Monday, October 31, 2016

Hits and Misses (October 23-29)

Here's a look back at the week that was....

  • I've enjoyed working on the fall musical, but I was very thrilled when Little Shop opened on Thursday night. Shows have gone well. We've had good audiences and the cast is doing exactly what they rehearsed.
  • After a long night of rehearsal filled with technical difficulties, an encouraging note delivered to my desk was what was needed at the moment. I'm so thankful to work at a place where faculty and students take the time to care for each other.
  • The Plainview Sonatina Festival was great fun on Saturday morning. For the second year, I had the privilege of offering feedback to young pianists in the area. It was great to get back to working with beginners as well as hearing some admirable performances of Clementi, Beethoven, and Mozart by aspiring young musicians.

  • Production Week is always exhausting. My body is looking forward to the promise of upcoming rest and enjoying food that is not from a fast food chain.
  • My car has started acting funny in all of this craziness. Occasionally, it feels as though it wants to stall. It will finally go, but it's scary in the moment. I plan to take it to the dealership this week. Hopefully whatever is wrong is still covered by warranty.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Purple Violets -- for Domestic Violence Awareness

10/26/16 - This post first appeared on October 24, 2014. I seldom recycle posts on this blog as a matter of principle, but the topic of this one is far too important to me personally to ignore. When I re-read my feelings about my family's personal experience with domestic abuse as it appeared on my Facebook post two days ago, I found myself once again feeling all of the rage, anger, betrayal, and fear that I first felt in 2009. Domestic abuse continues to be a national epidemic that crushes women, children, and the families that love them. Although my sister's bruises have healed that were inflicted upon her by an evil monster, the painful memories continue. For far too long, society has been silent, allowing the perpetrators to quietly hide in the shadows without fear of significant consequences. As October -- Domestic Violence Awareness month -- comes to an end, I once again share my story as I watched my sister's struggle in an abusive, horror-filled marriage. My hope is that we will all become advocates for the victims and provide them with loving, safe havens as they traverse the difficult path to freedom and escape from their abusers.  ~KF

I have struggled with writing this post. Let me warn you from the beginning -- this is not going to be pretty. It is important though. Because of that, I refuse to edit myself or attempt to wrap things up in a neat package.

Last week, I participated in a Facebook activity to replace the negativity often found there with images of beautiful flowers. Gerber daisies were chosen as my flower. The next post on my news feed was a purple ribbon, honoring the many women and children in our country who are victims of domestic violence. Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, I decided to combine the activities into a single post. Domestic violence has become a personal issue for my family in the last few years. My purple daisy bouquet is for my sister.

In 2009, my sister came forward with the awful truth that she had been the victim of domestic abuse for five years at the hands of her husband who she was now divorcing. In addition to the physical and emotional abuse Carlene suffered, her pain was heightened as she realized that the emotional abuse was also impacting her two young daughters.

The details of Carlene's ordeal is hers to tell. Truthfully, I'm confident that I only know a portion of the horror and suffering she endured at the hands of the monster she married. What I CAN address are my personal feelings as a family member who also had to deal with the repercussions of the violence she endured.

ANGER!!!! That one word sums up so much of my feelings. I was furious that a man professing Christianity could inflict the bruises that I photographed along my sister's back and arms. I despised that my nieces had witnessed the violence and lived in constant fear. I fumed as I learned that this arrogant idiot of wasted air attempted to convince people that my sister had inflicted the injuries on herself!

My anger turned to rage as my family had to take significant steps to ensure our personal safety as well as that of Carlene and the girls. The jerk's abuse continued as he called my mother at work, appeared at our various places of employment, and ultimately began living in the same apartment complex that Carlene settled in in order to continue contact and dominating her life.

As I heard the responses from some in the church to my sister's situation, I was floored. "You made a commitment for life and need to stay in the marriage and try to work things out."  "Jesus said to turn the other cheek."  "He's just going through a hard time. Things will get better eventually." I wondered which of these "insightful" people would have offered the same advice if they were living in constant fear. I definitely began to understand why so many victims say that they don't feel safe confiding in the faith community; with responses like the ones Carlene heard, no one would find comfort or safety there.

