I met a new student recently. She was an energetic 9 year old with a big personality. As I talked to her, she frantically played the piano keys. I told her it would be hard for her to hear me over her playing and she placed her hands in her lap.
I could see her fidgeting with her clothing, the buttons on the piano bench- basically ANYTHING she could touch to keep her hands busy when she wasn’t playing.
I went home that day and loaded my tote with ALL the things. I put every fidget spinner I could find in it, and also ordered literally a thousand fun stickers. I was going into this one prepared next time!
Imagine my surprise this week when she walked through the door of my lesson room with her hands behind her back. She extended her hands and then opened them to reveal little wildflowers.
“I picked them for you!”
Then began our lesson. It was like a completely different girl! Not once did I have to tell her to stop playing while I was talking! She loves to sing and I noticed she sang the words of every piano song in her lesson book as she played. “I love the way you sing and play,” I told her. She smiled and said her last teacher discouraged her from doing this because she thought it was a distraction from her playing. I told her maybe one day she will write and sing her own songs! She smiled as she pulled out a piece of paper from her bag- “I already wrote a song!” And then she played and sang it for me. I was SUPER impressed- it was called called “Wildflowers Bloom”.
I told her I love to sing, too, and in fact I teach voice lessons. Her eyes lit up and she shared with me all of her talent show wins with singing. I think we are going to have great fun together.
What a joy it is to play a part in her (and all of my students) musical journeys!
One of the things I love doing in the car when I am driving alone is to pray out loud. I just start talking to the Lord and I will start off praying about something and then it’s like He puts other people and things to pray for in my thoughts… so I just keep on praying until I get to my destination. When I am driving to teach music lessons, I pray for my students. I pray for each of them and then pray that He would use me in their lives for His glory.
As I was praying the other day, He gave me this amazing thought – some of your students don’t know who I am… and some of them have never even been to a church. But YOU are the church because you are my disciple and my Spirit lives in you… so when your students come to take lessons from you- it’s sort of like they are going to “church”.
And then I prayed that He would give me opportunities to do just that- be the church!
And guess what happened? One of my students mentioned that she had gone on a youth retreat this past weekend. She had a great time, but the whole week afterwards had been very challenging. The Lord prompted me to ask her if she would like to sing worship songs during her lessons.
She mentioned a song that she really liked- and it was one I knew by heart. I began to play the piano introduction, and her whole demeanor changed. She closed her eyes and sang with emotion. I told her this was the kind of music that would help encourage her when she was feeling down.
When our lesson was over, I shared with her mom about our conversation and that we would also work on singing a few worship songs. Her eyes lit up, and then she opened her jacket to show me her t-shirt which read “Jesus is dope”. She shared with me that they had just gotten back into a church after going through a tough time.
And then I planted a seed- I said who knows?Maybe the Lord will have your daughter singing and leading worship at your church one day!
It was one of several amazing holy spirit- led conversations I had that day. I often wonder- would these conversations have happened if I hadn’t have prayed for these opportunities?
You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:27
I had just left church to grab lunch for David and I. Both of us have been under the weather for what seems like weeks. David stayed home from church and I went, but I had no voice. That is no fun leading worship when you don’t have a voice to sing or even speak. BUT we have an awesome worship team- and it’s not about me anyways! So I got to worship through playing piano and the team really stepped up and sang their hearts out!
It was a little weird leaving church without my hubby, and I wasn’t feeling the best either. I have been discouraged because I have not felt well for weeks now and after a while it gets you down, know what I mean?! Anyway, I got to the restaurant and gave them my to-go order, paid, and then sat down in a chair to wait for it.
I took out my phone, and immediately put it back in my bag. I just felt like was going to miss out on something. Who would have thought I had FOMO on being PRESENT?! That’s something I need to do more of!
I happened to look at the line of people waiting to order, and there was a really sweet couple standing at the register ordering their food. It was taking them a while to order, and the cashier was being so patient with them. This was a special couple- they both appeared to have down syndrome, and they kept staring at each other- grinning from ear to ear! It was the absolute most beautiful thing to see two people so in love. They stood there for a moment, and then a lady came up behind them to give them money. She looked like she was possibly the mother of one of them. They paid for the order and then took the change with absolute glee.
