Thursday, April 28, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces

This morning, I took our dog for a walk, and found this piece of wallpaper in our front yard.

Somewhere, this was part of someone's house.  In Tuscaloosa?  Mississippi?  I can only guess.  But this morning, all over Alabama, we are left picking up the pieces of the deadliest tornado - ever, I think - to hit our state.

After coming in from my walk, I checked email to find that a friend of ours died last night, protecting his family from a crushing beam as their house collapsed around them.  In his last weak breaths, he was uttering prayers that the Lord would protect his family. 

And the Lord did - the rest of them - his 12 children and his wife - were physically protected from the worst of the devastation.  Tom took the punishment of that blow on his body, and saved those he loved.

The pieces of their lives that they are picking up today. . .and the next day. . .and the next. . . . .are far more shattered than a piece of wallpaper.

Tonight, I was up planning worship for the final meeting of the kids' missions group tomorrow night - my heart hasn't been in it all day, but tonight I could put it off no longer.  The theme for tomorrow night is, fittingly enough, "Restoration".   One of our verses is Revelation 21:4. . . .

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Oh, how I long for that day.

This is one of the hymns I chose for tomorrow.  I know most of you know it, but pay close attention to the third verse - it's not sung often.  But it has spoken to me tonight.

Be Still My Soul

Be still my soul – the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide;
in every change – he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul – thy best thy heavenly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know His voice
Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still my soul – when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the vale of tears,
then shalt thou better know his love – his heart,
who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul – the waves and winds still know
his voice who ruled them – while he dwelt below.

Be still my soul the hour is hastening on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment – grief and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot – love’s purest joys restored,.
Be still my soul – when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed – we shall meet at last.

May all our souls be still, in the knowledge that the Lord, He is God.  And He is good.

(Note:  Any of you who are moved, donations for the family who lost their father - and other families who experienced complete devastation - are being collected by Christ Church Branch Cove.  Just click on the link to donate.  Thanks.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Heavy Heart Tonight

I have just lived through the worst round of storms I have ever witnessed.

The destruction here in Birmingham metro - and across the state - is unbelievable.  The death toll I'm hearing tonight is 53.  I was stuck in the first line of storms this morning - before 6 am - and count myself blessed to have escaped unharmed.  News reports and pictures show entire neighborhoods and streets just simply obliterated.

We - somehow - managed to not even have our power interrupted.  I actually feel a little guilty - survivor's guilt, or something to that effect.

Tonight, I got word that 3 families we are friends with have significant structural damage to their homes, and one family has lost everything.  Praise be to God, they are all physically unharmed.

There are no words.

Please pray.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection Sunday Sentiments: The Last and the First

It was almost an offhand comment, really.

In the middle of the sermon, in the middle of corralling the 6-year old wiggle-worm (how many times can she drop her stuffed puppy on the floor???), but it stuck in my mind and resonated all morning.

"They were the last, and they were the first."

The women, that is.  The women who loved Jesus, followed Him, listened to Him. . . . they were the last to leave the tomb on Friday night, and the first there on Sunday morning.

Isn't that just like us?  Us women, I mean.

Look.  Here I am, up late, doing the things that need doing for my family.  (Editor's note:  Yes, I know.  Blogging does NOT count as "a thing that needs doing".  Except for my sanity. So there.)  Tomorrow morning, Lord willing I will be up early, getting the day started, doing all those mom tasks that just must. get. done.  Often, I am the last to bed.  I'm not often the first up (hubby beats me there most days!), but I'm often starting my day's tasks early.

Just like the women who loved Jesus.


Unlike those women who stayed late at the cross, and went early to the tomb - and here's the confession - I am all too often found grumbling.   Allowing self-pity at "my lot in life", grumbling at the work set before me.

To my shame.

And it struck me this morning.  It was a privilege - a privilege, I tell you!!! - for those dear saints, sisters in the Lord, to be the last and the first.  Because if they weren't, they would very likely have missed the miracle, the honor, the blessing of being the first to see the empty tomb.

So I started wondering.  Am I missing the miracle, the honor, and the blessing of serving my family, of serving Jesus, through my sinful attitude?

I'm afraid I am.

So let me live as my sisters of old, being the last, being the first.  Serving and loving.

And living in Reality of the Resurrection.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If you've ever wanted to pray for a bassoonist. . . .

now's your chance!

Seriously, though.

I've had a wicked cold all week, and it appears to have decided to camp out in my chest.  Which I only realized tonight as I practiced my opera music - and found that no, it is apparently impossible for me to play for more than 20 measure without. . . . .

