April 25, 2011

Time to Rest

From my Girlfriends in God devotional this morning:

I have always loved music and began taking piano lessons at the age of five. I will never forget that first piano lesson with Mrs. McKenzie, a very sweet, elderly woman who played the piano beautifully. Her hair was slightly blue, her house smelled like lemon drops and she had clocks that chimed and rang every fifteen minutes. I was so excited and so ready to play the piano like my sister who played for our church worship services. Betty was an amazing pianist and I was desperately hoping that same musical ability filtered down to me.

"Let's get started," Mrs. McKenzie said. I climbed up on the piano bench, waiting for her brilliant instruction to begin. She placed a bright, red piano book in front of me and invited me to open it to the first page. I was disappointed to see only little, black pictures. Where was the music? Where were the songs? Mrs. McKenzie smiled as she patiently began to explain the musical symbols pictured in the book before me. I soon grew restless. "What's the matter?" she asked. "I want to play the piano, please," I sweetly responded. With a knowing smile, she said, "We'll get to that." I was not happy. On and on - for what seemed like hours, Mrs. McKenzie pointed to funny-shaped black symbols, named them and explained their meaning. I was not impressed. I just wanted to get my hands on that keyboard!

Sensing my impatience, Mrs. McKenzie pointed to one of the symbols on the page before me and said, "Mary, this small, black box is called a 'rest' and is one of the most important symbols in music." I simply did not care. It did nothing but sit on a page in useless and unproductive silence. I wanted music. "Do you know why rests are so important in music?" she persisted. Obviously, I had no clue. She then said something I remember to this day, "The music that comes after the rest is the most beautiful music of all." At the time, I did not understand the deeper meaning of those words, but life and time have illustrated their importance and their truth.

The best part of life comes after we rest in God. The most beautiful service follows time at His feet. Rest is a powerful part of our life song. Just as the rest in music prepares the listener for what comes next, time spent in rest is an invaluable time of preparation and restoration. Yet, we often buy the enemy’s lie that to rest is a waste. The psalmist disagrees when he writes: He makes me to lie down in green pastures ... He restores my soul... (Psalm 23:2-3). Now that word “makes” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to God’s work in and through us. Understand that if we refuse to rest, the Father will “make” us rest. The good news is that time spent in rest is the prelude of God’s restoration power.
Time to rest.

April 22, 2011

If You Can't Say Something Nice

"I hate my legs."

That's the very first thing I think about myself when I see ANY picture of me that isn't from the waist up only.  I don't pay attention to the fact that I have a waist now.  I don't notice how blue my eyes look, or that my hair is AWESOMELY red.  I jump immediately to the negative.

I had a voice teacher once who used to stop me before I could even open my mouth before I came offstage from a departmental performance or even after finishing a run-through of a song in a lesson.  Before I could immediately say something like "Ugh, my phrasing was terrible there," or, "I totally cracked on the high note," she would say, "Okay! Name three things you liked about that before you say anything else."  She wouldn't offer a single constructive criticism, which, as my voice teacher, she was kind of being paid to do, until we talked about three good things about my performance.

I've found that I have kept that with me about my performing or even about my work day ("Well, today was a beating...but at least I finished A, B and C." Okay so I do it backwards, but I still mention some good things almost immediately). 

Why can't I do that about myself?  Why can't I look at a picture of me and say "My facial expression in that photo is awesome.  Look how long and pretty my hair is!  Wow, you can actually see that I have a waist! Go me!"  Instead, I let a picture of me completely ruin my evening and send me into a downward spiral of depression and self-loathing.

Will that ever stop?  Will I always be SO hard on myself?  I mentioned in the dressing room last night that I was really disappointed in myself for letting myself gain about 9-10lbs back after all the work I'd done and that I could really see it in the pictures.  One of my castmates said, "Mandy, do you know what you'd be saying to one of us if we were saying these same things?  You'd be telling us how awesome we look and to stop being so hard on ourselves." 

I don't have a problem building people around me up.  I love doing that.

So why can't I do that for myself? 

Okay, here we go...three nice things about myself:

1) I have lost over 30lbs and, with the exception of a minor setback, have kept all but the aforementioned 9-10lbs off.  I have realized this and ALREADY begun working hard to get back on the wagon.  I am making GOOD choices.  I have nowhere to go but down (on the scale, that is) if I keep it up. 

2) I am singing the crap out of my role in this show, and I love hearing more than just polite applause when I'm finished.  I get at least one "Woooooo hoo!" every night.  THAT is awesome.

3) I have really amazing hair.  It looks even better the longer it gets.  It's an awesome, natural color and it's healthy and soft and pretty. 

Maybe I should do this every day.  Maybe we all should.