Turn It Up!

One of my greatest delights is standing between my children in church and hearing their sweet voices join mine in worship. Now before you get the wrong idea, my two little ones are experts at disturbing these idyllic moments.

The truth is, it’s not unusual for me to lose a child during the worship time. Eventually, I notice one is missing and start glancing around; someone behind me usually catches my searching eye and points under a seat somewhere down the row. I smile my thanks and bend over to remove my child from under the seat and return to singing only to get tapped on the arm by the seven year old asking what does that or this word mean, you know, weird words like “hosanna” and “worthy.” It’s delightful that she wants to know, but this is like the seventh time she’s asked. I once again return to singing and soon realize the five year old is now lying in the middle of the aisle, I whisper loudly to her, “someone’s going to step on your head.” I silently blame myself for forgetting to bring a coloring page and crayon packet once again. At last I hand the little one the pen and “welcome card” from the pocket in the seat in front of her to entertain her.

I wouldn’t change it.

singingNo, mine are most definitely not the perfectly dressed in their Sunday best little girls with white tights and bows in their hair. Mine are the children who look like they dressed themselves (they did) and I am the mom licking my thumb to remove dried icing from the little one’s cheek before she exits for Sunday School – and yes she got it on there by clandestinely licking the icing off her big sister’s cinnamon roll before church. This child seriously needs Jesus.

But it is those brief moments of unified voices in praise with my girls beside me that I cherish. A combined 120 seconds of that? I’ll take it. Joyfully.

Three years ago my daughters and I stepped onto a plane with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We flew across oceans and continents from one country to another. The first six months in the US are still a blur. The girls were not yet in school. The younger two children did not even speak English and the older two were barely bi-lingual. They could not read. They could not write.

But they could listen.

Almost from our first day in the US we listened to a Christian radio station and we learned every song. I consider it the number one most healing influence in our life at that time. Even today, it is all we listen to in the car.

The other day I borrowed my dad’s car to drive my daughter to the dentist. His car’s dial is set to Sports Radio. That, of course, was unacceptable. As I was driving I scanned through the channels, trying to find something a ten year old might like. After about ten minutes of skipping from song to song she said, “Mom, can we put on our regular station?” Gladly.

We might not have a wide variety of songs in our repertoire but there are few things in this life that give me as much pleasure as listening to the sound of my children singing worship songs in the car and hearing them say,

“Turn it up, Mom, this is my favorite one.”

Copyright © Rebecca Onkar, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally written for Moms of Faith®.

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The Story Behind Makes the Song So Good

It’s no secret that I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, a poem written during the Civil War by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is my favorite Christmas carol.

The history and background of the poem/song can be found all over the internet, but there is a nice description here.

In light of current events and the climate in the US, and around the world today, the words to this poem still resonate strongly.


I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!


“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,…”

True words written by a man who knew true sorrow.Henry_Wadsworth_Longfellow,_photographed_by_Julia_Margaret_Cameron_in_1868

I offer you words of HOPE this Christmas.

God is not dead.

An Open Letter – The Christmas Shoes Song

An open letter to the writers, producers and every radio station that plays – The Christmas Shoes song.

tcs

I’m not really sure what exactly an “open letter” is, but I feel compelled to write one anyway. They say, “Be the Change you want to see.” Well, I don’t know how that relates to me writing this letter – but I do hope to make my voice heard.

Much has been said about the Christmas (thank the Lord, it’s just Christmas) song, The Christmas Shoes. Articles, Facebook statuses, tweets… But I, too, have something to say:

If every single solitary person in the whole entire world* HATES this song, why play it?

Have you somehow deceived yourselves into believing that it’s a good song? Do you think that people really like it? If so, who would these (insane) people be? Honestly, I’m just going to say it, the song is not good on any level.

Let’s step aside from the lyrics for a moment and simply focus on the music – Compelling? I don’t think so. Catchy? – it’s about as catchy as leprosy (i.e. – not a lot of people get it stuck in their heads, but those who do, would rather be dead. I don’t think I’m stepping over the line or exaggerating here.)

Now let’s take a look at the lyrics for a moment. In all fairness, I will force myself to look up the lyrics and copy some of them here in this letter. I. Do. Not. Want. To. Do. This. Like, gynecological & dental appointments are way, way higher on the list of things I’d rather do right now than allow the lyrics of The Christmas Shoes to invade my eyeballs – but I will take a deep breath and visualize warm beaches with my loved ones/a handsome, single man in his forties around me and I will get through it.

