My Uncomfortable Life (and how God uses it)

I love to play the piano.

I am not a virtuoso, but I have played enough over the years, that I can relax and enjoy expressing myself through music.  I’ve played hymns in churches most of my life, and always offer to do so when I move to someplace new.

And so it happened that I offered to play for the church that I am attending here, “up north”. and am collecting quite a collection of piano stories with a common theme. Embarrassment.  It’s got me thinking.  But, as always, what I let myself think is important. Humility and embarrassment are related, but not quite the same and that is where the importance starts.

This morning I arrived early enough for church that I could make sure the electronic instrument, a clavinova, was plugged in, turned on and sounded appropriate for the small early service. I only had to play for the communion portion of the service – one hymn.  All was set.  The service went well, the message was moving and the invitation was given for communion. To my surprise, when I started to play there was a pop drum beat and a very weird bass thing going on with my reverent, calm hymn.

I hunted for any button on the control board that had STOP written on it, and tried several times to make the hymn sound like a hymn, but no. What finally came out of the machine was barely recognizable and was probably more distracting than having no music at all.  Stuff like this is a musician’s nightmare.

This particular service is early, 8 am, and has small attendance, so the music crew does not do a lot of practice for it.  Other times when I’ve participated, I have played the wrong song at the right time, played the right song at the wrong time, and played when I was not supposed to play at all.  I suppose the regular attendees are getting kind of used to me and my uncomfortable adventures.

I am filled with mixed emotions. Why do these things keep happening? It always takes a bit of courage to put myself in a place of service to others where what I do is noticeable if I do it poorly. I am aware that music sets the mood and can influence people. I desperately (yes, desperately!) want to not distract people from their worship, or make them uncomfortable because they are worried about me.

On the other hand, I realize that music is not what it’s all about.  Worship is not about me at all and how I respond when things go poorly is what God is probably watching. What does my embarrassment lead to? What discouraging messages am I giving myself about my performance, my usefulness? Will I be intimidated and unwilling to serve again? Those would not be good choices. However, I have to consider that God might be telling me that my time playing for church is finished.  Maybe I am to move on to something else, and it would be okay.  It has to be okay. Kind of makes me look at my pride issues and wonder what God wants to teach me next.  That is always a good thing.

This morning, the pastor asked me what I was going to write about next.  I had no idea then, but God inspires in strange ways and look what happens. Just sayin’…

 

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Bottom line – I can always make music in my heart, and maybe that’s the best place for it…

What Is That Smell?

“The carpet is dirty.” she told me, wrinkling her nose. She was a prospective renter for a condo we manage.

“No, actually, that’s the color it is.  Multi-color sand and dirt, and it looks pretty good.  We’ll check it out when the furniture is off.” I was able to reassure her, but I could smell it too.  Mild animal odor.

This carpet isn’t that old!  I can’t stand the thought of replacing it again already…aaagghh!

I remember other times being assaulted with an odor as soon as I stepped into a house.  Usually it was the house of an animal lover with indoor pets abounding, or an elderly couple whose days of cleaning up immaculately after kitty were past. This all makes me think of the power of smell to form our opinions, and rather quickly I might add. This is not good news.  For one, the impression left on a prospective renter might mean I have to replace carpet in the condo I was showing.  For two, it means I have to watch out as some people would describe the husband and I as an elderly couple whose days of cleaning up immaculately after kitty are past.

We aren’t that old!!  I clean up after that cat all the time, cat hair, cat puke, cat litter, all of it…

One of these days I will start losing my sense of smell.  It might actually be an old age blessing, I don’t know.  but it’s not happening yet.  Lately every time I walk into my closet from a certain direction (there are two doors) I smell something… something sour, old.and difficult to describe any more concretely.  It’s only there for a few seconds and then it’s gone. I have done housecleaning professionally and following my training I have taken that closet apart, including inspection of all the shoe soles, behind the small dressers and washing the throw rug.  There is nothing there.  I have checked out the air vents. Nothing.  I don’t know where else to check, but the smell is still there.

Did I just tell people that my house stinks?!  I’m making it sound like I live in a barn – that’s just not right.  I shouldn’t write that. 

Lying in bed in the morning, I can tell if the timer on the coffee pot worked. I can walk toward my kitchen and tell immediately if the garbage should have been taken out the night before.  I can tell what it is in the garbage that is announcing itself and almost to the hour how long it has been there. I can tell from the opposite end of the house that the pan cooking whatever on the stove is out of water and working on a burn.  I can tell if the cat has used the litter box (oh, how I can tell!), I can tell if the shirt lying on the dryer is used and on its way to the wash or fresh and on its way to the closet.  I can smell way too much sometimes.

I’m revealing my smell obsession.  Stop it now.

Last night as a friend came to the house to bring me something, we stopped and talked by the dining room table.  I was very nervous to linger there as it was the area of one of my latest mystery smells.  Smelled like rotting chicken.  Really.  Fortunately she was bringing me some essential oils which smell really great.  I will never know whether she decided to demonstrate the difuser out of self defense.  She was too polite to say, and I kept hoping it was just happy coincidence that she chose a nice strong lavender.

Wow, maybe I do live in a barn!  What kind of house cleaner am I?!

When the husband came home from band practice, he smelled it too, and said he had been smelling it for days.  Funny thing, it was coming from his briefcase that he keeps on a chair at the end of the table.  Yeah, the one he takes to work and sometimes he throws his lunch into the side pocket.  Well, what do you know?  There’s still a boiled egg hiding in there from two weeks ago.  Nasty thing.

Gosh, it was rotting chicken.  We are getting so old.  But hey, we found it.  

I ran the difuser all night, right by my bed.  It was great.  I love lavender.

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Please tell me this happens to you too.   Maybe, just once in a while?