Friday, November 14, 2014

'Hope is Alive' at the Jesus House

We limit ourselves when we only accept challenges that we consider attainable or desirable. Agreeing to seemingly ludicrous opportunities is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned. Some of the most rewarding experiences of my life have come from stepping into an unfamiliar setting and swinging for the fences. Of course, I’ve struck out a few times doing that, but those busted at-bats taught me more than I’d ever have learned sitting in the dugout spitting sunflower seeds. I’m so thankful for the failures because, without them, I wouldn’t have had the tools needed to successfully tackle other ventures.

Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be doing a video that didn’t include my kids opening Christmas gifts, but it’s happened. What started as an offer to create video vignettes in a church worship service led to a Jesus House connection that turned into a life-changing project. I cannot fully express my gratitude to that organization for trusting me to help share this message of hope. May it be a blessing to you and a lifeline to those struggling with addiction.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Grandpa's Fiddle

At a time when a "working man" earned 50 cents a day, my grandpa’s grandparents shelled out 10 bucks to buy him a fiddle.

He’d seen men on the farm sawing on those things and figured it’d be a cinch to play. When the 1926 Sears and Roebuck catalog arrived -- featuring a $9.75 fiddle outfit -- he just had to have one for his tenth birthday.

He begged.

He pleaded.

And surprisingly -- considering the price tag -- he got it.

Then barely played it. (Ain’t that just like a kid?)

A farm hand by the name of Troy Clack worked the fields by day and fiddled by night. He agreed to give my grandpa lessons. After three sessions, Grandpa was done, but Troy kept right on playing and wound up temporarily adopting the 10-dollar Sears fiddle.

All this information was news to our family who’d only heard occasional mentions of a mysterious "fiddle in the attic". The full story was disclosed just recently when the air conditioning went out in my 98-year-old grandpa’s home (yes, he’s still living in his own house). They had to replace ductwork and made a mess in his attic. Since I was the smallest family member, I was given the task of checking out things. When I pulled open the door to the attic, it was like opening a time capsule.

There was a dusty, dirty trunk that looked like it'd been rescued from a gypsy's covered wagon.

A 1960s era aluminum Christmas tree with its removable branches still stored in disintegrating paper sleeves.

A crumbling leather case with rusted latches and what appeared to be whiskers protruding from it. 

Wait. Could this be the "Bigfoot of the rafters"?

Yep, it was the elusive ATTIC FIDDLE!

Seems when my grandparents moved from their rural community to Oklahoma City in 1950, the fiddle was one of their few possessions that made the trip. It had somehow survived several upheavals, tornadoes, hail storms, blizzards and record-breaking heat. And it looked like it. But, amazingly, it was largely intact.
 
There was enough good stuff there that restoration was a great possibility and I set out to do just that; on the sly. (You can read more about the fiddle specifics and restoration project below the video.)

We surprised Grandpa with the renewed instrument. He hadn’t played his fiddle in 88 years and it was an incredible moment when he ran the bow across the strings for the first time in nearly a century. There was additional sentimental value for me since music’s such a passion of mine. What a thrill to have been given the opportunity to witness this reunion!

I didn’t want to spoil the moment by flashing a camera so I tried to capture the big reveal discretely. Here’s the home video my mother and I shot.


THE RESTORATION:

We were pretty much clueless as to the specifics of Grandpa’s attic fiddle. Here’s what we learned: It’s a 1926 Vuillaume style violin, made in Germany and sold via Sears and Roebuck. The outfit came with a leather case, bow, rosin and an assortment of goodies, according to the catalog listing I found online.

Here’s what they did: There were several areas on the violin body where it was separating and they were glued. The tailpiece “baling wire” was also replaced.

The violin was missing its original bridge and it appeared that a viola bridge (with a 5 cent handwritten price tag) had been used, resulting in the damage to the body underneath the legs. They were able to use it after scaling it to fit appropriately.

A new nut was installed and the neck, which was roughed up by Mr. Clack’s calloused hands, was smoothed and stained.

