All The Way To Heaven

While it’s only been a little over a year since I started this blog, it seems like just as long since I’ve contributed to it.  My journey, full of spirit and joy, took one too many of a tumble and, for reasons that I both care not to, and can’t even explain, I couldn’t even think about standing up and moving forward, especially when it seemed my journey had led me backward.

Somehow, however, between there and here, I’ve managed to muster up enough energy to start to stand up, and at the very least, start dusting myself off, glancing at this mountainous journey ahead of me still, and still willing to entertain it.  Something still awaits me and if I know nothing else about myself at this point, I at least know that I’m curious and hopeful enough to check into it.  I may not have the best tools for the job, and I may not use the right tool for the job, but my heart is in the right place, and hopefully it will all be enough for God to love me.

So much happened on the way down the last time that I don’t even want to bother talking about all  of it.  I just know that there were probably plenty of opportunities for me to grab onto something as I slid, but I failed to notice.  Of course I failed to notice, I never noticed on the way up either.  On beautiful days I kept my eyes to the sky and just let my feet land where they may, not noticing my left or my right, and on dreary or stormy days I kept my eyes toward the ground, unable to see anything but where I was able to plant my feet.  I cheated myself out of half of the journey by not looking around and taking in the sights or moments.  All I was doing was moving.

I’m trying to do better now.  Some days are sunny, some are stormy, but there are still things to the left and the right that I can check out.  I can glance away from the heavens for a moment, I can try to turn off the other noises, and I can look at you, or us, or all of us.  I can tilt my head up from the ground and find the same.

Along most trails, there are marked areas for things to do, or best scenery, or something like that.  I’m trying to not keep passing them by just to get through the trail.  I don’t want to miss the point of everything, the beauty of it all, the reason behind it all, and the memories of it all.

I’ll get to where I’m going eventually, I may get lost, I may get to where I hope I wouldn’t be, either way, I will have gone knowing I made the best journey of it that I could, and that I blazed the trail with the best intentions.

~Dear Lord, what I ask of you today is for wisdom, to know when I’m taking my life and family for granted, and to know how to be the best me I can be, for the sake of myself, my family, and for all your people.  In your most precious name, I pray.  Amen~

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Jukebox Novel

First, I’m going to say that I’m going to be praying that the words that I find to be able to tell you all that I want to say, describe all that I feel I want to, and the ability to not turn it into a three day novel, come to me with little ease, yet, with accurate meaning and emotion.  Amen

Hopefully, that will start working soon.  I struggled even to type that prayer out.  It’s easier just to feel it in your heart and know it your mind, and God, knows exactly what your heart means, ya know?  It’s like…if you over-think that emotion, try desperately to figure out every little thing about it, including it’s name, so as to put a word to it, the more you will struggle with the entire emotion, or sentence, as a whole.  Does any of this make sense?  If not, oh well…it makes sense to me.

Just know that it has been an incredible week.  A series of blessings from our Lord has me feeling like I’m wrapped in a blanket of spiritual coziness and contentedness.  While it’s been a rough week, one in which fears and concerns lingered around matters of our hearts, both physiologically and figuratively, all of our prayers were answered and we are all alive, well, and together…Glory be to God.

I already took a time out from writing this because I got stumped with my words.  Words are definitely going to be hard to come by, other than for story telling, as I’ve told you before, God talks to me through my music, especially this week.  So, I guess I’m just going to have to tell you a story, and provide the soundtrack that went along with it.  Now, one could say that it’s easily coincidental, considering that most of these songs are on my MP3 player already, and I am therefore bound to hear them.  However, because it’s set on shuffle, I am going to hear them in whatever order I am destined to hear them.  Can God control my electronic devices?  Yes He can!  When he knows that I’m not going to be the one to open The Bible and expect a certain verse to stick out, and I’m not the one to get goosebumps in 110 degree weather following a prayer, nor am I the one to hear His voice call out to me in the clearing in a forest, He places His will unto my MP3 player and it is through that I hear Him telling me all that I need to know.  Sounds silly, huh?  I actually call my MP3 player my HIM-P3 player, originally because all that was on it was the band HIM, now, also, because of Him.

