Saturday, May 31, 2014

In the Image of God: Making Old Things New

Kudos to The Lawrence Group for their stunning renovation of St. Louis's historic Sun Theater.  And thanks to Michael Kelley for the photo documentation. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hidden Brilliance

Why is it that my most brilliant and profound thoughts come to me in those ethereal moments when I'm hovering halfway between reality and dreamland?  It's unfortunate, really.  Complex problems, thoughts, philosophies, relationships, and ideas which have occupied and baffled my waking mind, come sharply into view, presenting workable solutions, fresh arguments, clear pathways...and stunning blog posts, I might add.
Yet somehow, all that brilliance, profundity , and clarity evaporate upon the assumption of full consciousness, leaving behind on the memory of brilliance and the exhilaration of the experience.  The substance?  Gone forever.  Sigh...
Someday we'll be able to wire our brainwaves to a hard drive and download even while we sleep.  Until then, I suppose the full measure of my brilliance will remain hidden from all but myself. 


I suspect that by now some of you may have tired of my emoting.  If you're in that camp, feel free to move along…nothing for you here.  

But I have much for which to give thanks, not the least of which are the manifold mercies of Christ demonstrated in a thousand little ways. 

Last night I saw my mother-in-law for the first time since the dissolution of my marriage.  We had dinner together before Eric's graduation.  The anticipation of that meeting was fairly emotional for me.  She was always good to me, and has continued to be so in the last year.  She greeted me with warmth and grace last night…and she didn't have to, you know.  I asked myself how I would feel if I were in her shoes.  I don't know.  I do know that she doesn't owe me kindness.  But she gave it anyway.  She laid aside her own hurt, disappointment, and whatever else she has experienced, to extend grace.

Even in our brokenness…maybe especially in our brokenness...the Lord reaches down and demonstrates His love, His mercy, and His forgiveness through the kindness of others.  His mercies are new every morning.

And for that, I am immensely grateful.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

It's Time

It's not as if I didn't know this was coming.  I mean…he's been a Senior for what…9 months now?  So why am I caught so thoroughly off-guard and so entirely unprepared? 

My baby walks across the platform tonight to receive his high school diploma.  This is a good thing.  Right?  Right.  Of course it is.  He's ready.  He's ready to move forward to the next stages of his life.  I suppose he's more prepared than I.

I find myself in a silly, Emotional Mom state of mind today.  

I can't help but remember.  The matchbox car ramp he built off of the roof of the house and very proudly demonstrated for me.  His handwritten translation of The Hobbit…in elvish.  The hours we spent building fantasy worlds with Legos.  The fire he started in his room while experimenting.  The countless hours watching him develop self-control and strength of character on the wrestling mat.  The little baby who would wake and coo happily in his bed until I came to get him.  The many "inventions" and "creations" he built from his own imagination and with scarce resources.  His declarations of intent to protect me and always be there for me…those started early and have never stopped.  The dog.  That DAMN DOG.  I've wept like a fool today over sending his dog away when he was 10.  Seriously.  Rationale and logic have entirely escaped me.  

I've been here before with my eldest.  It's different this time.  That was "traumatic" because it was new and he was my first to leave home.  But this time is new too.  The landscape of our lives has changed completely this past year, and I have not been physically present in Eric's life on a daily basis.  I had to ask if there was a before or after celebration in which I could partake because I didn't an outsider inserting myself into a very important day in his life.   It's not that our relationship is distant or cold.  God knows this year has been filled with genuine, open conversations…heart-revealing, life-altering, come-to-Jesus conversations that I cherish more than life itself.  But I'm not there, you know?  

Trust me.  I hear other's voices in my head…lecturing, accusing:

You made your bed, now lie in it.
Suck it up, Buttercup.
What did you EXPECT?
This isn't about you…etc., etc., etc.

All of those quips contain an element of truth.  But acknowledging the choices that led to this reality doesn't  remove the emotions.  In fact, it heightens them.  But here we are.

