And then, the pedals fell off ! ! ! ☆

Time to grab a cup of coffee and reminisce a bit.

In my time as Instructgrand pianoor of Music at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, I was accompanying a vocal recital for a woman named Julia who had an incredible soprano voice.  I noticed that the pedals on the grand piano were wobbling a little – and then – they fell off onto the floor with a clunk.  The rest of the concert was a bit of a challenge – and a blur.  While uncomfortable at the time I’ve chuckled over it many times over.

On a sunny – and windy – day in a different city, I was accompanying The Greeley Chorale as they sang for a summer festival in the center of a small collection of stores.  A gust of wind blew in and carried my music round and round and finally right over the top of a restaurant called Potato Brumbaugh’s – named after a character in James Michener’s book, Centennial.  “Chinga Ring Chaw” by Aaron Copland had a somewhat different accompaniment that day, but I think he would have approved under the circumstances.  Makes me smile today.

Another time as this same Chorale was singing for a July Arts Picnic outdoors, that same mischievous wind showed up again and kept turning the pages at the wrong moments.  An Arts Picnic “helper” ran up and duct taped my music to the music rack on the piano amid my frantic protests.  He totally ignored me!  Every page of music that day was ripped to shreds as I had to grab and tear at every turn.  Grrrrrrr.  Sigh.  Smile.

Same Chorale.  A winter festival concert which included groups from the community and area schools.  Chorale was on stage to sing between other acts of music and drama.  We were sequestered between numbers as the heavy curtain was drawn.  A junior high girl was to sing “O Holy Night” in front of the curtain as I accompanied her with the help of a monitor behind the closed curtain.  All was well – until the stage manager gave the order to the lighting crew:  “Cut all the lights except a spotlight on the singer.”  Everything went pitch black and a collective groan went up from me and my astonished friends.  I heard the conductor bumping into things as he groped his way to the stage manager, who was totally oblivious to what his words had brought forth.  Playing by ear was a blessed gift that night!  The audience never knew, but there are those in Chorale who still laugh with me over the “playing in the dark” incident.

A different instrument this time.  I was subbing for the church organist on a Sunday morning, and suddenly, about an octave of organ pipes decided to cipher all at once during the intro to a hymn.  (“Cipher” is the term used when organ pipes get stuck open and air flowing through them plays continuously much to the dismay of the poor organist who has no control over it.)  I felt all eyes – and ears – turn my direction.  The off switch was my next destination, but it seemed to take hours for all the air to leave those naughty pipes.  There was laughter and clapping as I made my way across the chancel to the king of instruments – the PIANO!  What can I say?  It makes me smile.

I’m nor sure why these amusing incidents have been on my mind this week.  They do serve to remind me that there are so many things which make life totally different from what was planned or expected or hoped.  And, often, they pay homage to the marvelous gift of laughter and a sense of humor – something we all benefit from, but especially good for the single who is pondering the “whys” and “whens” and “wheres” of life.

King Solomon wrote of the value of a merry heart contrasting the sharp difference in having and not having.  I’ve chosen to share the “having:”

  •      * Proverbs 15:13 – A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face. . .

  •      * Proverbs 15:15 – . . . a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

  •      * Proverbs 17:22 – A cheerful disposition is good for your health. 

Well, those are some of the amusing things in the life of an accompanist.  There are incredible moments, too, which I’ll share as they fit into more of my thoughts as a seasoned single – like the time when . . . .

Blessings to you, my friends. 😉

References all from The Message.

What Shenanigan taught me about life. ☆

cocker spaniel puppyA number of years back, while wrestling with the tough stuff of life, I spent nine days totally alone at a cabin in the mountains.  The days were gorgeous; the nights cool; the smell of pine was refreshing; the sunsets were dazzling wonders of God’s imagination.  I’m sure the sunrises were equally as dazzling.  But, not being an “Oh boy, it’s morning.  Let’s get up at the crack of dawn” person, I didn’t see those. 🙂

One day as I was reading, I heard a soft whimper, and looked into the eyes of the most adorable tiny cocker spaniel puppy which had appeared seemingly out of nowhere.  Then, I could hear voices calling and calling for “Shenanigan.”  The cabin was in the midst of dense forest, and I knew this little fur ball had picked his way through a gigantic maze of trees and tall grass looking for adventure.  His adventure backfired, though, and now he was lost and afraid.  I tried to coax him back toward the voices calling his name.  But, he was having none of that.  I was having none of it either, since I didn’t want to get lost in a sea of trees after locating his owners.  So, we set off along the winding roads.  Poor Shenanigan was torn.  He knew he had come through the trees, and now this person was leading him away from where he had come.  After a few false starts, though, he decided to trust me and began to follow right at my heels.  It took about 20 minutes of walking to find his frantic owners, and with a little lick on my hand, he bounced back into his people’s arms.