The violin was missing the chin rest, too, but I left it that way and decided against adding fine tuners in an effort to preserve it the way I’d found it.

The bow was amazingly straight, but needed hair replacement. This is where the story gets even cooler!

I got a Facebook message asking if I’d placed an order for the re-hairing of a bow. I answered yes and discovered that the person doing the bow restoration was our daughter Carly’s former orchestra teacher! To have someone with that close connection to us working on the family's musical heirloom just made it even more special.

So, the fiddle's looking good these days, but how does it sound? I’d describe it as warm and rich. Even with my limited skills, it sounds pretty darn good. 

In my opinion, an instrument is not meant to be stored, it’s meant to be played. That’s what I’m trying to do; keep Grandpa’s fiddle -- and legacy -- alive.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Do Something

Something remarkable happened to me the other day.

So big, I'd rank it just behind marriage and childbirth.

How many times have you heard that inner voice encouraging you to act, but you dismissed it or made excuses as to why it wasn't the right thing to do? I've brushed that stuff off my entire life.

Not this time.

The other day, I acted. God had placed something on my heart. It was outrageous and persistent. But I trusted that it was from Him and made a bold move.

I did something, then waited.

I got a phone call the next day and my "feelings" had been confirmed. Because I listened to that inner voice, whisper, or as I believe -- God's nudge -- I received the most incredible, unexpected gift. (Although they felt that they were the ones who'd been blessed.)

I thank God that He's beginning to remove the veil from my vision and soften my heart to the immense needs within our families and communities. My mission in life is to never let another opportunity pass without acting.

I'm a selfish, self-centered person in the flesh, so I've had to totally rely on God to take even a few steps in the direction that He's leading me. That's exactly what he wants, though. He wants us to trust Him. Trust equals faith and as that grows, so does our joy and peace.

We never know how many people we can help with seemingly simple and small gestures. My prayer is that we all make it a point to be more aware and responsive to the needs of others. We can literally change and save lives by doing something when we're nudged. Because I listened and acted, something incredible and life-changing happened to me, too!

I challenge you to make it your mission to notice needs and do something -- even if it seems foolish or insignificant; then sit back and watch what happens! You'll never be the same again.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Steve and the Magic Man: 25 Years of Magic

Steve O'Brien (left) and Jeff "Magic Man" Roberts 
1989 was the year of twos.

At the theater it was "Twins," "Ghostbusters II," "Lethal Weapon 2" and "Back to the Future Part II."

On the pop charts it was "Two Hearts" by Phil Collins.

And on the radio it was two guys hooking up for the first time in what would become Oklahoma City's longest-running morning duo: Steve and the Magic Man.

25 years ago -- in the Summer of 1989 -- radio personalities Steve O'Brien and Jeff Roberts were first paired as morning show cohorts on Magic 104.1, KMGL. O'Brien had been a bit of a radio gypsy, working briefly in Oklahoma City at the Oklahoma News Network, then lighting shortly in Muskogee, Ardmore, Lawton and Topeka, Kansas.

Steve O'Brien
"I first started at 104.1 in the Summer of 1985 when it was still KOFM," O'Brien said. "I was doing the morning show at Magic 95 in Lawton and kept calling the (KOFM) program director, Charlie Cooper, until he eventually caved in and hired me for overnights. The station became KMGL in June of '86 and I moved up to Operations Manager and later began doing mornings in 1987."

Original Magic van
Meanwhile, Jeff "Magic Man" Roberts, was doing some radio rambling of his own. Before Magic, he worked the mic in Ardmore and at Oklahoma City stations KJYO, KXXY and KYIS. Surprisingly, his current 25-year run at Magic wasn’t his first stint at the station.

“The first time around I started doing the midnight - 5:30 a.m. show, then slid down and did Magic After Dark, well before Delilah,” Roberts said. “The second time, Steve hired me to be the 'Magic Man in the Magic Van.' For the first 5 years as Magic Man I was never in studio. I was out in the Magic van.”

