.posthidden {display:none} .postshown {display:inline} By His Own Hand. . .


An amalgamation of side notes

I'm sure I could probably have written fuller, more fleshed out musings on many of these things, but I haven't had the mental energy to do so, which actually provides a nice segue to the first point on the list:

- The grief rock has me on a weird cycle.  The past five or six weeks it's been kind of like this:

I never would have understood mood swings until I experienced them, or at least, recognized that I was experiencing them.  And that's where I've been at the past week, maybe ten days, like this:

Thankfully I have been through this before, but as it's happening, you can't help but think that it's just going to continue to cycle faster and faster until your head explodes.  What it probably actually means is that I just need to have a healthy cry, as I haven't really wept since I was in China and had a crazy dream, and that was over a year ago.

- I had the opportunity to babysit a beautiful five month old to help out two of my besties.  It is terrifyingly humbling to be put in charge of a tiny human who cannot do anything for themselves.  It really was an enjoyable two days though, mostly because at the end of the day she isn't my child.  I have a greater appreciation for parents everywhere, and especially for single parents- I don't know how anyone does that.  I also got a better appreciation for (what I feel like is a stereotypical musician's favorite) this passage of Scripture.  This idea of singing over someone. . . granted, singing to a baby to get her to sleep is not a new technique (but side note within a side note, baby whispering runs in my family; my dad has always had a way with small children, to the point where he cannot be in the room with my nephew if anyone else wants to spend time with him, because he will literally only want to be with my dad.  It's crazy), but it just struck me what a beautiful picture that is.

Granted, the things I sang were quite varied, whether praise/church songs or musical theater or kids songs (although I'm pretty sure I'm not ready to be a parent because one of my verses of "The Wheels on the Bus" involved a drug dealer asking "Want some crack?" so yeah), and really my default is to improvise chant melodies in a low range, typically Phrygian also sometimes I will shift over to Mixolydian for fun, but still, it gave me a perspective on the Father's love for His children and I still haven't 100% worked through that yet.

- I got asked to play for a cabaret (in town!!) this weekend (and actually have another show tonight) with a local community theater.  It never ceases to amaze me how open theater people are.  I mean, I show up to a rehearsal Wednesday to play piano with a group of people who have never met me (#sidenotewithinasidenote it is such a strange proposition to ask someone to print some music and meet a stranger, and that stranger to tell them to just sing and he'll play the piano and everything will be fine.  And it is.  But still, strange) and I am immediately accepted and loved.  And it's super fun, to just show up and perform.  There's a freshness in having to sightread/sight-accompany that makes this kind of performance different than most other things I do.  But either way, I'm looking forward to many more collaborations with them.

- It is insane to think about the opportunities I've had in my life to have great musical experiences and to have learned the things I have in the amount of life I've had.  I would say I've been spoiled but that sounds too negative, blessed sounds super cliched (#blessed), and fortunate sounds too accidental.  So I guess I will say that I am thankful that God in His sovereignty saw fit to put the pieces in my life together to bring me to a point where, for the time being, I can not only survive financially as a musician but enjoy doing it.  I can point to many difference experiences and people that have helped to craft me into the artist that I am still figuring out how to be, and that's pretty awesome.



My first half marathon

I don't want to downplay the accomplishment of having completed the half marathon today because I've done several full marathons at this point, but. . . . you guys, I ran fast.  1:59:30.

That is stupid.  I'm gonna be so sore tomorrow.

But if we go back to that post where I talked about races. . . here is the beautiful thing.

This morning was very enjoyable because I was there.  The smell of the air and the trees and the flowers, the feeling of the pavement and the trails and the wet, the taste of these amazing dumplings with a pineapple curry sauce (that was after the race, but still). . .

It was nice to be back to running and enjoying life.  In many ways, it felt like something I had known before but different somehow.  And in some other areas of life recently. . . I'm also getting a fresh start.  I know there is so much more to say but my brain is jello and so are my legs.  But God is too good. Way too good to me.




It's May.

This week coming up isn't too crazy, but still full, and then-

after May 7-


Relatively, of course.

