With What I Have Left

Good morning. It is Friday, July 3, 2015. We are observing our July 4 holiday from work today. Our neighbor is outside my window, mowing his yard. At 7:30 AM.

Tough choice for today’s word of the day, but I’m going for the one from Dictionary.com, which is quixotic. It’s an adjective, which means, “extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical, or impracticable,” “(sometimes initial capital letter) resembling or befitting Don Quixote,” or, “impulsive and often rashly unpredictable.” I fancy myself to be somewhat quixotic, but that may be a delusion. But hey, wouldn’t that make me even more quixotic?? 😀

Today is Compliment Your Mirror Day. “My, but you’re looking reflective, today!” Seriously, though, here is the description from the web site, in case you don’t care to click on the link. “Take a step back, and examine your reflection. This is you, the only you, and the best you there is. Compliment Your Mirror Day encourages you to recognise your own inner beauty, and to give yourself a great face-to-face prep talk!” (Huh. I guess I didn’t “realise” they were British.)

Just as expected, we had to work late, yesterday. Really late. In fact, it was almost 7:00 PM before we got out of there! At one point, I was pretty upset, but my wonderful wife helped me, yet again, with this message: “Deep breaths. Let the peace of God reign over you and rain on you.” See? That’s how we roll at the Bickleyhouse!

While I was on my way home, Christi ordered pizza for us, which arrived moments after I did. We had a nice dinner, watching TV and relaxing. We didn’t stay up as late as we would on a normal Friday night, but, then, it wasn’t Friday night, was it? But we were very tired, and needed to be up at a reasonable time for today’s adventures.

In a while, we will be driving to Mineral Wells to pick up my mother and bring her back here so she can come with us to Southlake, where I will play with the Southlake Community Band in their July 4th festivities. On July 3rd. But I like that they are doing that. Because our church is having a July 4 picnic tomorrow, and it allows me to participate in both events. Mama will be staying for the picnic, and then we will take her back home. Sunday, outside of getting groceries, will be our crash and relax day. In all honesty, though, tomorrow won’t be that bad, as I have little to no responsibility in the church event. I might help get things set up, but that would be pretty much it.

It looks to be a great three-day weekend.

On this date, in 1863, Pickett’s Charge occurred on the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg. In 1890, Idaho became the 43rd U.S. state. Potato-lovers everywhere rejoiced. On this date in 1981, the New York Times made the first mention of a new disease that would eventually be known as AIDS.

Today’s birthdays include George M. Cohan (American actor, director, singer, and dancer), Franz Kafka (Czech-German writer), Betty Buckley (American actress), Dave Barry (American humorist and author), Jan Smithers (American actress), Montel Williams (American talk show host), Laura Branigan (American singer), Tom Cruise (American actor), Andrea Barber (American actress), and Edinson Volquez (Dominican baseball player).

George M. Cohan was born on this date in 1878. How appropriate, since he composed some of our favorite patriotic songs, such as “I’m A Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and “You’re A Grand Old Flag.” Here is a medley of some of his songs.


The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches.
It sent out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River.
Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it.
Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine,
the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.

Psalm 80:10-15

(From Daily Guideposts 2015)

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am a warrior.”
Joel 3:10

Today’s reading is one of the rare selections with a title, and that title is “Making Music.”

Elizabeth Sherrill writes of attending a concert at Avery Fisher Hall, in New York City. The concert would feature famed violinist Itzhak Perlman. They knew, from reading about him, that he had been crippled, at age four, by polio, similar to a flute-playing friend of mine. However, this knowledge could not prepare them for what they witnessed when he took the stage. ” . . . nothing prepared us for his awkward, lurching walk across the stage, supported on crutches. He reached the chair beside the conductor’s platform, lowered himself into it, laid down the crutches, unhooked the brace-clasps on his legs, and picked up the violin from its case on the floor.”

As the orchestra began playing a Beethoven violin concerto, Perlman’s “high, sweet solo line soared above the rest.” Suddenly, there was “an ear-piercing ping!”

The conductor stopped the orchestra. In the ensuing silence, Perlman looked at his violin, and the broken string. After a moment, he nodded to the conductor, “and put the violin back beneath his chin. The orchestra resumed playing; the solo voice sang out, plaintive and angelic.” The author sat in amazement, wondering what kind of transposition and inventiveness was required to successfully perform the concerto on only three strings!

“At the final note, all of us were on our feet, cheering, clapping, shouting for the sheer joy of the performance we’d witnessed.” After the applause was over, Perlman “fastened his leg clasps, picked up his crutches, stood up, and said with a bow to the audience and a smile, ‘Sometimes we have to make music with what we have left.'”

This reading could not have come at a better time for me. I’m 57 years old, this year. Music has been a major part of my life for most of those years. I don’t remember when I started piano lessons, but I’m thinking it was somewhere around third grade. For five or six consecutive years, I took piano lessons from the same lady, who lived within walking distance of our house. Somewhere during that time, my father began teaching me how to play guitar. In seventh grade, I began playing trombone. I played trombone for fourteen straight years in school bands, brass choirs, and trombone choirs, as well as multiple solo recitals. I played piano and guitar in church, as well as singing. Suddenly, it all stopped for a while. I put down the trombone, somewhere around twenty years ago. I’m not sure why, other than opportunities to play were not abounding, and time seemed to be a factor. For most of those twenty years, I was extremely active in church music, in many cases, being the music and/or worship leader. Then, a couple of years ago, that stopped, too.

I still feel that God had a purpose in all of this. I firmly believe that he had a hand in the stopping. Because during that cessation of music activity, I was learning to pray. I mean really learning to pray. So there was a reason. But now, I just as firmly believe that it’s time to begin making music again. The spark was provided by the ETSU Band Reunion, during the first weekend of June. What an experience that was, and proof that, yes, I still had those trombone chops. Now I have a new (used) trombone, along with a community band to play in. I am making music again.

And I will continue making music “with what [I] have left.”

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Psalm 57:7
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High!
Psalm 92:1

Father, I thank you for the music that you have placed in my life. I also thank you that you put it in my heart to use that music to praise you. I pray that I will continue to make music with whatever I have left. I will sing and make melody to you, because my heart is steadfast. You have made it that way. You created my heart, and you give it strength to keep beating for you. I pray that you unite my heart to fear your name as you teach me your ways. Continue, however, teaching me to pray! I do not believe that I have to stop learning to pray in order to continue to make music. In fact, I firmly believe that my music can be prayer! So let me pray to you through music, through the trombone, through the keyboards, and through the guitars, as well as with my voice. More anything, though, help me to know you more. This is more important than the praying and the music.

I pray for this day. Keep us safe as we travel to Mineral Wells to pick up my mother and bring her back. I pray for this evening’s events, that everyone will have a safe and good time through all of it. Help me to play my best, during the concert, and bring me more opportunities to play music. I pray that all will have a safe July 4th holiday, this weekend.

Your grace is sufficient.

psalms 57 7

Grace and peace, friends.