Living by Faith

We’re entering the home stretch of our summer. Our Kansas trip is behind us, as is the St. Olaf Conference for Worship, Theology, and the Arts, as is a visit from my college best friend and roommate and bridesmaid, Rachel. She stayed with us for just over a week while attending the conference and we had a lovely weekend together once it was over. After dropping her off at the airport on Monday morning we went home and slept the sleep of the dead for three hours and have now begun the last weeks of a very good summer.

We have a list of half a dozen people to host at our place, a summer recital coming up in two weeks, a couple more weddings and one more subbing job at a church in Red Wing. We’re enjoying leisure as long as we can, knowing that it’s almost over.

This fall will be full, to say the least. Mike has had to move his senior recital to the beginning of December in order to work around Paul & Kilby’s wedding plans, so he will be shifting into high gear to make up for seven weeks of lost work potential. In addition to playing one of the hardest pieces known to man on his recital, he has a class and an independent study to finish up, and choir. So we’ve decided it will be best for him not to take any outside work until after the new year.

…Which leaves that exciting venture to me.

Yesterday was the release date for Morning Star. This CD has sold worse than any other CD I’ve released, by a long shot. We were not expecting that. As we looked over sales, all the marketing endeavors we’ve made, upcoming bills, and our bank accounts, I had a serious moment of panic last night. Of course, it’s never as bad as Satan likes you to believe. And in retrospect, I see that navigating these next few weeks (decades, more realistically) is a matter of living by faith. Painfully aware of my need to draw closer to God this morning, I picked up a new book to start reading along with my devotions: Rick Phillips’ Faith Victorious. The first chapter discussed what faith is and what faith does and I saw with such clarity my present need to live by faith, and not by sight, as I have been doing.

Last night the CD wasn’t selling, we’d just had the door closed on a potential $600 worth of work, and the new job I’m due to start had moved its start date back by another three weeks. What I didn’t see, though, was the perfect way God was carving our lives out. With the perspective of faith, I can see things a bit more clearly today. A few happy phone calls have also helped.

Late last night I received a voicemail from Employer #1 with information that gave me the green light to take Job #2. Early this morning I called Employer #2 and heard back from her around lunch time that she was putting me in the schedule to start a week from today. Last night I thought I wouldn’t get the job at all.

And so unfolds before us the next season of our life: Mike in school and me working an insane schedule:

  • Job #1: Assistant to a French baker from 5 a.m. to noon every day. The two of us will be stocking a new cafe opening up here in town with all sorts of yummy baked goods and pastries. She’s promised to teach me everything she knows in exchange for my extra set of hands.
  • Job #2: 10-25 flexible hours a week serving drinks and meals at a local coffee house. I’ll get off from the bakery early one or two days a week to take a lunch shift. My other shifts will be nights, and I’ll get home at 11:00 for a few hours of sleep before I wake up for another round.
  • As if that weren’t enough, I’ll be apprenticed to Mike’s organ teacher, who runs the children’s choir program at a large Lutheran church here in town. Dr. Rodland is known for her work with children and this promises to be a very rewarding, educational opportunity. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’ll also be picking up some of the music duties within my own precious congregation, including filling in for my pastor’s wife as a piano teacher while she adjusts to life with adopted infant twins.

I’m hoping to stay sane, healthy, and hospitable, and to have a bit of time here and there to continue composing. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that this is going to be a grueling few months. But there are several reasons I feel certain God has His hand of blessing on it:

  • Five years ago I started making plans to attend college. With already five years of emotionally taxing work under my belt, I daydreamed about how nice it would be to spend a year or two after college paying off loans by working at a coffee shop. Clock in, clock out. Be nice to people, go home. No failing piano students to worry over, no pressure of being self employed or constantly on call for an unrealistically difficult and demanding job for which you’re under-educated and under-compensated. (I basically ran a graduate school library for 3 years and would be working from home at 2 a.m. some nights.) Fast forward five years and what am I doing? Working at a coffee shop to pay down loans.
  • Early this summer it became clear to Mike & me that I needed to have a job this fall to help us make ends meet and relieve some of the heavy burden he experienced last fall. Once again the daydreamer in me came up with the perfect plan: Working mornings in a bakery. It’d be something I loved, I’d learn, and I’d have my days free. Then a friend mentioned off-hand that there was a new bakery opening up and they were in need of a baker. She had no idea about my daydream. So I contacted them.
  • Three weeks ago I drove all over town and picked up no less than fifteen applications for local jobs. I HATE filling out job applications. They are tedious and my work background makes it difficult to fill out employment histories or professional references. I’d rather go to the dentist. Three weeks later, before I’d filled out more than one application, I have two jobs. The bakery job gave me no application. The coffee shop job had none on hand to give me, so they took my name and I thought no more of it until they called me and asked me to come interview. And now I have my two dream jobs and barely lifted a finger to get them. God is in this.

This fall will be hard and exhausting. I’ll have to take a lot of afternoon naps, that’s certain. But I’m taking it as a gift from God, seeing not the challenges but the opportunities, a perspective I believe to be a faith-filled one. I’ve been asking God recently (if silent, half-hearted, occasional desire can be considered asking) for the opportunity to cultivate diligence and discipline. I’ve been craving hard, steady work. It’ll be good for my mind and my soul and my body, and one summer of blissful leisure is about enough. So I’m taking what God’s given us as His perfect plan for me, and I’m excited to navigate it to the best of my abilities.

And I’m bound to learn to make a pretty fantastic pastry.

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One thought on “Living by Faith

  1. Wow Susan. The jobs do sound fun… if the bakery job is anything like my short-lived Panera Bread job, I can guarantee you’ll stay in shape (I lost several pounds) just running around the kitchen, even if you do often eat the yummy dough scraps. 😛 It must be a great comfort at least to know that Sunday *will* roll around each week. But you’re a pro at time management and sabbatarianism and all that; you’ll do great. 🙂

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