Since Monday, I’ve already had a song in mind for this weeks blog.  I’m not sure why it came to me, and I’m not sure why I considered it, considering that it’s actually quite a special song.  In fact, I didn’t really give it too much thought when I first thought about it, thinking that it was early yet, and that, surely, something else would come along.  But, much like the reason behind the special nature of this song, my mind and my heart refused to give up on it, and, from that point on, it’s as if everything else just seemed to fall into place.  I noticed the singer from a movie I had seen before, albeit, not one that kept me very interested.  When we got the all clear that my mother-in-law was alright to come home from the hospital, it was the first song to come on my player when I went to go get the car yesterday.  No, I hadn’t listened to it yet, the song had just popped into my head earlier in the week, and again, I wouldn’t let go of it.

God is like that too.  When He’s got you, He’s got you…mind, body, and spirit.  And when you’ve got Him, you’ve got Him, no matter what, and no matter what is going on around you.  And when you surrender all those things, including yourself to Him, then you can finally be in a relationship with Him.  A relationship is not just with one person, you can’t just have it with yourself, and you can’t control it, both people equally interact within it.  In a relationship with God, it is no different, there is still giving and getting.  You still have to give yourself to Him to be able to receive Him, and however the dynamics work, it can be a beautiful story.

So I sang out loud to that song, as I was sitting there waiting in the car for my wife and Mama-T, before I decided to play it one more time, just to listen to again.  And then I moved on to the next one, a song I had known since the mid-90’s, one in which I had always moved me and found a bit of myself in.  The song has come up a few times before in the past, that is, when I’ve chosen to listen to it instead of skipping over it once the newness of it wore off, in times when I’ve probably needed to listen to it most.  It still invoked the same emotions in me, although my inability to really describe emotions to you write now, unfortunately, leaves me with little else to say about what that means.  However, when I consider the other times that my spirit has told my mind to tell my body not to let my finger press “skip,” such as when I lost my son, and my best friend, and when I consider some of the darkness that I’ve been stumbling in and out of, I’m grateful to have received the blessing of this song as well.

On the way home, I didn’t get a chance to continue to listening to any music.  My wife was making phone calls and I had the window down to smoke a cigarette, which in her terms, means it was to loud so I needed to sacrifice one or the other.  It’s not being mean, it’s just too much road noise.  I decided to turn the player off, which I usually only listen to in the car unless I need it for something else.

That night, I needed it for cooking.  When I’m spending a considerable amount of time in the kitchen, I like to have my music going.  And since the family was in the living room watching t.v., I listened to my MP3 player instead of just grabbing my laptop and listening without headphones.  It was like picking up on God’s messages from where I left off.

I pressed play, and I admit, I did hit the skip button, opting to skip over a song by my favorite band HIM, a song that I usually listen to ALL the time, but really just didn’t feel like listening to this time.  It took a nano-second for my spirit to tell my mind to tell my body to press skip.  And then a song came up that I had heard earlier this week, at the local holiday boat parade, actually.  I was excited when I heard it the first time, and even more so when I heard it this time.  It was like God was my DJ all of a sudden and my kitchen became my dance floor.  It was as if a weight had been lifted from me.  In light of all the recent conditions and conversations going on in all the facets of my world, it was then that it felt like it was like a Friday night at the club and I was in my 20’s again, and all I was doing was dancing around my little apartment kitchen, cooking chicken parmesan for my family, just letting the spirit move me in everything I did and felt.  I was grateful for everything I had in that room and the fact that God was letting me have them all another day, so his blessing was like my drug, made me all starry-eyed.  He can do that to you, ya know!

Dang it, I got so caught up in dancing, I forgot to pre-heat the oven!  Oh well, I just had to listen to another song and dilly-dally around the kitchen a little longer before I put the chicken in.  The next song that came up was just a classic song that I had been rockin’ out to since I was young.  It’s just a feel good song, but this time, I wasn’t dancing quite as crazy.  I think I put a little air guitar in there somewhere right before our daughter came into the kitchen, not that there’s much room, and wanted to know what I was listening and dancing too.  (To see if I had the right rhythm perhaps?)  I informed her of the song and she didn’t know it, I wasn’t surprised, but she took my other earbud and popped it in her ear to listen for a moment so she too could experience the amazing sound and beat.  But more than that, going back to what I said about being grateful for everything I had in that room, when she grabbed my other earbud, I didn’t freak out.  Normally, it’s something that I wouldn’t allow.  I’m a mild germaphobe and I don’t like when other people use things of mine that are somewhat personal.  I don’t allow her to use my earbuds, drink out of my cups, I don’t eat anything of hers after she’s eaten it (like a bag of chips), stuff like that.  This particular instance, however, it was as if it went completely unnoticed or it was something totally usual and something I didn’t mind.  Patience and tolerance IS something I’ve been praying an awful lot for lately.  That God of ours…