Even though my sister gained her freedom from her personal hell over five years ago, I still experience frustration that continues to stem from the abusive relationship. I despise watching my sister struggle financially to make ends meet because the A-hole has failed to pay child support as ordered by the court for at least four years. That leads to other frustrations with Tennessee Child Welfare for not monitoring the situation closely as well as with Carlene for not pressing the issue more. I nearly blow a gasket every time I hear my nieces complain about having to visit the man who provided the sperm that produced them (I'm sorry....he doesn't deserve to even be referred to as a biological father, in my opinion!); it would appear to a rational person that failure to fulfill a responsibility outlined in the divorce decree (e.g. monthly child support payments) would result in the loss of parental rights and visitation.

When I get incredibly frustrated and upset at the situation that my family finds itself in simply because one man could not appropriately manage his temper, I find myself fantasizing. I fantasize about the day that the state of Tennessee finally notices that child support has not been paid. I dream about the abuser finally spending time behind bars. I wonder what the reception for him will be as other inmates learn of the pain that was inflicted on a woman and innocent children at his hands. I'm not stupid enough to fantasize about inflicting the pain on the idiot myself.....but I wouldn't mind being a casual observer either!

As you can see, I have no use for this man that I consider the scum of the earth. He didn't just inflict pain on random people; he violently abused those I love. He made their home a prison. That caused me pain as well. No one should ever have to suffer at the hands of someone who promised "to love, honor, and cherish" them. Sounds like a big lie to me....

So don't placate me with terms about how I need to find forgiveness. I really don't want to hear it. All I want is to display these purple daisies as a sign to those who might be dealing with abuse in their own life that they are not alone and that there are some of us who refuse to remain silent any longer. It's time for the shame many of these victims face to come to an end and for us to place the guilt where it belongs....firmly on the shoulders of the abuser!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Hits and Misses (October 16-22)

Here's a look back at the week that was.....

  • Fall Break came at the perfect time. I thoroughly enjoyed spending some meaningless days at home. My break influenced all of this week's hits as well.
  • I mostly enjoyed getting to sleep late. I've been dealing with a lot of fatigue, so spending upwards of 9 hours in bed every night of break was just what the doctor ordered. I feel refreshed and physically ready to face the challenge of production week.
  • I also caught a couple of movies over the long weekend. Somehow I can never manage to find time to go during my normal routine. I laughed my way through Tyler Perry's new Madea movie and also enjoyed Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise.
  • I finally sat down and watched NBC's Timeless as well. It's an interesting concept that involves time travel back to significant historical events, including the Hindenburg explosion and Lincoln's assassination. I have not completely decided if I'll stick with the series for the long term or not, but the first two episodes have me intrigued enough to continue watching.

  • I've been struggling with getting posts to my blog on a regular basis. I hate it when I'm not on a regular routine. For now, I'm attempting to improve the likelihood of posting by writing on my iPad. It's not my favored method of writing, but it will do in a pinch until life returns to some form of normalcy.
  • I've also noticed that my reading routine is non-existent at the moment. I've intentionally buried my nose in a novel over break to see if I can correct this problem before I get out of the daily habit of reading again.
  • As October rolls along, I'm missing my friends in Malibu. I know that this is an exciting time every year, but missing out on things this year makes me feel disconnected. Some people are probably quite excited to hear me make that statement. I am not.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Gimme a Break

It's the second day of Fall Break here in West Texas and it couldn't have come at a better time. I definitely need the rest! I'm looking forward to enjoying a few days with no classes or lessons to plan. I have to admit that I'm a little bummed that I wasn't able to fit in my annual pilgrimage to Malibu for the short holiday. Looking back over social media posts from past October visits has definitely reminded me of the adventures, love, and laughter of SoCal. Thankfully I'll get to make a brief visit in January for a brother's wedding. It won't quite be like the October adventures, but it will be a needed opportunity to connect with cherished friends again.

