Time Flies

This picture was taken just under 5 years ago. Caroline was still a little girl. Brian looks so much like a young child. They are not that now.

They are still my kiddos, yes. And I willl always see them as such. But they are growing up so fast. As Jayme told my sister this morning, it’s only 6 years that we’ll be taking Caroline to college. Brian is about to hit his growth spurt and he’ll be asking for keys to the car before you know it.

I’m just not sure I’m ready for this.

Hope, by any other name

Day in and day out is a struggle. Work. Kids. Family. Relationships that run through all facets of my life. Soccer practice. Managing. Coding. Speaking. Not sleeping well.

It gets overwhelming. Most days end with utter exhaustion. Some end with anger. Some end with laughter. Some end with emptiness. Some end with joy. And some even end with the feeling that no matter how hard you try, there’s always something waiting to drag you down.
Then, there is a moment that warms your heart like no other. It makes you realize why you push through all of that stuff above. One of those moments happened to me last night. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Caroline had soccer practice yesterday evening. I had been in meetings all day. Struggling against the idea that I’m getting nothing done. Feeling inadequate, to be perfectly honest, on many levels.

It’s about 9:30pm. Brian’s tucked in, he’s down for the night. And Caroline walks out to tell me she’s ready for bed. Her hair is wet as I hug and kiss her goodnight. She loves taking baths after dinner these days. And as I turn to go, I see her start to climb the stairs to her bed. She’s holding something in her other hand.

Clutched in her left hand is her doll. Not just any doll. The only doll. One that she affectionately calls “Baby” because she didn’t know any better name when she received it when she was less than a year old. That doll has been through everything with her. Moves. Fights with friends. Sicknesses. Sleepovers. Family trips. Everything.

She climbed that ladder, “Baby” in tow, without any fanfare at all. It was simply part of her routine. Part of her. Maybe she’s done this night after night and I just haven’t noticed it. But I noticed it last night.

And I realized something. Deep down, underneath all of the sass and attitude and facade of wanting to be cool and accepted that comes with pending teenage-dom, she’s still my baby girl. And she still has some of that innocence left. Yes, it will eventually fade with time, even though I wish it’d stay forever. But it’s still there right now. And that makes me unbelievably happy.

I needed that moment.

More than I realized.

That Musical Feeling

It hits you when you least expect it. This particular Friday morning, it was while I was driving to the office. Tons of things on my mind:

  • What do I need to get done today from my project list?
  • What are the tasks from yesterday I didn’t get to finish? Are there any meetings I have?
  • Mom asked us to mail the mail to her, need to make sure to text Jayme and ask her to mail them.
  • Brian has chess this afternoon, do I need to pick him up or did Jayme say she would? I’ll ask her while I text her about the mail.
  • What’s up with this traffic? Why is 285 East closed? Did something happen?
  • I need to make sure I don’t have anything on Saturday morning so I can sleep in. So tired.
  • I took my medicine this morning, right? Yeah, I think I did.
  • Wow, too much coffee this morning.

And so on and so on.

But then, my phone shuffles to a particular song. I know it by heart. I buffer it into my brain as the song begins. I soon feel those other things fall away. That cloud of stress is lifted (even if for only a little bit). I know the experience I’m about to have with this song. I know what it does to me. I know how it makes me feel. And it makes me feel good. And, oh my goodness, do I need that this morning. It may be Friday, but I am tired and stressed about so many things. Until this song starts playing…

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Carrie Underwood’s “Something In the Water” sets the tone from the first couple of bars. The driving beat is light (this is not Bon Jovi, after all), but it is light enough that it has somewhere to go. It has something to build to. And as the song progresses, it becomes relentless. Carrie’s tone is spot on, too. And by that, I mean the tone of the message it is meant to convey. You can feel it pulsing through her voice. And the music just validates that passion. The chorus joins in. And it is on.

This song is pure inspiration. It makes my heart grow a little larger just by listening to it. It gives me those wonderful, jubilant butterflies. It makes my soul richer. There is a smile that starts deep inside of me that finds its escape through my lips. It makes me feel good. It is the power of music in action.

Seeing the Light

“Hold on a minute, Lee”, you might be saying. “This is a religious song. A Christian song. You’re not exactly the religious kind of guy.” And you’d be right. I’m not. But there are certain things that transcend religious beliefs. And one of those things is music. Music is universal. It is not tied to one thing vs. another. It is not contentious. It is beloved throughout the world from every race, gender, religion, lifestyle, and any other classification you can think of. It’s the one thing we can all get behind.

It’s not a wonder that most every religious service has some kind of musical component. After all, what better delivery mechanism than music to pass along the message (the Word, if you will)?

Believe it or not, I grew up in a religious household. Definitely not fanatical, mind you, but we went to church pretty much every Sunday. The sermons and the hollow rituals I could do without, but I always enjoyed the hymns. They were traditional hymns, nothing too “out there” (we were Methodists after all). But I remember how “Amazing Grace” grabbed me. It was emotional. It was moving. When well-sung, it could do exactly what I described above. I remember visiting a church that was predominantly African American when our youth group was invited to a Sunday service by their youth group. Unlike our (shall we say) “quiet” congregation, these churchgoers got up for hymns. There was excitement. There was energy. There was passion. I loved it.

Music can be a wonderful delivery mechanism for religious beliefs. Absolutely. But the beauty part here is that music, even music written for a religious purpose, doesn’t have to be limited to that intended purpose. Music is a very personal thing. You interpret it however you want. You take from it whatever you need. It is yours to discover and yours to decipher.

Anybody remember the television show “Greatest American Hero”? Yeah, didn’t think many of you would. But the theme song for that show was called “Believe It or Not” by Joey Scarbury. This song was a highlight of mine from the church camp I went to as a kid in St. Simons Island.

