Love Song for Mom

Dear Lindsey,

Motherhood has probably never been so gratifying as when my teen and adult “kids” collaborated and publicly performed a song about their love for ME!  (WOW! Video below.) Did you know (yet) that your kids love and appreciate you?! Let me tell you: they do! – whether or not they let you know.

Does your heart melt like mine when Garth Brooks and Scotty McCreery sing about their moms? It is as though we long to hear our kids’ feedback.  Will they ever IMG_4482notice our work?  Do they care about their exhausted, frizzy-haired “taxi-driver” yelling at them from the front seat on the way to the endless tournaments and practices?  Will their stiff hugs ever soften to enjoyment for longer than 0.25 milliseconds? Do my sideline cheering and encouraging words ever make it through their ears or make a difference? Do they know how much I love them? I think Scotty ought to be hunting my son down right now to get his hands on this song! 🙂

I have heard that the best way to tell your kids you love them is to have them overhearView album “Videos” you tell others how much you love them. (But beware:  I am guessing the opposite is true too – our kids feel unloved if they overhear us telling others complaints about them!) I got to experience this “indirect LOVE” first hand from my four kids when they sang to a crowd about their love for me! Not only did my oldest son write a song for me (WHAT?!!! And I am happy he has written many for his wife too!), but then he was sweet enough to invite his siblings to share the spotlight when they sang about their “first love” in front of a group of my friends at my 50th.

Girlfriend, this song is for YOU. Providing encouragement for the journey, it shows that

  1. Motherhood is valuable,

  2. Kids are thankful (even when they don’t show it yet), and

  3. God is raising our kids despite our failures! (Because the Lord knows there are many!).

These lyrics remind us that our calling in motherhood is so much higher and longer than the diapers and bottles.

Originally an idea of Casey and Nate (then ages 20 and 17) and sung by them for my 48thbirthday in the music nook of our house with our intimate family, this song made my heart melt right down my cheeks. What a special gift! They upped their game when the other siblings joined and sang for the crowd.

If you have read many Letters to Lindsey, then you are already acquainted with these singers from their younger years: The “Tea Party Fashionista” (Christine) starts it off with harmony provided by the youngest brother of “Fishing For Memories” (J.R.). Next up, “Ronaldo” (Nate) brings in the bass, while the “Pianist ” (Casey) closes it out with his turn on chorus. It was truly a magical gift from a magical bunch of young adults, all of whom I could not love more.

How could I possibly deserve a present so incredibly, over the top, untouchably, beyond-my-dreams perfect?! I couldn’t. I don’t. I still stand amazed at this gift.

Frankly, I still stand amazed that I get to be a mom – their mom. After years of infertility and then the later brain tumor, I don’t take the gift of motherhood for granted.  I wish no one would.

 

 

Love Song for Mom

By Casey Brady

Dec. 20, 2017

The first hand I held on a cold winter’s night

The first time I hurt, she held me oh so tight.

When I’m just not sure, she looks into my eyes,

She knows just what to say to make everything alright.

And I know wherever I may go, she’ll always be there for me.

The first love never truly fades away.

It’s a kiss goodnight, a sad goodbye and a hug that takes too long.

This is a love song for Mom.

When the laughs were all around, she was always smilin’

When the tears were fallin’ down, she’d have Band-aids on the island.

All the tournaments and practice, I don’t know how she did it;

But when she cheered, I tell you this, we knew we could win it.

And I know wherever I may go, she’ll always be there for me.

The first love never truly fades away.

It’s a kiss goodnight, a sad goodbye and a hug that takes too long.

This is a love song for Mom.

Birthdays, bikes and hard falls

Dirty clothes and soccer balls

Years of teaching right and wrong

Patience ‘cause we took so long.

And I know wherever I may go, she’ll always be there for me.

The first love never truly fades away.

It’s a kiss goodnight, a sad goodbye and a hug that takes too long.

This is a love song…

And I know wherever I may go, she’ll always be there for me.

The first love never truly fades away.

It’s a family night, a cherry pie, or a drive that takes too long.

This is a love song for Mom.

This is a love song for Mom.

©Casey Brady 2017

 

IMG_9348Now that young composer is married to a mom who will be celebrating her first Mother’s Day this week. If there were any line of the song with which I disagree (and it makes me cry every time), it is “patience ‘cause we took so long.” In retrospect, one thing is sure about this young man and his siblings’ childhood: it was a flash of time: a beautiful, God-painted, gloriously-colored, unpredictable, flash of time, and I thank God for allowing me to live it with them.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Terri

Col 3:4 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

For more music by Casey Brady:

 

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Wondering about Worth? (Virtually)

Dear Lindsey,
Being quarantined is HARD for someone who loves people!
Being quarantined is HARD for someone who hates to be in the same house with people!
It’s SUPER HARD when those people reside in the same body!

Being quarantined is difficult for someone who doesn’t like a governing body telling them what to do.  Being quarantined is frustrating for someone who can’t stand to have their hands tied when they need to be out working, supporting their family.  Of course, I haven’t named the sadness of not being able to meet my first grandchild (currently in NICU) or the confusion of nursing home residents who have no visitors or the unique seniors who are robbed of what might have been the best months of their school career. There are many unlisted singles for whom this is a miserable time of “alone” and “fear.”  I can’t even imagine  how difficult it is for the doctors, nurses, emergency crews and essentials that are on the front lines, risking their lives and their families’ to save others, when quarantining probably sounds pretty good to them!

Yep, it’s a tough time for many.

Yet, being the “non-essential” that I am, (😉), I have found blessings in the separation.  For example,

–      Without evening activities taking us from each other, we have had home-cooked family dinners every night.