I was honestly a little jealous of their child-like wonder. They were so filled with joy- just standing there together in love, not a care in the world, their smiles lighting up the whole room. Nothing else mattered. In that moment I began to think about all of the moms through the years who have been faced with the prospect of having a child with special needs. How many special needs pregnancies have been terminated due to fear of the unknown, not knowing if they could handle raising a child that was different? Or maybe they were pressured by doctors to make a choice they hadn’t even considered being an option. I began to cry sitting there in the restaurant. I was filled with joy watching the two of them, and my joyful tears spilled out.
My number was called, and I grabbed my to-go order. I really wanted to speak to the mom but I didn’t know what to say. In a split second, I realized the only clear path out of the restaurant was right in front of this lady’s table. I walked up to the table and asked her if she was related to the couple at the register. She smiled so proudly. “Yes, that is my son.” I told her that I saw the love and joy they had on their faces and that it was very moving. She said that they had just recently gotten engaged to each other. How wonderful. I told her I just wanted to let her know that their beautiful smiles and the love and joy on their faces really blessed me. She smiled and said “they bless me every day!”
We have all been created by Him for His purpose. I don’t know if that couple knew Jesus, but I can tell you that the love of Jesus radiated all around them.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:13-16
One of the best things about leaving my full time job recently is that I have more time to do things I love! And the awesome thing is that the more time I make for Him, the more I see Him at work around me.
Wednesday mornings I go to a senior living center and do a mini worship service- we sing hymns, I sing a special song or two, and then I share a 10 minute devotional with them. It is one of the highlights of my week! Since I knew I would already be in town, I also arranged to meet a new friend for lunch. This is someone I had just met- but the Lord led me to reach out and spend time with her.
On the way to meet her, I kept thinking about one of my friends whom I hadn’t spoken to in several weeks. I’m going to call her on the way home, I thought to myself as I pulled up to the restaurant. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and my new friend got there at the same time as I.
We ordered and then sat down to eat. After about 5 minutes, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. Would you believe it was the SAME person that I was going to call that afternoon?! This is someone who hardly goes out… and here she was in the same restaurant as I! And then I look over at her table, and there was another friend from church with her. I couldn’t believe it. But then, there is no such thing as happenstance when we walk with God!
After our lunch, I took my new friend to introduce her to my friend. After the introductions, both of these precious ladies shared with me some prayer requests. Hard situations with no real answers. I have learned through the years, that prayer IS the most important thing we can ever do for people. “Let’s pray now, ” I said as I grabbed their hands.
And right in the restaurant we went to the Father, interceding in prayer for these situations. There was a sense of peace that came over me as I prayed. I can’t explain it other than I know God wanted me to be there at that moment doing exactly what I was doing.
As I drove home, I praised God for how he orchestrates the steps of my life. I am so thankful that I “get to” serve Him in all these little, meaningful ways!
And what a blessing to know that we can BE the church- right in the middle of a restaurant!
Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
I have joked many times about the fact that I have a ‘black thumb of death”. Literally every plant I have EVER had, I have failed to keep it alive. Oddly enough, my mom and my sister both can not only keep plants alive, but in their tender care- plants THRIVE! Both of them can grow amazing plants from tiny clippings and they just seem to have an instinct for how to care for them.
When my first daughter was born (next month she will turn 20- how is this possible?!), my mom gave me a beautiful African violet. I did everything I could to keep it alive, but it seemed to be always on the brink of death. And after about 6 years, it finally succumbed to its eternal fate.
When my beloved mother in law passed away last summer, we were given a beautiful peace lily. I thought I’d give it another shot at keeping a plant alive. Then my sister gave me a couple of her “baby” plants. She gave me a little bit of advice- just water it once a week and keep it in a partially sunny place. Well, that didn’t seem too difficult!
Imagine my delight when I noticed a NEW flower blooming on the peace lily this morning! And I thought- what if it really isn’t that hard taking care of plants? What if my labeling of myself as “someone who can’t make anything grow” has limited my ability to actually nurture plants?
Now that I have stepped away from my full-time job, I have time to actually appreciate little things like a new flower blooming. And as I noticed the flower, I glanced outside and there was a beautiful red cardinal staring at me. I am GRATEFUL for the ability to slow down and notice these little things.
And all morning I have pondered this- what other areas of my life have I limited my abilities by my negative thinking?
I think I can, I think I can…
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8
Back to the Future is one of my all time favorite movies. I love it when George McFly sees his beloved Lorraine and says “You’re my density… I mean, my destiny!”
