Archive for the ‘Blessings’ Category

3 Panel U2 pic for shirt

Bono (Chicago 2015), Liz (After 4 Chicago SOI 2015 shows!), and more Bono.

Bono! It’s your birthday.  Since we’re born exactly a week apart, I’d like to ask you some questions–one bull to another.  As we U2 fans prepare for the Joshua Tree 40 tour, I have some questions I’d love to ask you.  What is it like:

Maybe you didn’t ask for this much, but God gave it to you anyway. This voice—this voice that gives power to the silent, the abused, the ignored, the desperate. This magical voice that entertains those who can afford it—provoking and comforting, all the while, yet always on the move.

We hear you between the lines! We are getting the message. Even as you continue to entertain us as the years pass, we too are changing; ourselves, and the world around us.   We can CREATE change. There is true beauty in being able to do that. The divinely-inspired do more then just sit still.  We’re fighting for love and peace too, even as we do battle to settle the wars that rage within ourselves.  Your music helps us to be gentle with ourselves. Thank you for that.

You have a vast and diverse fan base.   Sometimes we may just appear as just a bunch of idolaters.  I dispute that.  If that’s all we were, then we’re all just reduced to a bunch of noise–people who don’t think or care, and it’s only all about you. But you know us better than that. It’s so much more. Because of your humility, we see past the rock star. We see a mirror; we see ourselves–#strongerthanfear; we too can be brave enough to be a kinder person, to be more tolerant and to help others.   Your music and your heart unites those of various faiths, it smashes barriers.  In the music of U2, we learn to see and hear the world differently. Thank you.

Your voice and music—this blessed gift of soul and sound, is the soundtrack that activates our inspiration and creativity too! Your music empowers our resolve. It gets us through when our hearts break, and it makes the good moments super amazing!

We know where to find you, when you’re not around. We’ll meet you in the sound!

Keep going Bono (and the rest of U2!). Keep creating song and art. Keep talking to world leaders and business leaders and everyday people too. May you always keep your heart and mind open as you always have. May you always find time to put your family and faith and your well-being before the rest of us. Trust in the God who gave a short man a mighty big megaphone! Make a joyful noise until your last breath and together, we’ll walk this magical journey of life as we each  find our way home.

And live. Just be. Until you give it all away.

Happy Birthday and love from one fan, as well as the rest of us.  Today, we remember you.  U2areloved

FOR U2 FANS:  Please contribute to Bono’s annual “Build a Well in Africa” fund.  This is a cause near and dear to his heart!

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Video:  Bono: A Conversation about Christianity

Who do you follow?  Click on Faces on Facebook, blogs, websites, YouTube, people, pets, places, ideas, or ideologies and chances are there’s a LIKE, SHARE, or FOLLOW button attached to it.

I’m a bit of a U2 fan.  OK, maybe too much so sometimes.  It’s just that I really in truly love their music more than ANYTHING else around.  It’s just me, my personal preferences.  Besides the technical genius of the Edge, the backbone and muscle found in Larry and Adam, you’d have to be fairly unaware in life to not know the lead singer and some say heart of the band is—Bono.  Even that’s debatable because most U2 fans know what makes the band endure through the decades is that each member is absolutely vital to the other.  Bono just happens to be the person in front.

A year ago today I met Bono.  I just happened to be in NYC, a place I’ve only been to three times in my life.  He just happened to be at the Letterman Theater outside my hotel on my last day in NYC.  I didn’t know U2 was in town, even more, just outside my hotel across the street a few feet away.   I found out randomly when I overheard another hotel patron telling her friend that they were in town.

I ran across the street and tried to get Letterman tickets.  I waited in line, interviewed, and didn’t get picked.  I left and did some sightseeing with my adult daughter in Battery Park.   We came back, and I went to the theater one more time where Letterman was filming.  Everyone had showed up.  There were no extra tickets; I was told I didn’t need to stay.  I knew Bono and The Edge were inside.  I wanted to meet them; I wanted to meet Bono!

