SINGING IN MY KEY

iPhone pictureBy Lisa Huddleston

One thing I love about my iPhone is the ability to type notes into it so that I can revisit a thought when the time is right.  Let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger, and ideas are more often than not “gone with the wind.”  (Did I tell you I drove to the grocery store the other day only to realize in the parking lot that I’d forgotten my purse?)  Yep.  Lists are good.

A couple of Sundays ago as we were singing in church, I was struggling with the key of a particular song. Forced to harmonize so that I could still be a part of the music, I felt a little irked.  However I shrugged it off pretty quickly, because I realized that the song leaders rotate at our church.  I may not like the key one week, but I know that sooner or later there will be a Sunday exactly in my range.  And the same is true for every other person in the congregation.  What doesn’t suit my voice is just perfect for the person across the aisle, and that’s pretty cool.  The thought made me chuckle so when we sat down I typed, “So glad the song leaders rotate at TVC.  Sooner or later someone sings in my key.”  Idea stored for later, and I could focus on the sermon.  (Yay iPhone!)

And here it is.  A couple of weeks later and still a great thought–a “pretty cool” metaphor for life.  Somedays things just aren’t going to go “in my key.”  I may have to be more places than I like in a 24 hour period, or I may not like what I have to do.  I may struggle with adjusting myself to the events of a particular day.  But once in a while, singing harmony isn’t so bad.  It’s good mental exercise, it keeps me flexible, and it suits someone else in this world just perfectly.

Yesterday I was busy from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.  All wonderful activities that I enjoyed separately a great deal–but just too much for an introvert to handle back to back.  I missed a few notes here and there, but I stayed in the song.  And today is a great respite!  Rainy, dark, and completely unscheduled.  I have been able to ease into this day, to read a little, to drink my coffee slowly, and everything feels right in my key.  A happy bird snug in my nest.

Hope I remember this thought when the next busy day arrives.  Harmonize, Lisa, harmonize!

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BREATHING THE DAY

By Lisa Huddleston

Okay.  I was getting on here to recant everything I wrote yesterday.  Who am I to splatter my feelings all over anyone’s computer screen?  Why should anyone want to hear my thoughts?  I was feeling sorry for myself and angry and a little hurt.  Even at 52, I find it so hard to take criticism.  (Can I get an amen?)  And after going back to read some of my older posts I realized that what I have to say really hasn’t changed as much as the format has.  Actually, I’ve been frighteningly consistent.  Life is tough.  I can laugh and cry at the same time.  And God is always good.

Soooooo … it’s a beautiful day.  I need to accept that I am not everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s okay.  I find myself thankful for the simple things.  My wonderful family.  My life-long pals.  My dog who finally got a good bath yesterday and no longer smells like turkey poop.  The petunias my mother is happily planting around the patio as I write.  The walk I plan to take with a good friend this afternoon.  And so on.  It’s a good life.

Probably, if I spent more time writing about those things, more people would be content to keep reading.  I know.  I’m a melancholy soul.  But I do love a sad movie or a wry book or a deep poem.  I just do.  And there are hard things in this beautiful world.  I can’t help feeling them, empathizing with both good and bad people, and crying over roadkill.

Inhale. Exhale. And today is a beautiful day!

(Last thought on this.  Promise.)

 

WHY I WRITE THIS BLOG

By Lisa Huddleston

When I first began this blog, I was just beginning to re-discover my nearly lost love of writing.  My children were growing up, heading off to college, and I was suddenly (for the first time in 20 years) finding myself with too much time on my hands.  I was also in the throes of a massive identity crisis.

I began with devotionals.  Carefully crafted:  scripture verse at the top in italics, a discussion of what the verse was saying, a short life application, and often a call to action.  It was a safe way to write.  I always did my utmost to support anything I said from scripture, and I rarely heard anything but positive comments.

My writing has changed as I have.  Now I write from my emotional heart–my “being self.”  Yes, I still strive to support my words from a Christian worldview.  Afterall, I am a Christian.  However I have stopped hiding behind the Bible.  Now when I have real struggles and need to explore less-than-popular opinions, I do.  And that has changed the feedback that I have received.

But that is real.  Christians struggle.  Christians even sin.  And I would rather read the words of a struggling believer than those of someone who thinks they have it all together.  (I know–I’ve never even been able to pretend to that!!)

Both when I began and now, writing is cathartic.  Mainly this blog is a way for me to process what is going on in my heart and head–to make sense of the pinballs that are bouncing around in me.  It is not primarily about the reader.  But … I do care about my reader.  I do not want to discourage.  I do not want to promote doubtful or sinful living.  Not at all!  But I believe that being honest allows us both–reader and writer–to deal better with life.  Just as writing helps me to get rid of the junk I feel, reading the writings of others who are struggling helps me to do the same thing.

I’m sure by now you can guess that I have received negative feedback from someone who has been reading this blog.  I respect that and even appreciate the honesty that my reader has extended.  But as with everything, readers have a choice about what they read just as writers have a choice about what they write.  Freedom.  If I have offended (or discouraged or depressed) you, dear reader, please unsubscribe.  I appreciate your freedom to choose.

However this is who I am learning to be.  Me.  A struggling, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing, follower stumbling forward in the path of Jesus Christ.  I fall, a lot, but I always get back up and keep on walking.  And that’s where (or who) I am.  Hope you get that and can keep walking that path with me.

Peace and grace, and thanks for reading.

