All is Calm, All is Bright

All is Calm, All is Bright

It’s Christmas week and church musicians everywhere are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the year - Christmas Eve on Saturday and Christmas Day on Sunday. If you’re involved in church services this weekend, you’re probably not describing your week as “calm” and “bright.” Your to-do list probably looks a lot like mine: 

write thank you notes
finish newsletter article
proof bulletins
finish wrapping
meet piano tuner

It’s a crazy time, I know, but I’m determined to not let this season pass me by while I was caught up in the details and the planning. I don’t want to miss the spectacle, the gift, the presence of God in our midst. 

Prayers for Choirs: No. 10

Prayers for Choirs: No. 10

It's that time again.

The time when some of us start to feel a little anxious, a little unsettled. When everything feels like "us" vs. "them." When we sometimes feel like we're on opposing sides from people we call friends and neighbors. When it feels like we're more divided as a country and a community than ever.

It's election season, and this year, it's more polarizing than ever.

All you have to do is turn on the news, or scroll through Twitter or Facebook, or scan the headlines in the checkout aisle.

Some people get loud about their opinions, others get quiet. Some get angry, others feel uneasy, and many feel afraid. Some people put signs in their yards or stickers on their cars to let everyone know where they stand - constant visual reminders of the turmoil and conflict across our nation right now. Others keep their opinions to themselves to try to keep the peace with family, friends, and neighbors.

Christmas Time is Here

With Turkey Day behind us it seems the whole world has turned to Christmas and the upcoming holiday season with gusto. The radio stations are playing solely holiday tunes (though, I admit, I gave up on them after hearing "Dominic the Donkey" today); the church is decked out with trees, wreaths, candles, and bright red bows; and our tiny P.O. box is filled to the brim every day with cheery catalogs. It's a joyous season and yet it's also the busiest month of the year!

Between extra meetings, special bulletins, long choir rehearsals, finals, shopping, wrapping, and traveling, I feel like I'm holding on for dear life some days. It's hard not to get carried away in the hustle and bustle! In moments like these, I try to remind myself to take life one step at a time, to prioritize what's most important, and to keep smiling through it all. Part of that "grace not perfection" mantra is taking time to admire the red and green decorations in the Pharmacy window on my way to work instead of speed-walking down the sidewalk, spending time in the evening addressing Christmas cards (they're black and white and so us!) instead of fretting over the bulletin formatting, taking a Saturday morning to bake Butter Cookies (a family tradition) instead of sending emails, and planning a few days of escape with family instead of sitting at home planning for the Spring.

This season, though busy and full of opportunities to feel overwhelmed, I choose peace. I choose thankfulness. I choose joy.

Life Lately

Life lately has included a whirlwind, 24-hour trip to Memphis; an adventurous trip to the new Wegmans; several evening jogs together (a new thing for us); candlelight dinners with our new PB dish towel napkins; a marathon thank-you note writing session (several more to come!); 20% off our registry completion at Macy's; finding out our GPS was stolen out of the car sometime last week; an October blizzard with 22" of snow; an unexpected, 4.5-hr. trip to the ER; and calling in sick to work (I have NEVER done that before!).

Let me backtrack. Monday, I was in teacher-mode. I had my quiz materials ready, I had my book bag packed, I had my lesson materials prepared. Thirty minutes before I would have walked out the door, I saw him sit down in the middle of making lunch. His heart was racing. He was breathing as if he had just come back from a run. He felt too lightheaded to stand. I helped him upstairs to lie down. Thirty minutes later, I called in sick to work and we were on our way to the ER. I kept thinking, "How do I do this? How can I be strong enough for both of us?" Sitting in the waiting room, answering questions from the nurses, trying to calm his nerves, listening to the same news stories on repeat - it was an experience that stretched and challenged me. "You're my hero," he whispered. I just shook my head. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13, I thought to myself. After a few tests (with normal results), they sent us home.

The next few days were long ones.

He, trying to rest and recuperate; me, trying to keep up with teaching, meetings, cooking, phone calls, etc. Sometimes, it feels like I'm on a roller coaster. Sometimes, I think I need that to remind me - Live while you can. Never take anything for granted. Enjoy the little things. Dwell in the moment. As I sat next to that sweet, sleeping man, I prayed that on days like these, I could be strong enough for both of us. "Cast your cares upon the Lord for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7. In the midst of phone calls to the insurance company, doctor's offices, and the hospital, I prayed that I could learn how to care for him - in sickness and in health. I prayed that I could be the shoulder he leans on in times of weakness. Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken." Psalm 55:22. I prayed for a peaceful heart.

Now, at the end of a long, restless week, we're beginning to see signs of improvement. He got a good report at the doctor's office today and he even had a glass of wine waiting for me when I got home from choir tonight! I, for one am exceedingly thankful.