The Unsung Bird Can Sing Now…

I will resume posting regularly on Tuesday, May 1st. The series Women Who Run With the Wolves will resume on Monday, May 7th. “Friday Favorites” will resume Friday, May 4th.

I remember when I was a teenager, about 13 or 14 years old. I was in our basement singing a song being played on the radio – in falsetto, to be sure. Yet I believed at the time that my voice was so pretty, that I sung every note perfectly. But my older brother Sidney (he passed away in 1999 of an AIDS-related illness) had different thoughts. He yelled down the stairs, “Who’s that singing? It sounds terrible! You can’t sing!”

From that time on, I never sung a song in front of anyone. That bird was caged. Her song shut up in her soul.

Subsequently, when I was in the car with any family member and one of my favorite songs came on the radio, I wouldn’t sing aloud – I might mouth the words, but not actually let a note come out of my mouth. I believed wholeheartedly that when this bird sang, the notes, out of key, were of no value. I believed they were like the sound of fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.

It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I began to sing aloud – and that was at church. Unless I was in church singing and worshipping along with the congregation, no one ever heard me sing – until I met my husband, Manchild. But mind you, I didn’t meet him until I was 36 years old. So I didn’t sing so that others could hear for over 20 years.

Twenty years. That’s a long time to be unsung.

Yet, it was love that released this bird. God’s unmatchable love.

Sounds nebulous? Cliche-ish?

Yes on both accounts – if you don’t know that God works through people to get his purposes accomplished. And God’s love for me has been manifested through my husband.

I met my husband seven years ago. I tried to shew him away that evening I met him at Border’s Books, but he wasn’t having it. And since then, God has manifested his love through this man in so many ways.

My husband continues to demonstrate a commitment I had never experienced time and time again. At the moment, we are preparing our house to be appraised for a refi (one of the reasons why I haven’t been posting this past week – and thank you, Camille, for checking up on me!). We got started on it a little late, but needless to say, no matter what needs to happen, my husband has bitten then bullet and has done what is necessary to straighten out walls, repair nicks, scrub carpets to remove stains, paint our daughter’s room, pull weeds, redo decks, paint doors and shutters, whatever. It doesn’t matter. While I’m at school, for the amount of time and finances with which we’ve had to work, he’s working at home ensuring our house will put on its best face. And in the process, I’m learning a lot about how to repair and upgrade our home.

My husband has shown me time and time and over and over again that he is a man of integrity, commitment, and loyalty to his wife and daughter. He will sacrifice the shirt off his back to make sure we have what we need. I’ve never experienced that kind of loyalty, and over the years, it’s been difficult to get used to. But more and more, as the years pass by, I see more and more of God’s love in this man. And because of that, I can honestly say I have much to sing about.

God knew what I needed 7 years ago. He sent me a wonderful man who shows me everyday that God loves me, cares for me, and wants the best for me.

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God feels the same way about you too. If you’re feeling caged, open up and allow Him to put a song in your heart. He knows just what you need.

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Friday Favorites – Week Ending April 20, 2007

It’s been a tough week on a lot of fronts, so my Friday Favorites list is a little short this week. In any event, I hope you enjoy my finds for this week.

Favorite #1 – Women are often thought of as nurturers and caregivers. This post highlights many qualities with which many women are gifted. However, we all have our imperfections as well (like we really needed to hear that!) Nevertheless, take a look at what belovedheart at Our Christian Friendship Journal discovered and is now sharing about one imperfection in particular many women possess in her post “One Flaw of Women.” What do you think? Do you agree?

Favorite #2 – If you could draw, paint, or photograph an image of a character trait, what would it look like? And how would you explain it? In his post “Courage,” Nicholas at Six Degrees of Inspiration provides a strongly intense portrait, along with beautiful poetry, of how he believes courage appears. This post sort of hit me in the face.

As always, take a look at the posts and leave comments! Enjoy your weekend!

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What about the Mother of the Murderer?

I’ve not wanted to write about the shooting at Virginia Tech on Monday simply because it’s all over the airwaves – online, print, television, cable.  There’s not much I’ve wanted to say about it. Frankly, I can’t bear to watch the news coverage of this horrendous, callous incident.

As a teacher, though, my students wanted to talk about it today, especially my seniors, who are preparing to leave for college themselves in a few months or so.

A question one of my seniors presented was, “What about the gunman’s family? Where are they? What kind of family life did he have? Did he have brothers and sisters? Were they close?” As they asked those questions, I had to revisit what had been going through my mind since I heard about the massacre on the news Monday…

What about the mother of Cho Seung Hui?

