Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dallas Does Dylan



In October of 2009, I first visited Opening Bell Coffee in Dallas for Open Mic night.  I remember that I played barefoot on the little stage in the corner, and as I listened to the musicians that played after me, I sat in awe of the talent that was in the room that night.  Since then, I have loved visiting Opening Bell for Open Mic nights, Songwriters in the Round, and shows featuring some of my favorite friends and Dallas area artists.  I also met my husband there.  So in my life, there are enough attachments to keep me going back.  But this past Saturday night, I got the chance to participate in Dallas Does Dylan, an evening of Dallas singer/ songwriters performing the songs of Bob Dylan.  I was a little nervous about being part of the lineup... most of the people on the bill are musicians that play regularly in coffee shops and bars.  I, on the other hand, play mostly for church kids or all alone in my apartment.  But in the end, I couldn't have asked for a better night.  Friends gathered, coffee was consumed, photos were taken, guitars were tuned, and the songs of Bob Dylan were sung.  And honestly, I think Bob would have been proud.  Next month, it's Dallas Does the Beatles, and I can't wait!

Here are the songs from my Dylan set:










Special thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday night to support us!  And thanks to A.W. (aka Tigpan, Pigpen) for the video!



Monday, April 16, 2012

Status



Two summers ago, during the great WWF trip of 2010 (which you can read about here), I learned something life-changing.  I am sure there were other life-changing things on this trip.  I learned to make WWF salad.  I learned that dinner outside is almost always more fun than dinner inside.  I learned that 12 years of non-communication does not necessarily change friendships.  But on one of our first days, as we were getting ready to leave the house, our friend Dotti yelled out to her children one word.  STATUS?  And they yelled back.  "Putting my shoes on!" from one room and "Ready to go!" from the other.  And so it spread.  The process of communicating with others to see where they were, simply and effectively, with just a single word.  My friend Caryn implemented it with her family.  I had no children or even a  husband at the time, but I stashed the idea away, knowing that it would be useful someday.  And sure enough, as soon as I met Jake, I quickly rediscovered the value of STATUS? (though I dare not actually text it in all caps).  I found out that sending a text that said "Where are you?" generally communicated irritation, even when none was intended.  And so I adopted "status" for myself.  And it's only one word.  It's simple to send.  There is no judgment in it.  And while occasionally I may mean "Where the heck are you? You were supposed to have left the office an hour ago!", I usually don't.  So "status" serves its purpose.

So my blogging has been kind of sporadic.  I was on a roll earlier in the year, keeping on track with my once a week goal.  I will never be a daily blogger.  I just can't see it.  Then February was lazy.  I got in two finished blogs.  March was equally lazy.  I have several partially written blogs... just can't seem to finish thoughts.  I just can't seem to force myself to sit down and get it all out at once.  And so this is my Status blog.  The one that will tell you bits and pieces of what's going on with me.  Feel free to add your own status in the comments.

1. Jake and I started Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University several months back, and let me tell you, we are all in. We use cash only for most regular purchases and we have been sticking to our budget even when it hurts (like last night when I desperately wanted to order a pizza, but made chocolate chip pancakes instead). There are days that it feels restrictive, but most days it just feels good to know where all of our money is going and to know that we have enough of it to do what we need to do. And sometimes to do what we want to do.

2. I think I can speak for Jake when I say that we love, I repeat, LOVE our new church. We miss our old ones and the people involved, but our new church is filled with opportunity and expectancy. God is doing something at Ranch Community Church, and we are excited to be a part of it. We have already made great friends, and we are so happy to serve alongside these people.  Each week I get to minister to some of the coolest kids I know, and I am just so thankful for it.

3. I am saving up for WWF 2012, the annual summer girls trip to Chicago.  I am already looking forward to escaping the Texas heat and hanging out in the Windy City with Caryn and Dotti.  We will shop at H&M, even though Dallas has two of its own stores now.  We will eat deep dish pizza, and I will not think about the calories.  We will run to catch trains and walk down Michigan Avenue.  And we will finish off our days with Garrett's popcorn and rinse our greasy hands in muddy puddles.  Because that's what we do.

4. I spend my Monday mornings these days watching a very cute baby.  He is at an adorable stage where he kicks a lot and he smiles almost constantly.  Right now he is upstairs asleep, as he often is when I arrive. It's unfair, really, to have such a cute baby near, and then not be able to play with him immediately.  But for the sake of his parents and their schedule, I will let him sleep, and I will play with him when he wakes up.  You're welcome, James and Amy.

5. Last month I turned 35.  It was a great day. My husband worked hard to make it fun. There were presents and there was birthday cake.  That's really all you need for a good birthday.  I got a hot yoga membership, about which I am excited and afraid.  I love yoga, but I hate heat and humidity.  So yeah, sounds like a fainting spell waiting to happen.  But I will let you all know how it goes.