–    The grandparents whose safety is the purpose of our quarantine are a blessing to have in our house!  This means my kids have learned toilet-flapper changing, trolling-motor fixing, masks-sewing, puzzle-assembling, and more from Grammy and Papa. They even made a step-stool from discarded wood scraps!  This down-time with grandparents will be remembered forever by my young teens. IMG_1385

–  Without our normal busyness, we have been able to escape to outdoor fun of fishing, campfires, tennis or just opening a long-awaited book outside while we soak in vitamin D! Oh… and naps.

But Life is Not About Alone Time

One of my favorite outcomes so far has been a music video project a couple weeks ago in which the kids and I got involved with church. The “virtual choir” came complete with a “virtual orchestra.” The people with whom I would normally rehearse at church every Wednesday and worship every Sunday got “together,” each in our own homes (or a couple using the church’s instruments), and recorded ourselves for the project.

The participants were frontline doctors, nurses, police and other “essentials,” as well as retired folks, elderly quarantined alone, young teens miserable without their friends, college students on forced furlough and the rest – all individually participating in this project in their free time.

As if learning the song to record alone wasn’t challenging enough for us amateur musicians, we actually had to get the entire house quiet for recording – even the dog! The struggle is real! AND they had to be silent long enough for several run-throughs of bloopers! (See my daughter’s blooper reel below; she was so gracious to allow me to share. We still laugh!) Eventually, we felt like our singing (or playing in my case) was “as good as it’s gonna get” and we submitted the recording to our music director team, who put all of the voices – instrumental and vocal – together for a song. Voila! “The Virtual Choir”.

Surprises of the project

–      I was surprised at how AWFUL I sound on my oboe alone on the recordings. The oboe is complete duck-quacking without massive control on my part – which only takes a portion of the duck away.  (Have you heard Peter and the Wolf? The oboe is the duck.) So when we add issues with the mic, surroundings and computer, it did NOT seem pretty!

–      I was surprised at how AWFUL I look on video. Playing the oboe is a kind of rigorous cardio exercise/abdominal workout, with limited oxygen depletions and simultaneous straining of overworked tendons. Sometimes my face looks like I’m painfully trying to blow a frozen banana through a milkshake straw, more than joyfully worshipping the Lord with “Disney eyes”! One of my favorite oboe solos is here if you want to watch – and see what strain in the face looks like, since I was too embarrassed to post my own. (haha!)

–      I was really surprised by how many others had the same worthless feeling when alone! I was amazed at the musicians’ group-chat of people who said, “I quit!” “I am never singing again!” “The church will never let me back in once they hear this recording!”

But what really surprised me about this project?  How AMAZING the final product of all of us together truly is. (attached below) The worship-full song brought tears to my eyes (and the tears were not because of how many times I had heard that same song that week!).

One of our church musicians, singer Jim Wetterau, summarized it well when he said:

“During this time of pandemic and required separation (euphemistically called “social distancing”) our lives as part of a group, both in church and in choir have been rather dramatically upended.
In that time, many found it interesting to see virtual … sessions of singers that were created to cheer us up. One of the most widespread perhaps was the group of Nashville musicians who created a [virtual] chorus of “It is Well with My Soul”.
Thus [our directors], Jon and Aaron presented the idea of our choir doing a [virtual] creation of “Is He Worthy?” And last week we got down to creating our individual parts and submitting them to create the Colonial Virtual Choir. It was complete with background track with click tones for timing and a very good set of instructions.
Then the fun began. I don’t know about you, but the first time I sang through the tenor part with my Nikon filming my contribution, it seemed somewhat unusual—and then when I watched it, it seemed worse. Aaron had advised us it would likely require more than one take, so I did it again.

At that same time, Terri Brady sent in part of her daughter Christine, fitfully breaking into giggles as she tried to sing “We do!”. Now perhaps I felt more like crying than giggling, but I appreciated exactly how Christine felt. I finally finished my take on the tenor part and uploaded it, thinking, that when someone watched it they would surely feel like deleting it and never seeing or using it again.
Then last Wednesday, Aaron played a small part of the vocal from the chorus and I thought, “Wow that sounds great.”
And I realized, we are more than the sum of our parts and we are meant to be stronger together. While an individual effort can seem weak or unworthy, when we band together as believers.. and a church, or a choir, the Holy Spirit is with us and strengthens us and makes us able to do the things that God wants us to do. WE NEED EACH OTHER! The mistake we sometimes make is to think we have to be like soloists. But it is often soloists who do not make good choir members because their voices do not blend. So rejoice in the unity and fellowship we have as a choir, even though temporarily a virtual one, and enjoy and appreciate the gift God has given us to raise our voices together in imperfect but joyous harmony.
Soli Deo Gloria”

When we feel unworthy, worthless and like never trying again in life, what might God be orchestrating with all of our “good, bad and ugly”? We can’t see THAT in our sole recording studio! I have heard the question from young and old alike. In their fit of despair, their feeling of making awful sounds in front of a “camera” – the lens of life – they say, “What good am I?” “What could I possibly have to offer?” or in the words of the elderly, “Why am I left here to be a burden to all of you anyway?” Yet in each one I see God’s creating His message in an overall symphony He calls life.

As a public speaker and as a church musician, I have often prayed before going on stage – not that I would have a perfect performance – but that God would change whatever reaches the ears of the listener for His perfect purposes (no matter the imperfect way it left me).

The song chosen for our first virtual project was ideal. It was not:

“Are we Perfect?”

nor “Am I worthy?”

But “Is He Worthy?”

