Having the last word is overrated

You have had that moment, when you say something only to hear a response that you didn’t expect to encounter. I grew up in a household where the last word carried authority and weight. It was seldom a positive moment yet a many times that second defined who won a battle… thus who was the victor. I never was sure why my parents fought nor did I ever understand who won, if either. What I knew was someone always had the last word.
I can still hear those words ring out like a shot being fired from my steel mouth toward my mother as a teen, ‘I hate your guts!’ I think I meant everything in me hates everything in you and me at this very moment, even your bowels. Truth was I just hurt. Hurt that I had learned how to fight as a young child a battle I knew wasn’t worthy of my young warrior heart. I hurt over feeling emotionally abandoned and betrayed by those closest to me. I hurt over being a teenager. And as hard as being a teenager simply is I was a teenager who had moved almost every other year. I felt like a vagabond moving most of my life like I was a fugitive being sought after by the law. I hurt that my mother hurt and her hurt though spoken at times had a depth that was unspeakable. That was the truth no one dared speak about.
I once heard about a daytime soap opera actor who had written into his contract the stipulation that he would have the last word in of the scenes where he appeared. At first, I laughed thinking about how trivial this was and also how smart it seemed. Getting the last word has a claim that you have the last say… so it must be where the strength lies. Or maybe you are saying what matters to you is being the last remembered and therefore if you have the last say … you will have had the most influence.
When I stop and think about the last word, I’m not sure that the last word is always the best word. The last word always seems to be shared from a place of strength as if you are making the definitive statement that matters most. Yet, I tend to think the opposite is true. The person who doesn’t need the last word is the one with the most control. The person who has the most compassion and depth sometimes is the person who is able to see the big picture and know within themselves the best word spoken might be no word spoken. Self control is seldom seen when it comes to matters of the last word.
Years ago, I ended a relationship with a boy and before I headed to my car I said, “I think you can only walk away when it isn’t love.” As I turned to walk to my car, I listened for the last word. There was none that time. I wasn’t sure if I wanted there to be. I was young and yet I knew that there was something more to be had in relationships and I was holding out for that something. In the long run, I was better off walking away from something I believed wasn’t true love even if I was walking toward something that wasn’t right in front of me… something if I were honest I hadn’t actually witnessed. I was walking toward something that I dreamed could be and something if I was honest I wasn’t sure was even real or available. I was walking toward a future where the last word is really overrated. My husband Ron is the one who taught me such a silly notion. He has watched me not only get the last word but has seen me burst into flames, fume over the trival, fight with myself in his presence and say what I think will win me the argument. Early on in our relationship something changed. I changed. I saw what love can do. How love can melt the coldest moment and free the caged prisoner from the walls built by the past. I have seen how gentle silence can speak louder than any last word or clever thought that I believed would steal the show and ensure my victory. I have seen how grace overcomes the awkward and invites us all to bask in the present moment of peace.
My mother always got the last word. And in the end she always won and my dad lost. And in the end she had all the power, and my dad had none. And in the end, the end came and was the end. What I think more than the last word… she wanted something so much more… she wanted love. Funny, she already had it but she couldn’t, wouldn’t, didn’t see… it never was found in the last word. I wanted and still want my story to be different and I now see how maybe in a small way it could be.
So, I now raise my flag too and beacon to all who would be last word followers.
We are the strongest last word in and of ourselves. Our breathing in those moments… our being aware that neither hate, nor fear, nor power, more desire for approval by our shouts, whispers or simply words could ever speak as loud as who we are and how we were created. If I were honest… more than trying to be right with my stating one more last thing… I am trying to be loved, accepted and wanted. And one last word won’t make it so. I am… simple and true. So next time you and I come across that moment, you know that moment we wanna be right or we just feel we need to say one more thing… just breathe and remember… something might be spoken louder if you don’t speak.
celia anne

once upon a time

When I was a kid, I loved stories.  I loved being read to at night and I especially loved made up stories my dad used to tell me.  He made up these nightly adventures of a country mouse… each time he started each tale with once upon a time.  I waited impatiently for him to weave a tale of enchantment, adventure and endearment.  The mouse would find small ventures around an old farmhouse and each one had the little mouse using his wit to outsmart some obstacle faced.  The mouse would find cheese, or make a friend out of the farm animals, or uncover a hidden treasure as he outsmarted a barn cat and retired couple living in the farmhouse.  Each time my father told the story of the little mouse, he would end each tale with a cliff hanger that would have me more wide awake than lulled to sleep.  Thinking back, I can’t say that my dad told this story every single night, but I have a vivid memory of these moments in my childhood.  I looked forward to each encounter with my dad and would hop into bed eager for a bedtime story… even past the age where bedtime stories were considered a part of a child’s nightly routine.   I don’t remember when he quit telling me the stories but I wished they’d never end.  We moved quite a bit, and those stories were one of the few constants in my life.  I believed at an early age, I could over come any cliffhanger in my life.  I, like that mouse, could make strangers my friends.  I could problem solve and find solutions in the midst of insurmountable odds.  I believed that though alone, I didn’t have to be lonely.  It was so small now that I think about it, yet it was a huge lifeline for me.  My father’s voice was like few times I heard in my life time.  In the pulpit on Sundays preaching to the morning crowds of soul seekers at church, it would raise and lower with intensity.  It was unlike interaction with my siblings or my mom in which he always seemed engaged in some battle of sorts and was defending, always raising a voice to defend something in his life that seemed sacred.  During story-time, his voice was tender and calm like someone with a newborn who is enthralled with the newness of life.  The only other time I heard this hushed storytelling voice was years later when he took me hunting a few times the year before I married.  In those woods, he seemed to harken back to that soft tender voice as he directed me to the deer stand, to climb over a log, or to duck under a fence.  His voice in those south Louisiana woods was sacred and sincere and held a tenderness I only heard again in the last days of his life on earth.  When I would sit by his bed as he had mine, holding his hand sharing Psalms, old songs and hushed stories of a mouse we both knew long ago.  He whispered to me in a heart felt , longing voice, “Sweetheart… sing me a song… tell me a story.”

