Outside my window

Outside my window this morning, I see a blue sky. Clear blue with not a wisp of a cloud. The sun is shining bright and a gentle breeze is blowing as the day begins to warm. It’s going to be a lovely day here in Central Florida. One of many I’ve been enjoying this winter of 2020.

It’s been almost nine months now since Izzy the Doodle and I started full time RV living. We haven’t moved the Terra since arriving here at our winter camp in early December. It’s a nice camp filled with some really great snowbirds and I’ve enjoyed getting to know many of them. Izzy has enjoyed the camp’s dog park and playing with all her new friends. We both have really loved exploring the state parks and lakes around the area. And of course getting to both the Atlantic and Gulf beaches a number of times has made our stay extra enjoyable.

This is the first year I’ve ever spent winter someplace other than Ohio. And I’m pretty sure I won’t be in Ohio again for a winter for quite some time. Maybe it’s being 60 years old now or perhaps just finally coming to my senses, but sunshine and warm temps feel so much better than the gray cold of up north. I’d much rather see swaying palm trees outside my window that snow covered sidewalks that need shoveling.

The plan had been to only stay in Florida until mid January and then head west to Arizona but while driving the shuttle craft, our Honda CRV, back down from Ohio after the holidays, I decided to just stay in Florida this year. It was a good decision as our months spent here have been really relaxing. That’s what retirement is supposed to be all about right?

Having the same view outside my window each day has at times felt monotonous as the nomad in me has been itching to move on down the road. But many times it does the soul good to just stay in one place for a while. To not be on the move so much. To have time to rest and to think about things.

I’ve been doing just that these past few months. A lot of thinking but not much writing. This morning the tug to get back to writing has pulled at me. March 7 is a day that will always tug at my heart because it’s on this day in 2017, that the kids and I said goodbye to Barb.

Early on that morning three years ago, she finished her life journey and conquered her cancer. We had spend the last few days with family and friends by her side saying our goodbyes and remembering all the great times Barb had shared with us over her almost 56 years of earthly life.

Life’s road since then has been full of adjustments and turns for the kids and I but because of the love and strength Barb showed and shared with us through her cancer, we have come out okay. Sad at times for sure. Missing her in more ways than you can know.

For me, knowing that with her last breath that morning, she was healed and whisked away to a much better place has given me great comfort and confidence. Comfort to fill the holes of missing her and confidence to continue living a life for myself as she would want me to do.

What do you see outside your window this morning? Is it bright and warm or dark and cold? I’ve seen both many times. If you’re in dark days right now, because of disease or other circumstance, I want to encourage you to hang in there. Lean on family, friends, and your faith to get you through. And watch.

Watch for that morning when a break in the darkness will come. Have hope. It will come and when it does be ready to step into the light and let it guide you to the next place in your life. Maybe that will be living in an RV or finishing your earthly race or maybe something else but whatever your next place is, know that it’s coming and be looking for it. The darkness cannot last forever as there is a light that has comes into the world and that light has overcome it. Barb knew this and she’s living in the source of that beautiful light today and for evermore.

Outside my window is a flowering bush. Roses of some type I believe. Barb loved roses and all her flowers. Last night here at the camp was karaoke night and one lady sang the song The Rose. Coincidence? Maybe but I tend to think it’s more of a confirmation.

‘When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose’

See you down the road my friends….

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….

Home For Christmas

“The sun is shining, the grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway
There’s never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.”

“But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up north….”

Okay I know it’s only December the 13th and I’m in Frostproof, Florida, not L.A., but the lyrics above have been stuck in my head all day. Thank you FM radio stations!

Do you know which Christmas song these lyrics are from?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite Christmas albums had the song White Christmas on it. Not by Bing Crosby but sung by Robert Goulet. If you’re under the age of 50 you probably don’t know who he was but as an adolescent boy going through the voice change of puberty, I envied Mr. Goulet’s deep resonating voice. Especially on his version of White Christmas. I still prefer his version over Bing’s.

And I would bet, most folks don’t know that White Christmas included the opening lyrics above. There’s debate where the song was written. Some feel it was started in Southern California and then finished perhaps in the New York Catskills mountains where Irving Berlin’s family had a home. If that’s the case then including lines about orange and palm trees make sense. Plus I don’t remember seeing any of those trees swaying at the Pine Tree Lodge in Vermont in the movie White Christmas.