“Do you feel the world is broken? …
Do you feel the shadows deepen? …
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through? …”

The Orchestrator (this is my favorite paragraph)

This makes me think of my favorite lesson from this “virtual togetherness”:  God is not quarantined. As the song says, “All the dark won’t stop the [Light] from getting through.”  He can reach where He wants to reach in spite of laws, sicknesses and distance. He is not wringing his hands wondering what He could possibly do with this mess. His work can even go within the self-made walls of insecure people and pull out all of the yuck. He can work past our human limits of every little, stinking, ugly, very bad, flawed, mistaken, defective, imperfect part to show that yes! – He is able to build using even our scraps and make a masterpiece out of it all.  Is He worthy of all blessing and honor and glory? He is! Now, our job is learning to enJOY and give thanks in every day – the good, the bad and the ugly  – and trust He can use it in His beautiful overture. He is worthy of our all.

Andrew Peterson’s “Is He Worthy” by Colonial’s “Virtual Choir and Orchestra”

Is He Worthy? – Colonial Virtual Choir & Orchestra from Colonial Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Blessings,

Terri

1 Corinthians 12:14-18 For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

P.S. A second project was completed! “Behold Our God” by Colonial’s Virtual Choir and Orchestra:

Behold Our God Virtual Choir (Final) from Peter Scheibner on Vimeo.

The Best Present: Being Present

Dear Lindsey,

“Sometimes I feel like… somebody’s watching me!” so the song goes! I loved when my husband put that as background music on Instagram (@CBrascal) to a video of my dog watching him through the window. LOL! Is there ever a time that “I feel like somebody’s watching me!” is a good thing?

YESSSS!

-when parents watch their kids! I don’t mean watching them at the playground to keep them safe, (though they should). I don’t mean watching kids do their chores (though I suppose it’s one way to make sure it’s done properly).   I mean a distinct moment in my teen years, when my dad’s love transcended responsibility.

At seventeen, I was a serious musician, though I would not have described myself that

sax pic

2016 Church “retro” band

way. My music teachers would tell me that they had practiced 6-8 hours/day, so my measly 2 seemed like I was less than a musician, but looking back, I realize that I could probably have called myself a musician anyway. There were many hours up in that bedroom on my saxophone. Whether it was preparing for a competition, learning new music or just enjoying music the way I do, I was alone. A lot.

The first day it happened, I was taken off guard. My dad came into my room and sat on my bed, waiting for me to finish my song. At a break, I asked what he wanted. His reply made me laugh at the time.

“Nothing. I am just here to listen.”

If my dad were a musician, I might have thought he had ulterior motives of judging me.  (because don’t all teens feel like they are being judged?) But this is the man who said he had no musical ability, because he had given it all to his kids. He often quipped that the only instrument he played was the radio.

 

“Listen to what?” I asked.

“You,” He said.

“Me? Do what?”

“Play the saxophone.”

“Well, what do you want me to play?”

“A song. Or scales. Or whatever you want. Just go on. I am just here.”

 

So I began to play. Doesn’t someone’s enjoying what you enjoy make what you enjoy so much more… enjoyable?

I am no linguisticologist, but I do make up words like that one. Similar to en-courage in a former letter, “En-joy,” seems like it would mean “putting joy into” something, although its meaning usually implies getting joy out of something. My dad’s “enjoying” my music was actually “putting joy into” me. Don’t you just love that?!

Kids spell “love,” “t-i-m-e”.  One author says that speaking love to kids doesn’t mean just spending time with them but spending time with them doing what THEY love. My dad’s time that day was stopping his busy schedule to join mine. We weren’t playing duets. He wasn’t giving me requests. He was “just there.”

This habit of him sitting on my bed while I practiced became a daily event. I would go through more songs, more scales, more ideas, just to have him stay. Soon, he added requests, “I’ll buy you a steak dinner if you learn ‘Yakety Sax!’” I loved the challenge, even though I didn’t play that kind of saxophone.

Eventually, he joined my world in a different way.  To wish me luck on a performance, he would sign my saxophone reed before I walked out the door. He chose the words: “Good luck, Saxy Lady,” which made us both laugh.

I doubt my dad loved scales. I don’t know if he loved a saxophone playing alone in the house.

But I know he loved me.

Now, when I read my daughter’s writing, watch my son’s soccer workout, see my youngest soar in the air on a wakeboard or listen to a story that I don’t quite understand all the way, I often think of my dad. I hope my love as a parent speaks as loudly as my dad’s: “Just go on. I am just here.” Being present is the best present.

 

 

Blessings,

“Saxy” Terri

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Angels Can Do No More

Para español, haga clic aquí.

in memory of Dad…

Dear Lindsey,

It was a cold, rainy day when I walked into the thermodynamics exam at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. I was broke – instant coffee for breakfast, followed by a ½-can Spaghettios lunch and the other half for dinner (Don’t tell my mom.) – kind of broke. I didn’t have the newest calculator that was sweeping the engineering geeks by storm: the “Scientific” one. My free solar version from the summer bank-telling job was barely helpful in the interpolation of the hundreds of pages of tables and figures in the back of my thermodynamics book. Nothing was helping me figure out WHICH table to use. My lack of sleep (from staying up studying half the night) and lack of breakfast probably only exacerbated my lack of knowledge for the subject at hand: thermo, as we affectionately called it.

I could hardly believe when the buzzer sounded that the test was done. Had I written down ANY answers? I felt like I had spent the entire hour thumbing through tables, trying to remember which one to use! The heaviness was felt through all of my classmates as we exited the room. Nobody felt great about the exam, but I didn’t even feel like I had completed it!  I contemplated, “What IF I got the ones right where I had at least written down an answer? Maybe I would get a 50%??” Ugh. Failure.

