I've been dwelling a lot lately on discovering God's grace when He provides it.
I must share a testimony of how God has provided grace to me through my children's music.
My daughter is part of an elite children's choir: they have sung at The White House by invitation, they won a bronze medal at the World Choir Games, they perform with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra every year for Holiday Pops and other special performances (like Carmina Burana, and this year, Carmen), and so much more.
Hearing these kids sing their beautiful music, and knowing that my daughter's voice is one of them, has been grace. Their beautiful voices have the ability to transport me straight to heaven.
Last July, her choir traveled to the World Choir Games with an exclusive invitation to compete in the Champions Competition. I booked the hotel room and was planning to go, too, to be there to cheer her on.
I ended up in the hospital instead, fighting for my life against deadly spinal meningitis.
My daughter went off to her competition without me, but God gave me such grace!
While lying in my hospital bed, trying to cope with so much pain sometimes that the minutes took HOURS, I played videos of her choir.
Over and over: The Lord's Prayer, Psalm 23, Rutter's "Mass of the Children," (warning--clicking on that link will take you straight to heaven, in my opinion), "Cantate Domino", anything I had on video. And those sweet heavenly voices lifted me above my pain and helped me get from one moment to the next. I couldn't have done it any other way.
At the World Choir Games there were nearly 400 choirs from 67 different countries. It was a huge, amazing event with a lot of media. Our local paper, that week, printed my daughter's photo TWICE while covering the games. What are the odds? Thousands and thousands of singers from all over the world... but there she was, smiling at me from the newspaper in my hospital room! That was grace!What a special gift from God to lift my heart in that difficult time!
On the day of their big competition, I knew that no video-taping was allowed. But I scanned YouTube continually for updates. And... grace. One of the parents disregarded the rules and snuck an iPhone video of their championship performance--just a 1-minute clip. When I heard it... I just started crying. I knew what the judging criteria were, and I knew they were going to place! I didn't know if they were going to win Gold, Silver, or Bronze, but I knew they had done well enough! What joy! I completely forgot my pain and illness for a moment!
Here's that wonderful, blessed, "contraband" footage that was such grace to me:
They won a bronze medal!
Breton started singing in the local children's choir when she was seven years old. I cried at her very first concert--such sweet voices. Heck, I've cried at every performance since, and most of her rehearsals. She sang in that choir for four years. Her last year in that choir, she starred as "Marian Paroo" in the musical "The Music Man," (when she was 11).
Oh, these melt me, and get me out of ANY slump I'm in at any time:
"Goodnight, My Someone"
"If You Don't Mind My Saying..."
Till There Was You
And, not to mention that my two older kids both play piano, and they both have a taste for beautiful sacred and classical music. At any given moment, God sends grace into this home because one of them starts playing. (Okay, confession. At the moment Breton is rocking me out with the Pirates of the Carribean theme song and some Trans Siberian Orchestra... but still adding joy here!)
I remember this morning very specifically. I hadn't been home from the hospital very long. In those days, I was either in bed or on the couch, praying, struggling....
This morning last August, this was the grace God sent me there from my "couch perch," where, recently home from the hospital with a long road of recovery ahead of me, I often sat helpless, watching my children caper about me. This was a sweet, funny moment. My littles were all in there playing, the 7yo mindlessly popping toys back onto the baby's saucer, and I think the 3yo coloring at the coffee table. My oldest son came in to bang out a few songs before he left for work. He wasn't paying any attention to me, and had no idea I had the camera. When he turned around and saw me... well, his face was priceless! I had grace for the whole day after this.
Today, the grace continued as I discovered my daughter's Spring 2013 concert video had arrived. The voices of these children are pure bliss.
Ah Si Mon Moire
Here's To Song: Combined Choirs (200 voices!)
Melt! Melt! Melt!
I'll Stand By You
And another crying moment of grace, just recently on August 17, broadcast live on ESPN. We don't have TV, but I went to a local diner in our small town, and the mother/daughter owners tuned in their TV for me and I bought my boys grilled cheese sandwiches and we watched my daughter sing for this NASCAR race. (My husband and oldest son were at the race with her, of course! Enjoying their VIP passes IMMENSELY). Everyone in the restaurant was crying with me... it was awesome.
Dad's Footage: The Choir Sounds Better
ESPN Footage: At the race, they had only directional mics designed to pic up just the voice in front of it, like announcers, to eliminate the noise of the race and the crowd. This doesn't work for the choir... you could only hear about 4 of the children singing. BUT, the close-ups of the kids were fantastic! Their professional camera-men gave you a much better feel for the fun of the moment!
My littles (ages 4, 5, and 8) seem to think that inherently they have their sister's same ability to perform. They do "shows" for me all the time.
They felt super-important doing an official performance at French camp this summer. Notice Oli (4), the dark-haired cutie in the front row singing his heart out, and Super-Cool Elon (5, recognizable by his bowl haircut and "Joe Cool" posing) in the back row, who just knows he's too "good" and gives his 2-thumbs up at the end!
After French Camp, since they all three had matching Eiffel Tower t-shirts, they formed "The Iteful Tower Group," wrote their own songs, and did shows for us here at home. If this is not GRACE, then I don't know what it! :-)
When they do shows, they design posters and tickets, and set up special reserved seating, especially for mom. We never know if we're getting a play (usually a Scooby-Doo type mystery or some sort of super-hero action play), or music of some sort. Here is a recent "show" when they recruited our friend's 5yo daughter to star in the act!
And even when there's not beautiful music there is beautiful music. Always. You can even find it here, the the anytime/everyday moments.
Thank you Lord, for this abundance of grace and joy you pour into my life!