Three words

Boiling my life down to three words that people would us to describe me was interesting, moving and heartfelt.  See what I did, yea I like a little humor mixed in.  This week, I watched “The Fault in Our Stars” and was moved by the before-death obituary scene. Set in a church two friends stand at the podium and eulogize their friend soon to die of cancer.  I’ve always thought, why wait.  Why wait to tell a loved one what your thoughts are for them?  Why wait to share your true feelings about a close friend or family member.  Why wait?  I think the answer is we think we have the time to tell them.  We live in a realm of reality that falsely makes us believe that we have all the time in the world to share something with someone… there will be plenty of time.  Another reason, is we don’t want the awkward moment.  I know, I hate and love the awkward moment.  You know that moment when we say the thing and we aren’t sure how it is  received.  But to me, that is the most sacred moment of all.  That chance taken is pure and beautiful and full of wonder that we all long for in our lives.  Real.  Real and present.  The two things I know life yearns for yet we have seemed to make more of life avoid both of these with great gusto.

Today, I asked friends, acquaintances, family to respond to the question, what three words come to mind when you think of me… my writing, my singing, my spoken word, my life.  To say I felt like Gus in Fault in Our Stars is an understatement.  Such kind and thoughtful words were shared… but the ones I most appreciated were these: passionate, authentic, contagious.  When and activity presents itself like this one … I tend to think of the words that represent my short comings and wonder if those will be lifted up… absent minded, scattered, doubtful.  I feel sometimes like I’m absent minded because  I am so passionate about who I am with and what I am doing that everything else fades… sometimes that might be other appointments.. keys… the coffee I stepped into the grocery store to buy… sometimes the small things get over looked for the what’s right in front of me things.. and I love that part of who I am as well as see it for the challenge it is.  I sometimes feel scattered and yet I am so open to sharing that with others.  I feel comfortable sharing the pain, sharing the I don’t know-s of life, sharing the obstacles and let others see that scattered is really an ok thing to be at times.  I am not perfect and the older I get, the easier it is to embrace the me who I am as well as push toward the me I want to become.  Finally, I realize I am doubtful at times… only because I sometimes feel I share the too real thing and share it with enthusiasm and a deep desire that others will join my rag tag life parade.  At times, people don’t want that much real and they sure don’t want to be asked to be that themselves… thus the doubt.  May I should tone me down.  A toned down me wouldn’t be me and so as I accept these amazing words of how I have impacted others…I heard these words myself.  That raising the banner of Love, Hope, Joy are good and true virtues and I deeply want others to see those aspects in their own lives.  Passionate…authentic… contagious… healing… love… faithful… joyful… comforting.. gusto.. care.. enthusiasm.. with heart… heartfelt.. witness.. fully… unconditionally… inspiring… hopeful… motivating… blessed.. bountiful… engaging.. uplifting… dynamic.. enchanting… Godly… grace… truth… beautiful… inspirational.. genuine…

After reading the words spoken… I thought of three words myself… thank you all!

Full Sail Living

hey from me…

If I were to boil my writing (and my life) down to a single focus it would be “Full Sail Living.”

 Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc

Full sail Living is about recognizing abundance and celebrating all that fills my cup in my life.  If I were to hang my hat on one thing that I am passionate it is this… “what fills my sail?”  What I love about this subject is how small the answer can be that fills a massive area of my life.  Seeing those day to day moments and sharing those stories that I have been told or that have happened to me is more than inspiration.  It is changing and shaping my life in ways I must share with others with hope that their sail will be filled as well.

The theme that is naturally emerges from full sail living is inspiration.  Where do I see it and feel it and how can I recognize it? Who inspires me and who do I inspire is a question I have always been captured by.

My deepest desire and objective for the blog challenge I’m taking, as well as my life as a whole, is every person would know just how loved they are. Seems simple.  If we did… if we believed that we all, each of us, are loved… our response might be to live our lives out of abundance rather than scarcity.  Love creates love… I believe we were made from love and we were made to love.

I could write about that for a lifetime.

celia anne


Wonder… what is it about wonder that still takes our breath away? What is it about something spectacular that captures us and makes us dream again? Can you think of a moment like that in your life… remember it… smell the smells… feel the chills… see the excitement… experience the wonder.

The first time I can remember a something remarkable happened in my life was a birthday when I was in elementary school and I received a bicycle I really wanted… bike bell, tassels, reflectors and all. I promptly put cards in the spokes to make it make sound… just so the neighbors, in case they didn’t know, could hear me coming and celebrate the joy with me. I’m laughing at the thought of them not hearing my approach. I think I have always been this volume… loud.

Remarkable moments. I love the word “mark” as the root of this word… defined by… seen by others… viewed openly… in my life remarkable moments are not few and far between …

I see them every week… well… let’s say I have a chance to see them every week if I am paying attention.

