Saturday, January 17, 2015

Me & Dr. Robitussin

This doctor doesn't wear a white coat, though he has a white cap. This doctor comes in a plastic bottle and I've had a lot of meetings with him this week, thanks to what my husband unaffectionately calls "the Newville crud".  I understand that it's not limited to my town, however.  Apparently people all over the U.S. have it.  Fever, chills, some nausea and a bad cough.  Thus, Dr. Robitussin. (or Dr. R).

No matter that the bottle expired 10 years ago, I was desperate and decided to use what I already had in my cupboard.  It tastes as bad as it ever did so it must be legit.  By the way, how is it that you can't taste anything else when you're sick, but you can still taste that old Robitussin?

I smile when I take it (well, sort of) because it wasn't too long ago that my husband and I had a joke between us about my mother who would offer us medicine from "Columbus".  That simply meant that it was medicine she had from back before I was born when my family lived in Columbus, OH - like, the early 1960's!  Now here I am, using medicine that is 10 years old.  I guess I'm gonna be like her.

I knew things were bad when my cat, Missy (who is very nervous anyway) came over to me on my bed, took one look at the white kleenex in my hand, heard my abnormal very deep bass voice call her name and with big wide eyes, turned around and ran off the bed in a hurry. This was NOT the owner she was used to.  Some alien was lying in her bed.  I sighed.

I discovered this week that it's much more effective to be consistent with taking your medicine when they say you should.  Every 4 hours.  Yuck! But at one point I thought I was feeling better so I stopped taking the medicine.  That's when things got worse and I realized that I wasn't really getting better, I had simply been consistent with meeting with Dr. Robitussin and therefore, I thought I was getting better.  When I quit, it revealed my need to continue on my path of consistency.

There's a few things in life that I've discovered I need to be consistent with in order for them to really work.

Exercise

Yep - and it goes down just about as easy as Dr. R. sometimes.  But I always feel great afterwards and the more I do it, the better I feel.

Prayer and scripture meditation

The more consistent I am with it, the better the results for me.  I can tell when I haven't been as faithful.  My soul and my mind need it.

Healthy Eating

It doesn't do much good to exercise if you aren't going to eat healthy at the same time.  The two go hand in hand.  I'm certainly not a health expert and I'm not promoting any diet or exercise program - just promoting eating well as a life style.

Adequate Sleep

Everyone is different, but we all need sleep.  I try hard to go to bed at the same time every day and make sure I get adequate rest.

So there you have it, my prescription for life.  And oh yes, sometimes we are thrown off that routine and a little bit of Dr. R becomes necessary.  But I'm glad that's not the norm!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

One Step


Yesterday I paused at the beginning of the path

perhaps the snow was too deep

but if I waited too long another storm may come

no....I would start today


As I walked I made imprints in the snow

my feet got wet and cold as I forged a path

but the view above me was breathtaking 

and I lost track of what was below


Today when I returned to the path

I could see the marks from yesterday's courage

my feet weren't as wet or cold

all I had to do was keep in step with my choices from yesterday

* * * * * * * * * * 

Choose your steps carefully

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Empty Shelves = Greater Prayer Lives?

Reflecting on the miracle journey of 2014
"Prosperity may dilute prayer too.  In my travels I have noticed that Christians in developing countries spend less time pondering the effectiveness of prayer and more time actually praying.  The wealthy rely on talent and resources to solve immediate problems, and insurance policies and retirement plans to secure the future.  We can hardly pray with sincerity, "Give us this day our daily bread" when the pantry is stocked with a month's supply of provisions." - Philip Yancey
(from his book: Prayer, Does It Make A Difference?)

My heart jumped for joy when I read this paragraph.  It's the first day of 2015 and since my husband is not feeling well we are just sitting in the living room resting and enjoying Pandora's classic lounge station.  A cloudless sky outside reveals the full sunlight and makes the room cheery, adding to the peacefulness.

I picked up Philip Yancey's book on prayer to start reading it just now.  Last year at this time I determined to grow in my prayer life and his book is one that I came upon months ago and decided to add to my growing collection of books on prayer.

After reading that paragraph I had to put the book down and write my thoughts.  I have seen the amazing power of prayer in my life this past year.  It really started in June when I decided to host a breakfast at a local restaurant and invite some fans to become part of my Portraits of White dream team.  I called them my vision team, but they have changed it to 'dream team'.  I like it.

I didn't have a pantry full of goods and provision to pursue this vision at the time.  A few hundred dollars in my checkbook and not too much more than that in my savings account either.  But I went ahead and stepped out in faith.  I had bathed this vision in prayer for months.  Now it was time to put it to a test.  I knew if I hosted this breakfast I would start something in motion that would be a complete walk of faith.  I did not have the 'resources in my pantry' to see this through to the end. Was I ready to jump in with both feet?

