Out of the Mouths of Babes

20130511-212617.jpgPhoto by Sherri Woodbridge, 2013

 

Clara loves to pretend. Yesterday we were pretending “God and Elijah”.

“Grammy, I'm God and you're Elijah.”

“Uh huh,” I said half-heartedly, trying to photograph a hummingbird, all the while wondering why she gets to be God. She always gets to be God or the mom. I never get to be the important person. It's not fair…

Anyhow, after I threw a tantrum and while I was hunting hummingbirds, she was playing God and making it rain with the shower setting on the hose nozzle.

“Look Grammy, God is making it rain.”

“Yea, that's cool.”

“You're supposed to say 'Praise the Lord' when God makes it rain.”

“Oh,” I replied. “Sorry. Elijah wasn't aware of that. Praise The Lord.”

“Not yet Grammy. It stopped raining.”

Where is that hummingbird?!

I glanced over at a six-pack of strawberries we had leftover from planting and saw they were wilted.

“Clara,” I asked, “would you take the hose over by the porch and water those strawberries, please?”

“Sure I can, Grammy,” she answered cheerfully. I love when she does that.

When she was done, she took the hose back over to where she – er, I mean 'God' – was making it rain. She pushed the handle of the sprayer down and continued playing with the water, all the while informing me in regards to asking her to water the strawberries:

“Grammy, you've got to remember that God's in charge and Elijah shouldn't tell God what to do.”

You're right Boo – you're right.

 

A Little Something and A Lesson in Bandology

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I took this photo toward the end of the day at my in-laws home a few months ago. The Black Phoebe (bird pictured) had spent the afternoon building a nest for its soon to be chicks (or should I say eggs?). After taking the picture, I went to the dark room (aka living room chair) and processed (aka downloaded) my photos. When I saw the lighting on this photo and the Phoebe’s stance, it reminded me of someone waiting, anticipating God’s voice.

I looked at the photo longer, and got to thinking…

How often do I wait expectantly for God’s voice? Do I anticipate hearing Him? Or… do I rush through my day, finding at that day’s end, He played ‘last fiddle’?

In third grade I began playing the clarinet. I loved it. I actually started out playing the flute but had a tough time breathing the right way, so upon my mom’s encouragement, I switched to the clarinet. In sixth grade, I was now in the band at school (yes, way back then we actually had a band in middle school due to the educational support). Anyhow, now to recompose myself after that little tangent….

In fourth grade, we were playing a John Philip Souza march and the band leader/teacher/conductor stopped us. He then proceeded to look at the clarinet section and informed us that he was tired of hearing all the noise he was hearing from our section – bad noise – and it was primarily coming from the first parts.

You see, each section – the trumpets, the tubas, the flutes, the trombones and the rest- all are broken down into parts, depending on how many players are in that section. So, if you have 3 trumpet players, you have someone on the first, second, and third part (there are usually always 3 parts, sometimes four). If you have fourteen flutists, you will most likely have 3-4 on the first part, 4-5 on the second part and the remaining on the third part. Why? Because those on the first part are the better players and they can carry the lead part well. And because they are better players, they can usually carry the lead with FEWER players because they can (usually) belt it out when needed, hitting all the notes while still playing in tune.

All to say, the best of the best or – the best of all those on the first part – is called First= chair. The one in the ‘first chair’ of your particular section is looked up to as the best in that particular section. This person can be given special responsibilities such as making sure you’re group is in tune with the of the band/orchestra or fleshing out the difficult parts.

Okay, so – what does this have to do with my angelic-looking, little black phoebe?

Well, on that day in fourth grade when my frustrated band teacher stopped the band and looked directly at the clarinet section over the top of his glasses, he spoke…

Looking at First Chair, he outlined a section of the music First Chair and her ‘first-part-counterparts’ were not getting. He then requested the first chair play it solo – in front of the entire band.

Now – trust me. I know I have Parkinson’s disease. I know I am 53 and getting old, according to Boo. “But not that old,” she adds – whatever that means! 🙂 And, I also know that at times I don’t remember things quite right. Yet, on that day in 1972 when I was just a peon in the middle school band, I remember it very well and I remember thinking how glad I was to not be sitting in first chair and just a peon instead, occupying seat 12 out of 13.

There had never been challenges or try outs in our section for a higher chair since I had joined the band. It was sort of like, if you were younger, you went to the end of the line.

So there I was, listening to First Chair play the requested music. Music, mind you, she had seen before and had been practicing. But – she didn’t get it right and the band instructor asked her to hand the music to the next person – Second Chair.

She played.

We listened.

She got it wrong.

