Saturday, December 29, 2012
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
This One’s for Ruth: My Thoughts on The Sound of Music
The Nuns. I’d love to sing in a multi-part ensemble like that, singing lowest alto. One of the nuns, Sister Sophia,is none other than Marni Nixon. Who is Marni Nixon, you may ask. She’s the talented singer that dubbed the singing voices of several notable film actresses of the day. She sang for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. In the DVD commentary for The Sound of Music, director Robert Wise comments that audiences were finally able to see the woman whose voice they knew so well.
Edelweiss. A lovely song that became a school choir standard in the ’60s. I distinctly remember my third grade teacher (1966-67) saying, “We are not singing Edelweiss for the parents’ program.” We sang Windy, made popular by The Association. My third grade teacher was too cool for school. She also had a blonde “beehive” and wore miniskirts and pink lipstick. She’s the woman who first inspired me to be a writer. I think of her when I hear the song Edelweiss. And silently thank her.
My favorite line. A Nazi sympathizer, Herr Zeller, attends a party at the Von Trapp home. In a tense conversation about Hitler’s suspected invasion into peaceful Austria, the Captain says to Herr Zeller, “If the Nazis take over Austria, you will be the entire trumpet section.”
Zeller responds, “You flatter me.”
And then, the Captain says my favorite line in the movie: “Oh, how clumsy of me. I meant to accuse you.”
It’s nice to have a few movies I can watch again and again “when I’m feeling bad.” They’re like old friends that know just what to say to make me feel better, to help me “sing once more.”
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
I recently read an interesting article called, “Want To Be More Creative? Get Bored.”
The author talked about the value of being bored, of having time to let your mind process problems, time to “do” nothing and just let your brain work.
He said, “I’m not referring to killing time on your smartphone, your iPad, or your laptop. I’m not even talking about paging through a book. I mean bored as in doing absolutely nothing.”
His “bored” time is his daily swim.
“As I power up and down the lanes, I rethink what I've learned. I now have the time and space to solve whatever problems have arisen. It’s an important meeting with myself, and I keep it religiously. Because the day I lose it, I've lost myself.”
I’ve noticed this same phenomenon, but rather than “bored” I’d call it “quiet.” I can remember times when quiet produced some great ideas—things to write about, ways to solve a relationship problem, or even a new way to handle the clutter at my house. These quiet moments usually come in the middle of the night. And I don’t lie awake at night very often. Sleeping is one thing I do very well.
My world is rarely quiet. And I’m entirely to blame. I turn on the TV when I’m getting ready for work. I play the radio in the car. I turn on music when I’m cooking. Why is that? What am I so afraid of?
The only time I listen to the quiet is when I take a walk. I don’t have an mp3 player to take music with me wherever I go. But I dislike quiet so much that I sometimes take a book along and read while I walk. It’s a skill I’ve mastered over the years because I don’t like the “do nothing” feeling I get when I’m walking. I also dislike waiting without something to do. Maybe I need counseling.
God understands the need for quiet. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (King James Version). Look how it’s worded in other versions of the Bible:
“Cease striving and know that I am God” (New American Standard).
“Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God” (Amplified).
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God.” (The Message).
So now what? Do I promise to create some quiet, “boring” space in my life? I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. But I tell ya what: I’ll try. But keep it quiet.
[A Google search for “quiet place” surfaced this clever exercise: http://thequietplaceproject.com/thequietplace I don’t know anything about the source, so please don’t consider this an endorsement of anything weird.]
Monday, March 19, 2012
I hope you’ve read the classic children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. I hope you’ve read it mostly because it’s a tremendous book. But I also hope you’ve read it because it will make you appreciate the kind of week I had.
On Monday, Abby and I were rear ended in the van. It was the other driver’s fault, but the other driver was not going to drive our van to the body shop for estimates. I would have to do that. And when would I find time to do that? I could tell it was going to be a difficult week.
The next day my neck hurt when I turned my head to the left.
Then, on Wednesday, I parked the car downtown. I didn’t know it, but someone went all Rocky on our bumper. My husband discovered the damage the next day. Nobody left a note. Nobody took responsibility. We’d have to pay for the repairs. I could tell it was going to be a difficult week. I think I’ll move to San Diego.
On Saturday, the transmission in the van went out. We couldn’t drive in reverse. Not only would I have to take the van to a body shop for an estimate but now I’d have to take it to the mechanic for repairs. And find another way to get around. I wonder if I could find a way to get to San Diego.
On Sunday the furnace freaked out. It blew cold air. And the fan ran on and on. We turned it off. The house got cold. I bet it’s not cold in San Diego.
The next Monday I drove the van to the body shop for an estimate. On the way there I couldn’t go faster than 30 mph. The transmission was getting worse. I decided not to drive the van to San Diego.
Then my cell phone died. Not ran-out-of-battery-died, but dead died. It really isn’t too surprising. It was practically an antique. But still. I was without a phone. And I’m pretty sure I gave my upgrade to one of my offspring.