The bottom line is: my son has done well.  He is growing and maturing into a fine young man.  He might bristle at that  assertion because he hasn't yet "arrived" and "figured it all out."  He may not realize yet that he never will.  Life is one long, perpetual lesson.  I'm at least old enough to have figured that out.  But I see him progressing, learning, growing, and becoming…and that brings me joy.

So now it's time to put on the Happy Mom face and plunge into the world of pomp and circumstance.  

May God bless and keep you always, My Son…My Little Nutbrown Hare.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


There are two things you should never say to a true Lyle Lovett fan: "He's that Country musician, right?" and "Wasn't he married to that actress?"  

So yeah.  It could be true that I overreact just a wee bit when either of these questions follow a reference to Lyle.  Those are slightly understandable mistakes…IF you haven't listened to him since his debut self-titled album in 1986, or IF you rely on Wikipedia for your cultural education.  Aside from that…let me be frank (it's MY blog after all)…it's a gross display of ignorance.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  

I, however, am on a mission to enlighten all the culturally destitute who think Mr. Lovett is just some washed up Toby Keith or an obsolete relic of country music.  There is a reason I titled my blog after a song of his.  I like to pretend that my choice of topics and my ability to write are as diverse, poetic, intellectual and fascinating as his music.  Delusions of grandeur?  Perhaps…but it's working for me.

Yes, Lyle sings some country songs.  Yes, he drives a pick up truck.  Yes, he wears a 10-gallon Stetson. Yes, he competes in rodeos.  Hell…he even owns and operates his grandfather's ranch in TEXAS.  He is a gen-u-wine real deal cowboy.  

Within the broader Country genre, Lovett writes, performs, and records folk, bluegrass, rockabilly, and country rock.  But…he is infinitely more diverse than that, and his repertoire more than dabbles in Blues, Big Band, Swing, Jazz, Gospel, and Hymns, as well as the American Songbook.   

Perhaps I should stop talking and demonstrate:

(skip to :35 for music)

Shall I continue?  Because I could do this all day long.  Bottom line: Lyle Lovett is an accomplished singer-songwriter- guitarist who covers more genres more successfully than any other musician that I know of, and who surrounds himself with the highest caliber musicians who elevate and energize his live performances.  He appears to be in his prime, as Tuesday night's concert at Jesse Auditorium with his Acoustic Group was by far the best I've seen to date.

OK...Shutting up.  But before I do, let me give credence to his Country credentials too…cause they're legit:

(skip to :40 for music)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Music Monday: Seth Avett

This Day in History

May is filled with memories of life and death, love and loss, beginnings and endings, sunshine and rain, joy and sorrow.  More days in this month hold significance in my life than any other month.  

One of the heartbreaking memories is the death and burial of my baby brother…5 years ago today.    It was a temperate, sunshine filled day…entirely antithetical…and yet it lent a sense of hope.  A rainy day would have been appropriate, but unbearable.  My most poignant memories are of the drive to the cemetery - the seemingly endless line of cars filled with people who loved Jeffrey - and our time graveside.  The pomp and circumstance of  a military burial is gut-wrenchingly beautiful.  The finality of the moments before his body was lowered into the ground were given the dignity and gravity they deserved in those solemn ceremonial acts.   Rest in peace, Brother, until the Final Resurrection.

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let them with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and received the last 
even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
--St. John Chrysostom

One of the happy, wholesome markers is the marriage of my Momma and Papa…52 years ago today.  They have loved one another well and even though I failed to live up to their example, I respect and appreciate that example more than words can say.   Of course they sinned against one another in the course of their life together, but they never crushed or betrayed or abandoned one another.  They each sought the  good of the other and I am thankful that they didn't "just" persevere, but that they lived in love. 

"If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can."
--Anne Bradstreet 

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Soul's Secret Signature

“Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of--something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat's side? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it--tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest--if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself--you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say 'Here at last is the thing I was made for.' We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the things we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.”  --CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain