Twenty Three Years Ago

Twenty three years and a few months ago, Jeanie and I got a surprise.  We thought we were going to be a family of five, but Jeanie got sick… morning sick!  I remember how overwhelming it felt to know that I was going to be responsible for not three, but four children.  At that time we had three little girls ages 4, 2 and 1.  Life was pretty much overwhelming all the time.  It’s strange how clearly I remember feeling afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle raising 4 children.  I was really scared!  But I handled it the way I handled everything.  Quietly. I decided that my family needed me to be the leader and I I could and would be the dad of four children and with God’s help, we’d be ok. (This is going to sound cheesy, but it is true).  When I resigned myself that we were going to be a family of six, I felt the Lord speak to my heart.  He told me that this child would be very special to me.

On May 26th, 1986, Leah Kathryn entered our life.  From the beginning she was different from her sisters.  While her sisters loved all the girlie toys and dressing up as princesses, Katie loved playing with cars, putting on big boots and helping me in the yard.  When she was a little older, she helped me with my instrument repair business.  She would take the instruments apart and clean them so I could do the repairs on them.  She was a great help to me.  I don’t know how much of her differences were built in to her DNA and how much was due to her determination to be her own person.  Whichever it was, Kat is a copy of no one.  She is her own person.

If I had only one word to describe her, I would say that Kat is tenacious.  I’ve heard it said that there are three kinds of people in this world… Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what just happened.  Kat makes things happen.  She sees things that others miss.  She understands how things work and that frequently frustrates her because things frequently don’t work very well.  As Kat helps to fix things that bother her, the world becomes a better place for us all.

The more I get to know Kat, the more I see a wonderful, compassionate woman who cares so much about others.  Kat is a great listener.  Her friends and family know they can trust her with their secrets and she helps us work through things more than she knows.  What a gifted and beautiful person!  When God spoke to my heart that this little girl would be special to me, I didn’t have any idea just how special she would be.  After 23 years of her special presence, I can truly say to her, “Kat, I love you dearly.  I am so glad I get to be your dad.”  Happy Birthday!

Fifty one Years Ago

Fifty one years ago today a beautiful, young and very pregnant woman gave birth to a baby boy.  She and her husband (the boy’s father) loved the boy and cared for him like good parents do.  They gave him food and shelter and love.  They made sure that he was brought up in a Christian home.  Every Sunday they took him to church.  In fact, the boy cannot ever remember just sleeping in on a Sunday.

He grew up big and strong and one day he left and started a life of his own.  Eventually, the boy had children of his own and in the process of caring for his own children, he began to understand some of the difficulties that come with being a parent.  Now that his children are all on their own, the boy has a depth of thankfulness that he could never have experienced  as a youngster.  There’s just no way to explain those kinds of things to a little guy.  He doesn’t have the years of experience.  He only has what experience he has lived.  As much as the parents want him to learn from their experience, there are so very many limitations on that kind of understanding.  The boy learns best from his own experience… the hard way!

Now, the boy is a grandparent and more thankful than ever!  As he looks back from his 51 year old perspective, he wants to say, thank you to his parents.  Thanks for giving him life.  Thanks for taking care of him, loving him and doing your best to shape him into the person God made him to be.  He knows that he has let you down many times.  He remembers hurting you.  He wishes he could redo so many things from the past.  Alas, he understands better than ever how this show only has one performance with no rehearsals.

Despite all his regrets, the boy is happy.  He is glad to be alive and glad to be who he is.  Sure, there are many things he would like to change, but when he is honest, he realizes that there is no one else in the entire world that he would rather be.  I think that’s pretty cool.

Danny’s Ride

Most of my friends know I am a musician.  A lot of people have influenced me (musically) through the years.  None more than a band director from my high-school years, Danny Leonard.  Danny had (and still has) a music school in Charleston, SC where I grew up.  My junior year of high-school, I joined the school.  As a member of the school, I took private music lessons and was part of the concert band and the jazz dance band.  Every year we had a week long intensive music summer camp, took a tour and made a record.  What a wonderful experience!

Danny was an exacting and demanding music director.  One of my favorite memories (although it was terrifying at the time) was how he would occasionally stop the rehearsal abruptly and point to someone and ask them to sing the part of another section in the band… usually when you were playing too loudly.  So I and the rest of the trombone section would be playing our parts proudly and loudly only to have him stop the band, point and ask one of us to sing the flute part.  The flute part!  Are you kidding?  You mean those quiet little woodwinds way over on the other side of the room!?  He wanted each of us to be able to hear the whole piece; to be aware that our part wasn’t everything.  There was actually other music happening right in the same room.  What a great life-lesson!  Each part is important, but the music of the band is all the parts together.  I could tell you a hundred more stories just like this one.

Last November, Danny and I met at the new music school and caught up on more years apart than I care to admit.  I learned that in recent years Danny had not one, but two battles with cancer and beat it.  If you have ever met Danny, you know that he has a passion that just draws others in.  As he told me about his plans to make a second bike ride across America to raise awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I was hooked and ready to join him.  I offered to help by creating a web site for the trip.  I’m happy to say that they web site is live and the trip begins next week!

Please check it out and subscribe to join me in following their progress as they journey from San Diego, CA to Charleston, SC.  If you are in Charleston this Friday night (April 17th), check out the Blues Brew & BBQ send off bash.

Melody

Twenty six years ago today, a young lady named Melody joined our family. She was the second of what would eventually be our four daughters.  When she and her sisters were little girls, I created a folder for each of them in the filing cabinet.  Sometimes, like tonight, I pull them out in order to remember.  Melody’s is the thickest folder because of the way she has always lived out loud.  She frequently wrote what she was feeling on notes and gave them to us.  Most of the ones to Jeanie or me were “I love you” notes… sometimes they expressed her displeasure at the way we were running things.  Regardless, I will treasure these forever.