When I returned to my dorm, I called my dad. (Because in the ancient days, phones were actually hooked to the wall.  They had a long cord attached that – with the right angling – could clear all contents off any desktop. SO I had to wait till I got to my dorm to call my dad. But I digress.) Along with a quirky sense of humor (like when I took a picture of the “chip on his shoulder” below), Dad and I shared a love for engineering, and he loved if I called about anything – especially engineering!

Once, I was stuck on optics and the science behind light prisms. My professor, Dr. Young,

Chip on Shoulder dad

was one of the authors of the textbook, written by Sears, Zemansky and Young. His name increased the book’s cost to $250, and his class required the “new edition,” so we couldn’t purchase it cheaply from former students. (Did this dude know I was eating ½-can Spaghettios meals?) I knew asking this professor any question about prisms would avail no different explanation than what was already in the book, since he had authored it! When I called Dad, he promptly sent me his engineering book from thirty-four years prior, (Who saves these things?!) so I could see what it had to say about prisms. I was shocked when I opened the package to find that his book’s explanation of prisms looked the exact same as mine! His book’s authors? “Sears and Zemansky.” $4.

Fast-forward to my thermo-failing day, and I called Dad. I wasn’t really looking for engineering help this time. I think I was just looking for a shoulder to hold my tears. I told him I thought I had failed my test… with less than a 50. He said, “This is the first time? Oh that happened to me a lot! Haha!”

I wasn’t laughing. Basically choking a cry.

“Well, I haven’t thought about thermo tests in years,” he said.  “Did you try your hardest and give it your best?”

“Yes!” I said, emphasizing my belief in my word. “I did! I re-did all the homework so I knew what I was doing; I stayed up half the night re-reading, understanding! I thought I was READY!”

That’s when he said something that has impacted my thinking ever since:

“Well if you did your best, then angels can do no more.”

What?! He wasn’t going to be mad at me for my bad grade?! He wasn’t going to lecture me on what I should have done? He wasn’t going to try to get me riled up to protest the teacher for making it hard? He was just going to leave it like this?!

I haven’t thought about thermodynamics or exams in a few decades, but one day my son woefully told me that he had bombed his science exam. I remember the car ride home from one of his first weeks of high school, hearing him go on and on about the injustice that it was too hard, the self-abasing comments about “how stupid he was,” and even sibling comparison on how he’ll never be as good as his older brother.

I finally cut off his words and said, “Did you do your best?”

“WHAT?!!!” His choleric personality took those as fighting words and he began strongly arguing, “YES!! I DID! I did everything I knew how to do to get ready for this stupid test!”

And I passed on my dad’s advice, “Then angels can do no more.”

Leadership gurus say it this way, “You can’t be guaranteed success; you can only deserve it.” [but be sure you deserve it.]

Girlfriend, as life goes on, I see some places where maybe I got proverbial A’s to show for my massive effort, but I see many other places where I have set goals and reset goals and reset goals and felt like such a failure at the lack of completion. I always feel like I have to pick myself up by the bootstraps and ask, “Did I really do my best? My BEST?!  REALLY?! Then angels can do no more!” When my best isn’t good enough for success in God’s timing, then at least my best effort gives a cushion in the waiting room.

My strong-personality son finished that bad-test-day with some words beyond his years. As evening approached, he quietly came to me and said, “Mom, do you know you are not like other moms? All my friends get into trouble for bad grades. You and Dad are the only ones I know who would tell me something like you did today. If you had punished me for my grade, I wouldn’t have wanted to try harder next time; I wouldn’t have wanted to try at all.”

I guess I, too, had a dad who was not like other dads. He helped me get an A in things that matter.

Blessings,

Terri

Col 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”

Dad n me

Dad and me, chillin’.

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A Cookie Kind of Grace

Para español, haga clic aquí.

Dear Lindsey,

One mother bragged, “My son spent a thousand dollars on me, buying me a new coat!”

Another topped, “Well, my son spent tens of thousands on me, buying me a new car!”

“Really? That’s nothing!” said a third, “My son spends hundreds of dollars every WEEK talking to a therapist about nothing but ME!”

I have felt like that third mother sometimes – it might be my kids saying it one day!

Whether they were good, bad or ugly, parents leave indelible prints on our lives. Recently losing my amazing father four years after my mother has left some holes in my heart for sure. When parents pass the baton, it feels like a heavy responsibility to hold, while the foundation on which we stand has just gained a giant HOLE!  Although my dad’s public “celebration of life” is waiting out the pandemic’s ban on gatherings and traveling, nothing stops me from writing some things about Dad to celebrate! I figured I could catch up in writing a few memories to YOU!

Dad’s are important. Duh.

“In an analysis of over 100 studies on parent-child relationships, it was found that having a loving and nurturing father was as important for a child’s happiness, well-being, and social and academic success as having a loving and nurturing mother.” I have heard that a father’s relationship with his daughter may have the single most relational impact on her view of her Heavenly Father. Yet, research indicates that, among other advantages, sons who feel a closeness and warmth with their father are twice as likely to enter college and 80 percent less likely to be incarcerated. I don’t say all these things to say mothers aren’t important, but just to celebrate the man I called, “Dad,” because I had a great one!  I am grateful for his impact on my life;  he gave me every advantage in the book. I always wanted a husband who would influence my children the same way. (And God blessed me with him!).

To kick off my “celebration of Dad’s life,” let’s start with the “peanut butter cookies” story, since it’s a favorite. I have told it before when Shouting Out to Dads, but I was surprised how many mentioned it to me when hearing of my recent loss. This great memory not only makes me want to be a better person, but teach my kids what “grace” really means.