The late Bob Glover
The duo was initially joined by veteran radio news guy, Bob Glover. A female co-host was later added to the on-air mix: Linda Neville. She was the first of several "radio wives" which have also included Lisa Sykes, Tara Henson, Shawn Carey, Jessi Stone and Stacy Barton (who's currently on her second on-air marriage with O'Brien and Roberts after sharing a control room with them from 2001-2006).

In a career punctuated by celebrity encounters and all-access press credentials to just about every big event, one moment stands out for Roberts.

“Well the (Oklahoma City) bombing has to be number one,” he said. “We were a music station that went news in nanoseconds. Two other (events) for me were the two Super Bowls I got to go to as part of being Magic Man.”

Steve and the Magic Man in banquet attire
Steve also recognized the Oklahoma City bombing as the most memorable moment in his broadcast career, as the team "stayed on the air for hours trying to get the word out on how listeners could help."

"There of course was 9-11 when we were on the air that morning that the World Trade Centers were hit. Plus, helping listeners after massive tornadoes struck Moore," O'Brien reflected.

There were bright spots for O'Brien, too; like meeting Sir Paul McCartney prior to his 2002 Oklahoma City concert. O'Brien describes him as a "great man and down to earth," but the encounter wasn't the most lasting of his radio career.
Steve and the Magic Man 

"Most of all it's been KMGL listeners who over the years have provided me with a great place to call home," O'Brien said.

So after 25 years of radio success, what's next for the dynamic duo?

"Looking ahead I would love to continue waking up Oklahoma City on KMGL," O'Brien said. "I can't thank Tyler Media enough for giving us the best place to work!"

Jeff "Magic Man" Roberts
When his time behind the mic is over Roberts knows how he’d like to be remembered. Like a favorite hit single with its soaring chorus repeating over and over until the melody evaporates from the speakers, Roberts wants his radio legacy to linger and reverberate forever with the listeners he's come to consider friends.

“I’d like to have Oklahoma radio listeners enjoy listening to me for at least another 10 years, then fade away.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Get up!

When you hear the word Bethesda, what comes to mind?

I think of presidential physicals; the place where the Commander in Chief is taken for various medical procedures.

Maybe you think of the biblical story about its namesake; the Pool of Bethesda. (Refresher: It was a place in Jerusalem with healing waters. The infirmed would line the water’s edge, waiting for a spirit to stir the pool. If you jumped in while the water was bubbling with blessings, you’d be healed.)

Jesus ran into a paralyzed man lying there on a poolside mat for 38 years, waiting for a Bethesda miracle. He asked the guy “Do you want to get well?”

The man was like, are you kidding? Of course! I’ve been waiting for a healing the majority of my life, but there’s no one around to help me into the water. Somebody always beats me into the pool, stealing my healing.

Jesus listened, then said: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

The guy did just that and was instantly healed!

I’ve heard this story a ton of times but never really noticed the importance of one of the words in Jesus’s initial question.

WANT.

Do you WANT to get well?

Well?

Do we?

The healed man at Bethesda now had to make his own way. For the first time in nearly 40 years he’d have to learn a trade, find work, locate housing, etc. Even though he was unable to walk, his poolside existence was much more predictable and comfortable than his new life of physical freedom. 

Change is one of the most difficult things we’ll ever do. Most of us hate it. That’s one of the reasons some women stay with abusive partners. The fear and uncertainty of the unknown is more powerful than the fear of their husband. It’s also one of the reasons folks remain homeless. To get well means they’ll have to work and take on the responsibilities for their own care.

Sometimes we get comfortable with our hang-up.  It becomes a convenient excuse for us to remain distant from others or to avoid facing difficult situations. We just play the burdened card and take the easy way out.

While we're wallowing in our infirmaries, life's passing us by. Time's ticking. But are we willing to remove the cloak of illness (however we define it) and embrace all that health and happiness has to offer?

