Thursday, April 7, 2011

Then Sings My Soul...

My soul is always singing. No matter what mood I'm in, my soul has a song. Sometimes it's uplifting, sometimes it's a song of surrender, sometimes it's there just to help bring on the tears that need to flow... but it's always singing. In good times as well as trying times, it usually comes back to this chorus:
"Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee... how great Thou art, how great Thou art!" 
I choke up just thinking about it. I learned it as a little girl, and cling to it as a woman. It truly is one of the theme songs of my life. That's right, I have theme songs ~ and background music.

Music moves me. No, really, it does. This is something that most people don’t quite understand about me. I once saw a sign that said the problem with reality is that it doesn’t come with background music. I disagree. I have background music… always.

My mom doesn’t understand this; she accepts it, but can't identify with it. We can go to a restaurant and I’ll exclaim, “I love this song!” or something similar, and she’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. She doesn't notice the song. The music they are playing in the background is actually in my foreground. I hear that above anything my dining partner is saying to me. My son shares this affliction with me… it’s nice to have someone around who ‘gets it.’

I recently watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy that was set to music (sung by the cast). I was blubbering like a baby less than six minutes into the program. Yes, the storyline was powerful but that wasn’t what got to me. It was the song… I continued crying throughout the show. Yup, from beginning to end. When it was over, I was wrecked. I had to download a couple of the songs and sync them to my iPhone ~ which is played in my Jeep whenever I’m in it.

Movies? Forget about it!! If a movie has an awesome score, I’m apt to give it a thumbs up… even if the movie stinks. It’s happened. I apologize. I’m in therapy for it. John Williams is my therapist. (For those of you who may not know who John Williams is, I’m truly sorry. You need to look it up… really… look it up.)

For me, there is no shame in singing loudly… in my vehicle… with the windows down. I will never be the next American Idol, but I do sing better than the average person, so I don’t mind giving the cars around me a personal concert. If what I’m singing doesn’t match their personal preferences they are more than welcome to close their windows.

I can find a song for just about any situation in life. No matter what it is that I’m going through, I can find (and fixate) on a song that fits whatever I’m going through. I often won’t let people outside my home know what I’m currently fixated on, because I don’t let anyone get that close to me (it's true, you can only be burned so many times before you learn to fear the flame). All someone would need to do to discover where my head and my heart are would be to get my current playlist.

I won’t give away my whole playlist, but I’ll give you some examples:
  • The Story ~ originally done by Brandi Carlile, but I prefer the Grey’s Anatomy version sung by Tony-award winner Sara Ramirez (This is currently my favorite to sing at the top of my lungs in the car.)
  • Walkin’ After Midnight ~ by Patsy Cline… classic!
  • By Your Side ~ by Tenth Avenue North
  • Welcome to the Black Parade ~ by My Chemical Romance (My kids still marvel that their mother knows this song and sings it loudly in the car.)
  • Nessun Dorma ~ sung by Luciano Pavarotti, from the opera “Turandot”
  • Chasing Cars ~ by Snow Patrol (I have the Grey’s Anatomy version as well… I like the harmony in their version.)
  • With All I Am ~ by Hillsong, such a beautiful expression of surrender to God.
  • The Show Must Go On ~ by Queen (I also love the one from Moulin Rouge!)
  • Ghost In This House ~ sung by Alison Krauss… haunting & beautiful.
  • Volare ~ by The Gipsy Kings (So much fun! And yes, that’s how they spell their name)
  • Come Home Running ~ by Chris Tomlin... because I screw up all the time and constantly have to go running back to my Lord's arms.
  • One Night Only ~ from Dreamgirls, sung by Jennifer Hudson... soulful (Another one that I sing at the top of my lungs in the car... It really hits the spot!)
  • Firework ~ by Katy Perry... who doesn't love this song?

