Friday, May 28, 2010


Do tears ever catch you by surprise?
They kept sneaking up on me Wednesday. If I hadn't known better, I would've blamed it on my hair-mones, as my daughter used to say, but no, that wasn't it. It just happens sometimes.
This particular time, I was picking up dog hair tumbleweeds in the den, while Sam was watching Ellen Degeneres interview the twelve year old youtube sensation Greyson Chance. Before I knew it, I was all afluffle and Sam was doing his nervous laugh that means WHAT DO I DO NOW MY MOM HAS LOST HER MARBLES.

I promise, you might have lost yours too. If you're out of the loop, let me just say that Greyson is a fresh faced, normal boy, gifted with a shockingly incredible voice. He was clearly delighted to chat about "Miss Gaga" and how he knew something big was happening to him because the people at Bahama Ice named a snow cone after him and tons of people go there. Then Ellen went and yanked every one of my heartstrings by showing clips of his principal hugging him and his music teacher bragging on him, and that was all it took. Messy tears. Red face.
And this was the second tear ambush of the day!

Just five hours earlier, I was delivering food to a new client on my Meals on Wheels route when the tears surprised me. Mr. Blevens wore slacks and an ironed work shirt with a patch with his first name on it, and as I walked up his front steps, he looked as if he wasn't sure what to do with his hands. I introduced myself and as I gave him his meal, he looked at it and said, "God bless you, ma'am. Thank you. It sure is a good thing y'all do."
"You're welcome, Mr. Blevens. We're happy to do it."
"Uh huh," he said, trying to find a few more words. "It's awfully nice, but I tell you, it doesn't hardly feel right to accept it."
"But Mr. Blevens," I said, searching for what to say, "I bet you've spent your whole life helping people. Now maybe you need to let others do something for you for a change."
Instantly, Mr. Blevens' eyes watered up, and before he could catch it, a tear ran down his face. "We really..." he struggled, and his voice got all gravelly, and I felt my own tears come. "We appreciate this. And you."
He patted my hand and I tried to walk back to my car like a normal person. I waved and went on with my route, feeling like we had shared something holy.

So what are those ambush tears about? The happy tears and the sad tears that show up when we least expect them? The knot rising up in your throat, threatening to embarrass you at work or with friends or total strangers aren't certain of your mental stability?

Maybe ambush tears are actually powerful messages that our souls say to God, prayers that burst out like sneezes, involuntarily, because our bodies can't hold them back anymore, or because the feelings are so big that our pitiful brains can't keep up. Perhaps the tears pray for us, saying, "How beautiful, thank you God, for letting me see this," or "This is grace," or "This grief is too much for me to bear by myself," or "I'm hurting, please help me." The tears speak our prayers to God before our feeble minds can even understand our own feelings.

But God understands them. God speaks that soul language, and more than that, God treasures every salty drop.

You have kept record of my days of wandering. You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them.
Psalm 56:8, Contemporary English Version

How wonder-full that even when we're running around picking up dog hair, just trying to get things done and handle life on our own, knowing God is in the background but not thinking too much about it, God lets our child souls speak up to Him, ambushing us with the prayers He knows we need to express.

You know, I think I'm going to try a little experiment. Want to try it with me?
The next time I'm ambushed with happy or sad tears, I'm going to pay attention to those drops in the bottle. I'm going to back them up with a spoken prayer, and try to put words to what my inner soul is crying out for, whether it's thankfulness or grief.

So today I'm thanking God for giving us gifts that we don't even ask for or feel we deserve. For a beautiful voice and a chance to share it, dropped on the lap of a normal boy. For the chance to accept a meal for free, when you've worked hard all your life long. For a chance to be the one who brings the meal, when you had nothing to do with preparing it or paying for it. For a chance to witness the involuntary prayers of strangers and friends-to-be. For holy, salty, messy tear prayers that speak when my words can't.

So what about you?
I'd love to hear about the last time you were surprised by tears. Did it carry a message, or was it just hairmones?

Have a super weekend, friends!

Much love,


Felicity said...

The LOST finale. Oi. And it was always when the scene focused on the beautiful relationships between people when they make deep connections to each other.

