For YEARS I have longed to sing again in a choir, but between work, family stuff, and ministry commitments, just couldn’t find the time.
But two weeks ago, I kept seeing an add for the Virginia Consort Chorus pop up. Coincidence?
Nothing is a coincidence for people that follow Jesus! Each time I saw the ad pop up, I head that still, small voice say “do it!” Each time I saw the ad, the voice got louder and louder… until after seeing the ad about 10 times, I finally said out loud “Okaaaaaaaay! I’ll do it!”
I auditioned and it felt so good to do something like that after all these years!
We had our first practice this past Monday. It was heavenly to sing again with so many amazingly talented musicians. I am super excited and thankful that it has worked out for me to sing again!
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.- Colossians 3:17
I have had lots of personal changes over the last few months. One of those changes was that I stopped teaching music lessons.
On my last day of lessons, I had the joy of teaching one of my favorite girls. I tell them they are all my favorites- but this was my youngest student and she stole my heart. Every lesson, she taught me something about myself- and for that I am grateful.
“I’ll race you!” She would say as soon as I met her at her mom’s car. This precocious blond girl would then run with all her might to beat me to the lesson room. Every lesson was the same routine. I would pretend to run super slow and she would beat me. Then she would hide her piano books behind the piano and when I entered the room, she would say she couldn’t find them. I’d pretend to look around everywhere for them, and low and behold- they would be right behind the piano- exactly where she would put them every week!
This girl made teaching fun. She was an absolute joy. And it absolutely broke my heart the last day I taught her. Her eyes were teary, her face sullen- she moped into the music room, barely looking up from the floor. No racing, no hiding her books. She looked up and handed me something peculiar-it was something I’d never seen before- a bright red waxy bulb with a little green shoot sticking out of the top.
“This is soo sweet of you! I will put it on my piano at home, and I’ll think about you every day that I see it!”
I confess- part of me was a little bit worried. Because if you haven’t read a few of my blogs about gardening…. well you’re right- there aren’t any! Because did I ever tell you I have the black thumb of death? I literally kill every plant I have ever had. Even when I try my hardest to take care of it! So when my precious student gave me a plant, I was worried that my black thumb would somehow kill this thing- even though you aren’t supposed to have to water it or do anything to make it grow.
I brought it home and read the instructions. You gotta be kidding me. I literally didn’t have to do a thing! Just set it in front of a window and rotate it every day or so… and it was going to bloom? This was crazy.
And on Christmas, I had a gorgeous pink bloom. Then a few more.
I thought I would be throwing this red waxy bulb away, but the shoots kept coming. Each time I cut away a dead stalk, then grew another.
And another bloom, and another.
Here we are at the end of March, and once again- I see new leaves shooting up from the wax bulb.
The blooms keep coming.
I wish I could tell that sweet girl how much joy this amaryllis bulb is bringing me. I feel like it’s such a great metaphor for where I’m at right now. So much change, some of it hard, and yet I already see so many shoots coming up out of the ground of my life. And once again, my student continues to teach me. I can, in fact, keep a plant alive 🙂
I am a “morning” person by nature, but ever since the time change this past November, my dogs have wanted to get up before the crack of dawn. Literally. I mean like 5am sometimes. I have always been a light sleeper- and I can hear their faint high pitch whimper… which slowly turns into a deep, guttural “ARF”! The “boys” are getting older, and when they’ve gotta go, well- they’ve gotta go!
So I am usually out walking with them sometimes as early as 6am. I have learned the hard way that it is much more enjoyable when I take the time to actually prepare for this walk ahead of time. If you know me- the less I have to bring with me the better! But these chilly mornings beg for socks, snow boots, a hat, scarf, gloves, and a winter coat.
I hate wearing all that stuff, because I feel like I am weighed down. But deep down I know that preparation is everything. Just like I prepare myself to brace the cold, I have to also prepare my heart and mind each day for the spiritual walk… so that I can be prepared to weather whatever storm comes my way 🙂
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.- 1 Peter 1:13
I heard this line recently when I was listening to a new worship song, and it slapped me in the face.
How can God love it when I am empty?
I thought about the idea of emptiness and what that means to me. When something is empty, we immediately want to fill it up. I know when the paper towel roll is empty, I want to run downstairs to get a new roll to fill the dispenser. When we are almost out of dog treats and the jar begins to look empty- I know I’m going to be in trouble the next day when I bring my dogs inside from a walk unless I fill up the jar again.
And yet, there are some things we keep “full” that don’t necessarily need to be filled. Like my stomach, lol.
The idea of emptiness gives me a sense of longing… that something is not complete.
But that line struck me. Does God love it when I’m empty?
I thought about Jesus feeding the 5000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. I bet that basket looked pretty empty to the disciples that day.
And yet, that emptiness gave God room to do a miracle.
When we are empty, we long for more.
When we are empty, we have nothing left.
When we are empty, we are completely dependent on what He has to give us.
