January 1, 2020

Welcome to the 1st day of the 3rd decade of the 21st century. Seems like we were just partying like it was 1999. Do you remember where you were that New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1999? How can it be 2020 already?

As the Doodle and I begin this new year, I’m thinking back over the past 20 years. So many happy times with friends and family. So many sad times as well.

There are days the happy memories are strong. The good old days. Births, weddings, reunions, kitchen table laughs, parties, camping, vacations, holidays at the Lonsingers. These are the memories that put a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

Then there are days the sad memories are in control. Fights with friends, family conflict, children struggles, loss of a job, breakups, deaths of those I love. These are the memories that darken the day and open again the anguish in my heart.

But it’s with strength and sincerity I can say that I’m thankful for everything and everyone that have been a part of my life. The good and the bad. The yin and the yang.

The Ancient Chinese concept of Yin and Yang can be described as follows:

“yin and yang is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.”

Man has this been true in my life! An endless cycle of good and bad times. Ups and downs. Hope and despair. I’ve tried my best to live in the good but the bad always seems to creep back in. The yin and the yang.

‘It is what it is’ was what my late wife said through her journey with cancer. She had accepted the truth of her illness, the bad, and had decided to live out her days in the good. She understood that human life is a constant cycle of yin and yang. And through her example I too now understand.

So, as I roll along in the 61st year of my life, I’m at peace with the past and the future. Both the good and bad that has been and is to come. I know the past and do not know the future but today and each day, I will do my best to live in both the yin and the yang. To the fullest. And with an assurance that both are okay and I will be too.

Exciting good and bad days are ahead in 2020. I’m ready to get going.

See you down the road….

Tell Me Christmas Are We Wise

 

Merry Christmas! Yes I know it’s the day after Christmas. It’s time to firm up our plans for New Year’s Eve and start putting away the Christmas decorations. Christmas 2019 was great but Father Time keeps moving on and so must we. In just a few nights we’ll be welcoming in the 3rd decade of the 21st century. Can you believe it? It seems like just last year we were all partying like it was 1999. Time does indeed move on. And quickly.

So what did you do this day after Christmas? Did you do some gift returning or exchanging? Did you stock up on sale items for Christmas 2020? Did you spend one more day with family before heading out tomorrow? Did you binge-watch the final day of Christmas movies on Hallmark, Ion, Lifetime, and Netflix? Or did you spend this day sitting at home, doing pretty much what you do every day, spending it alone?

This afternoon a friend and I went to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) performance of Christmas Eve and Other Stories. Let me tell you the rock and roll road show still exists and man was it fantastic! Awesome guitar licks. Glass shattering vocals. Music that really did rock my socks off. And a light and pyrotechnics show that was better than anything I saw in the 70s. The TSO musicians are true rockers and they made this 60-year-old guy feel like he was 20 again this afternoon. Yes, we went to the matinee performance – I am 60 you know.

You can google the history of TSO to see how Paul O’Neill and his collaborators brought great rock musicians together in the late 1990s to create an entertainment explosion of song and stage. I get goosebumps whenever I hear their music and think about how they took classical music compositions we pretty much all know and rocked them out to reach into another genre. If you haven’t heard them before you should give them a listen. And if you have never seen them on stage, you really need to. Get ready to see the longest hair you’ve seen since Cher in the 60s. And that’s just the guys in the group!

Christmas Eve and Other Stories is the weaving of basically three stories. The original Christmas story of our Savior coming to the earth. The story of God sending an angel today to see if the spirit of Christmas still exists in the hearts of humankind. And the story of a run-away young girl trying to get home to her father who longs for her return. The music that brings all these stories together is beautiful. Each song tells a story within itself and when the songs are put together it’s very moving

There’s one song that always moves me. It’s called Old City Bar. That’s right, in the midst of a Christmas performance there is a song about a bar. Remember this is rock music.

This song tells the story of the run-away girl trying to find a way to get back home on Christmas Eve. It’s sad and inspiring at the same time. It’s a song about how we’re all connected, especially on Christmas Eve, and how we all share the same hope for love and belonging. I’ll include a link to the song at the end of this post. Maybe it will talk to you and maybe it won’t. Maybe this style of music isn’t for you. But the central message of Old City Bar, as well as the entire Christmas Eve and Other Stories performance, is a message for all of us to think about not just on Christmas Eve but every day of the year.

