Tag Archives: music

Drummer Boy

This is it. Graduation day. I am so proud of you.

You broke the mold, Son. So many molds of mine, actually.

You broke my birthing mold.
You broke my parenting mold.
You broke my teaching mold.

You were born with a free spirit, to the beat of a different drum.

I didn’t know it.

I had a lot to learn that only you could teach me.

  • Start each day with breakfast. As you came downstairs each morning, your first words were “Need bekkis”
  • Ask for what you need. “Need kiss” as you took your paci out of your mouth to kiss me with your toddler mouth
  • Laugh in the funny moments. like when a new mattress was delivered, and it looked like my bed had grown two feet taller, and I stood with four year old you as we spontaneously laughed
  • Sing your own song. As I’m changing your diaper and singing your nigh-nigh bed song and you chime in with a “Play toys” descant. At 18 months.
  • Weigh your options. When reading blends and words wasn’t really worth it and made you cough until mini marshmallows were on the line. Then you were a reading pro!
  • Be helpful. As four year old you carried newborn Kirk down the stairs to me because “He was going to cry.”
  • Use your voice. Yours was loud and insistent and challenging, but it got my attention. And that of anyone within hearing range in a parking lot or grocery store as you threw one of those tantrums that “my child would never throw.” And that of the neighbor when you were yelling out of the window with your friends.
  • Love people and make friends. Like you do so well.

I wish I could go back to that 27-year-old mama of four and give her one of the hugs that infant and toddler you so lavishly bestowed on me.

I would tell her that it really is worth it and really is a blessing amidst the tantrums and struggles over raincoats and putting away sandals and clipping into car seats.

I would ask her what she was afraid of and stop to listen to her answer. I would show her the very things she feared she was creating if she didn’t slow down and live in the moment. I miss the moments. I’m sorry that it took me so long to recognize them. I’m sorry that I thought I could control what I feared.

I’ve always said that I wanted things to be what they really are, even when it is painful.

I remember how painful it was to make the decision to enroll you at THMS. That was really hard in many ways due to my background and story, but I knew that it was the right thing for you. Even though the middle school years were messy, it was worth it that day as we were riding to or from high school when you spontaneously thanked me.

Thanks, Mom, for sending me to THMS so that I could meet my friends.

You have always loved to be with people and to have lots of people around, except maybe at the dinner table if they were under three feet tall and in high chairs. The conversation we had that day in the car confirmed in my heart that the right decision was made for you.

And now here you are.

What’s next?

That’s the question of the season. Friends ask me. They ask you. Everyone has an idea. A suggestion.

It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to be real and unsure and to march to the beat of your own drum. It’s okay to live life and be present in the moment and be open to the future and to not have all of the answers, yet.

Whatever is next, know that you are loved. I am proud of you for who you are. Congratulations on reaching this milestone!

I love you, Drummer Boy.

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Remember this feeling. Keep following your dreams and your gifting! You are a rock solid drummer.

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I love the way it ended where it began.

 

 

Meanwhile, Elsewhere

There’s an improv game that I remember Steve participating in during one of his earliest No Strings Attached shows. It was called, Meanwhile, Elsewhere, and involved quick scene changes and fast-paced multiple storylines.

A scene would begin, say, in the cafeteria, and then after a bit someone would say, Meanwhile, in the library. . . and another scene would be going on that somehow tied to the first. I’m sure there is a strategy or game plan to the sketch. I just remember Steve running into scenes and adding more to them by saying, Meanwhile in PE class . . . and his fellow improvisationists would have to pick up the slack of the scene.

I am feeling a bit Meanwhile, Elsewhere about life, right now. There has been so much excitement and processing about being accepted into the certificate program that I have been playing heavily into that scene. The fund-raising site launch added another dimension, keeping my mind intensely focused on that aspect of life.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere, end-of-year concerts and performances are taking place. A senior son is wrapping up his high school percussion career and a fourth grade daughter is beginning hers. They shared the stage together for the final number of a collaborative dance, percussion, and Orff ensemble concert at the high school.

Since this begins Fine Arts Week(s) in the city, there are many more performances coming up over the next two weeks. I am trying to savor the moments in the midst of the madness. One minute I wonder how we could ever do this, and the next I am thinking how could we NOT?