But – because she did better, she was moved to first chair and the music was then passed to Third Chair.

Third Chair: no better than the current second, so she remained third.

Fourth Chair: better than third – they switch places.

However, because no one had gotten it right yet, the teacher didn’t contain his challenge to just the first section. He continued it going down the line through the ones playing the second part (approximately the 5th -9th chairs) and I realized at that moment – I wanted to throw up. My band teacher, with the help of John Philip Souza, was giong to get his little clarinet section in order – now!

On and on it went, seeming to take forever and then it happened. The music was passed to me. The silence was deafening and my stomach was in knots. I sat the music on the stand. Sat up straight and began to blow. I wish I could say it was oh so beautifully melodic, but I was only in fourth grade, after all. Perhaps it was to others, for when I finished, my teacher bowed and the rest of the band clapped. I was the only one who had played it right. And do you know what happened? I became first chair.

A funny thing happens when you have sat in the seat of ‘First Chair’. You don’t want to go back. Not even to second. You covet that position, for there’s a certain respect that comes with it. You’ve earned that position (or at least, you should have) and others look up to you as someone who can help them to become better or in understanding their parts.

And so I remained First Chair until I went to high school. It was there II met Becky. In my freshman year, another girl played First Chair. She was a senior and she was good. However, when it came time for try outs for the Honor Band, she and I both tried out. Even though I made it and she didn’t, because she was a senior, she remained the much sought after – First Chair.

The next year, I was a sophomore and the position of First Chair was mine for the taking and I did just that. In my junior year, however, a new girl came to town. She had been playing for three years. She wasn’t bad. She wasn’t great – as far as I measure greatness. She tried out for the Honor Band and she made it.

So did I. Only –

I was two chairs behind Becky.

Because of that, my band teacher moved her into First Chair and I played ‘second fiddle’ to her. He tried to explain it was because she only had one year left and I had two. It didn’t seem fair.

What is fair doesn’t always prevail. And, I must admit, Becky was good. Also, we became pretty good friends after I sorted out my jealousies.

In my senior year, I was back in First Chair.

So – (you may ask again) what does this hvae to do with that tiny, black bird?

Everything.

How often do we go through life – our moments, our days, our years – playing the part of music instructor and God is just one of the players in the band? How often do we set aside our music and listen for His? How often do we sit in silence, waiting for Him to speak?

Getting the opportunity to be the first chair is an honor and when you no longer have it, you can feel second rate. Less important.

I truly think we move God into second chairs constantly and yet, because at one time He did have the first chair – first place – in our lives, we have made Him second rate to too many other things. Less important. And – we know this makes Him jealous. He wants His rightful place back.

Exodus 20:5 states, “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who not tolerate your affections for any other gods.”

Our gods of today could be food, for some women it may be shoes, for others – collections of ‘stuff’. TV and/or movies. Do I dare bring up Facebook and/or Twitter or Pinterest? It is these things that God is jealous of because whatever we allow to occupy our attention, if it’s not God, He is at least playing second chair and if not, twelfth or thirteenth and all of our little gods are lined up in front of Him.

I don’t know about you, but I want the music of my life to be beautiful. A song worth repeating. I want all of my affections to be for Him. He covets that first place in our lives. He’s earned it, after all.

Writing for Him, because of Him –
Sherri

When It Hurts

20130409-010022.jpgUntil the age of almost three, my son had constant ear infections. After the third or fourth time, it became easier to identify that another was coming on and I could get him to the doctor before it became too painful.

Most of the time.

I do recall one experience of having that motherly instinct of knowing he was getting another and taking him in to be checked. His regular doctor was out and another doctor saw him. He assured me after checking him briefly that there was no cause for worry. I wanted to assure him that I was most certain he was wrong.

It was around midnight on that same night – the night of no worries – that my son woke up screaming, his ear filled with pain. I did everything I could to help him. I gave him Tylenol. I held him. I rocked him. I cried with him. He screamed in pain until morning.

A few weeks ago, I had an ear infection. It began with a gradual achiness followed by intense pain and pressure for about five days, at which time I felt it was going to burst and to be quite honest, I almost wanted it to just to relieve the pain and the pressure.

No one ever gave me Tylenol. No one held or rocked me or saw me crying in the dark when I could not sleep because the pain was so intense, but then, they didn’t know because I wasn’t crying out in agony.

This is what I learned…

At the age of two, when my son was in pain, he writhed in discomfort and screamed for release from the grip of his ear infection. Oh how I wanted to comfort him and hold him tight so that he knew mommy was here, trying to make it better. I rocked him to try to soothe him and as I held him closely, I cried with him, wanting badly to be able to take his pain away.

