It was the perfect summer day.
Crazy over the top, hot. 106 degrees hot.
Like the kind of hot that makes you fell like you are accomplishing something just by being outside. Droplets of sweat like condensation on your forehead. Hair sticking to your neck. Sweat racing down the back of your knees. Sweaty underwear hot. Sorry just telling the truth.
Like anything out of your comfort- you get used to it. You carve out your new normal and adapt. You definitely don't let it stop you from Summer.
Yesterday evening we went to a local Farmer's Market to sweat and listen to a group called the Fresno County Youth Choir (FCYC). The FCYC is an auditioned honor group of singers aged 16-26 recruited from the from the 34 public high schools, three community colleges and two universities in Fresno County. Each summer season the practice and tour all over Fresno- anywhere from Soup Kitchens to Cathedrals and thankfully for us, even Farmer's Markets.
We stumbled onto them at this exact same place last year and we were so excited to do it all over again.
They were every bit as magical as I remembered. This time Grey stood back to absorb it all. He was overwhelmed by the crowd and the smaller space, but he loved the music. Every so often when the guitars would sound a little flap would escape his hands.
The choir's collective voices brought me to tears and gave me the chills. Not just the sound, but their heart. Their passion. The fact that they were here in the heat- singing their lungs out, sharing their gifts with us. I think some of our greatest callings in life are to be happy, and to share our gifts.
You could feel the vibration of the sound pounding in your chest. If anything the heat just helped it absorb and heal. I fully believe music is therapeutic. Don't believe me? Roll down your windows in your car, blast your favorite song and sing your lungs out. Then we can talk.
We are still discovering the benefit of music on Greyson and Parker. Individuals with autism show equal or superior abilities in pitch processing, labeling of emotions in music, and musical preference when compared to typically developing peers. The most compelling evidence supporting the clinical benefits of music therapy lies in the areas of social-emotional responsiveness and communication, including increased compliance, reduced anxiety, increased speech output, decreased vocal stereotypes, receptive labeling, and increased interaction with peers.
As I sat and watched the group I saw instruments some that I don't remembering noticing before. There was a cool little flat boxed drum called a Cajon, a violin, guitars, even a ukulele. Each sound layered gracefully on top the next. I took moments to pay attention to each one separately. Then just listened to them all swirled together.
Each one sounded perfect. I noticed the piano didn't compare itself to the guitar- wishing it was stringier or smaller. The ukulele didn't try to sound like a guitar- it seemed to enjoy sounding smooth and beachy like. Each instrument just played its little heart out and sounded exactly how it was made to sound. Each layer important. Unique. Beautiful.
We compare so often. And berate ourselves in the areas we think we fall short. When really- made we weren't just made to be that - to do that- to play like that. The more we tap into what we were actually created to play- the more we do the work of our soul. The more we feel passion for life. It's taken me so long to play the sounds I was hard wired to do. I'm still learning. We must play the music we were made to play. WE don't need to sound or look like anyone else. We must simply play.
Luckily we were able to cool off with some ice cream.
This moment shocked me and had me on the floor laughing. I expected Parker to be completely freaked out by this guy but he wasn't at all.
In fact, it was like they were old buds. Maybe Parker has a whole other life I don't know about.
My best friend, Annie and our kids- running some serious sugar off. Although we are only a couple of weeks into Summer, I'm certain last night will go down as one of my favorites.
And a little later we had the opportunity to listen to more live music in a wide open space that gave Grey room to get flappy.
THANK YOU FCYC. You make a difference.
Ever notice how good God is when things work out? Your mom's surgery went well? Praise God! You sold your house? Praise God!! Everything at the Gap is 40% off? GOD IS GOOD!
And then at the crap hard in between times we don't mention him as much. Unless it's to ask him to change something about our life. Lately I've been trying to practice gratitude on the awful parts. Seriously. It's EASY to practice gratitude when things go our way- so really- that isn't practicing. It's during the hard times that we really learn gratitude at its deepest level. A few weeks back I had this awful adult confrontation situation. Ughhh, I had to be a grown up and do the right thing. I hate that stuff. At first I was a little annoyed with God- WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS? Feeling like I mistakenly got stuck in a cross fire. And then after crying and stomping my feet I realized I was picked for this exact moment. If I didn't have this awful grown up, kind of confrontational conversation- no one would. And it was something that needed to be done. Plus I suck at confrontation, so I could probably use a little practice anyway. And I did it- and it was hard but I didn't die. I changed my tune. "Thank you God for picking me to go through this. It was important. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for helping me strengthen the places I am weak."
I've been trying it more often. Traffic. Bad stuff. Anything that doesn't go my way. I'm remembering to say GOD IS GOOD. Because it's true. And it always seems to work out in the end anyway.