A Story of a Song 8 Years in the Making

This story is for Steven Curtis Chapman who I saw in concert for the very first time March 10th. 

The miracle is I wasn’t even supposed to be there. 

When Wycliffe Bonnie join Cousin Crystal & I for the weekend in Orlando she tripled the fun. We became three girlfriends in Disneyland with some serious connections: her friends bestowed on us free tickets to the Steven Curtis Chapman concert only an hour away in Lakeland, FL!!! 

They’d bought them for some other folks whose plans had changed and we got the offer Friday night. After checking the map, we said yes! Friday we completed our very serious game of mini golf and headed off to Lakeland!

Backtrack 8 years. I’m 16, almost 17 years old.

It’s my last day at home; my last ride with mom delivering newspapers. Tomorrow I leave for the amazing “Summer Tour of 2004” where I’ll hit up not one, not two … but THREE summer camps in a two month time-frame, after which I’ll spend a single week at home before moving to Carlisle for two years and permanently leaving home forever. I’ll see my family about four times a year for the next four years, even less the years following.

In short, my life is never going to be the same. 

My mom knows this. 

We’ve spent the past three years ramping up my class schedule and switching teachers & ballet schools searching for a better place I can train. All for the purpose of pursuing God’s calling on my life to dance which He placed in my heart 9 years prior. 

What does mom decide to do to launch me into the world? It’s already been a hard road. And I had no idea that what I was in for would leave the pages of the Psalms crinkled from many nights crying and many more days too tired to cry. 

She plays Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Great Adventure,” better known to me as “Saddle Up Your Horses.”

Now I have to say at this point … blaring “Saddle Up Your Horses” at 7 in the morning in your quiet, white-collar neighborhood while coming back from the paper route with hands blackened from fresh newsprint, bundled up in long johns, cheap boots and polartec is not the coolest thing in the world. 

But I sang along. 

Mom wanted to send me off well and it’d be a while before we sang together again like we always did at the piano bench, lifting her worship songs up to God (I’m her first lyric stenographer), so I pretended to enjoy it. 

I didn’t understand. I really just didn’t understand. 

Yes, the first four years would be filled with so much anguish I’d lay on the floor of my smelly apartment in Pittsburgh and struggle to breath from just remembering it all … but the next four years would be filled with the awkward joy of self-discovery and thankfulness for sunbeams and after that … well, let’s just say I see the world at my fingertips.  

Jump back with me to 2012 in Lakeland Florida. I’ve come back to my seat from intermission. Andrew Peterson has played his sweet, story folk songs, Josh Wilson has wowed us with his whippersnapper, back-up looping single guitar “protege in the house, don’t kill yourself now” rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and Steven Curtis Chapman is beginning the second half of the evening. 

Oh and by the way, I’m in the third row. Our blessed ticket-givers (their names escape me, if you’re reading this know I will never forget your faces or hearts and I’ll see you when I see you on the other side ;-) have taken the initiative to get there an HOUR early and save themselves - and their beneficiaries - “VIP” seating. Life doesn’t get much better than this. 

And the song began. 

"Started out this morning, in the usual way … " By the time the chorus hit, I was jumping. The only one jumping nonetheless, but I really didn’t care. You see Steven Curtis Chapman was playing my Momma’s theme song for me and I was jumping. 

Also, he was staring right at me. The entire time. 

Steven Curtis Chapman was playing that song for me. And at no better time in my life. 

See … if any body told me while I was crawling through the pit-hell of depression in Carlisle that the thick storm clouds were truly lined with silver … and filled with raindrops of gold, I would not have believed you. 

The Bible says when you patiently endure a trial that is added on extra, not to discipline you but to grow you, the reward you earn is credit to your faith as was Job’s. When we are able to honestly look at our situation, understand the unfairness, sigh and say “The Lord give and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the LORD” there’s something that grows in our soul that doesn’t grow any other way but through suffering. 

Which is why it is a privilege to “share in the sufferings of Christ.” Many people forget that sharing in His undeserved sufferings is a Promise made to us a believers. Some people don’t know, others seem to like to forget. Those people concern me.

The Bible is an all or nothing book. Leave anything out and you’ve got all the drama of “Revelation” to reckon with. I have too much holy fear of our Powerful, Righteous Creator to want to mess with that … but I digress. 

My life now is better that I could have ever dreamed. 

I always thought “Wonder what I’m going to do at 25 … I hope it’s exciting!” but I could have never imagined this. 

And none of it would be possible with out those heart-grinding days and soul-wrenching nights doing tendus and fighting mold allergies in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 

After all these years I’m finally ready for the adventure. It’s going to be more beautiful and excruciating than I could have ever imagined but I’m ready. 

It’s time to saddle up the horses.

I’ve got a shift in the morning. 

Saint Patty’s Day Heartache

The policeman stepped in my store to make a phone call. He finished his phonecall and commented how at least he’s earning money tonight, not spending it. 

I folded my arms and said this really wasn’t my scene. 

He patted my arm and said “Get a couple drinks in you and you’ll be fine.” Something to that effect. 

I don’t think he heard me the first time. 

I wanted to say how I’d rather be home blogging about how girls can avoid all the drama that comes with the clubbing life; I wanted to explain how all the music and self-medicinal inebriation reinforces dysfunctional living without God; I wanted to walk out among all those people and scream at the top of my lungs: 

"DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING? FULFILLMENT DOESN’T COME FROM THIS!!! YOU NEED JESUS TO HEAL YOUR HURTS!

HE’S THE WAY TO REAL PEACE!

HE IS THE TRUTH THAT WILL GIVE YOU PURPOSE!

THE LIFE HE GIVES IS THE ONLY LIFE WORTH LIVING!!!”

But I didn’t.

