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FINANCIAL FREEDOM/Spring Blog 2022

 

This very personal blog is written to inspire others. I promise . . . if I can do it, you can do it.

 

I've been blogging for almost 10 years. 

I first started blogging because I had a goal. I wanted to someday write THIS blog. I knew if I started writing things down, I'd grow. I'd think more clearly. I'd take personal responsibility for some things where I needed improvement. I'd be accountable to a huge (but very kind) audience. In the process I might become a better writer.  But most importantly, I wanted to set a good example for others, specifically my own two children. So, that's why I started blogging.

Today is the day I finally get to share what's been on my mind all these years. 

My very first memory of learning about bills and finances was at the kitchen table with my dad. I was probably 8 years old and he got out his pile of monthly bills and the checkbook. He taught me how to look at the bill and write out the check, put it in the envelope, address it, place a stamp on it and mail it. I specifically remember that there weren't many checks he had to write. I do remember that they always wrote out a "church check" for the upcoming Sunday. They faithfully tithed and I saw my Dad drop that check in the "collection plate" every Sunday.

It's a good memory for me.

I don't ever remember my parents using a credit card for anything. Maybe they did, but it wasn't a common practice. And if they did, I'm certain they paid it all off on a timely basis. They didn't take out bank loans.

My Dad started his own paralegal business when I was in high school, and I remember our family being on a very strict budget. We lived very simply. We went out to lunch after church on special days, and oh was that a treat. (Growing up in Reno, there was something amazing about casino food and buffets.)

We always took a little (modest) summer vacation. Typically we'd drive in our station wagon over the hill to San Francisco. We always had presents under the tree at Christmastime . . . of course some years were better than others. But we never felt like we were "doing without." My parents were middle America . . .  young, hard-working, PTA members and church-going dreamers. Of course your background always makes up who you are today. Mine certainly did. I absolutely love where I came from.

I've always been ambitious. And I've always had a good job. One thing I know how to do is work hard (both Tim and I are just wired that way). So when the Dayton's part-time job landed for me, I turned my $20/hour ($560 a week) job into the land of opportunity. As many of you know, CDs were recorded and I started publishing my music. We started touring, and before we knew it, Lorie Line Music was a million dollar company.

When you are an entrepreneur, most of the time you "invest in yourself" and you "invest in your business." (How many times have you heard that famous line?) We grew so fast we thought it wise to have a (million dollar) line of credit from the bank. Touring is very expensive. We'd borrow, pay it back, borrow again, pay it back. We continued to grow and thrive. The more we made, the more we could borrow. I was being responsible, right? Banks (plural) loved us.

In 2002, Lorie Line Music was awarded Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur Of The Year. It's a very coveted prize. We were on cloud nine. 

Here's where we went wrong.

We thought it would never end. 

The great recession came in 2008 and somehow we survived (but we were miserable). And then, two short years later (2010) the music industry shut down. CDs would no longer be sold to consumers. Music retail stores virtually closed their doors over night. And all of our inventory was returned to us.

Now we were going to now make our money doing something so foreign to us that I didn't quite understand it at first. Streaming. We'd now make 1/1000th of a penny if a song got played digitally. (It would take years to see a healthy check . . . if ever.

Everything came to a screeching halt. A great recession and the crash of the music business all within two years. (What else could possibly go wrong? Ha. . . you know the story is not over.

Trust me. We would have been fine . . . had we not owed any money to anyone. But we did. And now we were stuck. And we were going to lose it all. 

I was recording the album Serendipity at that time. I remember one early morning I came down the stairs to get a cup of coffee and the sun was pouring into all the windows. It was a spiritual moment for me as reality set in. I was going to have to say goodbye to this beautiful home. I was all by myself and was totally overcome with grief. Right then and there, I stood in that sunlight and prayed for God to hear me. I promised that if He would give me another chance, I would be a good steward of everything He gave me. 

I went upstairs and showered. That day I wrote and recorded "Casa Blanca Me Encanto." The white house that I love. 

Tim and I decided to change. To make new habits. (I grew up knowing this as repentance.) We had been so proud of all our accomplishments, but now we were ever so humbled. We were going to turn and walk down a new road. 

It was so painful. But today as Tim and I look back, we both know all of this was meant to be.

Because . . . in the process of our struggles, we were richly blessed. Here we were, scared and desperate, and yet together we found something ever so priceless. Something more important to us than anything and everything. 

Yes, we were reacquainted with an old friend . . . someone who would wipe away all our tears. Someone who paid it all. 

What a friend we have in Jesus . . . all our sins and griefs to bear . . . 

We mounted up. And put on the armor of God.

So I'd heard about this Dave Ramsey guy and his FINANCIAL FREEDOM program. We picked up his book THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER and started reading out loud in the car when we'd drive. I didn't have to go far into the book to see what we had to do and how to do it. We could do this! OMG. Can we do this?  Will I live long enough to make this new financial freedom thing happen? Dave says it takes nine years to get things straighted out when you are in a mess. Nine years? That would be 2019. OK. But we weren't the "typical" client with a little mess. We had a big mess. It would take us longer.

We'd work harder.

And so it began. First, every credit card was paid off. Then we sold everything we didn't need (including three investment properties) and simplified. We had an Ebay site that helped to support us and it profited us six figures the first year. We parted with anything and everything that would produce income. (We hired an Ebay manager because it was such a big project!) We let go of some things I really loved. Esmeralda (my white concert grand piano) was sold and shipped to a buyer in Hong Kong. Who needs two concert grand pianos? I'll keep the one I love.

The last thing we sold was my wedding ring. (You may have noticed it hasn't been on my hand in any photography for several years.) I promised myself I wouldn't be sad when I took it off my finger and shipped it in a small box to someone I didn't even know. In a weird way, I didn't want it anymore. It was too fancy. I was different now.

We woke up one day . . .  and it was 2019. Nine years had passed. And here we were, still in our home that we loved.

God heard my prayer. We were going to make it.

