Tag Archives: ministry,

R.I.P. Kurt Kaiser

A very sad obituary to have read today: Christian songwriter Kurt Kaiser passed away yesterday. He was 83 years old. His song, “Pass It On,” is iconic in contemporary Christian music. An accompaniment track I did for the song years ago has been viewed over 800,000 times on my YouTube channel alone, and I have found it in numerous other places, pilfered and posted on various international video channels. He probably didn’t mind any more than I did because the important thing was the song was globally loved and sung. May his soul rest in peace and may his family find comfort in having lived with a gifted, modern evangelist whose reach and influence will only be truly known in the hereafter.

https://www.baptiststandard.com/news/obituaries/obituary-kurt-kaiser/

Please feel free to sing along to my accompaniment track in Kurt’s honor:

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St. Joseph comes through again!

Getting on my Catholic soapbox here for a minute, so please bear with me while I ramble. I know a lot of superstitious people think that burying a mini-statue of St. Joseph in their front lawn is supposed to magically sell their house. I did not, I repeat – DID NOT – do such a crass thing.

What I did do was pray last week and ask for his help in sending me a buyer for my house at the price I needed and to help me find a new house for us to move into down where we’re interested in heading. Not only that, but we’ve had a drought here for just over a month with absolutely no rain. So lemme tell ya how it went down.

Two days after my chat with St. Joseph, which happened to be the afternoon of the same day our houseguest left, our realtor calls with a last minute request to bring by some interested parties who initially had no intention of seeing our house, but another one that proved disappointing. On twenty minutes’ notice. We have dogs and cats. Vaccuuming takes longer than twenty minutes, you know? But hey, what a “coincidence” that the house was all spiffy that particular day already, and the yard had been mowed two hours earlier and the sun was shining and the berries on the bushes were ripe, and my mother said, “sure, come on over!” They did. They came, they saw, they loved it and two days later, they made an offer. In a stale real estate market, our house was all of 31 days on realtor.com.

As for the drought, around 7:30pm the day they looked at the house, we had a big blow-in with some heavy rain that left the evening nice and cool and comfy. Not to mention perk up all of our flowers and especially the poor withering hydrangea bush. We’ve had some more rain since during the signing of contracts and all. Talk about a nice refreshing both physically and spiritually, if you don’t see the connection, I don’t know what to say, but I do not in any way at all believe it’s been a coincidence.

Bottom line is that once again, prayer to St. Joseph does not go ignored when it’s sincere and within God’s plan. I had no father growing up. St. Joseph is special to me, and one again, dependably, he provides a helping hand. You can be superstitious all you want and do silly things like planting magic totems in your front lawn, upside down, no less. Or you can have a serious faith-walk and believe in the communion of saints and that those who have gone on before us are already partying with Jesus, so you go ahead and ask one of them to put in a good word for you because you were and still are their friend and they’re happy to do that for you. Since they’re already there and all.

It’s all about the relationship.

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Church Sub, too

Imagine that. My coming week is five for five days booked to sub at the high school. Awesome. What was the chance I’d go six for six?

For the past month or more, I’ve been trying hard to get back to my roots spiritually, and although I have still been playing at the little Episcopal Church when the vicar is there once a month, I’ve gone back to attending Mass. There’s a great comfort in the familiar and it feels good to be “home” again. Also, it hasn’t been often in my life that I’ve been in the pew and not behind the piano or organ, so it’s been refreshing to be ministered to. Alas, I do get restless to be playing again since music as ministry is truly my vocation. But I digress.

So I had decided this would be the morning when I would change vantage points and go sit upstairs by the organ in the choir loft (I wasn’t sure if there even was a choir, but I’ve been “the choir” all on my own before and am not shy). So I’m peering at the stops on the organ when a few folks join me up there, but still no organist. Then the lector began reading the morning announcements and I realized, hey?!? So, I thus began my week playing for Mass when the regular organist didn’t make it this morning. Just like that. Would have been better for me to have had more than about twenty seconds’ notice to locate the first hymn in the accompaniment book, but Lord willing, I found it and played straight through. God is good to me.

Funny story here, actually: in 2006 when I moved south from Vermont, I had been working for a small Catholic parish for three years as organist, secretary and bookkeeper, but when I arrived here, there was already someone playing organ for the local Catholic Church. Bummed, I kept looking around for ministry work and soon enough found a full-time post (albeit non-musical) at the local Methodist Church. Here’s the funny (or ironic) part: the Catholic (me) couldn’t work for the Catholic Church because a Methodist was playing organ there, so the Catholic (me) had to go to work for the Methodist Church.

