Oh Baby, Baby!

I’ve only been in my new house for two weeks and already I must leave it.  I still have pictures to hang, furniture to paint and boxes to unpack, but these things will have to wait.  My baby girl, Isaaca Joy is having a baby.

I remember the day when I first realized that I was pregnant with her.  Bill was interviewing to be the school principal for Benny Hinn’s church in Orlando, Florida and we were staying at the Sheraton Inn in Maitland.  I felt a little queasy going down for breakfast that morning.  It was as if the elevator had jumbled up my stomach and confused my body.  I looked at the beautiful buffet spread before me and nothing looked enticing.  The coffee smelled wonderful but for some strange reason, I didn’t want any. Oh no!  Not want coffee?  That could only mean one thing!  I was pregnant.  Not wanting coffee was the same as taking a pregnancy test, for me.  It was my body’s first sign that a child was  “in the makin’.”

I sat down at the breakfast table and finally got the nerve up to tell Bill.  I sipped some water and leaned into to him as if I had a secret to share.

“I’m pregnant.”

“What?  You’re pregnant?”  He looked around the busy restaurant as if he was wondering if anyone had heard me say those two life changing two words; that if anyone heard them, it would make them true.   “How do you know?  How long have you known?”

“I just realized it.  I didn’t want coffee.  That’s a sure sign.  After four kids, I should know these things.”  A small smile worked it’s way up to my lips and I began shaking my head.   “Oh, my gosh! How in the world….  God help me!”

Bill just looked at me as my smile grew.  Anytime you pray for God’s help with a smile on your face you become God’s accomplice.    I could see his mind reasoning and processing the words we were speaking.  Life was once again changing.  We were moving to a new city and he was getting another job.  And now…another baby to add to our collection of madness.

“We’re going to the drug store after breakfast to buy a test and by this time tomorrow we’ll know for sure.  He started shaking his head too.  “We should have bought stock in the EPT Company, as many tests as you’ve taken.”

And then we laughed and I felt smug because I knew I was carrying a treasure inside of me and it was coming on the cusp of adventure.  Of a new season.  I felt like a pirate that had captured the chest of jewels,  precious gold and silver.  Our new season was also bringing forth new life.  Surely it was a sign that God’s hand was on us.

I imagined Bill and I walking around our new town, Orlando with God’s handprint stamped on our shoulders.  It was a pat on the back meaning, “You’ve done well.  I’m giving you a new assignment.”  It was the hand on the elbow, saying, “Here, let’s go this way.  Let Me steer you clear of that obstacle.”  It was a cupping of my chin.  “You can do this.  I would never give you a job that I didn’t think you were prepared for.”  It was His hand on my head, pronouncing the blessing, “I bless you my child.  Go and do the things I’ve put in your hands and mind to do”  If God’s hand was on us, we could conquer the world.  And somehow, this baby was the sign that we were in the right place, at the right time doing the exact thing we were supposed to be doing.

Isaaca Joy (her name meaning joy and laughter) was born before we finished out our first year in Orlando.  Her birth ushered in a ten year cycle for us in Florida.  Did you know that seasons or cycles, usually last for about ten years?


tiny dancer

Our time there was spent with Bill being a school principal at a rather large Christian school for three years.  We then “took it to the streets” and spent the next three years working with low income housing folks that needed unconditional love and acceptance.  The next three years were spent with the addicted homeless.  We fed them and opened our arms to them as we cultivated a “vineyard” in the middle of the red light section of Orlando.  The last year of that cycle we spent in Miami, Florida working with Hispanic Christians learning how to live as Americans.

We needed “joy and laughter” (Isaaca) to go with us as God led us by “His hand” in and out of each of these ministries.  What foresight God had to give us such an important gift as He lead us into  troubled areas of ministry.  Isaaca Joy!   “For the joy that was set before us…we endured…”

Now our Isaaca is having a baby girl.  She and Peter are about a week away from the big event and I wonder what message this child will bring from Heaven as they go into a new phase of their lives. They are pretty much sure that “Amelia Lynn” will be this wonder child’s name.  Her name will be of Latin and Old German descent, meaning industrious, striving or defender.  Does that mean that their new season will be a busy one as they “strive” to make their way in the world?  As they write music, produce songs from their studio and record music?  Will they need a defender as they go into the future?  Will they be defenders for those in need advocates in this season?


