bloom

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 🙂

Isaiah 11:1- A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Create

Genesis 1:1- In the beginning, God created…

As a pre-teen, I used to sit on my old piano bench and play away my thoughts on the keys. It was therapeutic to let melancholy chords ring while melodies ran through my head. Creating music made me feel alive!

I remember the first time I shared a piano piece I wrote with my piano teacher. I was nervous, but proud of the song I had created. 

I played with hesitation- desperately wanting my teacher’s approval. When I finished, the first thing he said was that I should try this chord instead of that chord …and surely it would sound better if I did it this way instead. Lots of criticism followed. 

I was crushed. I remember thinking surely if I had wanted it that way, I would have already written it that way!

That one moment had a huge impact on me.For many years, I felt like what I created didn’t have value, wasn’t good enough. 

But here’s the thing-we all have a song to sing. How boring it would be if all songs had the same chords and melodies. How bland music would be if we all had the same voice. 

Let Him create something NEW in you- and then pour it out as an offering for His glory! 

manifest

manifest= clear or obvious to the mind

My hubby and I began watching a series on Netflix recently called Manifest. We were hooked from the beginning, as the storyline is very intriguing and the series offers lots of twists and turns.

One of the main themes of the series is Romans 8:28- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. This is a verse I quote often, because it’s an encouragement that we are called to follow and seek Him in all things, and a reminder that we can trust He has a greater purpose at work than what we are able to see with our own eyes. We can completely trust that even when we are in a BAD situation, that somehow He is going to use it for His good.

In the show, the survivors of the 5 year plane disappearance hear voices, later referred to “callings”. These callings will at times bring survivors together to solve a puzzle… always leading them to help someone in need and miraculously these callings connect to each other in deeply personal ways with the characters. This is one of the best ways I have seen my walk with Jesus displayed on a screen… and probably one of the easiest ways to describe what it feels like for me to hear that “small whisper” of the Holy Spirit, and to walk with Jesus each day.

Just the other day, I went to a local senior living community to do a worship service in the middle of the week. Honestly, it’s one of the highlights of the week for me. I play and sing a few hymns with the residents, we pray, and I share a short devotional and then close with another song and prayer. It fills my heart with great joy to see the residents clapping, singing, and experiencing the blessing that is corporate worship. When I leave, I always feel like I have made a difference in their lives for Jesus.

And this past week- it was the walk to my car where I heard the “small whisper”.

There are outdoor patio areas for the residents to sit outside of their rooms on the ground floor. It happened to be raining that day as I was heading out to my car. I spotted a lady who was all done up- she looked like Elizabeth Taylor and was strikingly beautiful. She held a book in her hand and was gazing out over the parking lot watching the rain fall.

As clear as day, I felt the Lord telling me to go and speak to her.

I said hi as I approached her and she greeted me.

“Isn’t it just heavenly listening to the rain?” she said to me.

Listening to the rain is one of my favorite things to do. We chatted for just a moment, and then I invited her to join me next week for our time of worship.

“Oh, I’m a life-long atheist,” she replied.

And what struck me was her tone- she was not timid or shy about what she believed, but was confident and proud of her declaration.

I smiled and told her I loved her and would welcome her to join us.

I thought about her statement that the sound of the rain was heavenly.

I think about heaven a lot.

Even our greatest, most pleasurable moments here on earth will pale in comparison to the place He has prepared for us, and I want this special lady to see that place one day.

Romans 8:28… ALL THINGS work together for good. Who knows- maybe I will never see her again. Maybe the Lord simply used me to plant a tiny mustard seed in her heart.

But just maybe I will see her next week for worship!

Romans 8:28

Joy Comes

We planted a baby magnolia tree in our yard several years ago. My husband was gifted it by someone at his work, and we had been thinking of planting something in the center of our circular driveway for some time – so it was the perfect addition to our yard.

Well, knowing my lack of gardening skills, I followed the instructional pamphlet to the t. I watered it with exactly the amount it said, and as often as was instructed -and I couldn’t wait to watch it grow and bloom. After all, magnolia blooms have the most wonderful fragrance.

And it took forEVER to see a flower. At first, there was just one or two. Then the next year there were a few more. And again, at the beginning of the summer it didn’t look like we were going to have any blooms. But after all the rain we have had these past couple of weeks, I looked out and saw not one or two, but a bunch of little flower buds!

It’s amazing how God created all these beautiful trees and plants, and they grow and bloom and reproduce without anyone or anything telling it what to do! It really is a miracle when you think about it!

And as I was out there this morning enjoying the blooms, God reminded me of all the days I saw nothing. All the while that tree was growing and faithful to do what it needed to do to produce the “fruit”.

Be faithful

Keep waiting to see the blooms.

Joy comes in the morning.

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning- Psalm 30:5

Empty Spaces

“You love when I’m empty…”

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?

You love when I’m empty…”

In Tune

I had an “aha” moment recently.

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.

Abide in me, and I in you- John 15:4

Julievision

I have been listening to a great online course on overthinking by Jon Acuff. In one of the sessions he talked about having empathy for others- as well as for yourself. He describes empathy as “caring about the things that the people you care about care about”.

This really resonates with me. My husband and my daughters all enjoy the Marvel Movies and like to “geek out” over the characters and story lines. I admit that this is something that I have had to work at caring about. It just wasn’t something I was exposed to or watched growing up. But because I love my family, I have learned to find joy in watching these movies with them, too.

