Monday, June 25, 2012

If You Like to Talk to Tomatoes...

I really like music.

I like lots of different genres of music.  Some get on my nerves, like the mess my oldest son likes to crank up in his room.  I know, I know--just another sign I am getting old.  My husband and I can belt out a song lyric for just about every situation.  Songs take me back and make me happy and help me to transcend to messiness of the moment.

I like that.

When I started college, I was introduced to a new form of music--Christian Rock.  I loved it. I had countless popular music songs in my mental library, both country and pop/rock, and am impressive knowledge of hymns, which was the only music my church knew, other than the occasional children's musical ("Germs, Germs, My invisible dog") and upbeat song chosen by the teenagers on those special 5th Sunday night singings (Pass It On, or Do You Really Care?).  Christian Rock took it to a new level for me, and I especially liked the cheese factor present in some of those early works (i.e.--Carmen).

It took a few years for the whole 'praise music' thing to hit churches, but my then-new husband and I loved it.  Not quite Christian Rock, but it did use choruses and guitars and drums in church.  Kind of like being at youth camp.  Lots of artists came on board, and tried to jump on the worship music bandwagon.  That was all well and good, as it meant more music options for me, but over time they just began to all sound the same.  And they began to get on my nerves.  Kind of like fingernails on chalkboard.

Then, Veggie Tales replaced worship tapes in my car, and radio stations got better, and people started making better music that wasn't necessarily cookie cutter.  I stopped working and stopped purchasing music, and still haven't embraced the whole music being downloaded onto something portable thing.  I'm still too old school, I guess.

Anyway, I got the opportunity to review a new worship album produced by Vineyard Music, called My Foundation (Live), which was performed at a Cultivation Generation student conference.  I halfway wondered if it would get on my nerves and end up as a cursory review, but it definitely wasn't.  There were 13 songs on the album, and each one had its own 'sound' and feel to it.  All were performed live (which sometimes gets on my nerves, regardless of who the artist is), but it didn't come across as a bad thing.  Each song had a different style--Worthy made me think of Alison Krauss/Kathy Mattea; Walls Come Down was like Russ Taff/somebody from 1986/87 that I can't remember; and Enthroned on High reminded me of an early, contemplative Bonnie Raitt.  My favorite song was God Don't Never Change, which incorporated a strong guitar sound and very early rap--and I mean that in a good way.

I think one of the reasons I liked this album so much is that the lyrics weren't all fluff.  It wasn't a repetitive chorus of "Jesus, you are worthy.  You are so worthy, Jesus.  I love how Jesus is worthy".  True, Jesus is worthy.  I have no doubt about that.  Sometimes I wonder if He wishes we felt He was worthy of better musical offerings, though...

These songs seemed to indicate an understanding that sometimes life is difficult.  Sometimes it is VERY difficult, and platitudes don't really help, even if they are offered with the best of intentions.  These songs help to bring a different layer of feel good lyrics, because as great as they are, sometimes a person needs more meat to their music than 'Word Up' or 'YMCA' or 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' can offer.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Didn't Even GO to College with Faith Hill

I found this list in an old notebook, with a sticky note that said "Important!  List for article.  Do not lose".  

Well, I didn't lose it--just misplaced it for about 5 years.  I have absolutely NO IDEA what this list was for, and can't even figure out what the theme for it would be.  I bet it would have been awesome, though.  LOL

Here's the list, exactly as it was written in my notebook.

--80s Soap Opera couples - Bo/Hope, Luke/Laura, Phillip/Beth, Lily/Holden
--Jackson Free Press
--Claim to Fame - college class with Faith Hill
--Jon Stewart, David Sedaris
--to play softball
--need a friend like Lorelai?
--Napoleon Dynamite - Seventh Heaven
--Mississippi Burning
--Recycler - Silk Soy Milk
--Have you killed someone yet?
--email vs snail mail
--weenie men - watch TV
--homeschool - never considered it until I took an aerobics class with school teachers
--invitation to Pampered Chef
--Beth Moore!!!
--prayer - Bye, Bye God
--80s contest
--TV show - Pageant rewind
--Pretty in Pink - Andi should've wound up with Duckie
--VIP magazine, Lemuria
--sent her a sub to Free Press
--mayor in Jackson - crazy, no good for crime
--USM, Brett Favre

And that is it.  What in the world kind of article could that have been for?  Or is this just more evidence that I was losing my mind even then?  :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Goodbye, Randy -- Revisited

This was another of my old Facebook notes, from 2009.