Coughing.  A yucky, deep sounding cough.  I really feel ok, I just sound - rather yicky.

So.  I'd appreciate prayers that I can make it through my two performances (Fri & Sat) without ruining the production for the students due to the my crude imitation of a barking seal.

Recommendations of non-drowsy cough medicine is welcome as well!

Because - you know - if I was on the regular stuff, who KNOWS what kind of things I might end up playing. 

The cast and orchestra of "La Finta Giardiniera" thanks you.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Overheard in My House, Episode 11: Tornado Edition

So, we're sitting down here in the basement (our safe place), listening to the radio, when this comes over the airwaves:

"Talladega Race Fans. . . . there is severe weather headed your way.  Put your shirts on."

Yup.  Only in Alabama.

I'm telling you, I can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Backstage Pass, Anyone?

Welcome Blog Readers. . . . .to Backstage at the Opera!!!

Yes, it's my annual opera gig, this year known as "Mozart Therapy".

Because, you know, who wouldn't have their spirits lifted by sitting and listening to Mozart's opera music for 2 and a half hours?  Wait, don't answer that.

So, what's with the backstage pass, you wonder?

There's this beautiful word.


Look it up.

In case you've forgotten how to google (as if), I'll clue you in.  In Italian, it means "to rest".

Or, in modern translation, it means, "Since you're sitting in the balcony, and have free wifi, whip out your MacBook and blog while the cellist next to you is working away on Aria No. 10!"  

I've got "Tacet" written in my score for 4 arias in a row.  So I'm - um - getting work done.

Yeah, that's the ticket.  Getting work done.

Listening to opera.  By Mozart. 

Joys.  We all need a little more "Tacet" in our lives, don't you think?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What lies underneath

I have some friends - make that many friends - who are having significant, life-altering difficulties right now.  (No, you wise-crackers, I'm not talking about Butler fans. Anywho.)

 We see each other on a day-to-day basis, and yet many of them are struggling to function.  Getting out of bed is a monumental task.  Looking at the faces of those they love and not breaking down into tears - another near impossible task.  Maintaining any kind of normal routine?  Forget about it.

I've been there.  Still am, some days.  Fewer and fewer days lately, but still some.

How many of these folks do you know?  How many do you pass on the street, at work, in the stores?  How many people hide a pain that you don't even know is there?  

And how many of them worship side-by-side with you on Sunday, concealing pain under an "everything's all right" veneer that can be scratched thin by the well-meaning "How are you doings?" that are offered by their fellow pilgrims?

I talked with one of these dear friends tonight.  And we talked and talked and talked. . . . .

We talked about the hurt, that lies underneath the veneer.


Then we talked.  And talked and talked and talked. . . .about what lies underneath the hurt.

You know what it is?

Grace.  Sustaining, life-giving, wonderful, matchless, GRACE.

What is sustaining grace?

Not grace to bar what is not bliss,
Nor flight from all distress, but this:
The grace that orders our trouble and pain,
And then, in the darkness, is there to sustain.
~ John Piper

The grace of God that has been poured out into our hearts, through the merciful, wonderful, amazing sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ and His glorious - GLORIOUS! - resurrection.

Do you hear me???

Yes, there is something underneath the shiny veneer of polite society.

It's pain.  Hurt and pain.

But - there is something underneath that pain. . . . . do you hear me?????

There. Is. Something.

If we will but rest in it.

And it is grace.

And it is, my friends, amazing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just allow me a moment, here. . . . . .

Thank you.

I will now return to my regularly scheduled exile in the land of the football-crazed fans.

See ya next March.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Madness Hits Home

I love March Madness.

From that crazy first year that Yurii & I were married, when we drove around in the old jeep listening to UConn basketball on the radio, through March of 1999 when we dressed little Emily up in a UConn t-shirt and cheered as the men AND women won national championships.  Onward and upward into the 2000s, cheering as they advanced, frustrated when UConn was knocked out.  Enjoying it all - the women and the men and basketball.  Joyous, fast, crazy, fun basketball.

Then to move South. . . .basketball?  What basketball??  Sigh.

So I find myself sitting up tonight, streaming the Final Four and cheering on my favorite teams - one from Indiana, and one from good ol' CT.

And then they both win.

And will play each other on Monday night.

What's a girl to do???

At least, no matter who wins on Monday night, I've got a dog in the fight.

Hardy har har.

Better go to bed now :)