And the policeman headed back out into the cacophonous insanity

And I restrained my broken heart. 

The Terror of Kite-Flying

Yes, really… And I am an expert but Thursday I was terrified!

I drove to the beach with my $6 dollar fish kite from Bed Bath & Beyond, hooked it together, hoisted it in the air and refused to take my eyes off it. The intense ocean wind pulled so hard I feared it would loose or tear & nevermore be seen in air!

Why?

Why was I so afraid?!

I KNOW HOW TO FLY A KITE!

But this time … I realized how much was out of my control.

I only get to hold the string.

And I realized my fears weren’t for the kite … They are for my future.

There is SO much out of my control … The most I can do is “hold the string.” I don’t know where this blog/vlog/dream of dancefilm is going to take me … And I Am TERRIFIED of psychologically ripping from the strain or being torn to pieces by sharp branches I may meet.

What can I do? Besides hooking the kite string handle to my belt and laying in the sand … I can entrust this delicate pair of wings to the one who entrusted them to me.

This dream isn’t mine. As much as I may love it, it was Never mine. This dream is a work prepared for me by Him who knit me together in my mother’s womb for such a time as this.

With a Lover of my soul like that … How can I fear? Especially over such an exciting thing as flying a kite? :-) <3 

Pumpkin Bread Pudding for My OrganicValley Friends

This is like … the Yummiest Comfort Food EVER!

PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING  1-dish mix and bake

INGREDIENTS: 

2 beaten eggs
2 cups Super Yummy Milk!
1/2 C. brown sugar  (or white with 1Tbsp of Buttermilk powder)
1/4 C. canned Pumpkin (unused portions can be refrigerated or frozen)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla or less if desired
1/2 tsp. cinnamon    
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 C. dry bread cubes - white or whole wheat.  (Can toast 3 or 4 slices before starting and they’ll be dry by the time you put them in the dish. Thick-sliced bread may work better - like French or Italian.  Unseasoned Croutons may also work.)

PREHEAT oven @ 350 F.  Lightly GREASE 8 or 9” baking dish.  ADD ingredients to dish in order listed. MIX well, making sure no egg is recognizable AND the sugar is dissolved. ADD bread cubes and submerge them so they become moist. SPRINKLE with more cinnamon.  SET in larger pan ( I use my broiler-pan base) and add ~1” of HOT water to the broiler pan.  

BAKE ~45 min. until knife inserted BETWEEN center and edge comes out clean.   Can also be done in individual ramekins - 4 to 6?- pouring liquid in each and then addingbread cubes.  Baking time will vary.  (Ice cream or whipped cream also are options…..)

Have a great day!

Do You See It? Unsafe Men, pt 2

I was telling a gal at work about my last blog, she immediately recognized Dave’s comment as inappropriate. I was thankful someone agreed with me. Girls these days would take his remark as a COMPLIMENT.

What does that say about our ability to recognize an unsafe man?

Girls, guess how old Dave was? What if he was 25? Would his comment feel normal to you?

In actuality, he’s in his 50’s and I’m sure you’re now thinking “dirty old man.” If you are, can I challenge you to change your perspective? There’s NOTHING inherently “dirty” about old men.

"Dirty" is a way of thinking not a demographic profile, so technically anyone male or female past the age of puberty can find themselves engaging in "dirty" thinking. Myself included. I had to practice self-control last night in case you’re wondering.

So here’s my 2nd thought on avoiding unsafe men:

Learn to recognize “Dirt” in your mind & in the mouths of others

Let the awkward discomfort of the more innocent be a sign to you. If it doesn’t sound right figure out why. If you’re thinking about something you’d be embarrassed to say in front of a child, why keep thinking about it?!

We can’t change what people say, we can only change how we understand and that starts with recognizing & changing our own thoughts first.

Unsafe Men in Frequent Places, Part 1

I’m visiting a new pizza place by my work for lunch as I’m writing this. The owner stopped in my store & left a menu offering 10% off for local employees.

I’m pretty hesitant to get to know him. Let me explain why.

While I worked for Starbucks I had a customer named Dave. He would come in for coffee then sit in the mall and read the paper. When I started spending my 15 minute breaks near the fountains with my thoughts & a venti foamy vanilla steamer, Dave started coming over & making conversation.

He was friendly and I was lonely so I didn’t mind at first. But then I started to dread going on break. My coworkers noticed that my breaks started to stretch to twenty minutes. Then it happened.

At the most recent performance I had some beautiful pictures of me in a tutu, alone and also partnering Morgan Stinnett.

I showed them to Dave unwittingly.

“Sexy!” was the first word out of his mouth.

That caught me off guard.

For the next year and a half, I spent the rest of my breaks cloistered in the tiny backroom. I didn’t know what to do but avoidance was the only thing I knew TO do.

When I told the current manager about this uncomfortable situation, he gave me a blank stare. Living far from family without close friends in the area … the LAST thing I needed was a blank stare.

Idea No. 1: Find a Safe Community. Choose Who you Hang With!

If we are getting our “people fix” in a community that is trustworthy … we’re much less likely to stay connected to the “Daves.” I feel safe at church because I Know Who to Go to for Help. Men Particularly.

I am still very careful. Church is a hospital and those who realize the extent of their sickness are the healthy ones. I talk to everybody but I only allow a person into my circle after I’ve evaluated their character.

When brainstorming at church with the director of Shine, people we both knew kept walking through. Do you have a place like that?

So why am I not going back to the pizza parlor? I’m not adding it to my list of “safe places” because the owner isn’t trustworthy. Has nothing to do with the pizza.

Papa & Pizza. Guess Which I love More?!

(Hint: Pizza can’t hug. Not even Mushroom.)

Don’t stand alone.
A single water molecule
never killed a phone.

3.6.2012