We will see as time unfolds, won’t we?  I know God’s hand will be upon Peter and Isaaca as they proceed into the unknown future.  But they won’t be afraid.  His hand will on their shoulders, showing them each turn in the road, each dip in the highway.

Meanwhile, I’m going to Nashville to wait for little “Millie” to be born.  She has quite a destiny to fulfill and  the whole world is waiting for her.


Here’s Bill and Izzy’s song… ENJOY!!





After Dinner Music

I’m sitting at the dinner table at Peter and Isaaca’s house.  The dishes have been cleared away and the table is a clean slate, ready for song writing and fresh ideas.

I am in Byrdlandia and the hookah has been brought out and those around the table sip their wine slowly as Jeremy gets out his guitar.  The bowl of flavored, molasses soaked tobacco (and really, it is only tobacco) begins to burn slowly as they pass the pipe around and music starts to flow out of Jeremy’s guitar, bathing us in the potential of a hit song. I am an observer, only a witness to this creative session.

The girls wait for their cue and Jeremy looks up at them and words and phrases begin to float up above the table, waiting to be plucked out of the air and put on the invisible “Scrabble Board” of lyrics, with the cords that to me, sounds like something with a 1950’s vibe.

They struggle with the concept of the meaning of their creation, the chord progression and how to resolve it.  Finally, because I can’t contain myself any longer, I lean up to the table, (I, the one who doesn’t write music), ventures out boldly to put in my two cents worth of opinion.  “At this point in the song, you don’t want to be asking…you need to be begging.  That’s what people relate to.  That hooks them.  That’s money.”

Jeremy painfully argues with me.  “Mom, don’t critique my musicianship, my art”.  He winks and smiles at me.  Oh, he smiles at me but I really know that his porcupine hide has surfaced to protect his fragility.  Musicians are sensitive and the purity of their craft is their creed and a matter of pride. They are producing their musical children, conceiving and creating them, hoping that the muse will breathe life into them.  If he does, they name their baby and it’s theirs to raise and introduce to the world.  They will have to live with their created child forever.  Alright….I will defer to them.  I won’t be there to raise their children but I will be able to enjoy them as a grandparent.  Instead of pictures in my wallet, I’ll carry my iPod and throw the tunes out for anyone who will listen.

The smoke from the hookah curls up over them like a muse caressing their imaginations.  All of a sudden,  a look of inspiration moves across them like a bow coaxing sounds out of a violin and they add another line to a chorus.  They sing a few more unfinished songs, working on rough spots and I listen to them, thinking that if they finish these songs, they would have have another record.

“Good Lord, you guys.  How many new songs are almost finished?  If you had more time together you could knock these out and just keep producing new stuff.”

I said what they had all been feeling and complaining about. They came to Nashville to write and sing…to create.  But things kept getting in their way, like rent, food, waitressing jobs, social lives, bills…life.  I wanted to turn back the clock for them.  Take them all under my roof and support them so they could be musical purists, tour relentlessly and pursue music 24/7. They did that for several years when they first started their careers.  They lived under our roof and we paid for their musical dreams.  It was our duty as parents.  We were dream enablers and it was our pleasure to be so.

Natalie grabs the guitar and starts to play a rift, closing her eyes and brings up a song almost forgotten to her.  “Remember that song I wrote when we lived in Alabama and were just starting”?  She plays a few chords and then sings the chorus to a song about them not having quite enough money to travel to play a show and my motherly, “I couldn’t for the life of me help myself” response to their chronic monetary woes:

“Go down to the back room, into the closet.
open my shoebox. Take all my cash.
All the cash.
Then hit the road ’cause
it’s a long way to Mississippi.
Call me after the show.”2012-03-06_14-20-26_146

Creating an atmosphere for a visit from the muse

I smile.  I do remember that song.  How many times did I give them my secret stash?  Yes, indeedy…I did have interest in The Bridges and special bragging rights to each and every song.

