Moments

For those of us who struggle with depression life is a lot like a roller coaster ride. We have our highs where we feel on top of the world quickly followed by drastic falls, twist, and turns that scare us to death and turn our lives upside down. But roller coaster ride never last long;  life sometimes last much longer than we’d like. Personally, there’s been many times where I just want off the ride. I’m tired of being scared. I’m sick of the feeling that comes when life is crashing down. Some love it. They even thrive on it and conquer it. Not me. 

Anyway, I’ve been feeling like that lately. Out of nowhere a song came to my mind that I haven’t heard in years. The song is called Moments.  It was released and performed by Emerson Drive back in 2006. Wikipedia describes the song this way. 

“Moments” is a ballad in which the narrator, a young man, plots to die by suicide by jumping off a bridge. While on the bridge, he notices an older, homeless man, to whom he gives money, figuring that he “wouldn’t need it anyway”. Upon receiving the money, the homeless man tells of his past, saying that he “hasn’t always been this way”, and that he has had his “Moments, days in the sun / Moments [he] was second to none”. Upon hearing the story, the young man then ponders his own life, wondering if anyone will miss him, should he decide to take his own life. He remembers his own “Moments, days in the sun.” The young man then walks away from the bridge, imagining the older man telling his friends about his moments, including “that cool night on the East Street bridge / When a young man almost ended it / I was right there, wasn’t scared a bit / And I helped to pull him through”.

While in the depths of depression feeling overwhelmed by the voices of inadequacies, this song is a ray of sunshine in the midst of the abyss of depression. I think we’ve all had them: little moments where we’ve shined through and made a difference. For those with depression, such moments are brief and quickly over shadowed by the darker voices in our head, but it may be these little moments that can pull us through our valleys of despair. 

So today I want to reflect on my little moments. 

When I look at the people around me, I really don’t feel like I have anything to brag about. Others have more and have done more than I have, but when I consider what I came from, I can find a few accomplishments to hang onto. 

I was a troubled child by anyone’s standards. I was born while my father was in prison, parents divorce when I was about 3 years old, and I had a turbulent upbringing. By the time I graduated high school I had transferred schools 21 times. I had lived on the streets, I had been to jail, detention centers, and plethora of other state run facilities.   So my first accomplishment was just that: I graduated high school.  

It may not sound like much, but considering how far I was behind all the other students, I don’t think anyone expected me to graduate. The best anyone thought I would do was get my GED, and that was almost the route I took. To get caught up, I had to take classes at night and I barely passed with a GPA of 1.56, but I did graduate. I also graduated boot camp in the Army and went on to join the Marine Corps after High School. 

It was in the Marines that I had my second moment of accomplishment: I got sober. I’m not sure when all the drugs and drinking started, but I know it was elementary school because I remember getting caught drinking on school grounds. By the time I was in high school I was using drugs intravenously. The government footed the bill for the most intensive recovery program the military had to offer. It was about 6 weeks of hospitalization followed by other counseling and equipping. I have not drank, smoked cigarettes, or used drugs sense. That was over 30 years ago. 

Before leaving the Marines, I had become a Christian and was on my way to college. I will always be grateful for colleges that take chances on admitting people like me. On paper I certainly wouldn’t have looked at all promising. My high school transcripts were laughable, I couldn’t pass the ACT or SAT, and I even did miserable on the test that the college required of all who failed the ACT. I remember scoring in the 4 percentile on the reading and writing test. I could read and write–barely. It took me four and a half years to get a four year degree, but I graduated. Not only did I graduate, but I graduated Summa Cum Laude. I had gone four years in a row with straight A’s. 

Another moment of accomplishment has to be finding a good woman to be my wife. We both remember the day when my mother asked my fiancée “Are you sure you want to do this (referring to marrying me), he gets very depressed.” Perhaps this is a bigger accomplishment on her part, but she has stuck with me. She’s had to endure not only my depression, but also that which gets passed down to the children. It’s been twenty-seven years. We may be as different as night and day, but I believe she is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If it were not for her and my mother, I don’t think I would still be going. 

My education is in ministry. That’s what I felt called to do since I was in the Marines, and I poured myself into it.  But after over a decade of attempts I have to admit my own defeat. I’ve been fired twice and other times I left before getting fired. No real fault; they just wanted somebody else.  But even a failed preacher has some moments of success. I have to wonder if God doesn’t send out little messengers during those moments when we are at our lowest just to give us a glimmer of hope to keep gowing. 