The more I get to know her, the more I see a beautiful person with unique and incredible gifts and talents.  She has persevered through undergrad and is now working her way through Medical school.  Yes, medical school!  Melody is going to be a doctor!  And I am sure she will be a great doctor!  Her artistic creativity, her ability to communicate and to understand difficult scientific topics combined with her tenacity, value for authentic integrity and compassion will take her far.

I love you, Melody.  I am so glad I get to be your dad.  Happy Birthday!

Dad

Animated In Bed

Creative artistic expressions light me up.  Watching this video, I realize that at another time in my life, I felt a need to try everything.  I would have been thinking of copying the technique to do it myself.  Now, I find that I am still aware of “how it is done”, I am free to sit back and marvel at the creativity of the artist (Oren Lavie).  Tasteful music along with… well you have to see it for yourself (about 4 minutes)…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAVn0Urtc7U]

For feeds that do not include the embedded video, click here.

hat tip: State of Pate

Molly Pics

Erin–Thanks for asking for a slideshow.  It was way easy to do and works well.  Hope the rest of you can handle all the photos of Molly.  I’m trying to take it slow… no really, I am!

These are photos that Jeanie took while she was down helping Danae with Molly.

… and these were photos from Molly and Danae’s visit to Charlotte last weekend.  Danae was playing in the SC Collegiate Honor Band concert on Saturday and they stayed overnight.  The music was so good!  They did an excellent job and it was real ear-candy for me.  You can hear a recording of the music here.

Mollypops

TED Talks is one of the coolest sites I have ever stumbled upon. Lots of wonderful, intelligent talks about a world of different subjects. I watched one this week by Erin McKean this week that is really fun and has inspired me (shared below). She’s a lexicographer (compiles dictionaries). She has a lot of fun basically making the point that this is our language and words that communicate are good words. I recognized myself in her description of people who ask, “Is that a word?” As if we have some governing authority who determines what are words and what are not.

Words emerge in our language all the time i.e. google. “I think I will google lexicographer.” makes perfect sense to us, but what would we have thought even just 10 years ago. When and how did it become a “real word”?

I’m going to try to stop asking if something is a real word and start trying to influence language by introducing some really good new words. And the first entry will be mollypops.

mollypops adjective – Containing both Molly and her maternal grandfather (aka Pops).

example: Did you see the precious mollypops photo on jimazing.com?

TED Talk by Erin McKean

More thoughts from Erin McKean about new words

We see, They see–Part 2

Whoops!

I am not sure how it happened, but I published my last post with comments turned off.  I have changed that and they are back on now.

A Quick Case Study

This mistake on my part might make an interesting case study of my last post.  My guess is that some of you saw the “Comments are Closed” notice and determined (based on my behavior of closing comments) that I was not interested in what you had to say.  If you did, you were incorrect.  Despite my behavior of turning off comments, my intentions were to hear from my readers and my desire is to make that as easy as possible.  One of the joys of blogging is receiving feedback.  I like hearing how my words affect you.

The prior post was about the “We see/They see” quote repeated here:

We judge ourselves by our intentions.
Others judge us by our behaviors.
We cannot see our own behaviors.
Others cannot see our intentions.

My intention was to share my thoughts and hear yours.  You saw my “closed comments” behavior.  I was blind to my own behavior until someone pointed it out to me.  Likewise, you could not have seen my intentions until I explained myself.

Communication is Key

I was also stirred by an email from a dear friend who’s expressed desire to begin to look for intentions more in the coming year.  I appreciate that thought and it leads me to ask how one looks for intentions.  I think it is important to note that the first and most important element in communicating behavior and intentions is communication itself.  The problem is not that we don’t try to see our own behavior, we really cannot see it the way others do.  It is not that we don’t try to understand the intentions of others.  We actually cannot know them.  The only way we can possibly know what our own behavior looks like to those around us is to hear it from them, and we can only know their intentions when they communicate them to us.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about being nice.  I’m talking about communicating on a whole new level, something that does not come naturally and will take risk and effort.  It mostly is not modeled for us and it feels weird when we do it (but it is worth it).

Here are two unhealthy ways I could handle a situation with you: Let’s say that you do something that irritates me.  I could determine that you meant to hurt me and react based on that assumption.  I lash out at you verbally and we argue.  In that case, I didn’t understand your intention and you didn’t understand my volatile reaction.  Now let’s roll back the tape and replay it again.  You do something that irritates me.  I give you the benefit of the doubt by assuming that you didn’t mean to hurt me.  I conclude that your actions were unintentionally harmful.  I graciously choose not to respond to what you actually did.  While the first way may lead to unnecessary conflict, the second way can lead to being taken advantage of by the person who had ill intentions, but is never held accountable for his or her actions.

No matter whether one makes a positive or a negative assumption about the intentions of the other, the operative word is “assumption”.  Assumptions are not truth.  I hope I am not taking this verse too far out of context, but it reminds me of the words of Jesus in John 8:32, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The only way we can learn the true intentions of others is to communicate.

We see, They see

lady-justice.gifA few weeks ago, I heard the following thought and it rang true to me. I wrote it down in order to ponder it.  The more I think about it, the more important it seems to me.

We judge ourselves by our intentions.
Others judge us by our behaviors.
We cannot see our own behaviors.
Others cannot see our intentions.

To complicate matters even more, the “we” and the “others” changes constantly. At the same time that I am being judged by someone by my behavior, I am judging them by their behavior.

This miscommunication is the source of much fighting, loss of friendships and even wars.  Sometimes I wonder how we humans manage to get along as well as we do.  Mostly I wonder how we can do better.

A jimazing view of life