 

Dad Grace

It was a “bad” day when I was a teen. I had wanted to give my brothers a special treat of PB cookiespeanut butter cookies. (I was always such the perfect sister and the innocent victim in every story…because I am the one writing it today; ha! It didn’t hurt that peanut butter cookies were my favorite, too.) I prepared the dough and put the cookies into the oven, and per normal went to kill the 8-minutes of cooking time playing the piano. The piano must have been louder than the kitchen timer, because the cookies ended up burning. I had put too many in the oven, too, so most of the batch was instantly ruined. Of course my brothers came into the kitchen at that exact moment, while the stench of the burn choked any house occupants. I was embarrassed.  They laughed, asking if I was using the smoke detector as my timer again. One grabbed a cookie and headed outside, saying he was going to play hockey with it – “anyone want to join me?” he yelled back.

It was then that my father returned from his long day at work. I sat, dejected, ready to hear the words of shock from him too, as I lamented my error. My father (silently of course) walked over to the cookie trays which were still cooling (smoking?) on the counter, scanned the goods, grabbed a cookie and stated, “Great! Someone finally made cookies just the way I like them!”  He proceeded to eat burnt cookie after burnt cookie, like Cookie Monster in bliss. My face softened to a grin.  I don’t know what kind of work day my dad had had at the glass-making facility, but I know what kind of day he helped me to have.

In my adult years when I reminded him of this story, he claimed he didn’t remember it. That’s just who he was. And it’s who I want to be: someone willing to happily eat burnt cookies, taking seen and unseen burdens off of someone else. That’s grace. That was my DAD!!

Love ya, miss ya,

Terri

grace |ɡrās| noun: 

      1. courteous goodwill:
      2. (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners through Jesus Christ .
boatdad

Dad 1935-2020

 

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The Robber in the Church Choir

Para español, haga clic aquí (coming soon)

Dear Lindsey,

The robber was next to me in choir. Church choir, no less.

I had just come back from the funeral – of my 28-yr-old friend. I was still in a grief fog, when I realized it was Wednesday night, which meant choir rehearsal. Though I didn’t feel like singing, I knew there were SO many nights of practice when I rehearsed to minister to people, but truly was the receiver of the ministering. This night, I needed it.

I went and quietly took my seat; nobody would have known the pain of my week, since I was relatively new to the area.  We started practice with a song about heaven:

No more night, no more pain
No more tears, never crying again
And praises to the great, “I am”
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb

My tears welled as my grief overflowed my eyes and spilled into praise. My friend was already there! No more night, no more pain!

The salve to my soul washed over me, and I got lost in the thought of the “coincidence” (=”God-incidence”) that we would be singing that song that night.  I could feel the healing while I was surrounded by music, as if a choir of angels was lifting me out of the depths of sorrow and into a sea of joy!

…until the woman next to me put flies in my ointment.

“I hate this song,” she said simply.

I don’t know if she hated the lyrics.

Or the tune.

Or maybe the style – maybe she was wanting the more upbeat song at that moment.

Or maybe she had had a really bad day.

I don’t know, but I do know: she stole my moment.

Our attitude is more than just the lens through which we see our own lives; it’s more than the “difference maker” in our future business endeavors; it is the weapon the robber uses to steal and destroy those around us.

It’s not that it is so difficult to have a good attitude, it’s just that it is so easy not to.  Like an “unattended car” picking up speed downhill, attitudes can tend that direction.  I can be ready to tell the world about Jesus one minute and then ten minutes later, complain about how the grocery item I thought was on sale is not.  After hearing my complaints, those listeners probably would not be saying, “Tell me about your Jesus.” Or “Tell me about…” anything.

Some of my mom’s best advice when I would be fighting with my younger brother could be applied to all leaders: “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”  I suppose that applies to grocery sales and church songs as much as my brother.

Before I close this letter, my 14-yr-old daughter just suggested that this story should have more of what should be done instead of only what shouldn’t. It reminds me of great parenting advice, “Don’t say ‘don’t,’ say ‘do’!” Okay, then:

To have a good attitude, do:

  • Be grateful. (As the saying goes, “What if you woke today with only what you said ‘thank you’ for yesterday?”)
  • Ask yourself “Will this ‘problem’ matter five years from now?”
  • Replace the negative with positive actions or words – and shine them on those around you.

And don’t be a robber.

Blessings,

Terri

Phil 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

Related Letters

Reserved for Bob

Para español, haga clic aquí (coming soon)

Dear Lindsey,

Anyone who fishes knows that fishing with kids is a totally different game. I love having my kids along, but when the boys were 6 and 9, their tangled lines, broken lures and snags on land-growing trees usually took so much of my time that I didn’t get to fish.  So for Mother’s Day one year, my husband treated me to a 4-hour fishing guide in the Florida flats!

I began my search for a fishing charter captain at my favorite tackle shop, closest to our house (in Florida at the time). The shop-owner was on the phone when I arrived, so I busied myself looking at the shirts and hats bearing the store’s name. That’s when I heard him on the phone saying (ironically!), “NO!!! Don’t make me take that charter! I hate fishing with girls! That’s torture!”

I quietly left the store, never booking the trip, unbeknownst to the man who missed the sale. (and missed the sail – if I wanted a pun. 🙂 ) He doesn’t know what he missed!

Another marina I really liked, Jensens on Captiva, was a bit of a drive (or boat) away. On 9865605_orighot boating days, our family would often stop there for ice cream or a soda. There was a sign in the parking lot that said, “Reserved for Bob.” I didn’t know who “Bob” was, or if it was a joke, but he seemed pretty important to have his own professionally-made sign.