My first indication that this was going to be an amazing experience came in an e-mail from someone I had invited to attend the breakfast.  They were offering to pay for the cost of the group's breakfast. Another e-mail came a couple of days later with the same offer from someone else.  The day of the breakfast, a woman in the group got up to supposedly 'go to the bathroom' and as I later discovered, had inquired with the waitress as to how to go about paying for the group's breakfast, which by that time was already paid for.

This has proven to be my experience all the way through this past year.  A financial hurdle would arise and was then met with some kind of amazing provision that I didn't know would happen. Honestly, I could write a book on just this past year alone.

One of my prayers this past year was that I would have the concert paid for in full by the end of the year.  Today is January 1 and I am thrilled to report that the funds are there to pay the final bills. It won't leave much left over, but my faith has grown immensely through this journey and all I could say when I read Philip's paragraph was - "hey, though my food pantry is full, my pantry of resources to pursue a big dream was NOT full, but through prayer, hard work, miracles and supernatural means, all my needs have been met."  It would have been easier to just skip my dreams and live comfortably.

I don't ever want any kind of prosperity or deceptive comfort to keep me from stepping out. Sometimes the only way we can see God move is to take that step into the unknown. Is it safe? Nope. Is it tiring? Yep.  Do I feel alive?  Yes!

So here's my final question that I will ponder the rest of the day as I continue reading his book.  If God can do that with my finances, why can't He do it with everything else in my life?  In what other areas can I trust Him to do more than I possibly can?  Why limit it to financial?  Why not trust Him for physical healing MORE, for emotional freedom?  For deliverance from recurring fears and anxiety?

I intend to try.

Why not empty my 'shelves' of all my own prosperity and trust Him for greater things?  I think Philip Yancey is right.  Our own comfort and abilities keep us from that deep sense of need for rescue.  As a result, we don't pray.  We just keep on depending on ourselves.  I'd rather live on the edge.

Don't get me wrong.  I have days when it just looks too hard. It is NOT easy to live this way.  That's why I keep books like Philip's handy because they stir things in me.  They call to the deep in me and keep me on the edge, far away from comfort zones.

Now.........back to my book.

Philip Yancey's book

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Very Long Edge

It's taken 15 long years to see the unfolding of "Portraits of White".  From the first day I wrote the song, while driving through literal portraits of white dancing across the earth, thanks to fresh fallen snow and harsh winds, to the recording of the song, to the performance of it at my concert a few weeks ago.  There is more to come, I hope. 

Dreams and prophecies can be that way.  A seed is planted, an idea pops in your head, but if you're not careful, you'll forget about it.  If you're wise, you will nurture that dream, seed, idea, etc.  

I have been focusing on the story of Mary, Joseph and Jesus for years - and not just at Christmas time.  But this morning, I saw things from yet another angle.

Have you ever considered why the shepherds were the only ones to see angels in such a spectacular way?  A whole host of angels appeared....but only to them.  They were so excited that they did exactly what they were told to do.  They went looking for the miracle and when they found him, they ran around telling everyone about it.  

Mary had a completely different reaction, however.  It says that Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Mary's prophecy was given in a 'one to one' situation.  The angel appeared to her while she was alone.  She seems to respond in the same way - pondering every moment and keeping much of it to herself.  The shepherds heard the prophecy in a BIG way and they responded that way too.  A frenzy of activity accompanies their part of the story.

Did you ever ponder the fact that after all that excitement it took many, many years before they probably ever heard of Jesus again.  In fact, it could have been as many as 30 years before they heard of him again, even though they probably told the story over and over to everyone they knew.

I think it's that way with dreams and words of hope.  In the moment, some of us react with excitement and want to tell everyone.  Others of us are quiet and hold them close to our hearts, telling only one or two close friends or relatives.  Either way, the promise may take a long time to be fulfilled.  

Living on the edge is exciting at times.  At other times, it means years of waiting.  That makes for a very long edge.  But either way, I want to encourage you to be patient.  Enjoy the moments along the way.  Cultivate the seed. The day will come when you will see the fruit of your hope and faith.  And the truth is, the dream may unveil itself in ways you never even imagined.

Here is proof that dreams can come true if you work hard, be patient and believe.




Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fear: The Dream Monster (and how to get rid of it)

"Portraits of White" Begins
At 7:00 p.m. on December 6, 2014 I stepped out onto the stage with complete peace and confidence.  I was in my sweet spot and my whole being felt it.

