A GIFT FROM THE MASTER/Winter Blog 2018

One of my favorite childhood Bible stories was The Parable of the Talents, where three men were given gifts from The Master. Two men used their gifts and doubled their investment, but one was afraid and buried his one-and-only talent in the ground. That story has stayed with me my entire life (Matthew 25:14-30).

Although I’ve been at this career for 30 years, I would say that it has only been in the last 10 years that I have given much thought to the subject of talents and spiritual gifts . . . not the super natural ones . . . but common every day gifts that you can appreciate from every single person. My mother was a very successful and gifted home maker . . . the best (and to this day, I think this is the most challenging and important “job” for a woman). But it was uncommon in my circle to see a successful (talented) woman with her own “career.” Yes, my world was quite small, and in fact I only knew one “sophisticated” career woman my entire growing up years . . . my piano teacher, Alleta Gray. (Oh, how I wanted to be like her. Educated, connected, well-traveled, socially graceful, and busy with purpose.)  

Sure, I knew I was “gifted” musically, but I honestly never saw it as my God-given “mission” to use this gift that He gave me for His service, until again the past 10 years (read my Fall Blog/2018 CHANGE IS GOOD). I changed and grew into it. 

But now I think differently. I’ve found my calling. I know for certain that sharing music is my gift, given to me from The Master.

And now that this mission statement is crystal clear in my mind, I have to say these are the happiest days of my life. I finally have it figured out. I have a very clear path to walk on. I know what to do just about every day. 

How awesome is it that my personal gift from The Master (that was given to me as a child) is so very special, unique, something I love, and quite different from most people out there. Extraordinary. Some days I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. 

Please know that I seriously jump out of bed with excitement every day of the year, in anticipation of creating this new music and coming to see all of you at Christmastime (soon!!!) to once again celebrate the magnificent birth of our Lord and Savior.

Knowing in my heart . . . that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights . . .” (James 1:17)

May God be praised in all things through Jesus Christ, our King of Kings, my Lord of Lords.

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NOVEMBER 26, 2018
"Hello Lorie, I hope this email makes it's way to you. My mother, wife, and six year old daughter Emily just saw your show in New Ulm. Emily has been taking piano lessons for almost a year. She was so excited to see you as I'm sure everyone was. She got dressed up because she said, "that's what Lorie does." When that little girl got home with her Bell and music book and a smile from ear to ear well it was awesome. She explained how she got to go on stage and hold a big ring up for the twelve day's of Christmas song. She asked us if we thought someday she could play pretty like Lorie does and if people would come to see her play on a stage. Of course as a parent you say yes if you try hard enough it will happen. So thanks for bringing joy to many and inspiring Emily to keep practicing. She's currently mastered jingle bells. smiley Your a great role model for our daughter. Thank you for what you do." - Grateful Father Jeff.

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Music Book contains all of the music on the corresponding CD except Game of Thrones and Never Enough as we were not able to obtain the publishing licenses for these songs.

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CHANGE IS GOOD/Fall Blog 2018

 

 

This past summer I had the wonderful opportunity to play at the Marshall County Fairgrounds grandstand in Warren, Minnesota. They invited me to play the early Sunday morning church service for their grand opening weekend. I had no idea what to expect. A church service at a fairground? This would be a first for me.

Tim and I left the day before on Saturday afternoon to make the drive up near Canada. We love doing "gigs" like this as we get out of our routine, drive somewhere unknown where we've never been before, and experience quite a few surprises that we talk about all the way home. We stayed at a local hotel the night before (so that we would be on time for the service the next day). I wondered what to wear for something like this, and ended up selecting a Calvin Klein tangerine "church dress" ($39.99 from TJ Maxx) with matching pumps. When we arrived at the fairground, we opened the car door and I stepped out onto dirt. I immediately wished I had brought my tennis shoes, at least for the load-in, and I eventually changed into flats (that I had in the back seat of our car) and put my pretty pumps up by the piano on the stage.

