Thursday, April 16, 2015

Music in My Heart

There's such a thing as muscle memory. Do something long enough, over and over repetitively, and it becomes a habit. Something you can close your eyes and do.

Things we are conditioned to do... like when I miss a turn because I'm so used to going straight to town. Or when I accidentally run the red light at Lees College because when I was cruising around town as a high schooler, there wasn't a red light there.

And the thing about memories are... they'll come back to you at the strangest of times.

Like today...

That organ started playing the first notes of "Morning Had Broken", and I caught myself standing a little taller, with one hand by my side.

No slouching. No fidgeting. "Lauren, quit rocking back and forth on your feet."

I could close my eyes and I was right back in that room at Breathitt High School. The chair is hard against my back and the carpet is a little worn.  We've gone over that same score too many times to count, and then...

She was sitting at the piano, head held high, a somewhat stern look on her face...

Until the music was over, and then...

She'd hold one hand up, directing us to stop, and then salute us with that hand.

And that smile...

It covered her whole face. There was nothing like nailing a song...

Not just because you sung beautifully...

but because you knew you had made her proud.

Chorus was my favorite class from 8th grade until I graduated, and I had a lot of excellent teachers(read more about those here, if you'd like). I'm pretty sure that my Senior year Chorus was pretty much a haven for me... because after AP English, AP Calculus, and AP Chemistry, I could go in and relax.

I'd like to think I was the teacher's pet. I won the Chorus award at 8th grade graduation and at high school graduation. The thing about Mrs. DeHoag, though... is that really, every one was the teacher's pet. She loved you regardless and managed to make you feel special. There was a place for everyone in her Choir.

Mrs. DeHoag taught me much more than what a teacher normally teaches. 

She taught me self-respect. She taught me courage. She taught me that if you just keep trying, you'll eventually get it... and if you don't try, you won't ever get it. As we drove to Louisville today, Nora and I laughed about how when she gave you music, the next time you went through it better be better than the first.

She had high expectations.

From my first solo in 8th grade (one of the verses of Who Put the Bomp) to my last solo in high school (Bind' aut dein harr... in German, no less) she pushed me to try things that I never would have.

A note that seemed to high?

Breath control.

An Eastern Kentucky accent?

It didn't matter... when you opened your mouth to sing, it better disappear.

You didn't hold out the consonant sounds, only the vowels, and you shaped your mouth a certain way to make those vowels rounded.

You just simply didn't disappoint her.

You sang from within, from the heart, and you showed that in your presentation.

She taught me about other things, too...

how to project my voice during a ballgame. All-District Chorus tryouts fell right smack dab in the middle of football season...

and what an exciting football season it was.  We were undefeated, and we all know that was largely due to my hard work on the sideline.

I never worried about my voice being strained, though, because Mrs. DeHoag had a talk with me my freshman year about how I could yell deep without putting a lot of pressure on my vocal chords.

Wallace has her to think when I can be heard yelling at the refs across the gym now, loud and clear, and still be able to talk the next morning.

She taught me how music is something to be enjoyed... all types.

I shine at UK football games because we proudly sang My Old Kentucky Home, and I know all the words, not just the "Weep No more my lady" that most of the stadium sings.

Songs like "Poor Man Lazarus" are jotted in my Bible, because every time I read that Scripture I think of Mrs. DeHoag.

Decrescendo and crescendo and emphasizing your diction.

Determination and hard work.

And love. I knew Mrs. DeHoag loved me... loved all of her students. She showed it by pushing us, and she showed it as she talked about us during concerts, and she showed it when she came to my wedding.

She showed it when I looked over in a Target bathroom while washing my hands and met her eyes after I hadn't saw her in a few years.
"Lauren!" She squealed, and hugged me even though my hands were dripping wet.

She showed it when I ran into her at Red Lobster in Louisville during one of Wallace's Reserve meetings.

A hug and questions about Mom and my sisters until we realized that we were holding up the waitress.

And as we sang "Joyful, joyful" to conclude her service today, I thought of the medley we sang from Sister Act that included that song and O Happy Day

Today, and these past few days, were sad days, as I read comments and posts made by my friends and classmates who were impacted by her love for her students and her music... As the music went on, and the service spoke of how grace and love win, I teared up, as is expected with death...

But I was reminded during her service that it is also a happy day, because we have hope.

Hope in Christ.

Victory over death.

We don't mourn as people without hope...

and that hope is in my heart.

Just like her music.

Thank you, Mrs. Dehoag, for believing in me... and in all those who were blessed to have you in the classroom. Thank you for the memories, for your laughter, for your smile of pride that I can still remember.

And thank you for the music. "Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world."- Martin Luther

"Eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, what God has prepared for those who love Him."

And I'm pretty sure that includes new songs and melodies. I'm glad you're going ahead of me. I'll be doing my warm-ups, and we'll sing together again.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Will You Be My Friend?

In my quietness, I've been contemplating lots of deep stuff over the last month.

