Brother Jon is Three Years Sober!

There’s something pretty special about a guy who dedicates his three-year sobriety anniversary blog post to another person.

I mean, who celebrates three years of sobriety by writing about someone else?

Brother Jon, that’s who.

Meet BroJo ... proving that Mormons (and Sober folks) can be normal people too.

Meet BroJo … proving that “Mormons (and sober folks) can be normal people too.”

I met “BroJo” early last year after his post “Feel the Beat of the Rhythm of the Nineties” was Freshly Pressed. It’s no secret that I’m an 80s music fan (visit my guest post “A Defense of 80s Music” at El Guapo’s if you don’t believe me), but truthfully, I may like 90s music just as much. So I was happy-dancing around like Duckie singing Otis Redding when I discovered another 90’s music kindred! When I found out Jon was sober too–almost two years at that point–well, that made me break out in full Vogue. What? I know I’m not the only one that still loves that dance. Am I?

Fast forward eighteen months and here we are. We’re both still blogging, we’re both still music lovers, and we’re both still sober.

And today Jon celebrates three years of sobriety.

Congratulations on your three years, Jon. And thank you again for dedicating your anniversary post to me.

Seriously, who does that?

Oh yeah, Brother Jon does.

Stop by Jon’s post “Third Year’s a Charm” to say congratulations, and while you’re there, click around and get to know him a little bit (don’t forget his 90s post). You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer, more generous blogger out there.

And, Jon? Three years sobriety calls for a very special happy dance. No, not the Duckie. Not even the Vogue. Nope, three years calls for a very special 90s dance . . .

The Carlton.

***

Don’t forget to check out the latest Life in 6 Songs post. Find out how to join in with your own 6 songs or by sharing a few of your memories from the series (deadline is Monday at 10 am central). You may even win an Amazon gift code! Don’t be shy, we’d really love to hear from you.

***

Have you met BroJo yet? Which music do you prefer: 80s or 90s? Neither? ;) Do you have a special happy dance? A favorite song to dance to? 

Life in 6 Songs: Your Turn! Share & Win Prizes! (Week 24)

“Things come back when I listen. The music drags out memories. That’s one thing about my life; it has a great soundtrack.” -Roddy Doyle, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

Picture your life as a movie. You’re sitting in a theater, you’ve got your buttered popcorn and your cherry slushy, your phone is in silent mode, and the lights start to go down. As the screen comes to life, what do you see? Or, more importantly, what do you hear? What songs are playing in the movie of your life? What’s on your life soundtrack?

Now, take that soundtrack, and cut out about 1,000 songs.

"The Moment" by Rude Cactus. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe . . .
“The Moment” by Rude Cactus. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In six songs, tell us about your life. 

***

And that was how it all began . . . nearly six months ago. Wow. Can you believe how fast time has flown?

Jennie, Michelle and I started “Life in 6 Songs” to have some fun, share some music, and make Mondays a little less, well, Monday-ish. We thought we’d do it for a few weeks, until the novelty wore off with you, dear readers; we had no idea the series would catch on as quickly and strongly as it did. (Okay, well maybe I had a feeling . . . but I had no idea we would book up nearly six months within a couple of weeks.)

Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for making this series so successful. Because really, you guys did all the work. We may have edited formats and juggled schedules, but you were the ones who entrusted us with your stories: your childhoods, your traumas, your joys, your hopes, your griefs . . . your lives. That’s a big deal. I think we all came to realize how fragile and precious this series was because of the heart-felt, sincere stories everyone shared. Yeah, sure, the music was nice too. But you know as well as we do that if we just stuck some videos up without the stories behind them, you wouldn’t have felt the same.

And I think that’s what really blew us away. The care and devotion extended toward this series by participants and readers alike. So again, we say thank you. We never could have come this far without you!

To offer our gratitude, and to give you all a chance to participate and share your thoughts and memories of the series, we have a few special things planned — complete with random drawings for those: 1) who have already shared their stories; 2) who choose to share their stories and playlists now (or again); 3) who share comments below about their memories of the series; and 4) for a special series supporter who has been with us for nearly every volume.

***

Ready for the details?

We will conduct four different drawings next week — on Tuesday, August 26. If your name is selected, you will win a $10 Amazon gift card/code that we will email to you. Winners will be announced Wednesday, August 27. Here’s how to enter:

Drawing One is only for participants published on RoS up to this point (Volumes 2 – 23, we are excluding ourselves.) Twenty-two volumes, two guests each, means there will be 44 names in the hat. Your name will only be entered once. We will pick two winners.