The man at the counter was excited to help me when I told him I was looking for a fishing guide. I asked if I could take my 6 and 9-year-old boys, and he said that some captains prefer no kids, but he thought “Bob” would be fine with it.

“Bob”? THE Bob? I booked, “Bob,” for the following Thursday at 7am.

The day arrived, and Casey, Nate and I loaded up the car, while Chris stayed home with the still-sleeping toddlers. We arrived dockside by 6:50am, so we wouldn’t miss any minutes of our fishing day! The boys and I loved to look at the live bait in the outside wells there.  Fishing captains came in fancy sea-going boats with outriggers galore and outriggers_trolling_spread_how-to02stocked their live-wells with the baitfish, while their clients loaded. Groups of men and even a few couples came, found their assigned captains and loaded their chartered boats for their day at sea.

We waited.

I built the boys’ dream, “Imagine what we could catch today! Do you think that one will catch a big one?” I asked, pointing to the largest of the pin fish in the bait well. That’s when I noticed things were getting quiet at Jensen’s Marina. It seemed like all of the fishing boats had come and gone.

We waited.

Finally, at 7:30, thirty minutes past our meeting time, and eons since the last captain had left, I decided to ask if we were in the right place. The man behind the desk said, “Oh… Bob. You have Bob? Yeah… he’ll be here.”

I took this to mean that Bob was “usually” late.

Doubting began. I didn’t doubt that Bob would be there; I doubted that he was a good captain for our boat. “Usually” late? Wait – is that why he needed his parking spot reserved? Ugh.

Maybe he is the last on the list to take people out – and that’s why he got “stuck” with the “girl” and kids. Reality came to mind that this could possibly be a total scam. They just got some homeless guy and said I’d give him money if he pretended to fish for the day.

We waited… impatiently.

7:37. An unfitting boat pulled up to the dock near where we stood. The boat looked older than I. Ten years of grime had changed its color, making the original undistinguishable. The morning’s dew combined with the previous day’s slime to make a nasty swirl and stench. A dead crab and another unidentifiable animal lay in the corner where they had slid when the boat moved. The driver was probably fifty, but difficult to guess because of his sun-beaten skin. No hat. I wondered what this man was doing at a place like Jensens. Gas, I assumed. Yep, he filled up while the boys and I watched and tried not to stare, looking into the horizon for our chartered captain’s arrival.

little-fishing-boat-stranded-wet-sand-low-tide-90786222

Not really Bob’s boat, but…

He finished his gas duty, then turned to me and said, “You all can load up.”

Wait. What? Get on THAT thing?! This is “THE Bob”? No way. Can’t do it. Dis-gus-ting!

“Great!” both boys shouted and ran to his umm… boat.  I must admit, I was so turned off, but noticing how my boys were not made me try to adjust my attitude so I didn’t ruin theirs.

“Bob,” he said, offering a hand as we climbed aboard.

“Casey,” the 9-yr-old said, taking his hand and giving it an enthusiastic shake.

“Ronaldo,” Nate said, since that’s what he wanted to be called those days. (See the story in my previous letter.)

“Terri,” I said, not offering to remove my shoes like normal boat protocol. I didn’t have to ask how he knew that we were his clients. We were the only “mom and two kids,” on the dock. Well actually, we were the only ones on the dock.

We set out into the water, when I realized that we didn’t get bait. Maybe he caught his own? I had a glimmer of hope that he knew what he was doing.

“Did you want to get live bait?” I asked, gesturing toward the dock we were leaving.

“No,” he said simply, not giving me the satisfaction of an explanation. Just, “no.”

He drove and the devil and angel on my shoulders conversed across my brain, attempting to win the battle for my attitude and belief that this day would be worth the money.

I couldn’t believe it when we stopped the boat still in sight of Jensens. I had been there a million times. We were not trolling like all of the fishing boats I had seen leaving the dock earlier.

He took out the “bait.” It was not alive. It looked like a hook from Walmart on which he had painted a head with red nail polish and an eye of black marker. $0.57 for a pack of ten, I cynically did math in my head. He put NO bait on this homemade “masterpiece,” just threw it over the side of the boat. I was getting mad at his lack of aptitude as a “professional”.

“I got something!” Casey said before the second line could go into the water.  He reeled in a ladyfish. I chuckled at the luck of it… first cast!

I enjoyed his excitement while “Ronaldo” dropped his unbaited hook over the edge.

“Got one!” he yelled, while Bob worked at returning Casey’s fish to the water.

Do fish like red nail polish? Or Walmart hooks? Who knew?!

I dropped my line in to the same success. “Fish on!”

We cast.

We caught.

We cast.

We caught.

We cast.

We caught.

“We’ve never had a day of catching like this with YOU, Mom!”

Ouch. That hurt.

Other boats were making a beeline for our area. Big fancy ones. Trollers with high bridges.  Boats full of men out for the day headed toward our little spot in view of the marina.

Nothing.

They caught nothing! All their live bait, all their fancy apparati, and they caught nothing.  (Why did I sinfully enjoy that?!)

“Let’s feed the dolphins,” Bob said.

I thought to myself, You gotta be kidding. You have baitfish somewhere on here, but you are giving it to the dolphins instead of using it to fish?!

That’s when Bob took Casey’s latest ladyfish off of his line, walked four steps to the other

dolphin s head in the surface

side of the boat, and held it over the side. A dolphin magically appeared and jumped out of the water for the fish.

We caught fish on the left and held them as snacks for the dolphins on the right for what seemed like hours. I felt like I was in some “Snow White does SeaWorld” dream.

Bob is a fish-whisperer!

