Big Black Bow Tie

A gentleman can never have too many bow ties                        Justin Timberlake

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This is a black bow tie, but not the one mentioned in the story. This one was purchased after the night in question.

We’d had our share of  bow tie piano recitals over the years. We’re not immune to tux wearing or dressing for special events.  Yet, somehow there was no black bow tie hidden in some obscure corner of a drawer.

My husband had been asked to play for an event on campus and the requirement was to wear a black bow tie, with the assumed black suit.  His professor said if he needed a bow tie he had extra’s and would loan him one.

So, ok, good, problem solved. Except.

The day of, not the day before, but the day of the concert Rocky finally went to Dr. S’s office to pick up the bow tie.  Turns out Dr. S could only find one (well, in addition to the one he needed to wear) and so that is the tie Rocky was given to wear….

Keep in mind I knew nothing of the specifics at this point so didn’t perceive that maybe I needed to intervene.   You know what they say about hindsight?   Well, with one absentminded professor and one absentminded doctoral student I should have known better.   I should have intervened.

We were on our way  to the concert with no time to spare and I happened to look back at my bow tie wearing husband on our way out the door and I lost it. Lost it, as in the gut-wrenching, can’t even, what in the world, belly laughing kind of losing it. Tears streaming.*

There he was all dressed in a nice black suit and crisp white tux shirt and one really gigantic black bow tie.  I mean the wingspan on that thing was worthy of a black bird or at the very least a large bat. We’re talking Orville  Redenbacher from the 1970’s huge!  Senior prom 1978 huge!   It was so noticeable that you really saw the tie more than you saw him.  He could have had dirt on his face and no one would have noticed it because you couldn’t get past the tie.

He had told me when Dr. S pulled the tie out of his briefcase – or was it a trumpet case – that he knew it was too large but it was the only choice.  I wondered out loud why he didn’t drive down the street to the S & K men’s store (literally a 10 minute drive) and buy one.**  I could have even stopped on my way home to pick one up for him. Alas, I should have known not to trust two music minded guys.

In my usual fashion of finding humor in most tragedies and trying to make the best of a less than perfect situation I told him all the encouraging things I could while all the while trying not to go into hysterical laughing mode.  I told him that he was probably ahead of the fashion trends.  That big bow ties were making a come back and he was ahead of the game.  I said he’d probably start a new wave of retro bow ties on campus. I also told him that we would only be seeing his side profile and that way it wouldn’t be as noticeable. (Lies, mostly lies)

I noticed as we walked to the concert that he held his music in such a way as to partially hide the tie without completely hiding his face.  He didn’t look too odd! Once there he pretty much stood around with his music held like a shield.  Again , he didn’t look too odd. (insert silent belly laughing)

After the intermission, he was finished (he played very nicely) and he joined me for the remainder of the concert.  The first thing I did when he sat down was……..

you guessed it!  I made him take off that Big Black Bow Tie!

Laughing in grace,

Teresa

* I was laughing with him and not at him!  (Well, maybe a little bit at him!).

** For the record, he now owns a perfectly respectable black bow tie as evidenced in the picture at the top of the story. It is considerably smaller than the big black bow tie.

I wish I had taken a picture of him wearing that big black bow tie.

 

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Hello

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It’s been awhile and I can’t make any promises.

The blog has been quiet, but life certainly has not been.

I wrote a post on Facebook at the end of September, but never shared it.

Since then, little by little, most people have been updated, but in case you haven’t this happened:

Rocky and I  moved back to Louisville in October of 2017. Rocky has accepted a ministry position at the church we attended while he was a student at Seminary.

Those who know our story may remember that after Seminary, the plan, God willing, was to teach college. Rocky realized last summer that God was saying no to teaching and asking him to stay in ministry.

Six years ago when we moved back to my hometown to be near my parents, we knew that in order for Rocky to have a full time job with benefits, it probably would not be in our small town and would mean possible relocation. We also knew that with Mom’s health and our need to be close to home it would have to be somewhat close.