Conductor, Ed Kee, and I run through last minute details before the concert.
At 4:00 p.m. on December 6, 2014, I was sitting in the bathroom with a serious case of diarrhea.  I rarely get nervous before a concert, but this was not a normal concert.  This was the birth of a dream I had been carrying for years.  I was suddenly struck with paralyzing fear.  I had 2 hours worth of lyrics, music notes and stories to remember and though I had been preparing for this for over a year, I wondered if my brain and physical body would hold up now that the moment had come.

I have already heard from a few people who have been encouraged to step out and pursue their own 'inklings' (or fight to keep them in some cases) as a result of my own story Saturday night.  I thought it might be helpful for you to know that pursuing what's in your heart will usually mean fighting to the very end.  Even up until the moment you step out on to the stage.

I fought my worst battles with fear when I first started dreaming this dream and right before I finished the dream.  Don't get me wrong, there were certainly moments of doubt and fear all along the way, but the worst came a week before the concert.  

Here's some of the thoughts I had to fight:
  • You shouldn't be so honest in your stories - people will think you are weird - don't tell the truth. 
  •  No one else struggles like you do. Keep it to yourself. Play it safe.          
  • You can't do this.  It's going to bomb.                   
  • You've taken on something that is too big for you. 
  • What were you thinking?
  • It'll be just your luck that a big snow storm will come and ruin it all.  You've been set up and it's all going to fail.
A friend kept checking in on me all week and when I began to tell her of my terrible battles with fear (especially in the night time) she asked me to name some of my fears so she could pray specifically for me.  Even before I told her anything, she had been sending me e-mails and notes in the mail speaking truth to me and encouraging me.  I don't know if I could have made it through without her prayers and words of truth.

It became very apparent to me that "Portraits of White" was not just another concert just by the sheer magnitude of the monster that started to raise its ugly head at the last moment.  It's as if it took one last swing at me to try and make me run the other way. I'm so glad I didn't run.  

The best way to slay the 'dream monster' is to keep going.....right smack toward it.  You might want to gather a few friends along the way to help you.  When you really start pressing in to becoming who you were created to be the battle will get FIERCE at times.  Don't give up.  Don't back down.  Rally your friends. Pray like crazy and hang on.

When you finally step into your 'sweet spot' it will feel absolutely amazing and worth every battle. The best part is, you will take others along with you and soon a big army will arise.  An army of people wanting to step out and do bigger things.  Greater things.  Things that could potentially change the world.

As I said in my concert:  "I would rather die trying to thrive, than live having just survived".  If you live this way, you will surely encounter the dream monster.  But you'll never feel more alive when the battle is over.

A nice way to end an amazing evening.  My long time husband and supporter surprises me on stage.







Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Dream Coming True

If you have been following my blog, you already know that I have been planning to do a big Christmas concert this year.  The time is fast approaching and this week I sent out a press release to the local newspapers to announce the show.  I thought I would include this release as one of my blog entries.  It tells the story so well.

Whether December heralds a joyous or not-so-joyous holiday season, Frances Drost, singer, songwriter, and storyteller, invites you to join her and guest conductor, Ed Kee, to a one-night only concert, December 6.  Portraits of White: The doors open at 6:00 and the show starts at 7:00 pm, at the Rose Lehrman Arts Center, HACC Harrisburg’s Area Community College, One HACC Drive, Harrisburg, PA.

Frances writes mostly at the piano, with orchestration added later, to create scenes that are rich in story.  Take depression and loneliness, for instance, tough emotions especially during the “happiest time of the year” and Frances weaves story and music together, taking you with her on a journey back to the heart of Christmas. 
“There was a Christmas not too long ago when I found myself disliking almost everything about this holiday. I think there is something to be gained by looking at the conflicting emotions we feel.  What I do is give permission (to the people that need it) to stand up and say “I am not alone!”

“Behind the songs there are stories, which you don’t get on the CD, but I have seen how people connect to my stories so I expand on them in the concert.”

Based on the music of Portraits of White, her seventh CD project, released in December 2013, this concert is sure to delight the senses, with a live orchestra and multi-media production. The title track is music set to images onscreen featuring the beauty of snowy landscapes.

Frances’s music will warm and encourage you to take another look at your own relationship with Christmas.
Frances has been connecting with audiences both locally and across the U.S., for over a decade. Her commitment to traveling from her home in Newville PA to Nashville TN regularly to build her career has connected her to musicians that have helped shape the course of her life and music.  

Ed Kee, from Franklin, Tennessee, is one of those musicians. Frances is delighted that Ed accepted her invitation to be guest conductor for the Dec 6th concert. Ed has been a highly visible creative force on the Nashville music scene for over 30 years, where his music career finds him in such roles as studio singer, arranger, orchestrator, producer, record label executive and music publisher.  Frances and Ed have joined their professional skill and talents over the last year to bring about this one-night musical journey on December 6th.

