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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The "Bucket List"

This week was my birthday... that, combined with emotions after writing my last post (Easter Seasons) kept me reflecting on life and death. Actually, I was reflecting on what I've accomplished so far in my life and on what I'd like to accomplish in the next stage of my life. I suppose it's only natural to ponder upon these things with each birthday once you're an adult.

"The Bucket List" is a famous phrase used for the imaginary, or actual, list of things one would want to accomplish before the end of one's life (it references the idiom "kick the bucket," which means to die). Items people put on their lists can be simple, like donating blood to give life to others. Some can be more complex, like running a marathon or climbing Mt. Everest. Some are quite elaborate, like sailing around the world, while others are sentimental like wanting to walk your granddaughter down the aisle at her wedding. Some are far-fetched, like going on a date with your favorite celebrity or playing with your favorite sports team. Many involve traveling somewhere distant and exciting or meeting someone you admire. Also common are those that involve adventure or bravery beyond one's comfort zone, like skydiving, parasailing or even getting a tattoo.

I wish I could say my 'bucket list' was that exciting. Perhaps I am too much of a realist to put things that seem impossible on my list of things to do. I do have a list, though... One of the top things on my life's  "to do" list was to see my favorite Christian band, Casting Crowns, live in concert. Living here in the Northeast there are rarely (very few and far between) Christian artists that come on tour to perform live. I'd pretty much resigned myself to believing that a live DVD would be as close as I'd get. Well, I did pray... and pray... and pray... for a VERY long time... that one day I'd get the chance to see Casting Crowns live and in person. Somehow I always envisioned the process would entail traveling somewhere far--only by plane-- to make this happen. Well, to my surprise, God granted me the opportunity to see Casting Crowns LIVE in my very own state... driving distance from my home! We splurged a little on the tickets to get fifth row from the stage. It was an early birthday present to me from my wonderful husband. I started crossing off the days on the calendar in anticipation for the big day...

One afternoon in February I received a confirmation email about the concert with a reminder of the time, date, place and the details about seating, etc. As I scrolled down I read in disbelief: we were one of the first 100 people to buy tickets to the show and had been selected to meet the band in person!!!!!!!!!! I just couldn't believe this blessing! If you are a regular reader of my blog you know how much Casting Crown's music has blessed me and encouraged me during very trying times in my life.

So, there we were... one random March evening, meeting and chatting with the band Casting Crowns. I was able to hug them, thank them and tell them what a blessing they have been in my life. Not only that... I got to meet, hug, chat with AND take a picture with Melanie Hall, wife of Mark Hall (lead singer of Casting Crowns). I have read about her in Mark's books over the years and I've followed her blog as she's shared her challenging experiences of dealing with a child with medical special needs. If you've listened to the band's most recent album "The Well," the song "Angel" is written about her. I just could  NOT believe this was actually happening!!! The concert was such an amazing experience and I left there completely refueled in my spirit and ready to take on the challenges of walking this puzzling path of autism spectrum disorders... Cross THAT one off the bucket list with an extra smily face next to it! :D

There are very few people alive on this planet whom I truly admire. Mark and Melanie Hall are two. Dr. Temple Grandin is another. Well, our good God wasn't done with just allowing me that blessed night at the concert. The very next day after the concert, driving distance from my house, I was gifted the experience of hearing Dr. Temple Grandin speak at a conference!

But it didn't end there... Not only was Dr. Grandin speaking, but so was her mother, Eustacia Cutler, a woman I admire beyond words for being such an innovator during Temple's childhood. She went against all authorities in an age of routine institutionalization to stand up for her daughter, helping her to become who she is today! I have a WHOLE LOT MORE to share about that day, but I will do that in subsequent posts. I will just finish by saying that I not only got to hear Dr. Grandin and Mrs. Cutler speak, I actually had the privilege of meeting both of them, chatting briefly with each one and having my picture taken with each of them. I could not leave that place without thanking them for all of their hard work and sacrifice, for helping me better understand my son and for giving me strength and encouragement to fight this fight.


My God is an AWESOME God!
Now, if someone could convince my husband about me getting that tattoo... :)

Hugging Melanie Hall...
I told Mark (Hall) this was
more exciting than meeting him! :)
My hubby, Mark Hall and me!

Eustacia Cutler, my inspiration! 
Meeting Dr. Temple Grandin.
What an honor!

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