Live 4:1 to Play Allen County Fair!

This week I am a very busy girl covering the Allen County (Indiana) Fair for the Local News Network.  Today marked the opening day of the Fair, and as I perused the grounds and schedule for the week, I noticed something I wasn’t expecting to see.

My favorite local worship band, Live 4:1, is playing the fair on Wednesday night at 8 pm!

(Side note: I swear,  nobody ever tells me ANYTHING! )

Of course, I texted my friend and member of the band,  Darlene Bush, the following to give her a hard time: “I see my favorite band is playing the Allen County Fair! ”

Her reply? “Wow! I didn’t know that the (insert name of my former favorite Dove award winning band that we no longer speak of here on Spin: the Blog because a certain member of the band is a big meanie! ) is going to be at the Fair!”

Somehow, I knew she was going to say that.  She, however, didn’t know that my former favorite (and currently unspeakable band) had fallen from my good graces.

This fall from grace has opened the field wide up for me to name a brand new favorite, and luckily for Live 4:1 I picked them.  Bwahahahaha! !!

So, be sure to come out to the Allen County Fairgrounds on Wednesday night for the show at 8 pm!  Admission to the fair is $5, and kids under 5 are free.  Of course, I’ll be there and you can come hang out with me (just as long as you promise not to bring up that one band!  You know, my old favorites 🙂

FYI-the unmentionable band still totally loves me.  As if you had any doubts!

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Sidewalk Prophet’s Devo Video ‘For You Tonight’…and a little story :)

So my pal Jilly must have run out of Chris August videos to watch over on YouTube this week, because yesterday she sent me this link to the newest video in the Sidewalk Prophet’s devotional series for the ‘Live Like That’ album.

I have to admit, I’ve not been keeping up with much of anything lately, video series-es (is that even a word?  I don’t think so…) by the Sidewalk Prophets included.

The thought briefly crossed my mind to just delete the message and move on with life, but then I saw what Jill had written below the link:

“This is gonna make you flip!!!”

Now, that’s a direct quote from Jill, including the three exclamation points.  I’m not sure anyone has ever told me something’s ‘gonna make me flip’, nor can I ever recall flipping, so my interest was piqued.  Curiosity is kind of my downfall, so I went ahead clicked on the link.

By 20 seconds into Dave describing his cornfield adventures with his buddy George, I think I had the biggest smile I’ve had in all of July so far on my face.

This may sound strange, but really it isn’t (I promise).  You see, I grew up surrounded by Indiana cornfields from the time I was 4 months old until I moved out of my parent’s home as an adult, and there was not much I loved more than walking around in the rows of corn in the summer.  My little brother and I would play hide and seek when the corn was tall enough, and sometimes, although I’m not proud to admit this now, we’d let our baby sister tag along with the sole intent of trying to lose her somewhere in rows upon rows of tall green and gold stalks.  (At 6 and 4, it never occurred to us that our Mom would wonder where my sister was when we came home without her.  Not one of our better plans, that’s for sure!) 

One of my favorite things to do, however, was to go out to the secret forest my friend, Greg Green, and I had found one afternoon while roaming the fields.  Greg lived down the road (or across the field, which was shorter) and he was in my class in school.  Because he and his family came to Indiana from Tennessee, he had a rich Southern accent that sounded very mature and worldly.  Also, because he was a boy, he was allowed to tote around a Red Rider BB gun on his back so as far as I was concerned, he might as well have been in his 20’s instead of 6 or 7.

The afternoon we found the secret forest, Greg and I had walked farther into the cornfield behind my house than we had ever walked before.  It was early August, and the corn was high and thick, making it somewhat difficult to see very far in front of me.  Greg walked behind me, I think so he could kick dirt at me and make me turn around and stick my tongue out at him.

Suddenly, I felt the dirt slip beneath my feet and I was sliding down, down, and all I could see was my pink barn boots out in front of me.  When I stopped sliding, I stood up and brushed off my cut off jeans and looked around.

I’m pretty sure my eyes were open about as wide as my mouth.

I looked up, about 2 or 3 feet, to where Greg was still standing, his Red Rider BB gun in hand.

“Whoa,” was all he said.

We had found a place that looked like heaven itself had opened up, and God himself had dropped a perfectly round, lush green forest right in the middle of an Indiana cornfield just for me (okay, and maybe for Greg, too, but technically it was behind my house, so I called dibs.)

In the middle of the forest was a picturesque meadow that, now that I think about it, kind of reminds me of the one from the Twilight movies.  There was also a fishing pond (at least, we thought it was a fishing pond, but I’m not sure we ever really caught any fish.)

It was truly a beautiful, magical, almost mystical place.  In the winter, I would miss that place with all my heart, and sometimes I would worry that come spring it would disappear just as quickly as it appeared on that hot August afternoon.

Of course, it never did…but eventually I grew up, and Greg did too.

I hadn’t thought about that place in years, or even been then in years, when I had my stroke in 2012.

After my stroke, my brain was really confused about a lot of things.  Some things, I couldn’t remember while other things I thought I remembered never really happened.  It was a very stressful time, never knowing if I could rely on my mind and my memories.

