Sunday, September 15, 2013

Published 2:40 PM by with 0 comment

Reminded by a Fortune Cookie, and the Story of the Silver Knot

Yesterday I was sitting with my gratitude journal when it hit me once more: I am SO VERY BLESSED. The childhood dreams of becoming a classical guitarist, a mother, a teacher, a college graduate, a published writer, are all coming true. None of them have been anything more than tiny personal victories in the greater scene of the universe (I'm not on national television, thank goodness), but nevertheless, these goals are blossoming before my eyes.

It has become a mantra for me: I am blessed, I am blessed. Thank you, God, thank you, God.

There have been rough spots along the way. Times when I've set my guitar down and cut my precious right hand nails off and thought about giving up music. Times when I've come home from college classes or my teaching studio crying, thinking that I couldn't make it work, that I wasn't smart enough or determined enough or brave enough. Times of depression, anger, sorting through who I am. But through all the storms, this winding, curvy, up-and-down path has continued to lead me onwards.

A reminder of where I need to go.

Along the way, my dreams have expanded, explored rabbit trails. An interest in alternative schooling, which comes from my own journey as a home-schooler, has led to researching various methods of education for children. My love of music grew into playing mandolin and singing. Becoming a teacher has turned into the dream to become a Master Teacher in the music program I teach. And who knows where else those dreams will go? Always in the back of my mind are whispers of opening up my own school for children, publishing a book, traveling to distant lands... perhaps. Someday, maybe, when the time is right, when I have more experience and wisdom (and money), then those goals will become more than just whispers.

Yet there are quiet questions: "what would happen if you lost your abilities? Became maimed in an accident? Or paralyzed? Would you lose all sense of purpose if you couldn't play guitar, or teach, or write?" My prayer is that no matter what circumstance I am placed in that God would continue to guide me in ways that I can still see the beauty he has created, even in the smallest way, even in the depths of illness or pain or change, even without the use of my hands, even from a hospital bed, even if what I consider to be my strengths are unable to be used. No matter what, I hope that God will use me in whatever way he sees fit, and then call me home.

May I be able to say along with Paul that "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

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Years ago I was asked to play guitar for an artists' gathering, a night of festival/sale/open house for local jewelry makers, crafters, sewers, dancers, visual artists, and more. The expected fee was negotiable, and I was happy to accept whatever payment would be offered, since I supported what everyone was doing. It's not often that I am able to donate my time (musicians need to make a living too!), but this was a cause after my own heart.

After playing music for about an hour and a half, the crowds had thinned and the artists were beginning to close down for the night, so I figured it would be a good time to stop. The woman in charge of paying me was a Celtic jeweler. To my surprise, she offered to barter one of her jewelry sets of a silver necklace and earrings in exchange for the time I played. Everything she made was gorgeous, so I was happy to accept! We talked more about the bartering system, living as an artist, working in the arts for a living, and always trying to improve your skills. I'll never forget what she taught me:

"There is no one right way to do your art. We artists need to work together to encourage and support what we do, because only together are we able to grow. We learn new ways to do things, and help show others that way. We are artists because we want to share the beauty that we see in our craft with others."



Whenever I wear the necklace, I am reminded of finding beauty in the arts, following where God leads, serving others with my abilities, and the love of working with my hands, whether it be with music, teaching, cooking, crafting, knitting, drawing, or writing. I am so grateful that the "dreams of my youth" are still alive and I am eager to see what God has in store for the future!
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