That message is pretty much summarized by this one verse:
If you want to arrange it
This world, you can change it
If we could somehow
Make this Christmas thing last
By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
To know who needs help,
You need only just ask.

Change the world. We all have ideas on how to change the world to make it better. But better for whom? For a neighbor? For a stranger? For ourselves? The story of Christmas is perhaps the greatest story about change that has ever been told. You can choose to believe it or not. That’s your right and privilege. But I suggest to you that no greater change for a better future has ever been given to humankind than that which occurred on that first Christmas. If we want to make this Christmas thing last, this spirit of Christmas, of peace and goodwill towards men, then perhaps it is as simple as just asking if someone needs help. Even if that someone is ourselves.

The other song that always moves me is called This Christmas Day. It’s the song the father sings once he learns his daughter is on her way home after receiving the help of the bartender of the Old City Bar. If you’ve ever had a child or other loved one that’s been struggling away from home, you will relate to the father’s words.

Here is the first verse:
“So tell me Christmas are we wise
To believe in things we never see
Are Prayers just wishes in disguise
And are these wishes being granted me
For now I see the answering
To every prayer I’ve prayed
She’s coming home this Christmas Day”

Just as this father saw his wish, his prayer, being granted, I think we too will see the answering to our prayers for those we love. To believe in things we never see. I believe we are wise to place our hope in Christmas and to live out that hope every day of our lives. Think of the joy that would give our Father and the peace we will experience.

Here’s wishing you a Happy New Year friends! I hope you give a look and listen to the Old City Bar link below. Check out the entire Christmas Eve and Other Stories if you can. It will rock your socks off and more than likely bring you the peace of Christmas in a light show pyro-technic sort of way.

I’ll see you down the road in 2020….

Just Look At Them And Sigh

Howdy! It’s been a while since I last entered a post from along the road. You’d think now that I’m retired and traveling the country in my condo on wheels I’d have plenty of time to write. Well, I have had the time just not the motivation these past few weeks. When I started this blog my plan was to only post/write when I felt the stirring to do so. Haven’t felt that much since the last entry but this week, getting back on the road after visiting with family and friends in Ohio, I’m feeling energized and eager to get back into it.
So here goes….

Have you ever noticed that you don’t really notice things around you until those things have meaning in your life? Like, for example, the way birds space themselves when sitting on a powerline. There must be some genetic avian programming then naturally causes them to sit equal distance from each other. Or have you noticed that people stopping at interstate rest areas are not very talkative? They all seem to jump out of their cars, walk as fast as they can to the restroom, and then return to their cars at a slightly slower pace. I’ve tried to strike up conversions with folks at almost every rest area but I get little response. I do wait until we’ve washed our hands so to not interfere with their main task at hand, per se.

These are just two of the many deep thoughts and amusing experiences I’ve had while traveling in the Terra these past four months. Hard to believe it’s already been four months living on the road but I’m here to tell ya I really like it. The two plus weeks I spent back in Ohio over the Thanksgiving holiday were nice and I loved being with friends and my kids, but getting back on the road has brought me a new energy that sort of confirms I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing at this time in my life. Have you ever felt that sort of confirmation that what you’re doing is exactly what you should be doing? It’s a fantastic feeling of peace and strength.

Today while cleaning the Terra and getting it ready to roll on down the highway tomorrow, I asked Alexa to play some mellow 70s and 80s music. She happily complied and started playing songs from James Taylor, Jim Croce, Carole King, and Dan Fogelberg among others. Fogelberg has always been one of my favorite singers. His song “Leader of the Band” is a touching tribute to his father and pulls at my heart strings every time I hear it. He also recorded “Same Old Lang Syne” which we hear quite frequently this time of year. It’s another song that gets to me and brings a smile to my face while listening and thinking about friends from my past. Both are songs I love to sing along with. Just ask the Doodle.

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young also popped up today on Alexa’s playlist. I was never much of a fan of their music when I was younger because I thought all their songs sounded the same. And while this is mostly true, over the years I’ve really come to appreciate their lyrics and harmonies. Their song “Teach Your Children” played today and even though I’ve heard and sang along to that songs hundreds of times, today I heard more in the lyrics and I’ve been thinking about it all day.