Since I'm not traveling this Fall Break, I've made plans for my stay-cation instead. The biggest thing on my agenda is lots of sleep in preparation for production week of Little Shop of Horrors. Besides that, I'll be catching up on some television and reading while avoiding practicing for a few days. I am considering a day trip to Amarillo to visit an art museum....but we will see how that pans out. All I know right now is that the couch feels glorious, so I'm gonna curl up with my book again and pass a few days as leisurely as possible!


Monday, October 17, 2016

Hits and Misses (October 9-15)

While my blogging may be a little sporadic at the moment, I intend to at least post this weekly look back regularly.  So here's a look at the week that was.....

  • When the week got started, I thought a bulldozer was moving through my head. I felt horrible! Cold medicine came to the rescue and knocked whatever it was out of my system before another week of work got started.
  • Sunday was a packed day of worship. The morning services at CHBC were wonderful and we followed things up with the Night of Worship in Harral. This was a joint effort between several of the churches in the city and was a success. Thankfully, I only had to play one solo, but had been a part of the rehearsal process at CHBC and subbed for the pianist during Saturday evening's dress rehearsal.
  • Tuesday morning started with a message from a respected musician about my solo performance in Sunday evening's Night of Worship. I had already received many compliments and knew that I had played well. Compliments are never the goal of a performance, but they are also nice to hear. This message was particularly moving because although it included a statement about the quality of playing, it was largely focused on the "sincerity and worshipful spirit" of the solo. That is the attitude I always want to portray when participating in a worship service; it was nice to hear that it had come through.
  • Saturday morning was a most excellent day! I spent most of the morning in my pajamas, resting at the end of the week and preparing for what promises to be an intense few days before next week's school break.
  • I often forget that not everyone schedules their life like I do. When an event that I'm involved in appeared on my radar sooner than expected, I panicked! A few deep breaths helped before I spiraled completely out of control, but "just rolling with things" is still not one of my strengths.
  • What little practice time I have had this week has largely been devoted to the Peeters Trumpet Sonata. Have I mentioned recently how much I dislike trying to play this piece? I'd rather see the Stevens or Hindemith sonatas any day!
  • I love having new ideas that inspire me. I hate realizing that I am simply too busy at the moment to follow the rabbit holes that my interests are currently taking me down. Luckily, I know that this situation will change before too much longer.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Impact of Sickness

Late last week, I got hit with a nasty head cold that came on hard and fast. This was one of the first times that I had really felt crummy in quite a while. I'll be the first to admit that I am not a good patient. I want things to be fixed right away and don't manage the recovery process well at all. Despite not feeling well, there were still things that simply had to happen. I had to push through. Now that I'm feeling better (thank Heavens!), I can look back and see the impact that illness had on me in several areas.

  • Cranky and irritable. Some would argue that this is really not an unusual stance for me, but when I'm sick, things just don't go well in my world. Leave me alone. Don't cross my path. And Heaven forbid that you ask me to do more than the bare minimum.
  • Negative. This is one of my biggest frustrations when I'm sick. I think the world is falling and things will never get better. My entire outlook on life is colored by how I feel. In most cases, when my body is fighting, my emotions and mind are also sick. It's not a good combination and the sooner I come to that realization, the quicker I begin to recover.
  • No rhythm. When my head is clogged, rhythm is one of the first things to go. Rhythmic issues can always be problematic for me -- I'll be the first to admit that -- so it's no surprise that the aspect of music that I have to monitor most carefully is the first to leave when I'm less than my best.
  • Cravings abound. I could simply not get enough food last week. I found myself looking for comfort foods -- and especially things that were warm. I tried several combinations to satisfy my craving but didn't find it until I stepped into the market and saw a warm loaf of bread. THAT was exactly what I needed in the moment. How did I know I was on the road to recovery? I needed chocolate and water! That's a sure sign that things are returning to normal.
  • Nothing beats mindless rest. I rarely enjoy sitting in a stupor and having no mental stimulation. However, that's exactly what I needed last weekend. I spent much of the afternoon sitting on my couch with the television on. I really wasn't watching anything....I just needed the noise so I wouldn't feel completely alone. I didn't read. I didn't think about upcoming projects. I simply let my mind drift to a safe place and rested. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Hopefully I'm done with illness for a while. I'm still not back to full strength yet, but I'm feeling better with each passing day....and I'm looking forward to the return of normalcy in my life.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Hits and Misses (October 2-8)

Here's a look back at the week that was....

