Every New Beginning…

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while now, you may have picked up on the fact that music has played a major role in defining who I am. Music has brought me to my faith, lifted me up when I’ve been down, and moved me to tears more times than I can count. Both happy and sad tears.

Since my childhood, listening to Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other early rockers on my record player, through my teenager 8-track tape years listening and cruising to Boston, Foreigner, Foghat, and the J Geils Band, through the many genres and decades leading up to today, music has always brought meaning and emotion into my life. It’s sorta in my soul I think.

Bob Seger was one of my favorite singers in the 70s and 80s. I bet you can hear one of his songs in your head right now. Old Time Rock and Roll, Night Moves, Still the Same, Against the Wind. The rhythms and lyrics of many of these songs have stuck with me over the years and I find myself going back to them at different times to help me get through things going on in my life. I wonder which artists and songs have stayed with you over the years. Which have carried you through?

One Seger song that I’ve always loved and yet haunts me is Turn the Page. If you’re familiar with it, you know it’s about a singer on the road playing in different cities night after night. It’s about the grind and toll it is taking on him and how he wishes the trip was through. It’s about encounters with people in places he doesn’t know or even want to be with. It’s about the empty feeling he has in his soul.

I do like to sing but I’ve never been on tour so I can’t personally relate to what Bob Seger was specifically singing about in Turn the Page. But I can understand and relate to the empty feeling caused by what he was experiencing. There have been many times in my almost 60 years, that life events have made me feel exhausted. Burned out. Wanting to just give up. And a few times I have. I just couldn’t turn the page in my life to see what was next and frankly didn’t really care. I had had enough. Have you been there?

In 1998, the song Closing Time by Semisonic came out. At first, I didn’t really like the song much. I mean come on, it was about a guy at a bar hoping a certain someone would take him home after the bar closed. Maybe it brought back memories of some closing times at Mickey’s in my home town back in the 80s. Might have hit a little too close to home for me but that’s another story for another time. Maybe over a beer. You can buy.

But in the song Closing Time, there is one line that over the past 20 years seems to always come back to my mind. And during the last two years, it has come to mind many times when I’ve been really struggling with turning the page to the next chapter in my life. And I have found encouragement in the words.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Pretty simple right but oh so hard to think of when you’re in crisis, or grieving, or just worn out. If we allowed every page in our lives to just go on and on, nothing would ever change. We’d be stuck on the road night after night, perhaps playing star over and over again just like Seger.

Thankfully, I’ve come to understand a new beginning is only possible if we move on or close out the current page we’re living in and release the empty and scared feelings to allow our lives to begin again. Ain’t easy to do but I’ve found I can.

Which page are you on right now? Are you at the end of a chapter in your life and finding it really difficult to turn the page to something new? I want to encourage you to keep going, close out the page your on now, and turn to that new beginning that’s waiting for you. You can do it. Put on an old song that lifts you up and move on. It’s closing time. The rest is still unwritten.

Oh wait, that’s another song. Perhaps for another time.

See you down the road….

The Rocks and Stones

When Jesus Christ Superstar came out around 1970, I was just 10 years old. Through my teenage years this musical perspective of the days leading up to the Christ’s death on the cross, the songs from the musical, especially the lyrics, led me to want to learn more about the story.

I’ve always loved rock music and the JC Superstar production is one thing, possibly the main thing, that led me to read the Bible, talk to God, and 15 years later at age 25 accept Jesus as savior and begin to follow Him.

I’m still following and trying each day to live my life to the fullest. Not always easy and many days I fail in following Him. But because of the grace God has given me and the sacrifice the Christ made for me, I go on.

There’s really nothing in this world that can change that. Many things have tried but no pain, no sadness, no success or failure, not even death can stop the shouting in my soul of my thankfulness to God.

The song Hosanna from the musical has the following lyrics, which I believe for all of us that are followers of the Christ, really convey the joy we feel.

Why waste your breath moaning at the crowd?

Nothing can be done to stop the shouting.

If every tongue were stilled

The noise would still continue.

The rocks and stone themselves would start to sing

As we walk through this week leading to Easter Sunday, it is my hope and prayer that each of you are intrigued by some aspect of the story and the mystery of the Christ.

And that you explore what Easter is really about.

And who this Christ really is.

Happy Easter Friends.

See you down the road….

The Fork In The Road

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

One of the greatest philosophers of our time was Yogi Berra. If you’re over the age of 40 you probably know who Yogi was. A baseball player, a sometimes TV celebrity, and mostly practical guy with a funny way of stating the obvious. And if you don’t know Yogi, we’ll you’re in luck as most of his qoutes are available all over that internet. I’ve read his qoutes so many times myself that “it’s like deja vu all over again”.

Many folks may feel that Yogi was just a ball player that was kind of simple minded and didn’t really understand the world but I think Yogi in his simplified way of thinking understood the human condition pretty well and had great insight into how we should live.