I worked for one church several years before exepectedly being ask to leave. I was devastated. After the congregation was notified, I went home. I was called by someone I had been studying with at previous congregation. He was a new Christian back then and trying to overcome his addiction to prescription drugs. We studied the Bible together, but we also talked about beating addiction. I’ve done the same for several people over the years with little success. When things fell through at that congregation I moved on.  I had not spoken to the young man in years, and when he called I hardly remembered his name.  But he had traveled several hundred miles to see me that day. He was now off the drugs, married,  enjoying a new job and a new life. He had no idea I was being fired. He just wanted to come over and personally thank me for my encouragement and influence. 

A few years later, at another low point I was called by a young woman who had looked me up to ask if I would officiate at her wedding. I remember the girl very well from the three years I had served as her youth minister. We had spent a lot of time together. I remember first going to her house to encourage her and her sister to attend church. I left that church as she was getting ready to go to college. We had not spoken much over the years but she was very certain who she wanted to do her wedding. I had no idea that she considered me so influential. 

Most recently I was given a Father’s Day card by the girls in the children’s home I work for. It was a little homemade card that one of the girls made and it was signed by everyone with typical sentiments. But one girl added her own note which really made my day special. Working at a children’s home can be difficult and frustrating. I think everyone who has worked with these children starts with the best of intentions, but things rarely live up to our expectations. Quite often the children do not understand our intentions and end up forming resentments towards us instead of the positive feelings we hope for. No matter how hard we try to display kindness and compassion there are always times that demand firmness. I think all of us wonder what kind of impact we are having. Well, this note was a major source of encouragement for me. 

I am sure there are many other moments I will feel embarrassed for not including. But these are just a few that come to mind. I think we all have them. It’s just nice to think about them as a reminder while traveling through the valleys. 

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Crusty Tea

I seem to be getting a reputation for writing funny (or stupid) little songs. So now I actually have people coming up to me saying, “Hey Ken you should write a song about . . .”  Recently one of my co-workers at the children’s home was preparing for a cookout for our kids and a large group of guests. Evidently, whoever was supposed to clean up after the last cookout forgot to clean inside the cooler we use for the Tea and when they opened that cooler there was Tea inside that had been in there so long that it had actually become crusty. 

I’m not all that sure what caused my co-worker to think of me nor why he thought there was need of a song about crusty tea, but he did. When he saw me later he told me I should write a song about crusty tea. At first I just dismissed the idea. I mean I really don’t choose what songs I write, they just sort of choose me. What would I sing about crusty tea anyway? But the seed was planted and I’ll be darned if I didn’t start singing a little melody about crusty tea. Well, that was the inspiriation for this stupid little song. I could only think of one verse at first, but eventually a second came along too. I have not taken the time to come up with an intro or a bridge, just the beginnings of a song.  So here are the lyrics and a little video to give you an idea of how the song has gone inside my head. 

If the song seems popular enough, I will probably try to make a better video and a more complete song. But for now this will have to do. Click on Crusty Tea to see video. As always, if you get a good laugh, I hope you’ll share it, like it, but don’t criticize it. 

Crusty Tea

I was sweating like a pig eating pork chops

One July afternoon

I knew I was bout to shrivel up an die

If I didn’t get a drink real soon. 
Then I saw me an igloo cooler

Iced tea is what it said

But when I got a drink

Man it sure did stink

Tasted like somethings dead
(Chorus)

Crusty tea, crusty tea

Was all that’s left for me

Made want to shout and spit it out my mouth

It tasted like Guerrilla pee
Crusty tea, crusty tea

That’s what’s wrong with me

You drink that stuff, you will throw up 

It’ll drive you down to your knees
Crusty tea crusty tea

Man it’s so darn nasty

Nothing taste worst to me

Than drinking that crusty tea. 
Verse 2

So I put the cooler back

Called my best friend Jack

Here’s a drink to try

But when he chugged it down 

And barfed all over the ground

I thought he was gonna die
Chorus repeats.  

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Girls and the Eyebrow Song

To be honest, I’ve never really understood the whole makeup thing.  As a guy I am attracted to girls, but I am not at all attracted makeup.  It’s definately one of those things where less is more. A little does help in appearance, but if I’m noticing a girl’s makeup, that’s not a good thing. 

Now I find myself in a household of teenage girls who  spend a lot of time, effort, and money trying to look as attractive as possible. The most surprising thing about this process to me is the incredible amount of attention these girls place on their eyebrows. I never gave them much thought myself, but they do. Never once have a heard a guy say, “man that girl sure had some great eyebrows.” So I have always thought it is a bit peculiar how much attention girls place on eyebrows. One morning I decided I would right a song about eyebrows. I still need a female who is willing to sing it, but here is the song. 