WEEKEND CELEBRATION

By Lisa Huddleston

This week has been a blur.  To begin it, I turned 52 on Sunday, April 14—an infamous day.  Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14th.  The Titanic sank on April 14th.  And for many, April 14th is spent in a hurried, last-ditch effort to get their taxes finished before the 15th.  Oh yeah, and I was born.

It has always niggled at the back of my brain that my birthday coincides with such negative and earth-shattering events.  And now I will always connect it with the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  I’ve told you before how I strive for maximum pessimism so just go with me here.  I know, the bombings happened on April 15th, but that is Tax Day so I already had connected it to my birthday.  (See how nutty I am?  Yeah, it’s all about me.)

What a week!  Emotions run amuck with sympathy for families of those injured or killed as well as for the families of the two young men who carried out the ghastly attacks.  Last night, as the media told of the 19-year-old hiding in a covered boat bleeding and, I assume, terrified, I cried for him and those who love him.  Nineteen is so very young.  An age when idealism is easy to believe and naïve souls are ready to die for unworthy causes.  An age when it is easy to get lost in the devil’s schemes just seeking purpose and a place to belong.

This week also included medical procedures for two members of my family and the worries and concerns that accompany such things.  We received good news on both counts, and I am thankful; yet, my mother’s heart has been squeezed a little too tightly for comfort.  Aching for those I don’t know and worrying for those I do.

And then last night as I watched the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, three texts telling me that another  young man my kids had grown up with had drowned.  The worst realized.  Not in violence.  Not in disease.  Not for most of those who were caught up in the events of the week—but for this family.  A mother, a father, a sister and a brother grieving.  But not without hope.

Oh God, my pessimism is full-blown.  Forgive me.  Help me to see the good.  Help me to feel the hope.  Refocus my inner eyes so that the evil blurs away and the truth is crystallized into blinding clarity.  Jesus came to redeem the lost—to seek us and to save us.  That’s you.  That’s me.  That’s Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and all the runners in all the marathons of life.  Loss redeemed.  Separation, amputation, death.  And, finally, restoration.

And tonight, finally, we will celebrate my infamous birthday with a dinner around a new dining room table with most of my precious family gathered. (I’ll miss you, Chad and Heather!)  A week late, but just in time.

Thank you, Lord, for the simple things I celebrate today.  Good health.  Good provision.  Good family and good friends.  And for goodness sake, help me to celebrate.

I WANT TOMORROW

By Lisa Huddleston

I have not been able to shake the disturbing news that Rick Warren’s son took his own life over this past weekend.  Do I know the Warrens?  No—I’ve read his books (along with many of you) and have heard his sermons.  But I do not know him or his family.  Why do I feel so strongly moved by this terrible loss of life?

I guess, first, I cannot imagine having to suffer such a personal grief in such a public manner.  As a mother, I have felt maternal guilt when my children have made a choice that others may criticize.  Inappropriate, I know.  Their choices are their own.  They are adults.  Yet, there it is.  I never stop feeling responsible for them.  I should have been kinder.  I should have yelled less.  I should have played more, prayed more, stayed more present.  Should have—but no way to change that now.  So I wonder if the Warrens are feeling the same doubts as I.  And I hurt for them.  You’ll never read this, but I want to tell you—Rick and Kay and all of you moms and dads with struggling children—it’s not your fault!  (Public disclaimer:  Dad and I are terribly proud of you guys, Chad, Sarah, and Nick.  You are each awesome!)

Second, I relate too strongly with their son’s terrible pain.  Can I say that I know how he felt?  Of course not.  I did not know him, and I have not fought his fight.  Yet, again, I have felt the heavy weight of depression and have had times when I desperately wanted a way out.  When this body has felt like a shell that must be cracked to let my eggy life out.   And I hurt for him.  I wish I could have encouraged him to wait for fresh mercy.  I do hope that these words may encourage someone else to wait.  A moment’s choice cannot be reversed.  And I can’t shake the impact such a choice can make.  A meteor that crashes into the ground and shakes the world around it with waves of grief.

Yesterday, I felt the waves wash over me.  Inexplicably.  But today I have danced in the kitchen and sung songs of praise with Hillsong Music blaring from the Bose.  Go figure!

One of our family’s favorite songs says, “Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  Could be most anything.  An encouraging word.  A buffalo herd.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?”  (Thanks, Claire Lynch!)  So … who knows?  But I do want to find out.

See you tomorrow.

THE BENEDICTION

By Lisa Huddleston

Every weekday my husband rises early and stealthily makes his way to the bathroom in the dark.  And because of the fashionable transom windows over our bathroom doors, he kindly (but unnecessarily) dresses in near-dark using only the dim light from my makeup mirror.  He is being kind.  I feel guilty.

After he dresses, eats his breakfast, and feeds the animals, he stumbles back to our bed and crawls in.  His hands are freezing as he places them on my sleep-warmed skin—belly, arms, legs—wherever they land.  It often shocks me, but I don’t complain (too much) because he has to get up and get going while I am lazily lying there half-asleep.

And then he prays for our day and the days of our children and our friends.  And I am blessed.  The benediction.

This morning I was stranded in a terribly sad dream.  The house was in disarray.  Chuck was moving out, and I couldn’t understand why, and I couldn’t get out of my tousled sheets, and I couldn’t stop crying.  Paralyzed by grief and heavy sleep, I couldn’t move a muscle.  I was trapped in the despair of the dream.

Then cold hands gently eased around my waist.  On some days I may have yelled, “Hey you!”  But today I rejoiced.  Cold reality shocking me out of the deadly dream.  Pulling back the heavy blankets and allowing  me to receive the benediction of the day.  And I was blessed.

Amen.