I cannot imagine being the mother of any of the students who were killed. But I really cannot imagine being the mother of Cho Seung Hui, the killer.  What kind of questions are going through her head? What is she feeling? I certainly cannot empathize at all. Yet, this young man’s mother is, in all likelihood, bearing the weight of the carnage he inflicted upon 32 people on her shoulders.

I discovered a post at God’s Politics written by Diana Butler Bass, Ph.D. entitled “The Silence of a Murderer’s Mother.” It captures so well what’s been on my heart about the woman who brought Cho Seung Hui into the world 23 years ago. Dr. Bass writes,

“Other than being the mother of one of the murdered students, I can imagine nothing worse than being the mother of the murderer, a murderer who committed suicide. How isolated she must be. She, too, is grieving, mourning the loss of her only son, mourning her dreams for him, and mourning her memories of his childhood. She has little – except confusion, guilt (however misplaced that may be) and questions.”

As a religious studies scholar, Dr. Bass uses the biblical text to attempt to explain Cho’s mother’s silence. She compares Cho’s mother’s silence with that of Eve after she and Adam are banned from the Garden of Eden after their act of disobedience.

Her post is insightful as she comes to the following conclusion:

“Silence may well be the primal response to sin: a mother’s choked pain, the pain of birthing sin, and the pain of birthing children victimized by sin. What can one say in the face of it all? Nothing, absolutely nothing. We are mute. But we are not entirely alone; we are embraced by the silence of Eve.”

I cannot, as a mother, wrap my head around the fact that Monday’s killings occurred. Yet, to understand that a woman – a mother silenced – is out there somewhere (probably trying to make some sense out of her son’s actions) compels me to reach out to her in prayer, to have compassion on her during this time of great distress, and to get it that her silence may be necessary for her at this moment.

Silence. And a painful silence at that…

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I am thankful for…honesty in the midst of opportunistic journalism

As we all know, an horrific tragedy occurred on the campus of Virginia Tech on Monday, April 16th. I cannot imagine being the parent of any of the children who lost their lives that day. I can only extend condolences and prayers to the families of the victims, to those still fighting for their lives, and to those with wounds who are now recovering. I can try to understand that the professors and students who were in classes that day are experiencing pain, yet I cannot say I understand that pain. If I were there, I could extend support by lending my presence if needed or wanted.

I cannot imagine, though, people preying on those students who chose to share their horrendous experiences on their own blogs that day and days following. I’m referring to some journalists who just have to get the story. Journalists who must be first on the scene.

I’m not knocking journalists. Without journalists, we wouldn’t have access to information about the world and around the world to which we have access now. And, in fact, I’m sure being a journalist is tough; I surely wouldn’t want to be one. I discovered a quote from CNN Student News, regarding the role of the journalist, which stated:

“(A journalist has the) inescapably impossible task of providing every week a first rough draft of a history that will never be completed about a world we can never understand.” – Phil Graham, late chairman of the board of the Washington Post Company

And surely, there is no understanding the massacre one man imposed upon dozens of people. Yet, one must question the motives of journalists who use these students’ tragedies to get a story.

As has been reported, many students recorded the incident, as they saw it and experienced it, on their personal blogs, whether on Facebook, MySpace, LiveJournal, Friendster, etc. Surely, their entries were not meant for public consumption. Robin Hamman of cybersoc.com wrote about this phenomenon in his post, “virginia tech bloggers: approach and confirm or link and disclaim?” He refers to Robert Andrews at journalism.co.uk who reports of one blogger in his post, “Reporters turn to blogs for shooting witnesses,”

“Bryce Carter, who reported hearing gunshots at the university campus, subsequently wrote of his mixed emotions after his posts were picked up by Fox News: ‘Each time I hear something else, I get a brief moment of selfish joy before I am stabbed in the heart, realising that I deserve no credit and that lives are gone, destroyed and in pain.

“‘What is the significance of all this? My postings are simply what I always do, except I left my thoughts for the public instead of just my friends.'”

It seems some journalists are getting their stories about the massacre by perusing blogs to find authors who wrote posts on their personal blogs about the incident from their own perspectives. Hamman discovered one reporter’s approach:

“Sorry to hear about this. CBC Newsworld is doing live interviews with people who are affected by the shooting. Can you please drop me a line at [email] when you have a moment? THANKS”

There are many more of these types of inquiries Hamman writes about in his post. And to me, it seems sad. Young people are experiencing tremendous tragedy, and reporters, wanting to get a good story, pounce upon these students in their time of grief and pain. I just think there is a problem with attempting to capitalize on the tragedy of others. There is something unethical about it, borderline inhumane. I recognize that journalists have a job to do. But isn’t there a better way of obtaining a story than obtrusively gaining access to people’s lives by scouring blogs? I understand that by putting your personal information on a blog you’re out there in the open for the entire world to see. But do we not, in our own souls, understand that people are going through intense tragedy? Can journalists put themselves in the shoes of the victims and ask themselves, “Would I want to be barraged by people who I don’t even know to suck a story out of me?”

