Still Be Around

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Still be Around – Uncle Tupelo

This was the song playing in my mind when I woke up this morning. It is important to pay attention to the songs running through your mind – particularly if they come to you in your dreams. I’m not sure why this one visited me, but I’ve always loved it ever since it was released on Uncle Tupelo’s second album, “Still Feel Gone” in 1991.

The tune is happy and melancholy at the same time. It’s like when you are living in the happiest times and you hardly want to sleep because you know that one of these days it will be different – the bad news will come, or the lights won’t shine so bright, or it will be cloudy and rainy a few too many days. So, you soak in all the goodness while you can, every moment, even as you live into whatever comes next.

Maybe that is how autumn feels. Right now some of the trees here are brilliant red, yellow, and orange and some are still green. While there are some leaves on the ground, the weather is still warm enough that the windows in my office are open. It’s the best of everything – but so soon the winter will be here and one too many icy and snowy and cold day after another. It’s okay. Around here we know that winter has to happen before spring can come around again. We know how to make it through the cold…but it doesn’t make these gorgeous fall days any less bittersweet.

Still be Around – Uncle Tupelo

I don’t see you through the windshield
I don’t see you in faces looking back at me
Alcohol doesn’t have much that matters to say
Can’t imagine where you and time to kill will stay

When the Bible is a bottle and the hardwood floor is home
When morning comes twice a day or not at all
If I break in two, will you put me back together?
When this puzzle’s figured out, will you still be around?
To say, you’ve just been there walking the line upside down

Walked and breathed many a cancerous mile
Where the bat of an eye is too slow to beat the coffin
And they won’t tell it on the TV, they can’t say it on the radio
They pay to move it off the shelf and into our minds
Till you can’t tell the truth when it’s right in front of your eyes

When the Bible is a bottle, the hardwood floor is home
When morning comes twice a day or not at all
If I break in two, will you put me back together?
When this puzzle’s figured out, will you still be around?
To say, just been there walking the line upside down

Writer(s): Jay Farrar, Mike Heidorn, Jeffrey Scot Tweedy

Sunrise, Sunset

Reflections on Shuffle Play

Sunrise, Sunset – Fiddler on the Roof Soundtrack

And they are off. I got my babies up early and onto the bus and another school year has begun. I woke up with the song, “Sunrise, Sunset” going through my mind. It is a bit sad and melancholic – like my mood today. Even though I am thankful for each passing year, I notice how quickly the sunrises and sunsets pass.

I went for a run and then made my way over to church. There is no one else at the church this morning for a little while. I love the quiet – a perfect way to begin a week which is going to be very busy. This feels like the lull before the storm.

So many to keep in prayer today – my head practically spins with all the prayers: those recovering from Hurricane Harvey, those worrying about Hurricane Irma, all those in the line of the fires out west, a young mom from my church who is in the hospital with crippling headaches and no diagnosis yet, all the nervous students and overwhelmed teachers, all the parents feeling all the different feelings on this gorgeous fall morning, all the churches preparing for Rally Sunday, prayers upon prayers upon prayers.

My days are better when I begin them with prayer – and my prayers are often exactly like this: I write and see what comes out. Sometimes I don’t even know what is on my heart and what I want to tell God about (or what God is trying to tell me) until I am writing it down. It happens that way, or when I am out walking and suddenly I notice that I have been talking out loud to myself or to God or to some imaginary ‘other’ for the past few minutes.

Some people think prayer is akin to good thoughts – nice, but relatively powerless. Others see prayer as a good luck charm – if we just pray enough or in the right way, God will grant all our wishes.

But I see prayer as a conversation – it’s me telling God what is on my heart and if I am quiet enough and really listening, God revealing something of God’s own heart to me. It happens. I can’t explain it, but it is one of the truest things I know. When I pray, something breaks open in my heart and makes enough room for the Spirit to move, to give me some wisdom, some inspiration, some peace I was needing.

So, yes, I pray for others – but mostly I pray because this selfish heart needs it and the medicine only it can give.

Why do you pray? Do you pray?