When I would sleep, I would dream of that forest, of that place hidden in the cornfields that I had once loved so much, and that was the only time I really felt like I was at peace–when I was asleep, 6 years old again, running thru the cornfields to a secret forest that I believed God had made especially for me.

One day, I casually mentioned this dream to my Mom.  Her head whipped around, and she looked me squarely in the eye.  “Do you mean Terabithia?” she asked.

“Tera-what-ia?” I replied.

“When you were a little girl, you and Greg Green used to go back to the forest in cornfield.  You called it Terabithia, and I would ask you to please call it something else, because the little girl in that book ends up dead when she goes to Terabithia by herself.  It gave me nightmares about you for years,” Mom said.

“Terabithia,” I repeated, trying to feel if the word felt familiar as it crossed my lips.  “You mean, that place is real?”

I was astonished.  In my dreams, in my memories, the details of that place were so clear, so vivid.  I couldn’t believe I was recalling a place from so long ago with such clarity when just the day before when I had woken up it took me a half hour to remember who I was and where I was at.

“Well, it you don’t believe me, go ask Greg.  He’s the Fire Chief of the township now, I bet he’d take you back there if you asked him,” Mom suggested.

I mulled Mom’s idea over in my head for a few days, and then my curiosity got the better of me (once again).  Word of my recent stroke and subsequent traffic accident on the interstate after being dismissed from the hospital had apparently preceded me, as Greg welcomed me to the fire station with, “Glad to see you’re still in one piece, Crash.”  (Yes, that’s my childhood nickname.  I’m epically uncoordinated and generally lacking in gracefulness.)

Since it was the end of February and the fields were still frozen, we didn’t have to walk all the way out to the forest.  Greg commandeered one of the heavy-duty utility trucks from the FD and sure enough, there surrounded by the barren tundra of Indiana farmland in winter was the place I had been dreaming of, less the lush foliage and blue-green water lapping at the edge of the pond (it was frozen).

For hours, Greg and I reminisced about the good times we had at that place.  I questioned Greg about some of my memories, trying to decide just how accurate my mind was (surprisingly. it was spot on when it came to the magical, mystical forest).  We both remembered the day we saw the deer, a huge buck, standing by the pond in early fall, and how the deer had quietly watched us for a while before stalking off into the trees.

The deer must have sensed that Greg was not a threat to him with his Red Rider BB gun.

On the way back, I asked Greg why he had always insisted on walking behind me on our adventures in the corn instead of in front of me.  “After all, you were the one with the BB gun,” I reminded him.

He laughed, and I noticed he still had that same old Southern boy accent he’s always had.  “I liked watching the way your pigtails swished over your shoulders when you ran ahead of me,” he said with a smile.  “That, and it was fun to try to get you to stick your tongue out at me.”

 

Later that night, I asked my mom why she thought I was able to remember the forest so clearly when other things seemed to have slipped away, and I didn’t know if they would ever come back.

“Maybe some things are just so special to us that they are written upon our hearts, Beth,” Mom said softly, putting an arm around me.  “You remembered that place with all of your senses, not just your mind.  A special place like that, in a special time in your life-like that, isn’t soon forgotten.”

 

 

So, as I sit here thinking about all the amazing places hidden in Indiana cornfields, and devotional videos, and old friends, and smart Moms and our heavenly Father who loves us so much, I can’t help but smile.

We all have our own stories to tell, and while sometimes they may be similar or have some uncanny parallels, I think what lies at the heart of every story that is worth telling is love.  When you look closely at love, particularly at how our heavenly Father reveals His love for us, I think you’ll find it is frequently shown in the details that are easily overlooked.

Maybe as kids, we see this kind of thing more clearly.  When I was six, I knew without a doubt who created that special place hidden away in the cornfield.  I also knew who He made it for (ME!)

What I didn’t realize at the time was that He was going to use this very place to one day bring me peace and comfort during a troubled time in y life.  Make no mistake, it wasn’t a coincidence that I dreamt of the forest after my stroke, or a fluke that I remembered all of the details with such vivid clarity that I could literally hear the rustling of the corn stalks as I saw myself as a little girl running between the perfectly aligned rows.  I could feel the sunlight dancing warm and soft against my skin again, and smell the familiar scents of the earth beneath my feet.

He planned those moments for me, and had a purpose in mind for them far greater than I could have imagined as a brown-haired, green-eyed little girl with pigtails so long ago.

You know what else?  If you are reading this, He loves you, too, every bit as much as He loves me.  Even if you’re hurting, even if you’re angry, even if you’re feeling broken, and especially if you think there’s no possible way He could ever love you after what you have done, I’m here to tell you with 100% certainty that He does love you.

Not only that, but He wants to heal you when you’re hurting, soothe you when you’re angry, and restore all the pieces of your broken heart to something even better than it ever was before.

Oh, and you know that one thing?  You know, that one thing that you did that you’re sure He will never, ever be able to forgive you for because it was that bad?  That one thing that’s left you in a really bad place because you know you’ve messed up, and things have just gone too far this time?

I do know, because I’ve been there.  I also know that there is no place that far that God can’t reach you, my friend.

He has plans and a purpose for moments in your life that you can’t even begin to imagine right now.  I bet if you think back and reflect on the story of your life tonight, you’ll see His love for you in the details, too.  He’s there, if only you will seek Him.

