I love blogs. I love getting to know people through what they write and post. I adore tutorials and Pinterest is my new best friend. But I am also, admittedly, a bit of a scanner. I am sure you are too. When you read at least 20 blog posts a day, you start to get selective about what you read.
But there are a few blogs where I read every word, every time. And my friend Krista’s blog is one of them.
Quite possibly, the reason I read everything she writes is because I know her, like, in real life! We used to work together, and now that she is at home homeschooling her two amazing boys, reading her blog is a way to stay connected. It also has a lot to do with the fact that she is an amazing writer. Once I start, I just have to find out what happens next. And I know that sometimes she is going to make me cry, and sometimes she is going to make me laugh, and all of the time she is going to speak from her heart. I appreciate that kind of honesty.
Today, after giving me three cheers on her blog for helping her with her theme and header (have you all discovered picmonkey yet? Because if not, you need to check it out. It’s awesome.), she talked about how life sometimes travels a different path than we expect.
And this thought has stuck with me. Because it is true, isn’t it? We doggedly try to climb the hill even though our hamstrings are screaming, and rocks are falling on our head, there is a snowstorm, and the bridge is out ahead (okay, maybe it’s not always that dramatic) and finally, finally, after we have been beaten down to the point of misery, we turn around and head on another path, only to discover that the sun is shining here, the road is easier to walk, and this was the way we should have been going all along.
Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t persevere. Because I am all for determination and moving past challenges. But I’m talking about the times when the door is shut and locked tight and for some reason we insist on banging our head against it in the hopes of breaking it down.
And metaphor aside, I have known my own version of this story.
My husband and I are unable to have children. We spent six years of our marriage trying to make it happen. We saw doctors, we read books, we took pills, we did acupuncture, we discussed scientific procedures and adoption. (That is all a story for another day) At the end of this journey we were left with less than a 1% chance of having children of our own, and a ten-year wait list for adoption. I can’t tell you how many tears have been shed in this process, how many times hope and disappointment intermingled, how many times I kept beating my fists against a closed door.
And yet, there was another path. This path has allowed me to spend so much of my life and time with my dear friend’s dear children whom I love with all of my heart. It allowed me to get to know and love this boy who is gone from this earth, but whose spirit lives on. And when I wake up at night wishing for just one more day to sit by his side, I am ever so thankful for the path that allowed me so much time to spend with him while I could. This path has given me a family I love (both by blood and by choice), a husband who continues to be my best friend, and time to do the things I love best (learning, taking classes, teaching, sewing, writing.)
It is not the path I would have chosen. But I have no doubt in my mind that it is the one I was meant to be on.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
How about you? Has there been a time in your life when you have found that there is joy in taking a different path?Read More
There has been a lot of sadness around here lately, but even sadness comes with a measure of joy. And these two have been my joy:
Meet Albus (above) and Minerva, (also known as Minnie.) If you are a reader of a certain series of children’s books involving a boy wizard you will probably recognize the names! (Yes, I am totally THAT kind of person. My last guinea pig was named Merlin and my grey lop-eared rabbit was Gandolph the Grey. I seem to have a thing for literary wizards.) :)
I find it impossible not to smile when looking into the face of a guinea pig. And although the woman I bought them from was surprised when I didn’t come to pick them up with children in tow (“Are they for you?”) they have brought a lot of laughter into this house in the last few weeks.
And Albus right now is totally flaked out in the corner of the home I built for them, sleeping with his eyes closed. (A real sign of trust and relaxation in a guinea pig.) And that makes me happy.
Do you have animals in your life that bring you joy?
I have been waiting for a day like today.
A day when music walks back into my life as if it never left. A day that gives purpose to this part of me that has been hiding for too long.
But it didn’t come without fear.
And I almost said no.
There has been music in my life as long as I can remember. Like many young children, I learned to play the piano, and I still remember my grandfather putting a cup on the piano and filling it with coins when I played for him. Middle school brought the clarinet, which I played into high school, and then voice lessons opened the door to choirs and singing of all kinds. Early morning rehearsals, lunch time lessons, week-end practices, I spent most of my high school years in the music room. And I loved every moment of it.
Then, like any true “renaissance soul” I went off to university to dive into something completely different. I lived in a world of writing and drama, of acting and performing, of teaching and researching.
And I learned to play the guitar. Music seemed to be that one thing that would always be there.
And then I graduated. For the last ten years (except for the one year when I taught piano lessons) music has been on the back burner. Months go by and the piano sits untouched. The guitar has been missing a string for a year (!) and other than a few late-night singing sessions where I belt out show tunes when no one else is home, sometimes it feels like music is that thing that I “used” to do.
And then I was asked to play the piano at my new church.
I really wanted to say no. Because sometimes it’s easier to imagine how wonderful it would be if we did something, than to actually do it. But how can I ask to have more of something in my life, and then say no when the opportunity arises? So I agreed to try it. Even though it made my knees shake and my hands quake.
And so this week has been full of music. I have spent hours at the piano. I played and sung those songs until I could do it with my eyes closed. Hubby got in on the action and dusted off his guitar, and we spent one late night playing together. One of those nights when you keep saying “just one more song” even though your eyes are having trouble staying open.
But in behind it all was the fear. There were many times I wanted to give into it. Many times I wanted to say “No, really, I just can’t do this.” All those fears of playing the wrong notes, of making a fool of myself, of being judged “not good enough.” And then that still, quiet, voice, reminding me that this wasn’t really about me. That I am always worthy enough just as I am. That it didn’t have to be fancy, it just had to come from the heart. Yet still, listening to our Pastor talk at the start of the service, my hands shaking and my heart thumping and wishing I could turn back the clock just a few hours and maybe just practice one more time?
But the moment arrived. The singers were in place. The bass player ready. And my hands began to play.
And the fear disappeared. I remembered why it is I love to do this. I reclaimed the joy that is found when people gather to make music together, to worship together. And I realized something else. The piano player must have one of the best seats in the house. Because from where I was playing, not only could I hear the wonderful singing and music of the worship team behind me, but I could also hear the “choir” of raised voices in front of me. The congregation of everyday people who gather in this place each week to reconnect with something bigger than themselves. Voices young, old, and in between, lifted together in a great wall of sound lifting to the heavens. And my fingers dancing across the keys just a small piece of this great joy.
There are many things we long to do in life. Some things that we were made to do. Steps we were meant to take. And fear holds us back. It pins us to the wall and tells us all the reasons why we should stop moving forward. But great joy awaits us on the other side. We leap, and find that the ground is still firm.
I am a fearful person. But I am learning more and more that life is too short to let fear keep me from the things I really want to do. So I am determined to walk through fear more often, and to find the joy on the other side.
And it begins today. A video. Conquering two fear hurdles in one day. Letting it be known that I may not be perfect, I may not be a concert pianist, but goodness I love what I do!
Anyone else out there ready for less fear and more joy?