This post would be a great social experiment. What if we logged our "unexpected tears" and tracked their patterns. Mine come sometimes when I watch my kids to the most routine things, like hitting a baseball well. Funny things, those tears!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I cried, really cried, every single time I heard about Art Linkletter's death. How well I remember those children he used to interview. How charming they all were. And actually, it didn't take much thought for me to realize where my tears were coming from. I cried for that lost innocence in children today. These kids didn't play to the camera, they didn't pose. They were gentle and happy, innocent, just kids. It made me cry.

Susie said...

the soul speaks in tears.

Kat said...

Okay, well this post ambushed me with tears. Your Meals on Wheels story ambushed me for sure.

I am ALWAYS ambushed. Quite the emotional person, am I. If I see someone else cry I cry. And I cry at beauty a lot. And sweetness. And tenderness. And sadness. And...

I cry a lot. ;)

What a beautiful post. Thank you for giving me a new way to look at my "sensitivity". :)

Janet said...

I was just ambushed by this post. Fresh, salty tears...prayers. I frequently cry while listening to KLOVE every morning when I take my girls to school. Praise and worship brings tears all the time. So happy to have found your blog.

Susan said...

I cry all the time. Last week it was when Ronnie James Dio died. Lately, I cry when I see Brett Michaels on television. I cry whenever I think someone is doing the best they can, especially if they do it with humility. I cry over that commercial about the abused animals, I used to cry over "The Waltons". I cried over this post. I could go on and on, I have always been "soft hearted" and I'd like to think that it is Holy Spirit working on me. Otherwise, I'm just a sap. Take care. xoxo

Cheryl Smith said...

"Maybe ambush tears are actually powerful messages that our souls say to God," Lovely.

And the last time I was surprised, not by tears, but by the lump in my throat that often precedes those tears? Just now - while reading this.

Jenny said... it. Appropriate and funny. Oh, Rebecca. Ambush tears in relation to me are better described by those that love me as "inappropriate crying". My sweet husband and two step-daughters have that "oh, no I am freaking out because Jenny is crying and I don't know why or what to do" look, much, I am sure, similar to your Sam's look. You see, my step-dad passed away just recently and I was nearly tear free, but when I was describing to my stepdaughters the bittersweet stories of his last day, I just broke down. Or like when we sing praise at church, yes, I get ambushed and no I am not heart is just full and it comes out my eyes. But the scripture you mentioned brought tears to my eyes. Those precious intimate revelations of how deeply God knows and cares for us....ambushes me all the time.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Great comments, y'all.
Felicity, I agree. That would be a cool thing to track. I can understand the baseball tears-I've experienced the very same thing. It's funny, I didn't cry at Sarah's high school graduation--but when I saw her and her best friend greet and hug each other, all dressed up in their prom dresses, I completely lost it. Connections and relationships really do it for me.

Pamela, I hear you. I think that was part of my tears for Greyson. Maybe I cried in thanks for his innocence, for his normal childhood self. I hope he and his family can keep life normal as possible.

Susie, Amen. Exactly what I'm trying to say.

Kat, I think you should really treasure your sensitivity. It can make life hard to be so in tune with your feelings and not have those walls built around you, but it allows you to get closer to people. And, I think, to God.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Janet, welcome to the blog! It's great to meet you.
And I agree, tears ambush me quite often in worship. If Amazing Grace is on the program, I don't even try to sing. I just stand up and mouth the words watermelon watermelon (a trick I learned in youth choir) or the faucet will start running. And if there's a baptism? Good coogley moogley, I'm done for!

Susan, "I cry whenever I think someone is doing the best they can, especially if they do it with humility." Amen! I think that's why it's so hard for me to go to my kids' sports activities. I know how they put their hearts into it, and I can barely watch! And that commercial? I have to leave the room. No, we're not saps. I think you're right. When I feel like that, it's a sign that the walls are down, that my soul is just barely under the skin. The Holy Spirit barely breathes on me and I can feel it. It's a good thing, though it requires carrying Kleenex. :)

Hi Cheryl, it's great to meet you. Thank you!

Jenny, it is really hard to fathom, the depth of the love God has. If I try to think too hard on it, my brain takes over and starts making grocery lists or thinking about cleaning the bathroom. It's just too hard for the rational mind to contemplate. But we know it when we see it, don't we. That's why I love stories like y'all have shared in these comments, stories that show that love in action, being felt. And that scripture is one of my favorites. Every now and then, I'll keep that little bottle in the photo out to remind me.

Fete et Fleur said...

Psalm 56:8 “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”

I love this beautiful verse. And yes, our tear are those silent prayers that burst forward when words are not enough.