Still, I can think of a few if I were to look over my life and think of the most important ones I might mention…

I remember an encounter with my grandmother Ruby (mama’s side), during a hot summer visit. I was staying with my grandparents Vivian and William (daddy’s side), while my parents were at a regional church event. I had a beloved poodle that I insisted on bringing because I was terribly lonely at their farm during my stay. During that visit, my dog proceeded to pee on every part of my grandmother Ruby’s house. Ruby surprisingly and unexpected I might add, very graciously picked up some paper and wiped the spots up. Then (with a fresh tissue in case you were wondering) wiped tears from my face as my other grandmother scolded me. Ruby made such a small gesture… it was a little thing… her eyes were full of grace and her vocal gently said only two words that to this day I have thought of when the world gets a little crazy… “it’s ok.” ~ grace danced with me that day.

Loved and alive… funny how it seems so simple and small… I pray you feel that today… you experience when you hear a song, a story, are given a hug. Week after week as I travel, I hear stories across the country of how people have overcome; at times been swept away by everyday life tragedies and trials. Simple words seem to get us through, “it’s ok,” “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” “I’m here”… and at times it’s not the words at all… just the presence of a close one that helps us through a tough spot.

I am touched by how the human spirit and how resilient it is… I always have believed that about children. They just get it… they get that there are monsters and things in life to be scared of… they get they need a friend to hold on to and hold hands with … they get that they can try… and it’s okay if it doesn’t work out… they can try again. They see life through the eyes of wonder. They understand being connected and realize at an early age not even knowing why but that we need to be known and know others… they get loyalty… pinkie swear… and BFFs.

But children are not the only ones who get it… those moments when something takes our breath away… books, movies, songs, poems and stories are full of accounts of these occurrences in our lives.

When thinking about my faith, the evidence is there throughout scripture as well as lived out in our everyday lives. Jesus birth… the angels sang and awe filled the stable – Jesus baptism… the clouds parted and a dove flew down and those present heard God’s voice say, this is my child in whom I am well please – the paralytic healed… all were amazed.

Time and time again… we search for words for the unexplainable, the remarkable, the wonder in our lives. Recently for me… it was a beautiful red sunrise that my son Zach noticed one morning. I love that he was the one who had to point it out to me… as I made my way to stand with him at the bus stop in front of our house… I missed it.. and it was huge.. well, sky size… and I once again was reminded… hidden in plain view is the truth of life. Wonder is all around.

Last month while driving to the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine I pulled over and sat in a cove and cried over the simple beauty I was witnessing. A cove so small… so simple.. yet it’s beauty and wonder captured me. I’m not sure what got a hold of me that day… all I can say is it was sacred… and filled me at a time when I felt empty and needed to be inspired.

Recently, we re-watched one of my favorite movies, “Ratatouille.” At the end of the movie when the food critic has come to judge the meal. The critic takes one bite and in an instant there it is… that moment I have been talking about … he is transported and transformed and taken over by joy… by goodness… by the wonderful and in his write up he praises not only the dish but the chef… and what he most points out is the new… that the new needs to be embraced; the new needs friends… sometimes it’s in the new that we have these encounters… and we are free… free to experience something we have not… free to be rule breakers… free to see something in a new way… someone in a new light… and we are unknowingly captured by wonder once again… so I ask you friend… where have you seen and been grateful for wonder this week?

I say God’s kingdom has come down, among us… like my aunt Rosemary’s mac and cheese… my mama’s chocolate sheet cake recipe… Tom Petty’s “Free Falling,” my friend Brent Maher’s new song, titled “Gratitude” that I’ll release soon. Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, the last scene in the movie Gravity… Grandmother Ruby’s “It’s Ok”…. all we can say is thanks!

The power of “no”

The power of “no” can change a person.  I have lived my life as a yes person.  Someone once asked me, “Do you say, ‘yes,’ then figure it out?” To which I answered, “yes!”  I often say yes, when I need to say no.  I say yes sometimes, because it’s easier than saying no.  I say yes, because I worry what people would think of me if I said no.  I say yes because I want to, even when I know it costs me too much.


I often say yes because I’ve been saying yes for so long, but I’m learning no.  I’ve always believed in the power of no… yet I haven’t lived my life using that power.


When I started singing and then first moved to Nashville, TN. I heard a lot of nos.  No, you can’t do that… you’re a woman… your husband should do that.  No, you can’t play here… no one knows you.  No, you can’t say that… or sing that … or wear that… or believe that.  I’ve come to believe that I look forward to hearing the no’s in my life… because I know my yes is right around the corner.  I’ve always believed that when a door closes… my open door will appear.  Yet, I have given away my personal power by not invoking that one little life changing word… no.


When we say no to things we make space for what else can be.  We sometimes have to turn something off so that something else can be on.  Ever been to camp in a restroom or cabin with a bunch of hairdryers running at the same time… and all of a sudden … nothing?  No power… because of too much power.


What do I need to say no to? What if I say no? What new thing might emerge because there was finally room for something new. I might have to let some people down… I might have to change… I might have to stop all the volunteering… the running to help without listening to where my help might make the biggest difference.  I might have to say no to old habits that are so rooted in me that I feel like are best for me… when all along I know it’s past time to let them go.


