Posts Tagged ‘debbye graafsma’

She’s only five.  Just. She has short blond hair, and dancing eyes that look right through me, especially when we are drawing pictures together; especially when she plays with the knights and ladies and horses… but most of all when she is standing next to my desk, asking for yet another heart-shaped lollipop. 

Yesterday, she came in with her mother. 

Yesterday.  It was snowing in our city — in the month of March– much too late for icy weather in the south.  Drive slowly on black ice, folks.  You don’t see it coming. Yesterday. The child couldn’t stay inside during our session.  So, she and her mother created a ten inch snowman ornament for the hood of my little car.  Wish I had taken a picture — he was formidable. He endured the drive home, and was still frozen to my car’s hood, pointing forward, this morning at 6am. She makes me giggle.


It wasn’t long ago this little one first came in to see me.  We had to get to know each other, you see. She was having trouble letting go in the morning. No one knew why. She wouldn’t talk —  In my own humble opinion, the child holds too gracious of a spirit to burden the adults around her.

So we played together — drawing pictures, punching play-doh, jousting knights and ladies, with puppets, …and with the dollhouse.  When the focus of her fear finally surfaced, she crawled into a fetal position; she substituted grunts for words; she quietly pulled away and wept; she tried to climb into the five-inch opening between my desk and wall cabinet.  It was her attempt to find a safe place to hide; a cave; a womb.   It was time for a rescue.

Did you know that a child will show their trust by speaking to you? Such a feat requires time and safety….

Her abuser denies any wrongdoing. 

We are slowly working through her perceptions about herself, and about men in general. Much too soon she will be confronted with the much larger outside world.  Can we help her steady her feet before it appears?  Dear Jesus, I pray so. 

How does this happen to a five year old? I have seen many such children over the years, and yet it still confounds me —

The pervasiveness of evil in the world around us? On a small level, perhaps — but in reality that entity is nothing, but a loud bully on the playground.  What confounds my heart and mind is this — The infiniteness of the love of Father God; deeper than any evil, any fear, any abandonment, any pain; wider than any blockage, any accusation, any broken place.  He reaches into our humanity, and restores identity; greater than any loss, any abuse, any difficulty — and it is eternal. Eternally mine, because I belong to Him

Do you belong to Him?  Then, it is yours as well. And He will move heaven and earth to redeem, to rebuild, to restore, to repair and to re-create what the false gods and philosophies of this world have stolen from you. 

He  is God.  No substitutions, no additives. Just God.

It’s been several months now, since my dollhouse tow-head came to visit for the first time.  Her mother can’t pay, so my cheeks receive my fee in sticky kisses (lollipop derived); as her mother is trying to rebuild her life.  We came up with a business name and made flyers and business cards last week — we can’t wait to see what Jesus will do for her.

I have long said — “People who need help and counsel can’t afford it; when people have money for help and counsel they don’t want it. They become distracted with all the things they think will heal their pain.”

My husband suggested that I invite those who are taking this newest adventure of blogging with me, into my own journey. He said you should know what it is I do these days…..

Many of my clients are just like these two precious souls — like butterflies emerging from a long and hard winter; getting ready to unfold their wings and become.

Pray for us.  Pray for me.  And, if it occurs to you, and you would like to support our ministry at Awakened to Grow, you can do so through my website; awakenedtogrow.com. And I promise, any gift you give will be used to provide care for those who cannot afford to pay for themselves.

(C) 2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com


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What is it about Facebook that draws me in?  I’ll go on to just catch up with my long distance friends, and find myself an hour (or more!) later, wondering where the time went….. it’s like a black hole in a Time Management Suspense Movie…. how does the time disappear?

I teach piano and voice — have done so for the past thirty years or so.  Never meant to. Never even thought I was qualified to do so. Somehow, it just showed up in my resume.  Things got financially challenging during the early years of pastoring, and Bill suggested I try it.  Now, here I am years later, still doing it.  Am I addicted, or just stubborn?  I can’t tell.  We have gone through seasons with it — from 5 students to 60 students — from 1 recital a year, to competitions, 2 recitals and senior projects — Now I have 9.  I love them all; perhaps it’s the relationships…

It’s a sense of teaching people how to speak a new language.  Admittedly, I enjoy the sour notes students play; I get to help them fix their conjugation; accent; prononciation. It’s a great feeling when a student learns to emode through their fingers ; letting feeling flow into the music, giving it expression…

I was reminded this morning of an experience I had during a student’s lesson years ago.  This former student is now a friend;  now married (to another former student).  He is a young minister, band leader and musicman.  Of late, we have been posting back and forth on facebook. I am watching his life, listening to his comments, and find myself  anticipating how the Holy Spirit will be using him in the next few years to reach his generation.

While on this reminiscence pathway, I found myself smiling.  He will get there in spite of his piano/voice instructor’s inabilities. The specific picture that came to mind was clear. Chad was in a level of learning where he was deciphering the lydian, dorian and jazz scales. His assignment was to play each of the scales in each key.  There are twelve keys. The amazing boy had to play each scale  four octaves, and also play the two minor scales.  The process took about 15 minutes and served as a solid warmup for the harder pieces he was working on at the time.  His scales always had a concrete metronome rhythm; and as such could lull a person into “blank slate” mode.  As the metronome ticked on, I fell asleep. Sound. 

While I won’t blame the student, I will say it wasn’t really my fault (denial, you say?).  Bill and I had had a late night at the church we pastor the night before . So I dozed — sorry. But the boy was focused, intent on his assignment.  I was startled awake from my “power nap” by a loud silence. Opening my eyes, I saw him gazing at me.  I still have no idea how long it had been since the final note had been played.  

