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A Lent Reflection, 2017

April 22, 2017
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I observe Lent in different, non-traditional ways each year. This year I did a few small things to foster some soul-searching:

  1. I visited a different church with my family each Sunday. Mostly for a learning experience. Maybe to find out if there is actually a place out there with which I feel I can identify and maybe even belong one day. I experienced High Church services, heard sermons from female pastors and gay pastors, as well pastors that said things like, “maybe this is not what you believe, and that’s okay. It’s more than okay-it’s great. But here’s how I have interpreted this passage based on the following research, and I would love to hear what you think…” I really appreciated seeing how different people worship, meditate, find center and focus, praise, connect, and learn. But our adventure is not yet complete! There’s still a couple more places on our list we’d like to try, and a couple of places we’d like to visit for a 2nd time.
  2. I used 1 or 2 lunch breaks per week to try to read through Mike McHargue’s book Finding God in The Waves. Sadly, even though I got this book on Christmas I still have not managed to finish it. So that project is still ongoing as well. It’ not a long book, and it’s an easy read-“easy” because Mike McHargue is brilliant at communicating complex ideas in terms anyone can understand. But my life is so chaotic that I have to schedule reading time, and then force myself to sit down for 20 minutes twice/week to accomplish it… Then if I come across something I want to think about, I stop reading and let it sink in. So, it takes me forever, but I am almost finished! Just about. In what I’ve read so far, I have found tremendous hope and, quite unexpectedly, great inspiration to make mindful prayer/meditation and church a priority in my life again. He has methodically addressed every issue I’ve had with faith, church, and the Bible and has offered research-based, scientific evidence on the neurological benefits of belief, prayer, and even church.

“The Loving God affects the brain in ways that are remarkably different from The Angry God. People who focus on God’s love develop thicker, richer gray matter in their prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex. This development offers them better focus, concentration, compassion, and empathy. They have lower stress levels and lower blood pressure, and it’s easier for them to forgive themselves and others. Over time, they even show less activity in the amygdala. […] Most religions involve an understanding of God that includes both love and anger. […] I find this neuroscience comforting. First, it helps me understand what causes faith to either go wrong or become a positive force in society. It also tells me that, contrary to some claims, there’s no scientific evidence that religion is bad for people. Saying ‘religion is bad’ is a lot like saying ‘eating is bad.’ Eating can be bad, but it depends on what you eat or how much you eat. Religion can be bad, but it depends on how you view God and how attached your faith is to an authoritarian system. […] Neurotheology shows us the folly of viewing the battle between faith and skepticism as a war of ideas. More than that, it shows us that most critiques of faith tend to be about the effects of authoritarian systems built on an Angry God model. When atheists criticize oppressive religious systems, I stand with them. But to paint all faith with the same brush is to oversimplify the matter, and this view ignores the insights of neuroscientists and anthropologists who find merit in healthy spiritual expression.”

3. I used my nighttime 10-15 minutes of TV/relax time to read William Barclay’s Gospel of Matthew instead.

“Christianity transforms life for the individual man. […] Christianity transformed life for women. The Jew in his morning prayer thanked God that God had not made him a Gentile, a slave or a woman. In Greek civilization the woman lived a life of utter seclusion with nothing to do beyond household tasks. […] In eastern lands it was often possible to see a family on a journey. The father would be mounted on an ass; the mother would be walking and often bent beneath a burden. One demonstrable historical truth is that Christianity transformed life for women. […] Christianity transformed life for the weak and the ill. In heathen life the weak and the ill were considered a nuisance. In Sparta a child, when he was born, was submitted to the examiners; if he was fit, he was allowed to live; if he was weakly or deformed, he was exposed to death on the mountainside. Dr. A, Rendle Short points out that the first blind asylum was founded by Thalasius, a Christian monk; the first free dispensary was founded by Apollonius, a Christian merchant; the first hospital of which there is any record was founded by Fabiola, a Christian lady. […] Christianity transformed the life for the aged. […] Christianity transformed life for the child. […] Anyone who asks the question: “What has Christianity done for the world?” has delivered himself into a Christian debater’s hands. There is nothing in history so unanswerably demonstrable as the transforming power of Christianity and of Christ on the individual life and the life of society.”