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Sunrise, Sunset
from Fiddler on the Roof
Is this the little girl i carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?
Sunrise sunset, sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly flow the days,
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as they gaze…
Sunrise sunset, sunrise, sunset!
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears…
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears…

What Matters

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

What Matters by Matthew Sweet

My children go back to school tomorrow. After a long, beautiful summer filled with lazy days, sleeping in, camp, movies, one tonsillectomy, one trip to Norway, sleepovers, too many video games and TV shows, it is time to start a different routine. Right now, it’s hard to be too sentimental about them not being around every day as they are yelling at each other in the next room. Even so, I always get a little sad when it is time for the school year to start. I love the summers and the long, uninterrupted days with them. Sure, I still have to go to work, but they are old enough now that they are fine to be left alone for a few hours. We have always been spoiled, too, since the church where I work is right next door so if they needed me, in 200 paces they could be at my office door.

I never planned to be a mom. I was never one to exclaim over babies or to dream about raising a child. I can’t explain our decision to become parents except that one day when I was 35 my husband and I talked about how if we were going to become parents, we would have to start trying soon. We were so casual about it – completely content to let nature take its course. If we became pregnant – great. If we didn’t, it wasn’t meant to be. Our sense of eagerness would likely have increased if it had taken us longer – but as it was, the first time we tried to get pregnant, we did. It happened in exactly the same way a year later when we got pregnant with our second child. I was well aware of how different the experience was for many of my friends who tried for years to get pregnant and suffered miscarriages, so I never took my ease for granted. I was thankful.

But still, before my eldest finally arrived, I was scared. What if I hated being a mom? What if my child didn’t like me? I worried my way into motherhood, gaining 60 pounds and yet nauseous the whole time. My anxiety ramped up to a furious level as I thought about all the new things there were to worry about now when I not only had my own cares and concerns, but this whole other little person, too.

Then, he was born on a June afternoon. I didn’t get to hold him until the middle of the night because he had to be on oxygen in the NICU for a while. My husband had gone home to get a few hours of sleep and the nurse brought him to me and placed him in my arms. With the sounds of the city just beginning to wake up outside, I held my first-born and looked at his little face. So serene. So peaceful. All he needed in the whole wide world was for me to be his mom, and I realized that was what I needed, too.

And so, I became a mom – and I could write books about this – but the greatest surprise has been how it has been the loveliest part of life so far. My children have changed everything. They have made me less selfish. They have made me realize what matters. While I am prone to get too worked up about things at work, they remind me I am more than my job.

So, anyway, it’s back to school time. God bless my dear boys and all the children heading back to the routine of classrooms and extracurriculars. God bless all the parents as we let them go to keep on with their becoming.

sausalito boys

 

What Matters

In my mind I can’t imagine
How the world has come to me
And in my heart I can’t detach
The feeling that it couldn’t be

And no, I don’t want to kiss you
Don’t want to miss you if you go away
I’ll fake it don’t want to make it
Don’t want to feel another way

Once you had a love and you let it go
Now you know what matters
Once you had a dream that you realized
But do you know what matters

‘Cause you’re alone in the sense that I am
But you know we’re not alone
And we aren’t perfect nothing is
But try to understand
The moment leaves you without a vision
Can’t see decisions being made
I can describe the picture I’m painting
It’s not amazing when you know

Once you had a love and you let it go
Now you know what matters
Once you had a dream that you realized
But do you know what matters

To leave your feelings in the past
Part of it is you know you can’t go back for free

And no, I don’t want to kiss you
Don’t want to miss you if you go away
I’ll fake it don’t want to make it
Don’t want to feel another way

Once you had a love and you let it go
Now you know what matters
Once you had a dream that you realized
But do you know what matters

To leave your feelings in the past
Part of it is you know you can’t go back for free

What matters

Songwriters: Matthew Sweet

 

Everything You Want

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Everything You Want – Vertical Horizon

Jealousy sucks. I’ve been struggling with it so much lately, too, and I can recognize how it poisons me. I agree with the writer of Proverbs who wrote that “envy rots the bones.” (14:30)

I wonder what the root of jealousy is? Elizabeth Bowen wrote, “Jealousy is no more than feeling alone against smiling enemies.” This describes well what jealousy feels like: others are happy, overly joyful or secretly mocking, while we are left alone to look like a fool.

I’ve discovered the best cure for jealousy is to spend less time thinking about what others are up to and more time thinking about my own actions and ambitions. I don’t mean in a selfish way, ignoring the needs of others. Rather, I mean it in a “get off of Facebook” kind of way. The pretty pictures people post only display the very best of what is going on for them. The reality is much less perfect. We all have struggles, trials, bad days. We all have victories and joys. Not long ago, I had the opportunity to see a friend I hadn’t seen for a long time. She is one of those friends who has always seemed to so easily get the things I had to scratch and claw to get. In many ways, I dreaded seeing her because I felt like it would be painful – another reminder of all the ways I fall short and she is succeeding in her perfect life. However, what happened was that when we finally got together and spoke face to face, all I saw was a fellow human being and friend with her own quirks and gifts. We laughed and shared stories – honest stories about the good and bad the last years had held. Simply being together and seeing her in real life instead of imagining her life was all I needed to let go of all my visions that her world was so much better than mine.