The Christmas Shoes (excerpts)

I wanna buy these shoes

For my mama. please

It’s Christmas eve and these shoes are just her size

Could you hurry sir

Daddy says there’s not much time

You see,

She’s been sick for quite a while And I

know these shoes will make her smile And I

Want her to look beautiful

If mama meets Jesus tonight

I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love as he thanked me and ran out

I knew that God had sent me that little boy to remind me what Christmas is all about

(Deep breath. Happy place, happy place…)

So, the gist of the song seems to be: the little boy wants to buy his mom some shoes for Christmas because she is on her deathbed and he thinks she, or Jesus, are actually going to be concerned about her footwear when she meets Him in heaven. Apparently, the singer of the song believes that footwear in Heaven is really important too, since, according to him that is what Christmas is all about.

I’m kind of at a loss about where to go with this letter. You see, if I have to explain to you why this song is HORRIBLE, then I fear you are incapable of comprehending  the horridness of it. However, I will press on – in all honestly, The Christmas Shoes song has become my own personal Nemesis.

I need you, dear sirs, (I assume you are all men) to understand that this song should be burned to ashes and never be played again. It would also be nice if you would kindly offer psychological counseling to every person who has ever had the misfortune of hearing it.

I’m not asking for much. I do hope you read this open letter. I write it with humor, but in all seriousness, this song is unacceptable. It is upsetting. Ridiculous. UnChristmasy. And really, just bad. It needs to stop.

I would love to hear back from you – specifically the radio stations who choose to play it. As an artist, sure, feel free to write whatever you want, but radio station people, please, PLEASE stop the torture. The destruction of The Christmas Shoes song would totally remind me what Christmas is all about. Let’s make 2014 the last year for The Christmas Shoes; the shoes need to be buried.

Sincerely,

Actually, Honestly and Truly Scarred for Life

PS – Any press is not good press. We write about The Christmas Shoes because it is an atrocity that Must Be Stopped.

***

The Christmas Shoes

Writer(s): Leonard Ahlstrom, Eddie Carswell
Copyright: Sony/ATV Songs LLC, Jerry’S Haven Music, WB Music Corp.

(I put this up for copyright reasons – but if you would like to send them heartfelt notes of why you HATE this song too, please do.)

* (minus the people to whom I am addressing this letter, but maybe you hate it too.)

If you hate this song – please do comment; let’s make our voices heard.

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With Love, Speaking for The People, Rebecca W. Onkar

The Moment That I Lose My Love for Humanity

bird tree

Fact: If people learned how to drive there would be a lot less traffic.

Oh my. Cars. Are. (gulp) Merging.

What? There is a…shoe on the side of the road? Whatever should we do?

The road appears to curve ahead! Woe. Is. Me. Woe.

This is the moment where I pretty much lose all my love for humanity.

What did it? Traffic and the bad drivers that create it.

These traffic nightmares usually happen during long drives on the highway when I really just want to get there. You know – there. Wherever there may be. Home, usually. To make matters worse, my regular radio station tends to be out of range in these remote places and so in between slowing down to a full stop for no reason other than there appears to be a large bird sitting in a tree next to the highway, I must lean over to continually push the seek button on my ancient car’s radio. The love may be gone, but I still harbor a teensy bit of hope that I might find something pleasing to listen to as the precious moments of my life drain away.

It’s usually in these moments where I have lost all my love for humanity that I’ll catch myself singing along to every word of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” even though I haven’t heard it since at least the 1990’s. Madonna, of course, reminds me of walking around my house at 11 years old belting out the words to “Like a Virgin” at the top of my lungs and not having a clue what it meant.

Eventually, my nineteen year old brother got annoyed and told my mom what I was singing. I don’t remember what mom did but for some reason the memory of little Rebecca belting out “like a virgin, touched for the very first time” while strolling around the familial homestead, is suddenly hysterical, and just like that, my love for humanity is restored.

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Turn it up!

music

God used music to heal us.

Every Saturday and Wednesday my articles are featured on Moms of Faith – Mom blog, but you don’t have to be a mom to visit, no one will check you at the door for mom parts. 😉

Over there you’ll find a different side of me than is usually present here at clothedwithJoy and it’s been a growing experience for me to push myself in this way.

This week I’ve written about music, worship and the healing that it has brought our family. Check it out at the link provided here – “Turn It Up, Mom!”

Thanks! – Rebecca