Like why Kentucky had to lose this weekend.

And what my summer reading list will consist of.

And also why it seems to be muddy every stinkin' time I have to go to clinical.

But on a serious note, I've been brooding... gloomy... unsure....

And I don't really know why.

Just for the sake of being real, I'll admit something that I'm pretty sure someone else may relate to... or maybe it is just me, which validates my feelings.

I may or may not be a little lonely.

Now, that may seem crazy to you... but here is the deal.

I am married to the biggest extrovert on earth. He never meets a stranger and his cell phone is never quiet. And most of the time, I'm okay with that. I'd much rather retreat to a corner with a good book or my Kindle or my cell phone...

because I'm an introvert.

But even introverts need human contact.

Lately, I've been thinking of friendship.

I've never been one to have a whole gaggle of friends. In grade school, I had a couple of good girlfriends but always felt more comfortable hanging out with the guys. They were much less likely to stab you in the back.

And in high school, I had my cheerleading friends and my chorus friends and my yearbook friends and the friends that I took most of my classes with. They helped me stay sane and pass calculus and chemistry.

Nursing school brought a couple more friends, but we were just trying to survive.

And I've never been one to share my deepest feelings with others. I don't like feeling vulnerable...

But that's what friendship is.  And in our social media world, we can have 2,000 friends yet still feel lonely.  We can stand in a crowded room and still feel alone.

I'm tired of superficial relationships... but I don't really know what I'm supposed to do about it.

I've never been good at making friends.

The Bible said to be a friend you have to show yourself friendly. I thought it was interesting that I started this blog last night and then this little post from Lisa Jo Baker showed up in my email today... 7 Ways to Find Soul Friends... Yes, please.

Because I'm all about a checklist and the easy way to do things...

because isn't that what our society is about?

Except friendship is hard work. There is no easy way to be a good friend, because it means that you open your heart and leave yourself bare, and you sacrifice. You listen when maybe you don't want to and you put aside your own agenda and look out for someone else's interest.

And I'm no good at that.

So, this year I'm focusing on love and learning that love is an action word, and it's about more than just actions and words but putting the two together. 

And love is hard... just like friendship. 

So while I'm still not sure that I know how to make more friends, and to stop being so superficial, and I'm not sure if there are even people out there that care or that need friends...

Here's what I'm thinking.

A true friend shows himself/herself friendly...

by being interested. Truly interested. By leaning in and listening and asking the right questions when necessary but also by just sitting and being quiet when that's necessary, too... knowing that sometimes silence doesn't always need to be filled.

by working hard at being a friend... going above and beyond and looking for ways to show that the other person is cared about.

by being authentic. Real. Vulnerable. Not caring when your laundry isn't done or your fridge isn't clean when company comes over, because it's more about the laughter than the dust (unless, of course, you cause someone to have an allergic reaction... and thus far that hasn't happened. At least that I know of).

by being loyal, which is a bygone in today's world, it seems like. By showing your loyalty by taking up for someone else and also by not chiming in when the world is beating them down.

by just being you... offering up who you are.  It may not be much, but it seems like in today's world we've lost focus of who we are.

"If you are a sincere friend, folks around you will quickly understand that there's no hidden agenda and nothing on the other side of the equals sign- just you."- Love Does, Bob Goff

So... I'm inviting you to be my friend... and to be your own friend... and to be someone else's friend. 

No perfect people... just imperfection trying to live love to others... one smile and kind word at a time.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Good

The Word starts in Genesis.

He speaks, and it comes into being.  Light in darkness.  Shapeless voids become earth.  The sea and the creatures in it. Animals. Humans.

And He saw that it was good.


The Word spoken into creation, was good.

The beginning was good.

And then something happened.

We became less than good.

Sin was invited in and we were no longer good.

What was in the garden was no longer good enough.

Our focus was skewed, and we forgot that God is a good God.

The middle is sometimes rough.

The story twists and turns and it looks like we may be forsaken...

but then The Word.

When the earth needed goodness, the Word became flesh.

Dwelt among men.

Brought light into darkness, but men were afraid of the light, because we were no longer good.

So He came.

He loved and forgave and healed and ministered...

And then, on Good Friday, He died.

He hung His head and said, "It is finished."

The ending.  He was the in the beginning, when it was good, and He wrote the ending, where He is good and we can be righteous because of His goodness.

It is finished.

We no longer have to be good enough... because He is more than enough.

We no longer need to try to hard... because He's already done it.

We are not good... but He is.

And that's all that matters on this Good Friday.

It.  Is.  Finished.

And in the end, it's too good for us to even understand.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday, where we write for five minutes, unedited, on one prompt. This week's prompt, on this Good Friday... Good.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hello, again

It's April, and it has been almost a month since I've written.

I've been lazy.

I've been unmotivated.

I've gone back on what I wanted to do.


tomorrow is a new day and His grace is sufficient, so I'm back on track. 

But right now I think I'll just read a while and go to bed...