Monday, January 30, 2012

Playlist of Promises

So my computer crashed a couple weeks ago and part of the collateral damage was my iTunes being wiped out. I managed to get almost all of it back on using my iPod but my playlists couldn't be recovered. I'm still mourning the loss. I had some good playlists. I love making playlists. Taking songs from different albums, artists, and genres and mixing them together for just the right feeling. Playlists for singing, for dancing, for dreaming, for writing, for cleaning (yup, I had a cleaning playlist), for quiet time, for celebrating. I had playlists I created for other people--my mom and my niece, specifically. And I had started one for my son. And they were all gone, wiped away as if they never existed. I'd like to take a moment of silence in remembrance of my beloved playlists.

*cricket, cricket*

Okay, now that the melodramatics are out of the way...

I created a new playlist last night. Not one for singing or dancing or cleaning. I went through all of my songs, which is several days worth of music, and selected about 2 hours worth of music for my son. There's plenty more I want to add. In fact, I realized I'll have to make several playlists just for him. A playlist for dreaming, a playlist for playing/singing, and a playlist for dancing. And a playlist of promises.

My music is varied, I have a wide range of taste and interests. I suppose not as wide as others. There is a definite void in the rap and R&B department, and very little country, and none of heavy metal/hard rock. My music is a little heavy in the musical theater and oldies departments, featuring a lot of American songbook, the Beatles, and the Rat Pack. I've got a strong selection of indy/acoustic/whatever genre you put Dave Matthews and Coldplay in (stoner music?? although, I have never in my life been stoned or even close to it). What this means for my son is that he'll be exposed to all kinds of music from a very young age. In fact, he's already heard quite a range. He even heard me hit my old friend the high C the other day whilst singing along with Michael Ball. Shiloh used to howl...but the baby didn't kick me so maybe he didn't mind.

Anyway...I've gotten off track. This happens when I talk about my music. It's one of my passions. Like my books. I just can't help but get all rambly and distracted. I'll try to stay focused.

Promises. Within all my days worth of music are a handful of songs that I've always imagined singing to my little one. Not lullabies (although there are plenty of those) but promises. Things I want them to know, things I intend them to feel, things I hope they believe in and trust. Kids need to have a foundation of promises from their parents, a place of stability and security to grow on. And these songs, I guess, give me a jumping off point, a place to start.

"Not While I'm Around", I assume, is from a musical. I don't know. I have it on an album by Michael Ball (the original Marius in LesMis and one of the most emotive, incredible tenors to ever exist). The song assures that 'no one's gonna harm you, not while I'm around' and that 'others may desert you, give a whistle, I'll be there'. No matter how scary the world may get, how many let-downs a child may face, they can know that I will always be there, they will never be alone, 'not while I'm around'.

"I Couldn't Love You More" is from Matt Hammit's (of Sanctus Real) solo album. The song explains that while I as a parent couldn't possibly love my son any more than I already do that Jesus does. Jesus loves him even more than me. It's one of those songs that gets me all weepy and emotional, and something I very much want my son to have confidence in throughout his entire life.

"Come What May", yes the same "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge. Except that I have a version by Alfie Boe (Jean ValJean in the 25th Anniversary LesMis, and another one of the most incredible tenors to ever exist...but a much more controlled style than Michael Ball). Admittedly, I never thought of this as a song for a baby until I was pregnant and heard it. I hadn't heard this song in years, at least five or six years, but it's on the first Alfie Boe cd that I bought. I was already about 4 months pregnant when I listened to this version and all I could think of is that it seemed to describe so well how I felt about my baby. 'Seasons may change, winter to spring'...'storm clouds may gather and storms may collide'...'but I love you, until my dying day, come what may'. My favorite line from the song is in the first verse: 'listen to my heart, can you hear it sing? Telling me to give you everything.' It reminds me of a quote I saw on Pinterest (addiction!) which reads 'Only you know how deep my love for you is because you're the only one who has heard my heartbeat from the inside.' I'm amazed when I consider all that my son is hearing as he's continue to develop inside of me, and knowing that he hears my heart beating is just incredible. So cool. 