Another elixir for envy is simply remembering to speak kindly to myself. When my mind starts ramping up with negative thoughts about myself and my abilities, it is time to stop, breathe and pray – and speak to myself like a friend. It’s usually easy for me to be kind to others, to point out their good qualities, to tell them the ways I notice they bless me and others…but when I look at myself, my attention immediately darts to my flaws. Treating myself with kindness includes making sure I have some fun each day, too, and to not let my life completely revolve around caring for my congregation and caring for my family. An old episode of Mad Men, a movie with my boys, lunch with a friend, going to bed early and reading, any of these things help me feel cared for and a tiny bit spoiled and reminds me of how much good there is in my life, just as it is.

Do you struggle with jealousy? Does envy creep into your bones more often than you would like? Don’t be too hard on yourself because jealousy is a very human emotion – it is normal to feel that way. But you get to decide what to do with that emotion.  You get to decide if you will feed those feelings or starve them. Social media, isolation, trying to undermine the efforts or speaking badly of those you envy – that will only intensify the feeling. However, if you help others celebrate their successes, wish them well, pray for them, keep working hard on what matters to you, and take good care of you, the jealousy will starve to death.

Everything You Want

Somewhere there’s speaking
It’s already coming in
Oh and it’s rising at the back of your mind
You never could get it
Unless you were fed it
Now you’re here and you don’t know why

But under skinned knees and the skid marks
Past the places where you used to learn
You howl and listen
Listen and wait for the
Echoes of angels who won’t return

He’s everything you want
He’s everything you need
He’s everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
He says all the right things
At exactly the right time
But he means nothing to you
And you don’t know why

You’re waiting for someone
To put you together
You’re waiting for someone to push you away
There’s always another wound to discover
There’s always something more you wish he’d say

He’s everything you want
He’s everything you need
He’s everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
He says all the right things
At exactly the right time
But he means nothing to you
And you don’t know why

But you’ll just sit tight
And watch it unwind
It’s only what you’re asking for
And you’ll be just fine
With all of your time
It’s only what you’re waiting for

Out of the island
Into the highway
Past the places where you might have turned
You never did notice
But you still hide away
The anger of angels who won’t return

I am everything you want
I am everything you need
I am everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
I say all the right things
At exactly the right time
But I mean nothing to you and I don’t know why
And I don’t know why
Why
I don’t know

Lighthouse

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Lighthouse by Antje Duvekot

It’s not a song to get your heart pumping. It’s a song for a cool down, or even better, to listen to in the car and daydream as the miles drift by. If you don’t know it, you should. Antje Duvekot has a beautiful voice and is a wonderful song-writer.

The song came on as I was working at my computer today, not running. And even though I was sitting in my office, stewing about schedules and working on a letter to confirmation parents, in a moment, the opening notes of the song transported me to a night over twenty-three years ago in Nigeria. I was sitting on a picnic table under a full moon when the boy I loved quietly, but with every cell in my body, leaned over and kissed me.

I stopped breathing, I think. I had a boyfriend. He had a girlfriend. But we had grown close over the months as we traveled with a small group leading programs at schools and churches. He was irreverent and funny. All the other girls thought he was so good-looking but what drew me into him was how we could sit and talk about music or books or God for hours. Our connection began slowly and built over time. Ultimately, I found myself thinking of him at odd times and so sweetly. I didn’t mean to. It just happened – I slipped and fell into adoration and affection, so deep.

We kissed that night and we kissed another night, and then we went back to the United States and back to our former relationships. Neither lasted very long. After kissing him, I didn’t want to kiss my boyfriend anymore – that was a problem. Then, we were living in the same city and we still hung out as friends, and made out now and then.

He was like air to me for a long time. I was desperate for him like in an 80’s romantic movie or an episode of Guiding Light. I couldn’t imagine my days without him. But he could imagine his without me. Our time together often became an exercise in pain as I would do anything to spend time with him, but that meant listening to stories about the different women he was dating. I hated them all with a smile on my face. I wanted to be able to be his friend – but it was excruciating to be near him and know he just didn’t love me the same way I loved him. He was my world….but I was his friend.