Frances has held the dream of a concert like this for a long time, — in fact, since childhood.Portraits of White, the title track, sparkles with Frances’ childlike delight of a new snowfall. She vividly remembers the birth of this song in 2000:  driving through snow blowing like angel-hair across the road, to record Big Blue Sky, her very first CD project in 2000 in Chambersburg, PA. 

It has taken 14 years for Portraits of White, the song, to find its way to its own CD project and finally now, to a bigger stage and live orchestra - it is a dream come true for the little girl who loved snow, ice skating on her farm pond to music and putting on ‘shows’.  After all, there was a time when she loved the holidays, so it’s not all sad and she has found a way to laugh at herself and bring others with her in the laughter.

Frances was the winner of the Momentum Award for “Female Artist Of The Year” and was also nominated for “Inspirational Artist Of The Year” at the 2009 Momentum Awards ceremony in Nashville.

So get your tickets now (there aren't many left) - this is a one-night event that promises to be not just a concert, but an experience that Frances believes will impact how you feel about the holiday season.

Visit http://www.francesdrost.com/events to get your tickets and more information about Portraits of White.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Grief

Mother's memorial service display of flowers with our baby pictures.
The first Sunday without my mother was the day we celebrated her life with a memorial service.  I was surrounded by family and friends.  I was in a daze.  I felt fine.

The second Sunday without her I was so tired and numb from the array of emotions leading up to her death that I didn't feel much.  In fact, it was a rather normal day.

The third Sunday I was driving home from church and suddenly a wave of grief came over me as I realized that normally Tom and I would go and visit her in the evening.

We would not be visiting her anymore on Sundays.  Not any day of the week. She is really gone.

It was a very rough day.  I tried to nap but my puffy eyes wouldn't let me.  I didn't want to ride the motorcycle because my last memory of the motorcycle was trying to get home from our long trip on bikes in time to see her before she lost consciousness.

I cried most of the day. My sister called from Canada but between my own tears and a bad satellite connection, we were unable to talk long. How can it be so awkward, even with family?

There were some Sundays in the past that I would have rather stayed home to sleep or ride my motorcycle than go and visit.  Now I am free to do any of those and they aren't as appealing.  I miss her, I admit as I sit here wearing her blue gingham pajamas.

I can feel a growing apprehension of facing Sundays without her. I don't want to start a new pattern of dread in my life so I tried to approach this Sunday differently.  Knowing my husband had a meeting after church and I would go home to an empty house (which is very hard) I decided to see if a friend could have lunch with me.

I was nervous as I pulled into the restaurant parking lot.  Maybe this wasn't a good idea.  Grief can hit at the worst times and I prefer to be alone when it happens.  I wondered if I did the wrong thing by suggesting we meet.  But I am so glad I did. As she shared her own story of loss, we found similarities in our journeys. Both surprised that we shed very few tears at the funeral. The tears come before and after, but during....not so much.

I find this to be a tricky path.  My heart is full of emotions. I have a certain sense of composure that I want to maintain around the public. What's strange is that I want this composure even around my closest friends and family.  I don't want anyone to touch the faucet that controls the tears.  It makes everyone feel awkward if I cry so I don't want to talk because talking makes me cry.  It's not that I don't want to talk about her. Or about my feelings.  I just don't want to cry in front of you.

There are still so many more rivers to be released and once they start, they are hard to stop.  A few drops of rain are manageable.  A flood?  That's messy!

No one knows exactly how to handle their grief.  It's different for everyone.  There are days I want to be with people - it helps take my mind off of the loss.  There are other days when I want to be alone. I don't have anything to say.  I don't want to have to talk.  I just want to be quiet.

This stage is hard for friends.  It's awkward.  I get that.

Someone asked me today if I am attending a support group for grief.  I guess it hasn't crossed my mind too much.  I find support as I write out my thoughts.  There are so many of you that have walked a similar path and you've told me how much you relate to what I write. There is a sense of healing that comes every time I read your story, hear your path. Hear what you wear that belonged to your mother.

Just today, someone told me that they used to take Sunday afternoon drives with their mother.

Another used to go have dinner with their mother on Sundays.

Others tell of how hard it is to go home to an empty house when their spouse passes.  Especially Sunday after church.

Thanks to the friends who wait patiently for us until we figure out what it is we need. Sometimes we just don't know what we need or we are too afraid of uncontrollable emotions if we open our mouth to say what we need.

It's Sunday afternoon again.
I had lunch with a friend.
Tried to sleep.
Went for a long walk.
Remembered the friend who told me today that her mother died a year ago.  Her husband passed away 8 months ago. She found a part time job to help her face the grief and the lonely house.  It's helping.  But of course, she said it with tears in her eyes.

I understood. It's that 'Sunday afternoon grief' that comes any day of the week.