“Mrs. Graafsma?” he inquired, always polite (which I credit to his parents, by the way). “Are you okay?” 

Flustered, I looked back at him.  “Were you happy with how they sounded?” I asked.

He didn’t say anything at first.  He just got that funny sideways grin, and his eyes twinkled. At that moment, I realized he knew.  I was busted. “The scales?” he asked.  For a moment, I thought he might be playing with me — had he played a piece as well?  I checked his music on the music stand.  No, it wasn’t open yet.   “Yeah,” he continued, “they were okay.”

I took a breath.  “Good.”  I replied. “I thought so too.”  We went on with the lesson.

Let me digress a little at this point. In the last 30 years, I have discovered there are three types of piano students.  Sadly;  the primary type is peppered in-between the latter two types. These are students who have no real inclination to learn, or discover, but have been convinced, bribed, or threatened by their parents to “try” music and see if they like it.  It takes time and a developing of trust to help these students to admit it is okay to speak up and ask to do something else, please.

The latter two types are divided equally.  First, there are those who have a degree of talent; who love music, want to learn, and can’t wait to discover something new, but realize they will have to work hard to get to the finish line. These are the tortoises. Then there are those who hold a degree of giftedness, who love music, want to learn, can’t wait to discover something new, but are handicapped by the fact that everything they do has come easily.  These are the hares. 

Chad, songwriter and philosopher that he has become — was a hare — who learned to become a tortoise.  He is an example of a gifted boy who confronted his desire to “sprint ahead,” and took the time to address the “next step” in a disciplined manner. He was willing to work hard — deciphering the nitty gritty, and taking away what was useful. Those abilities will take him far, because that is a life lesson we all need to apply in every area of our lives.

Because of that developed character, I am convinced he will make a difference; no matter where God places him.  Thanks for listening, Chad — and for being willing to let the Holy Spirit use you.  Watching how you learned, helped me to make discoveries about teaching. 

See you on Facebook.

(C)2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

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So, I’ve been told it’s time to begin a blog — never heard of the word until my children described it to me — and even then, it has taken much too long to begin the process. As it has been explained to me — this is an environment where we journal — the old word that I’m familiar with — but blogging seems to be the public method; on display; open for comment — perhaps guidance? (I need as much of the latter as I can get my mind around these days….)  It seems the older you become, the less you really know…. how does that work again?

Like this morning.  I’ve made a pot of coffee must be a million times. I’ve even been told I make good coffee — but we added a twist to the mix….. we have a new coffeepot.  In the words of my oldest child, (and former Starbucks Barista), “How can you screw up coffee?” Well, let me tell you — it’s simple.  You do what you’ve done a million times before, and don’t think about it — until the pot is spouting steam, water is dancing on the burner in tiny droplets, and brown flecks of portfolio-priced beans are leaking all over your kitchen counter.  When such an occurrance happens it is then, and only then, one notices that this particular appliance requires the basket be put in a certain way — it seems there is a little notch on the basket that must be “just so” — It was then I realized how stuck into old habits and views I had become in my relationship to my old coffee pot — Did anyone else buy this model?

Which brings me to my first blog subject. 

I ministered at a dear friend’s church yesterday; much larger than my husband’s and mine.  We met at 6:00am for prayer and worship — I got to lead the worship segment — it was wonderful. It was more wonderful because the morning began with failure. Early planner/detailer that I am, I had set my alarm for 4:30, giving myself time to get ready and drive the 25-40 minutes to her door from my home.  Anticipating the early morning, I found I couldn’t sleep the night before.  Well, as you might guess, my alarm didn’t go off — don’t even know why — perhaps its getting older like me. I awoke with a start at 5:20am — soundcheck was supposed to happen at 5:30am — not happening today folks….

She called me at 5:32 — “Are you okay?” (Yes, I said, as I was rushing around — pulling on my dress pants — I’ll be there…this really is important to me…. ) She couldn’t have been kinder.

Long story short, they prayed without me til 6:15, when I walked in the door. No one panicked, or was in a hurry. In fact, I was hugged and greeted.  When I walked into the sanctuary, my friend hugged me, and said “Relax — just go up there and let God use you.”  (Did I tell you she was a dear friend?)   Her assistant took the time to pour bottled water into a goblet… they acted as if it was part of the program for the worship leader to arrive after the meeting had begun… I went right to the piano, and then looked out. (They had more intercessors gathered than Bill and I have in our congregation — at 6:00AM!– and all of those wonderful people had probably been early to the meeting!)

The Lord met us — Our time extended, and I stayed at the piano. Afterwards, my friend and I went out for breakfast — and then, at her invitation, we came back and spent some time in her office together, – meeting a publications representative, and talking about the differences in our ministries.  We live in two completely different worlds — my friend and I — serving the same Lord, and the same family.  Her church runs several thousand. Ours runs 100 or so (I say the “or so” because we are growing, ever so slowly). Her church ministers to the urban community and has two campuses.  Ours ministers to the suburban culture and has two buildings.

As I looked around her office, I gained an insight and an education about her world.  I am gaining new understanding on my eternal family.  Her African-American culture has a beautiful and painful history.  The images on her walls hold more color than those on my walls.  There is a different understanding about the world’s ways that is part of her environment….. Things I thought I knew….  I have so far to go — How badly I want to be effective in all of the cultures around me…

It’s kind of like working with a new coffeepot.

(C)2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

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