Things I’ve learned about myself in the past couple of months:
I really like the band Cake. Like, a lot. Pandora keeps playing their songs and I have loved every single one of them. Most of them I had never heard before, so it’s cool to find “new” music that is also enjoyable (with the cochlear implants and all…)
I feel a lot more human when I’m wearing a pair of jeans. As opposed to skirts or leggings or khakis. I know some people don’t find jeans comfortable, but I’m not one of them. Jeans are good. I’m keeping them.
That’s it. Just those two things. So not really a list, I guess. Sorry if I led you on. I’ll keep writing stuff for you to read, don’t worry. I’m thinking my next post will probably be about food and my wonderful cooking. So stay tuned, I am here for you!!
I’m a little tired today, but it’s still early. There’s a chill in the air, so I’m out here enjoying the chirping of the birds while wrapped in a blanket.
The cool weather has me wishing I was running. With the breeze and the sun, it’s my favorite weather to run in. If I didn’t have neighbors so close on each side I would be doing my exercises out here on the deck. Maybe next year I’ll be old enough to not care, but I’m not there yet.
This morning I was reading Luke chapter 15, the story of the prodigal son, and it reminded me of the ridiculous choices I made way back when in my prodigal days. I also read as part of a devotional reading plan this morning about how we often relate to God in a similar way to how we relate with our earthly fathers. And this led to a strong desire to share my prodigal story with you kind readers. So, here goes.
I was a straight A student in high school, with the exception of that B in gym. I was a well behaved child, mostly. Not necessarily because I was good hearted, but more so that the other kids at school wouldn’t judge me and call me a hypocrite. So when I tossed that graduation cap in the air, I felt like I had been released from the judgment. I could experiment with the world. I wanted to explore. I started saying yes to the party invitations.
Prodigal: “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant”
That summer, while still living at home, I did a lot of heavy drinking. I discovered a lot of things, like how my friends were acquiring liquor, and also that my body does not like rum. Since I had turned 18 earlier that year, I was able to legally buy cigarettes, so I started smoking too. Menthols, because regular cigarettes were nasty. (Who was I kidding, right? They’re all nasty.) It was a fun summer, but it was mostly regrettable for all the lying I did to my parents.
When I went off to college that fall I thought I had gotten the rebellion out of my system and I could move forward. Famous last words.
I lived in the dorms, down in the valley. I had to walk quite a ways to get to class (up hill! Both ways! In three feet of snow!!). During this time period I was dressing like a dime store punk – greasy hair, long baggy bell-bottom pants, polyester shirts. I kind of wish I had pictures, but we didn’t have digital back then. My new look must have attracted the wrong people because I was befriended by John, who also lived in the dorms. I’ll never forget this conversation: we were walking to class and talking about music and I was telling him how much I liked Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and he asked me – “Oh, do you smoke?” I thought he meant cigarettes, so I quickly answered yes.
And that, my friends, is how easy it was to get started smoking marijuana. This was the beginning of the end of my college experience. I was introduced to pot and as it turns out, I loved it. So much so that I was smoking it all the time. I was sleeping too late, missing class, being a total jerk to my roommate, and doing questionable things I thankfully can’t remember. This went on for months. When our grades were posted and I saw that I was getting C’s, I gave up. I had never in my life gotten C’s, so I couldn’t see any way to come back from it. Without a word to anyone, I went to the registrar’s office and dropped out.
My mom lived in the same town, so I told her first. She graciously allowed me to move my stuff into her dining room and sleep on a cot until I could secure a more permanent space. I don’t remember how long before I told my dad, but I remember we were in a movie theater, waiting for a movie to start. I told him I had dropped out of school, and instead of being angry at me for throwing away my future, he told me he loved me and gave me a great big hug.
I still can’t really describe to you how much these gestures of grace and forgiveness mean to me, even to this day. I trusted I could count on my mom to accept me, but I had expected condemnation from my dad. I expected disappointment, yet I received unconditional love. I was the prodigal son, and he welcomed me home with open arms. He didn’t throw me a party, but he may as well have. That hug was something special. It was a gift that gave me the strength to move forward with my life. To pack up and move on.
