I love live music; don’t you? I mean, I love music in general but there’s just something special about a live show. More on that in a minute, but first I have to say: I’ve been to more concerts in the last 5 years than I had the entire 15 years previously, so you might think then that my love of live music is a recent thing. Actually, though, I went through a phase in life where concerts weren’t something I did and now it’s something I’m doing again.
I think my first concert must’ve been with my parents and sister to see Conway Twitty when I was about 3 years old. I remember bright lights and sleeping through it.
My first real concert though was the Steven Curtis Chapman Great Adventure Tour. I was 13 and have always thought of it as my first double date, although I’m positive that I was the only one thinking that. It was my youth leader and his wife and the boy from the youth group on which I had a crush. That counts, right?
So over the years I’ve seen a few bigger names like the Dixie Chicks, Sheryl Crow (twice!), Rascal Flatts (also twice), Lady Antebellum, Sugarland … a lot of country music I know … Jewell, Paul Simon at the Grand Ol Opry … and some of my favorite contemporary Christian groups Casting Crowns, Tenth Avenue North, Jars of Clay, and most recently Third Day.
I was thinking while at Third Day at how this looks just like a secular concert but it’s not. The lights, the screaming fans, the loud instruments, the energy, jumping up and down and dancing (yes, dancing, at a Christian event) is the same. But the difference is the Spirit and the Word (and words). The Third Day concert looked just like anyother concert but these guys weren’t just singing about broken relationships and hurts and love songs for the sake of capturing the human experience. They sang about those things with an element of hope! And they were singing about and to Jesus, and that’s huge! I mean, in addition to enjoying the show and being impressed by amazing musical talents, it was worshipful, like being at church or like what I imagine heaven to be like.
So, in addition to all that, I knew when I made plans to go that part of going might be painful. John was a bigger Third Day fan than I, and I played a live version of their song Nothing Compares at his funeral. It was a favorite of his for the speech made by lead singer Mac Powell during the middle of the song:
“Those words that were written and spoken by the Apostle Paul apply just as much to our lives today as they did 2,000 years ago when he wrote them. That in our lives, no matter where we could go or who we could meet or what we could see or what we could earn or be given to us or accomplish, there is nothing in our lives that will ever even come close to the greatness of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I was prepared to hear the song and even kind hopeful to hear it, to see if or what Powell might say in the middle.
They didn’t play it.
But, what they did play was Miracle, and that was probably even harder to hear than Nothing Compares would’ve been.
The true story in Miracle is about a guy who drives into the woods to end his life and hears a song (a Third Day song, to be exact) on Christian radio, which was the only station he could pick up, and after hearing the song he decides not to end his life.
Well, as you might imagine, when I first heard this song on the radio many months ago I naturally wanted to know why I didn’t get a miracle, why didn’t John hear a song – his favorite Third Day song, even — and make a different choice. Why don’t I get to go up to Third Day after a concert, like the family that the song is about, and tell my story and have them write a song about it? Why, instead, is my story that a Third Day song didn’t save his life but was played at his funeral?
There’s no answers to those questions, save that God is sovereign and God is good and this is what He allowed to happen instead. So I trust He knows what He’s doing. But, the questions were there and the warm tears on my cheeks were there too when they played this story live. And while there’s a certain sadness to it obviously, there’s a stange peace too in trusting that God knows what He’s doing and our miracle just isn’t the same as others’. There’s miracles all over the place in how God has taken care of me and the boys through all of this and I anticipate more miracles to come.
No matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done
There will come a time when you can’t make it on your own
And in your hour of desperation
Know you’re not the only one, praying
Lord above, I need a miracle
“Illusion” was written by a friend of a friend, and the beautiful young girl on the cover is my friend, T’s, daughter. T knows I love to read and then write about what I read, so one week not that long ago she loaned me her copy to read and review.
It’s one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. It reads like an autobiography but is actually a work of Christian fiction based on the author Erin Hicks’ experiences with loss and depression. A few chapters in, I sent a text to T asking if the book really was fiction or was it based on a true story. The first-person voice seemed extremely authentic; I felt like I was reading a true experience, told with the depth and sincerity that only someone who has been there could talk about. Hicks writes in her author notes that the story is fictional but based on some of her own experiences with themes of loss, death and depression.