The song is mostly known as a war protest song released in 1970 to counteract the Vietnam War. But today when I was listening and not singing along I really focused in on the two verse/chorus combinations. Here’s the first:

“You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.”

Did you hear the song in your mind as you read this? The thought that came to me today had nothing to do with a war protest but instead I thought about my life. How I’m on the road, in many ways I have been my whole life, and how my experiences, choices, and actions have impacted my kids. While trying to become myself I’ve made a number of mistakes. Okay more like a lot of mistakes which have sort of created my own ‘father’s hell‘ as the lyrics state. Troubles and hard times I’ve caused in my children’s lives mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing as a parent. I feel regret because of those times but like the verse continues, I also feel hope.

The lyrics continue with ‘feed them on your dreams’. I think the wish of every parent is that the dreams you have for your children come true for them. I really like the words ‘the one they picks, the one you’ll know by’. Kind of broken English I guess but to me this is saying let your children decide for themselves what dreams they want to dream and achieve. Not easy for a lot of we parents to do but I’ve found that my kids are pretty good dreamers on their own and are quite good at achieving their dreams if I just let them and support them in ways they want me to support them. The second part of the lyrics go like this:

“And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”

I love the words ‘of tender years’. I think as parents we do see our children as tender in years. Even when they are parents themselves. But notice how the lyrics continue by telling the children to try to understand what their parents have been through. What they grew by. I really believe now, at this time in my life, that my kids are helping me with their youth. Feeding me by their dreams. Each one in their own way is showing me the truth that I’ve perhaps missed or misunderstood while trying to be a good parent. It’s humbling to realize that your kids can do this for you even though you are older and supposedly wiser.

I guess, for me, the bottom line in all this is each one of us has been a child and many of us are a parent. We may not always understand each other, the parent and the child, but we need to give each other the freedom to make our own dreams come true and decide for ourselves how we should live. Our ways and choices in life may be different but the song makes a lot of sense with the ending lyrics:

“The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

Parents trust you children. Children trust your parents. And all of us show respect towards one another. And as often as we can, “just look at them and sigh and know they love you”.

Here’s a link to the song on YouTube if you would like to listen: https://youtu.be/ztVaqZajq-I

See you down the road….

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…..

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….

12:30 – A Love Note

Recently while flipping through some books my wife Barb had kept, I came across the following note she had written.

She wrote down scripture verses, quotes, and devotional thoughts all the time as reminders to herself of who she was and whose she was. One of her ways of journaling.

Around our home she would tape many of her reminders to the kitchen cabinet doors (both inside and out), the refrigerator door, and mirrors. At her work she had them taped to her desk, filing cabinets, and computer monitor. She kept Post It Notes and 3×5 card manufacturers in business for many years.

I have kept the notes she had taped up around our home as they are another reminder, now to me and our kids, of how strong her faith was and just how much love she held in her heart for everyone.

This note is from her years of serving youth groups at the churches we’ve attended and specifically her middle school small group from just a year or two before her cancer diagnosis.

She absolutley loved helping teenagers come to understand, know, and believe in the Christ. Not traditions of religion but how to begin and grow in a relationship with the God that loved them with all of His heart no matter their current circumstance or what they had done in their past. She knew this kind of love and wanted, no, she had to share it.

Barb’s words in this note should be the mantra for all of us that are followers of Christ. And not just for serving teenagers but all persons. I think she really understood the Great Commission.

I’m not sure what the 12:30 she wrote referenced. Was it a time or scripture verse? I plan on asking her when I see her again someday but for now I’m choosing to think it referred to Mark 12:30:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

She lived this out each day. I believe she abounded in this love and shared it with all those she met on her earthly journey. And now great is her reward in Heaven. I’m striving to do the same.

So let me encourage you to take those notes of love, love letters if you will, that come to you and tape them up in your life so that you’re constantly reminded of how loved you are and how wonderful it is to share that great love.

See you down the road….

