The Dance

Much Beckstead history is related to this song. When I hear it, I am carried back to days gone by. We lost three important pieces of the family puzzle within about four years. My husband’s nephew, brother and father all left us prematurely. We named our son after all of them, in a way. (Riley is Ryan and Billy combined, and his middle is a family name.) This family is not strangers to loss and hard times. At each funeral the song, “The Dance,” by Garth Brooks was played.

The haunting, yet beautiful, beginning and ending measures of solitary piano notes mean love and loss to me. It is difficult to hold the water works due to the history it encompasses for me. I adore the message of this song.

The other day I heard it on the radio and back washed the memories of those beloved, but I also possess a new perspective of this song post-stroke.

I am truly happy it wasn’t sung for me in August 2016. (I can’t lie!) I have experienced loss though. Loss for my former life. Loss for what could’ve been. Loss for over a year of the everyday times I missed with my family.

What would I have done if I was aware this event was coming? How would I have prepared? What would’ve I appreciated more? Would I have cleaned the house more or spent an increased amount of time expressing my love. (Would I have ridden a bull named Fumanchu? Wrong song.) But my attention might have been elsewhere. I could have missed “the dance.” So many wonderful times I experienced before… 

I believe it’s more advantageous I didn’t comprehend what the future held. But if I could have changed it, would I have? (Well, yeah!) But looking back on the things I have learned, the actual wisdom I now possess, the awesome people I have met, the dear friends who have reached out to me and grown closer, the unbelievably kind acts of service given to me and my family, the home remodel I’ve wanted for years (a big-time honey-do,) the heartfelt “I love you’s” spoken, the incredibly loyal and capable husband I rediscovered, and the faith, hope, and sheer will I have acquired, or enhanced – I wonder. 

Did this great tragedy shape who I am now? Is this my ultimate test? (How long will it last? I am seriously over it.) But I understand I don’t get to pass go and collect two hundred dollars. I won’t receive a free pass through the pearly gates. I still must continue to endure and genuinely be a good person throughout my life.

The moral to this story – Live each day to the fullest. Be “the king,” and take charge of your life. Grab life by the horns, and hold on tight. With the sour comes the sweet. See the good in each and every one of your trials.

“I could’ve missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss – the – dance.”

Doin’ Fine

Last weekend, I went to Lauren Alaina’s concert at Cherry Peak (a newer ski resort above Richmond.) It is definitely fall. It was exremely cold! She was the American Idol, Season 10 runner up in 2011. Her music is a fabulous mix of rock and country. Lauren has a genuine and kind heart, and writes many of her own songs, including, “Doin’ Fine.”

As I sat bundled up in my cocoon, this song struck a chord with me. Good thing I was wearing a hoodie to hide my face, because I cried through the entire song! (Like sobbing.) I’ve heard it before, but this time it meant so much more.

Even though the song is written about the divorce of her parents, it is also about being broken and an attempt at healing. In the chorus she sings, “I’m not okay, but I’m gonna be alright.” (I totally know the feeling.) Time doesn’t cure all inner wounds, but it does dull them and help them not to sting as much. We need to keep our hearts ‘wide open’ so we can feel love and gratitude for all those who care for us. Closed hearts shut people out, which is never advantageous. She refers to ‘growing pains’ in the song. At first I was confused as I took that literally, but it dawned on me that as we endure the pain and rough times, we grow. (So true!) Blame is our initial gut reaction, but through prayer and the grace (love) of God we can grow much closer to the point of healing. We all have tough times, and we might even hide the heartache and cry in private. Even though we are still hurting, things could be much worse, and you can honestly say, “I’m doin’ fine.”

My father instructed me many years ago that most people ask, “How are you?” in conversation. “Fine” is the correct answer. They are being courteous, and don’t really want to hear about your ingrown toenail or your bout of diarrhea. (Nowadays they call it TMI, Too Much Information.) This has occurred to me plenty of times in the past year. I am happy to truthfully say, “I have no pain, and I’m fine.”

I might be broken, wheelchair bound, and taking about 20 pills a day, but I’m alive and fine.