That year we came home from the holiday tour feeling pretty good. We could taste it. We were going to be totally debt free. The following week, January 7, 2020 (10 years now) I walked into the bank and made the final payment on our last bank loan. I had Tim take a picture of me with the final check in hand so that I would never forget this day.  

All of the Dave Ramsey items were now completely checked off the list. I started thinking about writing this blog. We were debt free.

And then . . . BAM!!! Yep. The story continues. (What else could possibly go wrong?

The pandemic hit.

We were once again terrified. We'd come so far! 

Our business shut down for two years. (Many of you prayed for us. I can't thank you enough.) 

I don't know how we did it, but we survived. With no touring income, we reinvented ourselves in many ways to keep our business going. Today I know the only way we made it was having no debt when we came home from that tour. We were able to hang on for two years! 

But now that I think about it, it's a pretty simple solution to a problem. No debt equals no bills.

I thank God every day for answering my prayer. I will never forget that vivid morning when I stood in the ray of sunlight . . . which sometimes feels like yesterday and other days feels like a hundred years ago.

Today I reflect back on my childhood at that kitchen table with my dad. I now have a very small pile of bills every month. And oh is it ever so wonderful.

I don't know the future. It is scary writing this because you just never know. We still could lose it all. The world is a mess. Our country is a mess. We could face WWIII, a plague, a great depression, another recession (experts say this is coming end of the year), a nuclear bombing, a cyberattack, sickness, famine, a severe energy crisis, chemical warfare, another pandemic. (I believe we will continue to face hard times for several years now.) Mount up.

One thing is for sure . . . we're all living a different reality these days and we all know that nothing is for sure anymore. 

But one thing I do know. . . I will keep my promise to be a good steward of all that He has given me for the rest of my life.

The above photo was taken on January 7, 2020 in front of our local bank. The check in my hand was our final payment on our last bank loan.

Today all Lorie Line Music projects and tours are self-funded. 

Ms. Line now wears an OURA ring on her wedding finger which has a small computer chip in it to track exercise and sleep. Her sleep patterns most nights are "optimal."

Through perseverance, hard work, creativity and answered prayers, Lorie Line Music is once again a million dollar company.

 

Click here to listen to the song Casa Blanca Me Encanto on YouTube.

FREE! Click here to download the song Casa Blanca Me Encanto.

CLICK HERE TO READ DAVE RAMSEY'S SEVEN BABY STEPS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM.

 

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THE GREATEST JOY IN LIFE/Winter Blog 2022

                                       

Before we left on tour this past Christmas, Tim and I were walking out of church. Pastor Dave yelled to us. "Hey! Lines!! I want you guys to join Alpha! It's a small group on Monday nights and I'm teaching it. I'd love to have you in my class." 

I love Pastor Dave's insight on the Bible. He is the most educated 30-something year old on scripture that I've ever met. He says he's read the Bible 10 times. I believe it. You can tell when someone has grown up with daily scripture in their house. He's one of those. His love for the word radiates all over him. His Dad and his grandfather were pastors. It's in his blood (as I say). 

Honestly, over the years Tim and I have been reluctant to be in small groups. I guess it's because of who we are and what we do. We're in the "public eye" and we rarely share any of our feelings or thoughts about anything with anyone (except each other). But we both decided it felt right. So we showed up.

We ended up settling in with a really nice group of adults our age, and for the first time ever I think there was a little magic in the air in our discussions. We went through the awkward phase of "what do you guys do?" (no one had ever seen a show or had any of my music) and the famous follow up line when Tim says "Lorie plays the piano" of "oh, do you play the piano too?"

Sitting there on Monday nights I took the opportunity to start thinking about my upcoming tour. I had no idea what to expect with COVID. But I was excited to have the opportunity to be working again. There was a sense of gravity in knowing I would be going out all by myself for the very first time in my 32 years of touring. So, on Monday nights I used some of this small group time to reflect and pray for direction on my show.

It's funny how God speaks to you. Sitting there I decided the most important thing would be to be myself . . . I guess the best way I can explain this is I wanted to be "likeable." Since I wasn't going to feature any other musicians, there would be plenty of opportunity to take my time, show my personality at the piano and be more personal this year, develop some of my touching and (hopefully) funny stories.

And proclaim my faith. 

One Monday night Dave talked about "the greatest joy in life." He's the kind of teacher that just mentions things in passing, but they stick. I wrote it down. I had never thought of this before. It would be my opening line. I loved it. Everyone could relate.

During group discussions, our friend Jeff said that the only way you get "the greatest joy in life" is by actually DOING IT. 

I wrote it down. Another great line.

I was off and running. The show started to develop in my head. I had vision. I had a theme. Opening thoughts for everyone.

So here it is.

The greatest joy in life comes from knowing God's calling for you.

And doing it.

The power of purpose. Everyone has a calling. You just have to find it. And then do it.

Well, I have definitely found my calling. And I feel so priviledged to be doing it with all of you. 

My fans are hard-working farmers, some of you are home school teachers, blue ribbon cookie bakers, quilters, Bible school teachers, counselors, missionaries, photographers, mothers and fathers, CEOs of large corporations, piano teachers, accountants, personal card makers, pastors, pastor's wives, dance instructors, fabricators, delivery people, nurses, production line workers, cooks, church pianists, attorneys, professional athletes, gardeners, electricians, doctors, cake makers, dentists, construction workers, graphic designers, landscapers, event planners, policemen (and women), buffalo and cattle ranchers, and award-winning entrepreneuers . . . and there's even one Master of Ceremonies and Bell Meister. Some of you are serving our country that we all love. The power of purpose. A sense of calling from God. 

Knowing our calling gives us the greatest joy in life because it is all for the glory of Jesus. 

It all belongs to Him. It's our gift from the Giver.

" . . .  and my Savior forever." *

Our small group ended and Tim and I left for the tour. Our new little group of friends surprised us and showed up for their very first concert at Rogers, Minnesota. It was such a joy to have them in the crowd and share many things we had learned together on Monday nights.

Let us all continue to pursue God's calling for us.

Have a blessed, purposeful and joyful 2022.

*These were my final opening words on the show this year. It was my favorite three seconds of the show. I said it 32 times, 32 nights.