When I was in pain a few weeks ago, for the most part, I kept it inside. No one else needed to hear how much it really hurt. No one could rock me and comfort me and it made me think… Isn’t that what God doesn’t want us to do with him? Yet, we try anyhow to keep the pain in our lives and the heartache we experience hidden deep inside, when all the while He is waiting for us to cry out to Him for help.

I was chatting online last night with a friend and she was saying that one of her friends was not going to be able to do an event that they had planned for this year. She said the other person had been having some recent struggles and had to cancel and then withdrew and ‘disappeared’ (not literally) from her network of friends. My friend made a comment that went something like this: “I’ve told her there’s still a spot for her on the team, but she’s got to walk through the door.”

I liked that. We sit and cry but we do not run through the door screaming to God for relief. We do not writhe in pain when it hurts so bad inside that we think we’re not going to make. it another minute.

A foreclosure on the only home you have known.
A divorce.
An illness.
The loss of a loved one.
You lose your job.

The list goes on.

When a child cries out in pain, the parent responds immediately. When he whimpers and sits off to the side, if the parent does notice, s/he probably knows it is not a life-threatening issue or the child would be screaming as loud as he was able. The child that is crying out for mercy gets mommy or daddy by their side – immediately.

I am not saying that if we talk to God politely, He is going to ignore us, but there is something to be said about crying out to Him. Sometimes that is the only thing we can do. Sometimes that is the best thing to do. To become like a child and let Him hold you and rock you. Let Him soothe you and wipe the tears as He wraps you safely in His arms.

He is waiting to love you. It is up to you to walk through the door.

Writing for Him,
sherri

Baseball Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This

20130424-161623.jpg[Photo credits: Jeff Swinger of Cincinnati Enquirer]

Gregg Doyel, national sports writer for CBSSports.com, tells us why Todd Frazier is his favorite baseball player.

Not because he plays for the Cincinnati Reds.

And not because he plays third base.

You’ll have to read the article to find out why.

Read it and enjoy – the magic of baseball doesn’t get any better than this…

Thanks, Todd Frazier, for moving the magic up a notch! You’re my favorite now, even if I saw you second.

Link to article

Firemen Say the Darnedest Things

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Can you guess where Clara’s preschool class went for a field trip today?

We walked a few blocks to get there and upon arriving, the fire department was summoned for an emergency. Off they went, leaving 20+ preschoolers, parents, and teachers (and a couple Grammies, too) on the grass outside the firehouse to play Red Light, Green Light, hoping they wouldn’t be gone long.

They weren’t.

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We were escorted into the firehouse where the captain (I believe) questioned the children on knowing about 911, emergencies and reasons to call the fire department, etc. He then demonstrated the stop, drop, and roll technique with one of the students.

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Then he showed the children a fire alarm and asked them if they knew what it was. Clara spoke up and said it was a ‘fire alarmer’. Praised for the right answer, the captain told them the alarm detects smoke where there might be a fire. He then asked if anyone had ever heard a smoke alarm go off for a fire and that is when one innocent child proudly stated,

“Our smoke alarm goes off when mommy and daddy are cuddling.”

And that was that.

The fire crew was called out again.
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We walked back to the preschool in the rain, which the kids LOVED, and ten minutes later, the fire truck showed up at the school (and the firemen) so the kids could see it. Their favorite part came towards the end of the fire truck ‘demonstration’, when one of the fireman opened a valve near the bottom to release water underneath the truck.

“The firetruck’s going potty,” he told the kids. He ended up having to show them how the firetruck goes potty three more times.

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They say kids say the darnedest things. So do firemen.

Writing for His glory –
sherri

What God Sees

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We were walking up the pathway toward the house, just Boo and I. We were almost to the stairs when Boo suddenly needed to go back.

I didn’t know why.

As I notice the weeds I need to pull, she enlightens me. I walk on the clover and miss the miracle. Boo is adamant about my hurriedly taking a few steps back. Huddled in-between the multiple leaves of rusty-red clover is a delicate, bright yellow flower, smaller than Boo’s little pinky finger. It has five petals.

Boo bends to pick it and has a hard time pulling it apart from the mass of clover and when she finally does, she pulls off a petal. Saddened and not seeing any other small, yellow blooms, she continues on the pathway and into the house.

God painted a picture of His love for me in that moment, for so often in our lives, all we are able to see in ourselves looks much like a basket full of unwanted weeds. Sometmes we feel anything but appealign, captivating, beautiful – to anyone. Then – every once in a while – someone sees somehting of worth. Something of value. Something special. They can see past the weeds and see potential in us. They have looked past the ugliness and into our heart.

That’s what God does. Because of Christ, He doesn’t see the dirt and the grime. He doesn’t see weeds. He sees beautiful, delicate flowers that are blooming – just as He intended.

All I saw was a patch full of weeds I needed to get rid of. All Boo saw was a tiny flower tucked in the center of that patch. All God sees in what’s in the heart.

“…the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

May you find a miracle today.

Writing for His glory –
sherri

For Such A Time As This… You Matter

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Most of you are probably familiar with the story of Esther in the Bible and for those who are not, here is a recap… Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Hadassah who lost her mother and father (we know not how) and was taken under the wing of her uncle, Mordecai. Hadassah grew up into a beautiful young woman and her name (we know not why) became Esther.

Meanwhile…

Once upon a time there was a king. King Xerxes was his name. He was having a party of sorts and summoned his wife, Queen Vashti, to come in and show off how beautiful she was to his guests. Did I mention he had had a bit too much to drink? She refused. It doesn’t really tell us why she refused. One can speculate that it may have been his current condition from the effects of his preferred choice of drink. However, when the queen refused, it didn’t go over too well and the king kicked her out of his house (aka — his palace). Hence, another queen was needed. Someone suitable. Someone beautiful.

 

For twelve months, the most beautiful virgins found amongst every province of Xerses kingdom underwent an extreme makeover, after which the woman would go meet the king. After she left his presence, she would not see him again unless he called for her specifically. Esther found favor in his sight and was called again and chosen as his wife, the new queen.

 

Meanwhile, Mordecai was sauntering outside the palace one fine day and overheard two of Xerses’ officers planning an assassination of the king. Mordecai told Esther, Esther told the king who then had the two men hanged.

 

Xerses was pleased with Uncle Mordecai and gave him a job. Xerses’ right hand man, Haman, didn’t like what was going on (mainly that Mordecai refused to bow to him when Haman would ride by) and plotted to kill the Jews, of which Mordecai and Esther were two. To shorten the story, Mordecai is distressed, to put it lightly. He advises Esther to use her position and do what she can to stop this mass genocide. He advises her to talk to Xerses, for which they both know could cost her her life if he didn’t call for her himself. To shorten the story further, she finds favor once again, she ends up informing the king of Haman’s plan, Haman is destroyed, the Jews are saved from death and Mordecai is made prime minister of Xerses kingdom. The popular verse that comes from this story is that Esther was placed on this earth for ‘such a time as this’.

 

For such a time as this…

 

A friend said to me the other day, “I just want to matter.” I’ve felt that way and I’ll bet that you have also. We want to know that we’ve made a difference, served a purpose, had a ‘such a time as this’ experience. But – what if we never do? What if we had and we missed it because we expected it to look different. Bigger. More impressive. What if we were placed in a position of befriending a drug addict at work and they turn their life around because you were Jesus to them? What if that were the only ‘such a time as this’ moment in your life? Would that be enough?

 

Esther is a short book in the Old Testament. She wasn’t given a great amount of space for her story to be told. That’s because she only had a one-time such a time and even though she only had a one-time such a time, she made that time count and gave it everything she had and put her life on the line. And then she is never mentioned again. Does that make the rest of her life one that no longer mattered? Of course not. She became honored because of that one event of obedience. Her story has been told for thousands of years. Billions of people have been encouraged by her willingness to sacrifice whatever it took to do the right thing.

 

I worked at a church for five years and was involved in many areas. I led the women’s ministries for 3 years and led the children’s choir for 2 years amongst other things. I felt like I was having a ‘such a time as this’ season. When it ended, I felt lost. I felt I no longer had purpose. I didn’t matter anymore.

 

While what I did will most likely not be talked about for thousands of years, to feel you don’t matter – that you have no purpose – is a tool of the devil to get us to not do anything but to sit still. We may not be called to save thousands or hundreds, as Esther was called to be a part of. What if our purpose for this day is only to give God glory in whatever we do? Would that be enough? Or, will our life only matter if we can experience a qualifying moment of meaning by our definition?

 

Your ‘such a time’ may not have come around yet. It may have come and gone. You may have recognized it or you may have been oblivious to it. It may not have been a big thing. It may have been earth shattering. However it was, is, or will be, you matter. You have been created for something wonderful. Will you miss your ‘such a time’ moment or embrace it, even if it lasts no more than a day? If we keep our eyes on Him, each moment will become a ‘such a time’ moment because each moment will be spent worshipping Him. What greater purpose in life is there besides that?

Writing for His glory –
sherri