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.
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.
"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.
" . . . 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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
Just another day in the life of Lorie Line.
Pictured above from left to right: Brandon, Lorie . . . and Leo.
"Copying is the greatest form of flattery . . . until it happens to you."
I'll never forget those words. They were spoken to me by artist Robert Olson. It was 1994.
We were officing in downtown Wayzata. Unlike today, CDs were selling in retail stores like crazy. Lorie Line Music had six employees in our little building. We had a full-time guy in our office whose sole responsibility was to pack and ship orders every day. Parking was (and still is) hard to come by in this little town, but luckily for us, we owned our own parking lot that butted up to the building. All six spots were taken every day from our employees, Tim and me.
We noticed there was an attractive (and very fashionable) woman who had started parking in our private lot every day. She worked across the street and would comfortably pull up, park, and jump out and run across the street to work in the neighboring building. Well, one day I decided I would go out and politely ask her not to park in our lot as we needed all of the spaces. It's amazing, but this small conversation in the Lorie Line Music parking lot turned into a lovely 23-year friendship. Meet Jeanne Jackson.
"Aren't you Lorie Line?" Jeanne was working for Robert Olson, an amazing artist who specialized in painting women, most often with instruments. He was very popular, in his heyday, and was getting ready to release another new painting, I believe called Mother and Child. Jeanne was the event planner and asked if I would play for the unveiling of the painting. It was going to be held at Tour de France world champion bicyclist Greg Lemond's home.
Sure enough, next thing I know I am in the living room at Greg Lemond's house playing the piano. Robert's large painting was draped in black and sat on an easel next to me. I remember that I wore a pretty black party dress that night.
Jeanne was running around, doing her thing and from the piano bench I took in all the excitement from the room. There, off to the side was the handsome and highly successful artist of the evening. He had sandy blonde shoulder-length whispy hair and a scruffy beard. I think he wore jeans and a sport coat that night. Robert was truly charming, greeting all the guests with a timid smile on his face. You could tell that he was super proud. We made eyes several times that evening and I knew we would become great friends.
While I was playing, Greg Lemond sat down next to me (and almost knocked me over on the bench). "Hi! I'm Greg!" Now . . . Greg has a very fun, loud, and extremely confident personality. Tons of energy. (His personality explains why he has been so successful.) I tried to be cute, and in my own way, I said, "ya know, I think I knew that. Actually, Greg, I've known you for years . . . but you don't know me. You'll never believe this, but I know you grew up in Reno. Well, so did I. You went to Wooster High School, I went to Hug High School. We're a couple of years apart, but I've followed you for years, since you were a teenager riding your bike in Washoe Valley. And, what's weird about our story is that . . . here we are . . . we both ended up in Minnesota! And to make our world even smaller, our daughters are in kindergarten together in the same classroom. They're friends."
I don't think Greg gets knocked over too easily. But I knocked him over that night.
The evening was lovely. So memorable. The painting was a hit for Robert. And suddenly Tim and I were friends with this whole new group of people . . . Jeanne Jackson (and her boyfriend Dario Anselmo), Robert and Nancy Olson, and Greg and Kathy Lemond.
Young super entrepreneuers. All inventors. Creating their own path.
I don't know what it was about the times, but we did so much more socially. We were in our early 30s. Everyone had kids (but Dario and Jeanne), super busy careers, and somehow we were always ready at the drop of a hat to host (or attend) a dinner party. For a few years, we all took turns and went to each other's houses. It was a magical time.
The night that Robert and Nancy hosted dinner at their home/studio, both Tim and I felt like we had died and gone to heaven. It's hard to create the visual picture, but when you walked through the front door you were suddenly in Italy in an amazing art gallery. His vestibule had floor-to-ceiling paintings (and you loved all of them) that took you around the corner into the huge main art living room studio where Robert worked and painted every day. His home was rustic with open beams, high ceilings and intimate vignettes with beautiful paintings of naked women on several walls. That night, for dinner he set up a large dining room table in the middle of the room (with candlelight). Typically this main room was fairly empty, all open to be able to move around props, tables, and special lighting . . . but this night it was special, just for us. If you went upstairs, there was an open loft that hosted the coffee bar. If you went downstairs, you were in his European kitchen. Their master suite was off to the side. I'd never seen anything so creative in my life and when we went home at 2:00 in the morning, Tim and I laid in bed until the sun came up. We couldn't sleep. It was the first time we remember having a new dream. We would build a new home.
Robert always liked hanging out with me. He was personally proud of me. He knew I was onto something big. Thinking differently. Whenever this group got together, he always got me off to the side and made sure to connect in a meaningful and heartfelt way. But I could see he was troubled. Competition was hitting him hard. It bothered him. Everyone was copying his paintings and although I felt pianists were out there trying to do what I was doing, I wasn't experiencing the mental fatigue that he was going through. He was truly in agony trying to stay ahead of all the "copiers." I'd encourage him, tell him he was unique. Better than all the rest. The copiers will push you into something new that only you can do. Keep going. You'll find your way.
The next year we hired Robert to paint an original of Kendall and me at the piano. We were doing a PBS special and needed a beautiful piece for the cover. Why not hire Robert? And so, after many hours of sitting still at the piano with a 5-year old, Heart and Soul was created.
