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 ūüôā

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‚Äôs approval. When I finished, the first thing he said was that I should try this chord instead of that chord ‚Ķand 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‚Äôt have value, wasn‚Äôt 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! 

Open my eyes

One evening last week, my voice student became MY teacher.

It had been a busy day-but a good one!

I began to play the song we were working on, and I noticed my student had fixed her gaze on the wall above the door.

“What are you staring at?” I asked her, curiously.

“The clock! When I watch the clock, the time goes by slowly.”

I looked at her a little funny.

Then she added “My voice lessons go by so quickly and I don’t want it to end!”

She flashed me her joyous smile, and I had to fight back the tears.

Because the good Lord convicted me of all the times I have hoped for the time to pass quickly-

so I can go on to the next thing.

He reminded me of all the times I am thinking of what needs to be done when I get home,

my “to-do” list for the next day- instead of being fully present in the moment.

When we walk with the Lord, in each and every moment there is JOY to be found.

You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.- Psalm 16:11

My daughter made me this musical mask ūüôā

all things are becoming NEW

Seasons come

and seasons go 

but they always cycle back 

you know?

An old skill resurrected- 

I’ll teach 

new lives

for my heart to reach! 

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I am super excited to do something old today… well, I mean NEW!

When I got out of college, I began teaching music in public school. I loved my job, but I knew it would only be for a “season”. Once I knew I was expecting our first daughter, I wanted to be at home with her. I started teaching voice and piano lessons in my home and it worked out perfectly for a season while my girls were little… and then as the girls got older and began going to school, the afternoon/evening schedule became harder for our family. What a blessing it was that once I decided to not take on any new students, gradually they moved on to other things. I was on staff part time at church, and as my responsibilities increased there- my students decreased until I had none.

It has been nearly 7 years since I have taught voice and piano lessons, and for some strange reason I have wanted to start to teach again. I love pouring my musical passion into others and helping to cultivate their skills. I love watching those “aha” moments when your students really grasp a new concept, reach a new level in their musical understanding… and I LOVE recitals! Watching students grow and bloom and become more confident is the most amazing thing! My goal in teaching is not to make the next musical prodigy- but to make them fall in love with the craft of making music!

I recently reached out to a local music studio and they happened to be in need of a voice teacher. It’s only 10 minutes from my house and I am going to teach one afternoon a week. The set up is perfect for me. The girls are in high school and are self sufficient now and another blessing- I don’t have to keep my whole house clean (like I did when I taught in my home!) Woohoo!! And while I am still on staff and work part time at church, I can easily add an afternoon of teaching to my schedule.

So today is my day 1-and all of my time slots are filled! I have 7 voice students and one piano student, and I can’t wait to meet them today ūüôā

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are becoming new.

2 Corinthians 5:17

He makes all things beautiful in His time

Processed with Moldiv

A sunny, snow-covered field… taken by my youngest daughter

I have many bittersweet memories from my teaching days. Teaching is something I was drawn to- because I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. ¬†I wanted to inspire others to dream and to find joy in doing what they love to do. ¬†For me- that “thing” has always been music.

I had one student in particular that I really connected with. ¬†She was very shy. ¬†She took both piano and voice lessons. She didn’t always practice- but who am I kidding? ¬†Neither did I when I was her age. ¬†I always told my students that my greatest desire was for them to have passion for music. ¬†Not to be the next Beethoven or Mozart, but to really love music and to find joy in creating music. When this student sang, she lit up the room. I saw her passion and it inspired me to be a better teacher.

I will never forget the day her mom called me to tell me she would no longer be taking lessons from me.  I was devastated. I grieved the loss of this student I had poured my heart and soul into for several years.  She even babysat my children. Over the years, I learned that this was just a part of teaching.  We pour ourselves into students, and then we let them go. I later found out that she started taking lessons from someone who concentrated on opera and classical singing.

That made me feel even worse. Because when we have a pity party- it’s all about ME! ¬†I thought I must not have been a good enough teacher. ¬†For years this thought of not being “good enough” has plagued me.

I walked into the grocery store the other day, sort of feeling like I wanted to hide from the world. ¬†I smiled and chit-chatted as I saw several people I knew that day. ¬†I was getting into the check out line, and wouldn’t you know- the mom of my former student was pushing her cart by me. I smiled and asked her how she was doing. ¬†Then I asked her how her daughter was.

She told me to hold on just a minute. ¬†She took out her phone, and to be honest- it looked like she was texting or checking her email. ¬†I stood there for what seemed like an unusually long period of time, and then she said “I wanted to show this to you.”

She handed me her phone and showed me a youtube video of her daughter- a beautiful grown woman now- sitting cross legged on the floor playing guitar, and singing her heart out.  I heard the joy in her voice as she sang, and I had to hold back my tears.

Her mom leaned in close to me and said, “You started that. She learned that from you, you know. I am so grateful to you, Julie.”

She looked right at me and pointed at me as she spoke. It was like God Himself had spoken those words to me.  I finally heard someone say I had made a difference.

I told her mom that hearing that from her, and hearing her daughter sing again meant the world to me. After all those years of feeling like I had done something wrong, or that I wasn’t a good enough teacher- I finally realized something…

I had planted a seed. Sometimes God uses us for only a short season. I was no longer sad about her moving on- but thankful to have been a part of her journey.

In that moment He took a bittersweet memory and made it beautiful- all in His perfect time!

