Enter the Lion Chaser…

I recently lent out a book to a friend that had a very long title:   In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day — How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars by Mark Batterson. Upon receiving it back I picked it up again to re-read.  Batterson draws from the story of Benaiah in 2 Samuel 23:21

“There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel.  He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two of Moab’s mightiest warriors.  Another time he chased a lion down into a pit.  Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught a lion and killed it.”

The scripture goes on to tell of another time Benaiah wrestled a spear out of an Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it.  A few verses later King David chooses Benaiah to be in charge of his bodyguard.

Benaiah didn’t run away from deadly threats, he chased them down and conquered them.

Batterson poses this question:  What if the life you really want, and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure….your greatest fear?

I could name off several “lions” in my life, but the biggest one is self-doubt.  Even as I typed those words, “self-doubt, ” my thoughts went something like this:

“Are you sure it’s self-doubt?  Maybe perfectionism is a better word, or fear of failure, or….”

Yep.  Self-doubt it is.

I’ll spare you the details of why this is such a huge issue for me, but I can tell you that for almost as long as I can remember I have felt insecure about pretty much everything about me.  My face.  My body.  Grades.  The way I play music.  My clothes. What kind of wife/mother/friend/daughter/sister/employee I am. My social skills. My dancing. My cooking. My writing.  My thoughts. I have never felt good enough at anything.

You know what?  That is an exhausting and depressing way to live, not to mention a horrible example for my children.  So I’m done.  I am throwing out the lies and choosing to believe the truth.  Picking up the pieces that have long been scattered, I place them in the hands of the One who made me.  I am trusting the Potter to shape this earthen vessel exactly the way He wants.

Tomorrow morning I begin a program at a well-known conservatory, and up until now I have been terrified.  I’m one of the oldest students in my program.  I don’t have the musical training that most of the other students have. I have the responsibility of raising two children that most other students don’t have.  Oh yeah, and this thing costs money.  A lot.

A thousand doubts have run many laps through my mind.  There is so much I don’t know.  But one thing I do: God has put me in this place, and He has a reason.  Despite my inadequacies, He wants to use me.  Here.  Now.  All He asks is that I trust Him and obey.

I came across this quote tonight in one of my old notebooks:

You — one of a kind.  Rarest of rare.  A priceless treasure, possessed of qualities in mind and speech and movement and appearance and actions as no other who has ever lived, lives, or shall live.

Why have you valued yourself in pennies when you are worth a King’s ransom?

Why did you listen to those who demeaned you….and far worse, why did you believe them?

Take counsel.  No longer hide your rarity in the dark.  Bring it forth.  Show the world.  Strive not to walk as your brother walks, nor talk as your leader talks, nor labor as do the mediocre.  Never do as another.

Never imitate.

For how do you know that you may not imitate evil; and he who imitates evil always goes beyond the example set, while he who imitates what is good always falls short.  Imitate no one.  Be yourself.

Show your rarity to the world, and they will shower you with gold.

–Unknown–

It’s getting late, and I need to wrap up and get some sleep.  I have a lion to chase in the morning.

So…what do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s a question I often hear asked of my children.

“Probably a landscaper and a builder,” answers my son (age 7).  We’ll call him “B.”

“An artist and a cement truck driver,” is my daughter (age 5), ” E’s” answer.

I often wonder if adults ask children this question because they’re trying to get some new ideas for themselves.

I remember back to Career Day in second grade.  Each student was assigned a career to research and present to the class.  We had to interview people with this particular job, shadow them for a while, draw pictures, etc.  I remember being quite upset that we didn’t get to choose which career we could present.  I was assigned the job of Floral Arranger.  Seriously?  I was outraged.  This was a far cry from the Dolphin Trainer I longed to be.  I mean, what better excuse to go to Sea World than to interview a real live dolphin trainer?  But, no.  I visited a florist with my mom, made a flower arrangement to take to school (probably some dandelions and Queen Anne’s Lace), and called it a day.