Genesis 12:1 (NIV) “The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
I spent several months living in an apartment with a couple of my brother’s friends from high school, and eventually (miraculously, perhaps) rededicated my life to following my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God met me on the kitchen floor with a dusty Bible one morning and called me to move to Lansing. It’s where I’ve built so many cherished friendships, and it’s where I met my husband and we are raising our family. It’s where I later learned that my great grandparents built a home and raised their children (my grandfather and great aunt). My grandmother even graduated from the same high school my husband did.
So the miracle that happened here, the end of this story, is that God saw that door I slammed shut with my stupidity and opened a window to a new life, a better life. He welcomed this prodigal daughter back home and threw her a party.
Have you slammed any doors shut in your life? Is God trying to show you a window to something better? Maybe it’s time to dust off that Bible, grab a cup of coffee, and search for it. Pull up a chair and sit with Him for awhile, He’s waiting to show you. If nothing else, He wants to give you a big party-sized hug.
I had several vivid dreams last night and all of them were filled with the music of R.E.M., which is ironic and weird but also really awesome because I was able to hear and enjoy the music with working, human ears. In one dream I was actually chatting with Michael Stipe so that was an added bonus. He was his strange self but also very laid back and easy to talk to. Which was nice because even in my dreams I suffer from a little social anxiety. Ha!
Those types of dreams are so refreshing and a blessing to my heart. I consider them a gift from God and I am thankful for them. I’ve been deaf for a solid five years now but I will never lose my love for music.
“Like fingernails on a chalkboard”… this phrase dates me, I suppose. They don’t use chalkboards anymore, do they? But if you know the phrase, you’ll understand when I say that listening to most music now, with my cochlear implants, is an experience much like listening to someone scraping their fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s just that unpleasant. But I still, after five years, desperately miss music. So I’ve been trying to visit different genres than what I was used to, in hopes that something might bring me the same joy. What I’ve found so far that sounds good to me is plain piano music, drums, some hip-hop, and techno. Anything with a lot of different instruments or voices or a combination of both is just too much for my processors to handle. However, if it’s a familiar song and I can pick out the melody, it’s tolerable and somewhat enjoyable. So a lot of R.E.M. songs are still enjoyable to me and invoke good memories. They have been a favorite of mine since high school when I first heard the “Out of Time” album, and though many songs on the album are too grinding to listen to, just as many are pleasant and bring back happy memories. Actually, I could say that about several of their albums.
And then ironically, one band I used to hate actually sounds better to me now, and that’s the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Weird phenomenon, I know. I still stubbornly refuse to like them.
I’m loving the Pandora app for helping me branch out and find new music. If I hear a song that I really like, I’ll start up a station using that as a base, and it introduces me to all kinds of new, yet similar, songs. Current example (now playing): I find many of The White Stripes songs work well for my processors. They use clean beats that don’t get muddled around with the vocals, from what I can tell. Also Daft Punk, Stanton Warriors, DJ Krush. These are artists I have never heard of, and that probably most of my friends have never heard of, but that doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s music and it sounds good to me and brings me joy. That’s why God gave us music, right? I like to believe that’s why, anyway.
I know I should be listening to my Les Mis soundtrack because I’m going to the show tomorrow!! I’m so freaking excited I can’t even say it without exclamation points!!
I was listening to it, until my daughter came home. I had to take a chill out break and pull out my old Billie Holiday CDs, because she came home yesterday and was so excited to tell me they had learned about good old Lady Day.
I hadn’t listened to these in probably a decade so it’s interesting to hear how they sound with mechanical, bionic ears. It’s not pleasant, but it’s not terrible either. I’ve had to lower my expectations with music. The melody, the jazz, is quite soothing. I could get used to this, I think.
Anyway, back to Les Miserables!! We’re going tomorrow!! Though it’s the first day of March, so of course it’s supposed to snow. Typical Michigan. In like a lion. Bleh.
I love the theater. I really do, but until recently I have only had a vague realization of this truth. I went to see a professional ballet with a friend and my heart leapt into my throat the moment I stepped into the theater, and that’s when I knew. There’s just something magical about it that I can’t explain.
Ever since our high school band played a medley of songs from Les Miserables and my instructor sat down and told us the whole tragic story, I’ve dreamt of seeing it on stage. I just really fell in love with the music, mostly. When they turned it into a movie, I went to see it the day after Christmas and I bawled. The movie was great, but the live show has to be better. Because, you know, it’s LIVE.
