Saturday, December 18, 2010
December 16, 2010
Dear Friends & Family,
Merry Christmas! “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Looking back on the past year, I trust we can all say we have looked for ways to grow: physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and of course in the most important way: our relationship with Christ.
This year has brought to me an increased awareness of my place in the world, and just how content and satisfied I can be in serving God. It really isn’t about me, it’s just about who I am in Christ. And God’s Word truly has all the truth and answers to all of life’s issues. I have seen evidence of that this year.
My dog Juju, who is now 4 years old, keeps me active with “making” me take her for a walk every evening. I’m getting older, as we all are, but I am thankful to be in good health, although I had to make my first visit to a chiropractor this month after some severe lower back pain. He fixed that, but also told me that apparently I look down a lot (imagine that for a piano player!) so I need to work on making my neck straighter by looking up more! Oddly enough, the title of my blog is “Focus up!” Which is a great thing for me to remember, as it is very easy for me to get caught up in daily activities and neglect the really important things: like worshiping God. I think I can relate with Martha, busy serving the Lord, but often forgetful of spending time at Jesus’ feet.
I attended a piano workshop at Butler University in September and the speaker was talking about motivating our piano students by teaching to body, mind, and heart. I thought this was especially interesting from a non-Christian perspective. It has made me continue to meditate on how all the parts of us are tied together, and especially how God keeps bringing my heart/desires into focus. Our Faith Christian School theme this year is “Desiring God,” so I am continually reminded how the “desires and intents of our hearts” affect me and my students. As I teach I want to try to motivate the DESIRES of my students, and I continue to realize how I need to keep my own desires focused on God (Psalm 37:4).
This is my 11th year at Faith Christian School. I have 50 piano students (5 home schooled, 5 public school or college, rest in Kindergarten through 12th from Faith) this year. Our music department has undergone some changes this year as the head of our music department (Jack Heim) changed jobs and moved to NC. I have enjoyed getting to work with the new elementary music teacher (Camden Mullis) and trying to help Joe Wright transition into his job as he was promoted from elementary to high school and head of the music dept. I continue to teach Preschool & K5 music classes. I also still accompany for the FaithMinistry Team and Jr/Sr High choirs (traveled with the FMT to SC this year for fall tour), and run sound for the Praise Team and chapels. I guess I’m supposedly one of the resident tech experts, even though I apparently have been in denial, since I just realized I was probably a “techie” a few months ago when a friend of mine was looking for an HDMI cable, and I knew what that was and I had an extra one at home. I make the PowerPoint presentations (and occasional videos) for our school programs and help others put their presentations together for weekly chapels. This summer I upgraded to a Smartphone too (a Motorola Android), and I find myself joining the ranks of those who are becoming dependent on their phones for their contacts, emails, and calendar. I didn’t think I would use it for all those things but I am starting to really like it. (I’m also becoming addicted to Twitter.)
As I get older I find that I am getting more comfortable in my routines and schedules, thus I’ve felt comfortable branching out to new things, like refinancing my home. I just signed papers to start the process to refinance my home at 4% interest for a 15-year loan with my local bank. Closing should be at the end of January. I continue to have my sister Sarah and our friend Sara Denny living with me in my home, although Sara D will probably be leaving us sometime in the following year to pursue her Mrs. degree.
I have learned in the past year how important it is to be connected with the body of Christ, as I discovered that I can easily sink into an “Elijah mentality,” getting discouraged and thinking that I’m the only person making the choice to live for God (which may seem silly in a church of over 1,500), but connecting with the accountability of my Tuesday night Bible study has helped to keep me focused on God’s purpose and not on myself. I need to be around others who encourage me, and I don’t want to be just “going through the motions” either.
My prayer this year has been to grow in my love for others. I have realized (again) how selfish I am. As Elyse Fitzpatrick says, “I am more sinful and flawed then I ever dared believe, yet more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope.” And thankfully I have seen progress in that area, especially in having a genuine loving attitude toward those who may be different than I am. This reminds me, that to be more in tune with others and the people in my community I also volunteer twice a month at the Faith Community Center, working at the cafe.
I am very thankful for my church family and am privileged to have the opportunity to serve on the Worship Team every Sunday, which makes for a long morning with 3 services, but has also given me some great close friends; I also got some custom-molded earphones out of the deal this year! Our choir Christmas cantata this year also included orchestra, video (MediaShout), and new LED lights.
For our school Christmas program season, my sister and I made an actual figgy pudding (which Juju did NOT eat this year) for the Preschool program, and FCS had our first combined K5-12th grade program: a Christmas Spectacular.
As I’ve grown more comfortable in my responsibilities, I have taken on some extra things in my local music teachers’ association as well, so I am the chairman of the biannual Monster Concert (which I also did in 2009). We are in the planning stages for our June 9, 2011 concert at the Long Center downtown Lafayette. If you are in the area I hope you can support us by attending this program, a grand piano recital with 10 pianos on stage and students of all ages playing.
I’ve discovered that I love spending as much time with my family as much as possible, but that is hard with my work schedule and the distance from Indiana to Wisconsin/Michigan (about 7 hours to Tim & Kristen’s & 9-and-a-half to Rachel/Matt’s and Mom & Dad’s). I now have 4 nephews: Reagan (2 yrs) & Grant (2 mos.) Eliason and Micah (2 yrs) & Wesley (7 mos.) Hill. I enjoyed spending a few days in June with my brother’s family just a few weeks after Wesley was born, and I spent some good quality time in June with my parents (and helping with their Vacation Bible School). And I also look forward to having time at Christmas break to spend with everyone in Ishpeming. For the first time in a long time we will all be together for Christmas! If I still live the same distance away in a few years I think I will definitely be figuring out a way to Skype piano lessons with my nephews!
For more regular updates from me, follow me on Twitter (INDIANABETH) or Facebook, as I enjoy keeping in touch with many of you that way.
Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year,