Monday, March 31, 2014

Loss is Gain

I had the best, most exhausting weekend I have had in a long time. In the face of tragedy, I watched The Lord work His magic. I was so blessed to have a front seat for the show. God is the best screenplay writer there is. We are all actors in His drama. 

My 43 year old cousin died tragically on Friday. He just didn't wake up. It is always sad for a young person to pass. My heart aches for his wife and two young children as they are left to live life without their father and husband. 

Growing up, my cousin and I were like peas and carrots. We played together while our parents visited our grandmother. We were the closest in age of all the cousins and we both were the two youngest of the cousins. As adults, we had only seen each other once in past years. At that time I met his wife and first born. My cousin taught me how to suck a honeysuckle. I will never forget that day. We had gone to his house in the country and we played outside while our dads visited. He took me to the row of honeysuckle and showed me how to eat one. Life skills 101:  suck honeysuckle. Everyone should learn. He taught me. 
For whatever reason that doesn't even matter now, my dad and my aunt had not had contact with their brother for years. They missed him terribly. We all wondered if their brother, my cousin's dad would be at the funeral home. He was too sad to attend our grandmother's funeral so thus, our wondering of whether we would see him for his son's funeral. The loss of a child is the worst pain anyone can experience. We all ached for my aunt and uncle, my cousin's parents.  Upon arrival at the visitation, we saw my uncle. My dad immediately went to talk to him. It was a moment that was years in the making. My dad had missed his brother so much. 
My uncle was so sad. Sad that he had lost his son. Sad that he wouldn't receive the daily call from his son to borrow a tool or give advice on fixing a car. Feeling pain that is unimaginable. In the face of pain, my dad was comfort to my uncle. No matter how much water had been under the bridge it didn't matter. What mattered was two brothers, together again. I sent this picture to my aunt who was going to be coming to the funeral later. She had waited and prayed for years for this moment. 

My aunt arrived the next day and was able to be reunited with her baby brother that she and my dad had not seen or heard from in years. It was the best day of my life to witness the love. 
Their other brother is in heaven. The last brother is in Michigan. Their other sister in heaven. Tragedy brought healing. The loss of my cousin bridged a gap that time had made bigger. The reason is unimportant. The important part is how loss brought gain. Tragedy became triumph. Gap became bridge. Heartache became healing. I loved watching my aunt talk to my uncle like they never missed a beat. 
It was the best day of my life watching my dad, my aunt and my uncle reconnect in a way that would never have happened without losing my cousin. Hearts were opened this weekend. 

Way to go, God!  Excellent work. Thanks for the front row seat to see how you healed a family through tragedy. I heard my uncle say to my aunt through teary eyes yesterday, "I don't know how I would have made it these past few days without you."  They exchanged numbers, they will stay connected. 

My cousin is smiling down from heaven at the healing of our family. Great work, Johnny. You did good. 

God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes he works in horrible situations to bring glory for the greater good. My heart aches for my cousins wife and children and his parents and sisters. I don't think we ever get over the loss of a child, husband, father.  My prayers of comfort for all of them. 

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Have a great day and pray for my cousins family!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Gift of Hearing

Last year, almost exactly a year ago, my oldest daughter was diagnosed with profound hearing loss. She got hearing aids and, much like the man who dipped three times in the river Jordan, was healed. Our audiologist informed me that my daughter's hearing loss was hereditary. I immediately thought she must have gotten it from me because I never have thought I heard very good.  So I not only had my hearing tested but the rest of my family too. No one else had it except me. I was diagnosed with mild hearing loss. Hearing aids are rediculously expensive if you get quality ones. So we opted to purchase them for my daughter and not for me for the time being. 

Last Tuesday, I was driving an adorable little ole'Blue Hair to the doctor's office and she said something to me. I asked her to repeat herself not once, twice, three times, but FOUR times and I still didn't hear what she said. I agreed to whatever she said as not to have her repeat herself again. That afternoon I got to thinking "I have no idea what I agreed to with my little lady friend."  Then I went to the audiologist and had my hearing tested again. Same diagnosis as last year for me. Mild hearing loss and severe tinnitus. My ears have rung very loudly in a very high pitch for my whole life. I thought everyone's ears rung like mine do. But in my adult years, I discovered that my ears ring and others's don't. 