All of this to say that it’s been a sort of secret dream of mine for over 20 years to see Les Miserables live, and when I saw that it was coming to our area the weekend of my upcoming birthday, that spark of a dream was reunited. I know I’m mixing metaphors, but whatev, it’s my blog lol. When I shared this dream with the ladies in my church group, they squealed. They wanted to go too! We could all go together and it would be magical! Oh my gosh, I couldn’t believe I had found other ladies who felt the same I did about the theater and were totally up for going, and sharing my birthday with me. So, it’s settled. We have our tickets and we’re going to see Les Miserables! It’s going to be so epic, I might even wear make-up.
Okay. So it seems I’m not on my computer as frequently as I would like to blog (I keep it upstairs in my bedroom) so I’m gonna try blogging from my phone when the mood strikes. Which is surprisingly and nerdly (making up words here) often.
What I want to share about today is music. Music has always been very important to me. I have a sort of eclectic mix of what I like, mainly because I don’t care to just listen to something because other people say it’s good. If it makes me feel something good inside, it’s a winner in my book. When I lost my hearing I lost what I had with music, and that was devastating, but they tell me my brain can learn to appreciate music again, with time and practice. Right now it all just sounds weird and mechanical, but they said if I listen to familiar music, stuff my brain would remember, it would get better over time. Problem is, I have trouble remembering what I used to listen to.
Enter The Office. I’ve been rewatching the show on Netflix cuz I loved it when it originally aired. Still makes me laugh out loud. One character on the show, Andy Bernard, will occasionally start singing songs that were semi-popular at the time. In one episode he was singing a song by the Indigo Girls and I recognized it immediately. Yes!! I had forgotten them but I remember I had a cassette tape I used to listen to on long road trips to see friends, or my drives to work at the Pizza Hut two towns over.
This didn’t bring back a flood of music memories, but it was at least a key to the particular time period that I knew held lots of my formerly favorite music. So, I started a Pandora station with the Indigo Girls and over the last few days I have been spending a little bit of time each day building the perfect station for retraining my brain with my very own personalized “oldies”.
So far it seems to be working, and I’m having fun singing along to all these songs I forgot I knew.
In other news, the kids had a show day today so they are hanging out with me at home. And it’s sunny outside, so the sun just dances off the blanket of snow outside. I love this season!
I’m finding that I do my best thinking when my “ears” are off (my cochlear implant processors). Even at night, when the house is quiet. It’s just a whole different kind of quiet, because all I hear is the low ringing tones of tinnitus and absolutely nothing else. You probably don’t realize there is noise to be heard, but just try plugging your ears for a few seconds and you’ll see what I mean. There’s a word for that noise but I can’t think of it at the moment. Ambient maybe?
What’s funny about me enjoying this silent existence is that it used to terrify me. So much so, that I needed medication just to sleep at night. But 4 years of deafness and now I welcome the silence. It’s helpful to retreat into myself, to focus my thoughts, but mostly I embrace it because it’s now my favorite time to talk to Jesus. He meets me here in the silence. He was here with me every day while I wrestled with hearing loss and vision loss back in 2013, and he’s never left me since. I don’t share this info often, but there was a song I used to sing during that time, over and over and over mostly in my head, and it brought me peace and comfort when not much else did. I’ll post the lyrics below because you might see how unbelievably appropriate it was for what I was going through. The interesting thing about it, no – miraculous – is that prior to losing my hearing, I had only heard that song one time that I can recall. It was in a movie that I watched once years ago. How on earth could I have remembered that song? Only God knows. But boy, did that song ever save me from a really ugly and scary time in my life, and I believe it will now forever be my theme song.
Losing my hearing and vision was an enormous life changer for me, for obvious reasons, but God has used it all to bring about incredibly wonderful changes. The biggest change, and the one I am most grateful for, is that it solidified my faith in Jesus. He showed me through that song, through the support we received from family and friends, through Scripture, through the fact that we survived it all, that He will never leave me.
So. When I’m settling in for the night and am taking off my ears and entering the silence, I am delighted to talk to Him. He is my peace, forever and always, amen.
Jesus, Lover of my Soul
Jesus, lover of my soul
Jesus, I will never let you go
You’ve taken me from the miry clay
Set my feet upon the rock, and now I know
I love you, I need you
Though my world may fall, I’ll never let you go
My Savior, my closest friend
I will worship you until the very end
I may be deaf and half-blind, but I am and will always be… still Mindy