Where can you make an empty space in your life for God?
This year has been a challenge for everyone for so many different reasons. Covid, quarantine, masks, virtual school, changed routines... the list goes on and on… but I am super proud of our daughters and how they have not just “survived” this school year- they have THRIVED! My oldest is a senior and my youngest is a sophomore in high school. All my “senior” wanted to do this year was to go to Orlando Florida to Universal Studios to celebrate her graduation.
When we looked into packages, we realized it was way cheaper for us to go in the spring instead of the heat of summer, so we spent the last week in Florida- and it was AMAZING!
Our family, along with one of the girls’ closest friends, spent a full 7 days together. The schedule was not for the faint of heart- my senior had a list of must-do things at Universal- one of which was riding a new Harry Potter themed roller coaster- “Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Ride”. I found out that on the opening day of this ride, people actually waited in line for 10 HOURS to ride it! Did I say 10 HOURS?!?!? When I found that out, I wasn’t sure if we would actually make it on this ride or not! But all things worked out, and after only a couple of hours waiting, we were able to ride it 2 times! (and it was TOTALLY worth the wait!!!)
We walked over 8 miles a day when we were at Universal… and basically stood in line for hours every day. But something amazing happened- we actually ENJOYED being together! We were tired, but we had the best time!
One of the gift shops had this quirky “Thing 1 and Thing 2” Dr Seuss coffee cup that we fell in love with. The girls said that it was definitely a “need” for me, since I love coffee so much. It was my last purchase while we were at the park.
This morning, I pulled out that new mug and watched the Keurig fill it up with coffee to the tippy top. The funny thing is that the top is actually tilted- it looks like two coffee cups stacked on top of one another, so it’s quirky for sure! And wouldn’t you know it- as soon as I picked it up, the coffee spilled out. I guess it’s hard to hold an uneven topped coffee cup straight 🙂
I am so thankful for the amazing week with my family- and their special friend who is very much like a part of our family. There wasn’t a single moment that entire week that I wished I was home, or that I could be alone, or go off by myself to “recharge”. That week reminded me of how much I love my family, how much I enjoy their company, and how blessed I am. I didn’t know how badly I needed that week with them! Isn’t it funny how this gift to our “senior” turned out being a gift for all of us 🙂 Who would have known that to “recharge”, I needed to spend MORE time with my family?!
As my coffee spilled out this morning, I felt joy spilling out of me.
It’s good to be home…but I will never forget the amazing week we had together.
Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup- Psalm 16:5
One morning I woke up and I knew that the Lord was asking me to do something. When this happens, I am on a mission… obsessed with completing whatever the “thing” is the Lord wants me to do.
This “thing” was getting the Covid vaccine. I will admit to you that I was on the fence for a while about it. I am healthy, not high risk at all, but I knew that if the Lord wanted me to do it that I would know. And one morning my hubby called me while I was working and asked me about getting it. As soon as we finished our conversation, I knew that the Lord wanted me to do it.
So I checked numerous websites, and finally ended up waiting in an online list. I knew it might be a while, because it kept saying “wait time over one hour”. Now, this was just the site to sign up for a time for the vaccine. And so I kept waiting… and waiting… and waiting…
And nearly 5 HOURS LATER, I was sent to the home screen to sign up for a time. I entered my zip code, and it said no appointments available.
I really really wanted to throw the laptop across the room.
I had waited 5 hours…5 HOURS… only to end up right back at square one.
I knew if the Lord really did want me to do it, that He would make a way for it to happen, so I resigned myself to not thinking about it anymore this week.
And then something really cool happened.
I was supposed to teach some make-up music lessons this week, and then ended up not needing to do it. Guess how many hours these lessons equalled? Yep- 5 hours! Those hours I spent waiting for a non-existent appointment were given back to me in the form of rest.
And then another really cool thing happened.
My husband received an email this morning from a coworker asking if he wanted to receive a vaccine today, and that one of the clinics had vaccine appointments available and spouses were also welcome to receive one, too. I told him that was totally a God thing- and that we should definitely do it. We went, received our vaccines, and it could not have been easier.
I used to be fearful of stepping out of the “boat” to do the things I felt God telling me to do.
These days, I fear NOT doing the thing the Lord asks me to do- because He is ALWAYS faithful. His ways and thoughts are so much higher and wiser than mine, so when I hear that still, small voice- I answer “yes” every time!
I want to always be available for Him. When I do whatever the “thing” is that God asks me to do, I am immediately filled with peace.
So my 5 hours didn’t end up in an appointment- but God made another way.
Owning two pianos, tuning them regularly can be quite costly. I have a pretty good ear and can tell when a note begins to sound “off”, so I decided to look up tuning kits to see how affordable they were. Much to my surprise, they were pretty inexpensive, so I purchased a piano tuning kit and couldn’t wait for my package to arrive. I mean- how hard could it be to tune a piano?!