I wouldn’t say I’m a believer in New Year’s resolutions, but I do think it is a good and right thing to take a good look at where you are, where you’ve been, where you want to be and to see what adjustments need to be made.  I can’t get there if I’m still here. Sometimes it means walking toward the unknown and just breathing.  Isn’t that what faith is.


Putting our faith in something that seems almost silly… like a baby king… like a kid with a sling shot… like a boy with loaves and fish… like a pregnant teen… like a stutterer as a leader… like a denier as the cornerstone.  I think of those first followers of Christ… on the beach… knowing only a life of fishing… meeting Christ… believing he is the one… laying down their nets and following.  Saying no to everything that they knew was true in order to make space to follow what they believed was their yes.  And in the end, being willing to bet their lives for their yesses… becoming martyrs for their faith.  Whew… that no, was a big one… not like saying no to an extra cookie… I’m talking about big stuff here… life changing nos … nos that you don’t go back on … change your mind for… the power of no in those first disciples lives not only changed their lives but changed history.  I would love to think my life, the way I live, the way I love, the yesses that chart my course, the nos that lead me here would all be the sum of changing the world… Maybe I can’t hope to change the world, but this year I can hope to change a little corner of it.  I can choose to listen, give, risk, believe, offer, try, when in the past it has seemed too hard to do so… I have always loved the quote, “what would happen if I lived my life believing I couldn’t fail?”  I also know that the quote, “what if I lived my life believing I could succeed” But what would success look like? That is the greater question….


What would it look like?  Maybe my success starts with what’s important things in my life? The “when it’s said and done”… I cared more… I did hard things… I apologized when it was painful… I threw myself out there and risked everything… I spoke up… I tried new things at the cost of losing old things that had grown familiar and comfortable…. I didn’t kept a ledger of the wrong doings of others or of my own mistakes, but instead celebrated the mundane and the day to day… I believed in hope… and honesty… and truth… and simple. I cultivated relationships here at home and afar with those I’ve know for years and those I just met… and most of this happened because I was willing to say no.  No to the way I’ve done it… no to pretending things didn’t need to change… no to the side stepping uneasy things are challenging in life… no to ignoring obstacles that have taken root in my core and have to be pruned away for new life to spring up… no to I’m afraid… no to fear…no to we haven’t done it that way… no to what if it doesn’t work.


Last summer, I helped a mom rescue a situation involving her grown daughter. Now, just months after our encounter there was a change that made the mom think it was all wasted.  I shared with her my belief that nothing is wasted, even though we don’t know the outcome…  we can’t just sit back and do nothing… even if things go back the way they were or heaven forbid get worse… there was a moment… a moment in time when we said it matters… I remember the day the mom and I met. It was in a large cafeteria. That day, instead of sitting by the summer college staff whom I loved and adored I said no and sat by a stranger. That single no, changed both her and me.  I could tell you the incredible details our story, but what you need to know is this: I will forever, forever be grateful for that day. The day that no led to yes… that no led me to making room for a mom’s pain to be healed by my caring… and that daughter and she to be reconciled.  The funny thing about the whole encounter is it all happened with me connecting her daughter to two friends of mine out of state where her daughter was… I was never involved past our meeting… but a couple of  my friends stepped in and in a moment of need they were there because of this mom’s and my paths crossed that day.  Being connected by the strangest circumstances and craziest line up of events.  How many times have I longed for that healing in my relationship with my own mother, that with her death 10 years ago this month, much is frozen as we left it that week, broken and yet connected.  Sometimes a no means… not doing something and letting someone else step in … someone else be the one who reaches a loved one who seems unreachable.  It means letting go… that’s what this mom had done so graciously… she let go… and realized that she had done all she could do… and with God’s grace… she now too will feel that in her helplessness … she has to let go again… and realize again that it’s not in her hands. It is seldom in our hands. The letting go part is hard… and being willing to let something die so that something better might live… being willing to step away so that room is made for a new relationship…. for new growth.  Whew this is hard stuff…. and every parent who has had a moment in a relationship that has been trying knows what I am talking about.  No easy add water and stir answers here… time… healing… space… trust … letting go… all seem to help but sometimes in life there are no fixes… there is just the believing that tomorrow will be better than today.


So what about your and my no…. can I say no…. can I continue to let go of the filling in my name on every line out there in life.  Can I not step up at times and wait… thinking that not doing might lead to the what I should be doing all along…. the power of no.


I’ll be honest… I’m not comfortable with a lot of no’s … but I could be… if I let myself… and maybe you and I will see that when we say no… others respect it… they may get it better than we get it… maybe they too have some longings for the power of no in their own life… and our little no will help them with a big no.  I’m not sure how it works… but this I’m sure of… no can and must be apart of your and my life… no can change every thing… if we let it.  So here’s to the power of no… say it with me… on the count of three… no on three… ok how about right after three…

one… ( deep breath )

two… ( don’t even think of backing out )

three… ( you know you can )


“Same thing…. another day!”

Recently while singing at Brighton Gardens retirement home while traveling on the road, some friends there told of a lady who greets everyone she meets with this phrase… and a smile… a huge smile every day, multiple times a day with a smile. I laughed and then I have been thinking about her greeting, “same thing, another day.” If it were said with a frown, or scowl, or clinched fists, it would have a total different meaning. When said with a smile it has a bit of a refreshing, sweet, endearing message. The smile says just as much as the words… I’m still here… I’m still grateful… I’m still thankful… I‘m still smiling! I love that thought – that today I can choose. What is my same thing… that I am living each day?