  • It's always nice to get unsolicited feedback on my posts. It makes me feel good and encourages me to keep writing. After all, I like to know that people are actually reading....even if I am primarily writing for my personal enjoyment and benefit. I received a couple of comments this week from people in passing here in Plainview that were nice to hear. I especially enjoyed an email I received from Memphis about some recent posts; they went on to tell me that they had shown the posts to my parents who were surprised and touched as I recounted stories about them. The best present was the attached photo of the Geriatric Patients. If you've been following at all recently, you've probably picked up on the fact that I have really been missing home lately. The picture was just the boost that I needed to get me through until I get to go home for Thanksgiving break.
  • On Thursday evening, Dr. Anthony King and I presented our faculty recital featuring works for marimba and piano. It was a lot of fun to put the project together and we were both thrilled with the number of people who came to hear us play and the positive responses we got. Both of us have been stopped while running errands around town by random people who simply wanted to tell us how much they enjoyed the recital. What's most funny is that in almost every case, we had virtually no idea who we were talking to! Now, we begin looking forward to our next performance together and the fun of selecting new repertoire.
  • I've not felt terribly good for much of the week, but the annual bout of the crud didn't catch up with me until early Friday morning. Now that I look back over the week, I see that many of my responses to events were colored by the fact that I simply did not feel good, but had too much to do to stop. (You've had fair this week's "misses" with the understanding that I'm horribly cranky when I don't feel well.)
  • The week started with an offertory at CHBC. That's nothing out of the ordinary and I played fine. What was annoying was the "Chatty Cathy" who sat in the front row and felt it necessary to carry on an elaborate conversation throughout the morning service -- including the worship, offertory, and sermon. For those of you who have never been to CHBC, the piano sits on the floor instead of on the stage with approximately 8 feet between me and the Motor Mouth! I chuckled when a member of the team shot her a look during the morning's songs. While I was playing, I tried to control the "glare".....but I don't think I succeeded. Really? Is it that difficult to wait a few hours to tell your story? If it is that important, maybe you should consider taking it to the hallway instead of disrupting everyone else in the sanctuary. (Rant over....)
  • It's been said that there is no such thing as a stupid question. I agree with that. There are, however, annoying questions. These are questions that have been asked -- and answered -- repeatedly and are also written prominently in various available documents. I found myself attempting to patiently answer questions this week when I really wanted to scream to do a little careful reading before asking the question.
  • To bring the week to an appropriate culmination, Thursday was the day of my recital. It was also the day that the construction workers decided to make repairs to the roof of my apartment complex. I had a busy day scheduled, so I made sure to lay out clothes for the evening before leaving the apartment. When I returned home to change, my carefully arranged clothes were covered in pieces of the popcorn ceiling that had been knocked free by the movement on the roof. Not only was there stuff on the had also stained my black shirt and pants with streaks from the white powder. Fortunately, I knew I had another set of concert blacks in the I searched throughout the mounds of hangers until I found what I was looking for. The new wardrobe was fine......I was just frustrated that the apartment was now more of a mess than when I left it. Oh well.....I told you that I was cranky this week!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

As iron sharpens iron....

Proverbs 27:17 states "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." (NLT) Over the years, I have been blessed to be surrounded by godly men who have been my friends and mentors. They have encouraged me in times of trials and spoken truth into my life that I didn't always want to hear at the moment. Still, I knew that their words of wisdom and correction were always intended for my good.

While having lunch with my pastor last week, I began to reflect on the men who have sharpened me over the years. These were never men who appeared in my life for a short time; they made a commitment to walk with me for the long haul. That meant that trust was built and that they would have the right to speak honestly without feeling the need to edit themselves. I'm just beginning to build this type of relationship with Pastor Jason and other men in the Plainview area, but the memories of the good that has come from mentorship leads me to open my heart to new possibilities.

