Monday, October 10, 2011

Giving Back

Just a few miles down the road, in a tiny town, by the bank of the Spoon River is a place where something amazing happens. Some know it as a place where the Spoon River Rascals perform in an old Opera House. They’ve been at this about eight years now. Both the “little” Rascals and the “big” Rascals bring forth some fabulous shows. The woman behind all of this has quite a reputation. Let’s just say that during the process children learn some good old fashioned lessons that go far beyond music and acting. Respect, working together, keeping one’s mouth shut & listening are just a few. Before I ever knew “Paula, the leader of the Rascals” though, I knew her in a much different way. She was simply my neighbor during part of my growing up years.

Back then she was going to college for her music degree and was the momma of two of the most amazingly precious little baby boys. It happened to be summer time. They were in need of someone to care for those sweet babies and I had little else occupying my summer. I’ll never forget that special summer. Those babies and their cloth diapers and I had quite a few bonding moments. Never mind that I was only 10 yrs old {crazy, I know!, my mom was just down the road a tiny bit if I needed anything}, I’d cart those boys one on each hip. Into the double stroller they’d go and round and around the circle drive I’d trot.

That family’s home and hearts were a haven to me. More than once I found solace in people that cared enough about what was going on in my life to simply sit awhile and listen. I became part of the family. It makes me chuckle to remember sitting squished in the back seat of their tiny auto between two car seats. No doubt those early child-caring experiences molded me into the momma I am today. I can still remember the proud smiles of both sets of grand parents as we’d go to their homes for visits.

Later, Paula would be my private music teacher. She was a teacher through and through. And while she could be a little rough around the edges, she’s always been known to bring out talent in youngins’ that no one else knew was there.

You can imagine what a delight it was when we moved back to the area to think that some of my children would get to study under the same woman who taught me much about piano and voice. She’d been inspired by other teachers she had and has always been one to give back.

More than teaching just vocal and acting skills, she models and provides opportunities to give back. As the children grow older they become part of the back stage and lighting/sound crew. Why do teenagers give night after night to a show that other children are gonna be stars of? Because when one has received, they also give back.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we should live as Christians. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Not just to receive, but to go out and give back. We are to be LIGHT no matter where God places us. Be it a teacher in a Sunday School classroom, a doctor, a store clerk. We shouldn’t just be focused on serving inside the walls of the church. We are to go out to all parts of the world. We are to invest in things eternal …. people’s lives.

What a blessing it was to hear her pray with the children before each performance …. thanking God for all the talents He has given and for the opportunity to use them for His glory to touch other’s lives. THAT is something I want my children to know about and live.

Gotta admit I felt a little sentimental when I caught a glimpse of this special woman getting my girl ready for the big show. I wasn’t sure how they would get along, to be honest. My spunky Texan girl has a heck of a time keeping her mouth shut when it’s time for quiet. Her impulsivity makes this momma pretty nervous at times. And while she really wanted to be part of the Lullaby League and wear a tutu …. she also got the experience of learning the amazing gift of doing the MOST with the part you have. OH were there times I thought she was doin’ a little MUCH, but I was assured to let her be.

My youngest son was back stage this show. He’s been out front in others. No matter where you are, there is much to be learned. And it goes way beyond vocal and acting skills. Performance isn’t just done for performance sake and to be the star of the show. It’s about giving back.

Last year about this time crisis struck our family. My dad died of a sudden heart attack. The question came of who would do music. It took about half a second for me to know who to call. My heart sunk a little when she said she had travel plans … then she said she’d change them. What a comfort her familiar sound on the piano was to my soul that day. She didn’t have to change her plans, but she chose to. I guess it’s about giving back.

It seems so long ago when I was that 10 yr old girl with a twin baby on each hip. Those babies are grown now with families of their own. They too are giving back.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this touching praise of a woman who deserves it. I hope you are able to share this with her.