On my way home today, I decided to dig through my archives from Vermont and came across several folders of materials and music which I shall hereafter keep in the car with me to be better prepared should I find myself spontaneously subbing as organist again!

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Frustration = more determined

I got the call from the church in Florida two nights ago and have been processing until now. What my liaison on the committee told me left me in shock. He said that when he walked into the search committee meeting the night before he was expecting maybe a ten minute meeting because everybody at the church had given such positive feedback about me. However, in his words, the meeting “turned into four hours of knock down, drag out” and in the end, some of the elderly committee members felt the church should take the “safe route” and hire the local applicant because they didn’t like that my self-employed electrician husband wasn’t going to ditch all of his long-establishd clientele and just move down to Florida with me lock, stock and barrell. Like they’re hiring my husband???? I thought I had made it very clear to them that by the time he finishes up all of the work he’s got scheduled for this year alone and looks into getting his electrician license for Florida and then networks to line up work there, he wouldn’t be able to follow me down for about a year. If he and I don’t have a problem with that, why in the world should anybody else??? In this day and age, one goes where the career moves you.

I’ve felt sick to my stomach for two days about it. Why did God allow some old-fashioned “a husband and wife are joined at the hip, she can’t possibly be functional or committed to the ministry at our church without him right here at her side” mentality block my stepping into a full time music ministry position that felt so right?? I was absolutely sure that it was the door God was opening for me. I was believing for it and speaking out of my mouth all sorts of affirmations about it. Now I just don’t know what to think.

Was my faith not strong enough? Was is not the right church after all? If it was, why did God allow the “traditionalists” to overrule the younger set who are the ones actually growing the church? Is that all the 11th hour stumbling block was, or was it something else that my liaison didn’t tell me so as not to hurt my feelings? Was there a flaw in my character somewhere that I should know about so I can work on fixing it in myself? Did God let that position slip away because He’s got a more appropriate place lined up for me? And if so, where is it so I can send a letter and apply for it NOW!!!?!??!?! Why is He keeping me sitting here day after day being bored out of my mind in an area of the USA where Hughesnet actually has no service reps so we have to put up with dial-up internet?? I can’t download music to keep up to date on the newest Christian artists and their releases, I can’t listen to podcasts from my favourite mover-shaker churches, it takes ages for inspiring blogs to load on my computer, and I can’t even watch the YouTube videos I post online much less any other audio or video streams. Yeah, I know: whine, whine, whine. Urrgh.

I am so frustrated I go between crying at one moment to feeling nothing at all, empty and forelorn. I know in my head that God cares about me and has a good plan for my life, I know that He has annointed me for full-time ministry, but right now, believing it in my heart after this really big slam is feeling very difficult. I am trying to be positive and not let myself get depressed about this huge disappointment by working on new recordings (all contemporary right now) and new videos.

If I can’t find a full-time position in a church with both traditional and contemporary services, I’m going to focus on at least seeking a part-time post with a church emphasizing contemporary style worship. I may enjoy both styles for different reasons and at different times, but it’s time to draw the line. I can always attend a trad service if I want to. Most important to me is that I need to be an active part of the leadership in a contemporary, reach out to the everyday man on the street, upbeat community. It’s part of what being a musicianary means to me, and I’m more determined now than ever.

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Needed to hear it

Yesterday after church, someone said something to me that I really needed to hear and that I kind of forgot about until just now. I’ve been going through this weird kind of doldrums for the past few days, going on nearly a week and am having a tough time shaking it. At St. Andrew’s the vicar makes a circuit of several small parishes in the month and is with this congregation once, maybe twice in a month. It was nice that he was there for Mother’s Day and that it was a Eucharist service because he was there.

Me being me, I can’t just sit in on a worship service that doesn’t have music and not offer to play, which is how I came to be playing for St. Andrew’s while waiting for a full-time assignment in the first place. Been there since Maundy Thursday, about a month.

Following worship service, we’re all standing around chatting and the vicar said to me how much he appreciated my being there even if I weren’t playing the organ for them. He said that something about my personality and presence in the room “lights up the place” and that my inner energy was contagious.

I know that God has annointed me with a full-time vocation in music ministry and I really needed to hear that and to hang onto it.  Next week, I head down to Florida for my eagerly anticipated interview/audition and I need to be as “up” as I can possibly be. I’ve had a hard day today not feeling well physically and had a hard time getting motivated to do anything until I just now thought of what the vicar had said to me.