I was fitted with hearing aids that day just to give me a chance to see if they made a difference. The doctor said my form of hearing loss was like trying to play a piano when half the keys are missing. Sometimes you may be able to make out the song that was being played because the melody uses keys that are on that piano. Other times, I may not make out what is being played because the melody used keys that aren't on my piano. Which explains why I can hear some people and things and not hear other people and things. 

I am extremely proud of my hearing aids. I feel like I have been healed of an infirmity that I did not realize I had. I have shown them to anyone who would look at me. I am so proud I can hear. And the moment they put them on me, the ringing quit. When I take them out, the ringing starts again. I don't have to cup my ears to hear anymore. 

Here are some discoveries from the world of hearing for me:  
1. The microwave scared me to death. It must have been in the range of pitch that I couldn't hear. I didn't realize it made noise when it cooked. 
2. My oldest daughter's voice is beautiful. I could hear her before but now her voice sound like a real person and not a 2 dimensional person. She must not have been completely in my range of hearing. 
3.  My other two children and my husband's voices are the same. They must have been in my range. 
4.  At church yesterday, the singing was beautiful. It always sounded like only sopranos were singing. Now I can hear the harmony in 3D. Before it sounded like 2D. I kept plucking my hearing aids out to hear what it used to sound like and was overly amazed with the new sounds. When I take my aids out I feel like someone is shoving bananas in my ears and expecting me to hear. 
5.  Money was not in my range of hearing. I was in kohl's and the lady was counting down her drawer and I kept looking for where the ceiling was falling in or someone was throwing rocks through the window. Then I realized that money made a clinking sound when you toss it in a drawer. No telling what a ceiling falling or a rock going through a window really sounds like. 😳
6. When I take my hearing aids out, my ears feel physically heavy. I always felt like I wanted to go have my ears washed out because they felt so full of something. Now I know that they were heavy from not being able to hear all sounds. Once I put my hearing aids in, they feel light as a feather. It is really strange. I feel like a baby who is discovering the world. The bonus is that I am not a baby and I have enough wisdom to truly appreciate being able to hear. 
7.  The most noticeable difference is that I don't talk super loud anymore. I have always talked loud. I thought I was just a loud person. I'm not a loud person. I was a person with hearing loss. I talk softly now. It's very noticeable. 
8.  I have found myself to suddenly be very quiet. I am enjoying doing more listening than talking. It's like discovering the world all over again. Did you know that birds make a chirping sound and little dogs bark in a high pitch?  I just found that out. I also just found out that you can listen to the radio on low volume and still hear it. I have always listened to my music loud-or so people said. It's sounded fine to me. Now I listen to it low like most people do and I can hear it just fine. 

On this St. Patrick's Day, may we all appreciate our hearing, may the wind always be at our backs, and may we all be grateful for the gift of hearing. All glory to God for healing my ears with aids. 

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Have a great evening and enjoy the sound of a toilet flush and appreciate the fact that you can hear it!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Journey to Authenticity Through Hair

Quite a while ago I was doing a series on being authentic. It is the only way I know to be. I am who I am and you can take me or leave me. I will not put on a show in hopes to be accepted. I will give you the shirt off my back and go above and beyond what you expect of me. Authentic. Take it or leave it I am me. 

Recently, I was going through some old pictures because I was cleaning out drawers and they were there. I was reminded how I have had every hairstyle that was popular at the time. As I looked at each picture, it brought back memories of where I was in my life and in my journey in faith and my hair seemed to signify what was going on at the time. 
This picture was taken the day Phillip and I got engaged. It was so important to impress in this stage of life. You are still trying to form yourself, discover yourself, make people like you, make sure you don't disappoint people. 
This was made right after we got married. Yes this is what I wore to get married in. Yes, we decorated our own car. This truly was an event in my life where I did it different. Much like the way I am now. We eloped. That story is for another blog post. But we got married in shorts and tshirts. I loved that. It was cool and different. Personality evolving and hair is shorter. 
Hair shorter and heavier weight. Searching for that personality to emerge. Still trying to please others and make others happy. Fill myself with food to feel like I did something I wanted to do rather than things others wanted me to do. Made sure I fit the mold of what family and friends expected of me. 

Dyed my hair blonde, and lived more freely, doing what I wanted to do. Blondes have more fun I thought. 
Loving my family and loving life. 
This picture was taken just before I got my hair cut really short. I was working at the bank and I remember talking to the people that I worked with about cuting my hair and they all said, Oh no!  You don't want to do that. Family even said Oh no!  Don't cut your hair. 

