Friday, November 19, 2010

Fabulous Field Trip

It was an exciting day.  Joe and I decided to take a field trip to the Italio-American Accordion shop in Oak Lawn.   When I walked into the shop, I was amazed.   There was a huge variety of accordions and I felt a little priveledged that I could actually mingle in this environment.  We talked to the girl behind the desk and the resident technician.   He checked out my accordion by playing a few chords.  Immediately, he knew that it had a problem.  Using a special tool, he removed some screws, exposed the inside workings of my accordion and stated his diagnosis. “This accordion has been dropped,” he said.  A few months back, my accordion fell off a chair, and since then it never sounded the same. He made his adjustments, put it back together and placed it back in my case.  I was sooooo happy!   He refused to take any money for the repairs, so I was even more grateful. I couldn't wait to try it out.   As soon as I got home, I pulled out my accordion.  Wow! The rich sound I remembered hearing when I first got it, was back. It was so exciting! “She’s Back!” I said to my husband. That’s what God does for us. He sees our broken places and gently opens us up to fix the problems. There is one catch... we have to be willing to be “opened."   If we open ourselves up to him, he will do the repair work that we need.  His desire is to restore us to the way he originally designed us to be.  There is no charge for this "repair."  Jesus paid the price for it and for that, I am grateful.

-But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. -  Eph 2:4-9

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chasing Art

Over the years, I have explored my art through various mediums.  Ceramics, oils, pencil, acrylics, watercolor, photography (I'm sure there are more).  I've enjoyed all of them and this weekend I was going to add one more art adventure, collage.  I signed up, not really knowing what I was going to be doing, and I am so happy I did.  It was absolutely wonderful.  More than wonderful...I was completely in the zone for two and one half days.  A classmate in the workshop talked about losing time when creating, and that's exactly what happened.   I was in my own world for two and half days and whatever else was going on out there, just didn't matter.  It's strange how a room filled with artistic energy can create a bond beyond words.  I learned a new art form from my fabulous instructor, Laura Lein-Svencner and equally rewarding was hearing the encouraging words from my classmates.  I was excited about attending this workshop for many reasons.  The obvious was that I was going to learn something new, but the other was because God's plan for me was beginning to take shape. I stepped away from the corporate world to make time to develop the gifts He poured into me and when the opportunity for this class came into my life, I knew it was part of the bigger picture.  I am so thankful for this small blessing.  "... whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."  1 Corinthians 10:31.  My hope is that I will be able to pass on the blessing and point to my creator, who gave me the gift in the first place.  "What we are is God's gift to us.  What we become is our gift to God." ~Eleanor Powell.

Here is what I worked on in the workshop -

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wandering Fingers

I thought I was moving along and making great progress with my lessons.  I almost felt smug.  Suddenly, though, I was staring at a giant.  My giant was a new song with new notes.  This meant that I could no longer keep my fingers on the same five keys I had been using so confidently.  Now, I had to stretch, both physically and mentally.  Physically, my fingers had to reach keys that were unfamiliar to me.  Mentally, I had to admit I wasn't as slick as I thought I was.  I had so much more to learn.  Sometimes I feel like that on a spiritual level.  I am comfortable where I am and think I've got things pretty much under control.  And then God thinks it's time to learn a new song.   That humbles me but also makes me feel the discomfort of the upcoming stretch I'll have to make.  Discomfort may seem like a bad thing, but when it involves God, it usually isn't.  It builds trust.  It makes me see that I am human, and God is way bigger than my circumstances.  He will help me reach those places that don't feel familiar, and he will guide me along the way, taking me where he intends for me to go.  Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.  Psalm 25:8-10

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Is There an Accordion Doctor in the House?

My heart sank when I heard the sharp thud. I knew instantly what had happened. My accordion fell, no...crashed, to the floor. Liz asked me to look at something in another room, so we placed my accordion on a chair. Obviously, not a good idea. I rushed to pick it up, hoping my quick response would miraculously undo whatever damage might have occurred. I tried playing it, and instantly we both could tell some things were not right I left Liz's house without my accordion and as I drove home, my mind filled with a little bit of anxiety. Liz assured me that she could fix the problems and so I decided to focus on that promise. I had to trust her, and I had to stop thinking about the damage. Thankfully, she has the skills to do the repair work. I started thinking how I am damaged too, and how I've "fallen" more than once. It happens more than I like to admit, and that's when I seek the Lord to fix me. With each repair, he perfects me so that I become what he designed me to be. I am his workmanship. How wonderful is that? "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16 Jesus is the master craftsman who can tell what needs to be done, and delicately works on me so that I can be perfected little by little.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Missed lessons

