Friday, May 30, 2014

Life Lessons in Starbucks

Sitting in Starbucks, blowing a few hours before my next appointment causes me to consider the human condition. The fact that I'm sitting here sipping a hot chocolate is not shocking at all. After all, I love chocolate in any form. What is troubling is that I made this stop immediately after leaving the dentist. I just had my teeth cleaned before exposing them to this filth again.

I'm not really upset about my teeth, but the irony of the situation made me wonder how many times we do similar things in other areas of life. We make strides in improving our financial status and celebrate by making a new purchase on credit. As soon as our stress level is reduced, we feel comfortable enough to take on a new project. It seems we get out of one mess only to begin living in another. What would happen if we ever allowed ourselves to experience contentment and peaceful living for more than a few minutes?

Today, I'm meditating on this passage written by Paul in Philippians 4.
I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess -- happy that you're again showing such strong concern for me . . . Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.  (Philippians 4:10-13, MSG)
It's taken me a while, but today I can say that I'm experiencing more contentment and happiness that I have known in a very long time. Now is not the time to return to old habits; it's time to continue traveling forward.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Searching for Home

It's hard to believe that I have been searching for a church home for nearly a year. It's not a situation I am used to. Over the first 40 years of my life, I've been established in 4 churches -- 2 of these while attending college. I never imagined it would be so difficult to find a body of believers to worship with.

Last summer, I left the church I had been involved with for nearly 14 years. Even though time has passed and many wounds have been healed, I know that my departure was the right decision. In the interim, I have visited many churches in the area. I have found two congregations that I like a lot. So what's the problem?

The first church was the one I attended right after leaving my ministry post. The ministers and congregation spoke words of healing to my spirit during a very difficult time. I don't feel as though I fit in though. The church has two services. The early service lines up with my preferred style of worship; the second is attended by those that are my age and younger.

The second church is a large congregation with excellent preaching and extremely friendly people. I had anticipated this being the place that I would settle down and call home. However, because of its size and my general shyness, I have struggled to find my niche. It's just not easy to walk into an established group and become involved without some sort of invitation. It feels as though I've gotten lost in the shuffle.

I'll be the first to admit that I have been part of the problem as well. There is a hesitancy to become involved in a church again because I fear being taken advantage of. I've also struggled with health issues for several months, making my attendance sparse at best. Plus there's the fear of being perceived as a threat to others already laboring there. I've lived through that nightmare too many times already and don't want to face that world of hurt again.

So I find myself continuing to search. It's not been an easy process thus far, but I know it is an important decision. Settling for the easy, convenient solution is simply not acceptable. So I continue my quest for my new church home.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hits and Misses (May 18-24)

Happy Memorial Day! Here's a quick look back at the week that was.


  • There is nothing quite like a great massage to start the week off right. I had tried to schedule a session with my therapist at the end of last week, but he wasn't I had to wait to start the new week with a session. My neck and shoulders were very thankful for the relaxation.
  • The week has been filled with doctor's appointments. I'm not one who "enjoys" seeing the doctor, but it has felt good to get good reports from the optometrist, dentist, and ENT.  The only bad news is that I STILL don't know what's causing my headaches. 
  • On Thursday, we celebrated my Mom's 75th birthday. Since her birthday fell in the middle of the week, there was no big party.....but we still wanted to have a cake. Problem is that everyone in this house is watching their diet at the moment! I made a quick trip to Gigi's Cupcakes on Poplar Avenue for a few "small" cakes. The cupcakes are scrumptious, even if the icing is just a little too thick for our taste. I have a feeling I will be placing other orders with Gigi's Cupcakes in the future.
  • I hate when a miss comes early in the week and is musical. On Monday evening, my parents and I went to my niece's choir concert. I'm glad we could support her, but I have to sum up the quality of the concert in a single word: PAINFUL! Yikes! I'll be saying more about my thoughts on this concert in a future post.
  • I despise doing paperwork. When I called the ENT to set up an appointment, I was able to get in the next day. Since I was a new patient, I had to complete a MOUNTAIN of paperwork about my medical history, allergies, and hearing. 
  • When I arrived at the ENT, I learned that my insurance would not be covering my visit to the specialist. Instead, the charges would be counted toward my (exorbitant) deductible. I'm glad I could afford the charges to get the work done, but also reminded how badly I need medical benefits soon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Now that an incredibly busy semester has come to a close, it is time to return to my blog.  As the music making required more of my attention, it quickly became evident that some things simply had to be set aside in order to remain productive and sane.

Most of us don't invest our time in things that we consider unimportant. When schedules become packed, how do we determine what to let go? Sadly, the answer is not always clear.

Some things I let go were painful. I was simply too busy to read anything. Reading is my escape and a major form of relaxation. At times, I put all of my books out of sight so I wasn't reminded of what I was missing; at other times, I placed books around so I would look forward to the rest that was eventually coming.

I survived the crazy schedule by reminding myself that it was only for a short season. I'm a visual learner, so I posted all the important dates in my work area and erased each one as it passed. This simple activity became a time of celebration, reflection, and assessment. As another task disappeared, I breathed a bit more easily and steeled myself to carry on.

This semester has been tougher than most for many reasons. While I don't want to repeat such a difficult semester again in the near future, it is comforting to know that I have the tools to survive.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hits and Misses (May 11-17)

The missing blogger is returning to the blogosphere. Some may not have noticed my absence, but I did. It feels good to have time to write again and share what's on my mind (as confused as it is at times!)  Anyway, here's a look back at the week that was.


  • Grades have been turned in. Juries and recitals are in the books. That means that another semester is over. It's been a challenging one to say the least, so I'm looking forward to a few weeks of rest before summer school starts up.
  • Due to personal conflicts for several of the voice faculty at Union, I had the opportunity to sit in on voice juries for the first time. I'll admit that I was a little apprehensive at first, but really enjoyed listening to the many students and providing them feedback on their performances. I was especially thrilled when a student approached me later in the week and commented that he didn't realize how informed I was about singing. I was just relieved that my comments were seen as a valid contribution.
  • Instead of heading out of town as I had planned, I decided to stay home and catch up on some movie and television watching. I have enjoyed seeing Grace Unplugged, Saving Mr. Banks, and Million Dollar Arm this week, but my greatest discovery has been Brothers and Sisters. How have I missed this show for so long? Thank Heavens for Netflix!
  • It's also felt really good to have some time to slow down and do a little reading and writing again. Even if no one else reads a word I write, I enjoy putting my thoughts to paper --er, blog. Now that my headaches are finally getting under control (though I still don't know their cause), I feel like reading again. 

  • The week began with a trip to the doctor for some routine blood work. I was less than thrilled with the lab results. After getting my cholesterol under control with diet and medicine, it seems that stress, lack of exercise, and eating on the road has led to elevated numbers again. I am struggling with getting back into the gym (more about that below) and hate dieting, but I know it's something I must do.
  • My sleep cycle is currently a mess! I'm crawling in bed at 9pm and waking at 2am.  It's a battle to get back to sleep. I'm not entirely sure what the problem is, but I'm thinking it's part of the aging process. When I don't sleep, I'm not a happy person.
  • Since school is out and I'm not running at full steam ahead, I'm discovering just how exhausted I really am. My body aches, my mind is tired, and I don't want to do much of anything that requires effort. So I've closed the lid to the piano -- no practicing for a few more days -- and permitted myself to simply be a vegetable for the week. I'm getting more energy back and hope to be a bit more active soon.
There you have it! Looking forward to the adventures the new week has in store for all of us.