There's a few other songs..."I'll Stand By You" (The Glee version, I have to admit...even though I don't watch it anymore)..."This Little Light Of Mine" by Addison Road..."All of Me" by Matt Hammit (which if you've read any of my other baby posts, you know that I love that song)..."Believe" by Josh Groban (our first wedding dance song, incidentally)..."When You Wish Upon A Star"..."In My Life" by the Beatles...These songs are all promises of how I feel and what I want for my son. I can't promise him a life without trouble, pain, fear or sadness. Those are all part of the human condition and things he will have to experience in order to really know happiness, security, love, friendship, and joy. But I can promise him my love, no matter what. I can promise him that God loves him, no matter what. These are hugely significant promises. 

So as I'm trying to piece back together the shattered fragments of my crashed iTunes these new playlists are emerging. It's easy to see how my priorities have changed. I'm sure I will eventually re-create a playlist just for car dancing...but only after I've taken the time to create these playlists for my son. Songs for us to sing and dance to together and songs for us to dream together, he with his eyes closed and me with my eyes opened. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Roaring Like a Lion

My favorite part in 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe' movie is midway through the battle. Peter and Edmund are entrenched in a hopeless battle against Jadis, the White Witch. She has more soldiers on her side, she has the power to turn their soldiers into stone, and she's fearless. But they (and their "men") refuse to surrender. Peter knows that he could lose, that he probably should lose in terms of what seems most likely to happen, but he's going to continue to fight 'for Narnia and for Aslan!'. And then...just as the scales really tip in Jadis' favor, the music changes, and the point of view sweeps up the mountain to the top of the ridge. There stands Lucy, Susan, Mr.Tumnus, and of course, Aslan who announces his arrival with a mighty roar. (This is the part when I get chills and tears come to my eyes). Hope comes flooding down the mountain infusing Peter with new strength, and Jadis is drained of hers as she whispers "impossible", for she herself had killed him the night before. It is impossible, for everyone except the Son of the Emperor Across the Sea. For Him, nothing is impossible.

With God all things are possible.
--Matthew 19:26

The Newsboys have recently released a song entitled 'God's Not Dead (Like a Lion)'. For obvious reasons this song and this scene in that movie are related to me. Aslan was dead but defeated death and is now roaring to the rescue of the ones he loves and died for. Lewis didn't come up with this lion metaphor on his own; the Bible calls Jesus the Lion of Judah,  Judah being one the names for the Israelite people. In his life Jesus hardly came across as a lion. He was meek and mild when people wanted him to overthrow the Roman government. He took and endured abuse and slander with staggering humility. Those who believed in Him knew that He could put an end to it and was choosing not to; those who did not believe in Him mocked and challenged Him to come off the cross or call down angels. This does not seem lionish--any of it. But within Him he had the strength of the Lion, the strength of God, in fact. And that's what turned back death, defeating the deep magic, as Lewis puts it in his timeless stories.

"Oh, you're real, you're real! Oh, Aslan!" 
cried Lucy and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.
"But what does it all mean?" asked Susan 
when they were somewhat calmer.
"It means," said Aslan, "that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards."

Unlike in the Narnia stories, Jesus didn't come roaring back into the middle of a battle. He came quietly into a garden where a young woman had come to tend for His broken, lifeless body. But inwardly, I imagine, there was a battle inside Mary. A battle of unsettling doubt and confusion, of heart-breaking loss and emptiness. Like the Pevencey children, Jesus had saved Mary, had loved her and cared for her as He did all his dear friends. And without Him, the pain must have been unbearable, very much like a hopeless uphill battle. Within the tenderness of his speech, maybe there was a roar...a roar against the darkness surrounding Mary and the other disciples. A roar against all doubt, fear, worry, and regret. A roar that allowed doubting Thomas to believe, that reinstated Peter, and that finally turned John from a 'son of thunder' to an apostle of Love. A roar that allowed me, in the 21st century, to make a turning point and conquer my own demons. Now that's a mighty roar. 

My God's not deadHe's surely aliveHe's living on the insideRoaring like a lion
--God's Not Dead (Like a Lion), The Newsboys

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Addiction to Control

Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
   and lean not on your own understanding; 
in all your ways submit to him, 
   and he will make your paths straight
--Proverbs 3:5-6

Yesterday our pastor asked the Sunday school class what spiritual goals we have for 2012. One dear friend of mine talked about learning to surrender her sense of control to the Lord and this resonated with me. God and I have been going in circles with my control issues. I have an addiction to control, and like any other addiction, I can't grow until its dealt with. So God has been painstakingly, patiently, and lovingly helping me deal with it. I can't believe how far He's brought me during the course of this pregnancy. I was forced to truly realize and admit that I can't decide how many days my son will spend in my womb, how many days he will spend on this Earth, how much happiness he will have. I had to let go of my ideas and plans for his nursery, our finances, our jobs, our future. I nearly had a panic attack as God asked me to let go of what I believed I could hold on to. Yes, I understand control issues.

