Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Times Have Changed

Approximately 10 years ago I had my life planned out.  If I can remember (and these days it's hard enough to remember what month it is), my plans looked something like this:

     Finish Bachelor's Degree in Violin Performance
     Complete Master's Degree in Violin Performance
2006-present day
     Get an Orchestra Job
     Get Married
     Have Fun Performing and Attending Performances and Festivals
     Have Fun Being Married

I don't think I ever imagined life past the age of 25 and even though the desire for a family was always at the back of my mind, it certainly was not part of my plan as a person in my early 20's.  Marriage was as far as I ever thought and that (as the culture generally teaches) was supposed to wait until I had finished school and had a job.

Well, things were on track for about two minutes.  And then my plans started to head in other directions.  I was successful in completing my Bachelor's Degree - a degree for which I am still paying and using very little in my every day life.  But, at least I finished, right?

How and when the plans changed course I can't definitively say.  Some people would look at my life and say that the changes were a direct result of my choices.  Some people would say that the changes were mostly a result of circumstances.  And others would say it was a combination of the two.

While I agree that choices and circumstances worked together to bring me to where I am today, I firmly believe that God directed me every step of the way.  Exactly how His sovereignty is worked out in real life still stumps me, but after believing Him for salvation as a 16-year-old, I have continually submitted my life to Him - not perfectly, but consistently.

So, today as I found myself sitting in an open air pavilion, surrounded by summer day camps and sifting through a bag looking for snacks that my 2-year-old couldn't seem to get enough of, I remembered a life that I once lived.  One where I attended performances with other people who could sit still for more than 10 minutes and from which I did not exit the performance venue covered in smashed bananas and smelling of spit up.  It was a life full of aspirations and dreams - dreams that revolved around me.

Sure, I wanted to help others.  I wanted to minister and serve.  But through what means did I want to do these things?  Through spending hours in a practice room, getting a good job playing in an orchestra, or giving recitals where others would be blessed by the music that they heard.  I think God can work through this kind of career to reach people who need to know the Gospel.  I think that He calls people to performance-based careers for all kinds of reasons, both temporal and eternal.  I will not discredit those who are using their musical abilities to glorify God.  It's an avenue by which many people's hearts can be opened without them even realizing.

However, I'm pretty certain that my intentions were a bit mixed up.  Yes, I wanted to minister.  Yes, I wanted to serve.  But I also wanted to look good.  I wanted praise and approval for my performing abilities.  I wanted attention for myself.

This photo was 3-5 years "early" according to our plans.

If this is the reason why God led Claude and I to be married somewhere in the middle of what would have been my Master's Degree studies, I don't know for certain.  His ways are higher than mine and His thoughts higher than my thoughts.  I can't say that I know exactly why He allowed and even orchestrated the timing of our marriage.

If my selfish ambitions were the reason that He took me up on the many times I turned over my heart's desires and plans to Him for His will to be worked out, I also don't know for certain.  But I do know that the life I currently live is one that requires humility, selflessness, and mundane service that the practice room never expected of me.  Perhaps His desire for me was one of ministry and service.  And maybe the means to those ends didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

The reasons for the Lord leading Claude and I to marriage and starting a family when we did are undoubtedly many.  I see so many opportunities to be made into the image of  Christ with each passing day and the adjustment with each new stage of family life that I wouldn't have it any other way!  I also think our budget is thankful not to be accommodating the debt of a dust-collecting Master's Degree!

We look pitiful, don't we?
When I was pregnant with our second child, the mother of a friend looked at my blossoming belly with pity and said, "Oh, Becca.  So much has happened to you in the last few years!"  It was as if I was merely a product of unforeseen,  unwanted, and undesirable circumstances.  Imagine, getting married, moving to a new place, and having two babies back to back.  Certainly my life was over, my dreams were shattered, and I should feel sorry for my great losses in life.

I looked at this woman and smiled as big as I could.  I don't remember if I said anything but I realized then that the changes I was allowing and the choices I made to follow God's lead in marriage and family were not exactly popular.  Pursuing a career as a performing artist - that's popular.  Pursuing a path of humility and non-recognition - I must be oppressed and if I knew any better I would choose differently.

I have days when I don't particularly want to get up in the morning.  I don't always want to change the diapers, do the dishes, prepare meals, and keep up on disciplining the kids.  But neither will I consider turning back.  My hand is to the plow, and whatever the reasons, God's path for me now is to love and serve Him by loving and serving my husband and kids - wholeheartedly.