The above photo was taken back stage in Eau Claire at The Pablo Center. It was the third show of the tour. Our tour bus broke down the very first night and we drove in a pickup truck pulling my piano in a trailer to make it to the show.

 

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THE SECRET INGREDIENT IN A HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE/Summer Blog 2021

I started to think about writing this blog upon hearing that Bill and Melinda Gates were divorcing after 27 years. Initially I was in disbelief. How could one of the richest and most powerful and successful couples in the whole world be so unhappy that they would end a perfectly good marriage? But almost 30 years into it (a significant investment of time), they were calling it "quits." 

What was the problem? They certainly did not have the typical stress that we all go through day-to-day. They had it all . . . yachts, planes (jets), fancy cars, fancy clothes, drivers, cooks, multiple houses, elaborate vacations, gardeners, housekeepers, money managers, personal assistants, legal teams, accountants, three beautiful children (who went to the finest schools of their choice) and friends in high places (including Presidents!). They had their health. How could they wake up one day and look at each other and say "this is not enough. I want something more. I want something different." They had absolutely EVERYTHING!

Everything . . .  everything but the secret ingredient.

Some of my closer friends have asked me over the years to share my "tips" on having a happy marriage. They look at Tim and me and say "we want that!" I want to confess that not every day in our 35-year marriage has been happy. 

Like most couples, we have been through a lot. We work closely together every day (our desks are right next to each other . . . or we are on a tour bus) and we have built a fabulous business with fabulous fans that we love. Some years have been wonderful and other years heartbreaking. We've raised two adopted children. Some of those days have been so joyful and full of pride, glorious and happy, other days the saddest in our life. Like all of you, we deal with family dynamics and some days we are encouraged . . . other days discouraged. 

But I must say, it has been the hard years and hard times that made us start looking for the secret ingredient. We didn't know specifically what it was, we just knew there was something more out there and we had to have it.

We eventually found it.

One day, after looking for years and years, it just came to us. And the interesting part of our story is that it came to both of us at the exact same moment in our life. BAM!  We figured it out!

I honestly don't think we said anything to each other about it. We just knew.

The secret ingredient . . .  was Jesus.

Now, if someone had told me this 15 or 20 years ago, I would have been "too cool" for this supernatural revelation. The "Jesus lover" Christian was just a bit too much for me, too pushy, too "goody two-shoes" for both Tim and me. Preachy people like this just made me uncomfortable. I ran from them. (They were the kind of Christians that you avoided at church. Ha!) After all, I had it all figured out by myself, right?

Wrong.

Now you can be "happily" married, go to church three times a week, have a good job and pay your bills on time, pray at the dinner table with your children . . .  and still not have the secret sauce in your life. There's much more to it than just talking a good talk, walking a good walk and merely going through the motions. 

So how do you know if you've found the secret ingredient? How do you know that you've really found Jesus? Let me just say, trust me, you'll know. Because it's all you think about. It's on your heart non-stop, 24 hours a day. There is a slight lump in your throat all the time. Because you've finally found Him. 

And you'll never let Him go.

May you and the one you love be encouraged to find the everlasting love of Jesus Christ. 

The secret ingredient for true happiness. In all things.

Grab His hand and never let it go.

 

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THE STATE OF MINNEAPOLIS/Winter Blog 2021

 

                                                             

THE STATE OF MINNEAPOLIS/Winter Blog 2021

After I met Tim on that fateful airplane flight and he asked me to marry him, the most exciting thing (other than being married to him) was the fact that we were moving to Minneapolis. I'd always lived in Reno, a small town, and honestly I was scared to death, but moving with someone like Tim gave me some comfort and confidence that I would be ok.

When we'd tell people we were moving to Minneapolis, they'd share in the joy and excitement. People who had been to this city before were giddy when they talked about the grocery stores with chandeliers and carpet. (I think this is what people mentioned first!) Then, everyone said it was a very clean and safe downtown . . . they described it as a mini-New York, very cosmopolitan in feel, with great food and restaurants. There was a description of these "skyways" and I tried to visualize how that might work. Most people always mentioned there was "great shopping" and an amazing department store called Dayton's. It had beautiful store-front windows, an 8th floor auditorium with theme displays, also a wonderful top floor restaurant, a fabulous trim-the-tree shop at Christmastime, a tunnel underneath with a food court, and a main floor cosmetic area with red carpet and beautiful women spraying perfume on you in every aisle. Most importantly, there was a special women's area called The Oval Room, and everyone said it was a MUST, that it had the best designer clothes in the midwest. Sure, it was cold, but you learned how to dress for it, get around (in the skyways), and you would have to have a car that was good in the snow. I'd never heard of a snow parade, but sure enough, it was called The Holidazzle Parade, and it was a winter tradition, not to miss (who would ever imagine I'd be the snow queen/grand master one day!?). The music scene was fabulous and the two orchestras were the finest in the country. And the State Fair? Ha! I couldn't even picture it.

I was excited. I couldn't wait to take in all these amazing things.

The wonderful city of Minneapolis.

A city I would love.

Sure enough, Minneapolis did not disappoint. Tim and I made our way to see EVERYTHING and experience it all. What a wonderful, wonderful place. For probably 25 years, everything was "golden." (We've lived here 34 years.)

Today . . . I am saddened to say that Minneapolis has changed and it is not the place it used to be. Some places you would not even recognize. With all the riots, over 300 neighborhood businesses have been burned to the ground (almost a year ago). Damages are estimated at $500 million dollars and there is still no plan to help rebuild these small businesses. With the lockdown order in affect for a year now, over 100 restaurants have permanently closed (many of them were our favorites . . . Vincent's, Goodfellows, Lucia's to name a few). There are no longer any beautiful downtown stores . . . over the years Neiman Marcus closed, SAKS FIFTH AVENUE closed, and Dayton's became a Macy's, which became an office space . . . which to this day I do not think has a single tenant. And our downtown (week-long) Lorie Line Christmas show was moved out to many of the surrounding suburbs. 

