I have played the piano for 26 years, and took lessons for 14 years. I would say I was at my peak during my senior year in high school and into my first two years of college. Unfortunately, after that time I neglected to keep up my practicing and over the last few years I can tell I have lost some of my ability. I am a nervous wreck when I play at church and it is only by the Lord's help that I have been able to deliver the message of Christ through my music. I do not get too upset if I make a mistake, but it is frustrating if I completely lose my concentration and the focus is immediately take to that rather than what the song is conveying.
The last time I played at church I had chosen a more difficult piece and I remember wondering if I was going to get through it smoothly. I had practiced for several weeks and had played it well at home, but it is always a different story when you play it during a service. Not to mention my piano at home was very out of tune and had a much different feel than the piano at church. I remember doing my best to concentrate on my music and asking the Lord to let Him be blessed through my playing, and prior to the offertory we sang the song that says, "I'm coming back to the heart of worship, and it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus." I focused on those words and determined to express the meaning of "Precious Lord, take my hand & Till the Storm Passes Over" in the medley I was about to play. I picked this song because I felt that was exactly what He has done for me over the past month as well as the past year, and I know that no matter what storm comes into my life, I can continue to praise Him until it passes over or until I am in heaven. Somehow I got through the piece (not without a couple missed notes of course) and was able to put the feeling into it, and I remember at one point knowing that I was not at all in control of what I was playing. Yes, it was my fingers and my practice, but He was demonstrating His glory through me playing that song.
In order to get myself back into practicing and playing more, I considered whether or not to start teaching piano lessons again. I put together a website and considered many ways to approach it, and just waited and prayed that God would give me wisdom to know whether or not to go ahead with it right now. It took a couple weeks to be sure that it was what I felt the Lord was leading me to do. We had some other reasons this would be helpful to us, but I still did not want to jump into something I was not going to stick with for a long time. Finally, I decided to do it and I advertised and prepared. Within a week I had 6 students confirmed and about 5 others still considering. I was glad for the confirmation that my decision was a good one.
During all this, I also decided to start looking at craigslist for a piano to replace the one I had been using over the past 5 years. It was not terrible, but needed some work and tuning done and that alone would have cost quite a bit. I had been saving for quite some time and had a set amount to work with as well as an idea in my head of what I wanted. And when I get in my head what I want, I will not settle until I find it.
I found one piano after another that looked great in the picture and was within or close to my price range. However, looking at the piano in person often revealed why it was priced so low. Or if it was in great shape and exactly what I had in mind it was so far out of my price range that I just could not do it. But I kept looking, and it consumed me for several days. I would spend all day researching and looking at all the different ones that people were trying to sell. Finally, I saw one clear up on the north end of Nashville on a Monday morning. It looked fantastic and they stated that it was like new. I made arrangements to go look at it, even transferring my money so I could pay them if I decided to buy it. I also had called a piano mover and he was able to be there that afternoon to pick it up! The puzzle was fitting together perfectly, just missing the biggest piece right in the middle - would this piano be as great when I saw it in person? I was confident I had found what I was looking for.
We arrived at the house, and for some reason people who have dogs think that everyone should love dogs. We were standing there with two little dogs barking at us and I got the impression we were expected to play with the dogs for 20 minutes before going to see the piano. AHHHHH!
Finally she took us to look at the piano, and after taking one look I was slightly disappointed. I had not expected it to be so small! It played beautifully and was in excellent shape, but for the money they were asking (which would have completely wiped out what I had saved) I just didn't know if it was what I wanted. I made an offer, although very low, and she said she could not come down that much. After several minutes trying to decide what to do I left without buying it. I just didn't think I could put that kind of money into something I was not completely sure about. After all, I had in my mind what I wanted and after taking one look I knew this was not it.
I returned home, very disappointed but glad for the decision I had made. I decided the piano search (to the magnitude I was making it) needed to stop. I was taking way too much time working on this just to find out I was using a lot of gas to go look at pianos that were not worth the money, especially after considering the additional price to pay someone to bring it to my house and have it tuned. I decided to get in touch with a piano tuner and get mine fixed up enough to use until I could save enough to buy something I would be completely happy with.
By the next day my disappointment was gone and I received an email from the lady saying she would take my offer on the piano. But I had already decided I did not even want to spend that much on a piano I was not sure I wanted.
The next morning (two days later) I was getting my Publix list ready and I quickly checked craigslist to see if anything new had been posted. I was not going to search day and night, but I thought I would keep checking because some of the best deals go quickly.
I saw an advertisement for a baby grand piano in excellent shape and it was just 9 miles from my house! I contacted them, all the while doing my best to not get my hopes up. I had learned my lesson so I decided to go look but prepared myself that it might have more problems than the investment is worth. Around noon I followed the directions onto the Bill Rice Ranch to the house where they were selling this piano. Bill Rice Ranch is a camp ministry right outside of Murfreesboro who ministers to kids as well as the deaf, and we share the same faith.
I met the young family who had two little daughters and a small house, they just needed the room that this piano took so they were selling it. I looked at the piano, very impressed with what I saw at first glance, and played it. I checked every key, every string, and asked about any damage. It was exactly what I was looking for. It looked great, sounded great (to be honest there are just some pianos out there that don't sound good!), and was less than my maximum price! We came to an agreement, and two hours later I was there with a piano mover and technician. He made sure there was no major damage to it, then it was loaded on the truck and on the way to my house.
I was so pleased to see how God would work if I just took time to relax and let Him. And this was not a necessity, I had decided to keep what I already had and yet He still provided something I wanted. Looking back, I could see why I had not yet found the piano God had for me, he wanted me to provide a blessing for this family while they were doing the same for me. I am so glad i did not make a decision sooner because now I know it would not have been the right decision.
And just wait until you hear more of why this was so exciting to me!