This all came at a time when our bank account showed the effects of helping two daughters pay for college. The next few months are likely to be the “tightest” we’ve faced in a long time. So why did God choose this week to have both vehicles damaged, the transmission fail in the van, the furnace die, and my cell phone give out? It seemed like an obvious question. Even for someone in San Diego.
I told my pastor about our string of unfortunate events. He said he was sorry it had been a difficult week. He said I should trust God. He said God was working for my good and His glory. Hmm, not a “poor Becky” in there anywhere. So I decided to trust God.
My friend Randy loaned me his car. His new car. A cute little Mazda stick shift. I had great fun driving it around for a few days. And I realized I had wonderful friends that were willing to trust me with valuable possessions and inconvenience themselves for my benefit. Randy’s Mazda gave us a way to get around while the van was in the shop.
The transmission in the van had been replaced a year ago so it was still under warrantee. It’s now repaired at no cost to us.
The furnace repair man came and flipped a small red switch hidden inside the furnace. We paid only $85. The house was soon as toasty as San Diego.
The other day, as Doug drove home from work, a man pulled up next to him and motioned for him to roll down his window.
“I can pull those dents out for you,” he said. He suggested he and Doug pull into a parking lot to talk. “Most body shops will tell you to replace the entire bumper or the entire side panel,” he said. And he’s right. That’s what we’d been told. “I’ll pull out those dents and you’ll just have a little scratch in the paint.” Doug got his number. We plan to give him a call and see what he can do.
Then, a couple nights ago, I went to the AT&T store. I didn’t have an upgrade on my phone But Doug did. So I used his upgrade and got a groovy new phone with a full keyboard. Only $20 after rebate.
How ‘bout that? My good and God’s glory. And I didn’t even have to move to San Diego.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Through the years, CBS Sunday Morning has been one of my favorite television shows. I say that even though I rarely watch it. The program airs Sunday mornings (obviously), and because I habitually attend church Sunday mornings, I hardly ever see it.
(I know, I could have recorded it, but that would have required me to be organized. However, I recently discovered I can watch it online. Sweet! http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/sunday/main3445.shtml?tag=hdr;snav)
What I love about this show is that it tells human interest stories. It’s not “hard news”; it’s people. It may inform, it may inspire, but it does so by telling someone’s story.
I recently watched a story about a doctor, Richard Olney, who spent decades treating and researching ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) only to be stricken with the disease himself in his late fifties. (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7397610n&tag=contentMain;contentBody)
As his speech faculties began to fail, he recorded his voice on his laptop saying phrases that he thought would be useful to him. He could click a button on his computer and it would broadcast his voice saying, “Good morning,” “Thanks for stopping by,” or “I have a speech problem.”
He also recorded a message for his wife: “I love you, Paula.” The same for his son and daughter.
It prompted me to wonder, “What phrases would I record if I knew I would lose the ability to speak?”
“I love you” is a good start.
“I’m proud of you.”
“Please and thank you.”
“Sing me a song, please.”
“See ya later.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“How may I pray for you?”
“Tell me more.”
On the heels of this mental exercise I read Luke 6:45: The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
The words I speak are formed in my heart. So I’d better be sure my heart is filled with good things. Things like gratitude, kindness, compassion . . . Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Dr. Olney passed away recently. I hope I can learn from his story and chose my words carefully while I still can. Better yet, make right, excellent, and admirable words a natural overflow of what is in my heart.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Yep, That Sounds Like Me
My name is Becky, and I’m a Pharisee.
They say admitting your problem is the first step to recovery, right? So I admit it. I’m a Pharisee.
I credit my pastor with bringing me to this confession. In his sermon Sunday, he suggested we all might have a little Pharisee in us. I had to admit, I have more than a little.
Pharisees were a group of religious leaders in Jesus’ day who were known for their legalistic adherence to Jewish law. As my pastor said, “The Pharisees focused on externals. Pleasing God meant following a list of do’s and don’ts.”
Yeah, that sounds like me.
He went on to say, “The Pharisees viewed themselves as the standard of spirituality. They were spiritually proud.”
The more Pastor talked, the more I heard myself in his words.
I was very “Pharisee” when it came to my reaction to the death of Whitney Houston. I heard people refer to her as a follower of Jesus and I thought, “Really? A drug abuser?”
I did catch myself—“Yes, Becky, Jesus followers can make mistakes and fall victim to addictions.”
But that didn’t stop my self-righteous, legalistic, internal tirade. As images and interviews of Ms. Houston flooded the television I’d think, “Did you see that dress? Did you hear the words of that song? How can she be a Christian and use that language?”
Growing up, I learned to define Christianity as a list of do’s and don’ts. I understood that my relationship with God was based on my faith in Jesus, but from there I added things like--
- “Good Christians don’t go to movies.”
- “Good Christians don’t play cards.”
- “Good Christians don’t dance.”
- “Good Christians don’t swear.”
And the list could go on and on. And so, my friends, that makes me a Pharisee.
But I want to change. I want to stop expecting people to live up to my vain standards. Stop expecting Christians to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, live a certain way. I want to invite the possibility that people like Whitney Houston may know more about faith and the grace of God than I ever will.