We need to know that there are unethical journalists out there. And Hamman lays out the truth of the situation. But in recognizing and acknowledging the truth that some journalists are using “underhanded” methods to get their information, there is opportunity for those journalists to redeem themselves. Hamman states,

“…yesterday’s events, and the ensuing media frenzy in the comments of a LiveJournal user and elsewhere, show that where mainstream media does use – and yes, that word was chosen deliberately – content created by bloggers, that the journalists, researchers and reporters do it with sensitivity.

“Think when you link. Understand that some content published in public was never intended to be seen by a mass audience.

I am thankful for people like Robin Hamman who have exposed the truth about this type of reporting. It allows me to see the reporting of incidents like that which occurred at Virginia Tech in a different light.

How do you feel about the reporting of the Virginia Tech massacre?

(Disclaimer: This post didn’t really go where I wanted it to – but this is where it ended up. Sorry if it doesn’t make much sense; yet, I hope it is of some value.)

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I am thankful for… INTUITION

I am thankful for the gift of intuition. In fact, I am on a quest to reclaim my intuitive sense. Really, I hadn’t developed it all that well in the past (interestingly enough, it never crossed my mind that it ought to be developed in the first place). Yet, in reclaiming my own self (as I’ve been discussing in my Women Who Run with the Wolves series), it’s necessary that I develop the ability to hear from my own soul on a regular basis.

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According to Clarissa Pinkola Estes, intuition represents

“the voice of inner reason, inner knowing, and inner consciousness…It is our helper which is not seeable…but which is always accessible…

“Intuition senses the directions to go in for most benefit…It has claws that pry things open and pin things down, it has eyes that can see through the shields of persona, it has ears that hear beyond the range of mundane human hearing…”

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, asserts that that which is intuition (he doesn’t actually use the word in Blink) is

“…rapid cognition, the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions…[in] those two seconds…those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.”

And in spite of the emphasis on “women’s intuition,” men, according to Kirsten Harrell, Psy.D., of Think Positive! Blog, have intuition as well. She says,

“We all have intuitive potential. We can all develop our intuition with some patience and practice. Intuition is what I like to call whispers from the soul. It is our ability to connect with our internal wisdom… our essential spirit. Intuition is our ability to connect with the Universal wisdom… the source of infinite possibilities. This is not something that is limited to women or to certain “gifted” people. Everyone is intuitive… I would like to suggest that we put the term ‘women’s intuition’ to rest and just call it intuition.”

I’m all for that.

Nevertheless, it is with this intuition that people make split second (or two-second, as Gladwell states in Blink) decisions. And it is with this intuition that a little girl was saved from a sexual predator back in January 2006. According to CBS News,

“Headed home after a long trip, [Tracie] Dean stopped at an Alabama convenience store where she met a little girl who seemed frightened by the man taking care of her. When Dean left the gas station, she just had a hunch about that little girl; something didn’t seem right. (emphasis mine) Dean jotted down the man’s license plate number. For days she struggled to confirm her suspicions that this was the case of a missing child. Finally, four days later, there was a break.”

Where did that hunch come from? For Tracie Dean,

“It was a God thing…”

CBS News further reports,

“Dean’s instinct (emphasis mine) and perseverance helped turn up evidence that led to the arrest of Jack Wiley and Glenna Faye Cavender, who were charged with rape and child abuse of the little girl, who had looked so scared, and abuse of her 17-year-old brother.”

Instinct. Intuition. Hunch. That which does or doesn’t seem right. Sixth sense. All expressions used for that inner voice that tells us which way to go, what to do. And in this case, Dean listened to some inner knowing that happened instantaneously and reached a powerful and life-saving conclusion that saved the life of not just a beautiful little girl, but her 17-year old brother as well. Let us all gain the power to use that which is within to do tremendous good in the world around us.

For me, God is the source of my intuition. I am determined to practice using it so that I can feel comfortable that when it is time for me to make split second decisions, I will feel that I will do what is right for that moment, for that circumstance.

Thank you, God, for the power to make good decisions “in the blink of an eye.”

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