Like the Sidewalk Prophets song that started this lengthy blog so eloquently says, “There is a Hope with arms open wide… for you tonight.”

So, go running towards that Hope like you’re a 6-year-old Beth in an Indiana cornfield, headed for her favorite place.

That place, safe in His arms, is truly the best place ever.

 

Parker’s Story

parker

I always love the movies when someone sees someone from afar at the beginning of a movie, and they instantly know from that moment on that this one person is really, really special. Then, the rest of the movie is chaos and mayhem as the character tries to figure out what exactly that something “special” is.

A few cases in point: Serendipity with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsdale, (sort of) August Rush with Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, or While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, and Peter Gallagher.

If you haven’t seen these movies, you really should. They are all fantastic (particularly While You Were Sleeping)!

The story you are about to read, however, isn’t about a movie from 1995. It’s actually about a story from my own life that has a similar element to it (although, sadly, it’s not a crazy Beth style full of mishaps love story. I know, too bad!)

Let’s rewind a bit to Canal Days back at the beginning of June, and perhaps even a bit before that.
When I was planning the Faith & Family Night event for Saturday night featuring Love & the Outcome and the Sidewalk Prophets, I prayed a lot.

A lot a lot.

I prayed for good weather. I prayed that we would somehow come up with all the sponsorships that we needed. I prayed that I would somehow, someway figure out what the heck I was doing and not make a train wreck out of the whole thing.

I think my most fervent prayer was this: that even if it poured down rain and we ran out of money and the Sidewalk Prophets ended up playing an acoustic set in my driveway for 12 people, at least one heart somewhere in the general vicinity of the 46774 zip code would be changed for the better by something they saw or heard at Faith and Family Night.

Well, I’m happy to report that the weather was perfect on Saturday, June 8th. I did not manage to singlehandedly bankrupt the Canal Days Festival Committee (yippee!) By all accounts, the evening was far from a train wreck and an estimated 4,000 people turned out in the park for the show. (Considering that in previous years we normally drew crowds of about 40 for a show, I was happy with 4,000!)

The only thing I didn’t know was who my ‘one’ was—my one person that I had hoped for, and prayed for. I knew it was likely that I would never really know, and I was actually very content with that as I stood backstage with my sound and lighting guru Nate, looking out at all of the smiling faces who were singing and praising the name of Jesus in Schnelker Park.

I watched as one little boy, maybe my son’s age, caught my eye near the front of the stage. He was singing along with Dave of the Sidewalk Prophets to one of my favorite songs, ‘You Love Me Anyway’, with his eyes closed and his green wristband strapped arms raised in the air.

I’m pretty sure my heart smiled.

For me, that was the face and the moment from Faith & Family Night that I won’t ever forget.
(Okay, so maybe I should be completely honest here. Perhaps the reason I noticed the little boy was his t-shirt. He was wearing a completely awesome blue t-shirt that, at first glance, looked like a Superman shirt. I am a lifelong Superman fanatic. If e-Bay had been around when I was 5, I would have sold my little brother online so I could have his Superman underoos. Anyways, the t-shirt the little boy was wearing wasn’t a Superman t-shirt—instead of an S in the middle of the chest, it had a cross. To quote my own son at age 3, “Jesus is the best superhero ever, Mommy!”)

A few days after Faith & Family Night, I received a message in my “Other” mailbox from people I am not currently friends with on Facebook. This box usually has some interesting mail in it; on this particular day, however, I found a message that said the following: “Beth, here is a picture of my son who LOVES Jesus at the Sidewalk Prophets concert.”

Right below the message was a picture of the moment I remembered from Faith & Family Night. The little 6-year-old boy in the blue Superman style t-shirt, arms up in the air was in my inbox.
His name is Parker, and he may very well be my Faith & Family Night one.

Several days later, I made an appointment to go over to Parker’s house to find out more about this little kid who I had been told talks to the kids on the school bus about Jesus. Parker was smiling out thru the window at me, and he was waving a small piece of paper in the air.

“Look what I’ve got!” he said as soon as I walked in the door. Upon closer examination, I realized he had torn off the page that the Sidewalk Prophets had autographed on his ‘Live Like That’ CD cover.
To put it mildly, the autographed sheet was looking incredibly loved.

“Whose name is that?” Parker asked me, pointing at the different signatures. “What instrument do they play?” he wanted to know. I answered his question, to which he replied “Wow! Wow! Wow!”

On a nearby couch, Parker’s mom, Valerie, sat covered up with a blanket, her multi colored medications lined up in dozens of syringes in front of her on the coffee table.

I actually remembered Valerie as well Parker from Faith & Family Night, because she had been in a wheelchair, sporting a freshly implanted medical infusion port on her chest with IV lines racing up and down her arms. While waiting in line for a Sidewalk Prophets autograph, she had nervously asked me, “Do you think they will take a picture with me even though I’m in a wheelchair?”

Without hesitation, I had replied, “Sweetie, you’re in a wheelchair. I’m pretty sure they would do anything you asked them to as long as it isn’t illegal or immoral.” She laughed, and sure enough, got the picture she wanted a few minutes later.

This particular night in Valerie’s living room, however, she began telling me the story of how she is currently battling Lyme Disease, and how she didn’t always attend Christian music concerts; in fact, it wasn’t until Parker was born after a difficult pregnancy and was placed in the NICU that she had her first real encounter with our loving and merciful Savior.

