Blues + Strings = BlueStrings
Songs Are Memories
Every song on all of my CDs represents a moment in my life. Experiences that have made an impact on me that were important enough to put on paper and partner with a tune.
After experiencing a great sense of accomplishment producing my first two CDs (Strings Attached and Up & Strumming), I felt a tug to write some blues. I have always loved the blues. I was about 9 years old when I was introduced to the song, Stormy Monday. I fell in love with it immediately. I sang it all the time at home and at Girl Scout camp-outs. Whether people were listening or not I just loved singing that song over and over. Something about it was different. Something about it resonated with something deep inside of me. Blues spoke a special language. A language I needed to speak to. (more…)
Hand of Heaven – Final song on “Up & Strumming”
Hand of Heaven
Tears poured down my face as I wrote out the words to this song. I sang Hand of Heaven probably a hundred times before I could get all the way through without crying.
The three years following my retirement from Youth Ministry ended up being one of the most lonely and painful periods in my life. After 7 years of working so hard at my career I realized that all the relationships I had were tied to that church. (When you retire from a church staff position it is proper to leave that church. This helps the congregation adjust to the new person. It also gives the new person some breathing room without the old guard watching over their shoulder. I have seen the dysfunction that takes place when pastors don’t leave their congregation and isn’t very pretty.)
So we left. It was like starting all over again, accept we were living in the same home.
For those three years I found myself in a friendship drought. If it hadn’t been for a very small number of people in my life and songwriting, life would have been so much harder than it already was. The depression due to the extreme chronic pain in my hands made regular life even more difficult.
When Jessica was in first grade, Joel was offered a promotion and a move to Boise. We had been in Yakima 10 years; we were ready for a new adventure!
Joel moved 7 weeks before we did. So for 7 weeks I prayed that God would prepare some special ladies to become my friends. I also prayed that He would prepare my heart to be a good friend to these new ladies. Frankly, I was feeling pretty rusty at friendships by that point. I had come to believe that I was a pretty boring person who was no fun to be around.
In the Hand…Heaven
Well, God pulled through and multi-blessed me with friendships. It was during that time I discovered a bunch of ladies who for some odd reason loved me to pieces and thoroughly enjoyed my company. I had never experienced so much love from so many ladies at one time in my life ever!! Their love really set me free from feelings from the past. It also empowered me to open up and reach out to others. All this became very helpful both in boosting my self-confidence and encouraging my music along.
Of course, as time has gone by some friends have moved and others our paths just don’t cross anymore. I seem to be in another drought but I have confidence that I will get through this. When I desperately needed to know I was lovable, God blessed me a rainstorm! So I am just preparing for rain once again.
I can’t thank God enough for pouring down on me so much love in the past!! He provided a hand of heaven. I can’t wait to see what God comes up with next. He has already started the process of ending the drought with one new girlfriend. Yeah!
Have you ever experienced a friendship drought? Are you there now?
Express your thoughts here…. If you know of someone who is going through a friendship drought, give them a little TLC and then encourage them to read this blog. Knowing that you are not alone in the experience can make a big difference!
photo credit: Alyssa L. Miller via photopin cc
Tea Party Time?
Have you ever invited someone, or been invited, to a tea party?! If you haven’t, you must! However, I must state that your tea party will never be a match for having a tea party at Anne’s, my mother-in-laws, home. She is the Queen of Tea Party! As the phrase goes, “she is the Hostess with the Mostess!”
For five years, we had the joy of living just down the street from Joel’s mom in Yakima, Washington. Joel and I knew that this was a very special time for our little family of three which, now with “Mams” just a block away, made four. We spent many a weekend visiting each other. Mams also did a lot of babysitting of Jessica, so Joel and I could go out on a date together. Anne would also watch Jessica once or twice during the week so I could go write music with my friend, Jeff. Mams actually was really my support staff. If it hadn’t been for her, my music would never have had the chance to blossom! I am forever grateful for this. Thank you, Mams!