Sibling Percussionists

This makes it all worthwhile. These people.

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I want to hold these next days and weeks close. I don’t want to miss a thing. As another bird readies to launch, it’s not quite time, yet. There is still much to celebrate and savor as I live life in the Meanwhile, Elsewhere. . .

Piano Lesson

My son recently performed in a piano festival. Each pianist played two memorized pieces that were evaluated by judges. A score of superior from each judge, double superior, meant that the performer was invited to play one of their pieces in a recital the following day and receive recognition and a trophy.

Now, this could be the humble brag post about how my son surprisingly received a double superior, but it is really the be your best you post that I need to write for myself to read later. So that is why I am writing it!

The festival took place on a Saturday with performance times beginning in the morning. A sister who also participated was in the 9:00 time slot. Son was in the 10:00 block. Participants were expected to be on time, stay for the entire hour listening to the other performers, and then check the postings on the wall in the hall to see if they received the coveted SS.

Mornings are challenging at our house on a good day, and there is never really one of those, so you can imagine what early Saturday performance mornings are like. Getting out of the house dressed and presentable was not a pretty sight or sound.

Son threw on some clothes, missed his coffee, iPod, and warmup on our piano, and jumped into the car with sister and me. There was much grumble-grousing. I was not in the most generous of moods and was lecturing on how we can’t all be in total comfort all of the time. There was really no other option than for us to all go together and boy to wait for his performance time. The use of my phone to pass the time softened the blow slightly.

I listened to nine-year-old sister play two memorized pieces almost perfectly and was impressed by her first festival performance. Based on past experience with siblings I was fairly confident that she might have pulled off a double superior. I said nothing but congratulated her at the end.

This is why I am not a piano judge.

At 10:00 it was brother’s turn, and I found him waiting in his performance venue. His skill level plays on the expensive upstairs piano in the auditorium. We sat together waiting for his turn. I could sense nervousness and heard negative self-talk coming from him and reminded him to just relax and do his best.

A fellow performer from the same studio went before him and played two complex pieces. The faster piece was filled with intricate-sounding runs up and down the keyboard. Son leaned over and said, I can’t do that! The dismissive shake of his head and shrug of the shoulders had me sensing even more of a downward spiral coming on, increasing the negative momentum, grinding him to a standstill before he had even started.

mother and son

I leaned over to give him some motherly advice, and this is what came out. . .

You don’t have to play like the other performers. Just play like the best YOU in this moment.

Isn’t that true for all of us? I know it is for me.

I look around at my friends with their unique callings or their blogs with their voices and think I can’t do that. I can’t write about homeschooling or health or the benefits of _________. I haven’t designed a product or written a book or come up with a better way to __________. I haven’t gone back to school like _______. I don’t have that advanced degree like ___________. I’m not working from home in a job that I love like _________. I can’t sing like ___________. I am not a businesswoman like _________. I’m not as wise and spiritual as ____________.

I don’t have to do what other people are doing. I don’t have to compare myself to others. I just have to do what I do and be the best me in the moment.

Son heard his name, walked up onto the stage, and soldiered through his piece. I listened on the edge of my seat, slightly cringing at the areas where I heard him holding back due to nerves and lack of proper morning preparation. I coped in my classic way, through paper and pen in a tiny journal

“Mornings are never smooth at our house, so a Saturday morning with early piano performances at a piano festival seemed doomed from the beginning. Son’s score should really be interpreted through a baseline lens ~ meaning this is how he performs cold ~ no coffee, no warm-up, no sleep, cranky, and irritable. I am proud of him just for being here. It is hard to keep a 13 year old boy on track! It is hard to keep a 44 year old woman on track!”

He returned to his seat next to me, head shaking, hair flopping as he sat down. Whispered analysis of all that went wrong in the piece came my way, as the judges worked on his score at their table. I enjoyed the other performers, and then exited the hall to regroup with his teacher in a room downstairs.

Talking together, we debriefed on how the morning had gone, when a teenage boy sauntered up, face flushed, head shaking, eyes full of disbelief. What does it mean if your name is highlighted?

It means a double superior, answered his teacher. That is what my son received.

This is why I am not a piano judge.

The following afternoon found us in a different performance space enjoying the fruits of his labor, of him being the best him in the moment, as we listened to the honors recital together.

Whatever you are, Friend. Be the best YOU in the moment! Bring yourself to the world and step right up.

Angered by the Call

Sometimes I wonder if I have changed, am changing, will ever change. I look back over the blog, read old entries, and think, really? STILL?

Sure, things are not exactly the same, but they are eerily similar. I found one such gem after looking through some old posts from the private blog. Sitting in my drafts folder was this memory from three years ago, almost to the day.

It is a different kind of hard that we sit in. We are always sitting in the hard, and maybe that is what I need to remember and learn as I sit in this Saturday afternoon between death and resurrection.

From March, 2013

It has been a hard day. Week. Season.

Life is so very full, which is a good thing. We are blessed. Work stress means there is work. House mess means people are living. Serving others means we are able-bodied.

It’s still been hard. Tiring. Draining. Exhausting. 

I had been looking forward to Good Friday.

Not in a, “I gave up caffeine for Lent and can’t wait for coffee on Easter” kind of way but in a, “I can’t wait for the school to be closed and to get to sleep in and have coffee with Steve” one. I was looking forward to hanging out together. 

Good Friday morning, Steve woke up and something was wrong. He was sick. It was his turn for the stomach bug that has been passing through our family for weeks. The violent, let me tear through your system and leave you languishing, stomach bug.

And I was angry.

Angered by the call to sacrifice my agenda and desire to have things my way. Angered by the call to suffer, because, after all, now I was going to have to do EVERYTHING myself and how is that FAIR? Can’t I even get a BREAK? A day OFF?

On Good Friday, the day set aside to remember the One who sacrificed his life entirely, the day I am on worship team for a special service, the day I am called in a minuscule way to lay down my own life and suffer and sacrifice for another, and my response is anger.

Not love.

Not Christlike.

Not taking up my cross to follow. Not even on Good Friday.

Only the painful, tangible, heart-rending reminder of why all of this had to happen.

For me.

February Goals Update

It’s a new month, and this first day of March seems a good time to post an update on the goals.

  • Spiritual ~ Maintain daily quiet time and prayer, following current Bible reading plan. Journal responses and thoughts that result from that time. Spend time in stillness. Read one faith-based book/month.

I am on track in reading, plowing through passages in Leviticus, Mark, Psalms, and Proverbs. This month I re-read Beauty and the Bitch by Jan Meyers Proett and hope to blog about it at a later date.

  • Family ~ Connect with Steve intentionally each week on a heart-level. Risk sharing something scary or overwhelming inside of me with him during that time. Connect with at least one child intentionally each week. Keep track. Make the most of one~on~one impromptu moments that arise with the children. Keep track.

I think I am connecting with Steve. I don’t know how intentionally, but it seems that I am risking the scary and overwhelming. Or maybe I’m just crying a lot. As to children, connection has been happening. Roo and I did a mother/daughter book study for 3 Wednesdays in February. We also did a coffee house together for her writer club. Kieran and I ate at Taste of Thai together after his district band concert. Coco and I had a mother/daughter shopping disaster trip that I will go ahead and count. Little Mae and I got donuts together one morning before school. Looks like my Kirk space is lacking, so I will try to meet him more intentionally this month. Also Coco. I would like to report a success next month. We shall see.

  • Social ~ Connect with at least one friend for coffee or conversation time each week. Say yes to fun. Make an effort to have people over to the house again starting with once/month. Adult kids and their guests are a bonus and not part of this number!

I have done well with grabbing coffee with friends on a few Saturday mornings. Thanks, Angela and Beth! I said yes to Brooke’s karaoke birthday party. There was lots of adult kid activity, but since they don’t count, it swings the other way, and our house guests have been of the shorter variety. I hope to have a successful adult/family interaction to report next month.

  • Physical ~ Do 20 minutes of yoga at least five times a week. Longer or more times is a bonus. Improve flexibility in my down dog. Practice presence on the mat. Consider walking Dewey as an opportunity to get exercise and fresh air and not an annoying burden built into my already full day!

