Friday, April 26, 2013

Most Embarrassing Moment

I always get a kick out of hearing people's most embarrassing moments, but I figure if I'm going to weasel it out of other people, I have to be fair and tell my own too. 

So... I have had quite a few moments in my life where I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole. The main one that stands out, though, happened in '00 when I was a student at Rosedale Bible Institute (College, now).

Around Christmas each year, the tradition for the community was for everyone to meet at RBI's chapel to hear a group of people sing through Handel's Messiah. The singers consisted of any interested persons who could read music and/or who had a copy of the musical score.

I had never participated in singing Handel's Messiah and the idea of working my way through the Hallelujah Chorus was too much for me to resist. To me, the Hallelujah Chorus was written by an earthly man who was inspired by heavenly vision. It's one of the greatest pieces of music ever written and I was so excited to take part in singing it, inadequate though my alto may be.

We all gathered together in the chapel. 30 or so of us congregated up front, Messiah scores in hand, while the rest of the chapel packed out with listeners. The chapel held close to 500 - about that many showed up.

The musical director tapped his baton on the music stand and we began. The music was difficult to follow for a newbie like me who had never sung through the Messiah before, but it was still beautiful. It ebbed and flowed and swelled and fluctuated and I was completely engrossed.

And finally, we got to the Hallelujah Chorus.

The glory and the majesty of this song overwhelmed me. I sang my heart out. I concentrated hard on the score because I didn't want to add even one false note to the beautiful symphony of voices.

We built up to the climax - the end of the song; the final grouping of Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, and then the big grand pause before the last Amen. The audience was on their feet, the pause came... that long four count before the final word.

I counted to two, and the last Amen burst from my lips. 

Just me. All by myself. 

It was irredeemable. There was no covering over such a blatant mistake. The music stopped amid an entire auditorium full of uproarious laughter, the director stared unbelieving over his music stand at the upstart alto who had ruined the ending and I hung my head in shame, sincerely wishing I could crawl under a nearby pew and die quietly.

Despite my wish, the show must go on. The director quieted everyone back down and we backed up a few bars of music to try the ending again. Somehow much of the swelling grandeur had gone out of it. Mostly, people tried not to laugh, especially when we hit that four beat pause again and I actually managed to wait the full four beats. I tried to be as invisible as possible under the circumstances.

As it was, my fame spread far and wide after that incident. I never quite lived it down.

But that's okay. Thirteen years later, I still blush when I think about it. But at least I'm past the stage of wanting the earth to open up and swallow me.

So... I've told my most embarrassing moment. What's yours? :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Most Important Thing Ever (No Pressure or Anything)...

As a parent of three young 'uns, I shake in mortal terror when every so often, the overwhelming responsibility with which I am entrusted hits me.

Today in our Sunday School class at church, our group had a good discussion about our kids - raising them, teaching them, advising them, instilling a love of God in them. We talked about the disconnect between the current young adult generation (20 to 30 year old's) who in large part have bowed out of traditional church, instead choosing a very passive form of belief... "I don't know what to believe or who to believe in."

We started asking ourselves, what is the disconnect? Is it because we push our kids too hard to believe what we have always believed and what our parents have pushed on us?

And yet (for the most part, exceptions always present), our generation (the 30's to 40's) that were brought up by believing parents and lovingly guided in that direction may have messed around a bit in our younger days, but have largely come back to solid relationships with God.

According to some of the statistics we looked at, the 20 to 30 generation is one of the first generations who is not necessarily following the trend of each generation (returning to the church).

So what's going on? What has changed that makes such a difference in belief mentality?

Mulling this over in my mind while I was washing dishes this afternoon, I thought of something. Who knows if it's correct, but I'll throw it out there anyway. 

I wonder if we've become such an "instant gratification" culture, that young people don't have time, or want to make time anymore, to search for God... to wait on Him.

