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

 

 

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Prompted By Work

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Today’s post is Part of a 31 Day writing series where I will choose moments from my life and let them be my writing prompt for the day.  I am in office manager mode today getting ready for piano students to show up this afternoon.  I decided to write about our work reality and how God is providing. Click the image for the complete series.

 

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Today is a work day for me and I say that very loosely. Very. Loosely.    I may have mentioned that Mr. Piano recently started a Piano Studio. I am the Office Manager. Pretty much volunteer, but still things have to be organized.

We finally decided in August, after several months of waffling back and forth,  to open our doors beginning in September.  We put an add in the local paper and started a Facebook page.  You can go there and like it if you wish.

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It was a slow start with one student, and then a couple weeks ago, we added five more almost all at once.  That was encouraging. Five weeks in and we have six students.  Now, we just need to keep adding. The goal is to eventually have enough students that we can find a studio space separate from our home.  We trust God to provide the students we need and who need us.

We are loving our students and getting to know them.  They have supportive parents which is a blessing.  And they are a bright group.  We are thankful that God is blessing our home business and we are excited to see how he continues to provide.

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, or if you know us, then you know that my husband graduated with his DMA in piano in 2013. When he went back to school, it was to fulfill a dream and also with the goal of pursuing teaching at a University. He has been applying for positions since 2012.  Every door that looked like it might open was abruptly slammed shut.  He also applied for several Minister of Music Positions (this is what he did before going back to school).  Again, every door that looked like it might open was slammed shut.

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It is hard not to take a slammed door personal, even when you are doing your best to trust that God has a plan for you that is better than what you can imagine.   It is hard to let go of the dream and trust that God may have other plans or a different timeline. It is hard to wrap your head around the fact that a professional musician can find paid work in a small town.  Paid being the key word.  It is easy to find plenty of volunteer positions.  And volunteering is great and necessary and we want to continue giving back, but if you want to pay your bills you also need a source of income.

All that I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

We realized we we had been putting God in a box, and we finally had to acknowledge that he is the man with the plan.  It is not our decision.  He knows what is best for us now and in the future.  We knew this of course in theory, but still the doubts were looming large. So, we put our faith into action and believed that God would provide work for a professional musician in a small town if we would make ourselves willing and available. It is going to be exciting to see how he provides.

In addition to teaching Mr. Piano also gives concerts in churches (he has openings) and plays for weddings, funerals and other events.  He does music accompaniment at a University in a neighboring town; this winter he will be accompanying the theater department as they perform Cabaret.  He has also been substitute teaching.  His plate is getting full.  It’s piecemeal work that fluctuates rather than a job with certainty but he is using his gifts and we are thankful.

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I have changed the way I pray about the future.  Instead of praying for God to open up a certain type of door for my husband, I have been praying for him to send us the work he has for us to do.  I have been asking him to provide our needs the way he sees fit.  I have been trusting that if our savings runs out before our income catches up that he will still provide all our needs.  He always has.  Why would he stop now.

Today is a day that I wear my office hat and hope that the furnace guy is done soon and I have time to mop the floor before the first student arrives.

Working in Grace,

Teresa

 

 

 

Speaking Hope

I am excited!  If you know me at all, or have been a keen observer of things that pop up on my blog, then you have probably figured out that three of my passions in life are family, decorating and writing.

I have always loved decorating my home and even considered majoring in interior design in college.  I have had a dream for years, at least since my teens, that I would one day write a book.  For many years all I wanted to be was a homemaker.  When I never had children, I still wanted to be at home, but I always felt guilty for having that desire to not work public work as if somehow I had to have children to justify staying at home.

No matter what my work was, or where I was those three things remained constant.  I’m probably the only person I know who moves in and has pictures hung the same night, even before all the boxes are unpacked.  I am constantly decorating in my head and moving furniture is a regular occurrence at our house.

Writing is something that I finally embraced on a fairly regular basis when we moved to Louisville and I began writing for our church devotional booklets, started a writers group and eventually started this blog.

A couple of years ago when we moved back home, I was presented with the chance to be at home and I am still adjusting.  I love being home, but it has been harder than I imagined it would be.  I have all this time to decorate, nurture family and write.  Finding a regular rhythm has been difficult, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to have the time to pursue all my passions at the same time.

