In the very early days at Dayton's, I remember taking over at the piano for one of the more experienced pianists at the downtown Minneapolis store. Her shift was up and I was next to serenade shoppers. She was in a hurry and couldn't chat long because she was off to play a private party that night. A private party? I asked her how she got hired, and she told me that merely placing a business card on the piano got her the job.
Oh, I was excited! I could do this! Surely I could play private parties! I would get all dressed up, and make my way into some of the most beautiful homes in the Twin Cities to play for them for a few hours on the piano. The food! The beautiful people! The spectacular homes!
Hopefully I would get hired.
So, I printed business cards and started putting them out on the piano every time I played. And just in case, I brought my day timer along with me.
Sure enough. Bam! I got hired. I was off and running.
I started supplementing my meager department store income. I worked every job that was offered to me.
In the five years that I played for Dayton's, I was hired for over 300 events. Some days I played the piano 11 hours. I'd play five hours for Dayton's, then hop in my car and go and play two back-to-back holiday parties. I'd get home at midnight. It was certainly an exciting time in my life and to this day, some of my favorite moments of playing the piano were during these years. (And I still have some of the friends who took a chance on me, and hired me to play for their special occasion.)
Some fans started "memorizing" my schedule. I always played at Southdale on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes people would be waiting for me and they'd stay and listen (standing) for a couple of hours. We'd get to know each other through my music, I made hundreds . . . maybe thousands of friends.
One Sunday afternoon at Southdale a young man walked up to me and asked if I played for weddings. Of course! He told me the date he was going to get married and I opened up my day timer and booked the date.
I wondered why the groom was hiring me. Typically it was the bride (and her mother) that would come and see me. Well, I could tell that Ric was up to something special. He took a breath and asked if I would consider writing an original song for his bride for their wedding day. It would be his gift to her. I definitely was all in, and he happily walked away.
A few months later, as the wedding was approaching, I started to work on the original song. Nothing would come to me. I sat down several times and struggled to even come up with a single pretty melody line. I guess I just wasn't inspired because I didn't know the bride. And I knew nothing about her, just her name.
The wedding was coming up on Saturday, and Ric called me on Wednesday and asked if he could come over and hear the new song that I would be playing for his beautiful bride. I struggled to come up with words. I can only recall saying, "Ric, I am just putting the final touches on the song . . . and I want it to be a surprise for you too."
"Oh, and by the way, can you tell me more about Pam?"
Ric told me that his bride was a talented seamstress and quilter who loved to create clothing for family and friends. In that instant, I was flooded with memories . . . the sound of my mother's sewing maching whirring in the background at night as I drifted off to sleep . . . waking up the next morning to find a new outfit hanging on my bedroom door. Shopping for fabric. Recital dresses, competition dresses . . . my mother spending endless hours at the sewing machine.
You see, my grandmother was the one who taught my mother how to sew. And when I was little, my grandmother made many dresses for me. She always saved a remnant. And when I turned 21 years old, she put all the dresses into a quilt and gave the quilt to me as a special gift for my birthday.
All these memories flooded back to me in that five minute conversation with Ric.
And now I knew Pam. I loved her!
That night I sat down at the piano. In 10 minutes, the composition "Threads of Love" came to life.
Three days later I played the song at their wedding. It was a hit. Many people came up and encouraged me to record the tune. So I did, and I took a picture of the quilt that my grandmother made me and it became the cover for the album.
In 1992 we released the album, Threads of Love, and it took off in gift stores across the country. That led to major retail interest, which put us on the map in the music world. (Musicland was the giant in the industry and the first large music store to carry my music. The remaining retailers in the industry all followed.)
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this song would launch my career and become my signature piece.
This year we celebrate the 30th year anniversary of a pretty song, dedicated to a woman I never met . . . until her wedding day.
CONGRATULATIONS TO RIC AND PAM FOR NOW OVER 30 YEARS OF MARRIAGE!
PICTURED BELOW (six photos)
Lorie with her mother and daughter - featured Threads of Love article December 1998 in AMERICAN PATCHWORK & QUILTING
Lorie and her (85-year old) mother. Photo taken 22 years later, this summer (2022) in Reno, Nevada
Lorie with her day timer (and business cards) at Dayton's 1988-1993
Customers standing at Dayton's listening to Lorie 1988-1993 (notice the day timer in the piano)
Lorie's grandmother who made the quilt (Frances Mann) and gave it to her in 1979
Ric and Pam's 1991 wedding picture
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.
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.
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?
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.
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."