Beautiful Post!


lynsey. said...

Cousin, first, I am so excited for the new direction of your blog. I think the Lord will use it in ways we cannot fathom. Second, I'm pretty emotional...but I was definitely ambushed by tears 2x today. Once when I was in a resident's room doing a swallow evaluation when the physical therapist came up to me and starting blurting words of praise how I treat/interact with the geriatric population. She starting welling up about how she is so passionate about this population and wishes she had the same compassion when she was my age. Therefore, I totally understand your Meals on Wheels story. The geriatric population is precious. AND THEN! On my way home from work I heard Glorlyland by Ralph Stanley on the XM radio Bluegrass station (which I listen to often) and it made me think about my family, my roots and how I miss them. What I wouldn't give to be sitting on Granny's porch having a watermelon seed spitting contest. Oh, I cried. Indeed. I didn't mean to write a book, just wanted to say your post touched my heart, and it was the exact thing I needed to get through the rest of this Friday. Thanks and I look forward to reading more in the future!

Jamie @ Bungalow Bee said...

Ahh! You made me cry, too! :) So, I guess THIS is the last time I was ambushed by tears! I honestly tear up every single time someone tells me how beautiful my daughter is. Every. single. time. So, hairmones :)

steve said...

On Sunday, the graduating seniors - both high school and college - were recognized at church. Pictures from birth to prom/graduation gowns were projected in the sanctuary. Even though we've been at this church for just one year and don't really know the graduates well, I cried. Life just goes so fast. I saw pictures from just five years ago of these beautiful young people. They were babies, really, just 12 or 13 years old. And in a flash, they are getting ready to step out on their own. I am sure that the fact that our oldest is 12 had something to do with it, but really I think it was more of a realization of how fleeting life is - and how precious.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Hey Nancy. There are so many beautiful translations of that verse that it was a real struggle to pick which one to include!

Lynsey, hey cousin. Thank you for sharing your tear stories! I would love to see you in action with your patients. I know they must love you to pieces. And isn't it amazing how music can take us right from where we are to the heart of WHO we are? I'll join you on that porch and bring the watermelon! Love you!

Jamie, you're daughter IS beautiful (here, have a tissue.:) Our love for our children runs so deep. I think it must vein all through our souls. So I hear you on that, my dear. I wouldn't put it all on the hairmones.:)

Steve, we do the same thing at FBC, and it's guaranteed to get the tears flowing. They do it in the fellowship hall and have Kleenex boxes on the table, so you know you're in for it! I know what you mean. When you see kids every week, they're just somebody else's kids. But when you watch the slideshow of their lives and let yourself think about how precious they are to their families and how fast their childhoods have gone by, it can take your breath away.

Vagabonde said...

What an inspiring post, I enjoyed it a lot. I watch TV rarely so I missed the Ellen Degeneres’s show. You asked when was the last time I was brought up to tears by someone. Let me see – well you may not like this as it was not by a Christian but by a Muslim at work. I had just received a call that my daughter had been in a car accident and was in ER. I ran for my purse and my keys to drive there, but one of the trainees, at work, came to me and said – no, let me drive you there as you are too emotional. No one else at work had offered to drive me. This trainee, from Kuwait, took me there and waited with me, and truly I had tears of thanks and gratitude for him and felt better to have someone with me.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Vagabonde, what a beautiful story! Your trainee/friend showed you authentic, generous love...I certainly don't think Christians are the only lovers out there! There are plenty of loving people of all faiths--and no faith. I'm just thankful for the Source of all love, our living God. Thanks for sharing, and I hope your daughter was okay.

Doug said...

Ambush tears. I love the term. We just had our sixth baby and as I was holding her...well you got it. Tears started coming down my face. I thought, I should be used to this by now.

judy in ky said...

I also cried at the LOST finale... and numerous times the next day, whenever I thought about it. And when John Lennon died, and when Jim Henson died. And when I was newly divorced, while grocery shopping, I broke out into tears in the middle of the produce section when I realized I didn't have to think about what "he" liked anymore.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Oh Doug, congratulations! Hardly anything gets the tears flowing like a new baby! What a grace gift! I'm so happy for you.

Judy, I'm going to be thinking of you all day long, standing in the produce section, ambushed. What a powerful story. You must have had so many emotions running through you--your soul speak was overflowing!