How Can I Keep From Singing?

I invited a good friend of mine to guest author this post. I admire her lovable attitude and resilient personality! Meet Anna Sisson… A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sing in church with my mother. My mother has a beautiful voice, and I have always aspired to sing like her. However, that is not my greatest talent, but that doesn’t stop me from singing. When I was looking for what to sing, I discovered a song entitled just that, “How Can I Keep From Singing.” I was somewhat familiar with a version from Enya that I listened to as a teenager. Though this version had somewhat of a different vibe. In fact, the fourth verse had entirely different lyrics. 

Here are the lyrics from the the original author, Robert Wadsworth Lowry, who was an American Baptist minister in the late 1800’s.

My life flows on in endless song;

Above earth’s lamentation,

I hear the sweet, tho’ far-off hymn

That hails a new creation;

Thro’ all the tumult and the strife

I hear the music ringing;

It finds an echo in my soul—

        How can I keep from singing?

What tho’ my joys and comforts die?

The Lord my Saviour liveth;

What tho’ the darkness gather round?

Songs in the night he giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm

While to that refuge clinging;

Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,

          How can I keep from singing?

I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;

I see the blue above it;

And day by day this pathway smooths,

Since first I learned to love it,

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

A fountain ever springing;

All things are mine since I am his—

          How can I keep from singing?

I love how the words don’t mask the fact that life can be hard! But I also love the fact that the words encourage us to rise above the hard times and listen to what brings us hope and peace.

It is so easy to become bitter when things don’t go as planned, or when debts are high, jobs fail, and children disobey or when health gets in the way! Yet, when we remember the many blessings we do have and give thanks, we can rise above and never stop singing praises for our Lord Jesus Christ!

My mother and I may have not had a perfect performance that day, but I am content with the message we shared. It was is to never lose hope or sight of what is most important. Cling to Him with all our might, and of course to never never stop singing!!!!!!

By Anna Sisson (She did a great job, didn’t she? I am uplifted!)

 My favorite version, by SheDaisy.

VJust Be Held – 6/27/17

I really adore this song! Casting Crowns is an incredible gospel group. It’s about a broken time in our lives, and what we need to do for peace. It reminds us we are not alone in our struggles. We are ‘held‘ by The One that loves us the most. I imagine if you saw my footsteps in the sand, you would see one set, because I know I am being carried. 

“Life hits you out of nowhere, and barely leaves you holding on…” (Wow, I can relate!) There were no signs of this stroke occurring, and we were all most assuradely thrown for a loop! (Well it felt that way!) I’m sure that happens, to some extent, to all of us.

“Chained by your control…” I feel so out of control, but the only things I can control are my devotion to Him, my attitude, and my drive to never surrender. Not being able to move about alone really does feel like shackles and chains. You are dependent and trapped. Not able to do much alone, you must wait on other people’s timetables. That’s a hard thing for the independent will that I possess. (Really hard!)

“When you’re on your knees on and answers seem so far away…” Even though I can’t get on my knees, I have said many heartfelt prayers for me and family. When the answers do seem unobtainable, and I feel as though I will never discover them. That’s when I am touched by the Spirit and told in my heart that we are definitely being ‘held‘ and loved. I must let go of the misconception that I’m in charge and humble myself before Him. There is freedom in this action. A peace of mind.

Casting Crowns is a wonderful inspirational group. The whole “Thrive” album doesn’t let you down. One of my other favorites is “Heroes.” Krystal, my daughter, introduced me to it, and we sang it a couple years ago on July Fourth. (Love the harmony.) I also recommend a holiday classic reinvisioned by Casting Crowns, “I Heard the Bells.”

“Your world’s not falling apart it’s falling into place…” Right now, it might seem hopelessly tragic, but when the storm clouds break and the sun comes out it will be alright.  (Would the rain stop already?) I do have my mind and my heart. They tell me this will be okay. When my 20/20 hindsight kicks in, I will see the big picture. It might happen in the afterlife, but I know it will happen for you and me. I guess this song boils down to faith and trust. Sometimes you gotta let go of the constant worries and just let faith take over. 