Jeremy takes back the guitar.  They begin to play  stark naked country songs that are classic and simple.  Hank Williams’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and Bill Monroe’s version of “In the Pines”. The pure heartbreaking, melancholic sound wraps us up in it’s pale, slender arms and strokes our souls. She then massages our hearts and connects us to a creative flow that circles the earth like a heavenly river flowing high above us. I realize that melancholy is the muse in this instance, and she pours the water from the river over us like a priest baptizing us with holy water from the creative fount of blessings.  They become, one for that moment with the Spirit of the Ancient of Days.  Only that spirit can make melancholy a thing of utter beauty.

Natalie begins humming one of my all time favorite songs:  “Shenandoah”.  I am always drawn to it’s simplicity and beauty.  We google the lyrics and they sing them.  Jeremy strums the guitar and my daughters sing it tentatively, tears thickening the sound of their voices. I hold on to that moment  for dear life.  Time travels to allow someone’s pain from another era grab our hearts and we are caught up in music’s magic moment of transcendence.

The moment doesn’t last long but it is a perfect moment, brought to us from a creative child of a bygone era.  I wonder what grandparent held the bragging rights to that haunting beauty. Will my children leave such a glorious legacy?  I hope so.  My iPod is ready!2012-12-11_16-27-16_409

Where creative children are born… around the table.

Here’s your song, enjoy!

Ode to the House on Sneed Road

The house in Alabama on Allendale Road had dreams all over the place.  They were piled up in corners, stored under beds, shoved behind the piano, stuffed into dresser drawers and stacked up where no one could see them behind the couch. They sat atop the dining room table like lazy cats claiming their territory and we had to learn to share the space and eat with them as their tails swished across our plates. At night, we had to push them off of our beds to have room to sleep. They would only crawl back up and spoon with us after we had fallen asleep, whispering their plans and suggesting crazy things into our comatose brains while we were most vulnerable. There was no room at all left in the band room.  The dreams were squished into drum bowls and guitar bodies.  They crouched behind the sound board and hid in the amplifiers.  And the microphones; they didn’t fool us a bit.  They were long, skinny dreams with a shiny magnet for a head that screamed phrases all the time, like, “I just wanna be heard,” pulling at the iron wills of my children and becoming inseparable.  On one side of the room, they were stacked like a cord of dry, fire wood, just waiting their turn to be pulled out from the pile and put in the fire place upstairs, just wanting to burn like nobody’s business.  Oh,  the laundry room!  I could hardly get in there to do a load of dirty clothes because dreams were all over the place.  I had to push them out of the way to wash the towels and make room for the mounds of clothes that magically appeared daily before my very eyes.  The garage was a mess of dreams.  They were hanging from the tool racks and shelves attached to the walls and hung over old bicycles and lawn mowers.  There was an old patio table and junk lawn chairs that sat on the top of an old rug and the dreams would sit there and spawn more of themselves and multiply.  We didn’t have room to park a car in there!  Dreams were constantly knocking on our doors and peeking into our windows, just trying to figure out if they could come in. Our house was bursting at the seams with dreams and there was not room for one more.

One day, the dreams decided they were being stifled at our house.  The house had become too small for them and they needed a place to stretch out real big and be allowed to grow if they wanted to. They began to consider a place where they could go that would be home to them, a place that they could turn into more than just a thought and a hope.  Dreams are like that.  They get tired of just being illusive happy thoughts. They have to develop and have substance. With that in their minds,   they crawled into my children’s beds as they slept and began whispering their big, fancy plans to my babies.  “We need a place to go ,” they sang in their heartbreakingly beautiful Siren voices. “Dreams need more room to roam.  Let’s go and find a bigger home.” Who could resist the Siren’s song?