The Eyebrow Song–click to see video

(Verse 1)

I woke up this mornin with a pounding in my head

My hair was such a mess like I just rose from the dead. 

But as I looked into the mirror I was sure glad to see

At least my eyebrows looked good to me. 
(Chorus)

I color em, I brush em

I trim em, and I pluck em

I do everything Cosmo says I should

It don’t matter what I wear

Or the color of my hair

Just as long, as my eyebrows are lookin good. 

(Verse 2)

Now I don’t always eat right and I probably should lose some weight.

People are getting on my nerves and my attitude’s not great.

But that’s okay just as long as my priorities are straight

What really matters in me is that my eyebrows are lookin great. 
(Chorus)

(Verse 3)

Now there are lots of girls out there who just don’t understand

What a woman needs to emphasize if she hopes to get a man

You don’t need no fancy negliges or clothes that fit real tight

All that really matters is that you eyebrows are lookin right. 

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The Heart of My Song 

I’ve written several songs about all sorts of things most of them are just goofy. This is a song I wrote for my wife. I wrote it a couple of weeks ago, but she has never seen it or heard it. Today is our 27th wedding anniversary so I’m posting it. I was planning to video  it, but for some reason I can’t seem to get through it without tearing up and being all emotional. So this will have to do for now. Of course, if she doesn’t read my blogs, she’s just out of luck. 

To the left is a favorite picture of mine from when Paula and I were dating at Oklahoma Christian. We have gone through so much together. She has been my constant in a world that is constantly changing. To me, that is what the song is about. 
Verse:
We’ve been together now most of our lives
We’ve traversed some mountains and valleys alike. 

We’ve gone through some changes; some good and some bad

We’ve laughed when we’re happy; we’ve cried when were sad. 
We’ve made our mistakes; we’ve had our regrets

But we’ve built us a family that’s survived the tests.

And we’re still together after all of these years

Through the pain and losses, you’ve aways been here.
Chorus: 

You’re my angel that comforts and guides through the pain

You’re my rainbow that comes out after the rain.

You’re my grace and forgiveness when I know I’ve done wrong 

And honey, you are the heart of my song.  
Verse:

We stood at the altar so long ago

Without a clue of how life would go

But we said us some vows before God and friends

That we’d stick together till our live’s end. 
For better or worse, through sickness and pain

Whether rich or poor, we’ve survived the strain

Now our children are grown, and we’ve grown too

And I want you to know, I still love you. 
Chorus: 

You’re my angel that comforts and guides through the pain

You’re my rainbow that comes out after the rain.

You’re my grace and forgiveness when I know I’ve done wrong 

And honey, you are the heart of my song.  

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Daddy, Do You Love Me? 

I’ve been so empty since the divorce,
My world’s been torn in two.
While you screamed at each other with such nasty words,
I didn’t know what I should do.

Now the fighting is over
And my world’s in tatters
I feel like a puzzle
Who’s pieces are scattered.

Daddy, do you love me?
I know you love your new wife
And your new baby girl,
But lately I’m not a part of your world
Daddy do you love me?

Am I nothing more than a piece from the past,
A past you deeply regret?
Am I just a memory inside of your head
That you’ve been tying to forget?
Oh Daddy, Do you love me?

 
My purpose here is not to put an additional guilt trip on those who have suffered through a divorce. I simply wish to express some thoughts from a child’s perspective. The poem was largely inspired by a girl who was recently placed in my care who came up to me one night and asked me, “Do you think my father loves me?” She is going through what I went through as a child. Parents divorce, then they remarry. Parents usually don’t even consider the pain the children go through in the whole ordeal. But I can tell you from personal experience, a child doesn’t always feel welcomed into the new family arrangement. There is severe pain in a child’s heart when he no longer feels welcome inside his own family. That pain usually expresses itself in bad behavior and defiance.

The sense of rejection only worsens when the adults decide they can no longer tolerate the misbehavior and remove the child from the home by sending him with the other biological parent or to some other placement. As a child, that was my circumstance. I was passed back and forth between my parents, then to other relatives, and eventually I was placed in the state’s care. I think both of my parents loved me, but they couldn’t allow me to ruin their new family situation. There are countless children facing this same scenario. Usually, the children are considered incorrigible when in fact, they are in pain and as time goes on the situation only gets worse. The children often seek to fill the void with drugs and friends who also feel the same sense of rejection.