The thought of Him holding me in His arms comforts me. I know when I do reach heaven it will happen. We will have a wondrous reunion. I will “be held.”

Consider the Lilies – 6/20/17

As part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches the people who have gathered around. In Matthew 6, He is telling them that God loves and provides for everyone in His own way. Verse 28 says, “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, (it’s a parable) how they grow; they toil not, nor do they spin.” 

There are many theories regarding this verse. But I learned spinning thread was a large task of daily life at this time, and He was referring to wildflowers in general, which are mainly purple in that region. Jesus always spoke in terms the masses would understand. He was endeavoring to teach the people of God’s unconditional love for flowers in the field, birds in the air, sheep in the meadow, and all the way up to us. He blesses those “lilies” with sunlight, nutrients in the soil, and rain from the sky. (They don’t do much, just grow.) But if He cares for such inane objects and gives them beauty (for nothing,) how much more do you think He cares for His spirit children?  

Part of the song goes: “He feeds the lambs in His fold (we are the lambs,) And He will heal those who trust him, And make their hearts as gold.” I venture to say our trials, big or small, are hard for our Heavenly Father to watch. (Just like a parent begrudgingly utilizes tough love.) But we agreed to come to earth, and be tested. (We signed up for this.) Some tests are more difficult than others. That’s how we grow, and become valuable, like gold. That’s how we prove ourselves to Him. Our Heavenly Father blesses each one of us according to our needs. We all get certain blessings and others are added based on our dedication (and trust) in Him and His Son like healing, for example.

There were early inspirational versions based on this scripture, but this song’s lyrics were written in 1980 by a gospel singer through the Spirit and out of appreciation. Roger Hoffman, the songwriter, explains his feelings toward the song, “This is the way of the Master. He tells us plainly that he has given us weakness to bring us to him. When we come unto him, he teaches, counsels, and heals us, replacing evil with good, pouring himself into us, a spiritual transfusion where his light replaces our darkness. The light he has put into us works its way through everything we know and feel and draws us to yet greater light.” (Heavy, but I believe it.) The Mormon Tabernacle choir has embraced this song and sing it often. I think it’s the best version.

I know that the wonderful blessings I am given come from God, our Heavenly Father. The lilies are blessed. The birds are blessed. And we are truly blessed. 

I have looked around myself and understand the tender mercies in my behalf, and I am humbled by the great love He has for me. (I suggest you look and see your blessings, too.)

I will always appreciate and adore this song. (And I will never gaze upon lilies the same way again!)

Never Gonna Let You Down – 6/13/17

“Never Gonna Let You Down” is an up beat song by Colbie Calliat that just makes you feel incredible! I love her, and her songs are so inspiring. It’s message is of loyalty, love and hope. (Just what I need to hear!) This song makes me reminiscent of so many people in my life. It amazing and humbling that so many of my friends and family really stepped up and supported us through love and by deed when times were (are) hard. 

This song also holds inherent meaning to me. Two years ago, my four daughters and I performed this song at the Lewiston Fourth of July festivities in the park. I will always cherish our time practicing and performing. It is a fabulous memory I will hold onto forever. Isn’t music great for recalling memories? (You bet your sweet checks!)

Gethsemane – 6/6/17

Gethsemane took on a new meaning to me after the stroke. I began to truly see just a bit of the agony Christ endured that night as he prayed alone in proxy for us and agonized in that garden. Imagine one person’s pain, suffering, and sins a trillion times over! (Actually I can’t imagine.) He is my trusted friend who truly understands, because He’s been through it all.

For Easter, I gave my children this picture of a stained glass window in the Paris, France temple on a small canvas. On the back, I typed my testimony of Gethsemane and of my faith. I hope it is cherished. (It holds a special meaning to me.)

Claire Ryan has the sweetest little voice. Whoever coaches her, has taught the art of infusing feeling into the songs. The first time I heard this song was the primary children singing it in sacrament meeting, and I cried like a baby. It’s really a touching song. You can feel the love He has for us!