However, ladyfish are easy and common. They don’t fight much. (I always thought “ladyfish” was a misnomer for that reason.) They are perfect for kid fun, but not good eating for anyone but dolphins.

“You like snapper?” Bob looked directly at me.

“I like fish… any kind!” I said, beginning to crack a smile.

He moved the boat over what felt like ten yards (or was it a circle? I don’t know: it all looked the same, still in sight of the Marina), and tossed in the same nail-polished bait, waited a minute and fish-on!

The tug was different, definitely not a “lady.” Sure enough, the red color could be seen through the water. Snapper for dinner! We caught those till we had enough when Captain Bob said, “Let’s see what the mackerels are up to today.”

“Casey and Ronaldo, the way we catch a mackerel is different than the others,” he explained in a full-out knowledgeable tone. Maybe he wasn’t a random homeless guy! “We can’t just drop the hook off the side of the boat. We’re going to cast it as far as we can, then jerk it up and down with the biggest arm motion we can make.”

“Ronaldo” went first. Bob did the casting to get it a good distance from the boat, but my son did the yanking – up and down and up and down. It looked like some kind of weird African dance that would certainly be too jerky for a fish. Then…

“ZZZZZIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG!” something hit and RAN! (or “swam?!”)

“Mackerel.” Captain Bob said, not showing much emotion, not even adding the “holy” in front of it.

Nate reeled and reeled, but the zing of the line indicated that the fish was still swimming away and not getting any closer to the boat.

“Come on, Nate! You can do it!” I cheered from the boat.  This fish had to be a giant, the way it was fighting!

“I thought his name was Ronaldo?” Captain Bob gave me a strange look.

“Nickname,” I said, baffling Bob, I am sure.

Nate reeled and reeled and eventually, the fish succumbed to his beckon. A mackerel, just as Captain Bob predicted before the cast.

We cast.

We caught.

We cast.

We caught.

ZIIINNNNGGGG! Over and over.

 

The four-hour-trip felt like thirty minutes. We headed back to the marina, which I could still see!

The dolphins followed us a bit before heading off to the ocean. As we approached the

white and grey pelican perched on red railing

dock, pelicans came and landed right on our boat! (I couldn’t help but notice they were not on anyone else’s boat!) Captain Bob pulled up to the fish-cleaning table and the pelicans practically got in line behind him. (I couldn’t help but notice nobody else had fish to clean.) Bob threw the scraps the pelicans were expecting.

Without looking up from his cutting, Bob said nonchalantly, “They’re gonna lose their bait.”

I looked around wondering who he meant and whether I was supposed to do something. That’s when out of nowhere, an otter exited the water, climbed onto the dock, then onto someone’s empty boat, opened their cooler with his nose and began taking the bait out – one fish at a time!!! WHAT?!  How did Captain Bob know? How did he see the otter coming? How did he know that boat had something in its cooler?

I asked if I should stop the otter from taking the fish, and he said something like, “If

dewgong on body of water

they’re dumb enough to leave their cooler unlocked, then they deserve it.”

I blackened the mackerel on the grill for dinner. Yummm!  Well worth its price!

Fish

Dolphins

Pelicans

Otters

The kids and I had the time of our lives! Bob is a genius! He deserves a parking place of his own!!

Besides the fun animal-sightings of the day (including a raccoon on our early morning drive), there were other takeaways for me:

  1. Don’t judge a book by its cover or a captain by his boat – or you might miss a really great story!
  2. Don’t ask someone to guide you, and then doubt their every move. Why bother having a guide if you know everything? Enjoy the ride, and judge the catch.
  3. When people start doubting my own guiding, I can give them some grace; afterall, I have had my doubts en route to my “Reserved for Bob” sign.
  4. Girls can fish too.

 

Love ya,

Terri

Related Posts

 

John 21: 3-7: 3“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  5He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”  “No,” they answered.  6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Making of a Name

Para español, haga clic aquí

Dear Lindsey,

Six-year-old Nate spoke from the backseat of the car, with his take-charge voice, “Mom, can we stop at the name-changing place on the way home today?”

Stifling my laughter with my mom-smile, I asked him what he meant. He clarified, “I’d like to change my name, so if we could stop by there, I’ve decided what I want it to be.”

You’ve got to love his choleric style! No apologies for dissing the name that my husband and I painstakingly decided hours after his emergency birth on the hard-wood floor (a whole story in itself!). No sandwiching it with, “I love the gift of the biblical name, but I was considering I might take a new one.” Simply, “Let’s stop by that ‘name-changing place’ so I can do better.”

“What name would you want instead of ‘Nathaniel’?” my curiosity was piqued.

With the sincerity of asking a waitress for salt, he said, “I want to change it to Ronaldo.”

Today, I barely have to describe who Ronaldo is, but in 2006 when this statement occurred, Cristiano Ronaldo was just coming onto the scene of our newly formed soccer-fan eyes. Nate was sure he was worthy of the name.  I hated to shatter his dream. “Sorry, bud. There is no such thing as a name changing place. But if you want that to be your nick-name, you could probably just start using it and see if it sticks.”

We pulled into the IHOP parking lot.

With Chris gone on business, the kids and I enjoyed a morning out. We ordered our food and began some intense coloring on the kid-menu placemats to entertain the 1 and 3-year-olds while we waited. An older woman watched from the adjacent booth. I wondered if she was musing about her own motherhood memories. I wondered if I would ever have time to muse.

She interrupted our coloring.  “What a lovely family,” she said.  My kids sat straight up, basking in her attention. “What are your names?” she asked with a smile.

“Casey,” my oldest, age 9, said with the confidence of the man of the family that morning.

“Steen,” Christine answered in her 3-yr-old lisp.