When I look at the big picture, overall (it seems to me), America has become spiritually stagnant. And then I look at "missionary kids." They live in other cultures, many of them far removed from instant gratification. They are taught in much the same manner we teach our kids, but - and it's a big but - the surrounding culture is so different. They return to the States on furloughs, and many times, these MK's have a hard time finding their slot in society. Why? Because society and cultural norms are almost opposite the culture in which they've been brought up, even though their American parents are teaching them relatively the same values that we are teaching our kids.

These kids are also taught to think, to defend the way they believe, in a way that our American, nearly post-Christian culture rarely teaches our kids to think. 

So... going back to my three young 'uns. Of course I want them to believe the way I believe. More than anything else, I want my kids to have deep, thriving relationships with God - not just a shrug-sure-I-believe-in-God-'cause-what-else-is-there kind of thing.

But this discussion really challenged me to do less telling my kids how to believe and more helping them find their own answers (guided by the Word of God, of course). Knowing why they believe what they do rather than just spouting off rhetoric because my-mama-told-me-so.

I pray every day that my kids recover from my mistakes, because I sure make a lot of them. I pray that in God's grace, He'll pull them to Him in spite of my silly human nature.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


When I was in the fourth grade, our classroom at school looked like a Christmas explosion. Christmas projects littered the walls, a Christmas tree stood in our room with Christmas ornaments slung all over it that we had made in class. Glitter sparkled on the floor, our shoes, everything.

My desk sat directly next to the Christmas tree in the corner. One particular day close to Christmas break, I sat at my desk, doing a reading assignment, when a boy in the class eased behind my seat on his way to some place else. I watched him out of the corner of my eye; he surreptitiously grabbed an ornament off the bottom branches of the tree, bent it into an unrecognizable mass in his hand and threw it onto the floor.

I don't know what this boy's motive was. His reputation as a trouble-maker was pretty well set, and as an adult looking back on the situation, I have always felt sorry for him, wondering what would have caused his constant need to act out. At the time, though, I didn't like him, since I was often the brunt of his bullying.

He passed by and reached his destination - a few desks over where he slid into his seat. The teacher looked up at that moment, saw the swaying branch on the Christmas tree and the destroyed ornament underneath it, and lit into me.

"Tama, of all the people, I certainly wouldn't have expected you to be the one to destroy property. You should be ashamed of yourself, young lady." She went on and on, expressing how disappointed she was in me, how she couldn't believe how I would have so little respect for someone else's work as to destroy it so completely.

I sat there with tears in my eyes, my overly-sensitive spirit taking to heart every single word she said. As I recall, I did manage to say, "But I didn't do it." She overrode my defense because in her eyes, the only possible explanation was that I was the only one near enough to have reached it. Beyond that, I don't know why I didn't tattle on the boy.

He sat and watched me out of the corner of his eye the whole time I was getting my dressing-down from the teacher. Perhaps he expected me to say who did it. It certainly would have been the sensible thing to do.

Maybe I was too shy. His snide little smile that said, "You're not going to tell on me," should have pushed me over the edge to do just that.

Or maybe I didn't tell because that was what he expected me to do. Somewhere under his rough layers, I think, was a hurting little boy who hurt other people because it protected him from more wounds coming his way. Not that I understood that in fourth grade. All I knew was that I was being falsely accused and I was angry about it. But I'm glad I didn't spout off that day, perhaps, if only to teach him that sometimes... it's okay to be the vulnerable one.

Who knows if he learned anything from that episode. Maybe. But I learned from it and I suppose in the end, that's what really matters.

Friday, April 5, 2013


When the warm rays of unfiltered sunlight
crest the receding draught of cool wetness...


When the robins chatter and squawk 
In early dawn before the sun peeps over the distant mountains...


When the puddles rise steaming 
From the pitfalls of newly green grass...


When the weariness and dreariness and shadowy grayness
Of Winter pass into the nether regions beyond silent thought...
When new thought and new life spring forward
And new ambition dominates faded shadows of past goals...
When warm air overflows the lungs
Until not one more oxygen particle could pass into the body...