This year, the time I spent observing Lent renewed my sense of perseverance to pursue spirituality without the need to have concrete beliefs. I have found peace in my doubts, hope in the unseen and have zero desire to NEED to claim absolute truth. The TRUTH is that there is merit in belief in God, prayer & meditation, and even following Jesus’ teachings. I do not need to know that it is true beyond doubt in order to experience it and reap the benefits.

 

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Here There Be Monsters

September 11, 2016
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Sometimes I try to not believe in God. You know, just to give it a whirl. To see if it sticks. To see if the handful of anti-religion atheists who’ve tried to convert me over the years are onto something. I must admit- it would make things so much simpler to only believe in that for which there is empirical evidence. ….except if there is anything that history and science have taught me it’s that our knowledge is so incredibly limited. Every discovery we make opens the door to a thousand other mysteries. I believe humans are so infantile in our evolution and advancement we couldn’t yet comprehend most of what is actually out there.

I can’t close my mind to the possibility (or, in my humble opinion, the likelihood) of a creator of this universe. I believe this creator is intangible, either because it is spiritual, or because humans have millions of years of evolution and advancement to achieve before we can discover or comprehend it. (And maybe THEN “God” can be observed and tested!)

And what if “God’s will” is simply that the human race does survive and evolve and advance to the point that we CAN know the creator (God) personally. WHAT IF God either designed us specifically or just took a special interest in our species as we evolved and decided that he really wanted us to achieve that- he really wanted us to know him. What if he saw that we were really fucking up as a species and setting ourselves on the path to destruction and extinction and he decided to connect with us- through Abraham, Moses, and ultimately AS one of us through Jesus in order to “save us” (read: alter our course- change our mindset to achieve SURVIVAL, evolution, progress, and advancement in order to discover and know him one day.)

I like opening my mind up to those possibilities and the wonder of it all– Therein lies my spirituality! And it’s simultaneously why I can’t be an atheist and why the church is so spiritually suffocating for me. It’s honestly spiritual stagnation for me to continue trying to connect with the evangelical church where the probability of evolution is still a debate. Where gay marriage is still a debate. Where the nature of God and how/what form he exists is NOT up for question or debate. Where the Bible is taken at face value, and where more liberal or progressive Christians are accused of picking and choosing verses so they can live how they like. I’ve grappled with the evangelical church for a very long time. I don’t know what to do anymore. Over the past year I’ve packed my bags and prepared to leave, but here I am- just outside the doors sittin’ in the front lawn of evangelicalism, waving goodbye to all the other ex-evangelicals that keep leaving. I want to leave, too…

I spent 10 years- a third of my life- getting frustrated at genexers and millennials for leaving the church. I felt my generation began blaming the church for fallible people- holding the church to a standard of perfection that imperfect humans can’t achieve- throwing the baby out with the bath water- not being the change we wanted to see- etc. etc.- yadda yadda- blah blah. I held onto the church with patience and persistence and resilient determination for 10 years. But I’m at the point in my life where I’m feeling like there’s a pattern and it’s a big problem, and I don’t think I want to be a part of it anymore…

…When I first met my husband he was somewhat apathetic towards church, but mostly very forgiving. (He’d later open up to me over the years about the hurt he’d experienced within the church, and I won’t go into that… suffice to say he was very forgiving.) He never felt good enough and eventually experienced a particularly crushing disappointment that he didn’t handle very well. He’d subsequently lost faith and became self-destructive. When I met him he was on his way to a recovery- he was involved in a band with some church fellas who were a bit older than him, and I think he felt like they’d taken him under their wing and given him an emotional, spiritual, and creative outlet. I think he felt camaraderie and love. I think he trusted them and looked up to them. Then one day, unexpectedly, they kicked him out of his band because he wasn’t Christian enough. They wrote him letters- on Facebook- explaining just how Christian enough he wasn’t. And that was it for Keith. He was done. He checked out of organized religion and never looked back. When I was pregnant with Eleanor he became even more determined to shield her from the hurt he experienced, and I’ve stopped dragging him to church as I can feel the layers of defense he packs on before he even walks through the front doors. I used to think, ‘Keith had a bad experience with one dude in the church, not the church’ but really, the church breeds that kind of thing– Breeds it, justifies it. Keith simply joined the ranks of those before him who’d been marginalized, cast to the side, and in many cases flat out rejected for not fitting in a tiny little box with a tiny little god. (***It must be noted that one of the guys from Keith’s band later came back and apologized for his part in what happened, and I think very highly of that guy for doing so. He’s a genuine, loving person. It meant a whole lot and I will never forget that he did that for Keith.***)