Over the years, my career aspirations changed, including: heart surgeon, principal harpist of the New York Philharmonic, teacher, author, veterinarian, psychologist, and RN to name a few.

When I entered college in 2001 I quickly changed majors from nursing to elementary education.  After graduating I taught fourth grade for a few years until my son was born.  I welcomed the changing of career hats as I hung up the teacher hat and wore (and still wear) the Mommy hat proudly.  Along came little girl E, and things were going pretty well.  I had even begun to play my harp for weddings and other events, something I had always wanted to do but never made the time (or felt like I was good enough?) to do.  Things were going swimmingly.

Fast forward to today.  The kids are both in school.  Seven years have gone by.  I’ve made countless paper bag puppets, read thousands of children’s books, and prayed bad dreams away for quite some time.  And I would never take any of it back.  Not in a million years.  But something else happened during this time.  I don’t know how or when it happened, but I am struggling to find out who I am. There is a yearning for something more.

I know that I am a child of God.  I know that my identity does not rest in what I do, but in what Jesus did for me.  I know this in my heart.   It is not the relationship with my Heavenly Father that is in question here.  Yet children are always growing–physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As God’s child I pray that I grow to look more like Jesus every day.  Right now I sense a season of mindfulness — discernment into a deeper calling as part of this growth.  This is not an “all-about-me-navel-gazing-finding-myself” kind of journey.  No.  I think I hear the voice of the Shepherd speaking to this little sheep, and I am straining my ears to hear more clearly.

So the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question for me has become, “If you could do anything, what would it be?”

You really want to know?  Promise you won’t laugh?  If I could do anything, it would be this:

I want to play music for people who are hurting.  The homeless. The cancer ward.  The addicts. The elderly who are forgotten in a nursing home.  The orphans and refugees who are displaced all over the world from wars and famines.  I want to awaken them to the presence of God in their lives, to pray healing over them, and then to get out of the way to let the Holy Spirit restore them.  I want to do this because this is what God did for me.

Sounds idealistic? Unrealistic? I know. But it’s true.

So there you have it.  What about you? If you could do anything, what would it be?

“The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  ~~ Frederick Buechner

Here we go…

First post.  I suppose I should say something profound here, or  talk about why on earth I am starting a blog.  The truth is this:  I am a 33-year-old mom who is in the midst of a little identity transformation.  A former elementary school teacher, I have been a stay at home mom of two sweet kiddos for the past 7 years. We moved to Cincinnati from Massachusetts last summer, and I have to say the transition has not been an easy one.   Next week will bring another change, as I will be starting classes at CCM (College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati) in music education and harp. I am currently swinging back and forth between feelings of excitement of finally fulfilling a dream of studying at such an amazing conservatory, and complete and utter fear.  Lately it’s mostly been fear. Paralyzing fear.  Don’t worry, I’m sure it will all work itself out in a post somewhere in the near future.

Transitions.  They are almost always difficult.   Careers change.  Relationships change.  Marriage evolves and parenting is a constant flow of guidance, vulnerability, insecurity, and faith.   This blog is mainly a place for me to process the twists and turns this road is taking — a rest stop along the way to get my bearings, study my map, and remind myself that True North never fails.  If you’d like to hike alongside me, you are welcome, friend.

About the blog name:  gracenotesbysarah.  I love grace notes.  For those of you who may not be familiar with this term, a grace note is a musical ornament —  a short note played just before a main note.  They are denoted (ha!) by a small eighth note with a little slash through the stem, like this:

File:Acciaccatura notation.png

Grace notes give a little flourish, a delicate touch to a piece of music.  They are like sprinkles on your ice cream.  Sort of….

And then of course, there’s the deeper meaning of grace notes…notes of grace, which is all I have to offer. Everything I have is a gift of grace that comes from the Father of Lights, who gives every good and perfect gift.  I make no pretense of wisdom or knowledge here.  The words on these pages are purely my own reflections on matters that I wrestle with, truths that I need to remind myself of, and questions for which I seek the truth.  I echo A.W. Tozer:  “… but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.”

Welcome.  I’m glad you’re here.