My baby grand piano is nearly 100 years old, and has a couple of notes that are notoriously wonky. I love the quirks of owning an antique piano, but I have begun avoiding playing certain notes because they have become so incredibly out of tune- even an untrained ear could hear the somber sound.
The kit arrived on a Sunday afternoon (thanks, Amazon!) and it was like Christmas morning all over again! I watched a couple of videos on piano tuning ahead of time, so I knew a little bit about what I was in for.
I went right to the worst offender- my bass C note- notably the most played key on my piano. I opened the top of the piano and found the bolt that needed adjusting. I loaded a tuning app onto my phone and then placed the tuning wrench on the bolt and pulled it ever so slightly. It didn’t take much turning to change the pitch, but boy did I have to pull to get that bolt to move! A little to the left, a little to the right, and that C sang like a songbird!
But something peculiar happened.
As I played, I noticed that other notes were ever so slightly under pitch compared to the C… so I began tweaking a few more, then even more… until I began at the lowest note and started to work up.
Let me just say that this process was more difficult than I thought! My hands ached from gripping and pulling the tuning wrench, my back was sore from bending over the piano, and it took me hours. But it was totally worth it! And I have a completely new understanding and appreciation for piano technicians and the amount of skill it takes to do this for a living!
I kept thinking about how tuning a piano is so much like being “in tune” with the Holy Spirit. The more you begin to listen and adjust things in your life that are out of tune to Him, the more things you see that need adjusting. I’ll be honest- it is hard for me not to pull out that tuning fork every day to double check the pitches on the piano… but once I start tuning, it will reveal others that also need to be adjusted.
But that’s what our walk with Jesus is about… being in a constant state of tuning to Him.
Tuning our thoughts to His thoughts… our words to His Word… our heart to His.
Last week was my husband’s birthday. I admit that I am not a good “gift giver”. It’s not that I don’t enjoy giving gifts, or purchasing things for others- it’s the pressure of looking for that perfect thing- the one that will make someone feel like the king (or queen) of the world, as Leonardo DiCaprio says in the movie Titanic. And let’s face it- as adults, most of us have what we need– and if we don’t, then we just buy it!
The girls and I got him a few things that we knew he would like, but we knew the best present to give him was the gift of being with friends. He is an extroverted “people person” and loves being social- and he also enjoys playing games. So the girls and I planned a small murder mystery game party with a few of our closest friends (who are like our family).
And I think I was the one who received the greatest gift that night…
As an introvert, I love watching people and taking in the scene. I watched the joy and excitement on my hubby’s face that evening and it was such a blessing to me. It was a blessing to be with our close friends, and to see the girls’ and my “gift” played out (pun intended 🙂 all evening long!
The greatest gift YOU can ever give is yourself–
your time, your talents, your attention…
In YOUR presence there is fullness of JOY- Psalm 16:11
It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since my husband and I packed up and moved to Charlottesville with our 1 year old daughter. I never imagined we would move away from our hometown, but literally everything fell into place and it just felt like that was where God wanted us to be.
I had been thinking about that date for a while- July 10th. For the last few months, I have noticed how not only have my girls have grown up, but so has everything around my house! The trees in front of our dining room window tower over the house now. I sat on our front porch steps recently and saw all the little markings in the wood- remembering the days when the girls were little and I would sit outside with a watchful eye on them.
And it all seems to have happened overnight.
The funny thing was- that date came and went and I completely forgot! But the next day, the four of us were driving into town to get Chick-fil-A, and one of my daughters remembered and mentioned it.
“Hey- wasn’t yesterday the day y’all moved here? It’s been the best 16 years of your life, hasn’t it?” one of my daughters said to me with a cheshire grin.
Yes it has.
Want to know why?
I could go on and on about how wonderful my daughters are and how super proud I am of them for so many things. Or I could say it’s because of my husband and what a great dad he is and how thankful I am for all he does for us. Or all my sweet fur-babies… two dogs and two bunnies (which belong to my oldest daughter)…
But of all the wonderful things I have to be thankful for, there is only one that is worthy of all my praise and that is Jesus.
These have absolutely been the best years of my life and it’s all because I surrendered all of my desires and plans to His. He has been so faithful and I have seen Him work not only in my life, but in the lives of so many others, including my family.
Do you know how awesome it is that my 17 and 15 year old daughters WANT to come to church early with me on Sundays?
I am blessed.
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
This past Sunday, as I sat down at the keyboard on the stage at church, I noticed something on the keys. There was some kind of seed resting on middle C. A sunflower seed perhaps?
The strange thing is- I NEVER eat on the stage at church, and don’t recall seeing anyone else eat either. I usually play the piano, but for the past 3 weeks or so, I have been using the keyboard to lead worship.
So where this seed came from is a complete mystery!
But it was a great reminder that morning to keep the faith.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. – Matthew 17:20
We have to continue to fix our eyes on Jesus, moment by moment, and believe that things WILL get better!
And any obstacles you are facing today-
He may not REMOVE them,
but He WILL see you THROUGH them!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33