Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Then He Smiled At Me

Repost from December 14, 2005

The Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simeone Chorale is one of my favorite Christmas songs. It started to play in the car today on a burned disc I made of some Christmas favorites. When the brummm brummm brummm started I turned up the volume, but Katie grimaced and expressed disinterest in this song.

I was puzzled, how could this be? I said "whaaat? This is one of my favorites and I can't listen to it and not tear up!" I decided Katie must not get out of this song what I do, so I decided to explain it to her and maybe give her some insight and perspective she has not considered before. After I was done, she admitted that she now hears the song differently and wants to hear it again!

While the song played, I would stop the player now and then to emphasize the lyric and what it means...what it means to me. (I don't know if how I interpret the song has anything to do with the author's/composer's inspiration or thought that was meant to convey, but it is what I get out of the song. This is solely my own interpretation.)

Come, they told me (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
A new-born King to see (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
Our finest gifts we bring (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
To lay before the King (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum)
So to honor Him (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
When we come

Baby Gesu (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I am a poor boy, too (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I have no gift to bring (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
That's fit to give a King (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum)
Shall I play for you (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
On my drum?

Mary nodded (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
The ox and lamb kept time (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I played my drum for Him (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I played my best for Him (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum)
Then, He smiled at me (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
Me and my drum
The first verse of the song basically sets the stage and this young boy was told that these people were traveling to see a newborn baby who would someday be a king. People are bringing all sorts of gifts to honor him.

Now this is when the song gets really interesting!

"Baby Gesu, I am a poor boy too, I have no gift to bring that's fit to give a king" The kid identifies with the babe because he sees Him as "poor". He's born in a stable, wrapped in cloth amongst the beasts of burden, and it's cold. The boy probably thinks that this kid is in need of some of the gifts that are being given to him, yet, because he is a "poor boy too", he didn't bring anything. He didn't bring anything at all that would be worthy to give a king. I wonder, was the boy embarrassed? Was he curious as to what the fuss was all about? Maybe he felt somewhat self-conscious that all these people were there bearing gifts, and he had not one thing to give. Did the boy feel ashamed? Unworthy perhaps? Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever feel unworthy..unfit to see the King?

Imagine that...having nothing to give Him. We do have NOTHING to give Him that He has not already given everything to us! But, there is one thing we can give Him. The one thing we can give to God that He doesn't first give to us is praise and worship. So, the boy stands before the baby in a manger, with no gift to give Him, and asks him "shall I play for you on my drum?"

I had to stop the player at this point! Think about this...The kid says he has "nothing", but he has everything God has gifted him with. The kid plays a mean drum! So, what does he do with the gift God gave him? He gives it right back to God! I LOVE THAT! God gave us all gifts...we are supposed to give them back to Him! It is called worship!

I restart the song where we left off. So now what is the answer? Can he play his drum? Here is this tired mother who just hours ago gave birth to a seven pound, ten ounce baby (Obgyn 1:1) and here comes this dirty, poor, young boy asking to play a drum. It is quiet. The babe is resting, the mother is still and kindly accepting the gifts coming to him from the respectful visitors, the animals are hushed and the night is still. All that is heard is the crackle of the fire warming the area and casting a flickering, dim light on the people, and here comes a boy and a DRUM! A drum! I'm sure Mary was thrilled with the idea of him banging a drum! Imagine a kid coming to play a drum at the next baby shower you attend! Drums are not usually welcome at those events! LOL

The next verse is one verse that blows me away...Mary nodded. This is a nod of affirmation from a tender-hearted mother, and then the boy begins to play. Creation joined in when The ox and lamb kept time. (Psalm 96:9 "Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.") The moment was filled with praise and worship because one young boy played his drum, offering the gift God gave him back to His Lord. The Little Drummer Boy was the first worship leader!

I played my drum for Him, I played my best for Him! That's all the kid knew to do! He gave it his everything too and here is where the music really begins to crescendo. The animals have joined in, the people bearing gifts are listening and clapping maybe and tapping their feet to the sound of the drum. The music continues to build to an intense climax and then the drumming stops. It ends suddenly with a decrescendo, a brummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm that fades away into silence. The little drummer boy stops playing.

Now the great pause!

