Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Applause No More

Well, at least, it isn't audible. Every now and again I receive an email from a grateful mom informing me of her kid's progress on the clarinet. The clarinet... that word is so funny when you think about it. I asked a kiddo to hand me her clarinet today and, I was so exhausted by that point that the only thing going through my head at the moment had nothing to do with technique or reeds or, well, anything important. All I could think was, "Clar-i-net. What a weird word."

It's funny how wrapped up my life has been in an the oddly named piece of hollowed out wood.

I used to want to be a pilot. I have no idea why. Then an astronaut... Then a biologist. Man, I wanted to do something smart and important. Music took over- captivated me. I was actually trapped. Just play. That's all I wanted to do.

Funny how I n.e.v.e.r. wanted to be a teacher for a living. I mean, on the side- SURE! But not all day every day. That was not ever my plan. I am the oldest of 6 kids. I was a teacher from the time I was 2. I was ready to move on.

So, I went to Eastman. I said I was going for the mission field experience. I lied.


Let's be honest. Why do I care s.o.m.u.c.h about what people think? Why did I agonize to the point of irreversible injury over what my teacher and my peers thought of my freshman recital? Why do I care that I did not play perfectly in a Mozart serenade during sophomore year? Why do I care what C,A,J,Y,K,J,M,C,G,S,A, and V all think of my playing? Why am I still s.o.a.n.g.r.y at people who don't even know me? Why do I even care that they didn't want to know me?


No, really. Why? Because I want people to like me.

That performer's certificate I planned to get? YEAH FREAKING RIGHT. I could barely hold my clarinet by that point. And I felt ashamed????????

No one can possibly know. I mean, as disjunct as this post is, my artist heart is even more completely torn and stomped and smashed and.

Yeah. Confused.

I just want people to recognize that I have a voice. Yeah, it got messed up. Yeah, you can say I did it to myself. But, I didn't do anything different from anyone else at that marble-gilded school that needs more practice rooms. I practiced. Sue me.

I have a performance degree. With high distinction. From the Eastman School of Music. It's a piece of paper hanging on my wall. I look at it and wonder sometimes.

Why does that piece of paper matter so much. How can it matter so much and yet so little all at once?

I told a student the other day that I would trade in that piece of paper to get my voice back.


Why do I care about my voice? Isn't it His voice I should be thinking of?

Anointed to teach? That's what someone called me this week. I don't feel capable. I don't trust myself with the precious ones who sit with me every week and try to understand music.

Squeaks. So. Many. Squeaks.

I made a lot of those too. And *people* let me know that this was unacceptable.

I listen to somanysqueakseveryday and pray for patience. Create in me a new heart, Oh God. Renew a steadfast spirit within me.

No one claps for me anymore.

Maybe, just maybe, I can finally get past this craziness that is my need for approval. Maybe, just maybe, I can finally tell God that He really can have it all.

Love them. Love those little musicians. "Let the little children come unto me," said a humble Saviour.

What is wrong with my heart? It is so... confused?



Oh Lord, love them through me despite me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Heaven's benediction rests ever on the home of her who lives to do good."

I am a CLUMSY wife. 4 months in and, seriously, "clumsy" is the ONLY word I can think of to describe my wifehood. Thankfully, Ty seems to love me anyway- and he has his clumsy moments too. Living in a loft apartment equals stepped-on toes every now and then. And sharing a bed means getting rolled over on sometimes as well. Endearing, truthfully.

My clumsiness is completely different. I have this desire to grow into the Proverbs 31 wife. I want my husband's heart to rest in me. I want to bring him good and not harm. I want to have the diligence to keep my lamp from going out.

I work hard. No surprise... I always work hard. But I have found that this hard work is not actually going to be the key to my wifely success. It is actually the very stumbling block over which my clumsy, "young-wife" feet trip nearly every day. I CRY when I feel that the apartment is not clean enough. I CONSTANTLY ask if dinner was delicious enough. I SERIOUSLY can't seem to rest for a moment- which keeps poor Ty from resting as well.

My work ethic is good. The pride I take in it is bad. This pride in my heart exalts me over my husband, threatening his headship. I vowed to submit to my husband and I intend to do just that. But, how can my heart rest in a messy apartment when EVERY "Christian Wife" book or article I have read says that, "Wives are keepers at home. House keeping comes first. Homemaking begins with house keeping. Etcetera." Well, I've been thinking and praying about that and my husband simply gave me the answer the other day. "Katie, rest. Just DO IT." Those were Ty's words. He always says, "Just do it. I don't know how. But it is what I do. I just do it." What strength! To silence my innermost voice- constantly challenging me to "be better," and therefore, encouraging my pride. Let go. Fly into the restful arms of Christ. Just do it. (No reference to Nike here, btw.)

I'm a clumsy flyer. I've landed hard a few times. But I know my life is FULL of grace because it is full of Christ. So, I'm going to rely on his grace to overshadow my clumsiness until, finally, only grace is apparent in my home and my marriage.