Do you WANT to get well?

Well?

Get up!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Seasons

Seasons in the sun.

Ugh.

Bet you're thinking of that 1974 tune by Terry Jacks that helped earn the era the title of Pop Music's Worst Year.

Actually, the phrase is a piece of wisdom my mom recently shared with me.

A friend of mine has held a high-profile position for a good number of years, but he's being reassigned. It's corporate talk for you're over-the-hill. A polite way of pushing him aside and announcing his days are numbered with the company.

It really bothered me and I shared the situation with my mom. Her response was so insightful that I had to share it.

Much like the biblical passage in Ecclesiastes, about which the Byrds sang, she said that there's a season for everything. With that in mind, I shouldn't have negative feelings toward the change-makers or the young buck moving into my friend's spot. The young'un's time -- much like my friend's time many years ago -- was now.

It was their season.

It harkens back to the truth that everything in this world is temporary and that we own nothing. We are merely stewards of all with which we've been blessed, including our time on this earth. When we're gone, someone else gets our stuff.

When we begin to approach life with that notion, we can begin to truly live. It's liberating and takes our minds off of ourselves. It allows us to actually celebrate the success of others instead of lamenting our losses. The tendency to hoard or hang onto possessions or professions melts away. When we live in the moment we can accept change as a beautiful, perfect part of life.

I'm a bit of a control freak and I want to plan every detail. But by approaching each moment with the belief that it's all I'm guaranteed, I suddenly savor it and see the wonder in it all.

So -- as my mom would say -- embrace your season. You're right where you should be.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

'Pickup' Truck

An interesting phenomenon occurred a few years back.

My husband had just bought a new truck and my aging ride was in the shop for repairs. So I drove his ladder-worthy four-wheel drive F150 to work.

When I left the studio for the return trip home, I noticed a group of guys giving my hubby's truck a thorough up-down in the company parking lot. They couldn't believe I'd driven that big ol' thing to work and stared me down all the way along the exit drive.

I chuckled at the irony of the vehicle being called a "pickup" truck, since that's exactly what I could have done if we'd all been single. That's when the idea for a song hit like a hammer.

Forget the singles' bars and online dating. The way to a guy's heart is via vehicle.

Pickup truck: Date bait!

A song was born and brilliantly demoed in Nashville in 2007. John Foster handled production and Jennifer Dixon killed it with her amazing vocal chops. I'd forgotten that I'd never done a video to the tune and felt like the concept was screaming for a complementary visual ride.

So, here you go: A Google of gals, their pickups, and the guys who love 'em both.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Give a Little, Get a Lot

A guy stopped in our office the other day. After hearing about the latest Powerball jackpot, he began running through a laundry list of things he and his wife would do if they ever won the lottery. 

It was obvious that they’d really put some time and effort into the notion. The list was an impressive one:
 
     1. Feed the hungry. 

     2. School the poor. 

     3. House the homeless. 

     4. Heal the sick. 

As each lottery funded act of kindness was revealed, his eyes grew wider and wider and I began to wonder: What’s he waiting for?

What am I waiting for?

What are we waiting for?

Every one of us has something that we can share as a blessing to another person and most of it doesn't cost a dime.

A talent.

Our time.

Some brawn.

Can you read? Tutor a child or an illiterate adult.

Shade tree mechanic? Offer your expertise to a single mom with a bum truck.

Got a car that runs? Drop off a hot lunch to a shut-in.

We're only limited by our imagination regarding the ways in which we can serve others.

What if we each decided to perform at least one act of service each and every day? Not only would our spirits be lifted, but we'd have blessed at least 365 people by year's end! They'd pass it on and the ripple of kindness would reverberate around the globe.

I bet you're familiar with Johnny Cash's late wife, June Carter Cash. She had a favorite saying. When folks asked her how she was doing she'd always answer "I'm just trying to matter."

Isn't that true for all of us? We want to know that there's a reason for getting up each morning and that there is a purpose and meaning for our existence. 

