Freedom in Forgiveness

Forgiveness may seem a surprising subject for the Fourth of July. But somehow, this year, it seems more appropriate than ever before.

Yesterday, I watched the film version of the musical Hamilton. My daughter and I saw the traveling production last year in Tulsa. I was overwhelmed by its brilliance. Not only in the music creativity but also the messages it so powerfully portrayed.

It tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers. A life filled with tragedy I cannot begin to imagine. A past he worked to overcome. A desire to leave behind a world better than the one in which he lived.

The film version was no less powerful. I was barely able to contain my emotions through the entire production. And just as with the live show, my thoughts quickly turned to another musical, Les Miserables.

Though many similarities may be drawn between Hamilton and Les Miserables, one speaks above the rest-forgiveness. These moments in each story provide a beautiful reminder of how great the need for each of us.

There is much more to be discovered in this story-in both of these stories. But on this July 4, 2020, forgiveness seems to be the place to start. For both receiving it and giving it bring freedom.

If you have not yet seen Hamilton, it would be a perfect way to celebrate!

It's Quiet Uptown

Written by
Lin-Manuel Miranda

Alexander by Eliza’s side
She takes his hand
It’s quiet uptown
Forgiveness.
Can you imagine?

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

Beautiful Technology

I would never have thought of using those two words in the same sentence, until today. Our current state of social distancing and quarantine, however, has given me new perspectives on many things. And after my experience this afternoon, I can safely say technology can be beautiful.

It has been over ten years since I taught at the University of Tulsa. Two of my then piano students, now friends, convinced me to get a Facebook. This kind of technology was definitely new to me at that time. I was a little hesitant but soon embraced it as a way to communicate and connect.

These two girls, Sara and Grace, are now married. Grace has three precious children and Sara is expecting her first. Even though they initially helped me appreciate the usefulness of social media, I did not think of it as beautiful. Wouldn’t you know, my change of perspective involved these girls.

Today I attended a virtual baby shower via Zoom to celebrate Sara’s baby girl. Grace was one of the hosts. Was it the way we hoped to celebrate? No. We would have preferred to be physically present, giving hugs, eating cake, and drinking punch. But right now, that is not possible.

Celebrations, however, are still possible! Thanks to technology, a group of people came together. We came together to express our love for Sara, her husband, and for this precious baby who will be here soon.

We watched as Sara opened gifts that had been mailed or dropped off. We laughed and looked at baby pictures of each other. We listened as she received parenting advice given with love and wisdom. No, we were not in the same room. But our celebration was no less meaningful.

Yes, it was different from our usual traditions. Yes, I would have loved to hug my friends today. But the most important thing is for the expectant parents to feel loved and prepared to welcome their little one. And hopefully, today brought both. I’d say today was a picture of beautiful technology at work. ❤

Wedding Week

Well, it is wedding week for our son, Robert, and his fiancé, Erin. By this time next Sunday, their celebration will be added to our family album of wonderful memories. All the hard work and planning worth the outcome.

Of course, that outcome encompasses so much more than the wedding day. Yes, that day will be a beautiful reminder of a new beginning. But it’s just the beginning. There is so much more to come.

As parents, our roles are continuously transforming. Yes, we are still here to help and offer advice. But they are now adults, making their own way in this world. Walking more often beside us, instead of viewing us as the guides.

I must admit, this change brings some rollercoaster moments for me. Questions. Am I embracing my new roles with the same excitement as when I was first a parent? Am I providing enough support while giving needed space?

Truthfully, their questions are more important than mine. How do I know they have questions? Because I remember our beginning. The excitement and the uncertainties.

Right now, at this moment, I want them to know how much they are loved. And how excited we are to celebrate with them. I also want to remind not to sweat the details. It is going to be a beautiful wedding!

So, bring on the vases, lights, flowers, and music. The dress, the suit, the rings, the promises. Get ready for family and friends to surround and lift you up. Expect lots of smiles and laughter, and maybe a few tears. But most of all, enjoy your day! ❤

Come Together

When I was a child, I looked forward to visits with family. I was always asking to go next door to visit Grandma and Grandpa Mahar or walk over to Aunt Sharon’s house. I loved it when the family would visit from out of town. Everyone together, talking and laughing, catching up-all felt right with the world.