“It was 2 am in the morning, and I had snuck out of my hospital room and went down to the NICU,” Valerie told me, “and the beeping and the noises from Parker’s bassinet was driving me crazy. I didn’t know if he was going to be okay.”

Valerie stopped for a moment, drawing a shaky breath before continuing on. “My Mom had been going to church for several years, and had been asking me to go with her, but I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t need any of that.’ Then, at 2 am in the NICU, I dropped to my knees because I couldn’t handle this on my own anymore. I prayed, ‘God, if you are there, I need to know. This is too much for me.’”

What happened next, says Valerie, changed her life forevermore.

Parker’s respiration levels immediately leveled.

His heartbeat regulated.

The beeps were silenced.

“There was just silence,” recalls Valerie. “The hairs on my arms literally stood on end. It was incredibly powerful.”

From then on, Valerie said, she was going to follow Christ.

So was Parker.
She remembers a time when Parker, just 3 years old, was playing outside with his Tonka trucks. Parker had lined up the trucks, talking to a broom in his hand as Valerie and her mother watched from the porch, wondering what he was up to.

Eventually, it dawned on them he was preaching the story of John the Baptist to the Tonka trucks.

At 6 (and 1/2!), Parker still knows his stuff when it comes to Bible, and he still has a big heart for Jesus.

Parker remembers when he was 5 years old, driving along in the car he heard a song on the radio and prayed that Jesus would come into his heart and live. That day was so special he can even tell you the exact day it happened: September 30th, 2012.

Of course, I wanted to talk to Parker about music since it’s kind of my thing. Parker says some of his favorites are Skillet and the Newsboys—he really likes the songs “Monster” by Skillet and “God’s Not Dead” by the Newsboys. He also likes Chris Tomlin, and of course, the Sidewalk Prophets.

While I wanted to know more about Parker and his musical favorites, he wanted to know more about the Sidewalk Prophets; for instance, who was standing where on stage? Who was the guy wearing the hat? Who was the guy with the beard? Who was the happy guy playing the drums? Do you think they remember me? Where was the tambourine? (Sadly, I did not have an answer to that question!)

When I managed to squeeze in a final question of my own, I asked if there was anything else I needed to know about him, Parker responded enthusiastically, “I’m a big Christian! And I’ve read the whole Bible!”

He proudly held up his copy of the Beginner’s Bible. I was notably impressed.

Parker’s mom Valerie says that since attending Faith and Family night earlier this June, and meeting the Sidewalk Prophets, Parker is more aware of Christian behaviors and his faith. According to Valerie, the knowledge that everyone around him at Faith and Family Night knew God and knew the words to the songs made a huge and lasting impression on him.

That’s quite a coincidence, since Parker has made a lasting impression on me.

After getting to know Parker, I was pretty sure he might be interested in a career in music. Pair up his love of music with his public speaking tendencies at the tender age of 3 and the fact that he’s super cute, and I think this kid could go pretty far.

Granted, Parker does want to go far in life; however, he wants to go there as an astronaut, not as a musician.

This started me thinking in a roundabout way again about Parker’s blue t-shirt, the one that initially made an impression on me because it reminded me of Superman. In the new Man of Steel movie about Superman, it is revealed that the S on Superman’s chest isn’t really an S at all, but a symbol for hope on the planet Krypton.

I’m thinking that the way Parker’s blue t-shirt is reminiscent of Superman is quite serendipitous because it is replaced with a cross; Jesus is the ultimate hope, the one true hope that we have in this world.

When Parker’s mom, Valerie, was on her knees in the NICU, He was there to give her hope in one of the darkest times a mother can ever face. It’s obvious, at least to me, that His hand has been on Parker ever since.

That same hope now shines in and through Parker. His smile, his laughter are his school bus testimony;  my hope has been re-affirmed in the goodness of people because of him.

For this, I am very thankful that Parker is my Faith & Family Night one.

Very thankful.

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
1 Timothy 4:12

When Work Has You Hiding Under A Desk…

If you happened to call my cell phone this morning, this is the message you might have heard between the hours of 8 am and 9:30 am.

“Hi, this is Beth.  You have reached my voice mail.  I can’t come to the phone right now because I am currently hiding underneath my desk.  If you leave a message, I’ll try and call you back…that is, if I ever come out.  Have a nice day!”

You know, from my vantage point underneath my desk I discovered a whole new world that I kind of liked.  I took my iPhone with me, so I could still text and be texted by those fortunate enough to have my digits.  I could check my e-mail and catch up with my Facebook friends.  I took one of my devotionals with me so I could have some alone time with Jesus.  I even found my favorite pen that has been missing for a few weeks down there, and a sticky note with some important information on it that I really needed like, yesterday.

All in all, hiding under my desk turned out to be one of the best decisions I made all morning.

About 20 minutes into my retreat, my phone buzzed.  I had received a text from my friend Jill.

It simply said, “Beth?”

I texted back, “Good morning!” with two smiley faces and a balloon.  I like balloons.

Jill replied, “Are you really hiding under your desk?”

“Yep,” I texted back.  “I most certainly am.”

“I am dying to know why.”  I sensed sarcasm in her text.