Alright, the chicken went in the oven and it was time for a cigarette.  I bolted out the door, player still on, and the next song was just about to cue up.  Wait…this isn’t like all the others.  I can’t dance to this one.  Ahh…I see!  This one is meant to make me think.  It’s funny that this song came up, it takes me forever to even try to find it when it’s on shuffle, and it’s the only song I have by this particular artist, and I’ve referenced the person that introduced me to this particular artist quite often this last week.  It made sense that this song came up, again, because of all the darkness I’ve been stumbling through, not just recent, but lifelong.  But recently, it seems like I feel the need to put the weight of the world on my shoulders when I know it doesn’t belong there and I know my shoulders cannot, and has no business holding the weight.  God did not intend on me carrying the weight I’ve carrying, so I just needed to take a moment, walk around, smoke, and really think about dumping those extra pounds.  Yes, I can care.  Yes, I can love.  Yes, I can feel bad about…  Yes, I can be angry that… But, I can’t control what others do with whatever it is that I had to with it, ya follow?  It’s like trying to push a boulder uphill and it keeps rolling down, like Sisyphus, in ancient Greek mythology.  (Another interesting story for another time)  And I don’t have so much control over life that “if this…then that…”  Like when our cat disappeared earlier this week, I felt like I had done something wrong, and it was therefore my fault and I, was therefore, being punished.  Really?  Does God really work like that?  (That is just a mild example)

I came back inside and got dinner ready.  That means that I portioned it and plated it up all nice and pretty the way that I like to do.  Then we sat down and ate a nice family meal together for the first day since Monday.  Later on that night, The X Factor came on.  Yep, more music!  One of the first songs that really hit me was a song from a long time ago, a song that I had burned to a CD for my mom for Christmas at one point.  But when I heard it last night, everything about it changed, and I knew, for sure, to whom the song belonged to, at least in my heart.

The very last song brought tears to my eyes, in fact, if I took a breath through the entire song, I wouldn’t have known it.  I’ve loved this song since I first heard it, although the first time I heard it was in the movie Shrek.  There’s really not much I can say about this song, it just is what it is.  And when there’s nothing else, there’s always a “Hallelujah.”

After the show, we watched the next show, “I Hate My Teenage Daughter.”  It’s a funny show, and my wife and I laughed our butts off the entire time, finding absolute ironic humor in the fact we can laugh at some of the same situations that this t.v. family goes through when we struggle and scream through them.  Then we attempted to watch a movie, but my wife was tired and started to fall asleep, so I started working on a video for our daughter’s birthday.  I came out to the kitchen to grab a snack before I got started and she was out in the living room uploading songs to her computer that she purchased from her Itunes birthday card from her dad, which was totally unexpected, and which she was really excited about.  As I was fixing up a snack, she was playing a song in the background that sounded familiar, however, I couldn’t quite place it.  I liked it, and I knew that I had heard it before, so I asked her about it and went on about my night.  But then, it made sense.  I heard it on X-Factor also, which is the version I’m using because Josh’s revision is more “me”, but it summarizes so much of the last seven years of my life, our lives, where we’ve come from, and where we are now.  It started way back with The Greatest Story Ever Told.

~Lord, I can’t express enough, my gratitude for all the blessings you’ve given us throughout this week.  Your Love and Truth shines bright upon us, and I glorify You for all that You are and all that You do.  Thank you, also, for the healthy blessing of the new baby girl in the family.  Please continue to watch over our health and happiness as we continue to celebrate the upcoming anniversary of your birth, Oh Lord.  Please continue to shine your light on us all around the world and make us open to receive your light and Truth.  In Jesus name, I pray.  Amen~