Monday, February 14, 2011

Songs in the Key of Love

Happy Valentine's Day!  I always love a good love song, but this holiday set aside especially for love has me thinking about some of my favorites more so than usual.  Here's a listing of a few love-related scenarios and the songs I think capture the feelings experienced by each:

When you romantically love someone so much you’ve just gotta tell ‘em how you feel – Aretha Franklin’s cover of “Baby I Love You” (when you hear her sing this, hard to believe it wasn’t always “her” song! It was originally recorded by The Ronnettes.)

When you first find out someone you love, loves you back, and you are really and truly “In Love” - Katrina & The Waves “Walkin’ on Sunshine”.

When you think back to your first love – The Judd’s “Young Love” and Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine"

When people doubt your love/relationship, but ma-a-an you sure don’t – Tracy Ulman’s “They Don’t Know”. (Gotta be one of my ALL-TIME favorite songs, I'm sure that says a lot about me.  My daughter and I also decided last year that this is the ultimate Edward & Bella love song! We read/watch/enjoy the Twilight Saga – so sue us.)

When you love someone you think loves you back, and then find out it’s someone else they love romantically, and you are just a “friend.” – Bread’s “Diary”. (Such a beautiful song.)

When someone is trying to get in between you and your love – Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough”

When you’re lonely, and you’re ready to find another lonely person to carelessly numb your feelings with: #1 Don’t Do It! The feeling will pass. #2 Do pour yourself a glass of wine and turn on Willie Nelson’s “Help Me Make It Thru The Night”.

When you know someone who lost love, is changed forever by the loss and who hangs on to that love til the end anyway – No Show Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today”.

When the one you love, loves you no longer – Skeeter Davis’ “The End of The World” and Roy Orbison’s “Crying” (Now, I adore Roy Orbison, but my favorite version of this song is by Carrie Underwood – she sang in way back on her American Idol days. )

When I remember my first love – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark”.

And because Valentine’s Day isn’t only to celebrate romantic love:

When I think about my mother-love for Rebecca – Bette Midler’s cover of “Baby Mine” and Helen Reddy’s “You & Me Against the World”.

When I think about Andrea, who for years has made sure that Valentine’s Day does not pass without me receiving flowers in some form or fashion (real flowers, cookie flowers, emailed photos of flowers, text message flowers – you name it), and friends who send me Valentine’s cards – “Thank You For Being a Friend”.

I'm sure I've missed many love experiences/scenarios here - what are some you can think of with a song to go with?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Letter to My Fellow Single-Moms

Because of my status as a Single Mom, married friends often share stories about the struggles of other single moms they know with me.  I consider it a privelege to hear these stories and pray for other women who are on similar life journeys to mine.  Today is only Tuesday, and I've heard three stories already just this week.  This blog is just a glimpse of what I'm thinking and feeling for fellow Single Moms...

Dear Friend,
My heart broke for you today when I heard of the very difficult struggle you're experiencing right now.  I don't know the details, and I don't need too - it's enough for me to know that a storm is raging in your life and making a mess of things for you and your child(ren). I know how totally alone you feel. I have felt that kind of alone before myself -  too many times to count, one time no easier to bear than any other. I know how scary, desperate, and isolated you're feeling to be facing what seems an insurmountable trial - and to be facing it without the resources neccesary:  money, energy, know-how, emotional strength, confidence or even the ability to just speak your struggle to friends, family or even to God - likely you're lacking a combination of all these things (when I face trials I usually am).

I know what it's like to lie down at night, urgently needing to whisper your fears about a situation to someone who loves you, then rolling over to nothing more than bitter tears on your pillow and your own troubling thoughts. I have been where you are - when what you need is a downpour of something good, anything good - but instead you're getting a monsoon of misery. I know what it's like when there's nowhere to go but up - yet even looking up means that rain will get in your eyes and blur your already unclear vision. I understand what it's like when life seems to be unraveling and even just clinging to the Lord is incredibly difficult.

I know, intimately, the shame you're feeling.  It makes me sad to know that right now not a minute of your waking hours pass without you telling yourself things like:
"I should have ____________!"
"I shouldn't have ________!"
"God I'm so stupid!  I can't believe I ____________."
"How did I get myself in this situation?"
"Why am I always back to square one?" 
"When will I ever learn?"
"I can't do this alone.  I can't handle this!" 
"Why can't I get it together already?"
"What am I going to do?"
"Where is God when I need Him?"
"What's wrong with me?"
"This is why I'm alone, nobody will want me with all of this crap to deal with." 

Please don't be so hard on yourself.  You have nothing to be ashamed of.  You've done the best you can with what you've had every step of the way - it's not easy to be the worlds best decision maker when there's no one readily availale to bounce ideas off of and the decision has to made quickly.  It's not easy to have it all together, when there's no one available to pick up the slack as you're slipping because work, parenting and the tasks of just living day-to-day in the modern world often make handling it all effectively a slippery task at best.  Take a deep breath, take your time and keep putting one foot in front of the other.  If you need help to do this - email me or call me - I'll try to hold your hand through the slick spots. (Oh, and everyone has crap to deal with - even our married friends.)

I know what it's like to have those feelings of shame confirmed when you finally find the strength to speak your struggle to friends and family who in turn say things that indicate their true feelings of : 
"What were you thinking?" 
"How did you let this happen?" 
"You've got to learn to make better choices."
"When are you going to finally get it together?"
"And you really wonder why you're still single???" 
"You really need to be more responsible.  What did you expect?"
"You're going to have to clean this up yourself, it's the only way you'll ever learn."

Yes, there are those who choose to condemn and judge you and your current circumstance ("Out of love" of course, right? Wrong. With that kind of "Love" most of us singles wonder how the self-righteous manage to stay married!). Also ignore advice from those who swear they know what you're experiencing because in their early married years they were broke/facing a problem/whatever too. Truth is, there's a HUGE difference between being married & broke with someone physically by your side to go through the struggle with you and being broke/single/raising kids & struggling alone.  It's not the same. They don't know. Their advice is annoying at best, harmful at worst. So fuggetaboutit. Let their condemning words and judgments pass over you and fall away like so many harmless raindrops. Because...

There are also friends and family who are crying with you and who have compassion for you. Instead of offering advice, these friends will offer you space under their umbrella and will share your struggle with you.  These friends will come along side, actually do what they are able to do - and if that happens to be nothing - they'll help you problem solve in whatever way they can.  Let these people love you and shore you up and with time, the tears on your pillow will turn to tears of relief.

Finally, it is from experience and with a strong hope that you'll experience the same before this is all over with, that I can tell you with great confidence:  Right this moment God is working things out for you.  He does hear your cry.  He loves you where you are, as you are. No matter how difficult things get, no matter how long this struggle takes to play out, He's not leaving your side.  Even if you did "get yourself into this mess", He's not going to rub your face in it.  He is going to love you through it.  He is going to use this storm for good - someway, somehow. Keep praying my friend, and know that I am praying with you.  I honestly believe that before all is said and done, He will dry your eyes and when you look up you'll see the sun.
Loving you, praying for you, and In His Love -

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