We kept waiting and all the doors kept closing. We kept saying God has a plan and it’s not the right time. We kept praying for direction and asking God to work out the logistics that were best for everyone. Many of my prayers were a list of what we needed in a job. As if God needed me to tell him.  Then my prayers changed, asking God to send Rocky the job he wanted him to have. Then for awhile I didn’t pray as much, but I kept telling Rocky that God had a plan.

My prayer in recent months had changed and I must confess my attitude as well. I still wanted God to send the job he wanted Rocky to have and I still knew God had a plan.  I trusted Him, but I was growing weary of not knowing and I was still leaning heavy in favor of the college route because I know how hard ministry is and I didn’t feel that I had the stamina for that lifestyle.

However, I began repeating a prayer I had prayed several years earlier while Rocky was still in seminary –  a prayer of submission, a prayer that I was willing to go wherever God sent Rocky. I knew that was a bold thing to do, but I knew I had to be willing even if it meant ministry. I was also praying for Rocky to have clear direction and peace.

I knew we’d be fine where we were if that was the continued answer as it had been for the past five years. I knew God would provide. We loved our students who came for piano, Rocky loved subbing in the local schools and he loved serving as a church pianist.

But, I sensed that God was up to something. I suspected when Rocky started losing more students than he was gaining in the late winter / early spring that there must be a reason. It didn’t feel like we were to recruit more students.  I could feel the winds of change.

At the same time I was praying and waiting, unbeknownst to me, Rocky was having his own struggle with the college vs. ministry route. The day in mid-summer that he told me he knew God wanted him to pursue music ministry I could sense his relief. It was like a burden was lifted.

In just a matter of days a potential job in Louisville appeared on his radar and he emailed our former pastor in Fern Creek to let her know he’d used her as a reference. She responded immediately with, “why not come here?”  We hadn’t considered that we should pursue going there since it wasn’t a full time music position.  But, with that simple, direct question we found ourselves considering and praying.

And so, the journey began: interviewing, figuring out logistics and making plans. It was a whirlwind that happened fast. I almost felt like Dorothy who went to sleep in Kansas and woke up in Oz.

Everything had God’s signature on it and we know that this is his best for us. When we had first moved back home in 2012 we knew there were several things that would have to fall in place if we were to be free to take a job elsewhere.  Things such as benefits, help with Mom so Dad had support, close enough proximity to my parents so we would still be able to support them when needed.  We also needed a teacher for Rocky’s remaining students and we prayed that he’d provide someone to play the music at the church we’d been attending. It seemed like a lot of things had to fall in place, but I knew if anyone could orchestrate what was best for everyone involved, God could. And he did.

God checked all the boxes.  We are only two hours from my parents – I’ve been able to go back and stay with them several times.  Hospice has been great to come in daily to help with Mom and we have recently found someone to help my Dad a couple days a week.  A piano teacher was provided for the students, and they only had to go down the street a few houses. And, he provided a musician for the church where Rocky had been playing on Sunday mornings.

God is faithful and that has never been more evident than in the way we were welcomed back into the family at Fern Creek Baptist Church with open arms.  It was a seamless transition and it felt like we’d never left.  On Sunday mornings when I watch my husband lead worship and direct the choir, I have no doubt that he is fulfilling his calling.  This is the place where God has planted our feet.

The future is in God’s hands and we are trusting him to lead our steps. He has never failed to lead us exactly where we need to be. It is so much easier to follow when you are in complete submission to his sovereign will.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight  — Proverbs 3:5-6

Submitting in Grace,

Teresa

 

 

Just Enough

Most of the Christmas decorations are still packed away in crates and drawers. And I don’t have any plans to dig them out.  For some reason I wanted small trees this year and peace. I had ordered a set of small trees on a whim from an online retailer.  I put them on my mantle with some greenery and pine cones. I visited a local shop where the proprietor had small trees (the largest is about two foot) at a great price and bought five so my Byer Christmas Trio would look like they were standing at the edge of an evergreen forest.  Then I purchased a bag of inexpensive bottle brush trees to display with a couple of small box houses, making a tree farm of sorts. I added a trio of small trees and a bowl that belonged to my great grandmother, full of small pinecones that I found in the mountains on a long ago trip, to my little desk. I added old brown crocks into the mantle display, put a single candle surrounded by greenery on a small stand, hung jingle bells on the front door, placed a sprig of berries on a doorknob, put out a few of my Christmas books and called it a day.

