Sunday, April 17, 2016


I've been having a hard time with my kids lately. The past few weeks leading up to a performance when hubby was out of town, then came back only to suffer the symptoms of hand, foot, mouth disease, and two toddler viruses in a row, things were pretty tough. I have a two year who is giving me every kind of bedtime fuss and climbed into bed with us at 5am this morning(!) only to kick and wound me in every way possible, and a four year old that is totally emo. There are long stretches of time where she doesn't speak, but instead gives me complaining eyes, grunts, or pouty faces. Perplexing to say the least.

For a few months now, I've been really into my work on a whole new level. Having two concerts with different programs in a relatively short amount of time made me pretty obsessive about using every possible moment towards some end of preparation. Every moment that the kids were occupied I had to be doing something. It made me a bit high-strung - no wonder my Seattle trip turned out to feel mostly like a vacation! Yes, it's true - and what mother hasn't ever said this? My kids stress me out.

But here is where I had to check myself today. Our pastor today was preaching on sin, from Genesis 3, talking about the fall. He was talking about how the enemy is always tempting us to take something that God gives us that is good and twist it, mostly by convincing us to value that good thing above all else. When I think about guitar playing, there are so many things I love about it. I love moments when I have complete control over the sound in a room, where I can decide how to pace something, or change the color of a passage, or play it in a way that conveys an emotion that I've felt about a piece of music. I love the feeling of being able to shape sound by touching a string. And in my quest to discover more of what I want my sound to be, I think I've been in a place where my family responsibilities have become a bit of an annoyance and less of an enjoyment - and that makes me sad.

There must be a way in which I can pursue my work to the fullest, and be completely present for my husband and kids. But there's that ever escaping thing called time that I seem to be always chasing. For a season, I suppose this has been good for me - to go after my playing with ferocity and feel nearly greedy about having practice time. But today God revealed to me what an idol my career can be for me, that even the things I once found undesirable about being a performing artist are tempting, and serve as almost an escape from the mundaneness of my every day life. Because when I come home and am scraping old cheerios from the floor and doing three loads of laundry, I can't help but think about what a different place I was the last time I was on a stage.

I often get this post-concert depression type of thing, but I actually came away from this last concert feeling hungry for more. After I spent four days cleaning my house and not practicing, I'm ready to tackle learning music for a new recording project, taking a few new students, and editing some duo videos we shot a few weeks ago. It's thrilling to be excited about your work, but today I felt compelled to pray a simple prayer after hearing the sermon. That God would allow my heart to release its clutches from idolizing my career dreams and to put Him first, my dear hubby second, my kids third, and my career after that.

And as Paul hopped on a plane to NYC this afternoon, and after I taught a student while C took a good long nap and E played on the tablet, I spent the rest of my afternoon enjoying my kids - snacking with them, being engaged with them, even helping them discover something new. In the kids' book, Olivia, Olivia is reading a book about Maria Callas and dreams of being an opera singer. E asked about who she was, so I pulled up YouTube on my phone and we watched Maria Callas sing "O mio babbino caro" (E asking, "Why is she gray?" since the video was in black and white - ha!). The girls were enthralled, their eyes fixed on the screen in awe. And I was so deeply happy to be present with them.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Texas Forever

What do you do when you lose your job, look for a new one, and your job that you just lost calls you back in two weeks? You go to Texas, that's what you do.

We've had a very strange spring full of uncertainty mostly surrounding Paul's work. It's been too strange for me to really blog about. Maybe that's why I've pretty much fallen off the Lenten blogging commitment. I can't really say too much except that I've stayed emotionally detached from this whole thing, as I'm in pretty intense concert prep mode and am feeling really focused right now. But suffice it to say that with two days notice, they asked him to come to the office in a very glamorous part of the world (uh, not really) and on Tuesday morning he was gone.

Anyway, of course Paul had to pick the one week that C's eczema flairs like crazy and she gets her two top two-year old molars in. We were at the park on Tuesday morning and the wind started blowing strongly and steadily, making every sort of pollen fall from the trees. "Look Mommy, it's snowing!" shouted E. She loves snow. I had to chuckle and tell her that this was an LA kind of snow, namely, flower blossoms and all kinds of allergens falling through the spring air. That afternoon, C's eyes were watery and her skin started forming bumps everywhere. And by the evening she was itchy, teething, cranky, and a hot mess. She woke up about 4-5 times. I lost count after awhile in a sort of numb state of exhaustion.

Luckily, we had school yesterday. But last night before bedtime she had one of the craziest tantrums I have ever seen in a child. E, in all her stubbornness, never had tantrums like this. I misunderstood something C was drawing, and she burst into tears, screaming, kicking and writhing on the floor for 45 minutes. I tried everything. Sweet talking her, encouraging her, apologizing to her. Then I thought maybe a stronger approach would snap her out of it. Threatening a time out, yelling at her. Nothing worked. She had moments of calm, but then something would set her off again and it was over. She continued screaming like a banshee (the girl's got lungs) and kicking and hitting me whenever I would come near. By the end she was practically hyperventilating, and when she asked for milk, she flipped out once again when I opened the sippy cup for her because she's two and she has to do everything herself. I was really hating life in that moment. Meanwhile, E decided to be an angel since her sister was freaking out. She got out of bath, dried herself, dressed herself, brushed her hair, and sat with her blanket in a chair quietly thumbing through a Hello Kitty book, giving me a sympathetic look every once in awhile and at times covering her ears.

Suffice it to say that one against two is hard, and feeling like I can't even manage my own children sometimes and that I'd rather be working, mostly because it's easier than mothering - well, that's a terrible feeling.