This past year has brought so much change for my family and I. Some of the changes have been hard, and others have been huge blessings to us. Last January, I left both of my part-time jobs to take on a full time position with a non-profit ministry. It was an exciting challenge, and I really needed a change.
But by summertime, there was an emptiness setting in.
In late August, I saw a random Facebook advertisement for auditions for a community chorus. Well, that’s something I always wanted to do, but couldn’t because of juggling kids and work and all that other stuff. But now, it was something that I could make time for! I emailed the contact person, and they soon called me to set up an audition time.
It was so fulfilling to do the audition! I sang a prepared piece, and then sight read a few pages of music they handed me. It was a piece of cake- and I was so proud of myself for doing something that I had been wanting to do for so long. I hadn’t done an audition or sang in a chorus in nearly 25 years! Shortly after the audition, I received an email saying I had been selected to be in the chamber ensemble chorus.
The first night of practice, I fought back tears as I sang. I didn’t realize how much I had missed making music! It was like finding a piece of myself that I had lost.
I often have dreams- and they are mostly about music. Singing, teaching lessons, directing choirs… I have had these dreams for years. But I have struggled with the idea that being a music teacher is not enough. I have struggled through the years to find the thing God has called me to do, and all the while it has been right in front of me.
A few weeks ago, I called the music studio where I used to teach lessons part time. Are you looking for a voice teacher? I asked the owners.
Julie, we never hired anyone after you because we couldn’t find anyone with the right qualifications.
And in that moment, I felt a peace come over me.
Making music is my density…. er, I mean my destiny.
It’s the one common theme of my life- the thing that brings me the greatest joy and connects me to God. And making music connects me to other people. I LOVE making music with others and helping them to find joy in it!
So, with my husband’s blessing, I stepped out in faith and recently quit my full-time job to pursue teaching voice and piano lessons again. I am ready to pour out my skills and encouragement on others through music. I just know that the Lord has people waiting for me.
But more importantly- I’m just following the Lord’s nudges.
And that IS enough.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.- Jeremiah 29:13
I am unapologetically nostalgic and sentimental. Actual “stuff” isn’t that important to me- but the memories that certain things bring to my heart are priceless.
There are a few items that are special to me- one of which is my great-grandmother’s piano. It was passed down to my grandmother, and I can remember visiting her home during the holidays and I couldn’t wait to play it! When I got married, my grandmother gave me the piano as my wedding gift. I have used this piano to teach many, many children and adults how to play piano through the years.
Another special item is a lamp from my granny’s house. When I was a child, I remember this lamp in the room that my sister and I would stay in. It was a lamp on the top, and there was another light on the bottom that filtered through a base of tiny stars. When just the bottom portion of the light was on, it was like a night light- shining stars all over the room. It was magical– and I am happy to have this.
My beloved mother in “love”, Iris, passed away this past June. We are so grateful that my in-laws decided to move to Charlottesville last year. They left their home of over 33 years, and left much of its contents behind, too. I really admired them for make this move- to leave behind all the “stuff” to be near family. We will be forever grateful for that last year with our Mom. For the first time in our marriage (of over 25 years), we got to go to church nearly every Sunday with my in-laws. I will never forget leading worship during that year and seeing my precious mother in love raise her hands and sing praises. We spent many Sundays going out to lunch and spending time together- and that was a priceless gift!
My father-in-law had been asking me and my daughters to go through Moms clothing to make sure there wasn’t anything we wanted. Well, I knew we didn’t wear the same sizes, and didn’t think there was any clothing that we would use- after all, they left most things behind when they moved here.
Recently, my father-in-law told me a friend was going to pick up her clothing to take it to a local clothing closet. I was thankful that the friend was helping him! And then the following week, the friend called me to let me know the mission had been accomplished. He had delivered the clothing to a clothing closet, and then he said he took the wedding dress to a consignment shop. I immediately felt a lump in my throat- her wedding dress?! I had just assumed that her wedding dress wouldn’t be given away…
I thanked him for helping my father in law, and as soon as I got off the phone, I prayed. Lord, is this something I’m gonna regret not keeping? Lord knows, I don’t need another piece of clothing in my closet, lol! But something inside of me said I had to find it.
I called my father in law and asked for him to describe the bag it was in, and had him text me a picture of Mom in the dress. I called the shop, and the owner was very kind. “I think I remember this coming in. You’re welcome to come by to see if we still have it.”