Or maybe we'll let a cat draw

Maybe we’ll let a cat draw the names! (Via)

Drawing Two is for everyone who wants to join in and share your stories and playlists. If you’ve already posted your stories on your blog, (I know of at least three and will include them), please share your link below. Or we will give you exactly one week to post them; you have until Monday, August 25, 10:00 AM (Central Standard Time) to post your stories on your blog and either give us a pingback or leave your link in a comment below. If you are one of the 44 who already participated, but want to give it another try or want to make it harder by narrowing yourself to one artist or genre, that’s awesome; just share 6 songs and a bonus 7th song on your blog and at least a few lines explaining your choices. Everyone can earn one entry to this drawing. Even non-blogging readers! 

If you are a non-blogging reader and you’d like to participate, simply leave a comment with your six (plus one bonus) song listing. (You do not have to include YouTube links.) Along with your song listing, give us the stories behind two of your songs: one story/paragraph for one of your songs 1-6; and the story behind your Bonus Song 7. This option of explaining only two songs is solely for readers that do not have a personal blog. 

We will pick one winner if we receive fewer than ten “entries.” We will pick two winners if we receive ten or more “entries.”

Drawing Three is open to everyone and is the only drawing where you can earn multiple entries. All you have to do is leave a comment (before Monday the 25th, 10 am central) sharing one of your favorite memories or stories from the “Life in Six Songs” series — the comment must be inspired by one of the participants (another person, not you). To earn up to three drawing entries, you may leave three separate (and non-duplicated) comments (we will write your name and the participant you mention on a slip of paper, to be drawn from a hat.) If you leave four or more comments, great!, but you will only earn three entries for your first three qualifying comments.

Pull up a seat, we've got some great songs queued up on the jukebox!  image via wikicommons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Decisions, decisions . . . What were some of your favorite songs and stories? image via wikicommons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

You don’t have to write much, but please do let us know which story or song or playlist resonated with you and why. For example, I remember Michael of Good2BeGone sharing “Insanity” by Oingo Boingo, because it reminds me of my own “insane” times while I was drinking and trying to quit, plus I adore Danny Elfman; I remember Sandra sharing “I’m Eighteen” by Alice Cooper, because, honestly, she surprised me big time! I couldn’t picture sweet little Sandra jamming to Alice Cooper. I also remember Hippie’s Song Seven “Closer to Fine” because I almost used it myself for my own Song Seven; like Hippie, I may have even flipped a coin.

If your name is drawn from the hat, you and the participant you mention will each win a gift card code ($10 for you, $10 for your participant). We will pick one winning duo if we receive fewer than twenty “entries;” We will pick two winning duos if we receive twenty or more “entries.”

Drawing Four is a special criteria contest. Prize(s) will be awarded to a Series-Super-Supporter. Someone who has been with us nearly every week, supporting our guests with comments and likes. You cannot earn entries to this one, sorry; This winner will be decided by Jennie, Michelle and Christy; technically it is not a drawing, but we are calling it one anyway.

Drawings and Deadlines:

The drawings will be conducted on Tuesday, Aug. 26, by Jennie’s daughter, Sam. And, yep, you may win more than once; we won’t penalize you for getting lucky. (Though we may ask you to buy us a lottery ticket.) So comment all week and/or share your 6 Song Stories on your blog all week — just do so before Monday, Aug. 25, 10 am central. Any comments or pingbacks after that time are welcome, but you will not earn drawing entries. Winners will be announced the following Wednesday, Aug. 27.

***

Hopefully that all makes sense, but feel free to ask us questions below. Rules are subject to change and everything is subject to me, Michelle and Jennie. How’s that for a disclaimer? The gift cards are personally donated by us as a way to say thank you, that’s all. So let’s just keep it fun, keep it clean, keep it honest, keep it polite.

To refresh your memories or to see what other folks have shared, check out the Life in 6 Songs page; we have each volume listed for you. We’ll also add links to your stories and posts that come in this week.

***

I was going to share some interesting trivia from the series (like the most frequently chosen bands, duplicate songs, etc.), but I think I’ll save that for a future post so I can use the new stories and lists that come in. Interestingly, Elvis has thus-far been snubbed. Let’s see if anyone feels sorry for him . . .