Honestly, I’m not dreaming of a white Christmas at all this year. In fact I’m trying to avoid the snow as much as possible. But if old man Winter decides to drop a few inches in Ohio while I’m home for Christmas that will be okay. I have grandkids to play with in the snow now and they make everything more fun. Except for maybe driving in the muck and slush. And certainly not in a one horse open sleigh. The shuttle craft is AWD and stays much warmer.

This will be the first time in my sixty years of living, that I have ‘gone home’ for Christmas. I’ve always been at home for Christmas as well as most holidays, so this year is a bit different for me.

I’ve been on the road, fulltime RV living, for almost five months now. Hard to believe that much time has past by already. And to be honest, with the holidays, especially Christmas, coming up very soon, I’m feeling a little distant from my home, friends, and kids. Both in miles and even in spirit a little. It was just today that the Christmas spirit kicked in for me. I stopped playing Hits from the 70s and made the switch to Christmas music. Most of that Christmas music is also from the 70s or before but it’s music that I’ve heard many, many times and always brings a smile to my face and a lift in my mood.

So on one of the local FM stations down here, I heard the Robert Goulet version of White Christmas. I was singing loud and clear for all to hear while driving down US27 today and received a thumbs up from another driver while at a stop light. At least I think it was his thumb. As we pulled away from the light, White Christmas finished and another of my favorite Christmas songs came on…

“I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love
Even more than I usually do
And although I know it’s a long road back
I promise you”

Ah, Johnny Mathis! His version of I’ll Be Home For Christmas is a classic and I think it too is the best version of the song. It was also on that Christmas album from my youth. I think I’m becoming that old man that thinks the only good music comes from the 60s and 70s. Maybe early 80s too. Today’s music just ain’t got the same soul. Name that tune if you can.

I love the opening lyrics to I’ll Be Home and this year they are a perfect fit for me. It will be great to celebrate my favorite holiday with the kids and grands. Our Christmas for the past two years has become quite different from the previous couple of decades. Without Barb, the holidays especially Christmas, just aren’t the same. But don’t misunderstand me. Things are different but still good. The love that Barb built within our family has remained intact and even grown stronger as we miss her. That’s part of her legacy and I plan on continuing that over the years ahead.

I remember the first time I heard I’ll Be Home for Christmas that first Christmas in 2017 without Barb. I was again in my car, driving home from work, when the song came on the radio. I had to pull over until the song finished. The words took on a new meaning for me. I couldn’t sing along. I couldn’t drive.

Barb was home for Christmas. Did she have snow and mistletoe? I don’t really know but I knew then and know still today that she is most definitely home. Sure, not at home with me and the kids but she had made it to her ultimate home. Can you imagine what Christmas is like in heaven? I try to but I’m sure I don’t come close to comprehending the beauty of it. The joy in celebrating His birthday with Him. What a party that must be. The true White Christ Mass.

Today I could sing along with Johnny and even tried to harmonize a little with him. Music brings peace to the soul and I’m thankful it does. Songs bring back memories of loved ones we miss and gives us the encouragement to keep going. To dream about the good times in the past and the good times to come. Until I, we all, are home for Christmas.

Friends, may all your days be merry and bright this Christmas season.

See you down the road….

Yesterday

Definition of the adverb Yesterday according to Webster:
1) on the day past; on the day preceding today
2) at a time not long past; only a short time ago

Definition of the noun Yesterday according to Webster:
1) the day last past; the day next before the present
2) recent time; time not long past
3) past time – usually used in plural

Definition of the word Yesterday according to Jon:
1) a movie
2) a song
3) what we will call today tomorrow

No, I haven’t recently received a degree in English nor Time Travel. Although time travel would be pretty cool. Imagine going back to yesterday and reliving that day over again while remembering everything that already occurred on that day. Sounds like a good plot for a movie. I’ll contact Bill Murray tomorrow on that.

A Movie:

What has made me nostalgic tonight for yesterday was triggered by seeing the movie Yesterday this evening. The basic plot is a struggling musician is hit by a bus at the exact moment the whole world suffers a mysterious power outage. When the lights come back on our musician finds himself in the hospital and in a world where a number of things never happened yesterday nor ever. Most significant of which was the music of the Beatles. I know, you’re thinking what a terrifying world that would be. Talk about your Hard Day’s Night!

I won’t give away much more of the movie than to say it’s a love story. With some really great music. And a message of being true to yourself no matter what situations you find yourself in. And as my wife Barb used to say, ‘You know, there’s a lesson in that.’ It’s a good movie and I encourage you to see it. But please skip the butter substance on the popcorn. I did not and I’m out of Tums.