Shortly after the PBS special, fans started asking me to publish my music. They wanted to play it "just like me." In other words, when you really think about it. . . copy my creative work. My "inventions" . . . that made me unique, one-of-a-kind. Yikes. I remember at first having some reservation (thinking of Robert's words.) Are any pianists doing this? Not really. I'm going to walk into Nordstrom and hear someone playing MY music. I'll be sitting in church and someone will play MY arrangement of a hymn. Will I like that? Hmmmm.
I thought about it alot and decided I would just try it. I decided I would jump in, that what I had was unique, never mine from the beginning anyway, given to me as a gift from God. I was being pushed into something new. Like my words to Robert, I would find my way.
The first piece of music I published was Threads of Love. I woke up and overnight we had invented a whole new business wing at Lorie Line Music. Piano playing fans wanted it! Hurray! And it was the beginning of something fabulous. "Recording artist" Lorie Line was now "published artist" Lorie Line.
Today I simply love it when I hear my music being played by another pianist.
For me, it truly is . . . the greatest form of flattery.
Robert Olson's original painting Heart and Soul hangs in the entrance of Tim and Lorie's home today (photo featured above with Lorie 23 years later).
To this day, the publishing wing is the most profitable area of business at Lorie Line Music, having over 50 books of published music.
Tim and Lorie bought property and built their dream home on Lake Minnetonka. They moved in two years after meeting Robert Olson, on Christmas Eve 1996. They have resided there 22 years.
Jeanne Jackson married Dario Anselmo (who is now Minnesota Congressman Anselmo). She continues to be an event planner, florist and decorator. They have three teenagers. The Lines and Anselmos are friends to this day.
Greg and Kathy are selling their Minnesota home. They are moving to Tennessee.
Robert and Nancy divorced. Tim and Lorie saw Nancy a couple years ago in a coffee shop outside of town. She had remarried.
Sadly, Robert stopped painting. No one has seen him in years. He is truly missed.
DAUGHTER OF THE KING/Fall Blog 2017
I have some amazing fans who pray for me every day. I don't ask them to. They just do because they genuinely love and care about me. I'm so blessed to have my own personal warriors out there in the world.
Over the past two years I have had a series of private concerts in my home called The Living Room Series. It has been the most fun and exciting thing I've ever done in my career. I guess you'd say it was just another way of "reinventing myself" after all these years. I'd heard about other well-known pianists doing it and wondered if my friends and fans would really want to come and see me play the piano in my own home. Well, it was a hit.
It actually was a very brave move and honestly I was somewhat nervous, because it was so very personal. We would be opening up our home. People would see how we lived, how we kept things, what I collected, my kitchen and where I cook every day, and . . . how my carpet on the stairs was slightly worn out and needed to be replaced after all these years. Fans and friends would see the "world headquarters" of Lorie Line Music, Inc.
Tim and I decided we were on.
Oh, I'm so glad. A few people gave me the highest compliment and said the idea was "genius." I'm not a genius. It was just a perfect blend of things I love. I love my home. I love to entertain. And I love my fans.
One of my favorite things about this very special evening in my home is greeting my fans at the front entrance of the house. I'm so excited to see everyone that I actually get butterflies just waiting for my guests to arrive and spend the evening with me. (I recognize and know most everyone who comes because I've seen them so many times over the years.) Friends have come from all over the world, even Hong Kong and Norway. One night we had 12 States represented. And then there are my friends from church. They have come too.
Well, one night, one of my amazing fans and a very special friend, Kathy Wise (whose name befits her), stepped up to say hello. This particular night she knew I was experiencing some real life challenges. She gave me a hug.
And I'll never forget what she said to me.
" . . . what some people don't know about you, Lorie, is that you are special. You, my dear, are a daughter of The King."
I was so deeply touched. I guess I had never thought about it in those words. But I immediately started walking differently, holding my head a little higher. My faith was restored.
I am special. I am a daughter of The King.
And thus, this year's holiday show began to develop. Her Wise words rang in my ears for days. From that moment on I kept thinking about "The King." When my heart was heavy, just as I did when I was little, I would think of myself as a queen. Special. In charge. Strong. Not defeated.
And so, one day it came to me. KING OF KINGS. Of course! My King. My Lord of Lords. Living forever and ever . . . in me.
That's what the birth of Jesus means to me. Christmas. My King of Kings.
In my 28 years of touring, this year's theme and title is my favorite.
KING OF KINGS. And Lord of Lords. And He shall live forever and ever.
To come and see this year's show, KING OF KINGS, you can purchase tickets by clicking on this link, or feel free to call us at 952-474-1000. http://www.lorieline.com/tour.php. Christmas is just around the corner and I hope to see you when I stop in your town!
If you are interested in The 2018 Living Room Series, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide your name and mailing address and we will send you a private invitation in the mail at the end of the year.
The above photo was taken a few weeks ago when Tim and Lorie went to The Walker Arts Center for the Wayzata Garden Club couples night. Lorie has been a member of the Wayzata Garden Club for 15 years.
Kathy Wise lives down the road from Tim and Lorie Line. She has been a friend and fan for over 20 years.