***

Since I know it’s strange not having a Monday morning playlist, I’m going to include one from my friend Liz, who participated in Volume 20. She brought the 6 Song challenge to her son, Dylan, and wrote about it in her post “Dylan’s Life in Song: music and autism“:

These are Dylan’s songs (I happen to think they’re pretty groovy):

***

Okay, who wants to start? What do you remember from the series? Are you taking the 6 Song challenge? Leave us your memories and your links below. 

Don’t forget, comment and/or post before Monday the 25th, 10 am central. We’ll draw on Tuesday the 26th, and we’ll announce winners on Wednesday, August 27. – Christy, Michelle and Jennie

***

I’m No Snake Charmer (Ode to the Wretched Snake)

Let me officially go on the record:

I do not like snakes.

Nope, nada, no way José. Nothing you say will change my mind.

Look, I love animals, you know this. I label myself an animal-lover on my “about” page … even before I label myself as an alcoholic. But then I get more specific:

I love all animals. Well, if they have legs. Fur helps too.

Last I checked, snakes have neither legs nor fur. Therefore, they are not included in my love-fest. But apparently, the snakes didn’t get the memo.

 

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I never want to look around and see a snake. Especially not at 10:30 at night when I’m letting the dog out before bed. But living in the hot dry country, every once and while it happens.

The first thing I do is run back inside (what? I’m no hero. At least not until I grab a weapon.) The second thing I do is look for a rattle. Next, I either grab my camera or grab my shotgun–in this case, I grabbed a camera first, because I didn’t really want to wake my sister-in-law.

(Oh, did I forget to mention that we had company staying the night? My brother-in-law and his wife–his ‘petrified-of-snakes’ wife–had just gone up to bed. I have a feeling they won’t be staying with us again any time soon.)

Without going into detail, the snake looked enough like a rattlesnake to me. So we ended up shooting it.

What kind of snake was it, you ask? A dead snake. (hardee har har.) Truth is, they all look poisonous to me. Brown snake? Must be a rattlesnake. Patterned? Copperhead! Huge? OMG it’s a python. Near a puddle? Water moccasin! Yellow stripes? It’s a coral snake! Black? Holy mother-of-pearl, it’s a black mamba!

No, sorry, not That Black Mamba. (image via)

No, sorry, not that Black Mamba. (image via movieplayer)

Given my love for flip-flops and for off-leash dogs, the survival rate for discovered snakes around here is pretty low. Does that make me a bad person? Depends on who you ask, I guess. I mean, haven’t snakes been getting mankind in trouble since the beginning of time? Sure they may serve a purpose in nature, but they can also kill curious dogs with a single bite.

So … it ended up a dead snake. Not the first time, and won’t be the last. This time got to me though. When I came back inside after disposing of the snake, my hands were shaking from fear and adrenaline. Maybe it was because the snake was right by the steps to the yard, and the dog had walked right by it. Maybe it was because I took pictures of the snake and really looked at it. Maybe it was even because we had house-guests upstairs. (Of all nights to have a snake. Geez, how embarrassing.) But for whatever reason, I was really edgy and antsy. I stood at the kitchen sink and thought to myself, now is the time I could really use a drink. It wasn’t a craving, more of an objective analysis of the situation: stressful event, shaking hands, shot nerves . . . Most folks would pour a stiff shot of whiskey right about now, just to take the edge off. But I can’t. Sometimes it sucks to be an alcoholic, it really does.

How poetic would it have been for a snake to be the temptation that sent me back to the bottle? Instead of an apple, an apple martini. But, thankfully, I hadn’t the desire nor the vodka.

Instead of having a drink, I emailed Jennie and said Holy crap! Blankety blank blank, look what was on my blankety blank blank porch! Those creepy blankety blank blanks . . . I hate their blankety blank blanks! And of course she promptly replied with her own commiserating blankety blank blanks. Isn’t that what best friends do? Commiserate and cuss with you? I tend to only swear for emphasis here on RoS, so I’m refraining, mostly, but let’s just say that snakes bring out the sailor in me.

Snakes bring out my inner-Michone (a character from The Walking Dead). Image via Wiki.

Snakes also bring out my inner-Michonne (from The Walking Dead). Image via Wiki.

The next day Jennie suggested I write something about the snake, an “Ode to the Hated Snake,” or something like that. So I played around and sent back a few stanzas of snake and shotgun material, mimicking the style of some other poems, and Jennie said she actually snorted. She then implored me to share them on the blog. Since Jennie doesn’t implore very often, when she does, I usually always cave in.