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To My Mother

mom and meI wrote this poem during the winter of 1992-93 while I was living in Hull, IA. I came across it last week when I was picking up a couple items from the house where mom has lived since I was a teenager. She’s now living in a retirement home in Bettendorf, IA, and most of her possessions have been sold off. She is going through a difficult time right now with severe anxiety and uncontrollable diabetes. I feel like she is suffering and I have no idea how to help.  I’m now hundreds of miles away and it is doubtful that I’ll be able to see her much more during this life. Through all that we’ve been through in this life, the good as well as the bad, I just hope I was some how able to communicate to her just how much I loved her.

When I was young you held my hand
And Walked beside me to help me to stand.
You kept me clean, sheltered, and warm;
And would give your life to keep me from harm.

As I grew older. I remember you there
When my heart was broken, you showed me you cared
I cried on your shoulder when I was down;
And you were there to pick me up off the ground.

Later on there were times I’m sure that you felt
I was not using all the cards I was dealt.
And all the time that I brought you much shame
When you wondered if I was using my brain.

Many times in life I have failed
But your love and your trust always prevailed.
You gave me the courage to believe in myself.
Even though I was doubted by everyone else.

It is only natural to look back–now as a man
Back to the times when you held my hand.
The love you’ve shown me throughout my life
I now can pass down to my child and wife.

I look up to you now,
perhaps more than ever.
For you held my hand for a little while
But you’ll hold my heart forever.

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A Trucker’s Christmas


It’s the night before Christmas

And out on the road

The only truckers left

Are the ones who can’t make it home.
The CB is quiet as miles roll by

Sometimes it’s so lonely one may even cry.

But there’s freight to move and money to earn

The bills can’t get paid if those wheels don’t continue to turn.
There won’t be any gifts or holiday cheer

No laughter or games, cause nobody is here.

They may find a restaurant, where they’ll sit alone

Wishing that some how they could be home.

There’s no children to hug, no dog to pet

It’s just an empty truck with a small empty bed.

So for all the truckers still out on the road

Our prayers are with you, that you can be home.

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Prayer and Human Rights

prayer & flag

I found this first poem when I was living in Mena, AR. It was written by a little girl and it was praised by many Christians at that time in support school prayer. I wrote a response poem back then, but I didn’t post it because I know what a sensitive issue it is among my friends and family.

I am not against school prayer, but I am against the government promoting a particular religion above another,  even if that religion is my own. There has been a great deal of harm done over the years in the name of God. If I expect my own religious views to be respected, I must be able to give equal respect to others.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104×5235247

Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.

If Scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.
Our hair can be purple, orange or green,
That’s no offense; it’s a freedom scene.
The law is specific, the law is precise.
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.

For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all
In silence alone we must meditate,
God’s name is prohibited by the state.

We’re allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.
They’ve outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.

We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the ‘unwed daddy,’ our Senior King.
It’s “inappropriate” to teach right from wrong,
We’re taught that such “judgments” do not belong.

We can get our condoms and birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.

It’s scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school’s a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot; My soul please take!
Amen

My Response:

Now I sit me down in school
Where public prayer’s against the rule
The reason that this nation’s great
Is separation of church and state

Public schools can’t spout one creed
It’s not their place in prayer to lead
For if teachers in the public schools
de-cide which religion rules

Do you really think they could agree
There are teachers of all faiths, you see.
The law is specific, the law is right.
God needs no government oversight

No one wants to stop school prayer
And Christian leaders be aware
Those who insist in prayer to lead,
see Matthew 6, it’s a good read.

Remember when, in times gone by
the teachers prayed to God on high
back then schools were lily white
those colored folk were not in sight

Ah, times were better way back then
God fearing people didn’t sin
The KKK would quote the bible
Jim Crow ruled, no one was liable

Back then in the good ol’ days
Teachers often were old maids
See, married women just weren’t hired
And married teachers heard ‘you’re fired.’

Until the twentieth century
Women were just property
A woman’s place was in the home
Barefoot and pregnant (not alone)

In old, old days so bright and sunny
The rule of thumb protected mummy
Wife beating with a stick too big
Was under law prohibited.

Back then, in the good ol’ days
Poor children worked ten hour days
School was for the privileged few
After all, it was their due

So these rants for public prayer
Free citizens all should beware.
Wise founding fathers did forsee
No future in theocracy

Official prayer in public halls
Really does divide us all
In silence when we meditate
I thank my Lord there’s no church-state.
Amen.