I needed that reminder. Thanks, Lord!

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St. Andrew’s

While waiting on God to open the door for me for a full-time ministry position, I’ve been volunteering as organist over at a small Episcopal Church nearby and was in to practice on the two-manual Allen organ today. I love the interior of the sanctuary – the gothic arches with their carved gargoyles and the beautiful chancel. It’s very conduscive for praying. The sun comes up behind the altar in the early morning which makes the room glow; unfortunately, I didn’t think to take out my camera until early afternoon.

Entering St. Andrew's Sanctuary

Entering St. Andrew's Sanctuary

I’m hoping to record me playing the organ there sometime soon, but when I tried today, the electronic organ didn’t generate quite enough oompf to really pick up clearly on the camcorder. I’ll have to fiddle around with where to place the camera to pick the sound up better.

View of organ and Sanctuary from choir

View of organ and Sanctuary from choir

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Holy Week musings

I passed up an offer yesterday (on Passover, ironically) to work for a small church about fifty miles away. I had had a fabulous interview, although I wasn’t psyched up about going to it until I was almost there pulling into the parking lot and I begged God to put the words in my mouth He would have me say because nothing was coming to mind. Once inside and talking with the interview committee, God came through as usual and I was full of life again as my usual effusive self came out when discussing my philosophy of music as ministry. But in the time since that interview, I wasn’t enthused. Then I felt really uneasy after receiving the official offer call yesterday morning and didn’t know quite what “the problem” was going on inside of me. I couldn’t even think to myself, “yay, a paycheque” – I just could not get excited and hoped that my lack of enthusiasm wasn’t apparent on the phone that morning! I just knew I shouldn’t accept the position because I’m that sure God is about to open a full-time door for me, and knowing I would not be able to continue at that position for long, I don’t want anyone disappointed at my hand.

While contemplating whether or not I should call the pastor back, in the meantime an amazing thing happened to me. Because God does stuff like that:

I had already decided to attend Maundy Thursday service at noon yesterday at a small Episcopal Church nearby and with all the whining going on in my head, I was afraid I was going to be late getting there. I pulled onto the parking lawn and those who were arriving immediately came over and welcomed me with huge smiles and warm handshakes. When we went inside, the vicar asked if they should pick hymns that everyone knows since there wasn’t an organist, and I offered to play. Talk about suddenly feeling “special” – apparently they’ve been without an organist for some time and had been hoping for one, then *poof!* in I walk. So I played for the liturgy, and also again today at the Good Friday service. But I jump ahead.

I found myself emotional during worship. When it came time for Eucharist, we all went forward to kneel at the altar and receive communion, and I felt interior turmoil about several things that have been on my heart lately and about seemingly nothing at all. Maybe it was the full moon, I dunno. I felt at home in the “high church” setting even though this charming country chapel was very informal. Yet it had that feel of being in the abbey that I miss terribly. I came out of church feeling great, hymnal under my arm to practice the hymns for the next day’s service, and headed to town hall for the errands I needed to run.

By the time I got home, however, I was agitated more than I was in the morning. I called the pastor back and told him I wasn’t comfortable accepting the position and why. After hanging up, I felt better which tells me it was the right thing to do. One of the things I have been praying for during this fast is for discernment, and when my gut was churning so much over a small, part-time job, it must be important to listen to because I know God must be trying to tell me something.

In the meanwhile, the verse that keeps running through my head is from the parable of the talents where the master commends the faithful servants for being fruitful with the small amounts given to them so that he then entrusted greater things to them.

It seems to me that the reason that Scripture was on my heart so strongly yesterday was because I don’t need to “just take any job” simply because I need a paycheque; I need to keep believing that God is about to open a full time door for a music ministry position that He has prepared especially for me to fill. I took a position last summer merely because it was offered and I thought I needed a paycheque more than I needed a good match for my gifting – and it was a fiasco from the start. I’m still healing from the way I was treated there.

Playing organ for the tiny Episcopal Church and very appreciative group of ladies this week has assured me that volunteering here for awhile is where God would have me wait for His hand to move. I know He will provide for me and my needs and that He knows best what I need and when.

Tomorrow is the final day of my fast and then comes the breaking of the fast with a lamb dinner on Easter Sunday. Even my mother is going with me to the Episcopal Church for Resurrection service. I can’t wait to see what next week brings because God is not only faithful to provide, He’s amazing.

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