There are several others, but you can see from this list that my tastes are somewhat eclectic. My former pastor calls himself a musical schizophrenic… I think that I may be suffering from this disorder as well.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that if we should happen to find ourselves at TGI Friday’s someday and you see my eyes glaze over and I seem to be ignoring what you’re saying, it’s simply because I hear the music and it takes over my entire being. You may want to simply be thankful that I don’t burst into song in the restaurant… I really do try to have some self-restraint in that area.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


My world is twisted. My journey has never been a straight line. The daughter of a truck driver, I’ve physically never had too many challenges as far as getting lost goes. Sure, there were a couple of times as a teenager that I got turned around ~ how did I end up in San Diego? ~ but for the most part, I’m not what you’d call directionally challenged. Metaphorically though, I’ve got problems… big ones.

I’ve had so many twists and turns in my life that I sometimes have no idea which direction I’m supposed to go. I’ve had to turn around and go back to that fork in the road many times to take the other path. I've been walking the path of my own labyrinth all my life. That's okay though, does anyone out there know anything about labyrinths? Let me enlighten you just a bit. Going back many centuries: To walk the labyrinth is to make a pilgrimage, to discover something about ourselves and God. The destination is not important; the journey is!

It’s not that I’m trying to take the ‘fun’ path or the ‘easy’ one. My former husband wouldn’t let me go back to school after we were married, so as soon as we split up, I headed back to college. I thought it was a good decision. After all, aren’t we told that an education is the best way to find a good-paying job? I wanted to be able to provide for my kids. So, I got my Associate degree with honors. I went on to get my Bachelor of Science with honors. I worked hard. I finished my classes for my teaching credential at UCLA with a 4.0. I took out several student loans to pay for this… I am now several thousand dollars in debt and have no job.

I’m not saying that all my twists and turns are because of a good choice gone bad. Most of them, in fact, are from bad choices. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids with everything in me, but if I had made different choices, they wouldn’t be here. I made the choice to go to bed with their dad when I was 18-years-old. I was an adult, right? I could do what I wanted. Look at this picture... don't I look like the definition of adult responsibility? Looking back, I tend to wonder who made the decision that 18 was a good age to consider someone an adult.

So, while my friends went directly to college, started careers, became established financially, then got married and started families, I got married immediately (another bad choice), started a family & stagnated for several years.

These are just a couple of the MANY examples of my twisted world. But you know what I’ve come to discover? It’s these twists and turns that make me who I am. They are what makes me unique and interesting.

Don’t get what I’m saying? Okay… I live in a forest. I love the trees (even though I have no cell service, but that’s a story for another day). Most of the time, these trees look just like one another. While I could spend hours outside communing with nature, I have realized that the trees I like the most are the ones that are twisted, gnarled, and broken… the ones that stand out from their peers… the ones that are unique.

So, while I have nothing of worldly worth to offer ~ no money, fame, connections, beauty (according to the world’s standards); I offer who I am… unique, loyal, helpful and loving. I may be twisted, but I believe that it’s my twists and turns that have made me a better person.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I'm Not Bitter... Really, I'm Not.

Okay, as promised, I’m going with something light and easy today…

I am the proud mommy of a pug. Maggie has been a part of our family for 10 years now. She doesn’t see too well, so she barks at awesome things like trees and people she’s known all her life. She also has a stuffed frog that she nurses on. She's had the same (brand of) frog her whole life. If they ever stop manufacturing this frog, it may be the end of civilization as we know it.

Technically, she’s my dog. In reality, she became my grandparents’ dog the moment they moved in. She keeps them going. She has a routine and they bend to her will. If they aren’t home at her lunchtime, they make sure someone in the house nukes it for exactly 12 seconds and gives it to her at the right time. She truly has them trained.

They, in turn, think she’s a genius. They tell my mom & me how smart Maggie is on a daily basis. My grandpa loves to brag about how she teases the big dogs across the street then kicks dirt at them as she walks back to our house. My grandma will remain still for hours if Maggie is sleeping next to her in their favorite chair.

My grandparents have numerous pictures of their great-grandchildren. You can view these pictures down their hallway. However, a picture of Maggie is front and center on their entertainment center… proudly displayed for all to admire.