So… I do think I am ready to leave, but I don’t know where to go. I do fully appreciate and am tremendously thankful for my evangelical roots and upbringing. I do not regret it in the slightest. I will always and forever hold out hope of returning and feeling welcome and comfortable in the evangelical church. But for now I just cannot connect with it, and not for lack of trying. I desire to spiritually connect SOMEWHERE, though. I just don’t know where.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Somewhere over the Rainbow

March 2, 2015
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Abby

I just wanted to write a little something about Abby in here, and our experience this weekend…

Abby was my cousin Jack’s little niece. I watched as he and Katie cared for her and helped raise her as a daughter since she was born. I have memories of her as a baby drinking a bottle on a blanket laid over grass at The Naz, her huge, gentle brown eyes peering over and taking in the world… memories of her playing so patiently with my son and her little sister Lillie; her sweet, kind, and gentle disposition… memories of a huge toothless grin, endearingly dirty bare feet from running around outside, and wind-tossed brown hair…

Abby playing with Adry

Abby playing with little Adry at my parents’ house


abby adry 2

My stomach hasn’t stopped churning since I read a message from Jack on Saturday night February 21st that he’d lost Abby… that she was on life support without brain activity after a sudden brain aneurism.
And then on Sunday when they took her off life support and took her organs for donation she was officially gone.

She was 12 years old.

That’s just not supposed to happen.

No one is supposed to lose a child.

I told Jack that I couldn’t even begin to understand what he was going through, and he said I could have a rough idea.
To be honest, it’s hard to even try to have a rough idea. When I begin to consider the ‘what ifs’ I have to stop because I just can’t! I cannot fathom his pain.

We went to her calling hours and memorial service this past weekend.
Such a small coffin.
They had placed with her body a My Little Pony blanket, a bff bracelet from a schoolmate, some cute little stuffed animals, and a gadget from Doctor Who…
I watched as my cousin, his wife, Abby’s mom and Lillie mourned the loss of their babygirl and big sister.
My heart was in the pit of my stomach the entire time… At some points I couldn’t help but think, ‘is this real life right now!?’

During the service a couple of musicians played the Brother Iz version of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’. It’s a song I sing to Adry at night. It’s a song that already felt sentimental in context on Iz’s death, but in context of a cute, sweet child’s death it’s heart-wrenching.

(Link: Iz’s Over The Rainbow video, putting his ashes in the sea)

I’m not one to typically consider the afterlife or heaven. I don’t practice Christianity in fear of it or in hope of it. I have no idea what it will be, or what it will be like.
But if I’m to live in a place where God calls children home to him, I at least hope to hear their laughter ringing as I enter heaven’s gates. That would be a beautiful sound.
I hope Abby is somewhere over the rainbow where her troubles have melted like lemon drops, and the dreams she dared to dream have come true. I picture her one day running to reunite with Jack and Katie with a big hug and an even bigger smile.

As Jack said:
“Until then…”

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

August 9, 2014
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If you know Jesus then you know he loved allegories! And if you know Jesus, then you also know God.
…So GOD loves allegories! He’s a story teller! Logical conclusion, right?

Why is it so hard to accept that any part of scripture (6-day creation, flood, whatever) could be/is allegory without feeling the need to toss out the whole thing as a bunch of bunk!?

Why does it have to be either:
We don’t believe the stories are literal, so we are therefor picking and choosing and the bible is no longer sacred, holy, infallible….
OR
The stories are obviously not true, therefor God does not exist.
?????

Go to the post ›

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

“Mutual Submission”

August 31, 2013
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Rachel Held Evans did a week-long series on her blog on ‘mutual submission’, addressing the NT verses allegedly commanding wives to submit to husbands, children to their parents, slaves to masters, etc.

The supposed ‘patriarchal household code’ interpretation of those passages never fully made sense to me. After all, though Paul instructs wives to submit to husbands, he immediately turns around and instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. And how did Christ love? He taught that anyone who wants to be first should be last and that whoever wants to be great must be a servant. And Jesus demonstrated this type of love himself. So it always seemed to me that the NT taught that husbands and wives should mutually submit and serve one another.

And that’s basically what this guest writer on Rachel’s blog talks about in her post: Aristotle vs. Jesus: What Makes the New Testament Household Codes Different. She considers the “household code” passages in light of culture, context, and author intent and comes to the conclusion that the established Greco-Roman code gets remixed when Jesus is in the picture, and no one is actually “in charge”.