Oh, Dewey. He has been giving me lots of opportunity for fresh air, and I am so glad that the sun is shining brighter and the air is warming up. Yoga is working, as I completed two sixteen-class challenges since the beginning of the year for a total of 32 classes. But who’s counting? Most mornings I am up at 5:30 and on the mat.

  • Teaching ~ Organize my teaching materials and office space. Write an encouraging note to one student/week recognizing individuality and strengths.

I wrote to one student this month. Definitely need to step that one up! I plan to double or triple up on this one from now to the end of the year. It’s a small class. My space is looking neater. Baby steps.

  • Personal Development ~ Pursue the Allender Center’s Lay Counseling Certificate. Read one book per month related to personal growth.

This is a big one. I actually applied to the Allender Center and had a phone interview. I will find out if I am accepted this month or next and then move forward from there. Application and acceptance does NOT mean that I have to go this year, but I am praying for it to be clear how I should proceed. My personal growth book was 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller.

  • Ministry ~ Attend Stephen Ministry meetings regularly. Participate actively. Return to worship team rotation at least once per cycle.

I attended both Stephen Ministry meetings in February and heard great teaching from our leaders. I have been meeting regularly with my care receivers to both encourage and BE encouraged. It is so, so sweet. I will be singing on worship team this Sunday for this cycle.

  • Financial ~ Take intentional time with Steve to go over the family finances and budget and grow in understanding of our financial goals together.

This could use work, but I at least entered some receipts into the budgeting plan and was aware of how much money was in the categories that I needed to spend from.

  • Writing ~ Schedule intentional time each week to write and work on the blog. Submit one Red Tent post for consideration each month.

February’s Red Tent post was my most widely read and shared. March’s post has been submitted for consideration. I published eight posts on my own blog. I am still trying to find that intentional time to write and work, but there are only so many hours in a week, and there are real-live people in my world to love. Little by little.

If you made it this far, wow! Thanks. Here’s a little reward for your effort. It’s a reminder of what really matters, especially on a day like today. Do take five minutes to listen and reflect. Blessings!

How You Know Me

It depends.

I realized this while at a Harrisonburg High School performance of Aida last Saturday night. It was my second time in attendance, the first being during the preview show. Free tickets and deeply discounted tickets encouraged us to load up the not-so-littles on a Wednesday night to watch the show and listen for their big brother on the drum set.

My first-born son, second-born child, and alumnus of Harrisonburg High School, attended with me the second time, having driven up from his adult life in Roanoke for the weekend. Six years before began his adventure at HHS as a junior, and he sang in two musicals, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, during his time there.

Six years ago the littles were 7, 5, 3, and 1. Drum set brother was 11.

During intermission and after the show, my eldest son connected with friends and caught up with former teachers. I wandered with him, as well, tagging along, a third wheel feeling stirring inside. Small talk has never been my strong suit. There were several parents of students from his era who complimented me on senior son’s drumming.

Is he (drummer child) your youngest?

This question, and others about family size, drags me by the ankle and pulls me under in the deep end of the conversation pool, because acknowledging that, no, he is actually the fourth of eight stirs up a whole lot of what is still unresolved in my heart. They are just making conversation, not expecting my freaky fact to surface, and have no real follow-up other than some version of, I was not expecting you to say that.

Those who had never met my eldest son, and who met me through child four, were surprised that I had older children.

I thought he (drummer child) was your oldest!

And there you have the beef  that drummer child has with me in the first place, being in the awkward middle. He is the baby of the olders and the biggest of the youngers. Depending on how you know me, maybe it is all starting to make sense, now. Maybe not.

As I allowed my heart to feel all of the big feelings surrounding watching my senior son on stage for senior night that I would have missed had not adult son come to visit, tears began to flow. As I continue to embrace my story and the fact that most people’s issues don’t follow them around and call them Mom, tears flow. Trying to find words to sort the overwhelming bigness that is my life brings tears.

As did this musical. If you have never heard of or seen Aida the Elton John/Tim Rice musical, look it up. Start by watching the video below of a song from the show called “How I Know You” which just seemed perfect considering the theme of this post.

How do you know me?

Committed Spirit

Last week started with a lofty goals post and ended with sex. Both were big draws to the blog. I knew about the goals link-up and had planned on it. It felt good to get some goals down on paper and out there for others to see.