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

Full circle

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¬†Monday was the 1 year anniversary of starting this blog, and also my birthday. This past weekend was probably one of the most wonderful I’ve ever experienced, and so I’m left standing on a mountain top. For the first time in my life, things have come full circle.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be-Psalm 139:16 

After the first half of my awesome weekend , I had another wonderful experience. I was visiting my hometown, and felt led to go with a friend to her church. ¬†You see, I don’t get the opportunity to visit other churches because of doing ministry in my own church. ¬†So, it was a joy to be there- and it was as if God used everything in that service to minister to my spirit in a deep way. I cried when I saw my friend- just the excitement of seeing her for the first time in many years, and having the opportunity to worship with her was so wonderful! ¬†As we sang, I realized that I actually knew the worship leader. ¬†She was one of my very first piano and voice students! She even babysat my oldest daughter when she was an infant! ¬†I cannot tell you what a joy it was to see how God was using her as she led worship. ¬†She had the voice of an angel. ¬†Simply wonderful to witness! ¬†I hadn’t seen her in 10 years and my heart was overflowed with joy!

When my girls were babies, I felt like I was a failure for not following my dream and becoming a high school choir director. I had the degree to do it, but I knew that I wanted to be home with the girls… so I taught piano and voice lessons from my home. ¬†I loved it, but I always knew I’d only do it for a season. I can’t tell you how many times I questioned whether I really made a difference in my student’s lives when I taught lessons. So, seeing this former student was truly a God incident- not a coincidence! ¬†I truly felt that He was reaffirming that He was, in fact, the one in charge of my life- every little step of it! ¬†Even down to the young girl that would babysit my daughter 10 years ago!

And that my “dream” of being a high school choral director was my dream- not necessarily His plan for me! ¬†¬†

And if that wasn’t enough, here’s another God-incident that morning- one of the people I hoped to see there was one of my former college professors. My friend informed me that she probably wouldn’t be there that day because the choir she directs was taking a break for the summer. ¬†But sure enough, in the middle of the worship- led by my former student, my former teacher gets up from the far corner of the church to share a Word from God. ¬†I would never have known she was there if God had not led her to share that morning! ¬†I literally jumped over people to find her during the friendship time!

¬†I hadn’t seen her in probably 10 years! ¬†When I went up to her, I asked her if she remembered me, and she said “Julie! You’re my daughter!” and she wrapped her arms around me. When I told her that I was a worship pastor now, we both shed joyful tears- and she prayed the most lovely prayer over me. ¬†I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. ¬†Every song that was sung, the message, the Spirit…was as if God had made a special appointment just for me right in that place.

God was bringing my life full circle. ¬†He was in every little detail. No, I’m not a high school choir director, but I have the wonderful privilege of serving Him in my church and ministering through music, and through many other ways. ¬†His plan for me has been more wonderful than my plan ever could be. It is awe inspiring to look back on all the little details of your life and see how He has been in it all. ¬†Being in that church service- one that I almost didn’t go to- reaffirmed that I am exactly where He wants me.

When we say “yes” to God, we open the door for Him to do amazing things!

¬†I’m still standing on a mountain top- and the view is magnificent!

It’s not just notes and words

One of my dreams came true this weekend. I got to go back to my old high school and sing some of my all-time favorite choral songs again with all of my old friends!! (ok, we’re not really that old, are we??)

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the opening of our high school- and Dr K, our choral director, has been there since the beginning. ¬†So to celebrate, he invited anyone who had ever been a part of his top ensembles to join together for a reunion… except it was so much more than that.¬† I reconnected with my awesome high school choral director and some amazing friends- many of whom I haven’t seen in 15-20 years!

When I was in high school, the only thing that brought me joy was singing. ¬†Chorus was everything to me. ¬†All of my good friends were the ones I sang with in the Madrigal group. ¬†We did everything together. ¬†During my 3 years in high school, most of my day involved counting down the classes to my Madrigals bell. ¬†My senior year, I took 3 music classes… and I also ate lunch in the choir room… so technically I spent half a day EVERY SINGLE DAY in that place- and I wouldn’t have traded a single moment of it.

I really can’t put into words how my chorus teacher changed my life. His love for music was contagious. ¬†He said over and over throughout the years, “It’s not just notes and words.” ¬†Anyone can sing the right words and notes on a page but it doesn’t make it music. ¬†He taught us that music comes from the heart… and that good music must be sung with passion! ¬†When I graduated high school, ¬†“It’s not just notes and words” was my senior quote in the yearbook. Music was my life.

So, I went to college and got my degree in Music Education and even had the amazing experience of going back to my high school to student teach under him! ¬†Again, he was a wonderful mentor and a friend. ¬†I was so blessed to have that opportunity to reconnect with him as a college student, and to learn more about his craft of conducting and transforming notes and words into the most moving pieces of music I’ve ever heard.

So this past weekend, we sang many of our favorite songs together- again! ¬†As I walked into the chorus room, I could already hear the harmony floating down the hallway. ¬†I fought back tears as I looked around me. ¬†It was overwhelming. ¬†The sound of everyone singing again… the room looked like it had been frozen in time…we didn’t skip a beat. ¬†Every breath, every ounce of emotion was there. ¬†The memories, the smiles, the music, everything seemed as if no time had passed. ¬†

And the most wonderful part of the whole thing was to see the impact Dr K has had on so many students over the years. I looked around at all the teachers, doctors, professionals, musicians, pastors…and I saw the incredible bond that we all share- one that will never be broken.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 

This is the song that every Madrigal group at our high school has sung at the end of every single concert for the past 25 years, and this is all of us singing together this past weekend.

May the Good Lord bless and keep you, till we meet again…