I was beside myself with excitement. I sort of felt like a cross between the swooning moms who fainted over Elvis during my childhood and young teens who camp out and fast for days for a change to meet “The Bieb-ster”.   I ran back to my hotel to change and brush my hair.  I was determined to find a way.  Then I started calming down.  Then I started crying.  What’s wrong with me?

HE’S ONLY A MAN

Suddenly, there was a fire drill only on our floor.  I had to evacuate anyway.  I thought maybe, just maybe I’d go downstairs one last time and see if anything was going on in the back of the theater around the corner.  God?  What are you trying to tell me?

He’s only a man my child.  He’s definitely not Jesus.  He’s Bono, but at the end of the day, he’s still a man.

I quit running.  I started walking instead.  I told God something important:  I know!

So I surrendered.  If it was meant to be—fine.  If not, I could live with that.  Only four days prior, I had driven from this same hotel to see U2 in Philadelphia.  It was my third and best U2 concert of all.  Don’t be greedy with your blessings Liz!

I got there in the nick of time.  I had a blast and made some quick connections with other U2 fans; or as I sometimes say, “I found MY people!”

The backdoors opened.  Out walked the Edge and then Bono.  Then it happened.  I met Bono!  I wasn’t shaking.  I wasn’t falling down. I was able to speak coherently.   He’s just a man.  But for a brief second in time, I saw his eyes and perhaps he saw mine.  I told him to tell Nelson Mandela Happy Birthday.  I found out later, he was on his way to have lunch with him, but I didn’t know that at the time.  I wasn’t inside the theater when they were taping.  I just knew.  Because sometimes our souls just know.  I knew how close they are, and I remembered the audience singing Happy Birthday to Nelson at Bono’s request four days earlier in Philadelphia.

Then he said what I still refer to as just one word:  Yeah!!!!!

Yeah (YES)!   YES is such an affirmative word.  It may sound cliché, but I knew in my heart that day, it was time for me to start saying yes to pursuing some dreams I’ve carried around for a while.  It was as if God was whispering,

Your dreams can be a reality!  Why do you even doubt?

 Not because I met Bono, but because sometimes God just comes down and blesses you with something amazing, that you didn’t deserve, that you wouldn’t have seen coming in your wildest imagination.

At the end of the day, and the whole of my life, I am a U2 fan to the core, especially Bono.  But I actually follow WHO he follows.  I think that’s why I and millions of other fans connect so deeply.   It’s more than even U2’s great music.  It’s their connection to those that suffer in this world and making us not just aware, but challenging us to do.   To start where you are, and to branch out, that is the key.

Yes I’m a fan of U2, so I’ve hit my fill of LIKE buttons and commented volumes.

But I FOLLOW Christ, not perfectly, but absolutely, and that’s something I really want to SHARE.    Christ forgives, redeems, saves, loves, challenges, and changes us IF we let him.  Only God knows what plans He has for you though we’re guaranteed a few things as we go:  tragedy, triumph, love, loss.  So how do we survive it all?

Love.  Pray.  Hope.  Persevere.  Trust.

I’m many things—a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a writer.  I’m a fan of U2.  I’m a follower of Jesus—like my brother Paul, we are ONE in Christ. And that’s reason to REJOICE!

NOTE:  I’ve read these quotes.  They can be found in these books, great reads for U2 fans regarding Bono’s views and struggles in his faith walk.

 

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It’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away–Beautiful Day–U2

I’ve had the pleasure of watching both my son and my daughter graduate from high school.  So last night,at dinner, I asked them, my husband, and six year old son a profound question. With the exception of my youngest, who just finished kindergarten, the rest of us whether college educated or self-taught have certainly been at least a part time student at The School of Hard Knocks, a.k.a.  The Real World.    So I asked them this question, with a disclaimer that there would be a “no wrong answer” response from me.  I asked:

       Once you graduate, what is the key to happiness, or living a good life?

