The day the music died

March 20, 2020. That was the last day of spring break. We should have been planning and preparing for a return to school, but a coronavirus pandemic had been declared in the days prior. The announcement led to a rash of closures, a run on grocery stores for necessary supplies and some that weren’t necessary, and a whole set of social distancing standards that included basic hygiene guidelines (wash your hands, don’t touch your face, etc.).

The initial closures included schools, restaurants, sporting events, and eventually included places of worship. My kids knew, even before it was announced, that school would not reconvene the following Monday after spring break. No big deal, they enjoyed the extra time off from school. We worked hard to maintain a schedule, up at 8 a.m., breakfast, feed the animals, do your schoolwork which was provided for free by many tutoring and homeschooling websites. We did it so that returning to school wouldn’t be difficult. It was a noble effort.

After chores and “schoolwork” was done, it was free time. My daughter chose to practice her music for her solo band ensemble pieces. She practiced and practiced and played and it was beautiful. My house was filled with the joy of music and her excitement of playing the marimba – an instrument that she had never played before the start of her sophomore year. But the days wore on. Start dates were pushed back because the virus showed no signs of slowing down. With every extension of a cancellation or every announcement of a competition being cancelled, her desire to play dwindled. The music became stale. But there was hope!

Schools were allowed to develop a teaching plan for the remainder of the school year, or until restrictions were lifted, whichever occurred first.

So she continued to practice. Waiting. Hoping for school to reopen for the year.

April 17, 2020. Almost a month after schools were initially closed, the governor announced the closure of schools through the rest of the academic year. That was the day the music stopped playing.

My daughter’s world came to a screeching halt. There was no longer a reason to practice. There was no longer a need to develop her technique. There was no longer a desire to play music.

That was the day the music died.

I give up

Here it is. 11:10 pm and I’m trying my hardest to turn my brain off. It started this afternoon when the hype of Valentine’s day wore off and the quiet settled in. The quiet is the worst.

The quiet is where I hear the words of doubt and hopelessness echo endlessly in my head. What is wrong with me???

Why can’t I turn it off? Jobs that I held years ago play through my head, things I should have done, things I shouldn’t have, and things the should have been done better.

Depression sucks the life out of its victim. That victim is me.

Just another day

I had big plans for Thanksgiving this year. A big trip planned to travel home to see my family. Home…a place of comfort, and laughter, and stories, and memories, and hugs, and tears. A place where you belong. A place where you can just be.

But things didn’t work out. The weather didn’t look like it would cooperate, the kids both had school activities, my migraines started up again probably from stress, my car started acting up, and even though I took the week off, I couldn’t get anything checked off my to-do list. Anything that could go wrong did.

I often say that things will work out like they are supposed to, but I’m failing to see right now that any of this is a good thing. I’m homesick. I miss my family. I miss belonging to something. I miss having a purpose.

My kids are teenagers and no longer want to hang out with mom. So, here I am on the eve of Thanksgiving feeling very much like a failure. Unable to connect with my kids on any level, unable to peel myself off the couch to accomplish anything, battling deep depression from events of years past, and unable to reach out to anyone for fear of being a burden. So I sit here alone. Depressed, lonely and alone.

Social media is a place to avoid generally everyday, but especially now because it’s filled with photos and happy wishes of those celebrating special milestones or of those spending time with their families and friends. I wonder…does anybody ever think about me? Does anyone ever wonder if I’m okay? Does anybody care?

So this Thanksgiving will pass as just another day of the year. Maybe we’ll see some friends, maybe we’ll share some laughs, but mostly it will be just another day.

September 12th

I read something today that struck a chord. The author said that he/she wanted to remember September 12th because that was the day the whole nation came together as one. No one saw skin color, religious differences, political parties, or social statuses. We were just people. Hurting people who comforted each other as best we could in our time of need.

Should we remember the tragedy that struck our nation on September 11, 2001? Yes, absolutely. We should remember. We should mourn for a time. We should pray harder than ever for our people, for our leaders and for each other. We should even be grateful for such a tragedy because without it, there wouldn’t have been a September 12 where we saw compassion rather than hatred for our fellow Americans.