“The world has gone nuts,” I replied.  “Completely N-U-T-S.”

“What really happened?” Jill asked.

“OK, so yesterday I came in to work and tried to quit my job,” I texted.

Tried to quit your job?”  Jill replied.

“Yeah,” I said.  “But somehow, things got all mixed up and I think I ended up agreeing to work here forever and quitting all my other jobs that I love.”

“Oh good Lord,” Jill texted back.  “How did that happen?”

“Well, one minute I was telling him how I really did not think that this job was the right fit for me, and that the timing wasn’t going to get any better for me to pursue my dreams of writing full-time,” I said.

“And then…” Jill asked.

“And then the next thing you know, we’re talking about how I should think things over during the summer after I quit all my “extra-curricular” jobs to reduce my stress,” I texted, beginning to feel a mild case of hyperventilation coming on.

“Oh boy, Beth.  This kind of stuff only happens to you.  Want me to come break it down for him?”

“Nah, that’s okay.  I’ve got this.”  I replied.  Maybe.

“Well, you can’t hide under that desk forever.”  Jill texted back.

Actually, I probably could.  I have protein bars in my desk drawer and a water cooler next to my desk.  I could last for a    l o n g     time.

Deep down in my heart, though, I knew Jill was right.  As much as I might want to, I couldn’t hide under my desk forever.  I’m a grown up.  I have responsibilities.  Plus, it’s Wednesday night, I have plans to go out with my friend Sarah for dinner.

It was time to take my show on the road, so to speak, to come out from under the desk and do what I had to do.

“Remember who you are:” my phone pinged from Jill.

“You are uniquely and wonderfully made with many gifts.”

“You are a dreamer, a visionary, an encourager.”

“Go get ‘em!”

Truth be told, I think my friend Jill is really the encourager in this scenario and I totally love her for it; but her words made me think about something I read while I was hiding under my desk.

In Romans 12:6-8 it says, “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.  So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.  If your gift is serving others, serve them well.  If you are a teacher, teach well.  If you gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.  If it is giving, give generously.  If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.  And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

I know what my gifts are.  I also know that my current job, the one I tried and unsuccessfully attempted to quit yesterday, is barely scratching the surface when it comes to tapping in to the many gifts I have to offer.

I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that is not at all what God wants for my life.  God gave each of us gifts so that we might use them to glorify Him and make His name known to the world.  It is a part of our holy calling to use these gifts to the best of our abilities, and when we use all of our gifts for Him, oh, what an amazing difference we will make in our families and communities.

As I write this blog, I can’t help but smile as I remember singing the song ‘This Little Light of Mine’ as a little girl.  In the song, there was a verse that went ‘Hide it under a bushel…NO! I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.’

Perhaps a more appropriate verse for me today would be ‘Hide under a desk…NO!  I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.’

So, I’m officially going to do it.  I’m quitting my job.  No ‘trying’ about it.  I’m going to do what I’ve always dreamed of doing, and I’m going to do it in a super spectacular, big way.

There’s no time to lose!  (But first, I think I need to take some Tylenol…I think I bumped my head on the keyboard tray when I was crawling out from under the desk.  That kinda hurt.)

Sidewalk Prophets Release Acoustic Video for “Help Me Find It”

True story:  my friend Jill said to me just the other day, “If I had a dollar for every time you wrote about something you ‘love’ on either of your blogs, I’d have approximately a million dollars.”

I beg to differ; by my calculations, she would actually have about $368.

I will admit, I get the reasoning behind Jill’s gross overgeneralization, I really do.  I tend to go a little overboard at times raving about stuff I like.  A case in point might be that I’ve written a time or ten about how much I like the Sidewalk Prophets.  (If Jill had a dollar for every time I’ve written about the Sidewalk Prophets, she’d have at least $10 based upon a quick check of my blog’s search engine.)

So, with this in mind and to appease (maybe) my friend Jill, I’m going to post the acoustic video for the Sidewalk Prophet’s latest single, ‘Help Me Find It’ without saying a whole lot about whether I like it or not.

(Okay, so maybe I can’t help myself.  I do like the song, but I have unresolved issues with it.  If you would like a glimpse inside the mind of Beth, keep reading, otherwise just come back tomorrow).

What I will say is, for some reason I feel compelled to whip out a pencil and diagram the sentence ‘Help Me Find It’ every time I type  ‘it’ out.

Why, you might be thinking to your self?

Well, I have narrowed this compulsion down to the fact that the sentence ends in ‘it’.

Is that even allowed in proper English (you know, ending a sentence with ‘it’)?

What the heck is ‘it’ referring to, anyway?  Since ‘it’ is a pronoun, shouldn’t there be a noun in the sentence somewhere?  I mean, really?

I blame my 9th grade English teacher, Mr. Brittan, for my grammar/spelling hang-ups, may he rest in peace.  Generally a day doesn’t go by that I don’t feel like I am back in 9th grade English class again listening to him harp at my class about not using “be” verbs in our written papers, and Lord help you if you ended a sentence in a preposition.  Mr. Brittain was cantankerous and gruff and a stickler for the rules of the English language, but if you earned an A in his class you could easily earn an A in any English class anywhere, ever (including college).