 I already had a mental outline prepared with six things I wanted to elaborate on, but let’s start with my family’s advice first:

My husband, father of three, said, “Get a boat.” I asked “What’s the best part of having a boat?”  He replied, “All of it.  Working on it.  Driving it.  Casting your reel off of it.  Skiing behind it.  If it’s a boat; it’s all good”

My oldest son, 24, said, “Sleeping!”  “Elaborate, please!” I replied.   In fewer than 25 words, he somehow conveyed to me, that when you are sleeping, you aren’t stressing, working, or in any number of ways, participating in life’s more difficult moments.  Ah, at such a tender age, he has found the antidote that somewhat cures the stresses of full time work.

My confident and ambitious daughter in college said, “Take responsibility for your life!”    She is strong-willed, independent, and needed no follow up questions from me.

My six year old, yelled out “Cake!!  Yummy, yummy cake!  And lots of it!” as he licked his lips!   He said this because my daughter had just baked a birthday cake for a friend, and he successfully convinced her to let him tag along and enjoy some delicious red velvet cake with her and her friend.  I love this age; he lives totally in the now.  That’s exactly where he found his answer.

I glanced out the door to my three cats who were basking in the setting sun’s light.  Their posture alone conveyed the modus operandi they exist out of:   Don’t worry; be happy!  Bask in the sun’s light as often as possible!

In less than 60 seconds, my family already nailed the points I already had planned to tell you.  I think it’s because these are universal truths.   In case you forget the wisdom from your baccalaureate address, by all means print this, and refer to as needed!

1.      Don’t Miss Your Boat!  Find Something You Love and Work Towards it Every Day 

Find the “boat” of your dreams and work towards it.  It won’t be easy; it requires a ton of work to earn it or build it yourself.  Your dreams and goals are the same way.  It takes years to hone your craft, or master your skills.  Whether you go to college or not, you are responsible for your learning!    But once you earn or build your dreamboat, don’t be afraid to occasionally  step out of it.  You’re going to have to leave your comfort zone, to truly go where you want to go in life.    There will be storms in life, but you can’t avoid navigating the seas, when there are big fish to catch and destinations to reach.  Sail on!

2.   There’s No Such Thing As “You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks”

If you can type reasonably well, are adept at using Google and/or Facebook, then you are already equipped in the art of self-education.  Always keep learning; but know how  to learn independently.  Respect your teachers, but don’t assume you can’t learn what they know without them.  You can.  Supplement your education by reading everything and finding ways to partake in your passions.  You can waste excess hours on social networking sites, or you use your computer as a tool to supplement your education, and the social network as a way to make connections that will increase your opportunities to connect to your passions.  Make it a point to learn something new every day!  Also, when you hear something as fact, don’t assume that it is, especially in the media.  Research it yourself, and find out if it’s true.

3.   Take Responsibility for Your Life.  Don’t blame others, ever, for your choices.  Don’t blame others for their success and your perceived lack of it.  Make your own luck and create your own destiny in such a way, that you’ll inspire others.  Three parts to this are key:

A. Do not let others define you.  When you get to the point, you are not a “people-pleaser”  and don’t require others to hold you in high regard, but can look squarely in the mirror and see a person of integrity, who is trying their hardest, and continues to take the hard steps to reach your goals, you will be successful.  You define your success, not others.  This also means whether you’re a NASA engineer, a stay at home parent,  an artist, or a CEO on Wall Street, you get to pick what success means to you!

B.  Refuse victimhood.    Life is not fair, but you should have mastered that around kindergarten.  Bullies exist.  There’s always someone who has more.  Somebody gets to the top because they had a leg up.  So what?!   You’re taking the honorable route and anything worth having takes time.  But always, refuse to be a victim.  You have the capacity to learn and the capacity to rise above, because that is an internal character trait, not an outward circumstance beyond your control, such as where you come from, or what your financial, educational, or any other status is currently.

C. Make good choices.  Don’t drink and drive, but think and thrive.  As an adult, you are pretty much free to do what you want, legally or even illegally, but only you can determine if the consequences are worth it.  Take risks in the things that will increase your success, not immature or dangerous choices that will diminish it or harm others.