I'm very much feeling like a plane landing, as it hits the tarmac and starts to decelerate and all the fast air rushes past.  It's good timing in that this is another one of those tougher weeks, where the grief rock is heavier and digging in, and it's hard to go full steam ahead when you're trying to deal with that.  But it will be nice to have some quiet weeks ahead.  Even when rehearsals start back up in June, I will still have most mornings and days and some evenings.  Time to reflect.  Time to unwind.  Time to process.  Time to relax, as much as I ever can.

And time to write, perhaps?


Running and redemption

Just a quick post as I liked the imagery that came from real life today. . .

So I ran 7 miles today successfully.  Yay for that.  But as I began running, I had the thought of "I'm going to redeem myself after the fiasco last week."  After all:

Last week I was running in 80/90 degree weather.  Today it was 50/60.
Last week I ran two days in a row.  Today I had taken a rest day in-between.
Last week I decided somewhat last minute to change my plans.  Today I had prepped myself all week.
Last week I was in a rush to get to a show.  Today I have a little extra time before I have to get going.

But isn't that the picture of our Christian struggle?  We try to do things on our own, in bad timing, ignorant of what we've just gone through, never looking ahead, squeezing things into our busy lives that only serve to distract and ultimately disappoint us.  Instead of trusting in God and His plan, we decide we know better.

And then we fail.

But God offers us a different way of doing things.  A redeeming not only eternally but daily.  In our struggle, in our pursuit, our task is to rely on God's way.  And here's the important part (that I have to constantly remind myself of): Jesus said "Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest."  But He didn't stop there.  "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

There are all kinds of exhortations in the New Testament about our side of sanctification- faith without deeds is dead (James 2:17-18), work our your salvation (Philippians 2:12), the life we live we live by faith (Galatians 2:20).  But we aren't left to our own strength, as God works in us (Philippians 2:13) and He will complete us (1:6).  So keep fighting.  Keep working.  Keep running.

7 miles is not a burden-less task.  But it's way easier to do it when you're doing it right.


The grief rock

I haven't talked much publicly about my grief process.  Writing is a great way for me to express as it sets thoughts in a tangible way- not that those thoughts can't change or aren't temporary, but I can use them as an assessment of a specific point.  Also, whether the audience ends up being me alone or something more exposed like this, I think there's value in writing to the invisible audience.  So anyway, I came up with this analogy, and it's probably a little obtuse, but not as bad as the molecular reaction turkey handshake.

It's like a rock that I carry around.  Maybe a little larger than a microwave.  And this rock, it has a lot of different materials, a lot of different surfaces and textures. . . it seems like you can look at it from every angle and it always seems a little different, there's always something new to discover.  Some parts of it are smooth, too smooth to grip, and other parts are rough, sharp even.  And so sometimes I am carrying the rock and it is scraping my hands, or maybe I hold it to one side and it jabs into my torso, or if I sling it over my back it can't stay still because the smooth parts won't grip on to anything.  Sometimes when I'm carrying it I notice its weight.  It's not unbearably heavy, but it's also not something that is easy to carry around.  Mostly it's uncomfortable.  But sometimes I'm carrying it and don't even notice it; I can run and hold it above my head, or tote it behind me as I work on other things with my hands.  Sometimes I'm even able to set it down for a while and go and do other things.  . . but I always come back to it.  Sometimes I kick it or punch it, but that only proves to hurt me and not change the rock at all.
And so I find myself asking a lot of questions about it.  Is there something useful I'm supposed to be doing with it?  Is there an opportunity to shape it into something new?  The material won't change, but perhaps I can craft it into something.  Or maybe I'm not supposed to carry it around.  Is there somewhere I should put it, set it as a monument or memorial so that I can come back to it if I want, but I don't have to continue to cart it everywhere?  Or maybe. . . is there some other option?  It seems there is always something new to be discovered about it.  Do I just keep doing what I'm doing with it, just embrace it as a part of the daily walk of life?

As I thought through this imagery last night after what had ended up being a day where I was aware of the weight and the roughness and the discomfort, I realized there's something else to add.  Because there is Someone else in the picture.  Someone who is right here with me.  Someone who has dealt with this kind of rock.  Someone who understands.  Someone who offers compassion.  Someone who offers to help.  And so now my question is this: am I supposed to give my rock to Him?  Is it something we can trade back and forth, or is it something that I need to let go of completely?  If I can be rid of it, how do I do that?  How do I let go?