Eclipsed

Did you see the super blood moon last night? The sky was clear here in central Ohio so it must have been good viewing. I wouldn’t know because having a head cold, I decided to stay in and go to bed early. Single digit temps and a cold virus just didn’t sound like a good time to me. Plus I’ve experienced a number of eclipses in my life so skipping this one seemed reasonable enough.

By definition, an eclipse is ‘an obscuring of the light from one body by the passage of another between it and the observer or between it and its source of illumination’. Last night that was the earth passing between the sun and the moon causing the earth’s shadow to alter the appearance of the moon. Going from bright light to blood red. For some a beautiful sight and for others perhaps frightening.

Today we understand the astronomy and physics of an eclipse and with this knowledge, there is no fear but imagine a society of people experiencing a lunar eclipse without this knowledge. Historical accounts tell us that events such as last night struck fear and panic in those that experienced it. Many perhaps thinking it was the end of their world. I wonder how many had their lives changed by something they had no understanding or control of.

Our lives are abundant with eclipses. Those that we see in the sky and those that we feel in our hearts.

For many of us, the light shining in our lives that brought warmth and comfort was eclipsed, taken away. A shadow began to spread across our world until the light we had come to love and cherish was gone. Replaced by the dark fear of living in a world we didn’t know or understand. It seemed, as if in an instant, that everything had changed. Everything, the thing, the one that had made our life bright and whole disappeared into the shadow and we were left in a very deep and dark hole. Alone in a world, we did not expect.

The darkness seems to never end as we live in the eclipse of our life. But the truth is it will end and light will return. Not necessarily the exact same light as before but the warmth and comfort we lost will return. Just as the moon moves out of the earth’s shadow, our life will move on and again be illuminated. We just have to ride it out.

I’m finding this to be very true in my life these days. The eclipse of the heart I experienced with my wife’s passing almost two years ago, is slowly brightening. Life will never be as it was but my life and my world do go on. The light has not been put out. It was darkened for a while but the darkness did not and cannot overcome it.

So as you experience the eclipses of your life, do not fear the darkness. Go through it. Lean on the knowledge that the light will return to you and shine upon you. Look to your faith and those that love you. Let their light guide you until you step out of the darkness into your new light. Be strong. Have hope. Welcome it back into your life.

May your light shine my friends and see you down the road…..

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

December 23rd.

The night before the night before Christmas. Not the most significant day of the holiday season is it. Maybe you spent it doing some last minute gift shopping or purchasing all the food for your Christmas meal. Perhaps it was spent traveling home or getting the house ready for friends and family to arrive. Or maybe you’ve been alone all day, just like you will be tomorrow, and on Christmas.

It could be a day that’s different each year. Perhaps last year things were going well in your life and you were happy but this year it’s been one problem after another and there just isn’t much to be happy about. The tree is decorated and presents surround it but there’s still an empty feeling. There’s someone you miss or you are concerned about. Or maybe you’re waiting on a lab report to come back after the holidays.

At Christmas we all like to have the holiday spirit but some years it just doesn’t come that easily. We try to be merry, cheerful, and glad but underneath our smiles, we’re hurting. And if we were honest we would say that the Christmas season really isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year.

The past four December 23rds for me have been just about as diverse as they come. A holiday rollercoaster ride if you will with tremendous ups and downs.

Dec. 23, 2015 – it was just 4 months before that my wife Barb was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had undergone surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible and had recovered pretty well from that but in early December a follow up MRI indicated another surgery was needed. So the Christmas of 2015 was spent by our family being thankful for the support many were giving us and also preparing for another unknown outcome. We would spend New Year’s Eve in the hospital with Barb celebrating with her as she recovered from what we hoped was her last surgery.

Dec 23, 2016 – the past year had seen Barb not require any further surgery for which we were very thankful. She had completed her radiation treatment and had been receiving chemo treatments for a number of months and was surprisingly strong and doing well. It had been 16 months since her diagnosis. It was our first Christmas with our granddaughter and even in the midst of uncertainty, we celebrated the season and thanked God for His love and gift.

Dec. 23, 2017 – this was our first Christmas without Barb. In January of 2017, the cancer began to grow again and Barb made the decision to not try any other treatments as there were none that were viable and would give her a good quality of life. She declined quickly and went to her heavenly home on March 7. It was the lowest of times for me. I had never felt more lost in my life. But as the year went on, I came to understand that even in the midst of my grieve I could still celebrate the Christmas season and be thankful for all the years I shared with Barb and the way God walked with us through both the good and tough times.

Dec. 23rd, 2018 – today. The present. Another Christmas just two days away. This holiday season I’ve been missing Barb, again. The kids and I are continuing our traditions of putting up the tree, baking sugar cookies, and having our family Christmas eve dinner but each of these still have a feeling of incompleteness. Not really sad but just not the same as before. That will probably always be the case. And that’s okay because our traditions were made with Barb. So I will celebrate and honor those memories as I thank God for where He has brought me and how He continues to love me. And for who He is bringing into my life.