We recently watched the Wandavision series on Disney Plus. At first, my hubby told me I wouldn’t enjoy it- so I didn’t need to watch it with him. And then I snuck downstairs one evening, sat on the couch, and was mesmerized by Wanda’s perfectly crafted sitcom world. Who doesn’t dream of having the perfect family like you see on tv?

I asked lots of questions -because although I have watched most of the Marvel movies, I can’t remember anything these days… and the more questions I asked, the more dots were connected.

Wanda had experienced so much personal loss that she created this entire fictional “bubble” for her make-believe family. She controlled every aspect of this world, down to everything that was said. Eventually she began to lose control, and by the end she realized that she couldn’t stay in that perfect bubble- and she said goodbye to her self-made life, causing her to deal with the personal grief and loss she has experienced.

But the biggest dot that was connected for me was that I am so much like Wanda-

I overthink.

I desperately want to protect myself (and my loved ones) from being hurt.

And to do this, I try to control my own environment.

Self-realization is HUGE! Just recognizing our own tendencies opens doors to change.

What’s the remedy?

Moment by moment surrender. Allowing Him full control of my life and of everything around me. Not worrying about what others do or think- but simply resting in Him and trusting in Him in ALL things.

Isn’t it so cool how God uses something like a Marvel TV series as a mirror to reveal something inside of you?

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14

Happy Anniversary to us- 24 years today!

I “Press” On

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Over a year ago, I decided to share a blog post I had written on my Facebook page.  It was a story about me and my daughters that happened several years ago- one that was especially dear to me.  Within about 5 minutes, I had a notification from Facebook that my article had been reported because it violated their “community standards”.  My website had been blocked.  Not only was my website blocked, but every single post that I had ever written and shared on my personal page was also removed, and I got a notification for each one.

It didn’t make any sense.

What I had written contained nothing offensive, other than it was a heart-warming story about a mom and daughter.  I did everything I could to appeal it.  I spent hours googling and looking for anyone to talk to about it.  And if you’ve ever tried- you know that it is absolutely impossible to find anyone from Facebook to call, email, message, or talk to about getting your site “unblocked”.

So about 6 months later, I paid to “upgrade” my WordPress site- hoping that I would then be able to share my posts to Facebook again.  Unfortunately,  it didn’t work- my site was (and still is) blocked.

To be honest- that is a big reason I haven’t written on this blog as frequently.

What bothers me even more is how I used to be so apprehensive about sharing things on Facebook… and then once I let go and started not caring- well, it was too late.  

But who am I writing for?

The Audience of One.

I have allowed the Facebook blockage to also lead to writer’s block.  Do you know that I wrote a blog post every single week (sometimes more than one) for almost 6 years straight?  That is an amazing accomplishment for me!

It has been good to take a break.

But it’s good to be back 😉

I “press” on- Philippians 3:14 

what matters most

Time is an extremely valuable commodity.

With every passing day, I am more aware of how precious our time is and how important it is to spend it wisely.  Lately, I have found great joy in spending time with my husband and daughters.  As the girls are getting older, I thoroughly enjoy our shopping excursions, our deep discussions, and binge-watching tv shows with them.  And as the girls have matured, my hubby and I have been able to spend more time together- going to the movies, going out to dinner… it is a wonderful new season we are in!

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Last night, my hubby jokingly said that our house wasn’t the cleanest.

True.  Very true.

And my response?

“maybe not, but it’s full of LOVE!” 

“Yes it is!”

And that’s what matters most to me.

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I am so thankful to have a hubby who “gets” me.  Who tells me to order take out for dinner because he knows I’m tired- and honestly- I don’t enjoy cooking either.  Who knows that if I don’t spend quiet time at the piano every day, my mood suffers.  A hubby who encourages me to write and be creative and to do all the things that bring me joy.   And I’m thankful for girls who want the shared experience with me of watching our favorite shows together, who don’t expect 4-course home-cooked meals, and who make me friendship bracelets.

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How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.  

James 4:14

the best is yet to come

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Time keeps ticking away, and some days I wanna hit the “pause” button.

In a few short weeks, we will have been in our home for 15 years.  I can’t even wrap my mind around that!  When we first moved here, my oldest was a baby, and we didn’t have my youngest until the next summer.  I had my life all planned out- I’d teach lessons for a few years and then we would move back to our hometown…

and then that didn’t happen.

I always felt like I was waiting for the next move, or the next big thing.  Little did I know- that big thing for me was God calling me into ministry- right here! And what a blessing it has been to follow Him and serve Him- even when “following Him” means staying put.

But I keep thinking about how quickly these 15 years have gone… and how quickly my girls will be grown.  This mom can’t bear the thought of all the changes that will happen in the next few years!

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I have found myself CONSTANTLY saying “I can’t believe how fast these years are going by…”  I recently joked with my husband that this is how I begin all of my conversations with him.

And then the other day- I leashed the dogs up to take them outside, and as I stepped off of each stair of our front porch- I heard the creaking of weathered wood and saw the rusty nails.  Again, I began to think of all the years I carried my babies up those stairs- and how even the front porch has aged!

And in a split second, I felt the Lord nudge me and He whispered-

Stop looking behind you- there’s SO MUCH for you to look forward to.  

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It was a brief moment, but one that has shifted this nostalgic mindset of mine!

He is always doing something NEW…

and if this momma is so busy lamenting and thinking about the past-

I might miss it 🙂

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,  Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9 

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He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. — Psalm 40:3

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