Silence...for just a moment.

What transpires in that moment? The boy has just offered his best performance on his drum. Was it enough? Was it enough to please the king...the tiny baby lying before him? There is anticipation in the air...the animals are quiet, the gift-bearing crowd is awaiting the next moment, wondering if the boy's gift of drumming had any impact at all? Everyone is still and quiet waiting for happen next. Then....

(slightly slower tempo here to contrast the climax of the drummer's offering.)

He smiled at me,

Me and my drum.

That's the line that gets me every time! I can hardly listen and not have tears well up.

"Well done my good and faithful servant" is what that says to me!

The Little Drummer Boy is such an impacting story to me, and I enjoy the vocal interpretation by the Harry Simeone Chorale to help convey the tenderness, majesty, mercifullness and joy of this story. We come to the Lord with all we have, which without Him, is nothing. We deserve nothing. Yet, he gives. He gives us all we have. He gave us His One and Only Son, who died and was raised. We praise Him for that. We worship Him. We are to worship Him with everything that He gave us...our heart, soul, mind and strength! And a drum...or whatever else He has gifted you with! When you do that...He will smile at you. So, play your drum!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another Black Friday in Retail

I made it! I made it through another "Black Friday"...this was my 12th Black Friday in a row, and it was just about the one that took me down! Whew! What a day!

I don't know why it seemed so overwhelming today. We were organized, had a plan in place, we were ready! We were psyched! We were running on adrenaline! SUUUURGE! Then the doors opened and whooooooooooooooooosh! People everywhere!

It was like a tsunami!

We were all being pulled in eighteen different directions at once! It was almost comical how crazy it was! I love it!

Black Friday shoppers are pretty experienced about this annual craziness so customers for the most part were patient and understood when we ran out of items, and for that I am thankful.

So, after all that, business drops off to almost normal in about 3 hours. So, why on earth do retailers year after year open so early? Spending the extra labor and time when really all you do is shift the sales to the early part of the day? It's kind of like the shift in daylight hours for daylight savings? Maybe we need Black Friday Savings Time!?!?

Anyway, apparantly some number crunchers are gonna be watching this years Black Friday results with scrutiny.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I See Dead People - Reflections on a Funeral

I just returned home from a funeral. In this case, the salvation of the dead one was not in question, and that sure gives funerals a different "feel". It's not so a weird way.

I didn't know Betty very well, except that every time I saw her she was encouraging to me and always made me feel good. She was in and out of various SaLT Groups I was in, and I saw her sporadically at church and over the years on a women's retreat or two. Betty made it her responsibility to provide the ice cream at various SaLT gatherings, and made me feel like she did that just for me. The waffle bowls she brought one time were such a hit, that I'm still buying them myself. I guess every time I eat my ice cream in a waffle bowl, I will be reminded of Betty.

I was looking forward to our road trip that she recently asked me to join her on, to get to know her a little better, and I was also hoping for some wise counsel from her. We never went to pick up that hope chest from her aunt and now we never will. Guess God had other plans, but now she is living the hope she believed in. That's WAY better than any hope chest!

I will miss Betty, and I know many more people whose hearts are broken at her passing. I wonder if there will be that many people at my funeral? One thing is for sure though, we all rejoice in knowing that "her chains are gone, she's been set free!"Casket

(Read Betty's Obituary)

Another observation...

You know, as I leaf through pages of my address book, or even scroll my address book on the computer...I've been noticing that I still have the names of the dead in there. I see Betty's name. I see dead people's names, people I have known and loved. I won't cross them out, or delete them. I'm not sure's not like I can email, or write to them anymore...heck, half the time Betty's email bounced back to me anyway! LOL I was always harassing her about that. I guess it is just one of those things that the older I get the more dead people will be listed in my address books. Maybe I don't want to get rid of them because as I pass by them while looking for other names, there is a moment, a fleeting glimpse of how that person touched my life in some large, or small, but significant way.

What do you do with the names of dead people in your address book?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Elf Yourself

C'mon, you gotta try it!

I guarantee it will put a smile on your'll see!



I elfed me, my dad, Chief Wahoo, and Ma.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Opinions of Man

When the church is planning the next mission trip, know that you are already committed to yours.