I’m not bitter… really, I’m not. All I’m saying is that grandparents aren’t supposed to have favorites. My grandparents have chosen a favorite, and it’s not me. But I’m not bitter… really, I’m not.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Be Still...

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. It was not designed for ‘religious’ purposes, but because my faith and living a life of worship is an integral part of who I am, it will most definitely come up from time to time. For those of you following this blog who do not believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, I hope that my words don’t offend you too much, but Jesus was (and still is) offensive to those who didn’t believe in Him, so I’m not too worried about it. I’d rather walk in His footsteps than worry about offending someone. Thank you for understanding!

It boggles the mind… Devastation can happen in the blink of an eye. It seems to come out of nowhere, but the reality is: God already knew. He knew millions of years ago.

We are thrown into a tailspin, but He ~ the One who created the universe ~ isn’t blinking. He didn't turn His head to talk to St. Peter for a moment, look back down here and say, "Whoa! How did that happen?" He tells us to be calm. He’s got it all under control.

We think: “How can He say that?? Doesn’t He realize that there are people dying… lives in chaos… earthquakes… tsunamis… terrorism... parents who can’t find their children during the aftermath?”


“But God, don’t You see the horrors of this world? Don’t You see the impoverished, the people who are lying, cheating, stealing, raping, abusing children, killing? Don’t You see?? How can You say that when You look upon the earth?”


“Okay God, You created it all. I suppose when I create a universe and all that dwell within it, we can have a conversation about it. I’ll stop questioning… at least until the next time I have questions.”

How many of us get to the last paragraph? How long does it take us to get there? I learned at an early age that life isn’t what we envision as fair. My father was in a life-altering motorcycle accident when I was 8-years-old that changed the course of my white-picket-fence childhood. If you read long enough, you’ll eventually get the whole story.

Life isn’t fair. And here’s a bombshell for you… neither is God. You won’t find the word ‘fair’ to describe Him. He is ‘just’ ~ it isn’t the same thing.

So, while you watch the devastation going on around you and think to yourself – why? – remember that it isn’t for us to decipher. I know this is going to sound too simple to grasp, but as for me, I hold to the thought that one day I’ll meet God face to face and in that moment, without asking the question, the lightbulb will go on and I’ll think, “So that was why it happened!” or I simply won't care. It’s not for me to know in this lifetime. My responsibility is to be still in the moments of chaos. HE is God, and I am NOT (I am constantly having to repeat that... HE is God, and I am NOT... HE is God, and I am NOT...).

Since I am not God, what is my purpose? I am supposed to be a light to those in turmoil and darkness. If I’m running around screaming about the sky falling, how can I be a comfort to those who need it? If I'm wringing my hands trying to figure out the how and why of it all, what soul in need is going to come to me for help?

I don't believe that I have it all figured out and I certainly don't want to give the impression that I don't ask how and why every now and then. It is a process... of which I am constantly taking two steps forward and one step back, but I hope that someday someone is able to point to me and say that I helped her find the One who loves her through her chaos into a place of contentment in Christ.

Okay, so the last couple of blogs have been really heavy... I think tomorrow calls for a recipe or something lighthearted. What do you think??

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

They Will Know Us By Our Love?

For those of you who know me, you’re aware that I don’t usually speak my mind about anything controversial. Just for today, that policy is going right out the window as I climb onto my soapbox…

I am a Christ-follower. I am happy to admit that do my best to honor God with my life. I may miss the mark quite often, but I do try. Having said that, I often feel like I am in the minority when it comes to my views as a Christ-follower, particularly when it comes to the topic of homosexuality.

I have what my mother refers to as a ministry to homosexuals. I never asked for it, but it’s there. When I was growing up, I was taught by Christians around me that gay people were just plain bad. I simply accepted this since I figured they must know what they’re talking about. I had seen things in the Bible that talked about homosexual behavior being wrong.