In the Dec 2012/Jan 2013 issue of the National Geographic Traveler there is a section called Travelers of the Year. Paula Busey, a librarian from Littleton, CO visited Africa in 2009 and fell in love with its people, culture and way of life. Her guide on safari was a 30 year old educated wildlife expert named Samwell Melami. They quickly formed a friendship and Busey invited Melami to visit her hometown and teach her students.  She said, “As an educator, I wanted my students to have a firsthand experience like this.”  I love the quote this Maasai warrior Samwell ended the article with… “American kids are obsessed with becoming adults, with finishing university and starting to work. I understand that they have anxieties, but I tell them that Maasai don’t think about tomorrow. We just try to make today excellent.  If today is excellent, tomorrow will come.” I love that sentiment but I also love the reminder that we have a choice.  I have a choice. I have today… I can choose to make it excellent!

Back to Brighton Gardens – during my same visit, I met a woman named Betsy. When she walked into the fellowship area, I was already singing “How Great Thou Art.” She immediately began singing and swaying her body from side to side and moving her arms and raising her hands as she sang. It was a sight of beauty. Every song was the same. She sang with joy, gusto and enthusiasm and with feeling. At the end of our time there, I began to walk around and thank the residents for coming and inviting me to sing. When I got to Betsy, I sat in an empty chair beside her. She quickly hugged my neck and caressed my face, while saying God bless you, it is so good to see you, what a gift you were today. Then with time-stopping clarity, she looked right into my eyes and said, “what you do is so important, you know that, right?” I hugged her and said, “yes ma’am. I believe it is!” She then gently caressed the lobe of my ear and said, “I love you and am grateful for you today.”

I felt like I was sitting with one of my aunts or one of my grandmothers… her care… her words… her touch… each conveyed a message of joy, encouragement and gratitude that filled me and still brings me delight at the thought of that exchange. I am sure I was not the first nor will I be the last she spoke to at Brighton Gardens… she had a clear message and mission of encouragement… and she knew when to share it and who to share it with.

If my life is filled with these messages of faith, hope and love… not only am I sharing the greatest riches know on earth but I also in return will have the greatest riches… a life of giving.   I hear the scratchy sound of my Charlie Brown Christmas record playing in the background… Vince Guaraldi… the sweet angelic voices of children singing, “Christmas time is here… Snow flakes in the air… Carols everywhere … olden times and ancient rhymes of love and dreams to share… Christmas time is here… families drawing near. Oh that we could always see such spirit through the years.”

The other day, I saw a family with a young baby. They lost themselves in that child.  They would look around the room briefly, notice other sounds, tend to other things, but there was one focus for them… that child.  His laugh, his smile, his fascination with his toes, his gentle way that captured them and me in that moment. Isn’t that what this season is all about? A baby; losing ourselves in that child. The love and dreams of life we share this Christmas is another chance to lose ourselves.  To focus on the one thing, the same thing – Christmas.

I catch myself reflecting during the Christmas season. What will I give that others might receive? What I would give that others might need, really need? Faith, hope, love, joy, care, concern, attention, focus, sincerity, diligent to make a difference, justice and mercy, choice to make today excellent, sharing of dreams, enthusiasm, friendship… but the greatest of these is love. So I end these thoughts I a started at the beginning… I offer my love… “same thing… another day.”

enjoy the journey,


PS Have a wonderful Christmas friends. When I was 10, we would get the Sears catalog and I would circle everything I loved with a red marker… especially the purple banana seat bike with sparkle tassels hanging from the handle bars! Make this Christmas excellent! I love you all and if I could I’d circle each one of you with a red marker!

Great Ideas

There is something to be said for having a great idea.  Where do they come from … what inspires us the most?  Trying to have a great idea about anything never seems to work.. We always end up like we are trying too hard.  The best great ideas … just happen.

They fall in our laps. They are brief moments of brilliance that we stumble upon and only in hindsight do we realize what a great idea they were.  I’ve had a few in my life time…

A few friends that I just happened to introduce myself to… sit next to… call and invite them to join me somewhere for a something… and I look back 30 years later and realize they have become my bestest best friend… or maybe it was just a brief encounter we exchange and for a second we shared something profound.. real and genuine that happened unexpected and you end up sharing your heart… spilling all you are to someone you just met and it feels right.. those moments- I love.

Decisions I’ve made have always had a certain sure-ity to them… moving to becoming a teacher… working for a church with youth… marrying my best friend… quitting teaching… moving to Nashville… connecting with my vocal
coach Gerald Arthur 20 years ago… sitting at Merridee’s table and meeting friends there… filling my cup at the Good Cup…following Christ… having my kids, Max and Zach.. even though I call them the dangerous duo… I am so glad
they are on this ride with Ron and I… belonging to my church family, writing books… songs… stories… There has been a peace that has come with every decision… some of them as small as having coffee.. others huge like who I
married and should I have children… always a peace and affirmation that the reason I choose this decision… was good for me, my family, my faith, my future.