What follows are my very quick attempts at snake poetry. Quick as in “ten minutes of impulse typing on the iPhone while I watched television,” so don’t judge too harshly. The first is a light-hearted attempt (and includes a Bukowski-esque F-bomb), but the second turned into a slightly more serious piece on the nature of snakes and mankind’s fear of them.

Really though, why do so many of us fear snakes? We don’t fear lightning or birds or clowns with the same vigor. Is it something instilled in us from the beginning of time? Back to the fall of mankind? And is this fear more of an anger? A resentment? I don’t know. I’m not too religious, but I’m logical enough to know there’s something strange about nearly everyone being scared of snakes.

Our very own lovely MamaMick isn't scared of snakes! She's as badass as Uma and Michonne!

Our very own lovely Michelle (MamaMick Terry) isn’t scared of snakes! She’s as badass as Uma and Michonne! (Maybe even more!)

I try my best to emulate the awe and wonder one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, has for the world and all its inhabitants. She has expressed respect for snakes in many of her poems, including “The Black Snake,” “Ribbon Snake in the Sun,” “Carrying the Snake to the Garden,” and the below “May“:

What lay on the road was no mere handful of snake. It was the copperhead at last, golden under the street lamp. I hope to see everything in this world before I die. I knelt on the road and stared. Its head was wedge-shaped and fell back to the unexpected slimness of neck. The body itself was thick, tense, electric. Clearly this wasn¹t black snake looking down from the limbs of a tree, or green snake, or the garter, whizzing over the rocks. Where these had, oh, such shyness, this one had none. When I moved a little, it turned and clamped its eyes on mine; then it jerked toward me. I jumped back and watched as it flowed on across the road and down into the dark. My heart was pounding. I stood a while, listening to the small sounds of the woods and looking at the stars. After excitement we are so restful. When the thumb of fear lifts, we are so alive.

— Mary Oliver, “May”
New and Selected Poems, Volume 2
Beacon Press, Boston, 1992

Like Ms. Oliver, there’s a part of me–albeit a very small part–that marvels at snakes: their survival skills; their notorious images not jading their joie de vivre, their lust for life – to be so hated, yet so happily oblivious; being able to do so much without hands or legs; the ability to shed their skins–their gorgeous, sleek, shining skins–and to leave the past behind. Well, it’s amazing really. I can’t help but marvel and admire them.

But mostly?

Mostly, I hate the creepy little fuckers.

***

Ode to a Wretched Snake

with apologies to the poetic greats

Oh wretched snake
How do I hate thee
Let me count the ways

Shall I compare thee to a slimy worm
For thou art as creepy and crawly as any vile creature

Oh shotgun, oh shotgun
Wherefore art thou, Shotgun?
Tis a snake! And the shotgun is my friend!

And I have carnage and death to reap
And a box of shells to use before I sleep.

8
shells
actually.
just
thought
you
should
know
fucker.

***

Snake Charmer

after Bukowski’s “Bluebird

there’s a snake charmer in my heart that wants to get out
but I’m too tough for her.
stay there, I say
do you want to ruin my Michonne image?
mess up my shot-gun plans?
screw up my garden shovel endorsement deals?

there’s a snake charmer in my heart
but I pour mothballs and ammo on her
and inhale gasoline fumes.
but she’s not dead yet.
she still plays her flute a little.
and in the mid of night
we watch Swamp People together
and admire the fear
these leg-less creatures
born of temptation
instill in man.
mighty man
who’s only sins were
desire for knowledge
and trusting
the wrong
snake.

it’s enough to make a man
weep.
but I refuse to weep.
I shoot instead.
angry
over
my
innocence
lost.
no, I don’t
weep, do
you?

***

Remember, friends, to heed Tom T. Hall’s warning . . . beware of those Sneaky Snakes. They’ll steal all your root beer! Here’s the song, performed by the very talented Buddy Miller:

 

***

Are you afraid of snakes? Why? Why not? What (else) are you afraid of? Did you see the movie “Snakes on a Plane”? Do you recognize any of the poetic greats I “borrowed” from?

What the script really said before Jackson changed it.

Had Shakespeare written the script…

 

Life In 6 Songs: Vol. 23 (Chenoa and Cindy), (plus a special announcement!)

