Friday, July 18, 2014

Being Metaphorically Rich in Family and Friends

 Not too long ago, I ran across a folder of old writing assignments from high school.  They included stories of Care Bears and unicorns, as well as my favorite, called 'Soap Opera Society', in which I do a pretty impressive treatise of class structure based on soap opera characters.  A future blog post, perhaps?

Anyway, I found this essay about my mom, dated 10/31/85.  Now, I might be completely crazy, but I don't remember feeling this much teenage angst about my mom.  But, being the mom of a couple of teenagers myself, I realize she may remember it as much worse than this.  It did make me laugh, though, and decided to post it here for moms with angsty kids everywhere.

                                                                 Her Shining Face

Sure, there are times when I feel I can't stand her (Wow...).  Sometimes, I just want to yell at her and tell her to leave me alone.  I get flusterated (yep, that is the word I used.  Don't know if I was trying to cute, or if I was just clueless) when she tries to make me as perfect as she can.  But, I still love her with all my heart, even through the rough times.
My mother wants the best for me.  She doesn't mean to be pushy, but at times she is.  She gets on to me for my grades, my clothes, or some other little thing, and sometimes I just blow up (I remember NO blowups.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it).  I don't even stop to consider what would happen if one day she wasn't around for me when I needed her.  I seldom think of all the time, money, and most of all, love that she spends on not only me, but the rest of my family as well.

My mother is the one who encourages me to be the best I can be.  Sometimes, though, I become discouraged because I don't think I can achieve what she knows I can.  If it hadn't been for my mother, I would never have made it through Junior Miss, and I certainly would not have won first alternate or the scholastic award (and most definitely not the award for highest ticket sales, since she sold them for me at work.  And, yes, there was actually a trophy for that).  She motivated me into wanting to win.  It wasn't something she wanted for herself, but for me.  It was when I realized this that I finally felt I had a chance. (I think she saw the writing on the wall a few hours before the competition, though, when I told her how I responded to one of the pre-interview questions--"Are you rich?".  My answer, "No.  I don't even have a job".  I don't think they wanted such a literal answer--LOL).

I'll never forget what my mother did for me during Junior Miss (wow, enough about Junior Miss, already!), or all the other little things she does that I know will continue.  I only hope that even when times are bad, I'll be able to see her shining face to pull me through.

Isn't she lovely?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In Spite of Flaws and Tackiness*

Sing your praise to the Lord
Come on everybody
Stand up and sing one more hallelujah
Give your praise to the Lord
I can never tell you
Just how much good that it's
Gonna do you just to

Sing aloud
The song that someone is dying to hear,
Down in the maddening crowd
As you once were before you heard the song
You gotta let them know
The truth is alive to shine upon the way
So maybe they can go
Sing your praises once more
                                                                    --lyrics by Rich Mullins

The very first 'contemporary Christian' song I ever heard was in the summer of 1984.  I remember it very well because I was in Fort Worth for the National Acteens Convention, waiting for one of the sessions to begin.  A song began to blare out of the stadium speakers that amazed me.  We all listened to a new artist singing a new song, in a most definitely new way.  By the end of that week, we were all fans of a young singer named Amy Grant and her song, 'Sing Your Praise to the Lord'.

Several years later, I learned that particular song, and many others that I had discovered and come to love in college, were written by a man named Rich Mullins.  His music fascinated me. I don't even know the best way to describe it, but it was different.  Contemplative, yet edgy.  Fun, but not fluffy.  The radio stations would only play one or two of his songs, so to REALLY get to the meaty stuff, I would have to get the cassette tapes and play them over and over.

At some point, I somehow learned bits and pieces of background info--he was kind of hippie like with daddy issues.  He didn't care a bit about making money, and did not like or appreciate the music establishment at all.  He lived on a Native American reservation somewhere for a while.  He died in a car accident way too soon in the mid-1990s.  A more official biography puts it this way:

Singer and songwriter Richard Wayne “Rich” Mullins was best known for his worship song “Awesome God” which has been embraced as modern classics by many Christians. His music has been covered by many artists, including Caedmon’s Call, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, Third Day, John Tesh, and Hillsong United. Mullins’ musical career formally began with Zion Ministries in the late 1970s, where he wrote music and performed with a band called Zion.  Mullins first solo hit, “Awesome God,” appeared on his third album and brought his music to a wider audience. Rich Mullins was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) on April 29, 2014.


He has been gone for many years, but his music continues to speak to me on a much deeper level than anything being played and promoted today. He remains one of my favorite artists, regardless of genre. So, I was excited to have the chance to review (and GIVEAWAY) a DVD of a new movie based on Rich Mullins' life that is being released soon, called Ragamuffin. Again, the official version:

RAGAMUFFIN is based on the life of Rich Mullins, a musical prodigy who rose to Christian music fame and fortune only to walk away and live on a Navajo reservation. An artistic genius, raised on a tree farm in Indiana by a callous father, Rich wrestled all of his life with the brokenness and crippling insecurity born of his childhood. A lover of Jesus and a rebel in the church, Rich refused to let his struggles with his own 
darkness tear him away from a God he was determined to love. As he 
struggled with success in Nashville and depression in Wichita, Rich desired most of all to live a life of honest and reckless faith amidst a culture of religion and conformity.

It was intriguing to me to see how he would be portrayed, so I signed on.

My favorite parts were in the second half of the movie that included Rich's introduction to and relationship with Brennan Manning. I had never even heard of Manning until a couple of years ago, but he continues to be a fascinating figure to me. Their interactions remind me of the messiness of trying live in authentic relationship with God as well as with other people, especially with people who continue to struggle again and again and again with the same issues (including ourselves). It was a reminder that people don't have to have it all together to have fellowship with God--this was always such a key aspect of his work.

I think Ragamuffin did a good job of capturing the angst that followed Rich Mullins, as well as some of the mindset and motivation behind his lyrics. I am not certain how this will play out with a movie audience that is currently unfamiliar with him. Will they 'get' Rich Mullins in the same way that I, and so many like me, did back in the day? Will the characteristics that made him so charismatic and relatable come through? I am not sure, but I so like the reminder of these things that the movie provided for me. Maybe it will help put Rich Mullins back on the radar for a new generation of seekers and sympathizers. I definitely think it is time to break out some of those old CDs again.

I get to do giveaway of the Ragamuffin DVD, so if you are interested, please leave a comment, letting me know if you are familiar with Rich Mullins, and if so, what is your favorite song of his? The winner will be chosen on Saturday, July 12th.

You can also get more information about the DVD and purchase a copy for yourself here.

Hold Me, Jesus (also written by Rich Mullins)

Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big,
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus,
Cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight you for something
I don't really want
Than to take what you give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

So hold me Jesus,
Cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

*From a line in the movie when Rich says that he a grateful for the Christian music genre, in spite of its flaws and tackiness. I liked that line.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”