And so, I moved on. I fell truly in love again. He got married. I read at his wedding and danced at the reception. I got married. I have only seen him twice in the last twenty years.

But still, the right notes and lyrics send me directly back to that quiet Nigerian, moonlit night when he kissed me. For that moment, I was cooler than Beyonce, I was the Homecoming Queen, I was the Winner of All the Things. Amazing how young love can do that – make you feel everything. So completely exhilarated, changed.

Looking back, I can see what a crush it was. It had all the markings of infatuation. And while I did love him, we were not in love. Being in love is so different. The former takes your breath away, sure – but the latter goes to the store to get 7-up for you when you have the stomach flu. You can’t build a life on breathlessness, but you can build a beautiful life on being able to depend on another and knowing they depend on you.

What seasons of love have you known in your life? Who was your first love? Your unrequited love? Your love of a lifetime? What did you learn from each of those relationships? Are you glad to be where you are now or do you long for something different or more?

Pray about that. Jesus told us the most important thing is to love one another – and invite God to be part of your love stories – all of them.

Pray for the strength to let go.

Pray for the hope to try again.

Pray for the persistence to love when it is hard.

Pray for a thankful heart for the good memories.

Pray for healing for the hurts.

Pray. Love. Repeat.

lighthouse

Lighthouse lyrics:

You, you’re not the first to ask
And probably not the last
And I don’t expect you to understand

Why I stayed upon this rock
After the birds had gone
And all of the waves turned to sand

I am a lighthouse
In a desert and I stand alone
I dream of an ocean that was here a long time ago
And I remember his cool waters and I still glow

These days the sunlight has bleached my paint
And the moonlight has made it plain
That nobody needs me to call them home

But I swear there was a time when
I would shine for him through the night
And he was the only ocean that I have known

I am a lighthouse
In a desert and I stand alone
I dream of an ocean that was here a long time ago
And I remember his cool waters and I still glow

Now my lantern bears a crack
And I know he will not be back
But I will leave the light on forever

I am a lighthouse
In a desert and I stand alone
I dream of an ocean that was here a long time ago
And I remember his cool waters and I still glow

 

Roll Me Away

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Roll Me Away – Bob Seger

One of the best things about listening to music while running is how it transports my mind to a different place. Instead of thinking about my breathing or how much longer I have left to go, good music makes the miles fly by.

I have had all manner of listening devices: the transistor radio, the cassette player (I held on to the cassette player for a very long time – I loved my pile of cassette tapes I would stuff into my fanny pack on a long run. Then, one day I looked up from my treadmill at the gym and noticed no one else was balancing cassette tapes along the display board of their exercise machine – it was time to upgrade), the hand-held CD player, the ipod, and now my phone holds all the music I could ever need and more.

I am well back into running after a two-week break for a trip to Norway with my husband. This morning, the final song that came on was “Roll Me Away” by Bob Seger. I first heard this song on the radio in Minneapolis when I was in seminary (although the song itself dates back much earlier – released in 1983). I recognized Seger’s voice and when I got to my boyfriend’s house, I went down to his extensive CD collection to look for the song on his Bob Seger discs. There it was – and I listened to it nonstop for days.

Roll, roll me away,
I’m gonna roll me away tonight
Gotta keep rollin, gotta keep ridin’,
keep searchin’ till I find what’s right

Can anyone sing a song with the same earnest growl as Bob Seger? As I ran and listened, I thought of every road trip I ever took, every lonesome night I spent smoking cigarettes and dreaming of the future, the places, the people, the painful beauty of not knowing where I belonged.

I still feel that pain sometimes. I thought perhaps it would go away by the time one is married with children and a steady career, but it doesn’t.  Then, I remember the Holy Spirit itself brings a restlessness to our hearts.  It stirs us from getting too comfortable. It pushes us, grants us visions and hopes that might seem like nonsense at the start, but if we pay attention, who knows what thresholds we might be about to cross? What might we be becoming?

I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. — Joel 2:28

Listen to your longings. Listen to your dreams. They still sing to you sometimes, don’t they? Don’t squish them down or try to forget them. Listen to their song and remember you are, at every age, a work in progress.

What’s next?

Keep asking that question and listening – and be amazed at what God might still whisper in your ear.

What’s next? Keep rollin’ and keep ridin’, keep searchin’ till you find what’s right…

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