I’m not sure I specifically remember much else from high school, but everything I learned in Mr. Brittain’s class is still at the forefront of my mind.

I may have earned my A in Mr. Brittain’s class, but at this point I’m thinking I may need some kind of support group to help me  get over my proclivities towards diagraming sentences and reading the updated and revised 3rd edition of the Grammar Handbook.

Anyway, in spite of my aversion to the aforementioned song’s title, I like it (whatever it may be).  I think you’ll like it, too, as does my friend Jill, even though she won’t admit it.  (I’m suddenly  feeling compelled to use the word ‘it’ a lot and  to write all of my sentences so they end with ‘it’.  It may be time to stick a fork in it and call it a good night, don’t you think?)

Yeah, it sure is.  (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

 

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In completely unrelated news (well, maybe not completely unrelated news), I had the chance to interview the Sidewalk Prophet’s lead singer Dave Frey last week about the band’s upcoming visit to my adoptive hometown this June.  One of the things we talked about is the ‘cloud of witnesses’ that’s mentioned in Hebrews 12:1 and how they have touched our lives.

Mr. Brittain was definitely one of the witnesses in my life during my turbulent teen years (okay, so they really weren’t all that turbulent but it is a way more interesting description). 

I know without a doubt that my life was changed forever for the better by being one of Mr. Brittain’s students.

I’m not an overly sentimental person and I don’t keep a lot of stuff unless it is really super special to me.  One of the things I’ve kept over the years is a term paper I wrote about the book ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ during my freshman year in his class.  That big red A and the few simple words he wrote at the bottom of the page made me think that if Mr. Brittain thought I had a gift for writing, maybe I did have a gift for writing.

That was one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given.

Thanks, Mr. Brittain.

 

ROBERTEBRITTAIN_4191

Mr. Brittain,

one of the teachers that most influenced my life

(and we aren’t just talking about my neuroses!)

He would no doubt disapprove of this blog in its entirety 🙂

To read more about Mr. Brittain’s life, click here:  http://tinyurl.com/bw44ghr

Jill Has a Beth Moment: The David/Michael Phelps Story

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What you are about to read is a true story about the funniest conversation I may have ever had with my friend Jill.  I love it when she says something ridiculously wrong.  It makes me feel like I’m not the only one who frequently opens their mouth only to insert a foot.

Setting:  A balmy afternoon in late November, inside Beth’s 2012 Honda Civic, while driving down Jefferson Boulevard in Fort Wayne.  The radio station WBCL is playing Christmas music in the background.  When the song ends, an announcer begins to speak.

Announcer:  Friends, please welcome David Phelps and his Christmas Tour to First Assembly of God here in Fort Wayne on Tuesday, December 18th for two shows beginning at…

Jill (looking out the window):  Do you have tickets for that?  That’s one concert I’d like to see!

Beth (sounding surprised):  Really?  No, I don’t have tickets for that one.  I’ll be in Minnesota that week.

Jill:  Too bad.  I’d like to go just to see if he wears all of his gold medals while he sings.

Beth:  What?

Jill:  I said I’d like to go to that concert just to see if he wears all of his gold medals while he sings.  Do you think he wears a Speedo during any part of the show?  I’d definitely go to see that, too!

Beth (very confused):  Jill, what on earth are you talking about?  What medals?  And why would he wear a Speedo during a Christmas concert?

Jill:  You mean you don’t know who David Phelps is?  He’s that famous Olympic Swimmer that won all the gold medals during the Olympics.  Apparently he sings during the off-season from swimming.

Beth (laughing hysterically, which causes her to drive erratically):  Jill, I think you’re thinking about Michael Phelps, the swimmer…not David Phelps, the Christian singer.

Jill (turning bright red and beginning to laugh):  You know, I thought it was a little unfair that God would create one person who could both swim like a fish and sing like an angel.

Beth:  You’re right, that would be totally unfair.

Jill:  Promise me you won’t write about this on your blog.

Beth:  This story is too good not to share on my blog!

So, for those of you may be confused like my friend Jill about the upcoming David Phelps concert at First Assembly here in Fort Wayne:  David Phelps and Michael Phelps are two completely different people.  If you show up to the concert hoping to see Michael wearing his Olympic Gold Medals and/or a Speedo, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed.  If you just want to catch a great Christmas show, however, you’ll most likely be pleased with what David Phelps has to offer.  For ticket information, click here.

One last thing, in case you were wondering:  Michael Phelps and David Phelps are not related, unless you count having the same Father in heaven and the same Uncle (Sam) in Washington, D.C.

How Love, Love, Love Saved The Day

Sidewalk Prophets – Love, Love, Love

The time is now 12:02 am (for those of you wondering, yes, 12:02 am Daylight Savings Time.)  I’m sitting at my kitchen table eating some weird soup with spinach and meatballs made out of chicken in it.  According to the label on the can, this particular soup is “all natural and gluten-free.”  The “meatballs “are supposedly made from chickens that were raised on an organic diet in a humane environment.

With the exception of ending up in my soup, I’m thinking those chickens may have had a better quality of life than I do.