But I did cut it. And I have been cutting it like this for years now. In fact, many can't imagine my hair any other way.  When I cut my hair my "Live out Loud" personality was released with each lock that laid on the floor. I shed my hair and inhibitions about what people may think about me.  I will never have another hairdo than what I have now. It fits me. 
I don't blend well with others. I was made by God to stand out. To live out loud, to command attention. Yes, I do have beautiful, naturally curly hair that God gave me. But when I wore that hair longer I felt like I wasn't living the life God wanted me to live. I was living life to please other people. Not because of the hair but because of living within constraints of what other people wanted me to be. Once I cut my hair which was totally what I wanted to do, all that was released and I started to live as an Actor in God's drama. I started living out loud and having a commanding personality. 
I released my authentic self. My ride a roller coaster in the middle of a marathon personality. My "you may not think that's the thing to do but I think it's fun" attitude.   

What is holding you back from being your authentic self?  For me it wasn't hair, although I just realized that my hair was an outward symbol of inward release. To be myself, not what family and friends felt like I should be. But who God wanted me to be. Since then, God is doing amazing things in my life. Mainly because I am available to God 24/7 for whatever He wants to do with my life. Before, I was open to what man wanted to do with my life. That wasn't the way God intended. We should be working for God and not for man.   I am doing just that. What may be hindering you from encountering your authentic self?  

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Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover

One if my latest excursions with the Blue Hairs was a trip downtown to see the symphony. We had a good crowd to go that day and who better to help the Blue Hairs experience classical music than a die hard, true and true, through and through, Bon a fide southern girl who adores country music?!  Yes, exactly my sentiments too!  So off we go!  We'd gonna get edumacated on some music appreciation. 

A perk of the trip to the symphony was the fact that they were serving pastries and coffee in the lobby of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. I unloaded the seniors, drove across the river to park the bus the. Rode a park and ride back to the Schermerhorn. If you are shocked I didn't get lost during my parking event, I am too!!  I didn't get lost at all!  I told the seniors if I didn't show up in a half hour or so they would know I had been devoured by pirhanna in the Cumberland River trying to find my way back to the Symphony from the parking lot. 

Back to the pastries, I got in line for one when I finally made it back. A volunteer was serving and I asked what a certain scone was. She answered with a technical explanation of a scone's country of origin. Wanting to try one I said, "Ok, I would like a blueberry one". She said, "Oh, well let me find a small one."  She was searching the apple cinnamon ones for a small one because the blueberry was apparently the last one. I said, "I want the blueberry."  She said, "Oh. Well. Umm. Well I guess you can have that one."  And she reluctantly gave me the blueberry one. 

Now let me back up and give a few facts. 
First, everyone else had already been served because they were all socializing in the lobby with their plates. Secondly, I had a conversation with my husband while getting ready to go to work that morning about whether I should wear my uniform or some "symphony clothes". We agreed I should wear my uniform which looks like this:
Now granted, I looked like this among high faluting symphony goers, but still I felt like I was treated like a second class citizen about the scones. I am convinced I would not have been treated that way had I worn my symphony clothes. My boss confirmed that I had on the correct clothes for the event by wearing my uniform. The incident really made me think about who I may inadvertently discriminate against because I make a judgement based on clothing or a job title like "Bus Driver". That scone server had no idea that I was college educated. She judged me based on my name tag. Jennfer Anglin-Bus Driver.  It bothered me. 

Moving on, we got seated and saw an excellent performance of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. The music was excellent, the edumacation was fantastic, and the music was appreciated. During some of the slower, more soulful portions of the performance, the comfy chair and warm hall was conducive to naps but I did stay awake successfully.

We also had a debate about what the name of the symphony center really is. I called it the Skimmerhorn. One lady said it is the Sher-mer-horn, and another said sker-mer-horn. The only thing we were sure of was the "horn" part. The worker lady confirmed it was indeed the Sher-mer-horn. I think I will amicably refer to it as "The Horn". 

 We loaded back up and arrived back to the assisted living facility for lunch. A good time was had by all and the lesson to be learned from a scone that day was "Never Judge a Book by It's Cover". 

Have a great evening and don't judge based on appearance-the dirty little secret is that the bus driver is college educated :)  Don't forget to invite me to speak at your next event!