The first step is deciphering what being a "Keeper of the Home" means to my life and the home that Ty and I are making together. Most would say a keeper of the home (a Biblical phrase, by the way) should be at home. Right? A Biblical wife stays home and keeps the home peaceful, raises children to fear the Lord, and puts meals on the table to feed her hardworking husband. WELL. That is a narrow description. I hope that someday I will have that role, but I cannot feel discouraged in my calling as a wife simply because I don't have kids yet. God has called me to work out of the home in order to keep my home. AND he is training me for motherhood at the same time. So, patience with my students, and fostering a quiet, peaceful spirit within myself despite the frustrations of working with children all day should be an INCREDIBLE opportunity for the molding of my heart into the homemaker I desire to be.

I've decided that the cultivation of a quiet spirit is the most challenging task for me. I am not a quiet person. My head RACES. I talk all the time. The first step toward overcoming my clumsiness is learning to be peaceful and quiet inside my head and then stilling my mouth to simply enjoy the quiet joy of being with the man I love.

Also, the quote from the title of this post is found within the article accessible by this link:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tears Are Strong

It's been a REALLY long time... And that practice experiment, well, it didn't happen the way I planned. BUT, I did graduate from Eastman and I am now a professional clarinet teacher. So, that's something. I'm also married to the best man in the world. Want to know how I know he's the best? I'll tell you...

I struggle with panic attacks. They are heavy-duty, crazy, mind-altering, nasty attacks that make me totally forget what is true and what is false. In fact, I don't just forget. I confuse the two. What is true becomes false in my mind and what is false becomes true. This is a really bad situation as, considering the fact that Jesus calls himself the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life, you can imagine that the TRUTH part becomes obscured and I really, really feel unable to cling to Christ on my own.

I think the attacks are triggered by some memories of the things that happened at Eastman that caused my CNS injury to bloom into the oh-so-lovely thing that it is now. I won't go into detail or discuss the people involved because I am choosing to forgive them. (Note: "Choosing" is present tense. I won't claim to have forgiven them- some of it hurts too much. But I will say that my goal is to forgive them more and more every day.) Basically, who I am as an artist was called into question and challenged in ways that were unjust. I am telling you: justice, even in the small things, matters. Do what is right and just by those who are in your life. Do it. This injustice that I suffered at Eastman has left an emotional scar on my life and I cannot explain it to anyone. It doesn't make sense to me, even. So, every time I try to explain to someone else, it comes out all jumbled up and, well, I just sound crazy. THAT is what leads to the panic attacks. This horrible feeling of aloneness- I CANNOT EXPRESS MYSELF AND I AM TRAPPED INSIDE THIS HURT AND NO ONE GETS IT AND I'M CRAZY AND I'M GOING TO END UP ALONE BECAUSE I AM WORTHLESS. This becomes my reality. No really. In this alternate reality of mine, I AM WORTHLESS.

I follow Jesus, so I know that this isn't true. BUT, remember what I said before? Everything True is replaced by everything False in my mind and I cannot even begin to decipher the mess inside my head.

So, what does Ty do when this happens? He waits. He waits for me to calm down. He calmly tells me that he is here and will talk to me as soon as I want. He lets me be crazy. Then he listens. And through all of this- even though it happens about every week, he still loves me.

This week, my panic attack was triggered by a few students crying in their lessons. Heavens, I know little girls cry and I know I am not mean and I know it is not my fault when this happens. Oh, Dear Lord, though, it brings back terrible memories. Jesus, I do not want to be like the people who made me cry over the course of my clarinet education. Of course, I must be firm and push my students to achieve their best and, when I do this, 12 year old girls may get frustrated and cry. So, I soften my voice and talk very calmly and tell them it is all okay! They are beautiful and wonderful students and I am so proud of them! They will never disappoint me, but they must understand that I sometimes get intense because I KNOW they can do this. The tears fall, then dry up, then smiles come back because a good cry is sometimes all that is needed to move to the next artistic level. I know this...

But when I cried in my lessons, (or wanted to, heaven forbid I actually cry...) the opposite happened. I was "weak, incapable, lacking." Oh heavens, tears began to equal shame! Tears were a mark of weakness. But tears are a part of me- as they were a part of David! A part of Jesus! A part of God Himself! So, the truth of tears became twisted into a shameful falsehood and I began to break on the inside because my emotions were being mashed and pounded and smeared all over with gestures of cruelty and words of pure unkindness. Oh, Justice! WHERE WERE YOU?! What is a small-statured girl to do when so many bigger, more successful people are demanding she fit a mold that simply does not fit? That mold forced me into a shape that is not me and I am still trying to regain a true understanding of who I am and what I'm meant to be.

Tears are not shameful. Tears are not weak. Tears are an outward symbol of inner strength. Jesus cried. Jesus wept. I will weep the tears in my heart because I know they burst from my heart that knows this world is not its home. I will not suppress who I am, and I will choose to let my voice cry out because God asks me to speak. Sometimes God's sadness seeps out of my eyes, and my tears are a symbol of His.

My husband let's me cry. He is a good man who let's my woman's heart be exactly what it is and NEVER shames me for it.

Precious students, little siblings, future children,

CRY YOUR TEARS. I will never shame you. If I have wronged you and I cause your tears, I will seek your forgiveness with humility. You are God's precious child and I have been appointed to watch over you. I will not ever, EVER break your spirit. Your spirit belongs to God and I would not dare harm it. Know that you are safe with me and that I love who you are and who you are meant to be.