Believe it or not, this is the last standard edition of Life in Six Songs. But “Take it Easy,” “Don’t Cry,” because “It’s Not Over;” “The Best is Yet to Come,” “Just Wait.”

Sorry, I know I have the tendency to speak in song lyrics. “Please Forgive Me, “I Can’t Help Myself;” I’m only “Human.” . . . “Oops, I Did it Again.”

What I’m trying to say is, we have a very special edition next week! If you’ve wanted to participate in the series (or if you want to take the challenge again or even want to try using the songs of only one artist), next week is your chance! Plus, we’ll sweeten the deal by announcing a contest and drawings for our participants and supporters. To prepare, start thinking about your favorite memories and stories from the series and/or start planning your 6 (+1) song playlists. More details next Monday, August 18, so don’t miss it!

***

In six songs, tell us about your life. 

By now most of you know the drill, but if you are a new visitor, welcome! We challenged our guests to tell us their life stories: “The project is simple, though maybe not easy: Tell us a story–your story–in six songs. And then for fun, wrap up your life in a bonus seventh song.” The series runs every Monday through September.

Feel free to check out our past volumes and enjoy this week’s stories.

Without further ado . . .

Our very special guests this week are:

Chenoa from Life Corked and Cindy from Judah First. I really couldn’t imagine two nicer ladies to close our standard “Life in 6 Songs” volumes. Chenoa I’ve followed for almost as long as I’ve been blogging (we’re both sober, we love to exercise, and we lost our moms way too early to cancer). Cindy I’ve happily met through this series when she read one of the early volumes; like me, Cindy has moved countless times in her life, she’s rarely at a loss for words, she’s always reading multiple books, and she loves writing as a tool to help her process her thoughts. They’re both incredibly talented, brave writers. I hope you’ll take time to comment or to stop by their blogs to say hello.

Enjoy this week’s “Life in 6 Songs” everyone!

"Clave de Sol" by Elisabeth D'Orcy via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Clave de Sol” by Elisabeth D’Orcy via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

~~~

Chenoa (from Life Corked)

Song #1 (and tell us why briefly):

King Of Pain” by The Police

The very first song I remember rockin’ out to and singing along to as a kid was “King of Pain” by The Police. I grew up in a little cabin in the redwoods and my dad had these huge speakers that he would blast music out of. I vividly remember sitting next to them, feeling the music vibrate through me, as I picked at the foam in the speakers (something I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to be doing!).

Song #2:

Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison

Just around the time I entered my tweens, big hair bands were taking the world by storm and I was hooked! One of the first tapes I ever bought was Mötley Crüe, however, after reading the lyrics, my mom made me return it and exchange it for Poison (apparently they were a bit more tame!). And, I have to admit, to this day I still have a tiny crush on Bret Michaels! Something about that big, blonde hair and bandana!

Song #3:

She’s In Love With The Boy” by Tricia Yearwood

It wasn’t until my freshman year in high school that my love affair with country music began. I had my first serious boyfriend and Trisha Yearwood’s song, “She’s In Love With The Boy,” sounded like it was written for me. I lived down a dirt road, he drove an old Chevy truck, my dad couldn’t stand him and there was no doubt in my mind that I would one day marry him – thankfully, that didn’t happen!

Song #4:

Santeria” by Sublime

My freshman year in college was all about new friends and new music. I was living in the dorms and one of my new friends introduced me to this group called Sublime. “Santeria” became the soundtrack to our lives that year. Most of all, it represents a very carefree time in my life – no real worries; just fun in the California sun. Oh, if it was really that simple!

Song #5:

Something Real” by Phoebe Snow

During graduate school, I was living by myself for the first time and feeling more introspective than I ever had. This is also when I first started finding comfort in a glass or two of wine at night. My mom introduced me to some of her favorite artists and I was hooked. I listened to Phoebe Snow and Iris DeMent over and over again. Their lyrics spoke to me, and after my mom died a few years later, they connected me to her like nothing else could.

Song #6:

Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” by Tammy Wynette

I always end up coming back to country music. And, as I got older and really started hitting the bottle, I found comfort and camaraderie in some of the legends like Tammy Wynette and George Jones who had partied hard and sang about it. I remember coming across Tammy’s song, “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” and thinking, man, I can relate to that. It wasn’t the happiest time in my life and I was searching for something that could fill me up. I was drinking heavily and I suppose I related to people like Tammy and George who had also suffered from alcoholism and addiction.

Bonus Song #7 (If you could wrap up your life story in ONE SONG, or if you have a personal theme song, or even a song you want played at your funeral, what would that song be and why?):

Remember When” by Alan Jackson

The last song that really sums up my life and journey thus far is Alan Jackson’s “Remember When.” My husband and I have been through a lot over our (almost) 10 years of marriage, but we’ve survived and have come out of it stronger than ever. Not only did my sobriety give me a second chance; it gave our family a second chance. I thank God every day for a life that’s worth living and for the people I share it with. Because of my sobriety, I’m able to wake up each morning to my husband and two beautiful children. I know without a doubt that I am truly blessed.

Chenoa’s Playlist:

Chenoa blogs at Life Corked. She is from Oregon.