It's been two weeks now. I've missed two lessons in a row. My instructor Liz and I live very busy lives, and while I understand this, I long for my next lesson. Each lesson pushes me forward, equipping me to become better. So, for the past two weeks I have been practicing my lessons, but I am a little stuck. I am having trouble with something new she taught me. I can't progress until I see her again and I can't wait to see her so I can move forward! I want to move to the next level. This is true with anything in life, but most importantly with my time in scripture. It is during this time that I can grow in the Lord and become equipped for the next "thing". I am reminded how important it is to make the time to learn, otherwise I can become stagnant. When I miss my time with the Lord, I feel the loss. So once again,I am convicted on my need to apply my diligence to my spiritual life. "...train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come..." I Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Getting from here to there

I’ve learned three basic chords. The chords are played with the left hand, and the C chord is the anchor chord. It is easy to find, because when you touch it with your finger, it has an indentation on it to make it evident that your finger is on C. Once I have my finger on the C, I can find the other two chords I’ve learned pretty easily. Those would be the F and G chords. Sounds easy enough. That is until last week when I saw a chord I didn’t know how to reach. The new chord was D. For me, it was D as in “duh.” How in the world was I going to get my fingers over there? It was above the G, and my teacher showed me where it was located, but once I got home, I was pretty lost. It took a leap of blind faith to find it, and then I had to get the feel of it.
I know you’re asking that if what I explained earlier was true, what’s the big deal, right? Well, it’s one thing to move one key over with my fingers to go to the neighboring chord, but it’s not so easy to find a chord that is two doors down. Trust me, it’s just not that easy. Sometimes life is like that, too. We know how to get to the simple places in our lives because some of the things in life are naturally connected. Decisions of what to do next on major things, though, are not so easy. When there is no “guide” in knowing what to do, you have to do it with pure faith. It took a lot of practice and time to get the feel of knowing where the D chord is on my accordion. I’ve almost gotten the hang of it. When life deals a decision making moment, that’s when I have to go to God and give him my time. It involves the discipline of practice, just like practicing my accordion. I make time each day to play and play and play. It’s something I want to do. Each day, my time with the Lord is a discipline that I want to do as well. It is with this investment of time, that he guides me in making the major as well as minor moves in my life.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Love My Accordion

I love my accordion. It’s not perfect, and it has some problems, but I really don't mind. It’s missing a strap, the case is beat up and one of the locks do not clasp properly. But, truly, I don’t care because it's mine! My accordion is starting to feel like a part of me, and I like that. That's because every day, I spend time practicing and every time I practice, I notice that I get a little bit better. Not perfect, just better. That’s how my walk with God is. In his hands, I become better. Not perfect, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, better. The musician makes the instrument eminate a beautiful sound. And so it is with us. As we meet with God every day, he becomes the musician of our lives, enabling us to make a beautiful noise for all to enjoy. Just like I love my accordion, God loves me more.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Breaking a bad habit

I’ve developed some bad habits. Bad accordion playing habits, that is. From the very beginning, Liz has been telling me to slow down at each lesson and to stop playing so staccato, and I try, but I’m a speedster and want to make the music happen. Now I know why slowing down is so important. In my attempt to make my brain and fingers work together, I’ve been playing in a choppy fashion, and now I have to unlearn those bad habits. Today, I tried to do that, and I wanted to scream. I had to force myself to slow down and think, think, think, even harder than I already do. It’s been grueling and challenging. When people ask me how my lessons are coming along, I chuckle and explain it as trying to chew gum, walk, and rub your stomach all at the same time. I thought about my first practice session at home, and I remember my son warning me about forming bad habits. I didn’t pay attention. Sounds like role reversal to me. It reminds me of how I don’t pay attention to God when he sends me a gentle warning. I just keep plowing ahead, in my own way, and I find myself having to stop or slow down so I can do things his way, the right way. So now, here I am, forced and determined to break out of a bad habit. Somewhere, I’ve heard that it takes 30 days to form a new habit. Thirty days seems like an eternity.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I am really doing it

I'm amazed. I cannot believe that I am able to play the accordion. I am beginner, and for someone who never learned how to read music, I am playing! Like I said, amazing. I am proud to report that I practice about 90% of the time. That means I only miss one or two days, at the most, during the week. My progess is noticeable, and my husband says I'm getting better. I wonder if it's true? I guess even more amazing is the confidence I've gained by playing. I feel like I can do just about anything. Which reminds me that it's in the small steps we take, that we experience growth. I am reminded of one of God's promises..."I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Phil 4:13. I love that scripture. I often think of it when I feel like I can't do certain things, or I am wiped out by the circumstances of life. My accordion is just a small example of HIM working in my life. I am doing it!