Living in Nashville… great ideas are discussed daily.. mostly with regards to songwriting… everyone.. well, almost everyone is a songwriter.. knows a songwriter… lives near a songwriter.. admires a songwriter or their neighbor

But great ideas go beyond songwriting.  They can change everything… they can change our world.  Learning something new, forgiving, taking a risk, stretching, seeking a new door when one closes, not being discouraged, what happens AFTER we fail, remembering a passion we had long ago and rekindling it, starting over, not letting our joy be robbed by what could beat us down each day, following a hunch or a nudge, saying what if, believing things can be different, knowing that our one voice matters, putting everything on the line, making room, doing
things that are hard and scare us, letting go, giving over control, realizing with death comes new life, making mistakes, learning from our mistakes, resting, giving everything, leaning into something we love, not letting fear keep us from trying, being ok with different, accepting others and mostly ourselves, plowing a new row, see things differently, listening, speaking up, waiting… my whole life I have believed there was more … and sometimes the more came when only I was willing for a great idea to come outta something less… something little… something small… almost missed.. and insufficient.  What if that is true for you… you pick one of those statements I listed and you become that… your embrace that something amazing is happening.. is going to happen.. has happened… is about to happen… you believe that your next great idea is not behind you … it’s here! It’s right now.. it’s right around the corner.. it’s in the door that opened only because the door beside it closed!

I have always said… I love no’s because I know my yes is near!

Guys came by and cleaned out our tree line this week… with large machinery they removed more than we wanted… funny our compost pile we had secretly tucked in the bushes and trees.. .was sitting out by itself.. out in the open
for the world to see… What I am watching now is my sons and Ron make piles and burn all the work crew left behind.  On the way home from school, we discussed the kind of trees we’d like to plant .. evergreens along the tree line between our house and the road.. we’ve talked about it for years but now we really need … to do it.  They have never pruned like they did this week… I mean they really cleared out a lot of stuff… stuff we didn’t even know was under there! On the edge of our property.. under all that stuff.. was a young dogwood tree we had never seen before… we have two and are thrilled to have another.  I laughed at the thought that it was there the whole time … I passed it daily and never saw it… maybe mine phrase should be … see things differently!

That’s a great idea.

Last thought … as I was writing this I not only thought .. raise a juice box for our next great idea… raise your juice box friends … you are a great idea! embrace that! You are… no one else is you … and what you offer in this
world.. your smile… your laugh.. your problem- solving, your effort, your heart, your gifts, your everything….

I know is a great idea.

Some ideas I love:

Solmate socks – http://www.socklady.com

Jamie O’Hara’s new CD Dream Hymns

Thistle Farms Products – http://www.thistlefarms.org

boots and bandana golf – http://www.bootsandbandana.com

listening to music at the Bluebird Cafe’ – http://www.bluebirdcafe.com — I’m there 11/20/2012

listening to music in Luckenbach, Tx…  – http://www.luckenbachtexas.com (everynight starts at 4)

camping in the backyard!


home is tricky… being home… getting home… missing home… waiting to leave home… all of it is complicated. I remember going to camp when I was in middle school… I wasn’t homesick in the least bit… I believe I even wrote a postcard home asking if I could stay an extra week! I loved sleeping in a room full of girls with all the activity and commotion. The thought of every day being filled with fun activities and counselors playing with us along the way. Who wouldn’t want to live at camp… make camp home! I sure was in!

But even at the end of the week was glad to return to my dog, bed, family and friends. I could have just as much fun on my backyard swing. the sound of cards in the spokes of my tires on my bike was a sweet melody that welcomed my return and the church library record player spinning “The Locomotion” while I played in the sprinkler near the clothes line in my backyard was the cherry on top of a homecoming return.

I loved being on the go, my mom told folks.. the truth was I made every where home.. and everyone family. That was the trick to being home while you were gone. Friends were family… family were friends… new places were familiar places… home places, new places. Tricky to do beyond 10 years old!

I forget that I love the everyday home stuff… washing clothes.. dishes… clutter… chickens… dogs.. water frogs… cooking meals … cleaning up after meals.. huddled on the couch like puppies watching movies… putting away all the blankets and pillows after the movies over… the routine of sameness as well as change…. home is both.. that which is safe and familiar… and that which adapts to what the day brings… home has to be both. What once was an infant room in boys room now has Nerf basketball goals hanging in both… the Wright brother’s poster replaces Winnie the Pooh and his friends picture… and a British and USA flags hang in the place where airplanes used to hang from their ceilings… home changes…because we change… but there is something constant… the love.

Recently Ron talked to a senior about going to college and the anticipation as well as a little worry… College kids working at Lake Junaluska as counselors this summer and I laughed that while one of them was gone to college, a mom had turned his room into an office… then he had to move back in and had to scramble to re-convert it… His mom was like.. well you said, I’m outta here! So honey, we believed you! Ugh! Home…
One time my older sister came home from college to her room being taking over by her 10 year old little sister (me) and GI Joe and Barbie dolls invasion… I loved GI Joe way better than Ken… no offense Ken… just a taste thing! And he looked really cool driving that Barbie Jeep my cousins gave me! The thing we count on for home to be doesn’t always stay true. Time does not stand still … neither does home… even if we want it to in our mind.

When I was writing the book “On the Way to Somewhere,” I talked to Tabitha Tuder’s mom, Debra, whose daughter has been missing for 10 years now… she was so gracious to share her story with me… I used to see her missing picture in our post office in downtown Franklin where I had a box and daily I would touch that picture of Tabitha and say I love you and I hope you make it home soon. While working on a story book I called Tabitha’s mom to see if I could tell her story… and one thing that stuck me was she said she prays and hopes daily her daughter will return home safe and sound… she just can’t bring herself to change Tabitha’s room… she wants Tabitha to step back into her room just as she left it. She was last seen walking to the bus, 7 am April 29, 2003… a witness said she got into the a red pick up truck and she has never been seen since.