I had not planned the timing of my Red Tent post. A backstory was written to go live whenever it ran, which happened to be Thursday. That was a day full of cyber and real-life engagement.

It started with texts full of kind encouragement. There were questions about how I was feeling. There were likes and comments and shares on Facebook. I was in my classroom, as usual, all day, so I wasn’t following the cyberspace chatter. After work I checked in to find several alerts and comments and even some new Composting the Heart page likes!

Yes, there is a Composting the Heart Facebook page that you can like if you haven’t already!

Far from going viral, it was still my farthest-reaching post, confirming what we already know. Sex sells.

So here I sit at the beginning of a new week, reflecting on all that has happened and all that might come. Big feelings stir inside, and I wonder, Is it worth it? Sharing my goals and hopes and dreams? Risking and writing and opening my heart?

Last Monday morning while reading in Psalm 31, verse 5 gave me pause.

Into your hand I commit my spirit, you have redeemed me O Lord, faithful God.

Often I think of these words in connection with death, not life, because in Luke 23:46, Jesus commits his spirit into his Father’s hands and breathes his last.

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

In David’s context, however, he commits his spirit while he is living. Reading this early Monday morning, caused me to fill with questions that I began to journal.

How do I commit my spirit into your hands, Father?
What is it to trust in your work on my behalf?
How do I rest in the space of un-ease? Unknown?
This looking ahead to dreams and goals and plans feels too big, yet I commit my spirit to your hands. Please show me the way!

I was given a new perspective and visual of handing my spirit to God for safe-keeping, not just in death, but in life. It gave me a renewed sense of peace that God already knows his plans for me and is working them out. Looking back over last week, I was grateful for the reminder when the stirring of unrest began to fill me.

I am still pondering this committing of spirit. Still practicing the trusting. Still learning to rest in the unknown and in the Father’s redemption of my life.

I am still learning to Bless the moments that we feel you nearer.

 

Return to Year’s End

It’s another year’s end. Almost. Today I sit in the tension of a messy house and messy relationships and messy conversations and a messy heart.

Floodplain, the latest project by Sara Groves, plays in the background while my youngest plays in a box in the living room for her not-so-quiet-time.

Really we don’t need much
Just strength to believe it
There’s honey in the rock
There’s more than we see.

These patches of joy
These stretches of sorrow
There’s enough for today
There will be enough tomorrow.

I’m trying to trust enough for today.

My brain works faster than my fingers as thoughts bombard my head, trying to connect in a coherent way. Last year’s word drifts through my mind, filtering experiences and thoughts through its grid.

Did I do enough? Get it right? How was my progress?

I’ve been here before. . . Sara croons in the background. Friends, get this album. *She has an incredible gift . . . wondering why I can’t do better than I’ve done.

The hand of grace reaches down to me ~
A voice inside says that I can be free.

And I sit here wanting to be anyone but myself.

A voice inside says that I will be free.

Ah, yes, it’s another year’s end.

*When I say get this album, I mean it is amazing. I receive nothing from this link other than the joy of knowing that others may discover Sara’s gift of singing to the heart.*

Breath

I woke this morning thankful for breath. The ability to breathe in and out without obstruction or stress is a gift. The growth in the ability to breathe through obstructions and stress is also a gift.

Spending time in Psalm 104 this morning, I was struck by the vastness, the greatness of God. Reminded of the good gifts that He gives to all living things, to us, verse 29 stood out to me.

When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

I am so grateful to still have my breath, even in the hard. Even when I feel like I can’t, or don’t want to, go on, there it is. In. Out. Reminding me of the one who loves me and sustains me. Reminding me that I am still alive.

I am also grateful for music and for Fernando Ortega’s version of Psalm 104. Breathe in the goodness and enjoy!

Building

In building our house, it’s wisdom we need.
Knowledge
Good Sense
These things make us strong.
Planning
Preparing
These go a long way.

They lead us and guide us with hope on the path.

It’s okay to struggle when pressures arise,
To fall and to rise up again and again.
But we won’t give up.
We will hold on to strength.
We will rise and keep trying.
Our future is bright.

~a reminder from Proverbs 24~