Upheaval

“Come on over.  Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on…Really got the bull by the horn.  We ain’t fakin’.  There’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.”  – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.  Composer:  Dave “Curlie” Williams.  Many artists recorded this song, but it was Jerry Lee Lewis who put it on the map in 1964.

Somewhere, in the yellowed crusty pages of my memory files, are flashbacks of rearrangement of furniture in my childhood.  As a kid I thought it was exciting.  After all, it seemed like a new house, or apartment, once the dust of the upheaval settled.  Even the following day, waking up to a newly reset living room was shocking.

Yesterday, my wife made good on a plan to turn the house upside down to reboot the interior of our place.  Almost every room in the house was affected.  As you can see, in the photo above, it is a work in progress.  To say I was looking forward to this mountain of a hurdle would be a lie.  Yet, the excitement in her face, and the plans seen in her eyes, reminded me of how I felt as a kid helping my mom rearrange our rooms.  My wife was filled with energy that came out of nowhere.  We are both so grateful for her two adult sons volunteering their time and muscle to begin the first phase.

Sam

Sammie, our Schnauhuahua (half Schnauzer and half Chihuahua), showed signs of displacement when the piano had been transported back to a study/studio.  She loves getting under the piano bench as if it were a shelter.  We call it her piano cave.  She often keeps her stash of nibbles under there.  I told her I knew how she felt.

Often, you will see on the news (usually in the no-traffic-Sunday morning), crowds gathering to watch a demolition crew implode an old, large building.  Everyone is agog as the dynamite strategically takes out support columns and rafters until it all lies in a pile of sky-high dust.  There is an attraction for upheaval, for the old coming down and the new popping up (Unless you’re a Schnauhuahua).

Upheaval, of other kinds, has recently griped my life once again.  They are private matters, but take it from me, it is devastating on several layers.  One has to do with health, the other my dignity and worth.  It’s not my first time to be bucked off a horse.  Truth is, I have had the proverbial horse stomp all over me after the great and mighty toss.  I’ve been there and done that.  Yet, even at my age, somewhat seasoned and well worn, it hurts all the same.  Upheaval is, at times, hurtful.  I miss the shelter of my personal piano cave.  (My kingdom for a bag of Cheetos!)  I’ll move on. (Heavy sigh is heard as he pushes away thoughtfully from his computer screen.)  You too, huh?

Den

Yesterday’s dust is now settling, even though there’s lots to be completed.  Certainly there’s more shakin’ goin’ on.  However, I rose from my bed this morning to a new den and living room.  Rearranging, demolition, aching backs can equal up to a fresh start.  A new start only God has designed in the scope of eternity.  Just another reminder, there is joy in the morning.

Living Room Table

In this life, someone will remove the familiar.  As they do, it’s best to be full of fuel for the race.

“…Giving them a garland instead of ashes.  The oil of gladness instead of mourning.  The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.  So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” – Isaiah 61:3 (NAS) 

In Times of Trouble

Photo:  OnStar.com

“She was going way too fast.  Before you knew it she was spinning on a thin black sheet of glass.  She saw both their lives flash before her eyes.  She didn’t even have time to cry.  She was so scared.  She threw her hands up in the air.  Jesus, take the wheel.  Take it from my hands….” – “Jesus, Take The Wheel” from, Some Hearts album recorded by: Carrie Underwood (2005).  Composers:  Brett James, Hillary Lindsey, Gordy Sampson.

Have you seen it?  It’s the latest OnStar television commercial.  It begins with a peaceful night scene in the forest with a young deer drinking lightly from a moonlit stream.  Incoming fade of a car horn blowing as if stuck.  Then the camera pans up to a freshly stranded white SUV caught in the thicket of young trees, angling downward toward the deep embankment.  The driver, who had activated her OnStar button, hears the soothing voice of a customer service representative.  After asking how he might help her, she seems a bit more settled as she is told help is on the way.  She mentions something about how the deer came out of nowhere.  Isn’t that the way trouble comes to us?  Out of nowhere.

OnStar Car

Photo: OnStar.com

It’s a fascinating technology, isn’t it?  Frankly, I recall the first time I saw a GPS (Global Positioning System) handheld civilian unit.  One of my co-workers bought one around 1993.  It was about the size of a Motorola cell flip-phone of that time.  He simply loved gadgets and this new civilian technology was just too good to pass up.  Now, it’s commonplace.  The satellites above can, and will, navigate you to any corner of the earth.  They also will help to find you, wherever you are.  That’s good and bad news.  Truly amazing.

OnStar technology was born out of the GPS drawing-board.  When you find yourself in times of trouble, who comes to you?  In certain OnStar selected vehicles, you can leave your cell phone where it is.  You push the OnStar activation button, installed in your vehicle and an operator, usually from another part of the planet, speaks, asking how they might be of assistance.  They use GPS on their end to find where you are located on the globe as they then connect with the local authorities, search and rescue, firefighters or auto garage, whatever the need is.  The OnStar customer service coordinator gets back with you confirming that help is on the way, offering to phone a friend or family member on your behalf.  On the television commercial, the calming voice from OnStar tells the driver, “Don’t worry, I’m going to stay with you until they arrive.”  No doubt, during a traumatizing event, it is comforting to hear.

I have an old friend, with a good heart, who lives in New York.  She’s a long-time Broadway actress, singer and dancer.  A few days ago she posted online asking for good vibrations and good thoughts to be sent her way.  She never indicated what her troubles were, just that she needed her friends to send good vibes and thoughts to overcome her current trial in her life.  Understandably, she was being very private about the unspoken issue.  Only God knows.  I have loved my friend for 43 years and would never want to offend her.  I responded, alerting her of “prayers” coming from my house to hers.