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I walk in your shadow by Ray Mancini

This is one of my favorite poems about the influence a man has on his son. It was written for Father’s Days back in 1976. Ray Mancini was a great boxer and the son of a boxer. The movie “The Good Son” was about his life.

I watch every step that this man takes,
I listen to every sound that this man makes,
I touch every part of this mans face,
I hold this mans body when we embrace, 

I cry every tear that this man cries,
I try every task that this man tries,
I keep every memory that this man keeps,
I leap every mountain that this man leaps. 

I love you dad and I really want you to know,
I wanna be like you and walk in your shadow.
I wanna be like you and live with your great name,
for I am this mans son and I will never bear him shame.

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Lost Boy by Ruth B

ruth bAs a 51 year old man surrounded by a bunch of adolescent children, I rarely share their taste in music. However, the teenagers have turned me onto one song that I find quite moving: Lost Boy by Ruth B. I imagine most of the people reading my blog have never heard of this song or the artist. Yet, for young people living in a children’s home there seems to be an universal appeal. They all seem to like it, and when it is played conversations stop, and with reverence rarely seen among children everybody sings along like some sort of solemn ritual. It’s a new song by an artist who was virtually unknown until recently. I believe this is the first song she has written. It is a simple piano ballad with no embellishments whatsoever. Yet, this song has come out of nowhere and is climbing the charts in several genres. Why? I imagine the song will appeal to people in different ways but there is almost certainly certain elements we can all relate to.

Loneliness 

There was a time when I was alone
Nowhere to go and no place to call home
My only friend was the man in the moon
And even sometimes he would go away, too  

The opening words to the song are the most heart-wrenching. I think they really appeal to our young people here. Childhood is a very insecure time for anyone, but when you take away the security of the family due to divorce, poverty, abuse, or drugs, a child can feel very isolated and alone. These children sing the words because they have lived the words.

The truth is, we have all lived these words. Out of all the painful things I have endured through life loneliness is the most dreaded. It’s one thing to be alone, it’s another thing to be lonely. I think we all benefit from times of solitude, but loneliness is another matter. Loneliness is that feeling of insignificance. It’s feeling like nobody knows you or cares to know you. There’s nobody to turn to without feeling like you are being a burden. It is a despairing feeling that has driven many to make all sorts of sacrifices even taking their own lives to escape the feeling. We need people. Those who have gone through loneliness usually feel a great deal of sympathy for those going through it.   Perhaps that is why the opening lines command such silence and even reverence.

Acceptance

Then one night, as I closed my eyes,
I saw a shadow flying high
He came to me with the sweetest smile
Told me he wanted to talk for awhile
He said, “Peter Pan. That’s what they call me.
I promise that you’ll never be lonely.”

For me, the reference to Peter Pan and the lost boys is really a secondary theme. I think the song is really about finding acceptance (real or imagined). I think it is quite appropriate that the video of the song is nothing more than a woman and a keyboard in a completely vacant room. It’s sadness, yet just like the rays of sunshine pouring through the windows there is hope. Acceptance is sometimes rare and highly treasured. I think we crave more than just friendship. I think what we really crave is know that even if all our flaws were known, there would be some people who still loved us for what we are and not what we pretend to be. Perhaps the only place where such a place exist is in our own imagination.

As we soared above the town that never loved me
I realized I finally had a family
Soon enough we reached Neverland
Peacefully my feet hit the sand
And ever since that day…

When we are experiencing rejection especially from people closest to us, we all must be capable of finding hope. It guess that is what Neverland is to me. We can soar above all the negativity when we can envision a place where people can accept us for what we are. Isn’t this something we all crave. A place where we can walk in and everybody knows us and is glad we are there.

“Run, run, lost boy,” they say to me,
“Away from all of reality.”

Sometimes all we can do is run away from the negative circumstances of life. I think this is why so many truly troubled people find solace in the arts. Writing poems, songs, stories, or even blogs give people a peace of mind they can’t seem to find otherwise. The ability to express yourself through pictures, painting, music, or any other use of the imagination might be the best thing for survival.

Faith

He sprinkled me in pixie dust and told me to believe
Believe in him and believe in me

There may be times when all of us need a little pixie dust to restore our faith in ourselves. Each failure, each rejection is another blow to a person’s self esteem. Quite often we forget our successes, but we rarely forget our failures. Too many failures and we may identify ourselves as a failure. It’s hard to get up when you keep getting knocked down. How refreshing it is when people believe in our abilities even when we can’t believe in ourselves. That is the very thing we need to lift us up.

To me a good song is one that touches our hearts, and lifts our spirits. Lost Boys definately does that.

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