As I drove to the shop, I remembered all the times Mom talked about that special day- how beautiful she felt in that dress and how overjoyed she was to get married to her sweetheart! They were happily married for over 50 years! Her wedding dress was one of the few things Mom actually wanted to bring here with her to Charlottesville- and I just couldn’t let it go!
I entered the shop and explained what I was looking for. She took me to the dress section, and there were several wedding dresses- but none resembling my Mom’s dress. I described the bag to her and she said she’d go check in their processing room to see if it was still there.
“I think we have it!” I followed her into the back room, and there it was- still hanging in the original bag, with the original receipt stapled to it. “Merry Christmas,” they said as they handed me the bag. I had tears in my eyes as I shared with them about my precious mother-in-“love” and what she meant to me- and what a treasure it is to have this dress in my family.
When I got home that day, I carried the white dress bag in with me. It was like bringing a “treasure” home! I hope that one day I can pass this beautiful heirloom down to my daughters and tell them the story of how special this dress was to Grandma.
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. -Philippians 1:3
On this Thanksgiving morning, I am giving thanks for so many things. One of the things I am most grateful for is my relationship with my daughters.
My “baby” is now in the middle of her senior year in high school, and my oldest in her second year of college- and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Not for the things they do- but for who they are! I love laughing with them and remembering funny things that have happened through the years.
Just the other day we were cracking up about our old washing machine. We have absolutely the WORST luck in buying appliances. In the 18 years we have lived here, we have had multiple refrigerators, multiple dishwashers, washing machines, numerous vacuum cleaners, and we just finally replaced our broken over-the-oven microwave. We “nurse” these half broken appliances for what seems like years until they completely die- and only then do we look for the latest and greatest deal to replace them.
Well, our washing machine had been replaced and wasn’t really that old- but of course, it stopped working.
Now, to be fair- each of us do our own laundry. Some of us put more items in the washing machine than others, so each of us had a different experience when we washed our clothing.
I began hearing each family members groan when they went to switch the clothes into the dryer- because the clothes would still be sopping wet. The drum stopped spinning. It would wash the clothing fine, but every now and then, the spin cycle wouldn’t work. I would work fine for me- but not for my hubby or the girls…
Somehow, they realized that if they opened the top before the spin cycle, you could use your hands to spin the inside of the drum to get it going, and then it would pick up speed and wring the water out of the clothes. This began a season of us waiting for that point in the cycle… and then we would hear someone taking out a few sopping wet items to lessen the load, and then you’d hear the hands slowly spinning the drum. The funny thing is that this became normal.
I remember one day it didn’t spin the clothes for me. I was trying to spin the drum with my hands to get it going- just like I had watched my girls and hubby do- and I was really frustrated that I couldn’t get it spinning. Hearing what I was trying to do, my husband called out to me- “You’re not doing it right!” He then came in and showed me his skilled hand spinning technic. Sure enough- he got it going!
I told him he was the Laundry dj- spinning the drum to get the laundry going. We laughed so hard at the absurdity that we were “laundry dj-ing” for so long!
It was only a month or two later that the washer completely stopped working. And yes, we found a great deal on a new one.
So today I am thankful for funny memories with my daughters and hubby.
And that today, we can wash our clothes by simply pressing the button 🙂
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.- Proverbs 31:25
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 am beyond blessed that I “get to” meet up with my older daughter and husband for lunch on occasion during the work week. It is especially easy since Katie has been doing an internship at David’s work.
But on this particular day, Katie happened to be off, so David and I planned to meet for lunch- just the two of us. As soon as I was headed to pick up David, Katie texted me to tell me she was at in town running errands. I picked David up, and asked if we should invite Katie to join us. NO- we never get to meet up for lunch alone anymore!
Wouldn’t you know that as I merged onto the main road in front of the restaurant we were headed to, there was none other than Katie RIGHT BEHIND US! We could not escape her. She called and sheepishly asked where we were headed. And of course, we told her she could join us. I mean, what are the chances that she would literally be behind us at that exact moment driving through town?!
Then, as soon as she got out of the car, I realized we were dressed exactly the same! TWINS! How crazy was that?!
David and I say all the time how blessed we are that our girls actually WANT to eat with us… that they enjoy talking to us and being together.
And I remind myself daily to be thankful for every moment… because you never know what tomorrow will bring!
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes- James 4:14