I know I should be in bed, asleep, but instead I am sitting here debating the merits of all natural chicken soup and thinking about an interaction I had earlier today with one of my favorite little people in the whole world, 3-year-old Ned.  I’ve known Ned now for well over half of her life, and I’d like to think that she has picked up some of her more endearing qualities from me.  (Truthfully, my influence probably has very little to do with how completely awesome Ned is.  I’m pretty sure Ned has two of the most amazing parents ever to thank for her awesomeness!)

Ned and I always have some pretty interesting, thought-provoking conversations (at least, they are thought-provoking on my end.  What can I say, in addition to being super awesome, Ned is super smart!)   Today was no exception to the rule, but the way my thoughts were provoked came in a different manner than usual.

Things were trucking along very smoothly this afternoon, when completely out of the blue I heard a wail unlike anything I had ever heard before come from the other side of the room.  In a nanosecond, Ned was standing in front of me, holding her finger.  (So you can see what I was dealing with here, I took a picture.)

Ned

For sure, I thought she had lost a finger by the way she was crying.  Normally, Ned is not a big crier.  After counting all of her digits to make sure we weren’t missing any, I did the next logical thing and looked for blood.  There wasn’t any, not even a drop.

Okay, this was odd.

Next, I checked all of her fingers for a splinter even though I have no idea where she would have gotten a splinter from considering we don’t really have any wood lying around.

No splinters.

I asked Ned to show me where it hurt, and she pointed at one of her fingernails.

Little Miss Ned had broken a nail, and apparently, it was the end of the world.

“Ned, are you sure it really hurts that much? My fingernails break all the time, and it doesn’t usually hurt,” I asked.

“Miss Beth, can’t you see?  I’m broken!” Ned wailed, and in a moment of over the top dramatics that would probably have won her a Daytime Television Emmy had she been on a soap opera instead of at daycare, collapsed on the floor.

“Ned, can I get you a Barbie Band-Aid?” I asked.

“No,” she sniffed.

“Ice pack?”

Her bottom lip popped out and began to quiver.  I took that as a negative.

“Can I give it a kiss?” I suggested.

“Waaaaah!” she cried, loudly.

“Is there anything I can do to make your owie feel better?” I asked.

Ned stopped crying.  “Uh huh,” she said, holding up her finger in front of my face.  “I want love love love.”

My heart softened.  “Aw, come here sweetheart,” I replied, holding my arms out to her for a hug.  “Come, sit with me and I will give you some love!”

The crying started again.  “No, I want love love love!” Ned sniffled thru her tears.

I was confused.  “Say what?” I asked.

Ned pointed at the stereo.  “Love, love, love.  Now!”

That’s when it hit me.  She wanted to listen to her favorite song, the Sidewalk Prophet’s ‘Love, Love, Love.’

Okay.

I pulled up the song on the iTouch and immediately all of the other kids began to have a dance party.  Everyone, that is except for Ned.

Ned took her wounded finger and laid down on her nap time cot, listening to ‘Love, Love, Love’ on repeat until, miracle of miracles, she was healed.

Later in the afternoon, Ned came and sat with me and together we looked at her finger.  The broken part of her fingernail had fallen off, and while Ned was deeply concerned that she was now “missing one of her pieces,” I tried to assure her that what remained was a completely normal looking 3 year old’s pointer finger.

As we examined her finger, Ned looked at me with her chocolate pudding eyes, rested her head against my shoulder and said, “When we have a bad owie and are missing some of our pieces, all we really need to make it better is love, love, love.”

Like I said before, Ned is one smart little cookie.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ned and her broken fingernail since this afternoon.  It occurred to me that perhaps Ned’s broken fingernail is a lot like many of the other hurting souls we all walk amongst every single day.  For sure, most people are not going to be as demonstrative about their pain as Ned was today.  In fact, a lot of people go to great lengths to cover up their pain to the outside world; yet their pain remains, a throbbing, stubborn hurt that doesn’t go away.

Ned’s words, “Miss Beth, can’t you see?  I’m broken!” reverberate in my mind.

I wonder how many times I have glanced at someone else in my daily life who is dealing with this kind of hurt and not really seen the pain that lies beneath.  How many times did I walk on by because they weren’t obviously disfigured by their pain?  Did I not see, not take the time to care because there wasn’t copious amounts of blood flowing from their pain?

I want to see, Ned, I really do, but sometimes, it’s hard to see the pain of others thru the lens of my own brokenness.

What amazes me the more I think about Ned and her broken fingernail, however, is the fact that at just three years of age, my little friend already knows the answer to our brokenness and pain.  She knows what will make us feel better when we hurt.

When we have a bad owie, she knows that all we really need is love, love, love.

I’m pretty sure wiser words have never been spoken by a three-year old anywhere, ever.

Now, here’s the ironic twist to this story.  You know how I mentioned I was looking for major wounds, and blood, and splinters when Ned came to me in pain at the beginning of this story?

Well, the love, love, love that heals even the worst owies was first wounded for us so that we might live.

His splinter was a cross.

His blood literally poured from his hands, feet, and sides.

He was completely and utterly broken.  For us.

His death and His pain served only to bring healing and redemption.  To us.

Until we come to know Him, the Love that has no end, we will remain in our own brokenness and pain, unable to help others or even ourselves; but once we know Jesus, there is no owie that is too deep for Him to heal, no pieces of our hearts that are too finely shattered to be put back together.

Not one.

While we might not be able to see what is broken, He can.