4. Rest! 

With all the learning you’re going to be pouring into that noggin, it’s important to find time to play, relax, and of course rest.  It’s hard in a 24/7 driven world, but find ways to get the rest your body requires.  Everybody is different, but know your optimal number of hours of rest needed and find a way to get it.   Spice up your rest life, and get a hammock!   There’s nothing like a good view, before shutting one’s eyes!

5.  Get plenty of SON light!

Depend not only on yourself.  Seek help from others.  Also, call upon the higher power and the higher law of Grace, given freely by Jesus Christ, to power you not only on difficult days, but on the good ones as well.  Which brings me to my young son’s summary of all the above wisdom:

 6.  Savor sweetness!

Eat dessert first sometimes and forget about the calorie count!    Taste all the good things in life, not just food, but everywhere you look.  Look at life, as though you owned the world’s most expensive camera.  WOW!  What beauty, what amazing grandeur God has put before you; truly a panoramic banquet table awaits you each day.  Allow the things that are good to frame your daily perspective.  Refuse negativity as influence and refuse to be a negative person.  You’ll complain less, if you learn to get over things quickly and move on.

Equally important, where there is injustice, oppression, suffering, hunger, loneliness, sadness, isolation, imprisonment, cruelty, and all the unfair things of this world, will you personally commit to finding a role to play in some of the solution?  Never underestimate the power of one.  You have no idea how big your influence may play a role in those you come in contact with, and when you meet someone who falls in one of the above mentioned categories, will you choose to be involved and lend a helping hand, yourself or an encouraging word, a salve of sweetness?  Value and incorporate kindness, goodness, honesty, and sweetness into your character.

Conclusion:

You could read these sentences and view them in two possible ways:  A whole bunch of clichés, or a whole bunch of truths.  Well, sometimes clichés are true.   Anybody can say it, but do you have what it takes to live it?  I think you do.  You wouldn’t have read it to the end, if you didn’t think you have what it takes.  Lastly, know there will days when you will blow it or feel like a failure in some regard.  Learn from it, attempt to repair it if necessary, and by all means, move on!  Don’t let emotions or feelings dictate your reality, let your positivity, passions, and good choices move you forward from your mistakes.

Whether military service, college, tech school, volunteer service or employment is your next step in life, go forward with boldness, encouragement, and belief in yourself, that you are already more than capable.  Whatever your path, commit to living your life out loud, laughing often, learning always, lying never, and loving deeply.  Do these things and you will truly live.  When you live intentionally, you will find your success and happiness.   Choose to be happy.  Choose to exceed your definition of success.  Choose life, always!

Congratulations Class of 2012!!

Photo by Liz Gray

Go and wake up your luck.  Persian Saying

        Life is so beautiful.   I should easily be able to think of at least a thousand memories from the 17, 184* days I’ve lived so far,  but for sake of the preciousness of your life, allow me to account for just one day.

Yesterday was such a very happy day.  I woke up;  as is my custom, God willing, and that right there is something major to be grateful for.  This was followed by a series of multiple media message checking from cell phone, to email, to facebook, to homephone—all before I had a chance for my morning coffee.     Make the beds, make a plan for the day, change the litter box; change the plans for the day after consulting all the other family members and their plans.

Thankfully, it was Saturday, so we didn’t have the usual workday/school day stress of all trying to get out the door.   As words were exchanged and plans revised and rearranged, I first felt the twinges of stress creeping in from an “overstuffed” day, but for once I was able to pause  and remember something:

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24)

See I wanted to go to a dear friend’s daughter’s high school graduation.  I also already had plans to go see my daughter’s dance recital at a studio about two hours away, two hours from when the graduation ceremony started.  I had not seen my friend in over a year or her family.  Not only was her youngest daughter graduating, her oldest daughter was coming into town with a brand new baby, only a few weeks old.  I could not skip my daughter’s recital, yet how could I miss the graduation of someone so dear to our family?

What to do, what to do?  We’ve all been here.  How do you either A: Stop Time or   B: Be in two places at one time?