Downtown used to be so fun. It was such a happening place! What Minneapolis used to be is now just a memory, a great memory.

And it is hard to know what to do.

Many people are moving . . . to Florida, Texas and Tennessee (we just updated our data base and there were over 3000 changes of addresses). So, in January Tim and I got in our car and drove to Florida. We took three weeks to think about where we might want to live. Our first stop was in Nashville. We just so happened to be there on a Sunday so we popped into Brentwood Baptist Church. I knew since we were in Nashville the music would be good, but wow, I don't think I've ever heard anything like this before. (I am still singing "Graves Into Gardens"). We then headed (for fun) down to Laurel, Mississippi where the famous HGTV HOME TOWN show is filmed with Ben and Erin. (We had a ball stopping in their stores and Ben's shop.) Laurel is charming . . .  but probably not a hot bed for a musician like me. So, onward we drove to Florida (where we have spent quite a bit of time touring). Our best meal was in Tampa. The weather was mid-70's all week. No rain. Spectacular. We then went to Sarasota where our son now lives, then to Orlando to celebrate Tim's mother's 80th birthday. We saw it all. It was such a nice break.

But not a break-through for us.

I'm not sure why. I guess it's because Minnesota means so much to me . . . it's where I got my start, established my name, my career. Tim and I first started our marriage here (day one) and the memories of raising two children will forever be . . . Minnesota.

In the three weeks, we drove 4000 miles. We were so excited to drive back home that we made the trip in just two days. (Vacations make you love leaving, and love coming back.

Snow was on the ground and everything was so beautiful when we arrived and drove into our driveway.

The first thing we did was shovel. The second thing we did was go to Costco to stock our empty refrigerator. I did not mind either task . . . in fact the older I get, the more I love the four seasons of Minnesota (I can't believe I am saying this) and my favorite place to shop is Costco (I can't believe I am saying this).

So . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I guess we aren't moving anywhere for now. I love my farmer and rancher fans in this part of the world who come to see me every year. And all my piano-playing friends. I love opening my home for The Living Room Series and entertaining fans who love me. I love my schedule, my employees and the musicians I work with, I love my church, my friends, my gardens, living and boating on Lake Minnetonka, and yes, the four seasons.

And even shoveling. 

As we approach the upcoming George Floyd trials in our city (March 8th), please pray that our leaders will make good decisions and keep us safe. 

Hopefully we will someday rebuild and revitalize our downtown city once again. 

Only He can turn graves into gardens.

The wonderful city of Minneapolis.

A city that I will always love. 

Lyrics to Graves Into Gardens

"You turn mourning to dancing. You give beauty for ashes. You turn shame into glory. You're the only one who can.

You turn graves into gardens. You turn bones into armies. You turn seas into highways. You're the only one who can.

Oh, there's nothing better than You, there's nothing better than You, Lord, there's nothing, nothing better than You." 

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BE NOT AFRAID/Fall Blog 2020

My grandfather was an amazing person. 

My first memory of sitting at a table with a white table cloth and a white linen napkin was with him. I was 7 years old and we were eating in downtown Phoenix at the Arizona Club. He was a very successful businessman and was the President of Arizona Sash & Door. He and my grandmother took me everywhere and proudly introduced me. "My granddaughter plays the piano." He had quite the personality. He taught me how to "look people in the eye," and carry on a good conversation. From an early childhood, I remember him teaching me how to respond to a question with a complete sentence. He (and my grandmother) taught me good manners. I was well-behaved and I did not want to ever disappoint him. I wanted to make him proud (until the day he died).

I spent every summer with my grandparents for 10 years, starting at age 7. I'd save my babysitting money, pay one way, and they'd pay my way home. It was my favorite time of year. They paid attention to me. And although I was one of 10 grandchildren, they always made me feel (the most) special. (Today I know they did that for the other nine grandkids as well.) Everyone got a nickname.

He was the kind of person where you never wanted to leave his side. . . because he was going to do something interesting and you didn't want to miss it.

He had a shop out back and my favorite smell to this day is the smell of a shop . . . gasoline, wood, oil, machines, tools, cars, engines. He was always making or fixing something. I'd spend hours standing by his side in that memorable Arizona night heat, talking to him. 

My grandfather loved hobbies. He was always doing SOMETHING. If we weren't in the shop, we were in his garden picking melons. Or learning a new hymn at the piano after dinner, singing all the parts. He'd shuck corn, can beets, and if we were just talking around the dining room table, he'd crack walnuts. He (and my grandmother) would speak Spanish (fluently) when he didn't want me to know what he was saying. Actually, I think he was kind of showing off. He was brilliant in every way.

Charlie Mann. He loved his name.

Every day he got dressed up. He wore beautiful clothes and fancy designer shoes (thanks to my grandmother) even though he'd just be at home alone for the day. He'd put on a hat if he went outside (Arizona sun) and I remember that he always wore cologne and something sticky in his thick, curly hair. Before bed, he'd put on his burgandy silk pajamas and crawl into bed and pull out his Bible. My grandmother and I would sit at his bedside and he'd read a beautiful passage of scripture out loud to us. He'd make daily applications from the reading. . .  some things which I will always remember. We'd pray, then he'd affectionately hug and kiss me on the cheek goodnight. When I'd leave his room, he'd write in his journal about his day. (I secretly and selfishly always hoped he would write something special about me.) His Bible and his journal sat beside his bed on his nightstand until the day he died. 

Like I said, my grandfather was an amazing person. Extraordinary.

Today I look back and with these challenging times before us I now know the secret ingredient in his soul.

He was not afraid. 

* * *

In August we toured North Dakota. Although most everything in the country was shut down due to COVID restrictions, we'd been invited to perform in an old opera house in Maddock. A woman named Carol Backstrom called us earlier in the year, and we booked the date. Although everyone in the country was in total fear of the virus, we wanted to go. We were not afraid.

When Carol invited us, she explained that the stage of the opera house was located up on the second floor of the building, and there was no elevator to get my piano up to that area. There were very steep stairs and of course, my 1450 pound piano would never be able to be pulled or pushed up that flight. But, have no fear! They assured me in the beginning that they would figure it out. The whole town was excited to have me, and there were plenty of creative people who would get my piano up to the second floor of this old building.