We can all do big things with little means. 

It doesn't take a winning lottery ticket to get started.



Sunday, June 1, 2014

Two little words, too little heard: Revisited

(BACKSTORY: A few years ago, I was an avid blogger. I pretty much gave it up, though, when I started that wilderness thing. When I recently revived by Facebook account I saw that I’d been tagged in a story about a blog I’d written: TWO LITTLE WORDS, TOO LITTLE HEARD. The person told of how it had changed their life, to the point that they’d now become a serial thanker!

I wept after reading that and figured if one person got something out of what God put on my heart, I’d start writing again.

So thank you, PAM ANTHONY LEGRAND, for your life-changing comments. This is dedicated to you!)


I know a kid who took his graduation thank-you-card writing to a whole new level. Instead of generically acknowledging folks for the cash or leather bound journal they’d given him, he thanked them for the contributions they’d made in his life.

He expressed his gratitude to an aunt who helped him learn to read and how to properly enunciate the word “three (not free).”

An uncle was remembered for teaching him to throw a curveball and that it’s okay to laugh at life.

Another aunt was thanked for always being there at the major moments of his life. He wanted her to know how grateful he was that she’d driven so far, so many times, just to be a physical presence for him.

The goodwill messages went on and on.

This kid’s notes so impacted the recipients that several actually called me to share their stories. They’d all been moved to tears. One said she was so overcome that she was nearly inconsolable.

So what is it about a thank you that stirs us so deeply?

Maybe it’s our desire to know that what we do matters; that what we’ve invested in others wasn’t squandered.

The thank you they received was a validation for them that they’d made a difference in the life of another person.

It’s amazing how far-reaching something as simple as a two-word expression can be. In fact, the over-the-top thank you campaign impacted my husband and me, too.

You see, the kid thank-you-note writer is our son.

We didn’t have a clue what he was composing until the reactions started rolling in. His thank you messages had now become a precious gift to us, as well.

Moral of the story; people are thirsty for appreciation. If someone’s blessed you, let them know. It’s impossible to gauge how many lives you’ll change with just two little words.

Thank you.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Desert Message

"So, where ya been?"

I've heard that a lot lately.

I tell folks that I've spent the past four years in the desert. Then they ask me if I dug the weather while I was in Phoenix.

That's not exactly what I meant by desert.

It's a reference to the wilderness. A place of isolation and separation. A time of reflection and temptation.

You either get stronger or die trying.

A layoff in 2010, followed by a series of deaths and near-deaths in the family -- and a few major life changes thrown in for good measure -- left me reeling. Nearly everything that I'd used to steady myself was removed, leaving me clinging to the one thing I should have fully embraced all along.

God.

"Where was this taken? Beautiful." Shoreline view of in-laws' lake.
There's no Internet in the desert. So, I dumped my social media pages and started walking, down ravines and up slippery slopes. Over ridges that I swore would reveal an oasis on the other side, only to be disappointed by seemingly endless miles of more barren landscape.

I just kept trusting God and kept moving.

He revealed to me that He is my great provider and that His plan for my life, and yours, is perfect. But I wanted to live the life I envisioned for myself, thinking that His way wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as the one I'd dreamed up. Ludicrous thinking, I know!

I'm as stubborn as a mule, so it took years to get the message and I'm still pulling at the reins. But God has begun a restoration in me and I'm trying to be a better steward of all the gifts He's graciously shared with me.

That's a lesson learned, too. I can't do squat on my own. Every breath, rational thought and ability I possess is all a gift from God. To take credit for any personal success or achievement is refusing to acknowledge the source. We can't even earn His love or salvation. He gives it to us freely. Our own efforts won't cut it.

Another revelation, at least for me: When we belittle ourselves, we're ultimately criticizing God's handy work. We are beautifully made and perfect in the sight of the Lord, worts and all.

I have to remind myself of that a lot.

When I emerged from the desert, I reluctantly jumped back into the social media pool. As my Facebook account was revived (you can't really kill 'em, I guess), a question was awaiting me underneath my background shot.

