This past week I listened to some great Christian music. The song that has been in my head is What Faith Can Do by Kutlass. This song started playing on my Pandora feed just when I needed to hear it. I was feeling some pain and loneliness as I thought about Christian and I was doubting my strength to do all God had given me to do that day.
We all come to places in our lives when we fall on our faces, face health issues or financial uncertainty, or we lose loved ones and face unspeakable heartache. This song is about rising from the ashes to find beauty, never giving up, and not being afraid to take that first step to make a new beginning. God is always by our side and He hears our prayers, even the silent prayer from the heart.
Our valleys may seem deep and unending but the sun will eventually shine. God gives us strength to keep going and because of this we are much stronger than we know. He helps us get through difficulties to get to the side of victory.
Faith gave me courage to get out of bed every morning of the first year after our son passed away. I barely had the strength to pray, but I still did even if it was a simple “God, help me!” Faith gave me the strength to continue caring for my family even though I thought the weight of grief would crush me. Faith helps us see the silver lining during a health challenge and gives us never ending hope. Faith can move the mountains in our lives if we trust God completely.
I hope you enjoy the video. I enjoy almost all of their music and this song will always have a special place in my heart.
Today’s song of the day is Could Have Been Me by The Struts. When I listened to the lyrics, I wanted to jump up and shout the lyrics along with the song.
Don’t wanna live as an untold story Rather go out in a blaze of glory I can’t hear you, I don’t fear you I’ll live now cause the bad die last Dodging bullets with your broken past I can’t hear you, I don’t fear you now
Wrapped in your regret What a waste of blood and sweat Oh oh oh
I wanna taste love and pain Wanna feel pride and shame I don’t wanna take my time Don’t wanna waste one line I wanna live better days Never look back and say Could have been me It could have been me Yeah
Don’t wanna live as an unsung melody I’d rather listen to the silence telling me I can’t hear you, I won’t fear you Don’t wanna wake up on Monday morning The thought of work’s getting my skin crawling I can’t fear you, I don’t hear you now
We all have songs that speak to our hearts. This particular song has since the first time I heard it. I think that three of the worst phrases along with “I can’t” are phrases that include the words coulda, woulda and shoulda. I use these words far more than I ought to and I want to say them less. If I live to be an old woman, I want to look back and know that I lived the best days I could in service and love. I hope to be able to look back and know that I changed the world in some way, even by encouraging and uplifting others.
We all have a song in our hearts and many of us are afraid to live out the melodies that God places in us. Fear can only keep us from living with purpose and without regret if we allow it to. Our pasts cannot keep us from having an excellent finish. When we refuse to allow fear and mistakes of our past to keep us from pursuing our dreams and showing up each and every day as our best selves, then we will not have to say “It could have been me.”
Fall is by far my favorite season. It brings golden leaves, bluer skies, and cool breezes. After a summer dominated by smoke and fire, it was a great relief to see two days of rain and cooler temperatures. I looked out the window and noticed something different along with seeing a blue sky – the trees were swaying. It took me a while to realize that we barely had any wind since the heat and drought set in late June. The wind usually blows so much that we practically fall over when it doesn’t, so welcome back wind! I will try not to complain when you blow my hair all over the place!
With summer coming to a close and fall approaching fast, I wanted to share the highlights of my summer in photos. I went for a visit to Lewistown in June and enjoyed taking Mom to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant. I enjoyed several walks with my family, before the smoke rolled in, on the River’s Edge Trail. My husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary by taking a trip to San Jose and San Francisco. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on foot and it was exhilarating. Finally, in August I was thrilled to see Drew in a tuxedo for the first time for my niece’s wedding.
I admit that the smokey skies made their way into my spirit. I forgot that the smallest of gifts are the most important: a mourning dove perched outside of the dining room window, the chatter of chickadees on my way back to the office, golden spots of sun on the floor, ceramic pigs strategically placed around my house by my neighbor for me to find, time with my husband on the couch watching Suits, and a smile from a coworker.
I came across the quote in the picture above during one of my morning meditation sessions. When we live in our heads, our lives can pass by unnoticed. We miss the bird placed on a branch in the perfect place for us to look up and see him. We miss the cloud in the sky shaped like a heart or the uplifting lyrics of a song. It’s better to let our fearful thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky than to end up underneath them for months, even years. Remember the cartoons when a character had a raining cloud over his head wherever he went? That is exactly what it is like to live in our heads. This is something I am guilty of and I have realized that life is far too precious to go by unnoticed for even a moment.
Next month will be three years since Christian passed away. The turning leaves take me back to the months before his passing and it can be very painful – like it just happened. As the day approaches I want to see the world as I would want Christian to see it – a miracle in process, given to us by a God who loves us.