With so much going on with the COVID situation, I kind of forgot about the upcoming challenge of moving a concert grand piano to a second floor of an old opera house. (It was one of those things where you put it in the back of your mind.) But, apparently, Tim assured me they had it all figured out. All I knew was they had the EXACT measurements of my piano. We were doing it.

When we got there, sure enough, everyone was waiting outside the opera house in the side alley. And, boy did they have the gear . . . a special forklift, a custom built plank just for my piano, and a dozen men all in on the quest of "getting Lorie Line's piano up to the second floor of the opera house." They warmly greeted us, jumped in right away and opened the back of our truck, and started moving the piano out onto the special lift they had built . . . just for me. (Ahh. . . engines, wood, oil, gasoline . . . the smell of the shop.) 

These men were like my grandfather. I was in good hands. Never once did I think they'd drop my piano. They had totally prepared for this day. There was something special about them. They were not afraid.

In 15 minutes, they moved the piano up into the air to a small man-size door and basically popped it in to the opera house. It was effortless. At the end of the night my piano went back down (in the dark), the same way it came up.

It was a magical and very memorable day.

That night, before I got into the truck to go back to Minnesota, two of the men (Paul and John) came to me and asked if they could pray for me. They laid their hands on me, and said the most beautiful words I've ever heard . . . for a woman they'd just met that day. 

Do you know that "Be Not Afraid" is stated 365 times in the Bible?!! As I get out of bed, it is now my first thought of every day. And as I venture out on a tour that will be the most challenging time of my life, I will think and meditate on these things.

(Isaiah 41:10) Be not afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

You can bet that I will be returning to Maddock, North Dakota. And soon.

WATCH THIS VIDEO! Click here to meet the town and see my piano being hoisted up two stories in Maddock, North Dakota.

Pictured above is one of the earliest photos I have with my grandfather. I was two years old in this photo (1960).

Notice who I'm standing by. (He was probably telling me to stand still and "smile!")

(Pictured left to right . . . my grandfather Charlie Mann, my father Dale, my mother Lorraine, my aunt Lorna, my aunt Loretta, and Frances, my grandmother. In the front Lorie and my brother Chip.) Everyone is still living (all in their 80s) except my grandparents.

My nickname was "Punkin-O".

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS TO THE UPCOMING CHRISTMAS TOUR 

 

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LEMONADE/Summer Blog 2020

I think everyone has a least favorite job. Mine would be going to our warehouse.

This is where we keep all of the set pieces, Christmas trees, lighting, sound gear, tree decorations, crosses, Twelve Days of Christmas costumes for the kids, my traveling piano case (it's huge), all of the previously worn band and orchestra costumes and my gowns.

And my music.

When we tour, we always load and unload from the warehouse. It's my least favorite job because we share the space with other tenants and it's dusty, dark and cold inside, and unorganized because it's not just our space. There's nothing pretty about it. Concrete floors. And it always involves heavy lifting, moving, stacking and finding a spot to put things. I do not go to the warehouse unless I absolutely have to. 

In March when we got home from our 22-city "Sunshine Tour," we made our regular pit stop to off-load everything from the truck back into this space. (I was so excited. NOT!). But at least we were pulling up during normal day hours. (Typically after the last Christmas show in LaCrosse, we end up off-loading until 2:00 in the morning.)

This time I saw things differently. And simply felt overwhelmed.

All I could see were boxes and boxes (and boxes) of my music. It was a reality that just hit me hard that day. I have sooo much music. I could tour until I was 100 years old, and never be able to sell all of this. It's a shame. All this music is paid for (and has been for years). All my hard work is just sitting here in boxes. What should I do?

I told Tim "we should just give it all away." And then, it came to me. OK, I will practically give it away. Discount it so that people can't resist. Make it affordable so that anyone who wants to play Lorie Line music has the opportunity to do so.

Tim suggested that I run sales and change it up quickly, so that no one would get bored. BAM! Three days and it's a new promotion. Get the fans excited. Make them wonder what's next.

Seeing all of this music in the warehouse, I wanted to take it home. Tim thought there'd be no way to find room to store it, but I convinced him that we should try. It was just so much that we had to really think about reorganizing our own small warehouse space underneath our garage. But both Tim and I were inspired. A new project. And we had no plans until Mother's Day (The Living Room Series). So we had some time. And then this happened.

Three days later the virus hit. Everyone was in lockdown mode all across the country.

And a new theme just popped into my head.

STAY HOME AND PLAY THE PIANO.

And so it began. We sorted and threw out overstocked CD artwork (tens of thousands of inserts . . . I wanted to cry), and made room for all the good stuff to sell. I've never seen Tim so addicted to such a task, but he got up every day and made a trip down the road to get more boxes of music. All of which he brought home to our newly organized personal space.

I made a list of all of the promotions I would put out to my fans. And took a breath when I first saw me write down $15 for a music book. $5 for a CD. We were doing it.

We were going to make lemonade out of lemons.

Twice a week I hopped out of bed at 6:30AM and went down to my computer to e-blast all my fans (all of you) the next latest greatest Lorie Line sale of the century. Many days I filled over 100 individual orders. It did me good to see all of my music going back out that door, back into my trunk and off to the post office to a new home . . . someone who loved playing and listening to Lorie Line. Honestly, it's been a long time since I've had so much fun.

I want to thank all of you for supporting me over the past few months. Thank you, thank you. I know that many of you have been thinking of me and praying for me during these trying times. I want you all to know that we are doing well. 

When the great recession came about in 2008, and then the music business crashed in 2012, I promised God I would be a better steward of all that He gave me.

We are now planning the upcoming Christmas tour.  Many of the venues that we travel to have different (and complex) restrictions, so I have decided to go out on my own (with a special featured vocalist) for my first solo piano Christmas tour. I've been feeling it's time to reinvent myself again so I am really excited about this. Another chance to make lemonade.

