…apparently all that discipline helped me get the first bit down because to this moment I can tell you it goes like…nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah naaaaaaaahhhhh nah-nah-nah-naaaaah nah-nah-nah….repeat a time or two and then…

I hit a blank.

Just like I did that fateful Sunday afternoon in the basement of the Lexington Avenue Baptist Church as my hands would hover over the keys, willing my mind to remember what came next.

Our teacher had told us if we forgot, we should just go back and start fresh.

In front of all those eyes, I started that piece over and over and over…until…well…I have blocked from my memory how it finally came to the place where I could get up and slink back to my seat.

However; I still vividly remember my mother’s reaction. In living color and surround sound.

Apparently I had given her the apex of the most embarrassing moments of her life, and considering she was older when she had me so that was pretty impressive.

She also informed me, in no uncertain terms as we exited the building, that my piano lesson days were F.I.N.I.S.H.E.D.

I was both completely mortified and strangely elated.

It was weird.

It still makes me sad that I couldn’t muster the discipline to play through that song mistake free on that Sunday afternoon.

And there is still a longing somewhere in me to be able to sit down at a piano and produce music.

But it also makes me laugh in the way that I was actually super relieved to be freed from the lessons and practice.

And she was wrong.

I did way more embarrassing things than that over the years.

I don’t really have a point to this today except maybe that I hope you can laugh at my eleven year old self.

We need to laugh and share our stories.

The real ones…the ones with no point except to share the parts of the journey that contributed to who we are today.

The parts where we were red-faced and goofy and that still make us stop and ponder just what happened there and how would we do it differently.

It’s what makes us human.

In a photoshopped world where we can carefully calculate our persona and create a phony sense of “this is the real me” even though it is only the cute parts of our quirkiness that we are willing to expose, it’s kind of freeing to ponder those moments that are filed away…and sometimes to just share with people you care about.

People like you.

Thanks for sharing the journey every week.

And if you are getting stuck on the opening bars of the song you were supposed to know by now…maybe it’s nice to know you are in good company <3

Abhor evil…cling to what is good

In a normal day it is not uncommon for me to cry several times.

Tears will slip out when I am talking or thinking or praying.

I rely on family and friends to regularly point to the corner of their eye as a tip that I have smears of mascara that need tending.

Yesterday I shed tears twice for people I don’t know at all.

The last time was just before we headed to bed as I cried for parents who were frantically waiting for news on the fate of a child outside a concert hall in Manchester, England and for first responders who had to hold it together as they did what they do in the mayhem.

I shed tears for the deception that leads someone to take his own life so that he can take out as many strangers as he possibly can.

I shed tears for a world system that keeps thinking somehow if we all just agree to disagree we can end the bloodshed and the confusion that comes when we all do what is right in our own sight, refusing to believe there is anything called Absolute Truth.

And I realize that’s a lot of thoughts swirling around the chaos that has become so much of our daily diet thanks to the internet and 24 hour news programming.

We can get so overwhelmed that we shut down.

So let me share the other thing that caused my heart to lump in my throat and generated some gentle tears at work.

Around lunch time a couple came in the store that I see from time to time.

I don’t know factually, but I assume they are husband and wife.

She walks slowly with one of those four-pronged canes. He gently holds the back of her jacket…just enough to steer her and keep her upright without her knowing it.

She’s a shopper and I totally get her.

As she gazes over each display, something will catch her eye and she will reach for it.

If she lingers more than a few seconds with it, he will gently ask her if she likes it…does she want it?

He will use his free hand to hold it for her and when he gets her to a place where she is holding steady, carries them to the counter and starts their pile.

I don’t like interfering with this tender dance they have going.

But as they move farther from the counter area; I begin to become the runner for him.

When she has covered the whole store, he asks her if she is sure she is finished. Is there anyone she is forgetting?

He will suggest some upcoming birthdays and events and when she’s sure she is done, they come to the counter.

I ring it up and he pulls out his wallet.

He never asks why she wants this or that.

He never makes a joke about her spending too much or the cash he is doling out.

He simply attends her shopping.

He lovingly takes her arm and the bag and he always says they will see me in a year…to which she says she hopes it’s sooner than that.

It will be.

Even now my throat is tightening and tears sting.

While I can pray for anyone in the whole wide world, I can’t do a thing today to offer comfort or support or love to the wounded around this globe.

But I can love the people I will come in contact with today.

I can extend a gracious patience with them.

I can be tender towards them and wait on them…and I don’t mean wait for them to do for me….I mean serve them..attend them…be attentive to them.

Not just for them…but because the world will see and know Christ by the way we love one another <3

 

What did you want to be when you grew up?

 

Photo by Rachel Maxwell

Emmett told me last week he is going to be a Bug Hunter when he grows up.