Then, as God often does, He gently prodded me into realizing that I was much like Shenanigan.  I was wandering around in a dense emotional forest.

The job I loved as Instructor of Music at a state university had simply disappeared when spoken promise of tenure was rescinded on the last day of school with a very terse letter.  Suddenly my teaching and piano performance were not satisfactory after several years of praise.  Since their notice was so late, they gave me another year’s contract – teaching honors classes – which made no sense to me whatsoever.  No amount of questioning brought answers as to what had happened to change their minds.

A young man I dearly loved had simply walked away with a “Well, bye,” as he melted into a crowd of people, leaving me with a gaping wound in my heart.

A hurricane of broken dreams.

  • *  God, I’m totally alone.  What do I do now?  (Psalm 39:7)
  • *  God, where are You in all this?  (Psalm 63:1)
  • *  God, do You love me?  This doesn’t feel like love!  (Psalm 109:26-27)
  • *  God, both of those things were the deepest desires of my heart.  What happened?  (Psalm 37:4)

It was during this time that I discovered the relevance of the Psalms.  When I simply did not have words to pray anymore, I could pray those words aloud.  There were prayers of –

Sadness – and joy

Anger – and peace

Storm – and refuge

Confusion – and clarity

In the midst of these emotional words were constant reminders of God’s provision and care – especially when I didn’t feel it.  And, in the midst of these words were assurances that He does indeed hear the deepest heart cries.  His responses often come, though, following those times when there’s nothing around but tall trees and deep grass – or a dusty and hot, or snowy and cold wilderness.

Solomon wrote:  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  (Proverbs 13:12 NIV)  God and I began to have loooooooooooong conversations about the hope deferred part, begging for the longing fulfilled part.  Slowly, the truth of Paul’s New Testament words in Romans 5:1-5 began to sink into my soul.

(NASB) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

And God’s hope does not disappoint!

During those days at the mountain cabin, I could not know there would be many fulfilling years as a professional accompanist, deep, lasting friendships, and joy in sinking deeper into God’s grace and mercy.

So, dear reader, my prayer for you is that you experience more and more of God’s hope fulfilling your deepest longings!

 

Polyfidelity??? Polymonogamy????? Polybaloney!!!!!!! ☆

question many directionsSome time ago I watched a Dr. Phil show in which a married man loudly and boldly defended his activity with a mistress using a word, polyfidelity.  His wife of 19 years sat mostly in silence while her husband declared his love for her – and for the other woman.  He ignored the pain in his wife’s eyes which was evident to all who were watching.  He was convinced that his “faithfulness” to both these women would last a lifetime.  Dr. Phil’s marvelous comment was something to the effect of, “I have another word for polyfidelity.  It’s called cheating!”  Score one for Dr. Phil.♥

Now, polymonogamy is another oxymoronic term which has been around for several years.  Online definitions are a bit hazy.  It seems to describe someone who is convinced he/she can have multiple sexual relationships with more than one person and say they are monogamous since their attention is completely on whomever they are with at the time.  Another thought I find is that while one person in a marriage is faithful to their spouse, the other wants to have multiple partners.  The oxymoron part comes out with the prefixes, “poly” and “mono.”  “Poly” means many; “mono” means one.

Let’s see what Webster Dictionary says about fidelity, monogamy – and baloney:

  •        * Fidelity:  Adherence with faithfulness to the marriage covenant.
  •        * Monogamy:  Marriage with but one person at the same time.
  •        * Baloney:  Nonsense; foolishness.

As our society gets increasingly defiant about acting within the confines of faithfulness, we see multiplied increase of terrible body, soul, and spirit injury.  No matter how much people talk about freedom in all areas of morality, we see the same people being terribly wounded in the process.  I believe it is because in their heart of hearts, they still see value in faithfulness to one spouse.