As I grew older, I started to come in contact with people who embraced a gay lifestyle. I didn’t see what was so bad about them… many seemed to be hurting, in my opinion. I remember a transvestite who frequented the restaurant where I waitressed. (S)he always asked to be put in my station. I recall thinking sarcastically, “Why me?” So at one point, I politely asked. Her response was that I was the only one there that treated her like a person.

There have been several more since then who have popped into my life (some even within the walls of the church ~ gasp!). I used to carpool to work with one young man who was afraid to admit his lifestyle to me because he knew I was a ‘church person.’ I told him that I accepted him for who he is, not what he’s doing. I let him know that when I am perfect, when I can walk on water, I'll judge him. Until then, I plan to love him and treat him like I would any other friend. To say that he was shocked would be an understatement. He told me that I was the first Christian he’d met who didn’t immediately tell him that he was going to hell. We are still friends to this day.

Here is what I don’t understand… Why does the Christian community (as a whole) condemn gay people and why are they the ones who are trying to decide who goes to heaven and hell? I thought that was God’s responsibility, and His alone. I have the Bible in several different versions and have studied them throughout my life. I have yet to find where it tells me to judge these people based on their sexuality.

If every sin is equal in the eyes of God, why do we, as Christians, attach degrees of sinfulness? Gluttony is a sin, so are all fat people (myself included) destined for the fires of hell? Lying is a sin that I’m sure we’ve all committed at one time or another. The Bible says that to look on someone lustfully is to have committed the sin of adultery in his/her heart… I’m guessing most of us have done that one as well. I just don’t understand why we’ve taken certain sins and put them in the unforgivable category. The only one I’ve found that belongs there is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t understand the rationale of the Westboro Baptist Church. I can’t reconcile to myself that protesting at funerals is the way to make God smile. Jesus said to let him who is without sin cast the first stone. The Bible tells us to love God and love others. We are supposed to be known by our love. How are they showing love? To be completely honest (and that's what I'm trying to do in this blog), it's vastly more difficult for me to keep from judging those who I see as hypocrites than it is to keep from judging my gay and lesbian friends.

Like I said, I rarely talk about anything remotely controversial, and I likely won’t do it again (I’ll stick to my more acceptable ponderings & maybe a recipe here and there), but I just felt that I needed to go on this soapbox rant. I welcome your comments, but remember that I have friends on both sides of this issue. Please be respectful of each other on my page.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Facebook Note That Started It All

Do you see her? That woman over there… at work? …at church? …in your friends list? You know who I’m talking about. That woman who gives off the impression that she is strong, capable, secure & independent.

Don’t simply assume that this is her ‘real self’ that she’s showing. She may not even realize most of the time that others see her as this paragon of strength. She may see herself as a mess. She may look inside herself and see an insecure, unattractive & unloved girl who has had to put on some kind of show for others so they don’t see her pain.

Perhaps she realized long ago that she just doesn’t fit in, and has given up her attempts at true friendship or love. There’s a possibility that she’s been hurt so many times and so severely that she’s terrified of letting anyone in. Maybe her deepest desire is having a loving mate to come home to, but it’s been her experience that no one wants her.

Be careful what you assume about that woman over there… she probably isn’t the person you think she is.

My First Blog

Yes, I am aware that I'm late to the world of blogging. This is my first post... March 7, 2011. I have no idea if I'm sending this into the great void where it will never be read, but I'm writing just the same.

I am unique.

I don't say this because I want to receive special treatment; I say it because it's true. I have never really found the clique to which I belong because I am different. It's difficult for me to find a group of people who accept me for the person I am, but I also don't know how to be someone other than myself. I do, however, wish to thank those who are my friends ~ no matter how odd I appear! Love you!

This is why this blog is about the life and times of Ms. Understood.

Some days you'll find me happy, other days... not so much. But if you keep reading, I'm sure that at some point you will find a topic that resonates with you. You'll read something that makes you think, "Hmmm, I thought I was the only one that ever felt that way." I know this, because after posting a note on my Facebook, I had several women message me to say that they had been there (or were still there).

I hope you find something relevant in my ramblings... enjoy!