Look at what’s happened to me,
I can’t believe it myself;
Suddenly I’m up on top of the world,
Should’ve been somebody else.

Believe it or not,
I’m walkin’ on air,
I never thought I could feel so free;
Flyin’ away on a wing and a pray’r,
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it’s just me.

Just like the light of new day,
It hit me from out of the blue;
Breakin’ me out of the spell I was in,
Makin’ all of my wishes come true.

Believe it or not,
I’m walkin’ on air,
I never thought I could feel so free;
Flyin’ away on a wing and a pray’r,
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it’s just me.

I believe the camp organizers meant to imply that God, the Holy Spirit, and/or our fellowship were the reason we were “walking on air”. (Let’s put aside the next couple of lines that say “Look at me, Falling for you”. We’ll just let that go for now). I realize now, though, that the feeling I got (the reason it sticks out even now) was not from the Holy Spirit or faith in God or anything like that. It was about the feeling I got from the song itself. The way it made me feel at the time (and even now).

Planting Flags

Who remembers the song playing when you got your first kiss? What about the first drive by yourself, free of parents? What was playing when you danced your first dance at your wedding? What were you singing as you rocked your baby to sleep?

Ever realized how music is interwoven so tightly with the impact points in your life? Ever thought about the fact that you could listen to your iTunes library and replay your life story? All through music.

“Believe It or Not” is now representative of my youth church camp. So many other things went into that experience at Epworth By the Sea, but that song serves as the gateway to all of those other wonderful memories. When I think back over my life (yes, it sounds like I’m writing as an 80-year old man, and let’s face it, sometimes I feel like one), I am struck by how many songs can transport me back to that point in my life.

6:00am. Friday. Summertime. Late 80’s. Hardee’s sausage biscuit, Coke, and Motown. That was my experience when I went to “work” with dad on Fridays. Every time I hear this song, I think of my dad and the fun we had driving to and from all of his product drops.
The Four Tops – “Same Old Song”

Coming into middle school, I was a shy child. Didn’t really know where I fit in with school groupings. I found a home at Richards Middle School in chorus. I remember a very specific concert in which Rob Wilson, Trey Wells, and Josh Becker sang a song that I remember to this day. And it even sparked my interest in a brand new artist (at least to me) as well as a new genre of music (again, for me) called country.
Garth Brooks – “The River”

I remember vividly a school dance in the fall of 1994. I want to say it was even a Magnet Social (for all you CHS’ers out there). I was wearing a sweater vest (lord help me), and hoped against hope that a certain girl, one Lauren Johnson, would dance with me. She didn’t, but I remember the song that played when she danced with someone else.
Boyz II Men – “I’ll Make Love To You”

From 1996 on, this song has served as the song from the early stages of Jayme and I’s relationship and later marriage. It was even the song I woke up to every morning, when we had a CD player-based alarm clock.
Ty Herndon – “Living In A Moment”

A television show that Jayme, her mom, and I watched (Roswell) brought Jayme and I our wedding song. It started a relationship with this band that still exists today.
Lifehouse – “Everything”

Jayme and I watched this movie 17 times in the theater. Yes, 17 times. We were young. And in love. And had no other bills to pay. 🙂
James Horner – “The Portrait” (from Titanic)

My sister gave me a gift, a CD, for my newborn baby girl, Miss Caroline Rose Feagin.
Will Hoge – “Baby Girl”

Early one morning, I am sitting in the nursery rocking my littlest man back to sleep after a bottle (finally giving Jayme a break from feedings). And I am singing this softly to Brian, as he drifts off to sleep.
Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah”

I was in San Francisco for the first time on my own in the summer of 2011. I was attending WWDC for (what turned out to be) Steve Jobs’ last keynote. I was surrounded by nerds and geeks and was having a blast.
Brandon Fowler – “Crossfire”

I am singing on stage in my first ever karaoke appearance. Jayme, along with a lot of my co-workers, cheer me on while we sail to the Bahamas aboard a Disney Cruise ship.
Billy Joel – “Piano Man”

In the fall of 2012, I am watching a total guilty pleasure of a television show (Nashville) and a song comes on that stands up and punches me in the gut. Because in it, a real story of want, desire, and togetherness is transmitted through a beautiful and sublime duet. And it hits me hard.
Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen – “Fade Into You”

I could go on and on for days. All of these songs signify points, people, and events in my life that have made a significant impact. They will be with me forever. They should (and will) be cherished and celebrated forever. Because they have made me the man I am today. And will serve as the cornerstone of who I will be for years to come.

It is music that allows those memories, those people, and those events to live on. In our past. In our present. And even in our future.

Music, a very powerful thing indeed.

Live Your Dreams

2015/01/img_7272.pngRaise your hand if you live by your fears.

Come on.
Raise those hands.
Everyone.
Raise your hands.
Both of them.

I know mine are raised. Fear is everywhere. Am I raising my children right? Am I being a good husband? Father? Co-worker? Friend? Son? Person?

Is this what I want to do with my life? How I want to live it? How I want to leave my mark on the world, my kids, my family, everyone around me?

And those are just the existential kind of fears. What about the small, run-of-the-mill fears? Did I remember to turn the oven off? Did I lock the door? Did I forget something the kids were supposed to have signed?

It seems overly easy these days to get bogged down in fears. Big fears. Small fears.

(Be careful, I might start to sound like Dr. Seuss here in a minute…)

I think this is why dreams exist. To give us a break from that fear. Give us something to look forward to. Some hope. Of a better…

…something.

Maybe what we’re all doing here is searching for our own something.

Keep searching. You’ll find it. And when you do, don’t ever, ever let go of it.