Dolphins

We are blessed to have a week at the beach. It’s been a long time since we’ve had this kind of down time together. Time to think. Time to reflect. Time to remember.

Whenever I come to the beach I’m reminded of a story I heard as a teenager back in the 70’s.

My friends and I had fallen in love with Jesus. We would often drive the 45 minutes to the beach in my little yellow VW bug, Sunny. He may not have had air conditioning, but I had installed a great stereo with huge speakers. I added long enough wire so I could set them on top of Sunny while we laid on blankets soaking in the sunshine. What a memory.

Barry McGuire had recently come to love Jesus too. He shares a simple story about dolphins, and today I want to share it with you. Take some time and listen.

Then follow this by listening to the song, Callin Me Home. The video photos are captivating and the lyrics beautiful. Happy Monday

It’s A Small World After All

Finding refuge in our hearts to pray for Ukraine

I was born in Orlando 12 years before Mickey literally came and welcomed the world to us. I’ve seen changes and met many people from other countries who love coming here because of him.

One of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World is called, It’s A Small World, where little wooden dolls, that are dressed in customary clothing for their country, dance, twirl and sing along with the ride’s theme song. If you’ve been here you’re most likely singing it now and will be for the rest of the day. Sorry.

But seriously I’m not sorry. Our world has become smaller to us personally.

We have had two pastors staying with us for this past week attending the International Grace Partnership Conference that happens every February at our church. One, has been a dear friend since 2016 when we first met him and his beautiful wife. Their home is far away, but our hearts are bound together like family.

Their home is Ukraine. The invasion of Russia began while they were asleep in our guest rooms. Each morning since, we awake to hear if their families made it safely through the night. We thank God over coffee for another safe night for them.

We have laughed together when we heard of how a gypsy band managed to steal a Russian tank by towing it away with their tractor.

We have cried together seeing his wife in a bomb shelter with a smile on her face as she sorts warm clothes and blankets for refugees passing by their town on the way to Poland.

Such a strong community, people and nation who have grown to love freedom these last 30 years, as I have all of my life.

We don’t know what the future holds for them. But My husband and I are grateful to have been able to offer them comfort, prayers and hearty meals at such a time as this.

If you would like to help you can donate through Grace Partnership and designate it’s for Ukraine. All money will go to Hosanna church in Rivne supplying food, clothing and shelter to the refugees passing through their town in western Ukraine. Every little bit helps.

All our pastors praying for our dear brothers who lead and serve the church in Rivne, Ukraine

Most of all, pray for an end to this evil attack on Ukraine. They love their freedom as we do. They have families and jobs as we do. They are like we are, but facing insurmountable odds to stay so. I pray we will all come together to help in their time of need.

Realizing more than ever…it is a small world after all.

Misunderstood

Our blogging prompt was to share a song lyric that means something to me.

There are too many to even begin to share, so I decided on a twist. I’m sharing the song lyrics I misunderstood as a kid and only recently discovered the correct words. I must admit this is embarrassing, but it’s understandable. I was attached to my record player as a pre-teen. I listened faithfully to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 list every Saturday. Once I heard the #1 song for that week I would get on my bike and ride it to the Five and Dime store (T.G. & Y.) to buy the 45 rpm before it sold out.

Music was my companion and my 10 year old friend’s companion too.

I remember us turning around in circles to the EP version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly. Why? Because we were kids and we had nothing better to do. I had a crush on Davy Jones of The Monkees and loved his British accent. My BFF loved Mike Nesmith and his beanie hat. Life was simple for us.

You have to realize we didn’t have Google in the 70’s. If we misunderstood a song lyric, the only way to find out the correct words was to buy the album where the lyrics were printed on the paper sleeve inside the cover. I didn’t have that kind of money, so I improvised, often at the top of my lungs I’m afraid to admit.

I gave my older brother, (who was a huge tease and my biggest nemesis), lots of material to mock me. And mock he did! I can laugh about it now, but as a ten year old I was humiliated more times that I can count.