While recently reflecting on the death of Andy Griffith, I remembered what I loved about Mayberry… it was a home that was frozen in time… but it too wasn’t real… there are countless things of Mayberry that I long for home to be.. and just the same number of what I know Mayberry wasn’t that it should have been… but the one thing we all loved about Mayberry was the way it made us feel.. like many shows built around family and friends: the Cosby show… and Archie Bunker… I Love Lucy ….Friends… even iCarly.. which I admit I love… all have in common… their homes though very different… has one common thread… people who love you there! People who when you walk through the door… are glad to see you … who are better because you are in their home.

Isn’t that what we love about Jesus… he loved being in people’s homes… Mary and Martha… Zaccheus… wedding parties with friends and family…. home is simply with him… home is the Disciples together… sitting at someone’s table… breaking bread… hearing stories.. telling stories… but the thing I loved most about Jesus the Christ…is He made himself home for all… all all cost.. he became the home we all long for … healing… whole.. love and loving.

I pray your home is filled with love… love that invites you back.. love that lets you fail and succeed.. that lets you try things.. love that is ok with raised voices as well as whispers… love that tells you~ you’re ok~ how you are now~not how you are gonna be one day~ you’re ok now~love that hugs you.. love that laughs with… love that grows and gently challenges you… love that tries new things… and embraces the old, traditions, familiar, worn, tired and true things too… love that sings new songs… smiles with it’s eyes… speaks the truth… does hard things… forgives quickly and often… gets out of the way… love that lets others be the center of attention… that goes second… lets someone else have the last biscuit… shares stuff… smiles often… includes everyone… takes up for the little guy… remembers we were all the little guys once… love that holds hands when someone needs one… howls at the moon when needed… still catches fireflies and makes a wish on a shooting star… love that still falls in love… still giggles… still dreams… still wishes… still believes… still takes risks… still takes a stand… still seeks… still weeps and grieves… still loves and embraces the good…

for you and for me… that description of home I’m longing to create as well as dwell myself…

some of my favorite home quotes… send me yours… and your video from home… you’ll see our new chicken coop video of their new home in days to come… look for it…

Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other.  It is the place of confidence.  It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts.  It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule.  ~Frederick W. Robertson

Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness.  Home is where the heart’s tears can dry at their own pace.  ~Vernon Baker
Where thou art – that – is Home.  ~Emily Dickinson
Peace – that was the other name for home.  ~Kathleen Norris
“When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home” ~Thornton Wilder

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” ~Matsuo Basho

Here’s the story that really got me thinking about home: https://www.facebook.com/notes/sharon-thompson/divine-appointments/3760518504466

peace… Celia

New Orleans

Three times my youngest son asked me what happened last month in New Orleans. Each time I answered simply, I don’t know.

I went there for ten days to sing for several events like I’ve been doing most weekends for the last twenty years and to be honest I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary. Isn’t it funny how, when we least expect it, life is full of out of the ordinary? We fall in love out of the blue, we lose our job and we discover our true passion, we are filled in a new way and realize we have been empty for some time.

I have fallen in love with a number of cities in years past. Here are a few: Dallas, TX (we have friends who still call and say, when are you coming home!), Santa Fe, NM (I called Ron and said half joking, send my clothes), Denver, CO (After two weeks at a big national meeting one year, I realized looking at grand mountains on a regular basis somehow healed the small places in my life. Each time I’m in those mountains, things in my life line up like the are suppose to), NW Florida beaches (pretty much feet in sand anywhere is my dentist-chair-happy-place. The birds, the sand, the sun, the surf, fishing, floating, watching, I find all of it sacred.), New York City, NY (The first time I spent a night there I could hear the sounds rising up from the street and I knew I loved it. The theater alone is enough for me. Each time I go I fall in love with something new. Just walking in the park or FAO Schwartz toy store is enough to fill my cup), London, England (Ron and I got to go to Wimbledon right around the time that the movie Notting Hill was released. We ran around the city in the morning and watched tennis in the afternoon; all of it felt like home. We danced on a red carpet during a Pavarotti Earl’s Court. We kept being drawn to the Notting Hill area, the book stores, the market, the pubs, the blue door.) Ok I could keep going, with Athens, Rome, Beijing, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Asheville, Billings, Los Angeles, the list goes on. Most of what I loved about those places is the people I was with.

But New Orleans this time was different, I spent time with New Orleans like I was spending time with an intimate friend. We sat together, in silence and in laughter. We tarried, meandered, breathed, and we even got bored, together. I treasured each moment. I met New Orleans’ homeless, ate with them, cried with them, traded stories with them, fed them, hugged them, kissed them, prayed with them and agreed with them to be kind to one another as I would try to do the same with those around me.

I listened to stories–stories of loss, of Katrina, and of the day to day struggles that still cost many of them their lives. My heart broke in so many ways during those ten days. Years ago… while working on a house during a mission week called “Weekend of the Cross” in Shreveport, LA I spoke with a man whose home we were repairing. I asked him what brought him to the area. He didn’t miss a beat as he answered, “ hard times.” I know what he was talking about when I looked into those eyes this time. It was almost unbearable for me to hear about the misery and sorrow, the desperation. But I also was filled with something else almost unbearable–the amazing sound of love that flowed from jazz. It heals and I was the recipient of that music. It flowed through me. As real as New Orleans’ sorrow, was New Orleans’ melody of life’s songs. As painful as the stories were, there were also stories of hope, of healing, of resilience, of accomplishment. Like jazz, some tunes were standards that everyone in the room knew. Others were new songs I had never heard.