It’s just enough to honor the season without taking away from the true meaning. It’s just enough to remind me that making a home can be a blessing, but not so much that I’m exhausted. And, if I decide that I’m too tired to put it away and it all hangs around for awhile, it still blends in as winter decor, leaving me the freedom to put it away gradually without stress.  It’s all pretty low key. it’s all just enough peace to keep me grounded and help me find my sense of place. You can see it in pictures below.  Welcome.

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Hope your Christmas is filled with just enough peace and grace,

Teresa

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Linking up with the Nester for the Christmas tour of homes.

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I’m In A Season of Slow

If you slow things down, you notice things you hadn’t seen before.  Robert Wilson

Recently I asked for some feedback on my Facebook page concerning topics for Write 31 Days. I’ve participated in the online writing challenge every October since 2012.  If you click on Write 31 Days on the navigation bar at the top you will be able to see those series.

I was given great feedback from those of you that participated in my informal survey.  In fact I discovered that our hearts were pretty much aligned as your top two topics were also my top two.  I chose the one about all the houses that built me.

I started gathering pictures and interviewed my dad about the early homes.  I started a folder in my documents to house my collection.  Then, I finally listened to the still small voice that was telling me NOT to do the 31 days this year.  Every time I sat down to my computer to write I wasn’t able to pull my thoughts together.  I kept feeling the nudge and finally had to accept that this is not my year to participate.

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I’m in a season of slow right now.  There is no use fighting the reality.  Some things are not negotiable.  My mom and dad need my support right now.  I have to take care of my health.  Many days that is all I accomplish.  My husband is my biggest support and he takes up a lot of the slack.  We all need margin in our lives and tackling this challenge right now would not leave enough margin.

So, what does that mean?  I am still committed to the series and will be preparing to launch it on the blog, hopefully sometime after the New Year.  I think it will make a cozy winter series that you can read while curled up by the fire with a warm cup of something to savor. 

If you want to make sure you don’t miss content when I start the series, you can subscribe up at the top right where it says follow blog via email – just put your email address in the box.  No one will have access to your email but me and I do not share email addresses with anyone. Ever.  You will only receive an email when a new post is written.  Some of you are already subscribers and I thank you very much.

Slowing in grace,

Teresa

 

Welcome, Fall

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. ~F Scott Fitzgerald

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Fall is the nesting season.

Pumpkins beckon us from roadside stands to celebrate.

A pot of soup slowly, simmers on the stove, the smell warming us with anticipation of the goodness that lies ahead.

Book lists are at the ready enticing us with words that will settle into our souls as we find comfort for the long nights ahead.

The first bashful leaves drift to the ground playing hide and seek with the squirrels who are scampering to fill their pantry for winter.

Striking blue skies make promise of colorful days ahead when the trees will glow like warm honey, then blaze into fire red before they settle around us like a warm brown blanket.

Cheers for touchdowns waft on the cool night air speaking of a camaraderie that is strong and true.

Flannel and Wool trickle back into our wardrobes begging us to coordinate cozy layers that will carry us into Winter.

Hot chocolate and Apple Cider are once again inked to our grocery lists so we’ll have warm companionship for the chilly evenings.

Lights flicker in windows, shining out into the streets with a greeting that says, at last, we have come home.  This is our time to nest.

Welcome, Fall, it is so good to see you again.

Nesting in grace,

Teresa

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Why You Will Want to Read All The Pretty Things

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Edie Rudder Wadsworth writes words that burn deep into your soul. Her book, All The Pretty Things launches today. It needs to be on your must read list.

Here’s Why:

  1.  You will Love the chapter titles
  2.  You will experience all the emotions
  3.  You will see grace in action
  4.  You will find redemption
  5.  You will not be able to put the book down
  6.  You will recognize yourself
  7.  You will find hope
  8.  You will cry and sometimes laugh
  9.  You will forget to breathe, finally letting out a sigh of relief
  10.   You will be changed

It’s the story of a young girl’s journey into womanhood and how through everything  love, grace, forgiveness and redemption were the threads that held it all together resulting in a beautiful tapestry only God could weave.