The Song:

It’s pretty obvious the title of the movie comes from the Beatle’s song Yesterday. In my life (that’s another really good song), Yesterday has always been a meaningful tune. One of my favorites. I’ve envisioned myself playing the song on the piano and singing it just the way Lennon and McCartney wrote it. Sad undertone about lost love. I’ve loved the song since I was a teenager for its simple elegance but when Barb finished her journey with cancer in 2017, the song took on very real meaning for me.

Suddenly
I’m not half the man I used to be
There’s a shadow hanging over me
Oh yesterday came suddenly

If you’ve lost someone that was your other half, someone that made you whole, then I’m guessing the song gets to you like it gets to me. It brings feelings of loss and sadness just as fresh as on the day that yesterday changed my future. It brings back memories of walking beside her through her treatments and through her decline. It brings to today the emptiness I hoped was just in the past. “Why she had to go, I don’t know. She wouldn’t say.’

But, and thank God there is a but, when I hear the song it also brings back to me the memories before her cancer. Our meeting at Mickey’s the first time. Our wedding. Our kids being born. All wonderful moments in a life well lived through both easy and challenging times. That’s what life is. A combination of good days and bad days. Of living the usual and surviving the unusual. Of not letting the sad moments of yesterday prevent the possible happiness of tomorrow. And that brings me to my third definition of yesterday.

What We Will Call Today Tomorrow

Have you ever thought about today what you will think about this day tomorrow? What I should have done more of, have done differently, or have not done at all. My mom once told me to really think about what I’m about to do and the possible consequences before I do it. It’s good advice and after surviving not listening to her advice for quite a few years, I started to implement her logic and I’m sure it has saved me from some embarrassing and regretful situations. Thank you, mom!

We can and should remember our experiences of yesterday as they are part of us and have shaped us into who we are today. But they don’t have to get in the way of who we can be tomorrow. We take yesterday with us through today and into tomorrow as we continue our journey in life. I’m comforted to think that even though my wife is not physically with me now, she is with me in my memories of yesterday and encouraging me to make new memories while living today and tomorrow.

The road is long and winding (another great song) and as long as I’m able to travel it, I’m going to do so with the strength I’ve gathered from yesterday and with a hope for tomorrow. So that when today is tomorrow’s yesterday, I can smile and be happy with where I’ve been and how I’ve done. Oh, I believe in yesterday. And today. And tomorrow.

So What About Tomorrow:

Tomorrow, or actually this coming Sunday, I have a few changes happening. The Doodle and I are moving out of our apartment and will begin full-time RV living on the road in our Class A motorhome. I’m naming the motorhome Terra because she is a Fleetwood Terra model. I have been encouraged to call her Terry by one of my nieces as my middle name is Terrence and Terry was my nickname as a kid. She thinks that would be pretty funny and fitting but I’m going to stick with Terra. After all, I’d much rather say I live with a goddess named Terra (check your Roman mythology folks). Wouldn’t you?!

Going to full-time RV living has been on my mind for a number of years and life’s road has led me to the opportunity to give it a shot. Before her cancer hit, I had talked Barb into RV living when we both retired. I know she will get many laughs watching me from above as I learn from my mistakes. I’m assuming you’ve seen Robin Williams in the movie RV. Enough said.

It will be interesting and I’m both excited and terrified but it really feels like something I’m meant to do.  As we travel the U.S., I’ll be writing about people I meet along the road and their life experiences as well as my own. And Izzy the Doodle will have her own byline to contribute from time to time her thoughts on living with me on the road. We have a bet on who’s posts will get the most likes. I just need a little help from my friends (yes another really good song). Don’t let me down, folks.

So until next time, see you down the road….

Literally!

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….

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….

A Funeral For A Friend

Ever since I was a teenager, Elton John has been one of my favorites. His music in the seventies was new and unique and combined piano and rock in such a way that it connected with me deeply. Your Song, Candle In The Wind, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, and A Funeral For A Friend to this day still move me when I’m listening and singing along.

Sir Elton is currently on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour and I’m planning on going next Friday night here in Columbus. I’ve never seen him in person and I’m excited as a teenager to get this opportunity before he stops touring. And let me take this opportunity to apologize in advance to all those that will be sitting around me for the raspy singing you’ll be hearing. From me, not Sir Elton.