I told him that’s a big money maker, right there, and I asked him if he would buy us a house on the beach when he hits the jackpot.

He said sure.

I love kids’ minds for this reason.

They are completely unhindered by the concept that we end up melding what we wanted to do with the complications of salary, work ethic, need for insurance and pension planning…they just know what they like to do and they hope to do it when they reach that magical age of “grown up”.

My mom used to say that I ended up being exactly what I said repeatedly I wanted to be when I grew up.

A wife and a mom.

Yep.

Only I didn’t realize as a little girl that those weren’t jobs.

They are relationships.

All the hours I spent training in my play kitchen…washing dishes and setting plastic food out on the table…

giving my dolls baths and dressing them in clothes that never got soiled.

Ironing tiny clothes that never got wrinkled on a miniature ironing board with a toy iron that never got hot.

All those tasks that would make up the doing part of being a wife and a mom.

I loved playing at them and I have actually loved doing them for real.

They are the language of the love that would accompany those roles.

The love I didn’t know would make up the purpose of what I wanted to be when I grew up.

It isn’t always easy and I certainly had no way of preparing myself for the task.

But I thank God that He allowed me to become the thing He set in my heart to be.

Whatever God has called you to do …. or be…do it with your whole heart…as if in service unto Him…whether it’s bug hunting or loving your people…let it be always as a fragrant offering to Him … who calls us and equips us to do what He purposed us to do <3

Aaaaaaaannnnnnddddd it’s MoNdAy <3

So we celebrated Mother’s Day by napping and playing 9 holes at the closest golf course.

Russ said the par was 54.

I must be an overachiever because I hit that number on the first four holes.

At least.

The weather was perfect and Russ was as patient as you might expect of him because living with me for close to 36 years now has just enhanced his kind nature.

I wore him down before he ever said “I do”.

He is so gracious to me on the golf course that every time we play I think; if we weren’t already married I would want to date him.

He is a gentleman and a gentle man and he knows his wife takes every helpful suggestion as destructive criticism.

So after about the umpteenth-zillion time that I swung and missed the ball completely, I turned to him in frustration and he calmly asked…

what I wanted him to do.

Did I want a suggestion on how I could adjust my body to be more efficient?

And I said yes.

Somewhat nicely…I hope…

And he told me.

And I did it.

And lo and behold I moved that dad-gum dimpled ball a ways down the green.

Or fairway.

Or whatever you call that endless stretch of grass between the beginning and the end.

Jesus is like that, you know.

He’s a Gentleman and a Gentle Man.

He won’t force His ways on me.

He will stand patiently as I swing and miss…and get all frustrated…and am kind of unpleasant to be around.

He will wait for me … and push my clubs so I can go look for my errant ball…out in the trees…

and then He will ask me…

Would you like some help?

Yes please.

Yes Jesus…

Yes…

lead me today…

show me how to do this.

Show me how to walk and how to talk and how to be effective for You  <3

 

Indulge me, please. I’m having a moment <3

Yesterday was the last day I will wake the two little ones to go pick up their brother from Kindergarten.

I fueled them up with some serious carbs because we had to be at the school by 4:40 for the big spring musical extravaganza production of…Go Fish!

It was, as you would imagine, a delight to watch 60 plus 5 year olds in various homemade fish costumes sing and yawn and wiggle and do hand motions through a series of songs and corny jokes around an ocean theme.

No pics…sorry…I just soaked in every single minute of the whole thing…

when I wasn’t helping keep Emmett from falling through the auditorium chairs or apologizing to the man in front of me when Joel kept patting his back…

ahhh…the memories.

Afterwards, all four grandparents were invited to join the family for ice cream.

In the innocence and lack of self-consciousness that is still tenderly possessed by our little man…

he proudly wore his fish hat for the whole party.

And I made it a point to mark this in my heart.

As a mom I didn’t realize how fleeting these stages of childhood really are.

Like our Rachel, I was busy pinning stuffed shark fins to a t-shirt while trying to clean a pacifier with my spit and hold the middle one off from grabbing my camera.

But as a grandparent…I understand the moments better.

I understand that it is sacred worship to just sit and watch.

To entrust how much I will miss his carefree lack of self-consciousness and exuberant displays of affection into the hands of the Father who loves him and will guide him from this stage into the next.

I know he will most likely one day laugh at how precious we thought he was with ice cream all over his cute mug….

I know I won’t be able to scoop him up in my arms much longer.

I know the days and years that are ahead will move him into an adult and he will forget so much of these days that are my best days ever <3

I thank God for the circle of love that surrounds him and I pray for him to somehow find a way to embrace his inner fish-hat self…

that he will not ever grow so old that he forgets the joy of just being who he was created to be….

Loved by His Father….loved by us <3