We should remember September 12th.

Murder is murder

It’s only the first month of 2019 but already this year may go down in history as the year that Americans lost their minds.

Earlier this week, New York Governor Mario Cuomo signed a bill that allows full-term or late term abortions based on the mother’s chance of survival and/or the baby’s chance of survival outside the womb. This means that if the mother, who has carried a baby for 9 months, decides on the delivery table that she doesn’t want the baby after all, no matter how long that child will live, she can tell the doctor or attending medical staff to abort the baby. The scene is horrific. As I understand it, the baby would be given a shot that will stop its heart and kill it. After there is no sign of infant life, the mother will still deliver the dead baby – the one she just killed.

That’s the best scenario. The worst is that the baby is physically mutilated and mercilessly removed from the mother’s womb.

By allowing abortions based on health reasons, New York has removed any criminal repercussions for the mother and medical staff.

How in anybody’s mind can any of that be okay???

I’m nauseous just imagining the scene. Horrified. and sickened by this group of lawmakers in New York who think that they are anything less than accomplices in murder-by-abortion cases.

I’ve given this story a lot of thought and first let me say that I in no way, shape or form, support abortion or the idea of abortion. I believe it to be murder and an absolute and bold violation of the sixth commandment of God’s law – the same God who created the very lives of each and every one of us, past, present and future.

Because God is the author and creator of all life, he alone can choose to give life or to take it away. When simple men and women whether individually or as a group decide that abortion is okay, they are doing nothing less than playing God. They are telling the one and only God that he doesn’t know what he’s doing and that he makes mistakes.

I personally have carried two babies to full-term and delivered them both via c-section. My babies were both born very healthy. After carrying those two babies for nine months, bonding with them, getting to know what they liked and what they didn’t…I could never make the decision to kill them on the delivery table. Never. No matter if they had been healthy or not after delivery. Never. And I certainly don’t understand how any mother could.

But I’m here to tell you that if a mother has so much evil in her heart that she cannot love the baby that she carried for three-quarters of a year, then it is better for the baby if she goes ahead and sends that baby to live with Jesus through the means of abortion. And I would rejoice the fact that the baby would never know the evil world we live in.

Make no mistake that God’s heart is breaking over this decision. And certainly He will exact punishment on those who have decided to take matters of life and death into their own hands not just in New York, but all across the land because we are all guilty in one way or another.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble And dry grass collapses into the flame, So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust; For they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 5:20‭-‬24 NASB

May the LORD have mercy on us all.

My Christmas Story

Christmas. The day we Christians celebrate as Jesus Christ’s birthday.

Christmas. The season in which almost everyone overspends on gifts that the receiver probably doesn’t need. It’s the season of carols and bells, laughter, joy, family, friends, too much food, and delicious homemade treats. It usually brings out the best in people. It’s also the holiday that I mostly hate.

I say mostly because there are some parts of the season that I really do like. I love the lights and decorations, the music, the Advent season, the candlelight service on Christmas Eve…I love all of that. What I hate is the shopping and spending money on gifts that no one really needs, I hate the expectation that I have to provide presents at all. It’s a crazy tradition that I have struggled understanding for the past several years. I mean, really…why do I have to buy presents at all for my family and/or friends? Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of focusing on the birth of Christ and the Hope of salvation the he provides?

I’ve spent a lot of time this season really contemplating this tradition (all while still shopping for the perfect gifts for my kids). I began to have a glimmer of revelation this morning as I was searching for a photo to share on my social media pages to mass-wish a Merry Christmas to my friends and family.

I was tempted to post simple “Merry Christmas” and leave it at that, after all I am a self-proclaimed Grinch during the Christmas holiday, but I wanted the Christmas wish to represent something that is important to me during this holiday so I continued searching until I landed on this photo:

Something about this photo spoke to me. I would even say that I felt compelled to share this particular photo. The more I looked at it, the clearer the message became. I knew that this was the photo- the answer- that I had been looking for.