A forklift was putting a piano up onto the metal stage. It was exciting. About 100 people were already in the grandstand, sitting off to the side, just watching all the fun. I was particularly thrilled that there was a tarp cover over the piano area and I'd play in the shade that morning. It was super hot (and I am so fair-skinned . . . I didn't want to melt in front of a crowd or get sunburned).

Before the worship service began, I was to play thirty minutes of traditional hymns. I love doing this, basically just playing anything that comes to mind, off-the-cuff. I waited quietly off to the side of the stage until it was time to begin. People started filing in, filling up the bleachers. Soon it was packed, about 1500 people . . .  all from Minnesota and North Dakota and I couldn't believe it. It was also very surreal because it was so quiet (everyone was silent) for such a big outdoor space.

When I walked up to play, people started to clap. They clapped and clapped. I looked to the crowd and thanked everyone. I was overwhelemed. It was so touching for me. All these people were there to listen to me play hymns. Oh my goodness. God is so great.

After my half hour of prelude music, I got up and the crowd clapped more. The worship band then played, and it was so enjoyable as I sat on the stage right next to the live music (and in front of a demolition derby track . . . seriously). The sermon was presented, and I got up and played in and out of the service for special moments. It was a glorious morning and I couldn't help but to wish there were more opportunities like this every Sunday morning for me to share my gift. (How many grandstands and fairgrounds are there in my neck of the woods?)

After the service, I went under the grandstand to sign CDs and music books. There was quite the line, and about 20 people in there was a woman who asked me to sign her CD. Fans always say the nicest things to me. And I'll never forget what she said to me that day.

"You've changed."

I smiled.

"I've watched you your entire career, for 30 years. And you've changed . . . your energy is different."

Yes ma'am. I have.

There was a long line of people waiting, but in the brief few minutes that we talked she told me she was an "energy specialist," that her full-time career and corporate job was analyzing the basic energy of people.

I confirmed that her new opinion of me was true. 

Many of you know that I turned 60 this year. I don't mind the age, really. There's no going back. But I would like to tell you about beautiful change, how it happens over the years and comes into your life. I can now speak from experience. And it's actually quite like a good recipe. There are a few unique and special ingredients to make it all work.

Here is a list of (some of) the secret ingredients for change. Keep in mind, again, this is change for the good. Are you ready?

Here we go.

Grief, heartache, sickness, disappointment, sadness, classic jealously of friends or neighbors, hardships, turmoil, trials and tribulations, isolation, temptations, envy, loneliness, emotional pain, physical pain, suffering, separation, sorrow, and even death of a loved one.

Sounds pretty terrible, doesn't it? But this is how you grow and change. This is how it happens. I know. I am absolutely sure.

I would say that I have learned this. In my early adult years everything was just PERFECT. I think when you're younger, you feel omnipotent. You have it all. But then you experience "hills and valleys." You wake up. And over time, it just happens. You change.

Some days it is tearfully painful. I'd like to share with you how to get through it. 

There is only one person to help get you through all of this. Only one (and it's not your best friend, your parents, your spouse, your children, your pastor, your sister or brother. Nope). If you don't know this person, let me introduce you to the one person who you will need . . . the one person who will never let you down. The one person who changes you for the better.

Jesus. 

. . . yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. . . "

Ahh. Such a famous scripture.

Now I know this is not a very popular or fashionable "campaign" these days. (I guess I'll never be the Hollywood type.) But I don't care anymore (what people think), and I guess that is part of my beautiful change. Because I know for sure that absolutely nothing else matters. Nothing. All I need is Jesus.

Sure, I admit it. You all know me well enough to know that I love "worldly" pretty things (pretty clothes, a pretty car, my pretty house and all that comes with it), and . . .  my beautiful career. But I know in the end, none of this matters. 

In the end, just give me Jesus.

Jesus will walk through it all with you. He won't leave you. He'll be your only friend on some days. But you WILL get to the other side of the valley. All the while, holding His hand . .. the hand of our Savior, the hand of my Savior, Jesus Christ. He has saved me . . . and saved me . . . and saved me. Again, and again. What a friend I have in Jesus. All my sins and griefs to bear.

