Sunday, September 8, 2013


I have been a musician for far longer than I have been an artist. It took me years to feel like I could claim the word "artist" as referring to me! I have played the flute for almost my whole life, picking it up at the age of eight.

The music teacher let me borrow the school's flute for two semesters, one semester longer than it was technically allowed. She knew my family couldn't afford to buy me a flute at that time. I am grateful for her gift, even still.

When I did have to return the school's flute, I thought my flute-playing days were over...But a dear family friend put a used student model flute in my hands and said, "Play." Even at nine, I knew this was a grace I didn't earn, so I played for him, and for me.

When I was a teenager and had a job (so I could save for college...), I began to tuck away "flute money" so I could buy a better quality flute. I had my eye on a silver-plated, open-holed, DeFord Flute at the local music store. I saved up the amount that had been on the flute when I scoped it out, took my surprised mother to the music store, and found out that the flute had increased in price by $50.00. I wouldn't let my mom pay the extra money, instead working out a deal with the store owner to pay the last bit over two paychecks.

I loved that flute! It made me sound like a real musician. I played all through high school and college; I even played for my brother's wedding!

Then came the notice from the college, two weeks before graduation: "You will not be eligible to graduate because you have a $500 balance on your bill." No one I knew had $500 lying around for me. I had to graduate; I'd already accepted a teaching job! I took stock of my meager possessions and finally decided I had to sell my flute.

So I did. And I regretted it for over 10 years... until my mom hunted down the friend who had purchased it and bought it back from him! It was my Christmas gift more than 20 years ago now. I have never opened a gift that brought more tears; I remember when I realized that it wasn't just a flute, it was MY flute. I am thankful to my mom and to the friend who returned the flute for the same $500, even though it was worth more.

And I played. I played for my first music teacher. For my mom. For the friend who bought my first flute for me. For the band director friend who had to find another flute to play because he sold it back to my mom. And for me.

I haven't played much in public. I guess I always worried that I wasn't a good enough player. In fact, when my husband and I first married, I wouldn't even practice when he was in the house! But slowly, I've gotten more willing to play around him and my daughter.

And then we moved to New Mexico. To a church that has no musicians. No piano player. No lead singers. And they asked me, with hope, if I played the piano. I can play some simple things with lots of practice, I said. And I learned the Doxology. I figured it was a good place to start since we sang it every week.

And I messed it up. Repeatedly. The congregation was very gracious, encouraging me. And I will continue to work on my piano skills.

But this morning I took my flute. And it was perfect. Not me. The sound. The music. It was God's. I wasn't shy or afraid. I did make a couple of mistakes, even. But it was just right.

What Grace. I am forever thankful to all those who helped me walk this world with a flute. And I am even more thankful to God for this grace. From the congregation and through my music.

What Grace.

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