Rock music has always been my favorite genre. I’m a child of the seventies so I guess that makes sense. I have many friendships that began listening to this music. Cruising Main Street on a Friday or Saturday night, windows down and 8 track speakers cranking out the tunes. Singing loud and sometimes dancing around the car at the stop lights. Great memories of great times with great friends.

The song Funeral For A Friend holds special meaning for me today. This morning I was among many who celebrated the life of a dear friend. Richard was a brother in Christ and he made his final journey home. He had a long struggle with illness and finally, thankfully, he found his rest.

There’s a mixed blessing at a funeral you know. Feeling both sadness and joy at the same time. I felt that today. A sadness in the missing of him which we will all feel for a long time and the joy in knowing that he lived his life to the fullest, called all strangers friend and loved his God with all his heart. He was truly a good man. My prayers go up for his family and all of us that were blessed by his friendship.

Today brought back strong emotions of when my wife finished her journey home. Hard to believe that it’s been eighteen months since Barb completed her race on earth and went to Heaven. I miss her still and always will but knowing that she, Richard, and other family and friends are together now in Heaven gives me great comfort and peace. I’ll see them again and that gives me an even greater hope. Death is not the end.

So after today’s memorial, I was back in my apartment and remembered the song Funeral For A Friend. I asked Alexa to play it. In its own rock way, the song, which starts as an instrumental, took me to a place of peace in my mind. It allowed me to flash back to memories of wonderful times. I found joy in playing my air piano and air guitar along with the song. Don’t laugh. I know most of you play air instruments too and let me say we’re all pretty good at it! Rock On!

Anyway, the second half of the song is actually called Love Lies Bleeding. I believe it’s about a romantic breakup if you follow the lyrics. But for me, on this day, that title holds a different meaning.

The main line in the song is ‘Love lies bleeding in my hand’ and today those lyrics took my thoughts to another person who both Barb and Richard knew very well. The person that truly did have love bleeding in his hands. The one person that did what no other could do for a friend and our world. God himself giving his life in our place. ‘The’ Funeral For A Friend.

Tonight as I sit here in my apartment listening to the rain, I’m thankful for the love Barb and I shared. The friendship Richard shared with so many. And the sacrifice made by the One for all of us. Yes, there is joy to be found in a funeral. I felt it today and still do tonight. It will remain.

If you’re on Sawmill Parkway in the days ahead, don’t be surprised if you see me dancing around my car and singing ‘It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside’. Just put your car in park and join me. And be sure to bring your air guitar or piano too.

Rock on my friends and see you down the road….

Every Rose Has Its…

I love flowers. Especially roses.

The Park of Roses in Columbus, or Clintonville to be precise, is a favorite park for our family. Over the years, from each Spring to Autumn, we have spent many hours there walking among and enjoying all the various varieties. The colors, the scents, even the structure of each plant are things to admire and appreciate. The beauty that comes from some very prickly plants is amazing. Kind of like some folks I know and I bet you know a few too.

My wife Barb especially enjoyed the Park of Roses. The heritage varieties were her favorites. She enjoyed talking with the volunteers that grew and maintained all the plants in the park and learning about new varieties and the care of the plants. At each house we’ve lived in, she would plant one or two rose bushes shortly after moving in so we would be able to enjoy them for years to come. She was good at caring for flowers as she was with almost everything in her life. Whenever I see a rose I think of her.

The photo with this post was taken by a family friend recently in the Park of Roses. Thanks Emily for letting me borrow it. The contrast of decaying blooms with vibrant flowers, really struck me. Realizing that both life and decay were occurring from the same plant, at the same moment, was thought provoking. And inspiring.

Every plant or if I may, every person at any moment in their life, most likely will experience life and decay at the same time. One part of our life may be fading away while another is reaching full bloom. Two realities existing as one.

We experience disappointment and even hurt as things once beautiful and strong begin to slip away from us. Maybe our health or perhaps a relationship is beginning to fade. The beauty, the happiness, we once enjoyed is leaving. What seemed to be the most important thing in our life is going. And we question why. Why is this happening to me? Sadness starts to discolor our world and our joy is taken away.

These past few weeks, the message our senior pastor has shared with us at our church has been based on the book of Ephesians and the Uncommon Joy that can exist in our lives. A joy that stays with us no matter what is changing around us or even happening to us. A joy that goes deep, down to our roots, and no illness, hurt, or decay can take it from us.

I’ve found that type of joy, that internal strength and beauty, but it took me a long time to really understand what it is and from where it comes. It’s something that was always with me, planted deep inside, and over the years I’ve tried to be happy, to grow my joy, but something would always happen that would bring sadness into my life and the blooms would fade and die. I’ve repeated this cycle of growing and dying over and over again with my emotions and I probably will continue to repeat it until my time is up on this earth.

But joy is not an emotion. It’s not like happiness or sadness. Joy is not a feeling. It is a confidence and a contentment in knowing yourself and your source of life, from where life comes. A strength that no matter what this world throws at you, no matter how bad it hurts, you know that you will be alright. That is the joy I’ve come to know and allow to grow in my life. It really is uncommon yet available to everyone. Everyone.

As many of you know, this weekend Senator John McCain passed on after losing his valiant battle with brain cancer, a glioblastoma.  The same type of cancer that took my wife in March of 2017. Both Barb and Mr. McCain fought a good fight, gave their all, in trying to overcome the disease and both lost their life to it. But from what I know about Mr. McCain and from the life I shared with Barb, I can say neither of them lost their joy. The decay of cancer may have taken their lives but the blooms of joy from living and loving continue in those of us that lived and loved with them. They knew the source of their joy and it did not leave them. And now their joy is complete.

“Contentment is not about what we have but who we have.” – Mark Krenz.

I encourage you to search out that source of contentment, that joy, and claim it. Let it take root inside you and grow to make you strong. Even strong enough to overcome the decay of this life.

To be able to bloom. Always and in all things.

See you down the road….

The Ness Of March

The month of March has always meant the coming of Spring. Sure almost every year in Ohio, we would get a pretty decent snow in March but it usually didn’t last long. Soon the sun would warm up the ground to melt the mantle of white and flowers would start poking their way up through the soil. Daffadills, Crocus, and sometimes Tulips would begin blooming in all their colors as Spring arrived. Such wonderful colors. Nature in transition. The beauty of creation. March in all its fullness.

Since 1939, March has also been the month where brackets are drawn, teams compete, buzzer beaters ignite the crowd, nets are cut down, and a champion is crowned. If you’re a fan of college basketball then this is your month. Even if your team is not in the tourney, there’s something about these games that is unlike anything else in sports. Going through the season and all the transitions teams must deal with to reach the pinnacle of success. Such anticipation. Such excitement. The beauty of the game. March in all its madness.

And then there’s March of 2017. March 7th to be precise. The day our family said goodbye to the person that held our hearts together. The day my wife Barb finished her 19-month journey of transitioning from a healthy life to her death from cancer.

It truly is the saddest day I have ever experienced. No other pain or sorrow comes close to what I felt that morning as I kissed her goodbye and whispered in her ear it was ok for her to go. She had fought long enough and now she could fly high to her new home. My heart still aches as I think about that moment. Tears well up again as I experience one more time the loss of her beauty. March in all its sadness.

But there’s another Ness that surpasses all the others.

Some years, Easter occurs in March which brings with it the greatest beauty. The beauty of grace and sacrifice. If you are a follower of the Christ, Easter week is probably the most significant example of transition you can find.

From the joyous shouts of Hosanna, through the final days of teaching and preparation, and into the night of communion and betrayal. Then the Friday of trial, suffering, and death and the Sabbath of sadness, doubt, and despair.

But then, oh thank God then, coming with the rising of the sun, there is the gift of new life. The raising of the Son on Sunday morning. The world transitions from a place of darkness, confusion, and fear to a home of hope, light, and life as the Christ overcomes the grave. The beauty of the Creator. Easter with all its forgiveness and completeness.

This March has been a tough one for me. In some ways even tougher than that first March losing Barb. Everything I’ve seen and experienced this month has reminded me of her. At times bringing great happiness and smiles and other times such a strong feeling of loss and tears. Grief is a process that presents itself in many ways. I’m learning to allow the ways of grief to come and to accept them. The transition out of grief is long and perhaps I will never be rid of all of it. And that’s ok.

You see I know that this loss and grief will not keep me. It cannot keep me. Because the love I shared with Barb and the love our Saviour has shared with us, is greater than anything we have to endure in this world. I am so thankful for it. The goodness of God.

Tonight during our Good Friday service, we sang the song At The Cross by Christ Tomlin.  I heard the lyrics in a way I had not before. Singing this song tonight gave me a comfort, a hug from God if you will, which is what I needed to close out this month of March.

I hope you, no matter what you are going through, are able to see and take in the goodness of God and what He has done for you. It is my prayer that you do.

“There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down”

 

Happy Easter and see you down the road.