I don’t know where Christmas Eve Eve finds you this year but let me encourage you, if you are down, to not give up but to look up. And if 2018 has been good to you, I encourage you to lift up those around you that are feeling down.

In good times and bad, God’s love for us and His gift to us does not change. He is always there. No matter where we go or what we endure, He is with us. Look for Him. You will find Him. Emmanuel is right beside you this day and every day. And He loves you.

I pray that this Christmas you may experience the glad tidings of the good news that the season is really all about. Look beyond where you are now to where God can take you. Where He will go with you.

Merry Christmas my friends and see you down the road….

The New Song Of Morning

I woke this morning, thankful for a good night’s sleep. And now I’m sitting in my apartment, drinking my morning tea, and listening to some Christian worship music reflecting on a few things.

Life. It’s not always what we expect or want it to be. For many of us there seems to be more bad times than good. But with the rising of the morning sun, we are given another day that will hopefully be better than the day before. A chance, an opportunity, a gift to improve our life. There’s a song from Jason Mraz that has a line which has stuck with me, as a prayer, from the first time I heard it. “May the best of your todays be the worse of your tomorrows.”

Death: I find it interesting that the words mourning and morning are pronounced the same. One brings us feelings of sadness, remorse, and grief. The other brings us hope, peace, and a reassurance that today is a different morning where we can leave the mourning of yesterday a little further behind us.

Love. What truly is love? Is it just an emotion or is it something deeper. Something greater. Something everlasting. I think it’s all of these and so much more. Actually more than I’ll ever fully understand. Love of family, love of friends, love of a lifetime, love of God.

One thing I’ve discovered is love is a two way road. If it was just one direction then it’s just affection or infatuation. Real love is where two become one, many times from that first word or glance. It’s an aching of the heart where you are incomplete without the other. This is true in our human love for one another and the love our God has with us.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

So as the light of the new day brightens the darkness of the world outside, I pray that neither life nor death become the focus of our day but that love is where we place our focus. Our hearts. And our hope.

See you down the road….

Just Another Day….

Remember the song Another Day by Paul McCartney? It’s been going through my head off and on all day. Catchy little tune but the lyrics are rather sad. A woman living each day the same, over and over while waiting on the man of her dreams to come and break the sad spell cast over her life. The song ends the way it began. Without her hero. Just another day.

Today, November 29, has been in many ways just another day for me. I woke up at the usual time which is always 10 minutes before the alarm goes off. I fed and walked the Doodle. Got showered and dressed to go to my retirement job (which honestly is a blast) at my daughter’s play cafe for kids called Hoot Studio. Came home, fed and walked the Doodle again. Paid the end of the month bills and am now settling down to write a little before going to sleep. Just another day.

But also today a number of uncommon things came my way. You see today is the 30th celebration of my 29th birthday and I’ve been blessed by many birthday wishes from some pretty fantastic folks. A group of preschoolers singing happy birthday for me. A good friend taking me to lunch. Facebook comments and birthday well wishes. Happy Birthday texts from family and friends. All wonderful reminders that today was just another day which was made very special by the kindness of others. And there lies the answer for the woman in the song, for me, and for each of you. Just another day of kindness.

There were a couple of moments today between the happy birthday wishes, where I felt sad and even lonely. Sort of like the woman in the song. Remorse crept into my emotions as I thought about another birthday, another day, without the loved ones I’d lost over the past few years. Tears began to swell up in my eyes and I had to find a quiet place to be alone for a few minutes. I had not expected these emotions to come to me today but they did and tonight I’ve been reflecting on them. And with that, another song has started playing in my mind.

Three Dog Night did a song back in the 70s called One. It’s a reflection on missing someone that was in your life but is not there anymore. There are two lines from the song that have been resonating with me tonight; “It’s just no good anymore since you went away, Now I spend my time just making rhymes of yesterday”.

When you miss someone very much, perhaps with all of your heart, it’s easy to spend your time, your thoughts, living in the past. Clinging to the past. Missing what has been.

Memories of those we’ve loved are wonderful things to be cherished but what I have learned is that continuing to focus deeply and entirely each day in those memories keeps us from living the life we have now. A life that has been created from and because of those past loves and experiences. A life that needs to be lived in the now. To its fullest. Not as one just getting through another day but with hope built up from the kindness of others that has been given to us.

So with tomorrow and the beginning of my 31st year of being 29, I am choosing to live each day not as Just Another Day of being One but as a day to be thankful for the lives and loves in my past. Living in the now with the hope, the joy, of the kindness that has been given to me. And choosing to do my best to bring kindness into the days of those around me. How about you join me.

See you down the road….