The reason I quit part-time orchestra gigs. :)
After the birth of our second child I stopped playing in part-time orchestras.  I stopped playing on the church worship team.  I stopped practicing almost altogether.  One morning I woke up, looked across the floorboards of our bedroom, and wondered to myself, "Is this really my life?"  It was the beginning of a process of reconciling my plans with my present.  It was a bumpy road, but I'm at the other end.  There's no need to feel sorry for me because I have chosen this life - chosen to follow God where He leads, and chosen to embrace all that He puts before me each day.  It's a beautiful place to be, even if I'd like to roll over in bed and pretend that the baby doesn't really need to be changed.  ;)

And can I just say that sitting in an audience of children, most of them chattering and wriggling in their seats, is quite refreshing.  I may have judged the caretakers and parents at one stage of my life.  "Why won't they just teach their kids to sit still and be quiet?"  While the Chew Crew did sit quiet and still for most of the program, I was thankful that it didn't ruffle anyone's feathers when I had to walk two rows up to chase down a roll-away sippy cup!

Times certainly have changed.  And they couldn't be better (laundry excluded)!  :) 

 Happy Guy!

 The Crew enjoys some PBJ before finding seats at the concert.

 Children's concerts are the way to go, folks!  Forget about stuffy concert halls.  Here you can eat your snack, take off your shoes, and put your feet up while you listen!  :)

Or, if chairs aren't an option because you're too busy or don't weigh enough to keep the chair from folding up on you, why not go exploring?

How have your plans changed over the years?  Are you still working through those changes or have you fully embraced where you are today?  What plans, if any, do you still have for the future?


  1. My life has definitely changed for the much much better! Thank you for following Jesus with me! I love you! :)

  2. I know this path...your intentions sound very similar to what mine were. I'm thankful God sent a husband and some baby girls to snap me out of it! I love hearing my eldest hum Handel's Hornpipe from the bathroom, and even more, seeing my girls' character develop to look more like Jesus. It's way better than adult praise!

  3. Plus, it's starting to seem like God needs some quality marriages and families to shine a bright light right now. Just that is huge.

    1. It's funny...after posting this I started to wonder, "I'm I just using my family as an excuse to 'let my musical self go' instead of keeping a Bach Sonata or Partita, a movement from a major concerto, and a couple of Paganini caprices under my belt???" Letting go of what I spent years attaining to is definitely a long process. For me I feel like it's been necessary to keep my heart and eyes fixed on Jesus. He certainly uses family life to refine and sanctify me in ways I can't really imagine a stand partner participating in. :) There are others who don't need a complete shift to get the picture...but I guess I did!

      And I agree with you that the witness of godly marriages and people who truly value children (not just with lip-service) is huge in today's adult-centered culture.

  4. I can understand that. There was a point God brought me to where I was able to say "If I never do music again, I am now okay with that." And I stayed in that position of "no music" for some time. Then through various circumstances (half of which I can't remember), I slowly started playing again and I was able to do it from a different perspective.

    Of course, the enemy always looks for ways to ruin it with a wrong attitudes creeping in masked as emotions or fleeting thoughts. I often think of that verse that talks about how the devil goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, and I pray that I would remain vigilant. It's definitely tough to always be on your guard, no matter what one chooses to do!

  5. Such cute little kiddos who I'm sure are well worth giving up a few former dreams!

  6. I really enjoyed your article! I believe that our culture is so self-focused that many fail to see the great treasure of having a Christ-centered home. Your article is fresh and reveals the joyful adventure that you are on by following God. That is a great testimony that this world's ideas really miss the point.

    Keep up the good work,
    Melissa Hess

  7. Thank you, Sylvia and Melissa, for your encouraging comments!

  8. I feel like I walked along the same path as you in so many ways. I had selfish aspirations, but wanted to serve God. I didn't want kids until I was actually married, and many a friend can tell you that I was open about my dislike for little ones. My, how times have changed (for the BETTER!) and I'm so glad that God has directed me to the happy, fulfilling, and constantly challenging life that I've got now with my 2 tiny ones, a loving husband, our tiny rental house, and meager income. Ten years ago I would've scoffed about every one of those things (okay, maybe not the husband part) but now I wouldn't change it for the world! Great post. Thanks for linking up at the Mommy Brain Mixer this week, Becca.