While we might not be able to find all of the pieces of our broken hearts, He can.

I pray that if you are hurting tonight, you will turn to Him in your brokenness and give Him all of the pieces of your broken heart to put back together again.

Remember, as my friend Ned so wisely said to me earlier today, “When we have a bad owie and are missing some of our pieces, all we really need to make it better is love, love, love.”

Oh, and just one more thing–“God is love.”  1 John 4:8.

Dealing With the Spiritual Blah-dee-dahs

I’m about to be very real with you, so buckle up.

I’ve been experiencing a significant case of the spiritual doldrums lately.  No doubt this kind of thing happens to the
best of us, and in my case, it happens to the rest of us, too.  While this summer I was on fire (and really, for full effect you have to read that as “on fi-yah”) for the Lord, as of late I’m just kind of feeling ho-hum.

Kind of dull.

Kind of blah-dee-dah.

Don’t get me wrong or anything, I’m still all in, Team Jesus all the way.  I’m just lagging in my usual joyful exuberance and inspirational overload that I’m used to; hence, the overabundance of stories lately on my blog about drunk driving pet squirrels, car jacked three-legged turtles named Stumpy, and dog poop.

I admit, a big part of my problem is other people.  If I didn’t have to deal with other people, particularly other people who I find annoying and downright stupid at times, I would be fine.  In fact, my life would probably be so fine I’d waltz around spontaneously singing show tunes and dancing with an umbrella in the middle of Broadway Street in the rain if the opportunity presented itself.

Unfortunately, my life is not a screenplay and I am not able to write out all of the annoying and seemingly stupid people who are keeping me from singing show tunes and dancing in the streets.  I’m kind of stuck with them, and if I’m being honest, a few of them are really bringing me down.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, either.  Two weeks ago, my BFF and I had one of our traditional GNOs (girls night outs) that consists of a trip to Barnes & Noble after our boys are put to bed for a cup of joe and a shared dessert of the decadent variety.  We catch up on all the things we don’t normally have a chance to catch up on during the rest of the week.  Normally, there is a lot of laughter involved.

The entire evening costs way less than a trip to a mental health counselor with far better results.

Our last GNO, however, ended up being more of an all out vent fest.  It seems that my BFF and I have a lot in common, including the same taste in annoying and stupid people.  We ranted, we vented, we griped for two hours about everything that was wrong with these people, everything that wasn’t going the way we wanted it to in our lives, and everything else that we could think of that was remotely negative.

The fine staff of Barnes & Noble had to throw us out of the store because we weren’t done with our tirade yet; so, we left and continued our diatribe from Fort Wayne all the way back to New Haven to my friend’s house, where we sat in the driveway and continued to talk for at least another 45 minutes.

Maybe it was the coffee talking, but I don’t think so.

Here’s the thing.  One would think that after all of this pent-up stuff was let out, we would feel better, right?  The truth of the matter is, I know I didn’t.  I know my friend didn’t, either.  The next day, I felt just as insipid as I did the day before, and perhaps even more so.  I really thought that a GNO with my Bestie would make everything better.  It didn’t.

Where did I go wrong?

As I strolled along my street the next morning, the beautiful fall leaves creating a colorful tapestry beneath my feet, I mulled over the night before in my head.    Seemingly out of nowhere, the following conversation took place in my head: (Side Note:  Mom, if you’re reading this, I apologize.  I know it makes you nervous when I start talking about the voices inside my head.  I promise you, though, they are completely harmless and I have been taking my medication 🙂

Voice:  ‘You know where you went wrong, don’t you?’

Me: ‘Uh, no.’

Voice:  ‘You did a lot of talking.  You did a lot of complaining and griping.  You didn’t do any thanking for what is going right, and you didn’t do any praying for what you want to see changed, or for what you need help with.’

Me: (Silence)

Voice: ‘Oh, and Beth?  Maybe you should consider praying for those people you’ve labeled annoying and stupid.  Maybe they need your prayers more than anyone else.’

Me: (More Silence)

That’s where the conversation ended.  I had nothing more to add, primarily because I knew the voice in my head was 100% right.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to do about it, though.

After some thought, I realized that perhaps my friend and I needed to revamp our GNO into a GBSNO (girls Bible study night out).  We could still do our traditional Barnes & Noble thing.  We could still have coffee and chocolate or whatever other calorie laden dessert strikes our fancy at the Starbucks counter.  Just from now on instead of babbling on and on for over two hours about all that is wrong in our worlds, we’re going to have a purposeful time of prayer and Bible study.

Yep, we’re going to make positive changes in our world and it feels really, really good!

Tonight is our first GBSNO and we’re cheating a little teeny bit, or rather, we’re celebrating in a big way our new adventure.  We’re taking our GBSNO on the road to the Hundred More Years concert tour featuring Francesca Battistelli, the Sidewalk Prophets, City Harbor and Andy Cherry.  There will be absolutely no ranting allowed in the car on the way to the show,  though.  Praying will be allowed, as will reading the Bible.  (Well, I won’t be reading the Bible since I will be driving.  That would be kind of dangerous I suppose.)  I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

What I want to know is, how do you deal with the spiritual blah-dee-dahs?  E-mail me at beth@bethstauffer.com.  I’d love to hear your story!