The photo above - Tim made dozens of trips to get all the music home. (I still think I need a little black truck, don't you think?)

Three photos below - I couldn't get all of the music in this shot, but this will give you an idea of where we started (one wall - there were three).

I'm sharing a picture of the newly organized space underneath our garage. And a picture of the entrance into that space.

I now go to my own music warehouse every day, first thing in the morning. It's warm, it's clean, it's organized. And it even has its own chandelier. Gotta love it.

 

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TOURING 30 YEARS (1989 - 2019)/Winter Blog 2019

I got a late start.

Most people just assume I started touring in my early 20s, fresh out of college. But that's not the way it happened for me.

And I'm so glad.

I was 31 years old when I went out on my very first tour. I had been working at Dayton's for a year, and we decided to travel to a couple of cities and share my holiday music from the stage. We had pockets of fans around the midwest (I had started a data base), so we gathered up a couple of musicians, and drove in cars together for our first appearance in a few nearby towns.

For the next four years while I was at Dayton's (1988-1993), I'd take a little time off from playing in the store and Tim would take vacation days from Josten's (where he was employed full time). We added a few cities each year to the tour schedule. Little did we know that something so small would become so big.

Two years into it and Tim quit his job (his very good job that supported us . . . and moved us to Minnesota) and he became my tour manager. Overnight we became entrepreneurs with no regular income or paycheck, and boy, were we scared. But early on we decided we would stick together. (I wasn't going to go on the road by myself.) So Tim immediately had a big job in our little company and we went together on every tour. Sometimes it was painful because we had to leave our kids with someone to care for them.

As I mentioned, I'm glad that I got a late start. It was meant to be, a God thing. Had I started earlier, I wouldn't have been ready (or mature enough) and I know now that I probably would have made some very poor decisions. The first bad decision would have been to sign with a label. It was trendy, the "thing" to do, and there were some very popular labels signing artists like me, specifically Windham Hill, Narada, and Sony, to name a few. I had offers from all three, but now well into my 30s, something just didn't feel quite right. (The Holy Spirit was speaking to me . . . and at that time in my life I didn't understand or know the Holy Spirit.) Tim and I made several trips to meet Presidents and Vice Presidents of labels, and one time we ended up in New York City. It was our very first visit and the romance of the city almost persuaded us to sign with Sony that week. But for some reason, we didn't.

Had I signed, I would have been so locked up . . . for years. Disputes, legal arrangements, who gets what, and where I'd go on tour would have all been debatable. (And I probably wouldn't have met you, my fans.) But being my own boss, I was allowed the freedom to go where I wanted, play the music I wanted to play, hire the musicians I loved, and work with Tim (who says I'm unmanageable when people ask him "are you her manager?") We kept it all. One hundred percent. And now, when I look back, I am so glad we made some very good decisions in the early days of my career. It was the secret to our success. 

Of course we made some bad decisions too. There are so many things today I would have done differently. Because now I'm in my 60s. But it's all about learning, growing, changing, adapting, recovering, forgiving (both myself and others) . . . all the while being so thankful how far I've come and where I am today.

Yes, each year of touring has been different, challenging in its own way. I estimate that I've traveled over 300,000 miles. And I have lived about 5 years of my life (in the last thirty years) on a tour bus (or in the front cab of a truck). Today I can say that being on the road has truly built character. With each mile, I feel like I have become closer to God. I've traveled a lot of miles. So I'm starting to figure it out.

My new original song for this year's recording is called Holy Is His Name. My favorite character in the Christmas story has always been Mary. In Luke (chapter one), Luke tells the great story of how Mary went to see Elizabeth, her cousin, when she was pregnant. When she arrives, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant with John, adores her and their conversation is simply precious. Elizabeth celebrates her and calls her blessed and then she says, "and how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to (visit) me?" Mary praises and exalts the Lord and says "for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name."

This is how I feel . . . of course, and certainly my calling has been on a much smaller scale, but . . . how is it that it happened to me, that I might be chosen to share the magnificient story of the Mighty One each and every year with adoring fans, for thirty consecutive years! For the Mighty One has done great things for me.

Holy is His name.

Since I first started touring, each and every year fans have asked me, "how long will you do this?" I have always had the exact same answer. Every year I say the same thing.

Ten more years.

Yes, I have said that now for thirty years. And I will say it once again, and for the next ten years.

Because . . . you see, I believe the best is yet to come.

So . . . I'll see you next year. And you can know that I'm so looking forward to it.

All my love,

The photo at the top was taken three years ago as I went out on my very first solo piano tour (2016). No band. Just me, all by myself. Tim and I put my piano in the back of this Penske truck and drove to Nashville and boarded a tour bus. We then pulled a trailer with my piano in it. Today I love touring solo and I spend many hours in the middle seat in the cab of a truck.

The above photo was taken in my dressing room at Orchestra Hall in probably 1991 (28 years ago). I was 33 years old at the time and I believe my mom introduced me that night. The girls at the cosmetic counter at Dayton's helped me with my makeup (and eventually talked me into growing out my hair and "glamming up.") I purchased the dress from Dayton's Oval Room with my 20% discount. The next year I returned and my very good friend and next door neighbor Cindy Hillger (news anchor at WCCO at the time) introduced me. I have very fond memories specifically of these two years.

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A NOTE ON THE FRIDGE/Fall Blog 2019

 

Last year on my summer solo piano tour I went to Fairbault, Minnesota. (If you read my blogs, that was the day we met Leo.) A lot happened in Fairbault that day, I guess. And some things I didn't even know about until much later.

That night was memorable for me. The audience was just great. It's a small theatre, so the energy goes straight to the stage, which I love. Everyone laughed at my stories. I played well. And we worked particularly hard that day getting the piano in and out of the truck. (It actually was the most exhausting day on the tour . . .  but the most rewarding.)

After the show, apparently there was an older gentleman who came up to Tim and casually talked with him. This happens night after night, and Tim is very good about making everyone feel welcome. He engages in all kinds of conversations. He's the kind of guy who will remember your name . . . city to city . . . night after night . . . year after year.

I'll let you in on a little secret.