The book’s title comes from the “illusion” created by main character Rylei Cabot in her attempt to hide her depression and pain after she loses her sister in a tragic car accident. Cabot has a crisis of faith and self that ultimately affects her relationships and her career in such a way that she is forced to confront her issues.
The story also deals with issues of drug and alcohol abuse and attempted suicide.
Hicks is a Mississippi native currently working on her Masters of Divinity and pursuing ordination in the United Methodist Church. “I wrote this book after having numerous youth, and adults, ask me how I get through difficult times in my life,” Hicks writes. “This is my answer for them, in narrative form, about how hope can be found even in the darkest of places at times. My goal with this book, as with any writing, is to bless the reader.”
The short: Hicks impressively uses a fictional story to share authentic and powerful insight into very real issues that secretly plague many people.
I don’t talk about it much, especially not on here and especially not the past year and a half.
By “it” I mean that I’m a widow and/or a single mom.
I don’t talk about it because I don’t want it to define me.
I don’t talk about it because most times it’s not relevant to what I do want to talk about.
I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to become bitter or whiney.
Et cetera, et cetera.
The last year and a half, though, I’ve not talked about it because someone saw me mention on here the difficulty of being a single parent and saw me post on Facebook last year an article about suicide awareness month and accused me of “playing the widow card.”
I’m not even entirely sure what they were trying to say, but I was hurt and shamed. They told me they didn’t understand why it was so hard for me to deal with my husband’s death and suicide and grief because I hadn’t wanted to stay married to him anyhow.
We had problems. Big ones. I thought they were too far gone to fix. I thought that if the problems couldn’t be fixed I wanted out of the marriage. I thought that problems too big to fix were an excusable reason to break my vows.
For the record: I was wrong.
But wanting the problems to go away and thinking separating/divorcing would do that is a far cry from wanting someone to die.
I didn’t want him dead. I didn’t want him to take his life. I didn’t want my boys to lose their dad. I wanted more and better, not less and worse.
So I’ve been quiet about the grief and the hurts and the struggles of loss and of picking up the pieces.
I was shamed and ashamed. But there’s been such spiritual richness during this time too that it’s a shame, too, not to share my various questions and thoughts and experiences.
So I’m done feeling shamed and ashamed.
I accept God’s grace. And I extend grace, too, to the person who made the comment. Like Jesus said from the cross, “Father forgive them; they know not what they do.” That’s not to be self-righteous because I’m part of the “they” who knew not what I did too. We all need grace.
And if some part of my experience — the good or the bad — can minister or help someone else, that’s awesome. That’s why I share, not to seek or gain sympathy but to put out there something real and genuine that may seem hopeless but isn’t because with God we are never without hope.
And maybe someone out there going through similar things will feel not so alone and will feel hope.
We finally made it over to Supper Heroes restaurant last weekend.
In our neck of the woods, locally-owned burger and chicken places pop up from time to time. We definitely like to try new places and sometimes take others there or make it a family favorite.
Every thing I’d heard about Supper Heroes from those who had been there was good, and we had to, of course, check it out for the superhero theming.
We all ordered pretty “safe” entrees, nothing too out there, ahtough the menu packs lots of variety. The boys had chicken fingers and I got a bacon cheeseburger. I had to try the fried green tomatoes too, because fried green tomatoes are my favorite vegetable.
It is still considered a vegetable, even if you batter and fry it … right?
The burger reminded me of a Red Robin burger but on sourdough toast. The green tomatoes weren’t the best I’ve had but it may be because it’s too early in the growing season to have them fresh. I’ll just have to try them again. ;)
Finn didn’t have much to say on the chicken — keep reading for his full review – but he liked watching Star Wars Episode 1 on the flat screen while we were there.
The favorite part for Caden was that the dessert that came with the kids meal was your choice of a Little Debbie cake. (And, being allowed to play his brother’s iPod during the meal. He wouldn’t even look up for a picture.)
I don’t generally eat slaw but the look of this slaw was intriguing. It little red flakes in it that turned out to be cayenne pepper. The slaw was kinda sweet, so the cayenne gave it a sweet-heat flavor.
I saved the best review for last though.
From the outside, you wouldn’t even know there was a restaurant in the building, much less a super-hero restaurant.
So Finn, the thoughty 9-year-old he is, said:
“From the outside it looks kinda boring, but on the inside it’s pretty awesome.”
Check ‘em Out @ 1812 Winchester Road (Huntsville AL).