Thursday, February 15, 2007


This past weekend we had our annual marriage seminar at our church. It was informative and entertaining. We learned, and we had fun doing it. My brother and his wife, who are ministers, conducted it for us. It was a great lead-in to the week of Valentine's. My husband and I believe in enriching our marriage, and we want our congregation to do this too. That's why we put on these annual seminars.

There's an old saying, "Practice makes perfect," which can apply to piano playing. When I was a child and later, a teenager, I took piano lessons and had to practice. If I didn't practice that week, my performance in front of my teacher revealed it. I can still remember the embarrassment of not knowing my music. Oh, man, the sour notes I'd hit at times like that. Thankfully, those times were infrequent. My mother encouraged my practising, and it paid off.

When I became a pastor's wife in my early twenties, our music director gave me some tips on organ playing and asked me to play occasionally in church. I wasn't that good, but with his encouragement, I made a fairly decent stab at it, and parishioners enjoyed my playing. Then I located a pro organist and took lessons and practised diligently. I loved playing the base pedals with my left foot while my right foot operated the volume pedal and my hands danced across the ivories. Boomp, boomp, boomp, boomp, I'd go in four-four time, alternating the F and C pedals for F chords, or the E flat and B flat pedals for E flat chords, or the C and G pedals for C chords. Or, I might play boomp, boomp, boomp in three-four time, ad infinitum. Those base notes added rhythm and verve to songs and hymns.

Years passed by as I played the organ for congregational singing. I loved it. Milton even bought me a Hammond organ, and having one in my home brought me lots of joy.

Then he became an official for our denomination during the 1990s which meant we traveled every weekend to churches all over the state, which meant no more organ playing. Then, a few years ago, we accepted the pastorate of our present church, and their music program was so wonderful, there wasn't a need for an organist.

This story is going somewhere. It's about marriage. Trust me.

Can you see the pattern of my organ playing? Except for a few times here or there, I haven't played the organ in a long time. (I donated my Hammond to a struggling church a long time ago.) I have played the piano, however. I enjoy playing my shiny ebony Yahama, which is in my living room. But the organ? Almost never. With piano playing, your feet are basically still, except for light pumping on the volume pedal.

What does all this have to do with marriage? I'm getting there.

This past Sunday afternoon, we were invited to dinner at a parishioner's home. There was a group of us. After dinner, we gathered in their living room to sing and play. They have a piano and organ, and my brother and his wife and Milton and I enjoy singing together, and also with groups. One person sat down at the piano, a gifted pianist, and they asked me to play the organ. So I did. Off we go, playing and singing. I'm leaning to my far right on the organ bench to give my left leg plenty of room to fly over those base pedals: boomp, boomp, boomp, boomp; boomp, boomp, boomp, boomp; ad infinitum. We sang fast song after fast song (the faster the song, the more your left leg flies).

After a little while, I feel a slight twinge in my right hip, but I'm enjoying the singing and playing so much, I ignore it. On I play.

Monday morning, I get up and start my routine. About an hour later, MY BACK GOES OUT! If you don't know what it feels like to have YOUR BACK GO OUT, well, I can't really describe what it feels like to have YOUR BACK GO OUT. I never had MY BACK GO OUT. Every time I turned, every time I sat down, every time I moved, it was agony. The only thing I could think of that caused it guessed it. The organ playing.

For two days, I had to move very carefully to keep the pain down, plus spend some time on a heating pad. I'm happy to say I'm back to normal.

If I'd kept up my organ playing, this wouldn't have happened. The muscles I used to play the base pedals would've been limber and receptive. Instead, I hadn't used them in so long, I must've damaged them.

What does this have to do with marriage? I'm glad you asked.

The saying, "Practice makes perfect" can apply to marriage. We have to keep the "muscles" of communication working, and the "muscles" of commitment, and the "muscles" of understanding, and the "muscles" get the picture. We have to work at our marriages. If we let them stagnate, well, that's not a pleasant place. Going to seminars and learning or reinforcing what we already know is healthy. It'll bring wholeness and completeness.

"Practice makes perfect." Have you done some "practising" in your marriage lately? Learned something new? Or reinforced something you already knew? Want to tell us about it?


At 8:36 AM, Blogger Rachel Hauck said...

Nice reminder that marriage takes effort and work. But so worth it!


At 3:05 PM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

Amen. When two people with two different personalities come together in marriage, there's constant compromise. And learning and growing. Thanks for your comment, R.

At 1:52 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

Although I love the traditional marriage vows, boy do I wish they had said, "Do you promise to love, honor, and compromise...?" Fewer folks would experience that deer-in-the-headlights feeling.

Thanks for reminding us to practice!

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

Oooh, Patricia, you've hit the nail on the head. I love the word "compromise" and think it would be a terrific addition to the wedding vows. I'm going to ask Milton if he'll think about adding it in the ceremonies he performs.


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