“mm mm,” JR, less than two, shook his head “no,” unwilling to speak, so I said, “J.R.” for him and removed the two fingers from his mouth where they tended to reside in shyness. She touched his curly hair in admiration before looking anticipatingly at Nate.

He cleared his throat and paused a second. “Ronaldo,” Nate said with a matter-of-fact-announcing tone.

I choked. I didn’t want to explain to her his real name and hurt his feelings; I didn’t want her to see me laughing and think I was making fun of something. So, I smiled what I am sure was a bigger-than-normal smile, a dam holding back the flood of a story.

She repeated the names, as if pensively pausing on each one: “Casey, Christine, J.R. and Ronaldo.”

Could she tell one was different?I wondered and then dismissed the thought.

“It is SUCH a pleasure to meet you. You be good for your mama and enjoy your breakfast. Thank you for talking with me.” She left.

From that moment on, all of his first-grade math papers bore the name, “Ronaldo.” His water bottles were labeled with “R,” instead of “N.” He never corrected any of us family from calling him Nathaniel, but any time he introduced himself to strangers, he confidently let them know his name was the same as his hero of the time, “Ronaldo.”

I don’t really remember how long the “Ronaldo” name thing lasted, but long enough that it still brings a smile.

Fast forward to August 2017, when Nate (age 17) was invited to play with the Generation Adidas team in Madrid, Spain. Because he was going to Europe anyway, a friend thought Nate might be a good fit for a team in France who was willing to take a look, so Nate headed over a few weeks early to play in France. Not knowing a lick of the language didn’t stop Nate any more than not knowing that name-changing places are not on every corner. The international language of soccer sufficed. Whether France or Spain, one word seemed to be spoken when people saw him: “Ronaldo!” Ironically, Nate’s looks (and hopefully soccer playing) remind many of Cristiano Ronaldo. Nate didn’t tell them his “secret name,” haha, it was just said… a lot… to his face and behind his back. He didn’t know French or Spanish, but he knew the name, “Ronaldo,” in every language.

From youth, Nate has spoken of going to play professional soccer in Europe. His entire life has had many early mornings of watching games from faraway time zones.  (I used to think he was going to have a British accent, because he always played with his soccer guys toy, as a British commentator!).

Speaking it into existence, Nate is currently today on his first leg of the journey, the flight to Paris. I suppose that could be a metaphor for his adult life. This “first leg of the journey” will begin in St. Brieuc, France, where he will live and train with the ranks of the soccer club, Stade Briochin.  Our friend, Dario Brose played there during his professional soccer career and thought it would be a great fit for Nate. His crash course in French is underway; his new cleats – including the required soft ground ones – arrived in time for departure; and my eyes are a little blurry while I write. I am excited to see what time will tell as he branches out to “make a name for himself.”

In a letter I hid in his suitcase (maybe he will find it after he reads this blog, haha), I told him that this is truly an answer to prayer. I didn’t pray that he would move thousands of miles away from me. I didn’t even pray that he would have a career in playing the sport he loves. I prayed that God would make him a man after God’s own heart in whatever His ways are. I am excited He chose soccer. I am proud of the man who is going to the other side of the ocean to live what God intended him to live and be who God intended him to be. After all, one day, some little boy somewhere might ask his mom to change his name to Nathaniel…. like the soccer player…and the one in the Bible. 🙂

Love ya,

Terri

John 1:47-48 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said to him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” and Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

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The Book is Here!

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Audiobook Available: Letters to Lindsey

L2L Audio

Hey!

I just wanted to give you a heads up that the Audiobook of Letters to Lindsey is available! Imagine: driving around town, pop in the CD’s, listen, laugh, cry, and don’t wreck!  Though I had fun making the recording by reading aloud the stories of my children as, well, children, (since now they seem so grown up!), the MOST fun was listening to KIDS read the fun kid quotes from the book!

“Why didn’t you have your own kids read the quotes?” someone asked. Well, because my “children” are MEN! and have men’s voices now! My youngest (age 13!) plays the part of the oldest in the readings, but the younger quotes needed some voiceovers!

Here is a snippet of one of the readers, Teylyr Frey, knocking it out of the park by reading a couple “kid quotes” from the book.

I hope you enjoy the book… again –  in audio form!

 

Happy listening,

Terri

 

Family Favorites… Book List

My letter on Summer Reading sparked the idea to ask my kids what their favorite books were that they would recommend to others. Some are their books that they chose at the store with their own money. Others are books they have chosen from our “assigned Summer Reading.” I didn’t edit the list to communicate what I thought was important, but left the lists exactly as they wrote them, to leave the purity of the child’s desire there, instead of inserting this homeschooling mom’s heart. Though the ages listed are their current ages, some of these “favorites” were read in their younger years.

J.R. (age 11):

Christine (age 13)

Nate (age 16)

Casey (age 19)

I asked my kids for permission to use their names (or if they preferred that I leave their list anonymous), and they all said, “yes,” except one, who clarified:

“You have my permission to use my name in conjunction with all of the aforementioned information, along with any other information that may be prevalent to the purpose of the article, under the condition that I am properly referred to and quoted under all standard blog and MLA guidelines and format.”

..just in case you wondered. 🙂

Since my husband, Chris Brady, is an author along with our close friend and business partner, Orrin Woodward, I didn’t want to miss the chance to plug some of their books which would be great for summer reading, or homeschool curriculum or family book discussions. Here are a few of my favorites from our family’s discussions:

I have one last list to mention! I recently came across the reading list for the Torrey Honors Institute within BIOLA University. Any child or adult could benefit from reading this list of books! Check it out here.

Read well to lead well,

Terri

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