Now, where does singleness come into this?  Let’s face it.  The general opinion and action is that singles can be as sexually active as they want with little thought to the consequences because there is no commitment – covenant – in short-term relationships.  While we see some semblance of commitment when an unmarried couple chooses to live together for a longer period of time, the avenue of escape remains if it doesn’t work out.  It’s still a tough breakiup, but there are no particular legal ramifications – unless there are children.  In that case, many of the consequences fall upon the little ones’ shoulders.

Living out life as a single Christian who practices self-control in a whole host of things is not an easy stance.  Foolishness abounds.  Temptations abound.

But God’s promises abound as well!

Hebrews 4:14-16 – Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to emphasize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)

I Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (NIV)

  • *  Faithfulness as a single person is the best preparation for faithfulness in marriage.
  • *  If unmarried, there is still faithfulness to God and to one’s own person.
  • *  This does not diminish fulfilling relationships with men and women which include far more than physical intimacy.
  • *  Setting appropriate boundaries in all areas of life is important – for unmarried and married alike.

So, stand firm, my friends, whatever your life holds!  God is in charge!

♥  drphil.com – “Twisted Love”

So, if I become contented while single, God will bring marriage my way? ☆

I remember the exact corner in my city where a friend and I were driving when she told me that God couldn’t fulfill my desire for marriage until I became contented as a single.  I was in my late 30s, and she was in her early 20s – already married to a doting husband.  I internalized that comment and struggled for a very long time with “what’s wrong with me?”  “How in the world can I be contented when it seems God is ignoring the deepest desires of my heart?”  “Surely I could find contentment faster if I had a loving husband.”  Today, I wish I had thought to ask her if she had achieved contentment as a single before she married.  Oh well.

Then a comment started coming which I really did not know what to do with.

Don’t you know that Jesus is your husband?

Hmmmmm.  I had to really think about that one.  I knew He was my Savior and Lord, but my husband?  I’ve enjoyed Bible study since college years, but have never run across that one.  There is a statement in Isaiah 54:5 which says, “for your Maker is your husband–the LORD Almighty is his name. . .”  But, if this verse is read in context, it has nothing to do with individuals, and everything to do with His chosen people – the ones He took on a 40-year walk through the wilderness.  The ones who lived through generations of judges and kings.  The ones who were taken into exile to Babylon.  The ones who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the broken down walls.  The ones who made promises to God of obedience and faithfulness.  And, the ones who fell over and over into idolatry and unfaithfulness.  The relationship between them and God is described over and over in marriage and adulterous terms.  This is the context of that Isaiah verse.

So, what about Jesus being my husband?  Where can I find that in Scripture?  Once again, context tells me that any hint of Jesus in the role of husband has to do with Him and the Church.  Paul writes how husbands are to love their wives just as Jesus loved the church and gave His life for her.  (Ephesians 5:21-33)  The next time we read of Jesus in connection with a wedding is in Revelation 15:6-9 when the wedding of the Lamb [Jesus] has come.  Once again, this wedding is somehow between Jesus and the church – not between Him and individual women – and men.

There is little description of what this heavenly wedding and marriage is to be like.  Whatever it is, it must be so far beyond anything we can imagine that God knows we couldn’t handle the explanation now.  I do believe, though, the best is yet to come, folks!

Now, I do know there are many who have been blessed by the thought that Jesus is their husband here and now and takes care of them as a husband might, and I do not want to diminish that for them.  In my discussions, however, I have discovered that the ones who are really blessed by that thought are those who have been married at some time.  Personally, I cannot relate because I do not have a concept of what a husband is or isn’t since I have never been married.  I can relate to God as a loving Father, however.  More and more I have seen Him as my Provision, and especially, my Provider!  But, my husband?  Not so much.

The perspective of hindsight is mine in abundance now.  I’ve lost track of the friend who gave me that piece of advice in the first paragraph about contentment.  I wish I could tell her now that I really am contented with my life – most days – and it has not resulted in marriage – at least yet. 🙂 I’ve discovered that many of those dear married folks who talk about those “singleness contentment rules” were married young, and at the time probably were not thinking so much about contentment as they were the prospects of loving and being loved in a covenant spousal relationship.

As for me, I’ve found quite a passion for encouraging fellow “onesomes” AND sharing the depths of singleness with my married friends.  So, I guess I’ve found my present mission in life.  I’m lovin’ this blog in an attempt to come alongside others who are walking this singleness journey.

I relish your comments on challenges you face which you might like to see addressed here.

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