~~~

Cindy (from Judah First)

Recently while perusing my Reader I ran into Aussa Loren’s Life in Six Songs (Volume 3). Intrigued, I tried to imagine what six songs might tell the story of my life and then wondered if I’d even be able to come up with one – quite ironic considering I am a musician. It was all white noise in my head: I must have gone looking for songs instead of memories. Once I took a breath, relaxed, and thought back on my life, I began to hear again the melodies that have captured my heart over the years.

Song #1:

Rock and Roll Music” by the Beatles (1964 – 1973)

My childhood can be summed up in one word: carefree – filled to the brim with tree climbing, elaborate backyard tea parties, yearly trips to the beach, running through my Uncle’s woods, swinging between the pines, biking the neighborhood, treasured Fambly gatherings, and playing outside from dawn ’til dusk with friends.

Rainy days were spent in my basement with my bestie, Kyle. When we weren’t watching the milk canisters load and unload, as the model train whistle blew, we were playing store, school, or singing at the top of our lungs to my sister’s albums. I distinctly remember belting out this song while Kyle swung her long, strawberry blonde hair around in a frenzy.

Song #2:

The Air That I Breathe” by The Hollies (1974 – 1978)

Besides being the most tumultuous years of my young life, they were also the loneliest. This post told of one of those days, but truly the spiral downward began three years earlier. I remember standing in my front yard in August, 1971, crying as I watched my eldest brother leave for college 1-1/2 hours away – may as well have been the moon the way it broke my seven-year-old heart. Despite an 11-year age difference, he was my best friend. By the time I was 10, in the Fall of ’74, my three siblings were at college leaving me at home, an only child.

At 13 I tried my hand as an introvert – an attempted defense against my inability to find popularity amongst my peers. But as a true extrovert, my only hope was miserable failure, leading to even more bullying from the boys in my class. My family became my refuge in those days, and one Aunt in particular took the time to teach me to assemble really difficult jigsaw puzzles. This song reminds me of days spent at a card table working my stress out piece by piece, something I often do even today.

Song #3:

Great American Novel” by Larry Norman (1979 – 1986)

I grew up in a family that attended church every Sunday, but in 9th grade a friend introduced me to a man named Jesus, who I had somehow missed meeting along the way.

In college my Biblical beliefs solidified, also taking a cynical turn. The more I saw of the world the less it impressed me, and the organized church didn’t strike me as much better (although, for the next 30+ years, I never missed a Sunday, Wednesday, and sometimes Saturday!). The most influential voice for me in those early days was pioneer Christian rocker, Larry Norman, and I’d wager my cynicism had some to do with his message (but then, I’ve always been a fairly intense realist to begin with). Norman had such a profound influence on my life and faith that I came very close to writing this entire post using six of his songs!

I remember during one road trip, newly married, with radio reception on I-40 sketchy and satellite nonexistent, I sang the entire album In Another Land a cappella by heart. I knew every song in album order and the right key! Today, this song (from the album Only Visiting This Planet) remains one of my all-time favorites.

Song #4:

Big House” by Audio Adrenaline (1987 – 2009)

In 1984 I picked up the guitar and began leading worship for a small Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship chapter at VCU, my Alma Mater. For the next 25 years I migrated from Bible studies to Churches to Military Chapels to coffee houses plying my craft. 15 of those years were spent 24-7 with my kids, home schooling.

Of everything I have done in my life, leading worship and home schooling were, bar none, the most fulfilling. Those years left me with close family ties and a plethora of worship songs biting soul-deep, healing the hurts and shaping me into who I am today.