A line from "Hello, Dolly" has been bouncing around in my head (which, side note, until I became a widower I never realized how often that is used as a storytelling device, including in theater.  I suppose any new normal brings an awareness and sensitivity to any similar experience):

But lately, Ephraim, I've begun to realize that for a long time... I have not shed one tear.  Nor have I been for one moment outrageously happy.

I can't begin to tell you how much I identify with that statement.  But near the end of that same monologue, she states:

I've decided to join the human race again.

In many ways, that is what I've been moving towards these past few months.  To return to my life.  To return to God and His plan and His will.  To join the land of the living.

So while the question still remains, I will continue to seek the Answer.


Running and performing

First of all, one of my resolutions for this year was to write around once a week, no matter how little or how mundane.  That obviously hasn't happened.
Another one of my resolutions was to not tell people my resolutions.

So....0 for 2 so far.

 So in my journey to become healthy again, I have picked up running. I've always enjoyed running, and I'm glad to make the time for it in my schedule, as it's very much a prayer/zen/sometimes the only time I get to see the sun place.  I signed up for a half marathon in May, both to keep myself motivated to run and to get a decent time so I can have a higher corral placement at the 2018 Disney Marathon.  And also, I really enjoy running.
While I haven't been following a specific training plan for the half, I've just reverted to the opening weeks of marathon training (which is 16 weeks, and I'll have only done about 8 weeks of serious training before this race arrives, so math?  Half the marathon, half the training time?).  So this week was supposed to be 17 total miles (3-4-3-7).  But with my schedule this week (more on that in a moment) my available times to run that distance were:
This afternoon from 4:30-6 and be late for call
Tonight 11:30-1AM (after getting home from the show)
Tomorrow morning 5-6:30 AM
Sunday morning 5-6:30 AM
Sunday night 11-12:30
Originally I was gonna do tonight because I really enjoy night running, but tomorrow and Sunday are both slammed and I thought I would appreciate having decent hour of sleep tonight.
 As I thought through my day today I change my mind and decided to try and squeeze it in this afternoon. Which is fine timing wise, but it was very hot. Also I ran Thursday morning and was on my feet most of the first half of the day. So the end of my story/rambling is that I only got 45 minutes of running and before I had to give up. Now, I recognize that 45 straight minutes is an accomplishment. I couldn't tell you before the past few weeks the last time I ran that long consecutively. Probably been at least two years, if not more. But I was disappointed in myself because I'm supposed to get seven, and ended up with between 4-4.5, and even thouch it was probably physical factors more than anything, I hate losing the mental game.   So I need to recognize my limitations, but also not give up; if I keep going consistently, and stay on target next week, or even if I fail the long run again, I'm still doing so much better than I ever would have expected.  Also I know that I'm super busy and running is a "hobby" and therefore should not get precedence.

 Which brings me to my next topic:

 Someone asked me recently why I try and take Mondays off. To answer that question, let me show you my schedule for this past couple and upcoming couple days-
Wednesday- 7:30-8:45 rehearsal at UNF
9-10:30 practice at JU
10:30 lesson
11-12 rehearsal
12-1 lunch (ended up donating blood during this time period)
2-3:30 rehearsal
Commute to Palm Coast
5-6 practice
6-10:30 rehearsal

7-12 DeLand/Orlando
Commute back to Palm Coast
3-5 rehearsal
6 call for Addams
Show ends 10, commute back to Jax

7-8 warm-up/practice
9-10 rehearsal UNF
10:30-11:15 rehearsal
12 masterclass
2-3 rehearsal
Commute to daytona
6 call, show ends 10

7-9 men's Bible study
9-11 set up sound for church
Commute to Melbourne
2 funeral
Commute to Daytona
6 call, show ends 10

7:30-11:30 church
Commute to Daytona
Show 2
Commute to Palm Coast
Rehearsal 6-10

 That's why I try to take Mondays off.   And God is good in that I have the ability to find a day off. We all need to break. Also, I know that this is just my schedule from February to April, so don't get the idea that I am always quite this busy. But this is what I mean when I say I'm crazy in the spring.

The end.


February Statistics

Performances: 7 (+9 class/lab)
Pieces performed: 41
Cities worked in: 4
Miles driven: 3,442
Miles ran: 3.1
Pounds lost: ~19
Nights of sleep before midnight: 22
Sweet potatoes consumed: 5

God is good!!

.... and so are sweet potatoes.