For months now people have been asking me, “How is James handling the divorce?” And I would respond, “I think he’s doing really great, but I’m not sure if I would even know.” Well… this morning, I know. James had a total and complete melt do
wn going into school. Which means I had a total and complete melt down going into school
My heart broke for him. And me. And I did the only thing that I knew would help, (besides the obvious of eating a dozen of donuts) I reached out to a friend. And they texted me this,
So sorry. Change is hard.
I have tried my best to explain the new condo and the new schedule and the new bedroom. I have tried to make sure that all his Elmo’s were nearby and that his iPad was always fully charged. But the bottom line is my friends words are correct… change is hard, for everybody.
I know that he will adjust in time. And he will get used to all the new things. And so will I. But today is one of those icky days. Where you just wish things weren’t as they are. You just wish you were in your old bed, your old house, surrounded by the familiar. When you are drawn out of your comfort zone, God and the universe are asking you to trust and believe like you never have before.
This week I got to speak for Regions Bank and their United Way Kick-off Drive. I got to share my story of survival. I met other people who are dealing with some really tough stuff. And each time I talk about the journey, I am reminded that is in fact… a journey.
Today is just one day. It is not the end. We keep walking, left foot, right foot breath.
I found this quote by Mary Tyler Moore.
“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”
Pain nourishes your courage. I love that thought. I love the thought that what I am feeling right now is actually nourishing me in a strange way.
My prayer today for myself and for James and for you (if you find yourself in the midst of change), is that with every ache we remember that we really are getting stronger.
Have a brave day!
Yesterday, in the middle of the afternoon, I stood in the driveway, surrounded by boxes and memories and covered in dirt and fear, when two women approached me. They were both smiling, as if they were long lost friends. But I couldn’t place them. For a moment I thought maybe they had seen all the stuff in the yard and thought it was a garage sale. And then the girl with the strawberry blonde hair said, “Are you Lynn Rink?” “Yes”, I said, confused. (Slightly worried that I was being served some kind of legal papers!) Then she said,
“12 Ordinary Woman want you to know today that you are loved.”
She handed me an envelope stuffed and over flowing with cash. Twenty’s and ten’s and singles. I was so confused. I tried to speak, but before I could, the woman with the dark hair hugged me and said, “Have an awesome blessed day.” I burst into tears and they both turned and walked away. I stood there shaking and crying. “Wait, what just happened,” I said out loud. And just like that, they were gone. Inside the envelope was hundreds of dollars and a beautiful necklace of the tree of life.
This random act of kindness was something I have never personally experienced before. Or I should say, before this life transition. I wish I could tell you all the many stories and details of God’s truly tangible love being displayed to me by others during this time, but many have asked to remain anonymous. But when I needed exactly $500, someone who didn’t know that specific need wrote me a check for that exact amount. When I wasn’t sure how I was going to get groceries, a gift card appeared in my mailbox. Over and over and time and time again, people have shown up to carry boxes, or take me to lunch, or answer the phone when I needed to cry. I have truly never felt so held and supported. I have tried to stay present through all of this and to stay grateful. But because I am a flawed human, somehow it’s easy to miss God in them. To call them coincidence or whatever. So the gift from 12 Ordinary Woman for me was God screaming loudly,
“Lynn, do you see me? Do you see that I’m (THE I AM) is taking care of you?”
When I had a moment, I researched them on the web. And here’s what it said….
It all started with a group of women from Franklin, Tennessee in April of 2009…It was our heart’s desire to give the gift of HOPE to other women. Now 12 Ordinary Women has grown in to so much more than we could have ever imagined, groups have formed all over the country helping other women and giving the gift of HOPE. There are now men who come together to help other men, they call themselves 12 Average Joes. Families are coming together to teach their children the gift of generosity, they call themselves 12 Ordinary Families.
Who would have known that 12 ordinary women of different ages, education, and experiences could come together once a month to quietly make a difference in another woman’s life and end up starting a revolution of generosity and hope. Our hope is that others across the country will continue to catch the vision for starting their own groups and begin the process of helping others, quietly and anonymously.
I LOVE everything about this, and as I continue to put together The James Rink Foundation, I have been even more inspired to help people in such an awesome way as this organization has chosen.
As I sit and write this morning, in the red chair, surrounded by boxes that need unpacked, with aching muscles, a splinter the size of a toothpick lodged in my finger and the sound of Elmo blaring from James’ IPad, I am somehow at peace. Because I know that I AM is with me. But this is not about being uber spiritual, (believe me, you should have heard the thoughts in my head yesterday and the words that came out of my mouth)
but this is simply about the knowing that someone much bigger than myself is truly watching out for me.
To the woman who filled the envelope, who maybe gave their last twenty dollars, please know that my heart is full of thanks and gratitude for you. You were the voice of God that I needed to hear.