Of all the years and all the music, I cherish nine months spent at a Vineyard church in Clarksville, TN the most. Besides getting to lead my first full-scale worship band for a Sunday evening service, they had a 70’s-style Friday night coffeehouse twice every month complete with old albums on the living-room walls glowing in black light. It was nothing more or less than a place for jammin’ with friends – you should have seen us fit five band members with their instruments, microphones on stands, and a full drum set on that miniscule stage while playing in the virtual dark!

My girls wrote a song dedicated to the venue that I’ve long since forgotten; we often played “Strong Coffee” by Jars of Clay; but the best memory of all? A neighbor-friend of ours who came every open mic night to sing this song (quite out of key) to the CD. Her joy was absolutely contagious and I still cannot help grinning whenever I remember it!

Song #5:

Hello Hurricane” by Switchfoot (2009 – 2014)

22 years of marriage, 23 moves, 3 kids, and 5 denominations, brought me to the most recent major turning point. My husband returned to school for a second Masters degree (in pursuit of his 4th career) and I began working full-time outside the home, forcing my youngest (age 10) into public school. As a bonus we stopped frequenting the 4-walls called church. I didn’t lose my faith in Christ, just my faith in the institution.

In 2009 my world was rocked by more than the life-changes mentioned above. As a result, I spent the next five years ‘stuck’ in the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134) and one song in particular carried me through those dark days. It served as a reminder that love really does conquer all – and real love cannot truly be threatened by any storm.

Song #6:

Nothing Left to Say/Rocks” by Imagine Dragons (2014 – ?)

Near the end of 2013 I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Fun. concert with Tegan and Sara. During the opening set I realized something about myself it took me 49 years to articulate: I am drawn to melody and repulsed by everything that is not (my love for Larry Norman’s music notwithstanding; my hatred for rap explained). I must not be too off since I picked Fun.’s “We are Young” as one of the best melodies I’d heard in years, months before it won the Grammy Award.

For me, 50 was the Hardest.Birthday.Ever. The loss-(es) I experienced in 2013 sent me back once more to a life-long habit of focusing on one song or group of songs that I listen to over and over again. This time I fixated on Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions, particularly the song “Nothing Left to Say/Rocks.” The combination of incredible melody, harmony, drum licks, and poetry continue to capture my heart and my ear time and time again. I simply cannot get enough of it (or the whole CD, for that matter). I hope it strikes a melodic chord in you as well.

Bonus Song #7 (If you could wrap up your life story in ONE SONG, or if you have a personal theme song, or even a song you want played at your funeral, what would that song be and why?):

Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe

I cannot imagine what we will see in the coming days technologically, in social media and communication, churches/religion, or in family structures. Getting older has taught me one lesson, above all:

Everything comes … to pass.

No matter what changes or hardships I may face, there is one song that embodies the great hope I have for meaning behind this journey called life. This version of it brings me to joy-filled tears every time I hear it. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Cindy’s playlist:

Cindy blogs at Judah First. She currently lives in Tennessee.

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Thanks again for being our guests, Chenoa and Cindy! Friends and readers, don’t forget to stop by next Monday for details on how to participate and to hear about our special drawings! 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture (Forever in Blue Jeans)

There are few things I enjoy more on a summer evening than sitting on the porch with a glass of sweet tea watching the sun set. Except, maybe, sitting on the porch with a glass of sweet tea watching the sun set in my favorite pair of blue jeans and flip-flops.

I'd much rather be "Forever in Blue Jeans"

I’d much rather be “Forever in Blue Jeans”
Personal photo for The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

To capture this lazy summer-time moment, I snapped this picture with my iPhone camera. I then applied an “Amatorka” filter with Filterstorm Neue to really make the color and texture pop for The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

This week, share a texture found in an unexpected place. It could be made of natural materials . . . or with man-made objects.

This is a great opportunity to look at the world in a slightly different way — along with looking at things from new angles, zooming very far out or very far in are both great ways to create texture and pattern in photos.

I’ll never look at my favorite pair of jeans the same way again. Who knew a simple pair of jeans could be so complex?

Do you wear blue jeans? Have a favorite brand? Are you a sunrise or a sunset type of person? What’s your favorite Neil Diamond song? Wanna join me for The Daily Post’s “Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture“?

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It’s impossible for me to mention blue jeans without thinking of the great Neil Diamond song “Forever in Blue Jeans.” Sing along!

Money talks
But it don’t sing and dance
And it don’t walk
And long as I can have you
Here with me, I’d much rather be
Forever in blue jeans