I went to bed before 10pm last night because I was so burned out. But His mercies are new every morning. I slept a solid 8 hours last night and woke up at 6am on my own, and laid in bed contemplating the morning while the girls slept soundly until about 7am. Thank you, Lord. I would have cracked had it been any other way, and I think He knows that too.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bedtime Chatter

Last night the girls went to bed in great moods - a very rare thing indeed. We heard them singing and laughing after the lights were out, and heard the type of chatter and giggling that only comes out of sisters' rooms. We turned on the monitor to see what they were talking about.

E was singing "Jesus Loves Me" with all the correct lyrics, and C was trying to follow along. They went through "Peace Like a River" and the "Sheep Song," which I am guessing they had sung in Sunday School that morning, and for a moment I reveled in the Lord's shepherding of my children. I even heard E say a little prayer, something that she has never done before in front of me, which was something like, "Dear God, Thank you for the playground. Please keep us safe and warm. In Jesus name, Amen!" C echoed an amen to that one.

Then I heard this:
E: I'm going to be God, ok? You can be Jesus.
C: Ok. I'm Jesus.

Oh my. The doctrine went wrong somewhere...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


More from Tim Keller's book, Every Good Endeavor. On Esther:

"She becomes a person of greatness not by trying to make a name for herself; and you will become a person of greatness not by trying to make yourself into one, but by serving the One who said to his Father, "For your sake, thy will be done."

Words to live by.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Our pastor gave a really wonderful sermon today on the value and meaning of work, which is something that seems like it has been a theme for us this year. Paul has faced a lot of challenges with work this year, and during the summer when I was in a bit of a slump, I was desperately trying to find meaning in everything that I do. It all led me to read Tim Keller's book, Every Good Endeavor. I highly, highly recommend it and I'm not even halfway through. It's taken me awhile and I feel like I need to digest every chapter for awhile. But a lot of it has stuck in my mind and heart.

Here are a couple of the points I've thought a lot about this year:

1. Jesus followers should be the best workers. We do all things to honor and bring glory to our Father; this includes the mundane, menial, and tedious things that all jobs inherently have in them somewhere. But it doesn't matter how simple or important the task - working for work's sake is highly honorable, and does not go unseen. Therefore, we should care about our work and do it to the best of our ability, with integrity and honesty.

2. Our work is going to be flawed. It is going to involve conversations that go nowhere, projects that fail, companies that go bankrupt. In our own imperfections, there are inevitably some elements of our work that are unproductive. Keller brings up this wonderful story about a character named Niggle from a short story by C.S. Lewis. This story gave me a fresh perspective on the creation and meaning of art, and of work in general. We are not always highly effective people creatively either, but it's ok. We are redeemed, and that's what matters.

This morning, Pastor Jeremy added the following wisdom. The pursuit of art is a highly honorable and wonderful calling. David was a musician and a poet; Daniel was skilled in literature. Jesus was a carpenter. The pursuit of art is highly honorable; the pursuit of fame is not. I think you'd only have to qualify this speaking to a congregation in the middle of Hollywood in 2016. I am sure this resonated with a lot of folks sitting around me. I realized that I often confuse the pursuit of artistic quality and the pursuit of fame, which is based on ego and pride, not the desire for excellence. (Not that a classical guitarist could really be "famous." But in my small corner of the world, fame is probably defined more as having a good reputation and connections - two things I probably do covet for my own success.)

Some food for thought as I try and discern what is happening in both our work lives lately.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Word

I have not really been very good about blogging daily, but it's the spirit of this period that matters, right? Some days I am so tired that there really feels like no purpose in posting a few sentences of forced reflection. Still going to try though.

I received a really wonderful word of encouragement today from the pastor that married us nearly ten(!) years ago. He has always been an incredible source of counsel for us, and still prays for us regularly. 

 "...I can't help but relay how much the Father is so well pleased with Connie as well.  It's like He loves watching in on you [Connie], especially in times when you practice, perform, and make music.  Connie, God's great heart toward you is so full of fatherly pride.  He is soooooo incredibly proud of you--the person you are, the woman you are, the mother you are.  There are seasons in which you have been in the public eye and others when you've felt like you're toiling in obscurity.  Perhaps, you've even wondered if what you do makes a difference to anyone at all.  I believe God would say to you that He can totally relate.  There are times when His activity is very spectacular and visible, but there are also long seasons when it's as if He's in the hidden depths, laboring in obscurity like a miner digging for precious treasure.  But it is in the dark, dank, flickering shafts beneath the view of the masses that the earliest successes, the joy of the discovery of unspeakable riches, take place.  He is and has been at work in the depths of your heart as well, digging, tunneling, and mining out precious ore.  Don't be dismayed that some of the hopes of your heart seem so slow in coming to fruition.  Listen to the steady rhythm of the blows of His, as of yet, hidden efforts.  He will be faithful to fulfill ALL His promises to you..."

I was really blown away by this incredible note and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Something I am challenging myself to do more is to see people as just people. I have a tendency to categorize everyone that I know and only let some into my inner circle. In my mind, there are a few different spheres of people and they all live in their little bubbles: church people, guitar people, people-with-kids friends, old friends, and family.

But what if I were to stop seeing all of these people as categorized into different worlds, and allowed my relationships to go deeper in every circle? So I could talk about my spiritual life with guitarists; my artistic struggles with church folks, my parenting woes with old friends. I allow what we have in common to continue dictating each relationship rather than letting differences challenge and enhance each relationship. It's a simple concept, but hard for my relational self to wrap my mind around sometimes.