The Road Of Remembering

The past four weeks have been pretty hectic. Life can get that way at times you know. Too many things going on at the same time which cause us to stress out. I’ve been there before. The hectic nature of these past four weeks did give me some stress but it also gave me the opportunity to remember some pretty spectacular things in my life.

Four weeks ago I retired. After 37 years of working in the I.T. field, I decided I had had enough fun and needed to get serious about this ‘adulting’ thing. So, to have enough time to figure out what being an adult really means, I retired from work. So far I have no clue and I’m starting to think Peter Pan got it right. Bang-a-rang!

Along with retiring, I also sold my home of the past eighteen years, and have now moved into a new two bedroom, two bath apartment. Definitely, a downsizing move and I’ll be spending the rest of the summer going through a lifetime accumulation of stuff. The things we keep over the years. I’m not the only one with twelve copies of the same photo of the Oscar Meyer wiener mobile, am I? Be honest now.

And just two days after moving into the apartment, I drove to Missouri for a family reunion with all my crazy cousins on my mom’s side. Thank goodness I have a wonderful house/dog sitter that didn’t mind all the boxes and clutter left from the move. Perhaps the resort style pool at my apartment complex made it a little easier for her. I hope to get to the pool myself this week if the weather gets warmer and dryer. I prefer to get wet by being in the pool and not just from walking to it.

As I was driving westbound on I70 last week, I had the opportunity to relax a little and think back upon recent events in my life that have brought me to where I am now. The time on the road allowed me to remember many things and I can honestly say, the happy outnumbered the sad many times over.

Times I’ve spent working with some very talented and carrying people. Folks that were patient and understanding with the new guy and others that were gracious enough to allow me to lead them. Memories of rubber band wars in the cubicles. Of office Christmas party shenanigans. Of long days and nights with project implementations. The many sayings of hellos and goodbyes. Friendships created. Successes celebrated. Failures learned from. All memories that I will cherish through my retirement and will bring a smile to my face.

Selling and moving out of the house my family had called home for the past eighteen years was not easy. So much had happened in that home over the years. Celebrations and conflicts. Kids struggling through school and kids blossoming into adults. Birthday parties for family and friends. The planning of a daughter’s wedding. And the sadness of saying goodbye to the one I loved more than anything or anyone in this world. All memories I will never forget nor take for granted as each one from my time at Laura Lane has contributed to who I am and to whom I may become.

This past weekend with my cousins in Missouri brought back some wonderful memories as well. My earliest memory of going to old MO for my mom’s family reunion is when I was four years old. Mom and I took a passenger train from Coshocton, Ohio, (my hometown) to St. Louis. I don’t remember why but my dad drove to the reunion while mom and I rode the train. Dad picked us up in St. Louis and then we drove the last few hours to Marshfield to see all the family. The train ride was awesome watching out the windows as the world passed by. Probably what gave me my love for travel.

Our family reunions were no small affair when I was a child. My mom was one of thirteen siblings (3 brothers, 10 sisters) and many of my aunts and uncles had three kids or more. We were a large extended family and on my 16th birthday which coincided with our reunion that year, I counted close to sixty first cousins at the reunion. Many of us took over my aunt Mary’s home for a night, supervised by some of the older more ‘mature’ cousins, where we played cards, watched a Star Trek marathon on local TV and stayed up all night doing what cousins do. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

I did not grow up with any brothers or sisters so my cousins, back then and even more so today, are my siblings. Even with the miles and years between us. This past weekend was another installment of fun and love in my life with this crazy group. The hours we spent laughing while playing Liverpool Rummy for three nights reminded me of our aunts and uncles playing the same card game all those years ago while we kids could only watch. I’m sure they were all looking down this past weekend laughing right along with us as we continued the tradition. I’ll buy that (if you’ve played Liverpool you’ll understand)!

As the mile markers rolled past my car, it seemed each one brought to my mind milestones, memories of all the years I’ve been blessed to live in this world. What is life without our memories and experiences? So many good times and yes a number very sad but it’s a package deal in life. I’ve come to appreciate them all and cherish each one.

The road of life is a journey just like the drive to a family reunion. On that journey, I’ve learned to take my time and enjoy each exit, detour, and stay over for what it is and what it brings to me. And I’m thankful for what lies ahead and the new remembering the road will bring.

See you down the road…