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So, why am I excited you may ask?  I’ll tell you.  Two of my favorite bloggers and their father along with their families, have started a new internet adventure called Hope*ologie.  For a small monthly fee you have access to the wisdom they have garnered over the years of doing what they do best.  The father focuses on family, the older sister on the home and the younger sister on quieting the soul.

I have said before that the two sisters are like two halves of me, the best of both worlds.  One speaks to the decorator / homemaker in me and the other to the writer / soul encourager.  Add their father to the mix and he speaks to the part of me that wants family to be a top priority.  To be able to go to one place and tap into all my passions is exciting.

It is so exciting that I wanted to share it with you.  I wanted to introduce you to three people who have made an impact on my life in a positive way.  I was privileged to see them in person last November when we went to The Barn Event.  It was everything I imagined it to be.  That is why I am so excited to join them for Hope*ologie.  Every month will be like a Barn Event from the comfort of my own home.

If you don’t think a subscription website is right for you at this time, no worries, they all three have wonderful blogs with lots of good information.  Their blogs will remain free and as always, they will inspire you.

No one affiliated with Hope*ologie, or their personal websites asked me to advertise for them. I just wanted to because I love them that much.

Speaking Hope In Grace,

Teresa

 

Beginning Lent

The first time I recall really noticing Ash Wednesday was several years ago when my husband had played for a service at a local church and came home with a smudge on his forehead. I still didn’t really understand it, I just knew it had something to do with the Lenten and Easter season and it involved repentance and sacrifice.

I was not raised in a church that observed Ash Wednesday or Lent, so I never really took the time to understand it.  As we moved around and attended various churches I became a little more up to par on what it was all about, but still most protestant churches do not observe Ash Wednesday or Lent.

Over the years I have known people who gave up something for Lent and it always seemed hard.  I mean who can really give up chocolate?  So, to be honest I’ve never really taken the time to consider how observing Lent could impact my life.  This year I have decided to embrace Lent and incorporate a few reminders of how I desperately need to cling to Jesus in all areas of my life. I have learned in much of life, especially when doing something that I want to have an impact on my life, that it is better for me to keep it simple.

For me Observing Lent is not about giving up something just to be giving up something.  I have felt the tug of several convictions lately in some areas of my life and I have come to realize that they all work together to make up the whole of me. It’s not so much what I choose to give up, or even what disciplines I may add, but it is more about the awareness that I need more of Jesus.  So, when I struggle to give up something I have become attached to, it will be a reminder that I need to rely on the Grace of Jesus.  The hope is that it will remind me to turn to him.

Turning to him is the ultimate goal for my spiritual growth.  So I have chosen a couple of food items that are not good for me, that I have become too attached to in recent months and I have also chosen a couple of attitude or character items that I have felt convicted about.  Those will be my focus during this Season of Lent.  In each case I have listed them in the form of substituting something good or positive in the place of the not so good. Additionally, in the spirit of reaching out to others I have a goal of reaching out to one person each week with an encouragement. This is my 1×6 goal.

I have made a little chart to encourage me in my endeavor.

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What about you, are you in the habit of observing a Lenten sacrifice or discipline?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

I am linking up with Elisabeth Esther for a Gentle Lent.

Also, you may find these two articles helpful in learning more about Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Observing in Grace,

Teresa

 

Hello 2014

“Look to the Lord and His strength; Seek His face always.”  Psalm 105:4

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So, it’s February already.  And you may be thinking I’m a little late on greeting the New Year.  Not at all.

I have come to the conclusion that for me the new year begins in February.  I did glance it’s way on a couple of post early in January.  I even chose a word for the year. Begin.  Yes, I get the irony.

But, I wasn’t ready.  It may have been partly due to the worst case of sinusitis I’ve ever had, followed by a horrible bout with gout (see how I rhymed. it just happened).

However, I think the truth is that it takes me that long to decompress and wind up the old year.  That whole stretch from Thanksgiving to New Years is not especially kind to me.  No matter how much I try to stay calm, for some reason the holidays stress me every time.

If I could just go away for about six weeks at the end of every year to my favorite place in the mountains, I’m sure I’d be ready to say hello on January 1.  That, of course, is not usually an option because it is family time and family is important.