He writes things down. In his city file (that he takes with him on every tour), he makes notes about all of you, the fans. That way, when he sees you the next time, he is truly engaging, follows up on the last conversation, calls you by name, asks about the kids. He has a knack for it and I'm proud to say that my fans love him as much (or more) than me. 

Back to my story . . . and what happened that night. (And Tim did not tell me about all of this until months later when we were on the holiday tour.)

It was a simple question.

"Does Lorie play for funerals or memorial services?"

Tim was a little taken back, but laughed and said, "yes . . . Lorie plays for everyone and everything."

That was it. (And as Tim later recalled meeting this guy, he said he did not look sick.)

They talked and laughed some more. 

As he walked off, Tim yelled "she'll be there!"

Six months later, we were on the tour bus doing the holiday show. It was a typical early morning where we were up front in the lounge of the bus, having coffee, balancing our tour account and checking our emails and voice mails. Tim looked at me and said, "he died." I said, "who died?" He said, "that nice gentleman that came up to me at the Fairbault show."

I told Tim I had no idea what or who he was talking about. 

And that's when he replayed the night and shared the wonderful story of Walter Lee Harmer.

Walter Lee Harmer was a huge super fan. He was a brilliant research chemist and physicist (who believed in God) and had followed me for years. He loved the piano and he loved me. 

Walter had passed away. His son Rich emailed Tim that morning and wanted me to come and play his funeral. Unfortunately, I was on a tour, and it wasn't going to happen. Being self-employed entrepreneurs, we are realists and neither Tim nor I ever thought we'd hear from the Harmer family again. You know how it is . . . time passes by, life goes on. 

But sure enough, when we got home, Rich contacted us again. They had held Walter's funeral in Minnesota, but he also had an Arizona winter home and Arizona friends, and they wanted me to come to Tucson to play for his memorial service.

What? Arizona in January? We'd love to come.

This would mean airline flights, a hotel, a rental car, and bringing in a nice piano for an hour service. Is this truly happening? Yes. We were going.

We went to the community where Walter lived during the winter months, and drove up to the gates where a guard opened them and let us in. 

We were at a trailer park. There was a huge sign that said VOTED BEST IN THE NATION. I'd never been anywhere like this before.

We went to the recreation room, and there was a beautiful grand piano waiting for me. We were early, but the family was all there. They introduced themselves and Walter's daughter said, "we knew you'd come."

"How did you know I would come? Was Walter sick? Did he tell you about me in his dying days?" What the heck.

Walter was not sick. No one expected him to die. He didn't have cancer. Or heart disease. There was no sign of this day coming. He had had an unexpected stroke. And died shortly thereafter. 

Once again I asked how they knew about me.

"How did you know Walter wanted me here? Did he tell someone?"

No.

He simply left a note on his refrigerator.

Have Lorie Line play my memorial service when I die.

I've thought about this a lot. Because if he wasn't sick, that note must have been on his refrigerator a long, long time. 

Life once again took me down another road we would have never traveled on if I didn't play the piano.

And I'm so glad I do.

The top photo was taken at the Voyager RV Resort in Tucson, Arizona. It is an unbelievable place and we met some of the nicest people ever. Some random people walked by and we asked them to take this photo of us. They just so happened to be from Minnesota.

The bottom photo was taken at the entrance gates to the park. 
 
I don't remember ever meeting Walter Lee Harmer. But I'm sure I would have loved him too.
Walter Lee Harmer (1937-2018)

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ROCK STAR/Summer Blog 2019

I guess the idea started to come to me two years ago. It was the famous audience request “medley” that did it.

There was a new request in the air. Every night it was Bohemian Rhapsody. Sure, I’d played rock songs for years . . . specifically Free Bird and Stairway To Heaven for all the rocker dudes in my crowd (and at Dayton’s). But Bohemian Rhapsody was the newest and hottest request. 

For a whole year I wrote down that request on my medley pad of paper, but ignored it, thinking it wasn’t even possible to play (I guess I should say play it WELL). Everyone in the audience would laugh when the song got shouted out. Obviously, they were thinking the same thing. Ha! Ha! Ha! 

This happened night after night in every city. And some other songs started to get shouted out on a regular basis . . . AfricaDon’t Stop Believin’Rocket Man.

Was rock making a come-back?

A whole year went by and I was getting ready to go back out on the road for the Christmas tour again. Knowing I would get Bohemian Rhapsody requested night after night, I decided to at least look at the music. My friend Elliott from Schmitt Music sent it to me and I stuffed it in my wardrobe case at the last minute. I decided I would learn to play a few lines at rehearsals and continue on the road at sound check every night. 

After about a week, I had the first part learned and memorized, and the ending, but all of the middle and difficult section (the operatic L’istesso section) would be too much to learn on a stage with no lights, no music stand on my piano or my TASCAM in front of me (so I could listen to the actual recording). But, night number one, here it comes. 

Bohemian Rhapsody!

I was ready. I played my few learned lines and it was a hit. And I had a good ending.

And thus it began. Could I take rock music and make it spectacularly beautiful on the piano? 

Yes. 

It was a new beginning for me. A new challenge was before me.

And so my song list began for the project. Africa, Don’t Stop Believin’, Free Bird, Stairway To Heaven, and Rocket Man made the list. And of course Bohemian Rhapsody

This would be the biggest project in my career. 

Before I started, Tim and I ran by the song titles to all the copyright holders. I was so anxious and excited that the three-week time frame for approvals felt like six months. And then we heard back. 

None of the songs were approved. Every single one of them was denied. (I quickly learned that rock publishing rights are tricky and difficult to obtain.)

I remember that day very clearly. I put on the armor of God. It was cold outside and I bundled up and went out and shoveled snow, and asked the Almighty One to bless me.

In the end, He did. I got even more than I had hoped for and some interesting songs that I would have never chosen . . .  but love, love, love. 