I grew up in the age of vinyl. My parents had 8 tracks and a player but I went straight for the vinyl. I had my own little record player in my room. I enjoyed listening to my Disney collection, Sesame Street Christmas, and 20 Power Hits albums. My favorite songs off of the 20 Power Hits were Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando and Green Eyed Lady by Sugarloaf. On my parent’s player downstairs, I listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Elton John and Wayne Newton. I developed a crush on Wayne, as I listened to him and stared at his album cover. This was before Bon Jovi came into the picture.
I remember the first cassette I bought – Look What the Cat Dragged In by Poison. I was fascinated because the cassette was clear. My all time favorite cassette was Def Leppard’s Hysteria. That was the first album I ever bought the day it came out. I also bought it on vinyl and I still own it. By the time CD’s entered the picture, I didn’t own a record player and honestly didn’t think much about vinyl. They were never in the stores and the only time I ever saw them was at my parent’s house. The first time my boys saw my parent’s records, they came upstairs exclaiming “Look Mom! Giant CD’s!”
A few years ago, my husband bought me a Music Hall record player for Christmas. He also surprised me with a few new vinyls to start out with. I was ecstatic!
A few weeks ago, a friend of my husband revealed that he had a large collection of vinyl and he wouldn’t mind lending me a few at a time to listen to. He had worked in a record store when he was young and since vinyl could be bought for less than $5 during that time, he ended up with quite a collection. These past few weeks have been a musical journey through time.
I will never forget listening to David Bowie’s Young Americans. David Bowie’s voice filled every room in my house. Among the albums I have been blessed to hear so far are The Fox by Elton John, Dire Straits, Face Value by Phil Collins, Flat as a Pancake by Head East, Loggins and Messina, Dr. Hook, Foghat, Foreigner, and my favorite so far – Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly. He told me Donald Fagen was a huge part of Steely Dan but I didn’t recognize any of the songs. As soon as the needle dropped, I was almost out of my seat as I.G.Y. started playing. If you are scatching your head and wondering what song that is, I almost bet if you start playing it on You Tube or Spotify you’ll say “I have heard that song!” I loved that album so much that I bought a used copy of it from Amazon.
Nothing compares to the sound of vinyl. There is a rawness and a richness that I don’t hear when I play songs from my iTunes library. Sadly, new vinyl is expensive – some albums costing over $30, however it is more worth the cost when they come with a free digital download.
Even if vinyl is not available, it is well worth it to join other people on their musical journeys as they grew up. You may be surprised to hear a song you loved growing up!
After work today, I met my husband and son for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I think we all have one of those. Our favorite restaurant serves authentic cuisine and warm corn chips. Afterward, they were off to play poker and I reluctantly headed home. Alone isn’t a bad thing, but coming home to a quiet, empty house is a painful reminder of the loss. Over Christian’s life, the most time he ever spent away from me was during MDA summer camp which lasted for a week. When you care for a child with special needs, you develop a deeper connection, especially when you physically care for them 24/7. When Christian passed away I felt like I was thrown into an alternate universe. After 16 months I have become used to the new normal, but I still have moments when the realization that Christian isn’t with us makes my world turn on it’s side for a bit. Over time the dizzying effect doesn’t last as long but it will never be easy, just bearable.
Almost every time I have found myself alone in the house missing my boy, I turn on the music. Christian had so much passion for music. He enjoyed 90’s rap like NAS, current rap like Wiz Khalifa and Kid Cudi, and classics such as the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney. He talked me into buying several vinyls during the last year of his life. He encouraged me to buy the vinyl even though I had the CD because the quality would be worth it. Christian even talked me into buying music that he knew I enjoyed but he didn’t much care for either way. He grew to enjoy a lot of my favorite alternative bands like Interpol and Bare Hands.
They say that it changes a person when someone you love dies. That is an understatement. I felt hollowed out for the longest time and had to rediscover who I was. I was a caregiver for both boys for over 10 years. It took me weeks, even months, to stop setting out two sets of pills at mealtime. Not all of the changes have been negative. I would never have believed it if someone told me I would gain anything from losing someone who was as much a part of me as Christian was.
When I see a beautiful sunset, I see so much more than what I used to see. I see something amazing and holy. I feel a stirring inside of me that I have never felt. I see and feel God when I see the rays shining through the clouds, the chickadee in the pine tree, the beautiful pattern on the carpet at work from the sun shining through the window or when I see the stars in the sky. I feel a joy inside that I can’t explain when I look at things that to another person, may seem like nothing. It makes me feel guilty at times. How can I have moments of joy after losing my son and watching Andrew deal with the same complications as Christian did?
