Do you have daily devotions? #TBT

If you do, what do you do? There isn’t a Scriptural directive as to how we should, but we should. Maybe it’s the first thing we do when we wake up. Maybe it’s a midday recharge. Whatever the case, we need to spend time in God’s Word. When we stop and allow God’s Word to speak to us, we are filled. We learn what God wants us to know. We are challenged to be different, to be better.

So how long does it have to be? However long it takes. Whatever time you can set aside. It may be 10 minutes, it may be longer. But allowing ourselves to have time to recharge is essential.

What should we do? You could read the Bible, use a book, whatever you have. A simple and helpful tool I’ve found to start is to read a chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the day. There are 31 chapters. But there isn’t a special or perfect method of doing daily devotions.

So, do you have daily devotions? If the answer is yes, praise God. Keep it up. If your answer is no, then why not?

 

Keeping your sanity

Maybe you’re one of those really lucky church musicians and you only have one or two responsibilities in the month of December. But, I’m guessing that may not be the case. Maybe you’re directing handbells, adult choir, playing the organ for what seems like 500 services, planning those 500 services, putting together what will be on screen for those 500 services, preparing for extra rehearsals, working with outside musicians and much, much more. Well, that’s what I get to do. I love it and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But how do you do all of that and maintain your sanity?

But wait. Maybe you’re married. Maybe you have kids. How do you keep your head above water, and maybe even excel at what you’re doing at church, along with seeing your spouse and children for more than 30 minutes a day? It’s tough.

How do you do it? First, breathe. Realize that you can only do so much, and prioritize what is most important for that day. Otherwise, you’ll be overwhelmed and not even be able to start doing anything. Second, remember the WHY for Christmas. Not just the tradition of a cantata or other services, but it is our opportunity to once again remind ourselves of how much God loves us. His sacrifice of His one and only Son to save us from sin.

Don’t work 24 hours a day. You’ll be tempted, but you need to make sure you’re resting along with spending time with your family. If you are a parent, be a parent just as much as you are a musician. Delegate responsibilities to others.

The best part about this season is that it is short. The worst part about this season is that it is short. There is a lot crammed into a few short weeks. But the good news is, after those few short weeks, you get some time to rest. Take that time to truly rest. But again, during the month of December, don’t fall into that trap of having to work 100 hours each week. Give yourself permission to rest. Give yourself permission to relax a bit. If you’re not doing that, you will be ineffective as a musician, a parent, a spouse and a person. It’s not worth losing your effectiveness. Savor the season and rejoice in the love of God!

 

It’s Beginning to look a lot like….

Yes, it is that time. The church musician’s favorite time of year!  Well,  maybe not. It’s typically the most jam packed period for a church musician, that’s for sure! So, are you ready?

Ready or not, here it comes! How do you survive? The two most important things are to get plenty of rest (or as much as you can!) and make sure that you are physically taking care of yourself. Over the next month, I’ll be giving you some tips and thoughts as to how to do it. It’s not easy, but we have to be at our peak physically, if we are going to endure the extra services, practicing and busyness that goes with the Advent/Christmas season.

One of the things that I’ve always struggled with is forgetting the real reason why we do what we do. The concerts, worship services, and all of the bells and whistles are important, but stop for a moment and think about why we do all of this. Not because of tradition, not because it’s expected (but it probably is), but because God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our redeemer. To pay the price for our sins, the price we cannot pay ourselves. When we stop and think about that, everything should fall into perspective. That’s what I’m reminding myself about this Advent/Christmas season. If we are to truly make beautiful music, it can’t just come from playing notes on a page, it has to come from deep down inside us. And I’ve found for myself that when I focus on the real meaning behind why I’m doing what I’m doing, it gives me that joy, that excitement, and that energy to make that music the best it can be. And having a 7 and a 5 year old in my house doesn’t hurt either!

So keep checking back throughout the next month for encouragement, support and those shots of enthusiasm. Also, if you haven’t liked Harmanny Music on Facebook, I’ll be sharing some things there, whether that’s silly Christmas videos or other things to help you with finding that joy this Christmas season!

 

Thankful

Last Thursday, obviously, was Thanksgiving. One day a year set aside to focus on being thankful. But, there is plenty to be thankful for over and above just one day a year. So, I pose the question for you to consider…..how are you thankful each and every day?

For me, I’ve come to focus on a process that helps me focus on what to be thankful for. When I wake up in the morning, I breathe deeply. With each breath in and out, I think about being thankful for the breath that God puts in my lungs. Throughout the day, I try to intentionally find things to be thankful for. Obviously, my wife and my girls are tremendous blessings and I am thankful for them. My parents and my sisters as well. We all have many things to be thankful for. But are we always focused on being thankful for them?

But what about the struggles? I learned to be intentional in thanking God for struggles in ministry and in life. In serving congregations that didn’t have much of a direction, vision or support for much at all, I learned to thank God for the challenges and opportunities He placed in front of me to be grateful for what He had blessed me with and that helped me focus on what I did have, and not what I didn’t have. I’ve also learned to say thank you as often as I can to the groups that I am called to lead. There are plenty of other things that they could be doing with their time, but they choose to participate in the music ministry of the church, so it is my responsibility to honestly thank them for giving their time to the church.

There is plenty to be thankful for. For me, I’ve got plenty to be thankful for and amazed by. For you, who read my blog, whether this is your first time reading or your 500th time reading, I am amazed and thankful that people want to read what I write. Or purchase what I’ve written or composed. It blows me away that people would consider what I write musically or otherwise to be something that they would choose to spend money on. So, to you, I say thank you. You are a blessing and an encouragement to me. If you’ve shared about Harmanny Music with others, I thank you as well. I don’t have much of a budget for promotion, so word of mouth is my primary source of getting eyes on what I’m doing. So, I thank you for telling others.

As you go through your days and your ministry, I hope and pray that you have that attitude of being thankful for all of your gifts and blessings. It can be a struggle sometimes to see them, but they’re there. If there is anything that I can be of encouragement to you for, drop me a line at harmannymusic@yahoo.com or send me a message on Facebook!

 

Who are those people you live with?

I usually try to use the time and weekend around Thanksgiving to focus on spending time with my family. December usually gets to be so busy and hectic that we’re all going in different directions. We have our traditions of cutting down our Christmas tree, looking at lights and more, which does help a lot. But it takes intentionality. For those of us who serve in the church, December is busy. More services, more practicing. And, on top of that, after December comes January, so you have to be thinking ahead for what is to come! There is lots of work and it can definitely take away from time with family. You have to intentionally plan and guard your time. So, enjoy this weekend, sit down with your family and intentionally plan, if you haven’t already.

What do you do to guard your time in December? Comment with your thoughts.