Songs with lyrics I misunderstood:

  • “Hold me close I’m tired of dancin…” by Elton John is actually titled, Tiny Dancer, and was released in 1971. The line really says, “Hold me close, tiny dancer.”
  • “Blinded by the light. Wrapped up like a douche…” by Bruce Springsteen originally, but this version of Blinded By The Light was recorded by Manfred Mann in 1976. The line actually says, “…revved up like a deuce…” A deuce coupe more specifically. A fancy way to describe a sports car.
  • “I’ll light the fire. You place the flowers in the bras that you bought today.” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Our House was released in 1970. The song has nothing to do with putting flowers in a bra. Haha! As a pre-teen I had never heard the word vase pronounced with an “ahh” sound. The song makes more sense as written, “I’ll light the fire. You place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.” And finally one more…
  • “Had a F-___ing nightmare, and a little thunder.” I almost didn’t share this one, but this will probably garner the most laughter from you. I know it would have from my brother. Yeah, I really thought that’s what this line said from Steppenwolf’s, Born To Be Wild released in 1968. I have never been one to cuss, so I would always skip this line. I could never understand how the radio station back then was allowed to broadcast such language. It never occurred to me I might have misunderstood the lyrics. The song actually says, “I like smoke and lighting, heavy metal thunder, Racing with the wind, And the feeling that I’m under.” How in the world I came up with those lyrics instead I’ll never know. But I’m grateful to be able to sing the entire song now if I so choose. And with a clear conscience.

I’m curious. Did you ever misunderstand the lyrics to a song? I’d love to hear your embarrassing story–I promise not to mock you. But I might laugh. We can all use some laughter these days.

Speaking of laughter, check out this video I found on You Tube from The Holderness Family. Apparently I’m not the only one who has done this. These are hilarious!

This is post #13 in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash

Ave Marie (Broadmeyer)

I remember walking into her disheveled room not sure if she was any good at what she advertised. Her name was Marie Broadmeyer and she was to be my new vocal coach. Although in the 70’s the term was called “voice teacher”.

My Mom had signed both my sister and me up for lessons. We are six years apart; at the time she was 20 and an alto–I was 14 and a soprano. Together we had the sweet harmony that happens when sisters sing together.

Music comes naturally in our family; my Dad’s father had a beautiful baritone voice I’d only heard on a 45 rpm record made of one of his church solos at Roger Williams Baptist Church in Rhode Island. It was rich and soothing as he sang. He always said he loved singing so much he hoped he would die in the church choir. Prophetic, that’s exactly what happened. He gave his final solo performance, sat down in his seat and had a massive heart attack. I barely knew him, but I understood his love of music.

Back to Mrs Broadmeyer.

She was a large, old woman from Germany. Her strong facial features supported her rich contralto voice. We learned she was lauded all over Europe by reading the hundreds of newspaper clippings taped to the faded wallpaper surrounding her baby grand piano.

We had only 30 minutes with her per lesson, so there was no time to hear her story. She had us warm up with vocal stretches that always made me feel self-conscious, but what 14 year old isn’t self-conscious? After she was confident our vocal cords were ready, she would have us sing, O Danny Boy. Her baggy eyes watered as our voices filled the musty room. I used to believe our voices are what brought the emotion, but now I wonder if it wasn’t memories this song brought to mind.

I’ll never know.

Last night I went on-line to see if I could find any information about her life. Was she married? Did she have children? How did she end up in America? Was she born here or did she immigrate? How did this famous soloist end up in a dilapidated row house in downtown Orlando having to squeak out a living by giving voice lessons?

Once again, my immaturity didn’t lend me to ask such questions.

I did find out that she died in 1977 here in Orlando only four years after our time in her living room. She had 4 children, as far as I can tell, the last one dying in 2015. She was born in Germany in 1908 and died in 1977 at the age of only 69. I guess she wasn’t as old as I assumed.

Her husband who was 16 years older, proceeded her in death in 1969. She was widowed only 4 years when we started our weekly visits. I also found several arrival and departure dates of when she sailed to New York Harbor from Europe and vice versa. All in the 50’s confirming her frequent tours to Europe to perform.

This memory was vague as I started to write. But with a little research I was able to piece together quite a story.

Revisiting the lyrics of her beloved song, it seems appropriate to honor her memory with this final verse…

“But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an Ave there for me.
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!” – – O Danny Boy

I’m grateful to have known Mrs. Broadmeyer. This ave is for her. May she Rest In Peace.

This is post #12 in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

Surrender

Surrender is normally considered a form of weakness. You realize you aren’t going to win, so you decide to surrender before you lose. This happens in Poker, board games or on a more serious note–war.

Surrender is not usually something encouraged. But when it comes to my relationship with God, surrender is not only encouraged, but necessary for me to grow. This is why Christianity is often called the Upside-Down Kingdom. Things aren’t done as we would naturally do them. It takes a lifetime to learn this well.

I love to sing, and hymns are some of my all-time favorites. There are so many ways these hymns speak to my every day needs. Take this familiar hymn titled, I Surrender All. It was written by J.W. Van deVenter (1855-1939). He was a high school art teacher, but when God started stirring his heart to step out in faith into the ministry, he hesitated. Finally, during a revival at his church he surrendered all and became an evangelist.