When we lean on the Lord, the amazing happens. The journey of grief is far from easy but we do not have to endure it alone. God heals us. God loves us.
As I listened to a song by Deathcab for Cutie, which Christian also enjoyed, I heard guitar melodies I didn’t hear before. Music touches me at a deeper level, bringing me to tears or making me want to get up and dance (listen to Stolen Dance by Milky Chance and you’ll know what I mean). Just knowing Christian and caring for him has given me a deep appreciation for life. I want to reach out and help those who have lost a loved one and I pray and I cry for them. I will not waste my pain. Instead I will find a way to help in a way that I know Christian would be proud of. I hope my posts offer a bit of hope and remind you that you are never alone.
Too many people miss the silver living because they’re expecting gold. -Maurice Setter
When I got married, my husband and I had it all planned out – we would have careers, at least three kids, and we would be the best parents we could be (supportive, encouraging, and active in our children’s lives). The career part worked out eventually. We were young, moved a lot, and anyone who has been in the military knows how difficult it can be to adjust to civilian life. We had two sons and always did everything we could to keep the boys active, healthy and happy.
When the boys were diagnosed in 2001 with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, our dreams started to shatter. Our boys never learned to ride a bicycle with two wheels, they were never able to learn how to drive, or able to participate in team sports. I worked at a title company for a few years before I had to leave to care for the boys due to the progression of their disease. I watched them lose the ability to walk, stand, raise their arms above their heads and I had to feed my oldest son during the last two years of his life. We had to constantly adjust to our new “normal” as the boys needed more and more help with the things most of us take for granted.
Towards the end of Christian’s life, I had more and more difficulty finding the silver lining. It was easier when the boys were younger – so easy to say it would never happen to us. “A cure will arrive in time.” “The disease will stop.” “If I take the best care of the boys that I can, even at the cost of my own health, I can make this monster go away.”
I became miserable because I was focused on the gold that we never found. I can look back now and see that Christian looked for that silver lining up until the last night of his life. He asked me that night if we could take a day trip to Lewistown. He still had hope.
After losing Christian and continuing to watch Andrew deal with some of the same issues and complications Christian dealt with, you would think that the silver lining would be gone for good. How can I see anything good come out of losing my son? What kind of person would that make me? There isn’t a single cell in my body that could possibly be glad my son passed away.
As hard as it is for me to admit, there is still a silver lining. There will never be gold, but I’m okay with that. What is the silver lining? It is contained in the little things – the things that Christian taught me to appreciate. Things like music, a bird on the feeder, sunshine on my face, a chance to make someone smile or laugh, the quiet moments during the day, a cup of hot coffee, being able to spend time with an old friend, or watching a good movie with my family. I can be thankful that Christian is no longer suffering and that he didn’t have to pass away at the hospital, that he will never have to worry about another doctor appointment again, or see fear in my face as I watched him fade, that he is with the Lord, that he is at peace, and that he will only know love.
It is far too easy to focus on what we don’t have instead of what is under our very noses. The all or nothing approach to life only leads to disappointment. What if we were to do our very best with what we have? Why not focus on what a person did right today instead of on what they did wrong last week? If we expect our lives to be perfect, we will miss the miracles – the miracles that surround us each and every day.
As I was on my way to Starbucks for a mocha latte and some book time, Waves by Blondefire played. I heard this song when it first came out and I enjoyed the chorus and the upbeat melody. Sirius XM Alt Nation started playing it frequently so I started hearing the lyrics:
You hear them when you try to fall asleep
They crash to the shore, they come from the deep
As sure as the sun will rise, the sun will set
You taste the salt the closer you get
Picking you up
Pushing you down
They’re always around
Just like dream
Silver and green
We live in between
They can carry you all the way to me
They can pull you out to the deep blue sea
Oh waves, there are waves
Empires will crumble to the sand
All that you love can slip through your hand
But you must face the ocean once again
Follow the tides, wherever you’ve been
Official Music Video
The meaning to this song for me has changed over the years. At first I thought it explained life with it’s ups and down, good days and bad. Go with the flow. Once my oldest son passed away, the meaning became more personal. We rode many waves, huge tidals or everyday waves in dealing with his Muscular Dystrophy. So much felt like a dream and still does at times. I have days when I feel close to him and days when I feel the tidal wave that took him away from me.
Blondefire has positive, clean lyrics with mostly upbeat songs. It’s hard to feel grumpy when I listen to them. I hope you enjoy the music video. Please feel free to comment if you feel a special connection to this awesome tune.