Once we were granted approvals, I started learning the music. My routine life changed immediately and I was up and going (with a beautiful fluffy cappuccino made by Tim) and at the piano in my pajamas at 7:00 AM (it was still dark outside when I first started the project) every day, absorbing this strange but wonderful music that I actually grew up listening to on the radio. Each day was new and different, so exciting. I became a student. A student of rock music. How can I play that on the piano . . . ALL of the parts, including the melody? How can I create a pianistic performance styled arrangement of this great song?

I’m not kidding. Every song became my favorite. I listened to all of the original recordings over and over, measure by measure, note by note, to capture the nuances and the details, especially the lead vocal line. When I got to Stairway To Heaven, I physically got goosebumps and weepy. I still have no idea what the song is about, but when the drums came in it felt like something I’d never heard before. (OK. I have heard that song a million times, but not like this.) That morning as I learned this song . . . the sun came up. 

And the heavens opened before me.

I enjoyed every single day putting this project together and am actually sad it is done. I will have to do another one. ROCK STAR II.

By the way, I titled this project ROCK STAR because my 30-year old daughter always says that to me. “Mom, you’re such a rock star.” I’ve honestly never thought of myself as a rock star.

But I’ll take it.

This is Ms. Line’s 58threcording and most ambitious work to date. She is celebrating 30 years of touring.

ROCK STAR releases the last week of June, 2019. 

Photography above by Joel Larson. Hair by Dave Hermann. Styling and makeup by Lorie Line.

 

 

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TIDYING UP/Spring Blog 2019

I'm organized. I think this is one of the main "ingredients" you have to have if you're going to be successful. I know where everything is, what I have, and it is neat and tidy. My close friends are surprised that they can come to my house at any time and it is always the same . . . the bed is made, bathroom is wiped down, clothes are hung up, laundry is done, dishes are done and the sink is sparkling, and nothing is really out of place.

"When do you clean?"

I don't have an official day to clean. I clean continually, when it's dusty or dirty . . . all day, every day. I look at something and say, "oh, I should dust that" or "I should polish that" and I do it right away.

What I've learned along the way is it's easier to clean when you have less. The more you have, the more maintenance it requires. (And, try moving ALL of your furniture into the garage once a month . . . that's what we do for The Living Room Series! You simplify and quickly learn to eliminate things you do not love.) 

This past tour my percussionist was reading a book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. When she talked about it, she sparkled. How could anyone be so excited about cleaning the house? At first I thought, "I don't need that book. I'm tidier than anyone I know." But, I had some extra time (and I actually like to clean, which is weird, I know) so in Wausau I went to the downtown local book store and bought the book. 

In my dressing room, I started reading. I couldn't put it down. There was so much for me to learn. I actually got excited. I couldn't wait to get home to begin. 

I decided that my overall goal would be to touch everything. If it didn't "spark joy" as Marie says, it would go. I would open every single drawer, every single cabinet and cupboard, pull it out, look at it, clean it (dust or polish it . . . ha!), sort and get rid of absolutely everything I didn't think I would use, and then neatly put it all back. This would mean that I was going to go through my entire kitchen and pantry, all of the linen closets, the mudroom and laundry room, my library of books and music books, all of our CDs, personal and professional photos, all of my work files, our office supplies, cleaning supplies, our kids rooms, all of the bathrooms, jewelry, cosmetics, Tim's things, and finally, every single piece of my own personal clothing. Omg.

I got home on Christmas Eve. And started in. At first it was easy because I began with the already neat and tidy areas (my kitchen and catering dishes). But then it got more complex. I worked every day on something. I'd walk by a cabinet and say, "oh no. I forgot about that." 

One month later we had made 14 trips to Goodwill and Interfaith Outreach. We'd made two trips out to our dumpster at the warehouse. We disposed of a car-load of old computers through our local recycling company, and made a huge pile of paperwork to shred. 

Finally, I made my way up to my own closet. I took everything out, (re-hung it all on beautiful wooden hangers that matched), washed and ironed or steamed garments that I had fallen out-of-love with (but they had potential), and folded everything "Kondo" style. The hardest drawer for me was leggings, tights, socks, pajamas and underwear. But I made it. 

Along the way, Tim jumped in. He was in charge of all the house files, the old Lorie Line Music files (stored in the mechanical room), the manuals, all of the old electronics and computers and all our music collection. 

One of the highlights of this project was burning our collection of CDs onto Tim's computer. (We decided we would burn all of our CDs onto Tim's computer and then pass them along.) While we worked, we actually played and listened to music . . . complete CDs!!! From the first song to the last song, we enjoyed every note and remembered the first time hearing this old music we'd had in our collection for over 30 years. (I couldn't wait to hear the next CD that we had saved.) It made tidying joyful. In all, Tim burned 1152 CDs onto his laptop. Every day for six weeks we listened to old music that was once again new to us. We laughed and cried as we shared so many beautiful memories together. 

I know it's somewhat emotional to tidy up. Some people just can't do it. For me, I kept asking myself, "if I had to move into a brand new smaller house, would I take this? Do I love it? Do I really use this? Does it "spark joy" for me?" The whole experience of tidying up was liberating. My house now has a different energy because it is organized from top to bottom. And I absolutely love everything in it.

I finished every drawer, every cupboard, every cabinet and closet in the house. 

I touched it all.

My blogs are written to inspire others.

Pictured above is my personal closet. People are surprised that it is so small. My performance gowns are stored at my warehouse.

Speaking of which, the day we finished tidying up our house, our warehouse owner called and said the main tenant was taking over and we had to downsize and move into a smaller space. We took a breath, and decided there was no time like the present. We were in the mood. We had practiced. Here we go! One more round.

We spent 10 (long and grueling) days and nights out at our warehouse sorting and tidying up. 

My theatrical warehouse sale is Friday and Saturday, February 22, 23, (9:00 - 5:00 PM) off-site at The Black Forest Inn Banquet Room in Uptown Minneapolis. Come and get it!  

FOR MORE INFORMATION https://www.lorieline.com/news.php?ID=119

Tim and Lorie have lived in their home for 22 years. Tim plans to tidy up the garage this spring. (I just told him I wrote this in my blog. He is laughing.)

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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 and consideration 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.

I think EVERYONE has a gift. 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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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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