And that's when I realized my goal for 2012 and at the same time my prayer word for this year, sort of. I can't come up with just one word. Surrender is part of it, but its surrendering with the idea of being emptied out. My goal for 2012 is to not have goals, plans, or expectations. That does not mean to stumble about haphazardly like a feather being blown by the wind. This is foolishness. Proverbs 3 instructs the wise to have sound plans and use good judgment. But the danger in planning for control freaks like me is that we plan too much and set our hearts upon our plans. I trust on my own wisdom, I put too much stock in my plans coming to fruition, I can't be flexible, I get tunnel vision. It's my way or no way. 

The fact is that entering into motherhood is going to require me to think, feel, and behave in ways I never have before. I will pray in ways I never have before. I will dream and plan and hope in ways I never have before. All of this is beautiful...if I submit it all to the Lord. If I take my every dream, plan, hope, and idea to Him for approval. If I don't jump days, weeks, months ahead in my life. If I take each day as He gives it to me. Which is after all how Jesus tells us to live. 

So don’t worry about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will bring its own worries. 
Today’s trouble is enough for today.--Matthew 6:34

I already have people asking me, telling me, what my next ministry goals should be, what projects I should undertake. I find myself plotting and planning, but the Spirit isn't guiding me. I feel no divine encouragement, no heavenly spark of inspiration. This is not because I am far from God; this is because God has not yet revealed to me the ministry He wants me to undertake. I'm a people pleaser so I can be talked into most anything...but this is how you get so busy you miss your true calling. 

I realized that I can have a 'ministry' even while stepping back from other commitments. My grandmother has a ministry and she's a shut-in. She prays with devotion, she calls people to encourage them, she sends out greeting cards to let people know she cares. This is a ministry even if its not something you can sign up to join or read about in the bulletin. This is a ministry that Jesus sees and loves, because its the kind of work He did. I can do this kind of ministry anytime...pregnant, with a newborn, and beyond. If God intends for me to start or join a 'joinable' ministry, He'll let me know. He'll make it so clear that I won't have a choice. It won't be this crickety silence from above that I'm getting right now. 

But the even more important part of this surrendering/emptying out goal of 2012 is accepting that I can't make plans for my family/life. I can't make plans for my son because I don't have any idea what he'll be like. I can't say what I'll do this spring or summer because I have no way of knowing how labor and delivery will go (smoothly, I hope). I can't promise to visit relatives or go on little getaways or anything else. I can make no promises to anyone except to God. I can promise Him that I will rest when He says rest, move when He says move, and in all ways, submit my plans to Him.

You can make many plans,
But the Lord's purpose will prevail.
--Proverbs 19:21

This will be hard for me. Harder than my word for last year (commit). I don't like to give up my ways and the idea of being emptied out can be scary. I like to believe I'm in charge, sometimes I think I need to believe it. But I will never truly trust God if I'm secretly telling myself that I'm in control. I will never really feel secure if I'm relying on my own wisdom and plans. I have to let go, be emptied out, and surrender to really know God the way He wants me to and to live the life He has planned for me. 

People won't understand. It will look like spiritual laziness at times. That's okay. It's not about them. This is about listening for God and God alone to direct my plans. This is about waiting for God and God alone to provide when things look desperate. This is about acknowledging that God and God alone is truly in control of my life, my husband's life, our child's life, and the lives of everyone we love. It's not about me or anyone else. God and God alone. 

Commit (surrender, submit, abandon, let go, and empty out)
 everything you do to the LORD. 
Trust him, and he will help you.
--Psalm 37:5

Incidentally, God has brought to mind several songs which will encourage me through this journey. He knows how much music encourages me, He designed me that way. FFH's 'Come Undone', Sanctus Real's 'Whatever You're Doing' (which I've written about before) and the hymn 'I Surrender All' speak to the very nature of this journey. The difficulty in letting go, in coming undone, in trying to accept what you can't understand or see, in giving everything over to God. I know God will bring more songs to encourage me as 2012 unfolds because He is good and faithful and loving. That one thing I can hold onto as He empties me out of all my preconceived notions, expectations, and plans. 

The LORD will work out his plans for my life— 
      for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. 
      Don’t abandon me, for you made me.
--Psalm 138:8
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