I decorate the Christmas tree as a representation of a gift I would give to Jesus (and as the budget allows) if he were here. Admittedly, most years I feel like I’m the poor shepherd boy with nothing to give except my song. This year is not very different except that this photo speaks volumes. It shows the Nativity lighted by the bright star that shines down to form the shape of a Christmas tree. The focus of Christmas is Jesus Christ. Everything else is secondary. Which made me think of the presents that adorn the floor under the tree.

When Jesus was born, people from all social classes came from far away to bring gifts to Christ the King. It really is no different today as we decorate the Christmas tree in celebration of Christ’s birthday and we buy gifts out of love for others to give to them. That’s why people brought gifts to the King. They loved him. Since we cannot physically give gifts to Christ whom we love and adore, we spread the love of Christ by giving those gifts under the tree to those whom we love.

I’m doing a terrible job of explaining my Christmas Revelation, but maybe it won’t matter as this revelation is mine. The message is loud and clear to me. God has revealed this little tidbit about Christmas to my searching heart, and I am grateful.

I still don’t enjoy shopping, but maybe I will hate it less next season. Maybe then I will be less of a grinch because I will have learned the same lesson that Seuss’ Grinch learned:

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,

stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

(“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, Dr. Seuss)

Here I sit…

Here I sit contemplating life and my place in it.

Yes, I’m depressed, anxious, unsatisfied, tired, lonely. But why? Why am I these things?

Depression seems to be a constant state of being for me. It’s just that some days are better than others.

Lately, the better days are nonexistent, and I’m tired of fighting this war inside my head. But who is going to want to listen to me explain all of it? Surely not my friends, not my coworkers, not the leaders, not my family…I have no one, and this blog.

What a very lonely place to be.

How do I begin to explain how 16 years of marriage nearly killed me? How do I begin to explain that the marriage I escaped almost six years ago still haunts me to this day? How do I begin to explain that I’m tired of being told how awful and mean a human being I am? How do I explain the hurt when the ex-husband gets everything he wants by doing nothing while I have to work almost 200 hours per month just to put food on the table? How do I explain the I’m teetering on the edge of giving up because I’m at the end of my rope?

I’m so very tired.

Until tomorrow…when it starts again.

I’ll never get it right

According to the sermon today on family, I’ll never get it right. First, I’m a single parent. Secondly, I’m a divorced single parent, which compounds the problem.

Because I’m a single parent, the chances of me being able to give my kids everything they need are slim. Because I’m a divorced single parent, not only am I not able to provide for my kids they are also doomed for life because they dont have what only a dad can give them – and somehow that’s my fault. It doesn’t have anything to do with their dad choosing not to be involved in their lives for anything more than a financial contributor.

I’ve been a divorced single mom for the past six years and have tried my best to instill a sense of family (through the church), and a sense of service and work by example. I have good kids who are willing to help when asked, and occasionally on their own. I’m proud of them for that. It’s disheartening to think that they are doomed to marital failure all because they don’t have a positive male influence in their lives everyday.

If God can, then why doesn’t he step in and fill in the gap so that my kids can succeed in their current and future relationships?

Unlovely mess

It’s been awhile since I’ve truly experienced a closeness with God, a relationship where I feel him wrap his arms around me and just hold me while my heart silently pours itself out to him in a desperate plea for anything that would let me know that he is near. Sure, I know how to see God’s hand in circumstances. I know that he moved me from the apartment that my kids and I were in into a much larger rent house. I know that he has provided a way for the increased rent to be paid for a year. And I’m finally seeing why God moved me from the job at the church that I loved into my current job, but even in all of that my heart is empty. I long for it to be full. I long to feel love and to feel loved.

I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that emotion again.

We live in a society where experience no longer matters. Where education is key to life itself. The more you have, the best you are, apparently. One’s value to others is measured by a piece of paper. If one happens to possess both, how fortunate for them.

In the meantime, the rest of us aren’t worthy to be dirt on the bottom of a shoe.