Last spring I accompanied an adult group from Rejoice Lutheran in Lincoln, NE on their mission trip to New Orleans. Cheryl Greiss was gracious enough to let me join them in their work repairing houses, and supporting Marie Riviere Elementary School. I had the good fortune to help with the school talent show. I also sang for the students and talked with them about writing, about expressing yourself, about telling your story through writing and I shared my love for songwriting with them. On that spring trip, one evening I was to meet a friend at the park on Frenchman in the neighborhood. When she had to cancel, I wandered onto Frenchman Street and into the Spotted Cat jazz club. For the next 5 hours, I sat by the piano while Brett Richardson and Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses poured their music and their lives into every soul in that room.

Last month, I returned to the Spotted Cat and to my delight my spot was waiting and so was the music. I’m not sure they know. I’m not sure they are aware or even care what the music is doing to those who listen. When you watch them play, it’s as if they couldn’t care less how many people are in the room. They are not thinking about how the music is received. They are playing their jazz and we just get to listen. I’ve always thought the same about the music I make, It is my personal gift to God. Whoever is listening just happens to be in the same room at the time. If I could put my finger on it and tell you what that music did for me and to me, the naming would take away some of it’s magic. I only know that at one moment while listening to a song at the Spotted Cat, when the sax player finished his solo, the entire place shouted at the top of their lungs. I found myself screaming in joy over what each of us had witnessed, at a gift given without thought of commerce–being paid, cd’s sold, music downloaded or even his name mentioned. He simply nodded his head smiled and listened as one of his fellow musicians played. That seemed to be enough for him. And it was and is enough for me. The magic might have been in part George the door man who hugged me when I came through the door the seventh night in a row, or James the Trumpet player who stood and said I remember you from last night, glad you’re back or the poet sitting in front of Spotted Cat with an old typewriter, composing poems on his typewriter for tips. Yes, I have his original Ode to Celia proudly displayed on my fridge or Curtis behind the bar who eventually said, Ok Celia, next time you are in town.. call me and we’ll let you play. Maybe it was all of it. The trumpeter at Cafe Du Monde’, the men in front of the catheral sitting in Jackson Square. I had some extra food left over from the condo where I stayed and I took it and made sandwiches. I passed out cups of orange juice and fruit and I sat with them one more second the last day I was in the city. Around the corner you could hear a single trumpeter playing When the Saints Go Marching In. A Mardi Gras parade was about to come down the middle of the Quarter and as the crowd gathered, I made my way to my car and with windows rolled down, drove away with that tune still playing in my heart.

My friend Sybil and I were talking about faith and life. Like jazz, she said, faith continues throughout our lives, changing, moving, growing with moments of unpredictability and familiar melodies. Some things take years to develop, while others happening instantly. And then every once in a while, you have a week, a day, a moment. I have always thought my whole life, that the way I lived, the way I loved, the way I sang, the way I wrote songs, all of it matters. I can no more hold back in any area of my life or love. I have to be in the moment. I have to give everything. I have to be swept up in where I am and in what I’m doing. It should matter every part of it and it should be my passion.

One night while at the Spotted Cat, I read some graffiti written on the wall in the girls bathroom, “If you are not completely in love with or heart broken by life at this moment. You better start paying more attention.” That’s really it. I want to pay more attention. I want to give my full attention to something I love, to the someones I love, to the everyones I am called to love. I want to be heartbroken for what breaks others hearts, to care enough to listen. A few of my favorite quotes are listed below, but one I really liked about jazz said this, “New Orleans is the only place where a jazz musician can have a paid gig, play it, leave it to go somewhere to play some more, for free!” It’s sometimes just about showing up, showing up to play, showing up to offer what you have to offer. Isn’t that what we are called to do in our lives? To show up and to offer what we have and to do it even after we thought we are done doing it. So many of Jesus’ miracles happened after Jesus had just done what you thought the miracle was. Funny, how like jazz, it doesn’t have a distinct ending or beginning. It just continues and it’s about paying attention. Something I’ve been know to lack in my life, but not always.

That’s what happened to me in New Orleans, I listened. I paid attention, and it changed me again, forever.

Music is what we need when language fails us, but we cannot remain silent. ~ Dr. Cornel West

If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. ~ Charlie Parker

New Orleans is the only place I know of where you ask a little kid what he wants to be and instead of saying, I want to be a policeman or I want to be a fireman, He says, I want to be a musician. ~ Alan Jaffe

One thing I like about jazz is that I don’t know what is going to happen next, do you? ~ Bix Beidenbecke

Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life. ~ Art Blakey

It is becoming increasingly difficult to decide where jazz starts or where it stops, where Tin Pan Alley begins and jazz ends, or even where the borderline lies between between classical music and jazz. I feel there is no boundary line. ~ Duke Ellington

Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise… ~ George Gershwin

The reward for playing jazz is playing jazz. ~ John Lewis

What we play is life. ~ Louis Armstrong

I can tell whether a person can play just by the way he stands. ~ Miles Davis

Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself. ~ Miles Davis

That’s the thing about jazz: it’s free flowing, it comes from your soul. ~ Billy Crystal