Today, I will start unpacking… box by box… because that’s the only way to keep moving. Just like staying sober, or not acting codependent, or not eating sugar – sometimes it’s one hour, or one day, or one box at a time, and we continue to heal and move towards the goal. (Looking at the big picture of what needs to be done is so daunting that all I want to do is go to Krispie Kreme) but instead I will start with just one box…
AND THEN maybe head to Krispie Kreme.
From the backstage door I could hear the screams and feel the energy. It was Saturday night and at least two thousand people filled the Biergarten at the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest in Oregon, ready to dance and drink and celebrate. And for me, it turned out to be more than just another gig… it was a homecoming of the heart.
In the mid 2000’s, for four years in a row, I was the headlining act for the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest. Myself, along with my band The Boxhounds, rocked the stage by playing everything from traditional polkas to cover tunes done as polkas and of course the expected chicken dance. But in 2008, for reasons that I did not understand, I was not asked back. It made no sense to me at the time and I was hurt and angry and confused. But that’s how it goes sometimes.
Things get stripped away and you have to willing to let it go with your whole heart before you see that it truly was exactly what needed to happen.
At that time in my career, my son James was just two-years-old. He was born with Down syndrome and later diagnosed with autism, and the new life I found myself in shook me to my core. I had an extremely difficult time coming to grips with his disability. Depression moved in and for years I felt as if this black cloud of darkness engulfed me. That made it almost impossible for me to entertain at the level and standard that I and others expected. It got harder and harder to be on stage. Especially when I would see someone on the dance floor with a disability. The only way I could get through was just to ignore them. I know. That sentence was hard to write. But it is true.
I would look away, pray they wouldn’t make a scene and hold back my tears.
I am not proud of that – but my fear was running the show. I was shallow and self-absorbed and living in darkness. But the writer Barbara Taylor Brown says, “New life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.” And so it was for me, that from that darkness, a whole new life was birthed.
Not getting called back to play Mt. Angel made deciding to get off the road a tiny bit easier. And once I did, I had the time to put my energy where it needed to be.
I spent the next eight Oktoberfest seasons off the stage and on the floor in a therapist’s office.
I read all the self-help books I could get my hands on, I ate donuts like it was my job, I quit plucking my eyebrows and I cried almost all the time.
I felt like I was being pulled and pushed and molded, but years later I knew that in many ways I was better. Not perfect, but better.
So when I got the call this year asking me if I would return to Mt. Angel I was both excited and nervous. I feared so many things; could I find a band that would measure up to how I sounded the last time I performed? Would the eight years of wrinkles make me feel and look old? Could my body even handle so much playing? (And let’s not even talk about the ten pounds!) But I said yes to the call, even with so many questions, because I knew that I wanted to be back. I needed to be back.
Sometimes saying yes, even when you’re not sure, is what gives you more strength than you ever knew you had.
And so after eight long years away, I was back. And as I walked onto the stage Saturday night with a brand new band, and as we hit the first note of “Mama’s Got a Squeeze Box”, I was overcome with gratitude. There are moments as an artist that the stars align; the audience is engaged, the band is in sync, and I wore the right shoes. I thought, “I don’t’ think it can get any better than this moment right now!”
But then… I saw her. Megan. An adorable red-head thirteen-year-old girl in the middle of the dance floor, who had Down syndrome. She was dressed in a German dirndl, singing at the top of her lungs to our music. But this time – this time – I didn’t look away. Instead, I couldn’t help but watch her, pulled in by her smile. By the end of the first song, I found myself holding back huge tears…of joy. I wanted to yell out to her, “Dance Megan, dance! Make a scene! Show the world who you are and why you are here!” I watched her do the best version of the chicken dance I had ever seen and finally, I just couldn’t help myself, I grabbed the microphone and to that crowd of two-thousand people I said, “Hey Y’all, I know we are all here to drink and party, but I just got to take a minute and say hello and thank this beautiful girl on the dance floor. You see, I have a little boy at home who also has Down syndrome and they are the most precious people on this planet! Megan – thank you for reminding us all what life is all about!” The audience let out a huge cheer and she waved like she was just named homecoming queen.
Sometimes our biggest fears can become the mirror we use to see our own growth.
Thank you Megan for reminding me that I made it out of the darkness. To the board of the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest, thank you for NOT hiring me years ago and thank you for bring me back. To the guys that worked their asses off to learn my songs and entertain along side of me; Jason Nix, Duran Crone and Drew Lambert – you are more important and appreciated that you will ever know. To Jim Hoke, who owns the Mt. Angel Sausage Company – your constant belief in m helped bring me back!
And to my son James, you have taught me how to be a better person, which in turn I hope will continue to make me a better artist. Prost!