While I had men who discipled me through my early years, it really wasn't until I attended Pepperdine that I truly began to understand mentorship. Men like Scott Lambert, Hung Le, and Randy Gill taught me what it meant to be a godly man in all areas of my life and to seek ways to honor God through my music, life, and service. It was also here that I met peers who could speak openly and honestly into the dark areas of my life. Andy Power, Jon Jones, Mike Cohn, and Jason Wall made a greater difference in my life than they probably fully realize.

Graduate school brought me back to Memphis and the opportunity to serve in vocational ministry. Robbie Wier was not only my pastor and supervisor; he quickly became a trusted friend and advisor. Like any relationship, we had our ups and downs, but I'm happy to say that we weathered the storms together and continue to enjoy a growing friendship when we are together. I could go on and tell you about men like Robert Gordon and Chris Mathews that have poured into my life and ministry; I became a better man because of their influence and love.

I will always be a student. There will always be things that need to be corrected in my life. I hope to continue to be blessed with spiritual and professional mentors. I also pray that I will be aware when opportunities present themselves to pass the lessons I have learned along the journey to another generation of men who are striving to follow Christ in all that they do and say.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hits and Misses (September 25 - October 1)

Here's a look back at the week that was.....

  • It was so much fun waking up on Tuesday morning feeling refreshed after a long day of teaching and rehearsing only to find a long string of text messages from some of my fraternity brothers in Malibu. I laughed and simply shook my head. I've really got to get back to southern California pretty soon....I miss these guys far too much and it's been way too long since we've been together.
  • Tuesday just got better as I enjoyed lunch with my pastor and friend, Jason. It is nice getting to know him and finally letting down my guard enough to let him get to know me. We shared lots of stories of hurts, successes and plans. Once again, it's just more proof that College Heights is a great fit for me in this season of my life.
  • I've been seeing a chiropractor for a couple of months now and definitely seeing the benefits. This week saw a new procedure though that was a little unusual when I first experienced it. I was dealing with some allergies -- it is Fall in west Texas, after all -- and just felt like I couldn't get a deep breath. Dr. Nate told me he could help me by giving me a "bear hug." Um.....OK.....What he basically did was have me lie on my back with my arms across my chest. Then he reached around my back, pulled me up, and gently pushed back my shoulder with his....and the popping that went down my spine took us both by surprise. After I got over the initial shock of what I had just heard, I took a deep breath and didn't want to move because I felt so good! I really just wanted to curl up somewhere and take a long nap after a night of fitful rest.
  • Rehearsals have been productive this week. The students I work with had successful auditions for the upcoming NATS competition. Little Shop is almost completely staged now and the band had our first read-through at the end of the week.
  • After a busy week -- and several stressful weeks in a row -- the Rook crew got together on Saturday night for another evening of laughter and play. I don't know if it was the fact that Kim and I won the game -- or that Daniel lost the game -- or that good friends were gathered around the table laughing together -- but once again, I had a great time.
  • Stuck keys are never something you want to deal with -- so you can imagine my frustration dealing with it twice this week. On Sunday night, I was opening the exterior door to the music building with my key to only learn that the key had gotten jammed into the lock and wasn't coming out! A student and I were fighting with the key for several minutes before we finally and miraculously got it out. Later in the week, I was dealing with a piano key that was sticking on the upright we are using for Little Shop rehearsals. I really don't know what the problem was...but it eventually went away and hasn't been a problem since. (Yes, I just walked across the room to knock on wood....just in case!)
  • Once again this week, I've dealt with sore muscles in my back, neck and shoulders. I know that this is primarily due to the amount of playing I've been doing while dealing with stress in other areas of my life. Thankfully, I'm seeing the chiropractor three times a week (see the Hit above), so the soreness doesn't get as bad as it could be.
  • With my busy schedule of late, I've been playing phone tag with several people. I hate making phone calls anyway, so playing phone tag is one of my least favorite activities. At least everyone I'm trying to contact right now are people that I actually like and look forward to getting to catch up.