Before we were married, Keith and I had several discussions about what our own household code would look like. I happen to appreciate feeling taken care of, and I don’t see myself ever being the career-driven, bread-winning type of woman. I told Keithy I’d be completely content relinquishing that responsibility to him so that the home and children could be my domain… But Keithy said he preferred to have more of a “partnership” wherein there is no one head-of-household; we just work together for a common goal. Seeing as how I happen to be really great at setting goals, organizing our life, and making decisions, I seem to have willingly and comfortably taken on the role of Keith’s ambition behind all of his dreams. He has the big picture dream in his head of what he wants to do and where he wants to go, and I seem to be making all the navigation decisions to get him there. When we disagree about something along the way, we lay it all out on the table and come to an agreement. It really is a relationship of mutual submission.

Growing up, there was never a clearly defined hierarchy in our household, either. I mean, the brothers and I were expected to obey our parents, of course, but we weren’t raised to unquestioningly obey authority. We were taught that respect is earned. My parents had reasons for and willingly explained everything they did and expected us to do. If I disagreed with my parents, I felt free to voice my opinion and act on it. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t disciplined. I was. (I also blatantly disregarded discipline if I felt I had good reason. There were a handful of groundings that I accepted and followed through with! haha!) I had friends whose parents had thought they had a firm grip on them, and thought their children were adhering to all their rules and thou-shall-nots, but if only they knew what their sneaky kids were doing behind their backs and all the lies they were being told! lol. My parents talk about how I’ve been blatantly defiant since I was a toddler and Dad told me to pick up my crayons. I told him no. He ordered me again to pick up my crayons so I looked him in the eye and slowly poured more of them out. I’m sure it’s stressful raising strong-willed children but I will say this about my brothers and I: We are each authentic and honest. We don’t sneak, cheat, lie, or bullshit. What you see is what you get. My brothers turned out to be such unique, inquisitive, independent thinkers. I am so proud of them on a daily basis! My point of this whole seemingly off topic rant about my family is just that I’m thankful we weren’t raised to be Yes Men! I’m thankful I didn’t have to be a quiet unquestioningly submissive child, nor do I have to be a quiet submissive wife. I’m free to be open and honest, and to voice my opinions and make decisions in humility, love, and respect.

I’m thankful Jesus taught humility and sacrifice and has blurred the lines of culturally accepted social orders!

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’ He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.'”

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Homosexuality and The Church

June 28, 2013
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Can we draw the conclusion with certainty that same-sex marriage is a sin?

An essay on homosexuality and Christianity: http://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php

If the church cannot support same-sex marriage, then the church should remain completely, utterly SILENT on this issue. Period.

This issue causes such division and heartbreak, confusion and anger. It encourages bullying, it causes innocent people to be afraid of and disgusted by their sexuality, and it results in a 1 in 4 suicide rate among gay teens.

At that, I’m sick of feeling marginalized in the one place I used to feel most at home: the church (of people, not necessarily the church building). I’m tired of my Christianity, spirituality, and faith being in question because I have a non-traditional view. I’m weary of being careful to not simply identify myself as a Christian because 90% non-Christians my age associate Christianity with judgement and hate, synonymous with anti-homosexuality. And that is not how I want to be identified! I want to be identified with JESUS CHRIST.

After DOMA was overturned I hopped on Facebook and saw all the hateful debates flaring up. I cried. It is so incredibly disheartening to watch fellow Christians perpetuate the terrible rep the church already has, and to experience the chasm getting deeper as more folks walk away from the church.

Teary-eyed, I went to Keithy and told him I was losing hope. He put his hands on my shoulders and urged me to take heart because it’s Christians who make the difference within the church, and a difference IS being made.

 

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

stop the hate

June 27, 2013
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I know everyone has just as much access to a dictionary as I have, but I still feel like some of us have no idea what HATE is when they’re spewing it in the same breath that they’re adamantly denying it.

