Summer 2017 Update

I suppose that it’s about time for a summer update. This feels as though it is long overdue but at the same time I have been wondering how to go about presenting my thoughts in such a way that they won’t feel awkward, foreign, or…insignificant. But in reality, they truly are insignificant.

I would love to believe that my words can change the world. I’m all about dreaming big, ya’ll. But what I’m trying to come to accept is that – if my words can change even a small portion of one person’s world – that is enough. God gave me words and however he chooses to use them is out of my control. I’m trying to revel in the fact that God is trustworthy and His design is greater and more wild than I could ever truly comprehend.

It’s funny how much sense the nonsensical things make when you turn back and review them in hindsight. Everything from illnesses to broken relationships to opened (or more often, closed) doors…it all seems to fit into the most glorious – and often times complicated and confusing – puzzle. And then there are some things that just don’t fit. The puzzle piece is too awkward, to big, to small, or just plain wrong. Sometimes things in our lives just don’t match up and we have to walk by faith – we are forced to surrender and to trust that, although we may never achieve clarity in certain areas, God is always, ALWAYS in control and He DOES see the bigger picture…the completed puzzle.

Wow. So vague. My apologies. Let me cut to the chase here.

My first month of summer is coming to a close and it has already yielded so much fruit (some which is ripe and juicy and other that has withered and lays bruised and broken on the ground). There has been a lot of fear – mostly over relationships but there has also been so, SO much love. And for that, I am endlessly grateful.

I am currently in Virginia. I did a solo recital where I got to play with some old friends of mine. I suppose they should be referred to as my “colleagues” but they are more like brothers to me. Words can not express how much love I have for these boys (turned into men) and how proud I am of them both. I also got to work alongside a pianist whom I hadn’t previously worked with and let me just say….what an honor and a blessing it was to be surrounded by her talent, her creativity, and her KINDNESS. What a joy to make music with such driven, passionate, and musical humans. Blessings upon blessings.

You can’t experience how warm and bright the sun truly is though unless you’ve known some darkness along the way.

I found it. I found it in the cracks of broken relationships, lies, manipulation, and, more specifically, a very awkward phone conversation. Some times the people we most want to please, to love and be loved by, to have standing along the sidelines cheering us on – sometimes those people are the ones least capable of giving us what we need. And sometimes they work in pairs. Although some of the people in my life are absent or – in the less ideal situation…far too present in an explosive, angry, manipulative way – I am learning how to love them and leave them. I love them because they are human and created by God and I leave them and their baggage behind me. For the sake of their own privacy (because even though I don’t like them, I truly do still love them) they shall remain unnamed. However, I am slowly learning and coming to terms with the fact that they issues they bring up and the attacks that they make are “them problems” and not “me problems”. That doesn’t make it any easier emotionally, but it does make it easier to sort it all out mentally and to compartmentalize it.

I digress. Anyways, I spent a week at home – 4 days doing rehearsals and preparing for the recital and then I spent 2 days with my sweet Momma. I am so, SO proud of both my parents for way more reasons than I could ever compile into one readable blog post. So I will state the most recent reasons: My mom is retiring after teaching for 32 years. I am mostly proud of her, not for her fabulous and life-changing teaching abilities and talents, but because she is finally doing something that she wants and needs. She is putting her passions aside for newer passions and she is also putting her health first. Sometimes out wants and our needs change from what they were originally. God gives us gifts and callings but they aren’t set in stone or a life-sentence. She has bigger things ahead and I am so proud of all she has accomplished and I am excited for all that is to come in her future! She is such a wonderful role model for me! And I’m especially thankful that she took 2 days off of work to spend with me while I was in town – we went on adventures, painted pottery, got our nails done, tried a new restaurant, took our puppies out to socialize, and relaxed together.