His greatest influence from the pulpit was a young Billy Graham. They met while Billy was still in seminary. Mr. Graham recounts that he modeled much of his ministry and preaching style after this former art teacher turned evangelist. We make our plans, but the Lord directs our steps. Following is one of Mr. DeVenter’s most popular songs written shortly after he surrendered all with my personal thoughts on each phrase.

All to Jesus

All life is born from our Creator God. Life was His idea and He has faithfully cared for it since the beginning of time. His Son Jesus invites us in to relationship with Him and at age 10 I accepted the call. Grateful doesn’t begin to express how this one decision set my life on a trajectory of goodness and mercy. As I grew in my relationship with Him I realized what was next…

I surrender

There comes a time in every believer’s life when complete surrender is required. It isn’t a one time fits all kind of surrender. It is a regularly occurring choice to surrender completely my hopes, my dreams, my desires to His plan for me. Sometimes the two are the same, but more times than not, it’s completely unexpected and different from what I would have chosen. Always it is good–whether I see it or not. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Once I’m postured in this way, then…

All to Him I freely give

The key word here is freely–“freely have you received, freely give” as Matthew wrote in chapter 5:8b of his gospel. Jesus never demands what He asks of us. He is patient and understands what we are made of. He knows that our grip on this life is firm. We love what we can see. Loving what we don’t see requires something outside of ourselves; it requires Faith. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11. Faith is a gift available to all. If you want faith, but lack faith, ask Jesus to help you in your unbelief. He loves us to ask. And only then can we say…

I will ever love and trust Him

This is my daily prayer–to love Him and trust Him more. He is my hope and help on good days and difficult ones too. Our family has endured some very difficult times the last couple of years. I have learned what it means to truly trust Him. I used to say I did, but when life is going as expected it’s hard to tell if one is trusting God or simply resting in the good of life. But when 2019 hit, I was challenged in a way I’ve never experienced. I realized my trust was weak at best. Add to that another challenge with the pandemic, then a grandson born at 24 weeks, 5 days, and my healthy brother dying in only 5 weeks due to complications with Covid. I found that trusting in God was the only safe place where I could collapse. Everything around me was changing drastically; things I had no control over. Yet God reminded me that He is unchanging–always good, always trustworthy. Which allowed me to…

In His presence daily live

I wake up each morning not knowing what the day will bring. I can take that first step in fear or in faith. It’s a choice to love and trust Him. He alone knows what lies ahead of me, and is the One who makes all the difference in how I handle what will happen. Even this blog challenge is a stretch for me in this difficult season of my life, but I had to follow God’s stirring. He wanted me to do this, so I will trust Him.

I surrender all.

This is Day Two in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash

Clouds

In high school I was in the Advanced Chorus and Jazz Ensemble. I loved everything about it. Our teacher, Mr. Knepper, was not only an excellent teacher, but he was a prolific composer.

In my junior year he wrote a medley of tunes from each decade from the 1920’s to the 1970’s. It was a 30-40 minute production complete with choreography and matching outfits. It was not only fun, but our audiences loved it too.

We also participated each year in district and state competition. Our ensemble consistently won superior awards which built our confidence. Which lead us to enter solo competition too, including yours truly.

I’ll never forget my song of choice, Joni Mitchell’s, Both Sides Now.

I remember Mr. K telling me so many times, “Sing it like you mean it!” I hadn’t a clue what the song meant; I was only 16 and hadn’t lived enough life to see it all as an illusion.

But today as I cooled off in our pool from pulling weeds, I noticed the clouds.

“Rows and flows of angel hair, and ice cream castles in the air.”

I thought of my grandmother and how when I was a child, she would always encourage my imagination by spotting animals in the sky. I loved the game and I loved her attention.

Today, as an aging adult, I see that clouds are so much more than a tool to spawn the imagination of a child.

“But now they only block the sun. They rain and snow on everyone. So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way.”

This is one way to look at clouds.

But I see them more as tools to display God’s glory. Some days the clouds are so beautiful I take photos trying to catch the view. I call these “fair weather clouds”

Other times, when a tropical storm or hurricane is nearby, I love watching the clouds race across the darkened sky. And it’s even better when lightning occurs. It’s like watching a symphony take place with a timpani of thunder following the conductor’s lead.

Clouds. They can be peaceful or powerful. Happy or sad.

I’ll never forget seeing the cloud that hung in the air like a memorial over our Central Florida skies when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after takeoff.

Or the beautiful skies on the day the Lord called my brother home to be with him. He loves the song “I’ll Fly Away”, and I marveled at how God filled the sky that day with such glorious fair-weather clouds.