It’s the first book in a long time that I couldn’t put down until every last word was savored. Edie’s voice draws you in and compels you to stay.  You will come away with your heart full and a new resolve to embrace your life and live it with grace.

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Reading in grace,

Teresa

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This Writing Life

 

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Currently, my writing garden is mostly clumps of dirt. Wet, heavy, soggy, bogged down clumps of dirt.  (Trying to insert a garden metaphor to this post – seeds and all that)

People talk about their muse, and only being able to write when she shows up.  Is the muse always a she? Other’s talk about writing whether she shows up or not.  They say writing is a discipline so make it a daily habit.  I see the argument on both sides, however, I tend to lean more toward the needing to be inspired category of writing. If I try to write when there is no inspiration it feels flat (much like what I’m writing now, but I will muddle through because you have a right to know if I’ve stopped writing or not).  I’d like to know the answer to that as well.

I hope I’ve not stopped writing, but the truth is that for a long while the words have been scant (like a garden without flowers. Sorry).  I mentioned it several months ago.

I love words and how they interact; I love aligning words to paint a picture (or arrange them into a lovely bouquet. again, sorry).  The writing of words is in my blood.  I can’t imagine a life without writing.

The truth is I’m struggling with words and life and fatigue.  I feel as if I’ve lost my passion for all the things that make my heart go pitty-pat.  I’ve been so consumed with caregiving and managing my own self-care that frankly, I’ve become depleted.  I’m not complaining, just trying to put the absence of words in perspective.

I’ve done a lot of thinking and wondering lately if maybe this season of life does not include writing.  Is it possible that I’m to put the pen and paper on the shelf for a time so I can concentrate on other priorities?  I don’t have any clear answers.

What I do know is that my husband needs my support; my parent’s health needs require our help and my own health needs dictate that I must have proper rest in order to not deplete my energy or cause a flare. Most days that is all I can manage.  So, I don’t write.

I also know that social media hogs more of my free time than I’d like to admit.  Because it’s easy and doesn’t require much effort or brain power.  The time would be better spent reading which is a necessary thing for writers to be doing.

I miss the not writing.  I think a few of you might too, based on some things  others have said.  I don’t want to neglect the gift of writing and I don’t want to take it for granted. I don’t want to be presumptuous and assume that people can’t live without my words, but I also don’t want to let down the handful of people who tell me my writing is meaningful to them.

So, I’ve plucked the petals one by one, to write, not to write, to write….  Do I shut down the blog, keep it open without writing, or make an effort to write at least once a week or….. on and on.  What about social media? Reading? You get the picture.  I’m really not clear at this point.

So, what does all this mean?

  1.  For now, the blog will stay open (you can go back to the beginning and read all the posts if you’d like).
  2. There will not be a regular posting schedule (nothing new about that). In all honesty, I wouldn’t expect much until Fall ish.
  3. I will write when I can and if you subscribe you will get an email when I do.
  4. I may participate in the 31 Days of writing this October.
  5. I have already done away with my blog Facebook page and will be spending less time on my personal Facebook page.
  6. I’m rarely on twitter and will consider dumping it entirely
  7. I really don’t understand google + and never go there so will dump that account if it’s not necessary for my gmail.
  8. I don’t have Instagram (wrong phone) but would love an account. Because pictures. I enjoy taking pictures and sometimes they speak when words can’t or won’t.
  9. I will attempt to read more for spiritual growth and for writing growth.
  10. I will be spending time praying about the direction of my writing. I appreciate your prayers too.
  11. This fall I will be attending a writers workshop which will help give some clarity.
  12. I will update you when I have more insight. Please be patient I don’t know how long it will take.
  13. Comments are useful and welcome as I would love to know your thoughts.

In conclusion – I am a writer.  Who is not writing much these days. Rather than stringing words together in a passionate fevered pitch and seeing them bloom on the page, it has been more like standing in a downpour turning clods of dirt. While I’m being drenched by the deluge, I will continue to plant seeds in hopes that they will not wash away and in due time will produce a harvest.  (How’s that for a garden metaphor).

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Digging in grace,

Teresa