And that was that.  “Mom, we’ve decided that we are going to move to Nashville.  We’ve done all we can do here musically and we need to move to a place where we can network with a music scene that can move us forward.  Plus, we’ve found a house we can rent on Sneed Road.  We can all live there together.” I was looking at their hopeful faces but all I could see were the dreams talking. They were manifesting and acting just like my children, but I know a dream when I see one.  And their voices had the Siren song thing going on.  How could I resist?

It’s strange when dreams pack up and move out of your house.  Sure, the kids left and moved to Nashville, but the absence of living with their dreams was the hardest to get over.  All of the hope and  promises that cluttered my house left with the kids in the U-Haul truck.  Bill and I would have to dedicate the next few years to making our own cluttered mess.

While in Nashville over the holidays, I rode by the house on Sneed Road.  The kids had moved out of it after Thanksgiving and it was empty, almost dilapidated looking.  The owner had bought it to tear it down and build a Nashville mansion on it for someone whose dreams had propelled them to stardom and success.  He was having a hard time selling it in this economy and instead could only rent it to a bunch of hopefuls, my children.

I pulled the car over to park in front of the house and just sat there for a while and stared.  I gazed at it, my thoughts spilling all over Sneed Road like a bucket of water turned over. I couldn’t collect them and put them back in their holding tank.  They were running all over the place.  It had been two and a half years since the big dreams had moved to Nashville.  At one time or another, the house on Sneed Road had been a home for all of my children. It was the place their dreams chose to live and I could understand why.

It was shabby compared to the houses surrounding it.  John Prine, a Country Music Hall of Fame singer/songwriter lived on one side of home and a lawyer lived next door on the other side.  Kelly Pickler lived four doors down and one of the Kings of Leon lived several blocks over.  Daily tour buses rode down Sneed Road pointing out the houses of the famous.  I always cringed at the possibility that the tour guide was telling those on the bus…”And on the left you have the beautiful home of John Prine, a country music legend.  And next to it, you have the home of The Bridges, those who are trying to make it in this industry and are too busy chasing their dreams to cut their grass.”  

I wondered how the house felt now that the dreams had moved out.  It took only a few years for the dreams to take over the house, cluttering up the place like a dream junk yard, the neighborhood eye sore.  I suppose at some point, the dreams crawled up into bed with each of the kids and whispered dream visions into their deep sleep realms, telling them things like, “This house is too small for all of us.  We need to keep the same dream but move into several houses.  That way we will have even more room to multiply and divide.” The dreams had become like big, tall, yellow daffodils, growing together on the same small plot of land, rising up thick and strong side by side with not a finger of room left between them.  The only way they could continue to bloom and grow was to dig up the plants, tear the roots in half and replant them in different places.  Same flower, same dream, just able to grow bigger in many places.

The house looked cold and dark.  I saw no shadowy flickers of life within. No hope and dreams smiling at me from the old, loose windows in the living room facing the road. I felt like I was the tour guide on the bus and I wanted to say: “To your left there is the former home of The Bridges, which was the largest house of dreams on Sneed Road.  Don’t let its shabbiness fool you for a minute.  Dreams have put a lot of wear and tear on this house, but when it’s all said and done, this house was the richest house on the street.  The dreams in this house were some of the most extravagant ones in Nashville.  They were elegant and lush, so grandiose that they were almost too embarrassing  to speak of out loud.  Yes, this is Nashville’s famous, House of Dreams.”  I could imagine the folks on the buss sucking in their breaths as they looked upon the house at 4014 Sneed Road, their eyes shining with dancing stars and adoration. “Stop the bus,” they cried out, “so that we can take a picture of the dream house!”

I took out my camera, pointed it at my noble but lonely, old friend and took one last picture. After all, these dreams had become mine too. But, I had taken my cluster of daffodils and planted them in the sandy soil of SNEADS Ferry, North Carolina and they were beginning to take root and grow.   I know…weird, right?

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