 

My father is one of my very best friends. After working his butt off to make sure everything went smoothly for my performance and after all the sacrifices, phone calls, emails, etc I was so thankful that I got to see him do his thing as he conducted a band concert last week! My parents are so supportive and they come to every performance that they can, but it is very rare for me to get to see my dad perform. He is SUCH a great conductor and I am so proud of him for all he has achieved, musically. But what I love to see the most is the way he interacts with his middle and high school students. They look up to him, admire him, and love him so much and he has such a way with them – so much patience but also able to receive so much respect from them. I was really glad I got to see him “do his thannng” even though it meant sitting through 6th graders playing hot-cross-buns and yankee doodle before getting to hear the high schoolers perform Pirates of the Caribbean! :p Also, shout out to my sweet father for hiking to the top of Sharp Top Mountain for the first time since he had a heart attack back in October of 2011. So proud of you!

I’m proud of both my parents and everything that they’ve accomplished and achieved with their talents and their careers. What I’m most proud of though is how far we’ve come as a family. I’m not only proud, but extremely, EXTREMELY thankful. God is good, ya’ll!

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I was so fortunate to spend 4 days with one of my dearest friends in Richmond VA! We don’t get to see each other more than once or twice a year but when we are together we pick right back up where we left off. One thing I LOVE about visiting my darling sister is that I also love all of her sweet friends! It was such a joy to spend time with all of them – to laugh, to eat good food, to spend some time at the beach, and also to worship at her church with her congregation! I cherish these moments with friends more than words can adequately describe.

1 month of summer down and 3 left still to go. My summer has fallen together in ways I never could have envisioned for myself – things I never could have planned or mapped out on my own. We serve a mighty God, my friends! One of the many things I’m learning is that even when I can only see the fist few steps of the staircase – he can already see the entire thing AND He knows what’s waiting for me at the top. What a relief that is – it takes some of the pressure off of me to feel a though I always have to make the right decision at the right time and worry (read: obsess) about doing the right thing in the right way.

This summer looks unlike any summer I have had before. Because when it came to planning this summer I did my absolute best to let go of the reigns and hand them over to God – I surrendered up my control-freak ways and told God that I finally realized I didn’t know what I truly wanted and I couldn’t plan it all out myself. And so God orchestrated my summer in a way truly unique to me and to my personal passions and interests. I will be doing a 10 week internship with the youth groups at my church in Michigan and I will also be going to Belize for a week in July as a part of a missions team from a church in Virginia. Not only that, but I also am able to take lessons from a faculty member at the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance at U of M. God provided – as he always does. He provided a source of income, a job with people in a place that I love and am passionate about. He provided adventure – my first overseas missions trip. He provided education and a chance to continue pursuing my love of music. It appears as though I will have a chance to get my toes wet in practically every area I am interested in and passionate about all while being able to balance work, play, education, and RELAXATION (a word that often times becomes foreign to me during my school semesters.

I’ll get to spend the summer with my pup, in my own apartment/space, with most of my tribe, and I KNOW that it will yield so much fruit and so much growth. In the past 12 years there has only been one summer where I haven’t done a music festival or program and it was not by my own choosing, but because I had just returned home from treatment and couldn’t yet attend one. I gotta say – it feels pretty darn amazing to just let go and let God do His thing. He knows my journey and my life better than I ever could. There is no doubt in my mind that He has amazing things planned for this summer and out-of-this-world things planned for my future. It’s holding on to that hope that helps me make it through the difficult days.

As I return home from Virginia and start this new, fresh, and uncharted portion of my year, I am praying each and every day that I will grow in Christ, grow in grace, and grow in love. I don’t know what the futures holds for me – career, relationship, health, education, etc. But I’m learning to take blind leaps (or teeny tiny step) of faith and I’m also learning that life is pretty stinking great when you let God forge the path and you make the commitment to follow wherever He leads.

Here’s to the first month – time with old friends, performing with magnificent colleagues, and spending precious time with my parents. Here’s to the next three to come – may they be filled with adventure, courage, growth, grace, and the love of Jesus Christ!

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
John Muir

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And here’s to the mountains – a symbol of God’s unmoving, unchanging, unshakeable love, grace, and mercy.  Blessings upon blessings, my sweet friends.

 “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.”

-Psalm 95: 3-4

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