Hatred, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is an intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury
When you equate a gay lifestyle to wickedness, the demise of society, and deserving of the wrath that God showed to Sodom and Gomorrah, that is HATE, my friend. Nothing short of hate.
I’m just saying: people who are gay will read those statements. Those with sons/daughters/brothers/sisters/moms/dads/uncles/aunts/dear friends who are gay will read those statements. You can’t tell me that when they do, they won’t feel hated.
They will feel hated. They do feel hated.
They turn from the church.
They leave their families.
They commit suicide.
TRY to imagine society telling you that in order to NOT be wicked or godless or sinful, you must live a LONELY, CELIBATE life without any romantic contact with people you are attracted to or IN LOVE with. No dating. No marriage. No children. Stripped of your sexuality because it’s “wrong”. Can you even really imagine that? The turmoil you’d feel? The pressure you’d be under?
We can talk biblical interpretation ’til our faces turn blue. I don’t care about your greek-to-english translation of a couple of bible verses (which are debated among biblical scholars who actually know the Greek language and culture). Is this issue worth the 40% suicide rate among gay teens? The ongoing gay vs Christian culture war and the division it causes?
Is it worth the loss of friends? Your children’s friends? Your children?
Blame me for the demise of society- go ahead and tell me I’m not really a Christian- but I still vote to Stop The Hate and to keep religion out of politics.
Jesus rules in the heart, not the state. He made that quite clear.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

More on Evangelism…

April 13, 2013
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I’ve been thinking a lot about evangelical christianity since Keithy’s personal witness was criticized early in the month.
What happened to Keith really hurt on a personal level (watching him hurt deeply, hurt me), and angered me on matter of principle.
Then today I opened Rachel Held Evans’ blog and lo and behold, she had conveniently written a lovely post this week about evangelism- Why I Don’t Witness to People on Airplanes– and it got me thinking about the issue again.

I like when she says, “Maybe ‘witnessing’ is about the choice we have to plant seeds of unkindness, hurry, hate, and greed in one another’s lives, or to plant seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Whether it’s in our closest relationships or our brief encounters with strangers, we always have that choice—to bring life or to bring death, to bring an agenda or to bring love, to bring a product or to bring Jesus.”

****

I know I’m somewhat heretical when it comes to Evangelical Christianity and biblical interpretation. I take a much more holistic, flexible approach rather than a verse-by-verse legalistic one. I don’t necessarily believe in the traditional concepts of hell, creation, the flood, etc. I’m at a point in my Christian walk– post doubt-inducing faith crisis and deep critical soul-searching– that it doesn’t rock my faith when, for instance, someone presents to me all the historical evidence (or rather lack thereof!) of Israelites ever having been being held as slaves in Egypt. Instead of scrambling to prove the Bible’s accuracy I can comfortably consider the fact that it might not have happened the way we think it did…

…I guess my point is that as my faith evolves I try to keep Romans 14 in mind. It’s such a tricky, complex issue when Christians with more traditional values (or who abstain from meat) come to the same playing field as Christians who “eat everything”. Not that I’ve been perfect, but it is my conscious goal to respect the convictions of fellow Christian friends by not being in-their-face with what I feel free to partake of. In the same respect, I also hope to not be judged, nor my witness devalued.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Evangelicalism and Jesus’ Example of Servanthood

April 6, 2013
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“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.'”

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus commanded LOVE. We love through SERVANTHOOD.
Jesus warned against SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS and HYPOCRISY. We become self-righteous and hypocritical when our love for religion/law causes us to neglect our love for one another.

What should Evangelicalism in 21st Century America look like? In a country where 75% of people consider themselves “Christian” and another 11-or-so% consider themselves former Christians who have rejected Christianity altogether, I’d say it’s safe to say that most have heard the gospel, yet many are left empty and hungry. In our fervor to further the kingdom, have we forgotten to get on our knees and wash feet? Have we neglected to meet people where they’re at and take care of their needs? We can preach Jesus, but when it comes down to it, are we being Jesus?

So what needs are had? What is hungered for? People desire to be loved, respected, related to and understood. People go through heartbreak, grief, addictions, abuse, and the consequences of bad decisions. There is no shame in using our own experiences with these things to relate to others. As a matter of fact, accusing our “brothers and sisters in Christ” of failing to be used by God when they relate to people on these levels is very nearly like the Pharisees scoffing at Jesus for hanging out with the tax collectors and sinners. It would be entirely fruitless to go to a poverty-stricken orphanage and fill the children’s soup bowls with “Jesus saves!” tracts. Sometimes it’s acceptable- and even necessary- to let explicit religious/gospel statements take a backseat to relating to the human condition and meeting needs.