Clouds are beautiful. Joni Mitchell surmised that they were an illusion. She came to this conclusion because they can’t be touched or moved by human hands.

But God! He forms the clouds and has them go and do His bidding. They reflect His character.

Today, He is reminding me He is near even if I’ve yet to touch Him. It’s enough that He has touched my heart bringing faith alive.

Clouds aren’t an illusion, they’re a reflection of who God is. And one glorious day He will return on the same clouds that took Him to Heaven.

“Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Even so come, Lord Jesus!

The Value Of Old Letters

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Once again I was rummaging through some of my Mom’s papers and came upon a real treasure. I want to share it with you in an effort to inspire you to dig for your own undiscovered stories, as well as to encourage you to continue writing hand-written letters to your extended family. It is an art I’m afraid we’re losing.

It all began when I found a letter to my Mom and Dad from his cousin. It’s dated December 13, 1987. She was talking about an enclosed picture of her mom and my dad’s parents.

Dear Stan & Lee,

I have always felt “guilty” about grabbing that picture of Aunt Amy and my mother that day Jewett offered it to us when he was visiting several years ago, so now I’m trying to “make-up” for it!! This is not a copy of that picture, which wasn’t in very good condition anyway, but is one of a picture I thought you’d rather have since it shows both your mother and father. My mother is in it too.

As young people in their early 20’s – they used to help entertain at the hospital since they were all pretty talented. Aunt Amy (my Dad’s mom) always played the piano, Uncle Andy (my Dad’s dad) and my mother sang…Anyway, this is a copy of a group which put on “The Man From Brandon,” on December 7, 1912 – 75 years ago. Uncle Andy, as you can see, is in the front row. You’ll notice everyone is so serious–a characteristic when pictures were taken back in those days, for picture taking was serious business!!

Aunt Amy is to the left in the second row, and my mother is to the right in the top row. It would be interesting to know what the play was about since it appears to include a poodle, but I haven’t been able to locate it!

We know you’ll have a happy, busy Christmas, and we hope 1988 will be a healthy and prosperous one for you both and all your family.

Love,

Betty & Ken Porter

In 1987 the internet wasn’t around, so it was impossible to locate the play mentioned. But imagine my delight when I did a quick Google search and found it! I downloaded a PDF of it and can’t wait to read it. And yes, it does include a poodle! (Click on the picture below to access the script).

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Over a hundred years ago, and I’m uncovering a snippet of my paternal grandparents’ lives about which I knew nothing. It is priceless! And I’ve discovered one reason why I love plays and musicals; It’s in my genes! What’s even more amazing is that I only met my paternal grandparents twice before they died because we lived in Florida, and they lived in Rhode Island. I’ve always regretted missing this part of my family’s story, but this letter is proof that there is much more to be discovered.

You never know where or when another story will surface. But you might miss it if you’re not looking. I’m so glad I didn’t throw this old letter away thinking it was meaningless. I plan to treasure it forever!

What interesting facts have you discovered lately about your family? I’d love to hear!

Music Memories Never Fade

 

Music has always been a big part of my family.

I remember our vacations on the road being filled with folk songs like My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean, I’ve Been Working On The Railroad, and Found A Peanut to name a few. My Mom had a song for everything, and seemed she would pop a new one on us often and at unexpected times.

I think I’ve picked up her gift, as I find myself remembering songs for my grandchildren that I haven’t thought of in years. They’re fun songs that don’t have much meaning other than the memories they evoke in my heart.

Music is like that. It causes our hearts to remember a certain time in our past. But it’s not only our memory that is stirred, we remember the emotions we felt as well. This is why some of Sirius XM’s most popular stations are 60’s on 6, 70’s on 7 and 80’s on 8. We love to be reminded of what once was.

My dad loved music too.

He was the one who loved to gather our family around the piano to join him in singing songs like, The Holy City… as my sister played accompaniment. It was his father, my grandfather, who instilled this love of music in my dad’s heart. Andrew Gray was a soloist at his church and would often share his rich baritone voice on Sunday’s with his church family at the Cranston Street Roger Williams Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island. It was after one of his performances when he had a heart attack and died right there doing what he loved most.

When my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2003, we knew what would mean the most to him. We had the worship leader at our church come and play hymns on the piano while we all joined him singing. There were lots of tears, and many of us had a difficult time singing, but the look on my dad’s face as the music played was worth the pain.

I recently was shown the following video of an elderly man who had lived in a nursing home for over a decade.  Watch and see how technology is playing a part in bringing some of this man’s life back to him in a powerful way. Be sure to watch the entire piece–it will brighten your day.

What songs have had an impact on your life?