Change? Yes, I do think it shows on me. You can even spot it at the fairgrounds from a grandstand. 

Yes ma'am. I have changed.

And I wouldn't change a thing.

P.S. My favorite scripture these days: "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Corinthians 12:10)

P.S.S. Photos below: forklifting the piano to the stage with Don Langlie from Popplers Music (from Grand Forks, ND). Next is pastor Gary Barrett (middle) and helper Rick Smith from the church. Photo below this is of the crowd in the grandstand that day during the praise and worship service with the band. I snapped a quick photo. Be sure to check out that handsome guy in the blue suit looking at me.

P.S.S.S.  Speaking of which. Tim has changed too.

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MY NAME IS LEO/Summer Blog 2018

Lately I've been sharing road stories on my solo piano Simply Grand tour. It's really fun and sometimes quite funny because, after all these years, I have so many stories to share . . . everything from bats dive-bombing me on stage, to having my bus stolen at intermission, to flooding an entire backstage area (because I hung my dress on a fire sprinkler head . . . yes, they work), to dealing with psycho bus drivers . . . so many stories.

Well, I have a new one.

A few weeks ago we went out (just the "Three Amigos" - my assistant Michele, Tim and me) on a little weekend tour in a rental truck (with the piano in the back, of course). Our first stop was Faribault, Minnesota. An easy drive. The old theatre was located downtown so we pulled up around noon, walked in the front door and checked it out. We always first explore how we'll get the piano up to the stage. Well, this day, which was day number one on the tour, we knew it was going to be challenging, but the staff had assured us before we arrived that we'd have six volunteers waiting to help us out. 

No one showed up. Not one volunteer. So, in this case, as you know, I always send cute Michele out on the street to find guys to help us move my piano up the ramp and onto the stage. For this move on this day, because it was steep, we'd need four or five guys. The potential of finding candidates in this downtown area did not look promising. So Tim and I joined in with Michele on the hunt, all splitting up with phones in hand so we could text each other if and when we found a volunteer.

I was by myself and the street I first turned onto was so promising. I giggled because if it was a contest (which sometimes it is), I would win. There it was, a big, beautiful sign in bold blue letters.

POLICE DEPARTMENT.

I went inside to the front enclosed window and was greeted by a younger girl. I asked if there was anyone available for just 10 minutes to help us push a piano up a ramp onto the stage in the old theatre around the corner. She was obviously not very excited, but I'll give it to her . . . she at least went away for three minutes pretending to inquire about my unusual request.

When she reappeared at the window, I knew it wasn't promising. "We don't do this type of thing. I suggest you go down two more blocks to the FIRE DEPARTMENT."

Surely the Fire Department would help us! They "do that type of thing." So, I ran out and saw Tim (who still had no luck) and shared this new plan. Tim thought the idea was brillant. We quickly walked two blocks to the FIRE DEPARTMENT and rang the buzzer both in the front and back of the building. No one was there. We called and heard the phone ringing. (The ringing was us calling them.) The answering machine came on saying no one was available.

So . . . back to the POLICE DEPARTMENT. Surely they could find someone to help us. When we walked through the front door, the same girl had that same look on her face. Once again she told me "we don't do that type of thing."

We were running out of time. Now I'm getting nervous.

Now what? We walked out of the POLICE DEPARTMENT and here comes this kid down the street, kind of rough looking, pants sagging, hanging low, hat on backwards, smoking a cigarette. He walks by us with swagger and Tim says, "hey! Would you mind helping us move a piano up to the stage in the theatre around the corner?" The kid looked us up and down (like we were crazy), tossed his cigarette, and said, "sure."

"What's your name?"

"Brandon."

Oh my gosh. We were so excited to have someone. But we needed at least four more people to make it work. So I said, "do you have a friend, someone who could help us?" We're walking fast now.

"Oh yea. I've gotta guy."

Brandon happened to be the manager of the SUBWAY, located across from the theatre. He said he'd go and get his friend who was working with him that day. He said he was big and strong.

