Friday, July 13, 2018

The violin.

So I’ll just say upfront this blog is probably going to be all over the dang place. It’s one of those “I need to clear my head and this is how I’m going to do it” type things.

I was talking to my dear friend Julia earlier today about our kids and their violin lessons. 
It sparked a snowball of thoughts that I just feel like I need to put out there. 

I stated in my last blog that I feel pretty far away from the Lord right now. I know He is there. He’s always there. But it’s a dry period in my relationship with Him. I seem to be in a fog a lot of the time lately, and that goes for every relationship I have. Anyway, I also stated that looking back over the situation I talked about in my last blog, I could see His fingerprints all over the place. I will say His faithfulness is 100% evident in what I’m about to talk about as well.

I’m just going to say outright I absolutely hated the violin growing up. There wasn’t one thing about it I liked. If you know me at all you know I hate being the center of attention, so performing at all was completely sickening to me. I had a couple of teachers I loved, but there were also a few who made it absolutely miserable for me. 
My parents made me play and that’s why I did. Period. 

At some point it was decided I would be going to Baylor. I didn’t make that decision, but that’s how it was going to be. And because I was going, I would need a scholarship so music is what I was going to be studying. Again, not my choice but that’s how it was going to be. So I got a scholarship and went to study music. Little did I know how my life would change.

Y’all. Baylor was the best thing in the world for me. I remember leaving Amarillo and starting over all on my own. It was amazing. I suddenly had a violin teacher I absolutely loved. I was in a symphony that was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I met people who were just like me. I grew as a musician and as a person. That was NOT the path I would have chosen. But God knew. He knew. 

I think a lot of the reality of how awesome music is hit me after September 11, 2001. We had a Baylor Symphony concert shortly after that. We were playing Tchaikovsky’s 6th. If you’re familiar with that symphony, you know how emotionally wrenching the last movement is. It seemed perfect for the occasion. 
Our conductor (and one of my biggest musical heroes for the way he changed my life with his love and his guidance) got up at our dress rehearsal and said, “Take everything you felt that morning and pour it into this piece.”  And I did. And it healed a part of my soul. And I has power. As I got to perform more amazing music, I felt more confident. More beautiful. More human. More alive. More worthwhile. I got to play some of the most beautiful music in the world. It’s not something I take for granted. 

Now I teach. God KNEW all those years ago. He knew when my dysfunctional family was falling apart and I watched my mom slip further and further into her deep depression. He knew when my dad would go out of town for at least a week every month and mom would sleep the days away. He KNEW. He knew that someday I’d have kids of my own, and they would need to see me do better than that. He knew, although depression is something I’ve always struggled with, that music would be one of my biggest healers.
Music would lead me to the career I have now. It would lead me to some of my best friends; my mentors; my students whom I love like they’re my own kids. He took care of me when I didn’t even know it. Isn’t He amazing like that? 

I hope to God I will be the teacher who changes someone’s life like those Baylor professors did mine. When I was falling apart on the inside and had no idea how to ask for help, they knew and helped me anyway. They changed my life. 

In less than a month I’ll go back to work. It’ll be my sixth year at SJCA; my 15th year teaching music. I’ll see those little faces that brighten up my life now. They’ll walk into my classroom and forget about everything else for 45 minutes that day. We will laugh together, grow together, make music together, worship together. And maybe, just maybe, someday they’ll write a blog about a teacher who changed their life when she taught them to love music.  

Sunday, July 8, 2018


I’m sitting in my backyard, watching Ben and Amelia play in the sprinkler. They fill up my heart. 

Today is Riley’s 16th birthday. I’m going to go on a little journey with y’all back to about a year ago. My prayer is that it will encourage some of you like it did me. I used to blog all the time and I haven’t done it in years, but today felt like a good day to start back up. 

Last year Riley was still living with us 50% of the time, and for her birthday we sent her on a girls retreat with First Baptist. I remember her coming back home and being absolutely giddy. She had a wonderful week in Glorieta, and she was absolutely filled with joy. 
I will honestly say it was the last time I saw her truly happy. 

My dad had a stroke last year. It was a bad one. I really thought we were going to lose him.   He had a watchman on his heart, but somehow a clot formed outside the watchman. They gave him blood thinners and those made him bleed in his brain. Every cardiologist and neurologist at the hospital in Houston said they’d never seen anything like it. That’ll humble you quickly. I drove by myself to Houston to stay with him for a while, thinking it absolutely could easily be the last time I saw him.
The night I arrived, I went to the hospital and sat with him for a couple of hours. It was a long emotional day. 
John called me from home and told me Riley announced that day she wanted to move in full time with her mom. 
The last year has been devastating. 
Step parenting is something I’m not sure anything can prepare you for. I’ve learned a lot though, so I’m going to share some of the journey we’ve had. 
I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I’ve grown so much in the last year. 
God is good like that. Even when we least deserve it, He showers us with His mercy and grace. Honestly I’ve felt far away from Him lately. I’m in a wilderness, you know what I mean? But looking back I see His fingerprints all over the map of my life. His provision, His protection, His faithfulness. Always. Even when I stray. It’s always there. 

Anyway, shortly after moving out of our house, Riley started dating a boy. She became pregnant several months ago and subsequently had a miscarriage. It was truly one of those situations where I have had that dichotomy of “I saw this coming” and “how could this happen.” 
It’s been emotional. It’s been hurtful. I’ve been angry, sad, furious, lonely, and every gamut of emotions I could have ever imagined. 
Here’s a little summary of some of the things I’ve learned and am still learning. Maybe some of them will ring true to you. 

I thought if I took my kids to church enough, had them in Christian school, and did extra things with them teaching them about things like purity they would certainly see the benefit and choose to live that way. I was wrong. And it was absolutely my pride making me think that. I wanted to feel at the end of the day like I’d come along and taught them so well they’d never want anything different. That’s me being totally honest. It was coming from a place of love and wanting what’s best for them, but it was also coming from a place of pride and control. God swiftly reminded me I am in control of nothing.

I thought if I could give enough and invest enough and simply be enough my kids and step kids would naturally be interested in returning that and strive to behave a certain way. God gradually reminded me that we all have free will and we all make choices that break His heart, myself included. 

I thought when all this unfolded that I’d failed miserably and, unfortunately, there were a few critics (who REALLY should have been some of our biggest support during that time) who had no problem making sure I knew I’d failed. God mercifully reminded me that He isn’t finished with any of this yet, and Satan is the accuser (Revelation 12:10). There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Who’s voice am I listening to? All too often it’s the accuser. 

I’m still tempted often to think that this is it, Riley’s life is ruined, and she will perpetually live in a state of rebellion. God continues to remind me that His word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). 

Y’all, life is hard. Sometimes we lose. But my God counts every tear. He will continue to love., continue to forgive, continue to restore. His mercies are new every morning. 

I know so many of my friends are hurting. Sickness, loneliness, divorce, pain, death, depression and so many other things are plaguing so many of you who are reading this. I know because I’ve watched you walking through it. I want you to know you’re loved. God has a plan for you and a purpose He created for you to fulfill. Our broken world is full of pain and it’s just sad sometimes. But He overcame the world. 

I love you all and am always here if you need me. I hope this story will help someone remember how much you’re loved, how good God is, and how there’s always room for restoration when He is involved.