Janet's Jargon

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Monday, June 03, 2013

Waxing nostalgic

As many of you who follow my blog know, music has always played an important part in my life. I started taking piano lessons when I was four years old. Eventually, that branched out to include both the organ and the accordian. I became enchanted with the accordian when I was about 12 years old. We had two young men from Bethany College of Missions (it was then known as Bethany Fellowship School of Missions). The other girls were nuts about the younger fellow. He was a tall, blonde Scandinavian good looking guy. I could have cared less. The older member of the duo played the accordian, and I knew that I was "hooked"--on the accordian, not the fellow. However, he was a very important person in my life, as it was that man who led me to accept the Lord as my personal Savior, and that decision resulted in God's call on my life to serve Him, first as a girl who spent my entire summers teaching Vacation Bible School and counseling at camps in northern Minnesota with the American Sunday School Union, then to 9 years as a foreign missionary in Venezuela, and now, more than 40 years later, to having served with my late husband Ivan in Mission Socorro, the "home" mission we founded and ran in the Red River Valley of MN and ND for 37 years.

But life changes. After Ivan passed away, I moved to northeastern Wisconsin. It is a beautiful part of the country. I spent much of my youth living in "the woods" (we were right smack dab in the middle of the Chippewa National Forest). The trees became my friends. It is a common joke in North Dakota that the state tree is the telephone pole, because that is the only thing that will grow there. As soon as I arrived in NE Wisconsin, I was back in the woods, and I just knew that I was where I belonged.

Still, there was a time, the first part of my days in WI, that I felt like God had put me on the shelf and that my life of being useful to Him had come to an end. I sat in Ivan's recliner one day and told the Lord that I felt like a can on a grocery store shelf and my expiration date had arrived. As I sat there, feeling a bit sorry for myself, someone knocked on the door and a woman I didn't know said somebody told her that I might be able to help her figure out how to use the glucometer the doctor had just given her, suspecting that she had diabetes. Ivan was diabetic, so I was very familiar with how the machine worked. I was more than happy to help her. And that began what my former pastor's wife called my life as "Amberg's go-to gal." For some reason, people have found their way to my door for many different reasons. When I get tired and am tempted to complain, the Lord gently reminds me that He is just answering my prayer!

But getting back to the music. One of the things I find to fill my time is to play the piano for our little church, Interfaith Bible Fellowship. If you go back through my blog, you will find an entry about the wonderful way God provided a piano for me so I can keep in practice. There is also a page on my website http://www.janetelainesmith.com about my music, complete with some of the musical people God has brought across my path.

A couple of days ago, Charlene (Solum) Lessin, an old friend from my college days at Bethany, all the way back in the early 1960s, asked about a song from a recording by Eddie Menaldino. I hadn't thought about him in many years. I first met him when he was a pastor in Minneapolis, I think it was an Evangelical Free Church. Our paths crossed again when I was in Philadelphia, just before one of our trips to Venezuela. He was pastoring a full Gospel church there. I was fortunate to get to play the piano for him at one of the services at his church as he sang "He Washed My Eyes With Tears." It was, and still is, one of my favorite songs. I have played it numerous times in churches. So, thanks, Roy and Char Lessin, for refreshing my memory about Eddie Menaldino. I just went to see if I could find a picture of him, which you see here, and I found his obituary. He went home to be with the Lord in 2012. I'm sure heaven's music is sweeter with him there.

The final musical treat came just yesterday. Our previous pastor has moved to the Detroit MI area. We have had a visiting minister from Menominee MI who has been filling the pulpit until the elders and then the church membership decides what to do on a more permanent basis. I am embarrassed to admit that I don't even know our new minister's name. He just goes by "James." I do know that he is from Virginia. I also know that he has a wonderful singing voice. We have discussed what key songs need to be in for the congregation to be able to comfortably sing them.

Upon occasion it falls to me to choose the hymns for the opening exercises. It is always up to me to do the prelude and the offertory. Sometimes I play "fancy" arrangements by other pianists. Other times I do my own thing, choosing songs that I put my own spin on. Yesterday, I was going to do a medley for the prelude. I selected At Calvary, Room at the Cross, and Calvary Covered It All. For some reason, at the last minute I decided to eliminate Calvary Covered It All. I took the paper that had all of my info on it and scratched it off.

When James went up to the pulpit to lead the singing, he whispered to me, "I am going to do a special number before the group sings. I don't have the music, so I will just sing it acapello." And then, he began to sing "Calvary Covered It All." I stared at my notes. I softly picked out the notes he was singing, and he was even singing it in the same key I had practiced it in! When he finished singing, I handed him my notes, complete with the title of the song scratched out. He told the people about it.

I just love it when the Lord lets me know that I am still in tune with His still small voice. There is never a doubt in my mind that "the steps of a good (faithful) man/woman are ordered by the Lord." I trust you will feel Him leading you this week, even in the small things.

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