6. I have been memorizing the book of Colossians with a girlfriend.  I hesitate to write this because I don't want to come across like I am boasting.  Honestly, it's hard work.  And I have gotten behind more times than I can count because I am not disciplined enough.  I am amazed, though, at what the brain can contain when you force it to.  I am also amazed at how much time I can spend in front of the television and not think twice, but I can spend 9 minutes quoting the first two chapters of Colossians and it feels like a lifetime. And that, my friends, is what a sin nature will get you.

7. This Saturday night I get to play a show called Dallas Does Dylan, a night of Dallas artists performing Bob Dylan covers.  I have no idea how I got included in this lineup of musicians, but I am so excited to be involved and to take it all in.  If you are free on Saturday around 7, the Opening Bell Coffee in Dallas is the place to be.

8. Things I currently adore: my husband, my Keurig, chevron patterns, Maddie Daggett (one of the coolest high schoolers I know), Urban Crust pizza, typographic verses, the thought of being debt free, new babies Nathan and Gavin (maybe the cutest babies on the planet), using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, pants that fit, Starbucks blonde roast coffee, chipotle chili powder, Bob Dylan music, Rosi Golan's album Lead Balloon (specifically the song "Can't Go Back"), my family.

And so that, my friends, is what's going on with me.  What's your status?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hope... and why I have it


Hope.  It keeps us from falling apart when things go bad.  It's what makes life's bad days a little more bearable.  It's what makes death a little less painful. This month in children's church, I am teaching about hope.  In the context of our lessons, we define hope as believing that something good can come out of something bad.  Yesterday, as I taught a group of 30 kids about the Last Supper and Jesus' arrest, I talked about the promises that Jesus made to his disciples. The promise that even though He was leaving, He would come back.  The promise of life after death. And as I taught through his death and burial, I felt the grief of it all.  The confusion of his disciples.  This was not the way this was supposed to go. I almost always cry (or come close to it) when I teach about this.  Because it's an overwhelming thought, Jesus laying down His life for people who could never appreciate it enough. And yet, he told Peter to put down his sword. He identified himself to the Roman soldiers. He did not defend himself before rulers. They did not take His life... He gave it. And when He did, to His followers, it seemed like all hope was lost.

I did not tell the kids the rest of the story. Of course, most of them know it already, but I still like to leave them with the reality of his death for the week before we celebrate the glory of his resurrection.  And let me tell you, I am thrilled about the fact that He raised Himself from the grave.  It's proof that He keeps his promises, and that He did indeed possess the fulness of God. It's proof that the God I serve is alive, unlike any other one that claimed to be God before Him or after Him.  But one of my favorite parts of this story is what it means for us, believers living today.  Thousand of years have passed since the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, but it still so significantly affects how we see life.  And death.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 defines how we should view death.  There is no finality in death for the believer, thanks to the resurrection of Christ.  There are no actual last words. No permanence in sleep. There is only hope.

As I write this, my 90-year-old Mama (my dad's mother) is lying in a bed in Houston, and she is dying.  She can no longer eat or drink, and she is not responsive.  For the past few days, her health has deteriorated to the point where we all know what comes next for her.  It's just a matter of time, and her earthly life will be done.  But in the back of my mind I hear the words we sorrow not, even as others who have no hope. And those words change things.  They do not change the fact that we are sad.  Death is a sad thing.  But these words mean that the sadness does not come unaccompanied.  Along with the grief comes an indescribable hope.  A confidence that death is not the end.  An assurance that though relationship is severed for a time, this goodbye is not forever.

This is Holy Week, the week that the Christian world takes a long, hard look at death.  We think about it, sing about it, and talk about it... not because we are morbid, but because we know what comes next. We know that death did not win.  We know that there is life that follows.  We know that there is hope.  And I think it's interesting, the timing of this family situation.  My Mama is not gone from us yet, but she is on the verge, and right here at the time of year where are reminded what comes next.  My mother told me this morning that Mama keeps reaching her arm upward.  And I cannot prove it, but I believe that she sees it.  I believe that she knows that although death is right around the corner, hope is there, too.  And healing. And she will step out of her worn, frail body into new life in the presence of God.

And when her time comes, we will all be grieving.  It will take time for us to get used to life without her. We will miss her stories and her laugh and her eclectic Sunday meals, but there are always things to hold onto.  We have photographs and stories that I have written down over the years as she has told them to me.  We have memories of making biscuits, playing dominoes at her kitchen table, and playing in her backyard.  These are the things we have.  These are what we are left with.  These things and hope.

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