"Where was this taken? Beautiful."

Oh, that picture.

I'd forgotten that I'd uploaded a shot from the scene of my conversion -- or whatever you wanna call it. The picture was from the shoreline of my late in-laws' Pennsylvania lake home. It's where I was sitting when something remarkable happened to me.

I won't rehash everything because I already described this event in a previous blog, but it involved a message in a mysterious song via an unknown radio station. Just writing that sounds crazy, but it happened.

I knew in my heart that the incident wasn't an accident and that my life was about to get a little scary. The unknown territory that change brings can be frightening. God indeed had another plan for me, as the tune on the radio declared; I just didn't know what it was.

I think I do now.

It's pretty simple, actually. God's plan for me -- and you -- isn't a job or a relationship or a social standing. All of those things are just platforms through which we are to glorify Him. It's living in tandem with our Maker and keeping our focus on Him.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Everything around us is temporary and will eventually fall away. But our God is too big to fail.

He wants us to live like we believe it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Reunited and it Feels So Good

Steve, Stacy and the Magic Man: Again.

I’m back in the radio business and who woulda thunk it?
Jeff (Magic Man) Roberts, me and Steve O'Brien on remote.

The Lord works in mysterious ways. How else could you explain what’s transpired over the past few weeks?

Steve, Jeff (Magic Man) and I worked together at KMGL from 2001-2006 before I moved to KQOB -- BOB FM -- for a 4-year stint. During that time, and the years that followed, the guys and I never lost touch. Even so, it was a shocker when an out-of-the-blue lunch invitation by the duo turned into a reunion proposal. I was so caught off guard that it took a few days to process it all.

When I came to my senses, I jumped at the offer.

We often dressed in matching baseball attire.
I’d soured on the whole radio thing after the BOB deal resulted in a layoff in 2010. I spent the subsequent years doing a little bit of this and that, but with a completely new take on life. God opened my eyes and heart to the needy and hurting like never before. It was almost like I’d become a new person, far removed from the one who’d spent all those years in broadcasting.

I moved on with my life and never thought I’d get another opportunity on-air and certainly not another shot at coming home to KMGL.

Yes, home.

There was always something special about Magic. We were more than co-workers. We were family. And no one loves you like family.

Even so, I was worried about how I’d be received upon my return. I shouldn’t have been. The reception was like nothing I’d ever encountered. One smiling face and set of outstretched arms after another was there to greet me. Every time I turned a corner, there was another glorious homecoming.

This must be what heaven’s like, I thought.

If this on-air reunion is anything like that homecoming, we’re in store for something very special.

Something magical.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Thunder Crazy

No doubt about it, this town's gone Thunder crazy. We've always loved our boys in blue, but when the playoffs arrive, the admiration borders on insanity. Okay, it is insanity. No boundaries whatsoever.

Rumble and a bobble head. There's some toy, too.
A few years ago a certain furry fella visited our radio studios. I'd forgotten about this shot and thought I'd post it to add a little fuel to the frenzy that is the NBA playoffs. I'm not sure what happened to the bobble head, but the memory of Rumble remains. Non-verbal, but just as physically frenetic at 6 a.m. as he is at game time.

Looking at this pic, I'm reminded of how fortunate we are to have such a  great organization, top to bottom, as the Thunder. The NBA took a chance on a "small" market like OKC and the town -- and team -- has delivered in spades.

But they're much more than a team to us; they're family. And win or lose tonight, they'll still be our boys and we'll still fly our Thunder colors with pride.

And if you're wondering ladies; yes, Rumble was aromatic. A mix of Old Spice and oats with a dash of Aqua Net. Definitely a member of my Top Ten list of guys I'd like to brush! (Could that be the focus of an upcoming post?)

So with that visual in mind, may I offer a hearty THUNDER UP! Get the face paint ready.

GAME 7 PREDICTION:
Memphis 89
Oklahoma City 112