Imagine, you are the lady in the stranded SUV out in the forest along the bridge.  Your OnStar button is there, beneath the rear-view mirror, brightened by back lighting with a red circle around it.   You sit there, hanging only by your seat-belt in the darkened woods, 30 miles from humans.  The only thing keeping gravity from taking your vehicle into the embankment, to the river below, are a couple of very young four-foot oak trees with bending trunks.  After you catch your breath, you bellow out toward the animals in the forest (the only ones near you with ears) and shout out, “I need good vibrations here!  Please, send me your good thoughts!”  After the animals run away from your screams, you decide to reach up and push the OnStar button as a last ditch effort.  The live customer rep asks how he can serve you.  You tell him the same, “I need your good vibrations and thoughts.”  He acknowledges the fact that he will have good vibes and thoughts, followed by, “Have a nice day” (click).

Truly, I don’t mean to belittle my friend’s sincere request.  I knew what she was trying to ask for.  Knowing her, I understood there are authentic concerning issue(s) she is fighting right now.  As a person of faith, I elected to go to the One Who lives, Who has shown me His responses in times of trouble, over and over again.  After all, I am a man filled with mistakes and wrong, unethical thinking at times.  My “good vibes and thoughts” may be skewed, off target and misguided.  So, I go to the One who is without failure and impurities, the One Who has the original GPS at hand.  He never fails to deliver in His kind, soothing small voice, “Don’t worry.  I’m here with you.  I will stay with you.  I’m sending help.”

No matter what road you’re on, OnStar or not, you know Who to call when filled with fuel for the race.

“…God is our refuge and strength, a helper Who is always found in times of trouble.” -Psalms 46:1 (CSB)

 

 

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

*****Just a note:  I was recently interviewed for a podcast show on Isle of Misfits podcast/blog.  You are certainly welcome to click on and listen to a bit of my history, including my near-death experience from my own voice. 

Here is the link:  Isle of Misfits

“Blessings on the hand of women!…For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” – From the American poet, William Ross Wallace (1865).

To say, the decisive influence of a mother can and will shake a person throughout their decades, is an understatement, in my opinion.  William Ross Wallace believed the future of society itself rested its base in the hand of a young mother.

“Give me the first six years of a child’s life, and I care not who has the rest.” – American educator and author Kate Douglas Wiggin from her book, “Children’s Rights and Others: A Book of Nursery Logic” (1892)

You don’t have to search far to find someone who has damaging memories of their mom.  I know of some in my own family.  With that said, I will state some things here that are familiar to most who treasure their mothers.

Mom salon

My mom, Carolyn Atherton-Brown

Leaving out lots of details, she had every pathway to abort me.  She was only 15 when she was carrying me.  She was newly married to my bio-father, a man full of abuses on every level.  Even his parents feared for my life, warning my maternal grandparents in a secretive meeting.  His lies were uncovered rather quickly, as quickly as the divorce decree, when I was two years old.  She did remarry again when I was five, but it was short-lived.  She has stayed single for the balance of her life.

When bravery and gritty courage is given as a title, I think of POWs, cops, or firefighters, but not today.  I instead picture this incredible, enduring woman of granite-like stability.  This girl, in her mid teens, chose to raise a son all on her own through the 1960s and 1970s.  That alone is like a spelunker forging his/her way into the darkest, undiscovered cavern of the greatest of depths.  To be a young single woman, with a young son in the mix, slugging her way through the male-driven world of those times, was only for the most adventurous, gallant female.  She had to be like the grill on a car, being hit with everything.  Women of that time had to be willing to be objectified, to be broke from low wages, to be able to take harsh words, along with an ocean of dirty looks and rumor.  Yet, she did so because of me.

A woman who represents only the best of motherhood, is a woman who understands and acknowledges selflessness to the broadest degree.  She must make a tripwire decision to place herself last, further than the unwanted back-burner.  Motherhood decrees an oath of pouring out one’s “self” for the one hiding behind her skirt.  It meant, for my mom, two or three jobs at a time, multiple lay-offs, skipping high school and college, dodging unwanted advances, taking judgmental heat from those who allow their love to grow cold toward the divorced female and single mother.  That is what she signed up for.  THIS is my mom’s tip of the iceberg in a snapshot.

In order to post a simple blog article, in lieu of a novel, I will decline here to spell out a few dozen stories concerning the sheer resilience and integrity of my mom.

23 OMA Me and Mom 1967

My mom, grandmother and me – 1967.

“Having children gives you a perspective you didn’t have before.  You are no longer the center of the universe.  It opened my heart, made me a different person.  Every move you make is with someone else in mind…” – Actress, Jessica Lange.   Kenneth Miller’s article, AARP Magazine. Aug-Sept 2017

I would be remiss if I didn’t add the fact the hand that rocked the cradle in 1944, during WWII, greatly shaped the woman my mom grew to be.  My God-worshiping grandmother, as well as her mother before her,  had the right salt-of-the-earth stuff, passing it on to her only daughter.  Today, I can even see their influences in my oldest daughter, raising her young daughter.  The hand that rocks the cradle truly does move and shake the generations behind her skirt.

Mom and Skylar Dec 2017

My granddaughter with my mom. December 2017.

If a mom truly wants joy for Mother’s Day, she should not hesitate in filling her child with fuel for the race.

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.  And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life…’ ” – 1 Samuel 1: 10-11 (NIV)