I had wondered where he had been. I hadn’t seen his truck for several weeks. So, when I came over that last hill on my way to church this morning, I was happy to see his truck in its same old place. Then I noticed one of those big flower arrangements you only see at cemeteries. It had a big banner on it that simply said “Randy”. And I started to cry.

I’m not really sure why, either. I have only known Randy as ‘the Peanut Guy’ for a couple of years. I had seen his truck parked in the same place for years—on the side of Highway 25 in Rankin County, right before you get to 471. We started stopping by every other Sunday (after payday, when I was most likely to still have a little money on hand) to buy our lunch for that day – a large bag of boiled peanuts. It was a drive around type of thing, so we weren’t ever there very long, just long enough to say what size bag we wanted and to pay our $5.

But, I never failed to drive away feeling a little lighter somehow. In that minute or two, Randy found a way to smile, make eye contact, speak, remember trivial details, and otherwise make us feel special. As we drove off, he always said, “Hey, you have a good day now, you hear?”. There were many Sundays that I had more of a real connection with Randy than I had at church that day. Not to mention that his peanuts were hands down consistently the best boiled peanuts I ever had.

That was really all I knew about Randy, until today. It turns out that two of his brothers were the ones who had brought his old red pickup truck out one last time. By the time I saw it, several people had brought flowers and people were steadily stopping by to pay their respects. I pulled in with my boys, and was greeted by one of Randy’s brothers. He was giving everyone who stopped by one last bag of peanuts that they had boiled for Randy’s customers. He asked if we had a couple of minutes to look at a photo display that they had put together of Randy. We absolutely did.

What we saw was an amazing insight into a man I barely knew. I still don’t know his last name, but I did learn some new things:
--Randy served in the military (Vietnam?) and was an absolute cutie in uniform.
--His gorgeous sister died less than a year ago.
--His brother’s voice is almost identical to his.
--He was a big time music promoter and one picture showed him at an outdoor venue with over 100,000 attendees, where he was introducing Van Halen, and later Aerosmith. There were numerous pictures of him with Rock legends.
--He was asked to move to New York in the early 80’s to become a main player in a new experiment called ‘music television’, but was convinced that it would be the downfall of music as he knew it. Since he had more money than he would ever need, he quit the business and never looked back.
--He had been selling peanuts out of the back of his truck in the same place for 11 years. I don’t know why – it obviously wasn’t for the money. Apparently he just wanted to brighten people’s day.
--His life blessed many people. This was evidenced by the many tokens that people left today, and by the comments we heard in the few minutes were visited with his family - people from different walks/places/backgrounds – all somehow touched by this unassuming man.

Well, I drove home and poured my last bag of peanuts into a bowl and settled down on the couch to begin watching the Saints whup up on the Giants. And you know what? These peanuts, so generously boiled and given out by Randy’s family, were OK, but they in no way matched what Randy used to make every week. And, somehow, this just seemed fitting.

Goodbye, Randy. I’ll miss you (and your peanuts).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

16 (+3) Random Things

Back when I first started using Facebook, there was a 5 minute fad going around called '16 Random Things'.  The idea was that everyone would make a list on a Facebook Note (remember those?) of 16 random facts about themselves without putting a lot of thought or analysis into it.  I read back over my list several days ago, and it made me smile--some out of the simpleness of the things I listed, and some out of my naivete.  I know I liked the things I learned from other folks' lists back then, and figured I would copy my old list on here now (with updated commentary in purple).

1. My favorite flowers in the world are the little white garlic flowers that grow everywhere in Mississippi in the spring. Many uninformed consider them to be weeds, but they are wrong. I hate spider lilies and any flower that has been spray painted blue.

