Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Gig Gone Awry...

So...  it seems I've recently had a review lesson on a basic concept entitled:  Remember to Rely on God.  This is a concept I thought I had "mastered" but obviously, I have not.  Remembering to rely on God has been flying out of my brain lately as I get so distracted and lose my focus!  Let me explain.

I played harp at a local nursing home not too long ago and had some unusual problems.  This should have been an easy gig... a captive, appreciative, quiet audience on a beautiful spring day;  the program did not need to be long and could be a repeat of a former line-up as these were fresh listeners...  I had even practiced!  Easy peasy!!  Wrong!

I took my second-to-largest harp and got it moved into place without any problems.  The mic was ready... the audience was coming.  Great.  I welcomed everyone and announced the first song and with a grand flourish glissando-ed my way through the spellbinding intro only to find myself wildly distracted with "Vibrating String Syndrome."  Oh no!  Not "Vibrating String Syndrome" again!!!  If you are a harpist, you know what I'm talking about.  When you pluck harp strings under fluorescent lights, one string vibrates wildly to the rhythm of the lights. (I'm sure a physicist can explain this...) It looks like that string is wobbling and vibrating its way to breaking.  It's so weird and it's so distracting!  When I look at the strings, the wobbly one pulls all my attention and out flies all concentration.   All memory of what I am playing quickly evaporates and I'm stuck wondering where I am in that song and how I'm going to get to the end.  I'm totally distracted... strike 1...

And did I mention the birds?  This was one of those classy nursing homes with the huge birdcage - more like a small room - filled with beautifully colored birds for the residents to watch.  Well there must be something about harp music that sets birds off... These quietly chirping peepers, with bosoms thrust upward,  turned on their full-bodied voices and shouted out the Hallelujah Chorus while I was playing.  The audience thought nothing unusual was happening, but I was totally distracted and lost my focus... strike 2...

Before strike #3 could happen, way down deep in the center of my thinking a small still voice said, "Pray..."  and I responded with a silent desparate "Help me, Lord!"  What else could I do?  Instantly I remembered that I am to rely on God and that I'm doing something He wanted me to do.  Why would I think I didn't need His help?  Why would I think He wouldn't be glad to help?  Wjy would I get distracted from this very basic thought?  Quickly, I placed the entire gig into His hands, took a big breath, threw on a big smile and got down to business.  You know what happened:  the songs went well enough and the people were blessed, probably more than I'll ever know.  

The truth is, all moments of my life need to be put into His hands... and what would happen?  Perhaps I would be more efficient and more effective with everything I do!  Perhaps my panic level would go down and I could actually get down to business and stop being so distracted and out-of-focus.  Isaiah 41: 13 says it quite clearly:  'I am the Lord, your God, Who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.'

Sunday, April 10, 2011

One-of-a-kind Hand-turned Pens!

Rollerball and gel pensSo... There is an unusual sound coming from the garage these days.  It's the sound of the Shopsmith meetingwith wood head on.  Our son, Jack, took a woods class his senior year in high school and learned how to do all kinds of things on a Shopsmith.  We have a Shopsmith.  It was purchased 'used' about 25 years ago at a yard sale.  It's hardly seen the light of day, though it has been used a couple of times... but never for this application.  Jack is making hand-turned pens!  He found and assembled all the parts to work the lathe on this machine (much to his father's surprise) and ordered some wood blanks and pen kits and is actually creating beautiful works of art.  He can turn wood, antler, stone and even corncobs into pens, mechanical pencils and handles for magnifying glasses and ice cream scoops.  It's shocking!  Jack takes after his father, John Doctor Tool Collison, who also has a good handle on using tools to make things.

Perhaps the most amazing part of this is Jack's attitude!  When he got home from his winter mission trip, he decided to raise some money to give to a church he worked with down in Mexico.  These hand-turned pens are a fund raiser for both him and the church:  he will send half his proceeds to the church and the other half will be his summer job earnings.  John put some money into getting him started and now the project is launched.  Jack has made about 120 pens and has sold about 60 in the 2 months he's been home (thanks to so many generous friends, family and church people he has contact with.)  Each pen or pencil or handle is a fine work of art... a one-of-a-kind masterpiece! 

Currently, I'm reading a book entitled The Hole in the Gospel:  What Does God Expect From Us?  by Richard Stearns.  It is a very convicting book about actually helping the poor instead of just talking about it.  I encourage you to stay far away from this book if you don't want a heart for the poor, because it keeps drilling into its readers the idea that we are God's hands and feet - that's how God set it up -  and what are we (am I) doing about this?  The author quotes Mother Teresa which bears some thought:   She said, "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God Who is sending a love letter to the world."  Wow!  Some of this I agree with and some of this, I don't.  In Mother Teresa's humble manner, she thought of herself as a 'little pencil' when actually, she was a fine work of art... a one-of-a-kind masterpiece put together by God.  In Psalm 139, we are told that we are 'woven together and wonderfully made.'  She was no little pencil...  and neither are you and I...  So if I may, I'd like to rewrite her quote to say:  Each of us is a fine work of art... a one-of-a-kind hand-turned pen in the hand of a writing God Who is sending a love letter to the world...

So... find a fresh refill of ink , remove the cover of inhibition, and consider yourself a one-of-a-kind writing tool to be used by God to spread His eternal saga of everlasting love.


P.S.:  If you are interested in perusing Jack's hand-turned pens, you can contact him at or let me know and I'll pass it on.