Not to say that there’s not a time and place for preaching, but when evangelism replaces people in the forefront of our thoughts and motives, we succeed at preaching and fail to love. People should never become projects, business transactions, or means to an end. Jesus, by His great example, taught us how to minister in love. God himself humbled himself before his friends- he got on his knees before them- and washed their feet.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Couch to Ska

February 16, 2013
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There’s a popular workout program called Couch to 5K. The idea is to transform the most sedentary person (a couch potato) into a 3-mile-runner in just a couple of months, simply by starting out at the bare minimum and gradually working your way there.

However, since I despise running I’ve come up with my own program: Couch to Ska. Within a few months one will be able to enjoy a full 1.5 hour skanking ska concert simply by skanking for one minute on the first day of the program and adding an additional minute to their skanking each day for 3 months.

Conveniently, the FIVE IRON FRENZY CONCERT is in almost exactly THREE MONTHS!!! So you had better buy your tickets and start now!

I cannot express how excited I am that after 10 years I get to attend another FIF concert AND hear new FIF music.

My brother got red-eyed and tearful at the dinner table the other day when he told me that when he goes to the show he’s determined to find Reese Roper just to give him a big hug and simply say, “thank you.”

 My first clear memory of Five Iron Frenzy was from when I was in seventh grade.

Mom and Dad had dropped me and a couple of girlfriends off at some Christian concert. I really was not interested in the music. I just wanted to giggle and whisper and tell secrets and look at boys and flirt and be a typical middle school girl.

I was a sickeningly typical middle school girl.

Then this band got on the stage and started playing songs that I knew (and loved) from being played over and over on good ol’ Radio U. The Flowery Song. Suckerpunch. And in the middle of the crowd I observed kids dressed in a way I’d never seen before, dancing in a way that I’d never seen before. Of course now I realize they were ska kids in a skank pit, but at that point in time I thought it was new and funny and… awesome. It drove me to find out the band was Five Iron Frenzy. I checked out their merch, eventually bought their CD, and my life was changed forever.

Five Iron Frenzy became the soundtrack to all of my adolescent years, my companion from girlhood to adulthood, my inspiration as I grew into my faith and figured out what I believed. I laughed with them, I cried with them, and I was challenged by them. Their songs became my prayers and praise through grief and joy. FIF- their lyrics, music, and the teen Christian community/unity/values they inspired- truly had a huge impact on my life.

During my senior year of high school they announced that they were quitting. They put out their final CD and completed their “Winners Never Quit” tour. I went to their last show in Columbus and decided I would probably never again feel so close to heaven as I did that night. And I cried. I quite literally mourned their death for years. Which might sound crazy to someone who has never been so impacted by a band or artist or book/television series before, however I’m sure many people can relate to my experience.  (Kids who grew up with Harry Potter!? I know how you felt when you finished that last chapter! I totally empathize!)

The grief of losing FIF might have been a lot less tolerable had the band not filled my mind with that HOPE of an FIF comeback illustrated in their ‘The End is Near’ album artwork where, if my memory serves me right, the FIF bunny? is defeated and killed and put into a box and on the last page the bunny’s ear is coming out of the box? Or something like that? Anyway- I was absolutely convinced that it meant they might come back someday as a band- that they weren’t dead for GOOD. Three… five… six years after the band quit my brothers and I would find ourselves reminiscing about the awesome FIF days of the past and we would become saddened by how much we missed them and wished we’d had longer to enjoy them. We would always end the conversation with, “But the bunny ears! They were popping up! Death couldn’t hold them down!” We hung on to that hope.

A couple of years ago I’d given up on the idea of the resurrection of FIF. I filed them under ‘my past’ and accepted the new less-inspired, non-FIF reality of mundane grownup things…

And then what do you know. In 2011 members of the band claimed they had a big announcement to give on November 22nd. There was talk of zombies and the walking dead. All I could think was, ‘the bunny ears!’ Sure enough, they announced they were back- not just for a comeback tour with all their old music- but as a full-fledged new-music-writing band.

I’m pretty sure that J, Rebecca, and I bounced giddily about the house for at least an hour after the announcement that night.

And finally- 10 years after the “last” FIF show I went to- they will be in Columbus this May!  And it occurred to me that I skanked and hopped around for hours at a time at music concerts/festivals when I was a teenager and young adult. These days I collapse on the floor in wheezes after about 5 minutes, haha. So you’ll have to excuse me while I go kickstart Couch to Ska.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal