What helps me through difficult times?

Difficult days come. They hit me and knock me down. Sometimes they knock me flatter than a blob of ice cream on the sidewalk on a 100-degree day. Staying down’s tempting, but I don’t like the idea of watching the party when I could be in it. Allowing myself to spiral deeper isn’t appealing.

So, how do I stop the dive into that melted sugary ooze? I remember who my God is and who I am in Christ. To do that, I read the Bible and listen to music. My current favorite song for that purpose is Overcomer by Mandisa. Great words, upbeat tempo (echoes of American Bandstand here). thBoth combine to encourage me, lift my spirits, point me forward. Check out the words at http://www.songlyrics.com/mandisa/overcomer-lyrics/ and see if agree they’re that good. Put-you-back-in-the-cone good.

What about you? What helps you out of the doldrums?

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What I learned from a tough book

Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes caught me off guard. Not in its subject matter, which I knew would be emotionally difficult, but by the freshness of the read. The words, thoughts, and characters’ feelings struck me with their strength and honesty. Drawn in from the beginning, I forgot I’d read the book before. Every scene was fresh as it unfolded. Every scene spoke of teenage or adult angst. Every scene poured forth human vulnerability.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult


Picoult guided me through the horrific events of a high school shooting by way of the shared history of the shooter and his victims. Although fiction, similar events have occurred throughout our country. I safely explored them through the distancing lens of a novel. The characters could have been real. The emotions I felt certainly were.

In reading Nineteen Minutes, I learned something about the horrors we can inflict on each other and the mind’s capacity to forget in order to protect us. This book made me more patient and compassionate with others. I’d rather not add to someone else’s pain. A book that changes a person for the better is a good one.

What books have made you better? In what way?

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Birthdays in the era of social media

I celebrated my birthday yesterday. Along with many of my friends. Thanks to Facebook, I received greetings and well wishes throughout the day. Every new message lifted my spirits. I smiled at each ding of my cell phone alerting me to activity. Talk about an ADD experience. Getting dressed—ding. Eating lunch—ding. Enjoying downtown Fort Collins—ding. What fun!

Never before have I felt connected to so many at one time. Having a summer birthday has always meant being out of school and nowhere near my buddies who celebrated together throughout the year. So sad. As I got older, it meant everyone scattered for vacations and I partied with a few. Not as sad.

But now—Facebook as electronic party thrower. What a thrill.

Roses from David

Roses from David

So, thanks to everyone who gave me a ding yesterday. I had a great time and felt blessed by all of you. May your birthday be as happy.

What about you? How has social media affected your celebrations?

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What did you choose as your wedding music?

Recently I purchased Britannia: The RPO [Royal Philharmonic Orchestra] for the Royal Wedding. The song assortment got me thinking about music selections for weddings and receptions.

Britannia: The RPO for the Royal Wedding

Britannia: The RPO for the Royal Wedding

An American couple planning an ordinary wedding chooses between an individual instrument (we had a harp at our outdoor wedding), a band (probably some friends), a DJ, or a prerecorded selection. The royal couple had every possibility at their disposal—famous artists and live performances, of course.

Also, an American couple picks from their own preferences without concern for ceremony and historic influences. Maybe it would please Grandma Jane if they included a specific song, but they can do what they want. The royals have expectations as demonstrated by the inclusion of God Save the Queen on this recording.

Ultimately, the music choices create an audio snapshot of the wedding day. When I listen to this CD, I’m transported to a place of elegance and happiness. A nice result.

What about you? What did you play at your wedding? What format did you choose?

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What can I learn about God from a talking gorilla?

 

Sema, an eight-year-old, 250-pound gorilla, communicates through sign language. Glee Granger trained Sema since birth. Now, the zoo wants her back.

 

ImageIn her novel Unspoken, Angela Hunt relates Glee’s battle to remain Sema’s caregiver, researcher, trainer, and family. The gorilla-human relationship depends upon the bond between the two, but the zoo’s demand threatens to destroy the connection.

 

No one else knows the signs Glee has specifically created for Sema. No one else knows Sema’s heart and personality. No one else will listen when Sema talks. And talk Sema does. She communicates love, concern, fear, needs, and happiness. 

 

What will happen when her lines of communication are broken? If they are broken? Hunt covers all this and more in a novel that made me fall in love with Sema and her honest communication. I wanted to talk with her, learn from her.

 

Have you ever wondered what animals think? What they’d say if they could talk?

 

Sema’s desire to talk is similar to God’s desire to talk with me, to hear me. He knows the signs for me, my personal code. He talks, but do I listen? To do so, I must make myself available, slow down, and pay attention. Not easy to do when the world’s fighting to steal me away, but the benefits are worth the effort. When I do, God shares his love and care for me. I only have to listen.

Do you struggle to listen? What benefits have you received from doing so?

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Rivers of thought

Whenever I’m in the midst of a slower activity (showering, waiting in traffic, daydreaming, going to sleep) my brain plucks random bits from my memory. I’ve paid attention to them recently to see where they come from, why they’ve formed such a deep trench. My memory’s captured them from songs, movies, and books. The depth of the memory comes from the amount of repetition, but that repetition hasn’t necessarily been intentional. The stronger the impact of the words or the music, the more I’ve repeated them. It’s interesting noticing the patterns. Here’s some of the thoughts that pop into my head, the soundtrack of my mind:

“We will dance on the streets that are golden. The glorious bride and the great Son of Man.” Travis Cottrell singing We Will Dance.

“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Jesus Loves Me hymn.

“Be bold as your sauce.” Facts of Life Goes to Paris. Great line in the movie. It’s encouragement to be yourself.

“Give thanks to the Lord our God and king. His love endures forever.” Forever by Chris Tomlin.

“Oh, Susanna.” Oh! Susanna by Stephen Foster. My middle name’s Suzanne. My dad would sing this to me.

“The summer I turned thirteen I thought I killed a man.” Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent. This first line of the novel gripped me immediately.

“If I thought I was gonna get shot I wouldn’t go.” El Dorado. My favorite line by my uncle Arthur Hunnicutt playing Bull.

“I could have danced all night.” My Fair Lady.

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me.” Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin.

The collection goes on. What about you? What plays in your mind in the slow moments?

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What’s the Bible say about God?

Many ways exist to categorize what the Bible says about God. I found a favorite on the CD Very Best of Aaron Jeoffrey. The song He Is summarizes the books of the Bible in a few words. For instance,

Very Best of Aaron Jeoffrey

Very Best of Aaron Jeoffrey

in Genesis “He’s the breath of life,” in Psalms “He is our morning song,” in Isaiah  “He’s Prince of Peace,” in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John “He is God, Man, Messiah,” and in Revelation “He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Singing through the names of God moves me every time. I get a picture of who he is. Check out the song for yourself.

Does a song like this work for you? What other ways do you use to capture the essence of the Bible and God?

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