Earl Grey? Hot!
Oh! Back to the tea parties! Once a week or so, after school, Jessica and I would walk from her elementary school across the street and stop in at Mams house for a visit. Often those visits became little tea parties.
Anne has this way of taking any normal everyday food and making it extra fancy and special. She also is a great house decorator, so doilies and fancy table cloths decorated her dinner table. She often had a candle and petite little plates for us to use along with her beautiful teacups and saucers. She would often take a large blueberry muffin and divide it into thirds, and sometimes have a few crackers and cheese on the side. Our “Tea Party” consisted of her very weak coffee, and my hot water with a variety of teas. And last, but definitely not least, Mams would put together the perfect mixture of juice and water just right for Jessica’s tummy.
We would often talk about Jessica’s day at Preschool, Kindergarten, or First Grade. Usually, much laughter took place along with silly stories and little games Mams and Jessica would routinely play.
It truly was a special time we shared together. I encourage you to stop and take time to slow down. Enjoy a treat and something warm to drink. This is a great time of year to make memories with family members, neighbors, friends. But then, what time of year isn’t a great time? You could also pick up the phone and give someone special a call and have a long distant Tea Party!
I wrote this song, “Tea Time,” for Mams. It is written from the perspective of Jessica, reflecting on these days when she was a wee little thing.
Who in your life would love a tea party? Put the pot on and start a new memory.
Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did!
Prints of Peace
Once Upon a Time…Prints of Peace
There was an early thirty-something year old mom. She was “just off” one particular day, meaning emotionally just in a funk. Before picking her daughter up after school she stopped and reflected on her day and contemplated what kind of trail “emotionally” she was leaving behind. Were they prints of peace? Hmmm… “Oops!” She realized she had been, shall we say, less than charming in her interactions during the day. Well, before I…uh…before she knew it, words came to her head in the form of a song about footprints.
We all have footprints in our lives. Some of them we leave behind in others’ lives and some of them are left behind in our lives.
The footprints we leave behind are something we have control over, if we choose to. We can either act out whatever mood we are feeling at the moment (maybe warm and friendly, or cold and prickly, or even whiny). Those around us will just get to experience whatever we are feeling at that moment, which at times could be great and other times just hideous! If that is the route you take, then it is possible that people might start avoiding you in the grocery store for fear it was a “bad day.”
However, if we choose to not let whatever has happened that day to be in charge of our behavior, then it’s more likely that people will experience us as more consistent individuals. People actually appreciate it when you can present yourself in a somewhat “even keel” sort of manner. Life has enough challenges that sometimes a friendly interaction can help them redirect their focus from the late bill that got mixed in with the Christmas letters. A friendly little chat can often help people step back and give themselves a break. Accidents happen!
Footprints that are left in our lives are not something we can control. Everyone is in charge of their own behavior and choices. Just because you choose to keep yourself in check emotionally doesn’t mean that others see no reason to do anything other than spread their great grumpiness wherever they go. We do get to choose how we respond to them. Maybe instead of being offended, we can show them a little grace. Little prints of peace.
Sometimes, other people footprints can however leave quite an imprint on our lives. Enough that we can’t help but be affected. Say for example you’re driving down the street sitting at a stop light when suddenly you find yourself caught in the middle of a multiple car, car crash. While the car crash can be upsetting, unsettling, and a bit painful, choices still can be made on how we respond.
At first blush, a victim may have a few choice words they’d like to share. I know I did…um, would have. However, wishing horrible things on the texting driver doesn’t do anyone any good. “Stewing” on things tends to give one a chip on their shoulder and makes them a grumpy Gus. It also burns up a lot of energy that could have been used for something positive.
So anyway, once in a while this songwriter goes back to that old song and sings it to herself to help her remember to pay attention to how she is stepping.
Where are your footsteps taking you? Towards prints of peace?
Join in the conversation. We’ll be glad you did!