Well, if you figure that one out, please be sure and let me know, because it seems every day I live, there is more that either NEEDS to be done, or that I WANT to do, and sadly it’s just not possible to do it all.

So I prayed.  I rushed, but I prayed five simple words:  Lord, please order my day.  BOOM!  No sooner, than this simplest of prayers get lifted up, a possibility floated into my consciousness.   It was as if God let me know a visit with a friend delights and warms our heart no matter how brief.  I decided I would meet my friends, and hug her beautiful daughter if only for a few moments outside the church shortly before graduation started.  We spent about thirty true quality moments.  I did not get to see her graduate.  But I did get to see her.

I got to admire the serene beauty of a mom who raised four amazing children who have grown into Godly, well-adjusted, kind, compassionate young adults who will make this world a better place because of their purpose in it.  I got to see her two beautiful boys, one with a family of his own,  and her lovely oldest daughter, a mom of three with her newest gorgeous baby boy.  Hugs were exchanged and plans were made for a future visit.

Kiss, kiss, and off I went.  I drove the two hours west where the foothills, turn into what I guess I would call sledding hills.  Not quite the mountains, but there is a hint you’re getting closer.  Along the way to the dance recital, I kept stopping because I am the kind of person who gets distracted by Kodak Moments.  Rural America has a hundred snapshots a mile.  I could write into eternity, and I’m not even sure that would be enough time to capture all the beauty I see all around me.  Old wells, broken down cars,  wheel wagon mailboxes, giant ten-foot neon signs decades old, purple houses with pink petunias everywhere, and even the unique, humorous, and downright weird billboards I saw were all “signs”  from a higher power to:  SEE!  ENJOY!  WHAT BOUNTY AND ABUNDANCE I HAVE PLACED BEFORE YOU!

My favorite pic of the day was a sweepstakes building.  There was only one car there; I assume it was the owner or employee. There was not another car in sight.  They were open for business.  But no one came.  Maybe it’s because this small town felt like I did; I already won the lottery!!   Who needs a windfall, which often is accompanied by curses and broken promises, when beauty and memory is to be found everywhere.

I ultimately made it to the dance recital where my daughter sat in the front along with the other teachers, as opposed to dancing on the stage like all the recitals of the last ten years.    Her choreography was amazing and loud applause warmed my heart, because God continues to water the seeds of her gifts too.

I thought of all the unwritten chapters yesterday.  Not just what I want to write about, but what God wants to write about.  He truly has written eternity into the hearts of man.  Who will this new graduate become as she starts her voyage from this day forward as an adult?  Who will this new baby be?  What new adventures await my lovely friend who has successfully raised four amazing children and now after nearly thirty years will have the joy of time to do more of what she loves?  What lies ahead for all the talented dancers I saw yesterday? Their possibilities of choices, colleges, and careers are endless.

See I didn’t have to go inside and play the lottery.  For I have a secret to tell you.  I already won!!

It’s not about what we have or haven’t gotten yet.  It’s not about the career we have or don’t have that defines us.  Life is about  enjoying the gifts God puts all around you and within you.    It’s not about  stuff or status; it’s about purpose and perspective.  Ah yes, definitely perspective.

Yesterday I hugged three beautiful moms and one beautiful graduate!  I kissed a new baby.  I met a new toddler.  I saw dancers that could soar so high and dance so magnificently it made me cry that even that much talent can be squeezed into one person’s body, and even that was repeated in multiple dancers.   I hugged and kissed a beautiful teacher–my daughter.   Throughout the day I listened to music that inspires my soul and saw scenery that leaves me with only one thought.  Thank you!    Thank you God for letting me win life’s lottery.  It’s not free from struggle, by any means, but it’s days like yesterday, that make me realize, I’m infinitely rich beyond measure.

Today I even got to wake up for the 17, 185th time.  Seriously, how SWEET is that???

The soul, like the body, lives by what it feeds on.  ~Josiah Gilbert Holland

  How long have you been blessed?  http://www.beatcanvas.com/daysalive.asp