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The first part of this assignment was to commit to writing at least 15 minutes a day. Not a problem for me because I’m ALWAYS writing! Just ask his lordship. The other part was a bit more difficult. We were to pick THREE songs that had been important in our life and write about them. I finally settled on choosing three that held the strongest memories for me. That narrowed the field A LOT! So here goes…

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three bellsThe first song I have a specific memory of is The Three Bells by The Browns (Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie). The song was also commonly known as Little Jimmy Brown. It was about Jimmy Brown who lived in a small “village hidden deep in a valley” and how the church bells rang on all the important days of his life. His birth, his marriage, his death; and how the little congregation always gathered to pray “for guidance from above.”

I can’t say for certain why I became so fond of the song, but what I DO remember is that it was released in 1959 when I was eight. Every payday dad would take our family to a place called The Hot Dog Stand for supper. The first thing I’d do when we’d go in was head for the jukebox with my nickle to play that song. I remember that place like it was yesterday. Fifty six years later it’s still there but closed down. And after all these years hearing that song can still bring it all back to me. I can smell the foot long hot dogs, taste the mustard, hear that music, and see my family gathered round that table.

The second song is one I fell in love with listening to Billy Graham crusades on TV when I was young. Just As I Am. For some reason even as a young child it made me cry. But it came to play an important part in my life years later.

His lordship and I had tried for six years to start a family. Finally, finally, IT happened. We were over the moon. Unfortunately it wasn’t our time yet and I lost the baby. For weeks I was horribly depressed and emotional about it all feeling it was somehow our fault because we’d spent a lot of time arguing about whether to bless, baptize, or christen the baby when it was born. We were not of the same religious persuasion then. I cried all the time, even at work. And one day I was so distraught my boss told me to take the rest of the day off.

Just as I AmI found myself wondering around at the library in the religion section, of all places. A section I never looked through. It had been years since I’d darkened the door of a church. There was a paperback book about eye-level on one of the shelves just ready to fall off. I started to push it back in but pulled it out instead when I noticed the title. It was Just As I Am by Eugenia Price. The book was about what the song meant to her, about how we can only come to God as we are because we’ll never be perfect. The message the book conveyed was exactly what I needed to heal me of the guilt I had misguidedly been carrying around. And, more importantly, it enabled me to trust God again, just as I was. Three months later I was pregnant.

The words of the last song also hit me where I live. It is The Rose by Bette Midler. It described everything I’d been afraid to do in my life. I was afraid of having a broken heart, of dancing, and dreaming, of dying, and being vulnerable. But despite all that, the last verse that gave me hope.

red_roseJust remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose

That song, too, came to mean something very special to me. My mother’s name was Rose. She passed away in October of 1998. On what would have been her birthday in January, I’d gone to the florist’s to buy roses for her grave. While I was there I bought some for my younger sister who was really struggling that day. But by the time I got out to the car I was in full pity party mode. I was struggling, too, but I never let anyone see. I found myself thinking it would be so nice if someone did just notice that I was hurting, as much as my sister.

I got in the car and started her up, and a song was just coming on the radio. It was the Conway Twitty version of The Rose. And I sat there and cried because I knew at least God cared how I felt. Cared enough to dedicate a song to me. I got a rose that day, too.

The thing that struck me as I wrote this piece just now is that all three of these songs have to do with the eternal in some way. The Three Bells talked about life lived in a church community. Just As I Am was definitely about learning to be who just who I am before God. And The Rose reminded me that no matter how hopeless I might feel things are in my life, God is always mindful of me, and that in the eternal spring, he will make it all better. This has been a thought provoking little exercise!