So, I take January to regroup.  This year I had some brain swirls, but I didn’t feel like engaging in deep thought on a regular basis, so I just left them swirling.  Oh, I did make some lists of goals and projects and even daily schedules.  Things I was shuffling around in an attempt to come up with a plan for the year.

I even had an epiphany of sorts that sometimes in order to begin you have to stop. If you think about it long enough it does make sense.  Sometimes in order to gain perspective and direction you have to stop and take it all in.

Stopping to reassess goes along with the theme of reviewing the old and regrouping for the new. Right?  It goes along with setting goals and moving forward. Right? So, that’s what I did.  I stopped for awhile.

Today, I decided I was finally ready to greet the New Year.  Ready to begin. Please don’t ask me what that means.  It may take all year to figure that out.  But, you have to start somewhere.

My somewhere is simply to say, Hello 2014.

Beginning in Grace,

Teresa

PS.   I am ready for spring and swinging on my front porch. Winter is so last year.

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Grace Came Down In A Barn

I wrote the title after the The Barn event and before Thanksgiving, knowing I wanted to write about the experience, but also knowing that I wasn’t quite ready yet.  Thoughts were marinating in the recesses of my mind, traveling on a journey filled with so many emotions.  I wanted to absorb, think, process.  Then write.  Honestly, I’m still not sure I can put into words exactly what I’m trying to say. If you were there, then you know.

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If you were there, you understand how words can’t really describe what happened. You understand that much of what was said could only come from grace.  His grace bestowed upon us.  His grace allowing Emily’s heart to speak to us. His grace opening our hearts to the poetry of our art. Thank you Emily, for helping me to see that I am a poem created by God to be used in his image. I don’t know what that means yet, for this stage of my journey, but I know it matters.

It matters that I was there.  It matters that I was in the presence of people that God chose ahead of time to put in my path.  God does not work in coincidence.  He goes ahead of us on the journey preparing the way. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) He knew in 2008, that I would be in the barn in 2013 and he knew it would matter.

In 2008 I stumbled across the Proverbs 31 devotional blog on Crosswalk.com, Encouragement for Today, purely by an accidental click of the mouse.  This lead to reading them on other occasions, which introduced me to The Nester, Myquillyn Smith, when she guest posted, which in turn introduced me to Chatting At The Sky and Emily Freeman. And then, in 2013 I discovered Emily’s book a million little ways and  I came to The Barn.

Where I met Emily Freeman, Myquillyn Smith and Renee Swope (from Proverbs 31) and a few other wonderful people.  When I entered the door of the barn, grace was extended by a hug from Emily and a gracious welcome. Hearing her speak was a delightful experience.  After the event, meeting Myquillyn, accompanied by a hug, was a blessing.   She and Emily have both inspired me so many times through their blogs and I found them both to be sincere and real. During the event, I was seated at the same table as Renee, who has also inspired me with her writing .  It was during a conversation with Renee that she said something that stuck with me.  She was sharing a situation in which God told her “don’t resist or resent”.  I knew God intended for me to hear those words. He knew in 2008 where I would be in 2013 and what my situation would be.  He knew I would need to hear those words.  It never ceases to amaze me how God puts people in our path at just the right moment.

Resisting and Resenting had both been paramount in my life for the past 12-18 months.  I had not really admitted that to myself, but just those simple words from Renee opened my eyes.  My husband and I moved home in June of 2012 to be closer to my parents who needed help due to health issues – mainly my mother.  Her illness has been very difficult and heartbreaking.  I have resented that she and we have had to go through this.  I don’t ‘understand why.  I can’t figure out how it fits into the future we thought we were going to have.

The barn reminded me that I don’t have to figure it out. I know that God’s grace is enough. God also knew in 2008 that I would need to read Emily’s book and hear her speak about how “God is the artist and he has made us.  We are his poem and we will make art.”  Whatever our circumstances, if we submit to his will, I know that he will allow us to make art. It may not look like the art I thought we were supposed to make, but if it is his art working through us, it will be even more beautiful than I imagined.

How do I know this? GRACE CAME DOWN IN A BARN.

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Making art in Grace,

Teresa