2. I was a vegan for 7 years. I am still a vegetarian and do not eat white flour or white sugar. It is a health thing, not a hippie thing. Now we eat organic/free range meat and eggs.
3. Speaking of hippies, I generally feel much more welcome at Rainbow (organic grocery) than I do at church. Hmm...
4. I can pinpoint many 80's songs to the month they hit the top 40. However, I can't remember my kids names half the time. Make that the majority of the time now.  They are just all called by my dog's name or my little brother's name now.
5. I'm not a fan of the prosperity gospel or it "prophets". If it were true, my grandparents would not have been financially poor all of their lives. I'm just sayin'.  The prosperity gospel is the idea that God wants everyone to be rich and healthy, and if you just have enough faith (or give enough money), then you will have these things.  My grandparents taught me the meaning of faith, more than any of the 'name it and claim it' folks on TV.
6. I'm becoming a fan of adult alternative music. I have no idea what categorizes a song as such, but I like when that channel is on.
7. I have lived in 6 different places in 3 years. Have lived in 3 more places since then.
8. I am one of the least judgmental people I know in regards to past mistakes.
9. I think racism is horrible, and images or reports of it make me cry every time I see them. Every. Single. Time.
10. I love being around water (the nature kind), and see God everywhere around it. I want to go swimming at Dalewood in pre-hurricane force winds. I want a mini Viking funeral at Dalewood, too.  Dalewood is the lake/community I grew up in.  I did the hurricane swim last summer.  AWESOME.
11. I miss Allyce. My cousin, who was killed in a car wreck when we were both in college.  If I had a girl, her middle name would have been Allyce.
12. Gilmore Girls is my favorite all time TV show.  Still
13. I have been an adjunct college professor for 10 years. I love it and it keeps me sane. Well, theoretically anyway.  I have not been able to teach since my car wreck.  I no longer have the endurance or mental 'with it ness' to do it.  I was pretty darn good at it, though.
14. I never answer my phone and am very slow about returning calls or emails, if ever. I'm a pretty poor excuse of a friend/family member. At least I am aware of that fact, though. It's nothing personal.  Still
15. My favorite colors are red and yellow, and my favorite foods are cheese pizza and tater tots. I hate cooking now.
16. My lifelong dream has been to go on a Mediterranian cruise, with extended time in Greece.  Still

And for good measure, I have added a few more.

17.  I was in a car wreck almost 3 years ago.  I broke both of my knees and a bone in my hand.  I will never have full function of my knees, and can only bend them halfway.  I thought this would be a defining life moment.  Until...

18.  My oldest son was diagnosed with cancer 6 months ago.  Now we are all very, very tired.

19.  I never thought I would embrace electronic books, but it is just becoming way too convenient to just do it.

I think that is about all.  For now, anyway.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What Can $5 Do Today?

It is amazing the people that are dropped into your path when you are on a sick and twisted and unfamiliar trail.  Ever since Harrison was diagnosed with cancer, I have become much more aware of other families who are going through similar circumstances.  Of course they have always been there--if not them specifically, then others like them--but frankly, I have just never taken out the time to care very much about them.  Until I became one of them....

Anyway, in the past few months, I have become more and more aware of very specific families with very specific needs, many of them I only know in the virtual world.  Sad, sad stories of families in various stages of watching their child being eaten away from the inside.  One of these children in a precious boy named Noah.  I don't know Noah, or his mother, Kate, or any of the other members of his family.  I have absolutely no idea how Noah even got onto my radar.  All I know is that I read all of his updates when ever his mom has the time or sanity to update her blog.  

Late last night Kate posted about how Medicaid is pulling coverage for Noah's Hospice benefits.  Yes, Noah is going to die, and he will die quickly and painfully.  Unfortunately, it is not quick enough for the state of South Carolina, so Noah will lose his hospital bed, customized wheel chair, nursing care that keeps him out of the hospital (somewhat), and many, many other things.  His mother is frantic.  Of course she is.  This is just part of what she posted last night--

I am very much a glass-half-full, empathetic, see-the-best-in-others kind of person.  Even I can not begin to see a silver lining in this.  Not even a glimmer. With almost every passing hour I realize more and more of what this means.  I didn't even think of the bed until a couple of hours ago, and I just finished telling a friend that this shouldn't affect Noah's supplies - - - until I started writing this and remembered about item after item after item that they provide.

I am holding desperately to the sure belief that God is in control and has not abandoned us.  This is not a strong or beautiful or commendable faith. It is a frantically clutching, "if I let go, I'll drown" faith.

I've been on the phone for hours today dealing with this.  There does not appear to be anything at all that can be done to stop it.  We are going to pursue any avenue that opens to us, and if at any time there seems to be something that you can do, we promise to let you know.  In the meantime, I don't have the emotional energy to deal with an avalanche of even well-intentioned suggestions.  Please understand this.

Please pray for us.  I don't know when I've ever been so disillusioned and overwhelmed.  There has to be a greater purpose in this.  There has to be a way to glorify God.  There has to be.  I just can't see it . . .


So, this is what I'm asking.  Please, click here and read her entire post.  If you are a pray-er, by all means, do that.  Leave her a note of encouragement.  And, if you have even a small amount of money to donate, PLEASE, PLEASE consider doing that now.  She even has a place on her blog that you can click to donate by credit card.  I promise you, even $5 will matter, especially if enough people give.  Copy this page and pass it on to your social media friends.  I would love to have you guys bless this family so much that they even forget they ever needed Medicaid.

How cool would it be for you to be part of the hands and feet of Jesus today?