Sure enough, here they come in their SUBWAY green t-shirts, and the "guy" is perfect. Yes . . . big, mean-looking, tattoos everywhere, shaved head, noticable scars. Tough. And strong. He wasn't from around there. He definitely had a story. He'd been somewhere.

Perfect.

About this time, Michele texted and she had two guys, so we were set! The show was going to go on.

My two rough and tough friends from the SUBWAY walked into the theatre with me and I showed them what we were going to do. I was by myself with them because Tim went to gather up Michele and her two pals. I was slightly uncomfortable because, well, I guess I just felt small.

We always put the biggest guy at the top of the ramp on the stage to pull, so that's where we'd put Brandon's friend. I set him up and then asked him his name. 

"My name is Leo."

Leo was confident he could pull the whole piano up by himself. He probably could. I was in cut-offs that day and a T-shirt, tennis shoes. I stood off to the side of the ramp, waiting for Tim to (please) reappear soon. While we were waiting, Leo started in.

"I just have to say it. I get things off my chest right away. I'm that kind of guy. When something's on my mind, I just say it. I've always been that way. So I just want to say it."

I'm scared. I'm thinking we already have a problem and we haven't even gotten started. "OK . . . " I say.

He pauses, thinks about it, looks around, and then says it. Just blurts it out.

"You're a very beautiful woman."

I take a breath. I do not know if I want to laugh or cry.

And then he says, "are you married?"

And at that very point in time, Tim walks in with Michele's friends and runs down the aisle.

"Well, yes, that's my husband right there. His name is Tim."

"He's a very lucky guy."

OK . . . now I'm laughing.

We move the piano and in just three minutes, it is to the stage. Leo says he wants to see the piano come out of the case, help tip it. He's standing next to me now. And I'm comfortable.

I ask him. "What's your story? You're definitely not from around here."

Yes, Leo had quite the story.

Leo was from California. He said he'd been in quite a bit of trouble, belonged to gangs, sold drugs, and ended up in prison for three years. His dad had committed murder and would be in jail for life. Leo decided after he'd gotten out of prison that he didn't want to end up like that. He would change. So, he decided to quit the gangs, quit the drug dealing. But it didn't work. A few months later he was back in the gangs, back selling drugs, and this time the "Feds" came knocking on his door. He was in big trouble.

In the middle of his sentence, he turned and looked at me very seriously and said, "are you a faith person?"  

Indeed I am, Leo.

Leo had a choice. Either 10 more years in prison, or move to Minnesota and join Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge, a wonderful faith-based addiction rehab center with a fabulous support program. Leo decided on the obvious.

"John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." "That's my favorite scripture," says Leo.

Leo proudly announced he'd been in the program and clean for three years. "I'm a people person!" Leo was speaking in churches, telling his story. He pointed to the scar above his wrist and said his uncle had tried to cut his hand off. The scar around his neck was from a box cutter. All part of his story.

After we tipped the piano, I invited Leo back to load the piano back into the truck after the show at the end of the evening. I have to admit that he came into my mind while playing the piano (for a wonderful crowd) that night many times. I was anxious to see him after the show.

Leo did not show up.

I was bummed.

We moved on to the next city. The next show. I thought about Leo for many days.

Two weeks later, we just so happened to drive through Fairbault. I was on my way to a church appearance in Nemaha, so we stopped in to see if Brandon and Leo were there making sandwiches. Sure enough, both were working that day. Tim ordered a sub sandwich and I asked if they'd take their picture with me. They paused and popped outside on the street below the SUBWAY sign and Tim took a quick photo of us with my phone.

I asked Leo why he never came back that night. He said he had a part-time job (on-call) where he delivered hogs on a hog farm. He'd gotten a call that night and had to make an emergency run out to help deliver a piglet. He didn't have my number and had no idea who I was or how to call me.

I was so relieved. We quickly caught up and he said he was speaking in church the next day. Telling his story.

I have to say I was tearfully proud.

So. . .  hey, everybody . . . meet my new friend.

Leo.

Just another day in the life of Lorie Line. 

Pictured above from left to right: Brandon, Lorie . . . and Leo.

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