But also know that you will go unnoticed.

When others hoard their earnings, know that you give much away.

But also know that it will be unappreciated.

When you feel selfish because you don't serve more, know that you just need a rest from all the serving you already do.

But also know that you may be judged.

When what you do is unconventional, know that it is in God's will because it serves God's purpose.

But also know that you will be falsely accused and mocked.

When you are drained from trying so hard, know that God is pleased with your effort.

But also know that man will only see your failure.

When you care for others you are reflecting the heart of God,

But also know that man will pervert it.

When you feel unnoticed, underappreciated, judged, falsely accused and mocked. When you feel like a failure and that no matter what good you do, man will only turn it into something perverse, know that it is not the opinions of man that matter.

The only opinion that matters is that of God.

And, it is His opinion that I was worth dying for.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Today was Veteran's Day.

Thank you veteran's of war...for fighting for the freedoms I enjoy as an American. Thank you families of servicemen and women for your sacrifice as well. Let us never take what you do, and have done, for granted.

Today I was honored to play "Taps" at the conclusion of the concert with the Jackson Symphonic Winds. This was not something I had planned to do, but was asked by the conductor shortly before the start of the program which was patriotically themed in honor of Veteran's Day. He came up with the idea to read the "unofficial" lyrics to taps, and then have me play it.

Taps is not a technical challenge to play, however, what makes it difficult is the fact that it is somber and it is to be played reverently. It's performance commands the attention and focus of an audience, therefore all eyes and ears are on the performer. I was humbled to perform it today.

Tonight, I received one of the best compliments on a performance I have ever received. It had to do with Taps and the email reads "...your taps gave me goose bumps."

The Wall
Day is done, Gone the sun
From the lakes, From the hills, From the sky
All is well, safely rest.
God is nigh.

Fading light, Dims the sight
And a star, Gems the sky, Gleaning bright
From afar, Drawing nigh,
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise, For our days,
Neath the sun, Neath the stars, Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.

Thank you to all veterans!

When I remember what freedom costs, it gives me goosebumps.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ain't That Cool?

I received an interesting request from someone who saw one of my pictures on, and thought I'd post the email exchange because it is pretty cool! (It has been edited for clarity)

Greetings -

I am a graphic designer with Brightwater Design, Inc, in California. We are creating a photo montage wall display depicting important sites around my client's Cleveland office. When completed, this display will be mounted within their office.

While looking for images on the web, I found one of your photos:

'Jacob's Field 5' on the flickr page:

I would like to include it in our montage. Would you be willing to sell the use of it for this display? If so, how much would it cost? You will retain all copyrights to the photo.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.


Brightwater Design, Inc.

Here is my reply to that:

I'm humbled you like the picture I took and would like to use it for the montage.

You may use the picture and instead of me accepting payment for it, I would like to ask if instead, you could donate $100 to University Hospitals of Cleveland in the memory of my aunt Patricia S. Buergin.

She retired from the hospital after having worked as a nurse there from the 1960's until 2001. She died three days after her retirement, due to cancer, and because she gave so much to me and all those she loved, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to do something meaningful in her name. She loved nursing and devoted much of her life to her patients and staff at University Hospitals of Cleveland. I also know she enjoyed catching a few games at the ball park each season!

University Hospitals of Cleveland has also treated my mom for breast cancer twice, and helped her beat it twice!

I consider Cleveland "home" and I am humbled to think a little picture I took one day while visiting home has drawn any attention at all, so I'd like to "pay it forward" if you will.

Please consider this deal and let me know if it is acceptable.

Here is a link in order to make a donation:


Susan L. Prince

...and here's what I got back on that $100 request:

Good Morning, Susan.......

Your request is irresistable........ especially since I am a breast cancer survivor myself, since 1983. The donation will be made today. It is good to "pay it forward."

................. Lois Brightwater


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Jackson Swing Orchestra

The Jackson Swing Orchestra will perform a Holiday Concert at the United Methodist Church in Jackson, TN, Sunday, December 2 at 2:30 p.m. in Clayton Hall.

Jackson Swing Orchestra

Big Band music played in the 40’s-50’s style with professional arrangements.

Can you spot me in the pic? (Back row, 5th from the left)