Note by Note: On Being Consistent

Playing piano in an evening-dark sanctuary. It’s just me and the music and my audience of One. Since my real audience on Sundays is an audience of One, this kind of practice works. 

Practice. I’ve been grateful that my teachers over the years encouraged me to take on the music one note at a time. Right hand measure by measure. Then left hand measure by measure. Then together measure by measure or line by line.

I’m not always very good at taking things one step at a time. I’d like to dive in deep now.

I want to place that prelude full force right off the bat. Be fluent in a foreign language next month. Write my novel(s) lickety-sizzle. Start a business. Earn my certifications. Oh, did I mention achieve new exercise goals?

And I want to do all of those simultaneously.

But it hasn’t worked out that way.

Not many of these things happen overnight. Most of them take small but consistent efforts to bring them to fruition…at least for me!

Consistent. That’s the challenge.

How good are you at being consistent? Me? Well, not as good as I’d like to be. Maybe I can blame it on living the missionary life. If you’re a missionary and your days are consistent, I’d love to hear from you because my experience tells me that the only thing consistent in missionary life is the inconsistency. 

But I’m done with excuses because consistent doesn’t mean rigid. Apparently, it comes from the Latin and (according to the New American Oxford Dictionary) signifies “standing firm or still, existing”

Now that sounds like something I would like to be! “Standing firm”, “existing” in these goals I have before me, even as I hold them with open hands before my audience of One. 

Now I’ll never be perfect at it. That’s the role of my audience of One. Like the verse that one of my classes is learning says,

“Jesucristo es el mismo ayer, y hoy, y por los siglos.” ~Hebreos 13:8 (RVR1960) (“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever,” ~Hebrews 13:8, ESV)

But when I am consistent, I reflect (albeit in a shadowlands kind of way) an aspect of the Consistent Christ.

That’s an even better reason to be consistent than achieving my goals.

So here we go. Note by note. Word by word. Sentence by sentence. Step by step. Level by level. Mile by mile. Consistently.

Passed-Down Partialities: People, Poems, Pianos & Pies

Not so long ago in a land not too far away, there lived a little girl named Ruthie. She lived on a farm with her father, mother and sisters. They didn’t have much in the way of things, but they were surrounded by generally kind neighbors. Ruthie relished the parties for birthdays and the celebrations for national holidays. She also cared for the neighbors’ children when a helping hand was needed. Along the way, one thing was for sure: Ruthie learned to love people. 

As Ruthie grew up, she discovered another love: music. Finally, she had the opportunity to take a handful of music lessons. That gave her the courage to play both the piano and organ for church!

While she loved people and music, Ruthie also enjoyed time by herself. She didn’t even mind being the one to stay home and clean! (Every family needs a little Dutch-ness, perhaps?) However, she also enjoyed a good story. Her family didn’t have many books, but she read The Best Loved Poems of the American People. Perhaps the rhythm of the words struck a chord with her music-loving heart. At any rate, she kept that book for decades to come.

Even after grown-up Ruth left her small hometown, her partialities perpetuated. People, pianos and poems continued to be parts of her life. She also carried sweet memories with her. Remember those parties with the neighbors? Ruth couldn’t help but share the stories, especially about the pies! Mrs. Cacak always baked such wonderful pies! As Ruth traveled far and wide, maybe pie became like a taste of home.

Lo and behold, one day Ruth found that she had become a grandma! Where had the years gone? Well, whether on purpose or not, Ruth passed down her partialities to the next generation. She showered the new little people in her life with love and showed them how to love other children. Once they started taking piano lessons, she played and sang along, imparting her interest in hymns. She shared her book of poems. And, lastly, she offered the stories of her childhood, including the palate-pleasing pies.

Have you ever wondered over how God weaves our lives together? Isn’t it amazing how He even carries on the work from generation to generation? I think Ruth’s story is a good illustration.

You see, I am one of Ruth’s granddaughters. Her passed-down partialities have had a huge impact on my life. I hope to carry on her love for people, especially children. If she hadn’t played piano in church, I might not have either! It was with her Best Loved Poems of the American People  that I spent happy hours, and now I post about poems on my blog. And if she hadn’t shared sweet memories with me, I may not have been as inspired to bake pies a-plenty.

This is why younger people like me need older people like my grandma. They give us perspective and pass down passions and pastimes. And, from what I’ve seen, older folks need us young chicks to remind them that their decisions affect others and they need to be thoughtful about what they value. Certainly, there are many other things – even beginning with “p” – that Grandma could have invested in and that could have made my life much different. So if you’re an older person, please consider your ways well and seek out someone with whom to share your gifts. And if you’re a younger person, watch for what you can learn from the older people in your life. Won’t it be wonderful to see what God’s masterpiece looks like someday when we get to see His woven work?

Thank you, Grandma, for passing down these things to me. I’m glad you enjoyed the cherry and raspberry pie I was able to make for your birthday! You know the secret ingredient, don’t you? Love.

Grandma's Birthday Pie