Friday, May 14, 2010

How I found my instructor

Liz is my accordion teacher. She is young, beautiful, and full of life. I met her about 6 years ago. She was my client when I was working as a Realtor. We formed a great relationship and she remained in my life in a comfortable way by becoming more than a client. About five years ago, she invited me to a party at her home. The party was cancelled, and somehow I didn't get the memo about the cancellation and showed up anyway. No matter, because everything happens for a reason. I stood in her living room, chatting away, and I spied an accordion in the corner of the room. I asked her about it, sharing how I loved the accordion. She immediately offered to give me lessons. I couldn't imagine finding the time for lessons and the thought of trying to get an accordion seemed impossible. So, I said thanks, but no thanks. Driving home, my husband encouraged me to pursue lessons, but I had already made up my mind. It was no and I was sticking to it. When Joe surprised me with my accordion, who came to mind? Liz. I am blessed because our paths crossed for more than one reason. There is a saying I love that applies to this endeavor..."when the student is ready, the teacher will appear". My teacher has appeared in Liz!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lesson 2

Never go to an accordion lesson impaired. We had just achieved a huge goal at work and my director invited us to celebrate at a local restaurant at the end of the day. I didn't think two glasses of wine would really affect my ability to concentrate during my lesson, but it did. I had two challenges at this lesson. First, was my inability to concentrate. Second, was realizing that I had been playing a chord I learned last week incorrectly. Hmmm. Whatever I was playing sounded pretty good to me, but my instructor picked up on my error. Needless to say, my lesson was not very productive. Acutally, it was horrible. I was thankful it was over, although, now came the hard part. I had to unlearn the wrong chord, and train myself to play the right one. A habit is hard to break. That's how it is in life, too. It's been a week now, and I've been playing the right chord (I think) and it sounds right. It's a symbol to me that I can get rid of bad behaviors and replace them with good ones. Let's see if I can motivate myself to apply this principle to my life.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lesson 1

Who says God doesn't answer prayers? There is a scripture that says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Ps 37:4). Since I was a little girl, I have wanted to play the accordion. When Joe surprised me with the accordion, I was excited and afraid at the same time. My first lesson was interesting and challenging. I had to put my intimidations aside, and put my brain into action. Both of those, hard to do!! I warned Liz, my instructor, that I would take twice as long to learn since I did't know how to read music. She assured me that I would learn. She was very patient with me. There's another psalm that reads almost like the first. It says, "May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." (Ps 20:4). That's my prayer now. I don't have lofty goals, but I do want to get to a point where I'll be able to play at least one song without a single mistake. We'll see how much patience I have with myself.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Confessions of an Accordion Lover

It was my turn to choose a video. I shuffled through the Netflix titles and found "Bread and Tulips". I read the description and when I learned that it was set in Italy, I was immediately drawn to it. In one of the scenes, Rosalba, the main character is on a picnic with friends. There is food, and relaxation, which in and of itself drew me in. The dreamy moment for me, though, was watching her play the accordion for her friends. Joe just looked at me and said, "You're in your element, aren't you?" Of course I was. Actually, I was wishing I was in my element. Ever since I was about four years old I had wanted to play the accordion. Ok, I admit it! It's one of my favorite instruments. My husband knew this about me, and bless his heart, he was inspired. Fast forward a few months. I was snuggled under my covers when Joe burst into the room. He was carrying a large suitcase and delicately set it on the floor. Irritated, I asked him what he was doing and couldn't he see I was almost asleep? Proudly, he announced that he had a surprise for me. He opened the suitcase, and out came a beautiful, pearl white accordion. He'd won it on e-bay, and bid on it to surprise me. Beautiful and unbelievable. Beautiful, in many ways. The accordion was lovely, but his thoughtfulness was even more beautiful. And then, I have the unbelievable, that after all these years, I finally have an accordion. Now I have to find an instructor.