As an adult, I cherish family time even more. Through the years I have experienced the many reasons families come together. Births, deaths, graduations, weddings, funerals-No matter the situation, there is strength in being together. Whether it brings celebration or grief, each event is part of this life.

Yesterday, our family celebrated one of those happy times together-a wedding shower for our son, Robert and his fiancé, Erin. Our home was filled with family and friends, young and old, life-long and new. It was a great day!

The happy couple. ❤

We ate food together and played games. We smiled while watching Rob and Erin open gifts, thankful for all the expressions of love. We enjoyed each other’s company.

Lovely flowers thanks to my friend, Marina. 🙂

Yet, even in the celebration, there were also tears. Tears for those family members no longer with us. Thoughts of how much they would have loved the day. Thoughts of how much they are missed.

Our lives continue on, though we have no guarantee of our length of time. And we honor the memories of those who came before when we come together.

A Birthday Embrace

As I have said before, I enjoy celebrating birthdays. Whether observing my own (which happens to be tomorrow) or those of friends and family, a birthday represents so many different things.

From the moment we enter this world, that date serves to remind us of important milestones. From the one-year-old birthday party all the way to a sweet sixteen, each shows us how far we’ve come.

The celebration itself doesn’t have to be elaborate. A favorite meal and cake of your choice are nice. A simple way of saying, “Today is your day. You get to choose.” This was often the practice for me as a child. And it continued for my own children.

Singing is also a must. Hearing friends and family crooning in unison, “Happy birthday to you,” never gets old. Followed by making a wish and blowing out the candles, of course.

Celebrating my own birthday also reminds me that I am getting older. I have some new aches and pains. I see new wrinkles when looking in the mirror. But that reflection shows so much more.

Hopefully, it is a reflection that shows growth. A growth that encourages me to push through the aches and pains and look past the wrinkles.

https://pianogirlthoughts.com/2018/06/14/birthdays/

Thanks for celebrating with me as I gracefully embrace my next over-half-a-century birthday. ❤

Well, my plan is for it to be a graceful embrace anyway. 😉

A Simple Decoration

When our oldest son, Robert, graduated from high school it was easy to choose a theme for his graduation party. Music! Music had been his life for all of junior high and high school. And he was going to the University of Arkansas to study music education. I ordered a cake and found this simple music note tree centerpiece. Silver and black, covered in music notes, it was the perfect addition to the table.

Music note tree.

After the party, I put the decorations away in the closet. No thought was given to them for the next two years until Rachel graduated. Even though Rachel would study special education in college, music had been a crucial part of her secondary education as well. At first, I kind of joked, “Hey. Wonder if I still have that music decoration from Robert’s party?” Once I found it, there was no question it would once again grace the table.

I knew it would be four more years before our last high school graduation. So, as I put things away after Rachel’s party, I was determined to hold on to that centerpiece. I placed it back in the closet, in the same box.

I would sometimes see it during closet clean-outs but was careful not to throw it away. Yes, I probably could have bought another one. But it would not be the same. A new one would not have been present at the other two graduation parties.

I chuckled this morning as the music-note centerpiece was pulled from the closet. It decorated the table for its third party. This one to celebrate the high school graduation of our youngest, Ryan (also a musician) and the college graduation of our daughter, Rachel. It was a beautiful day filled with family and friends, yummy snack food, and two delicious cakes.

After the party ended, I began to think about that centerpiece. I’ll readily admit that I am often sentimental over things which others might find simple or unimportant. This particular item could easily fall under one of those categories. So, why was I so determined to save it? What did it represent?

For me, a sappy mom whose kids are growing up way too fast here’s what I came up with:

  • Importance of music in our family
  • Commitment to education
  • Celebrating accomplishments
  • Love of family and friends
  • Support of siblings

None of those things are simple or unimportant. On the contrary, they are part of what makes this life so beautiful.

Our music note centerpiece may have reached its end, but memories of the celebrations it graced will continue to make me smile. Memories of my children’s accomplishments. Memories of family and friends who love us and took time to celebrate with us. ❤