Once upon a time in what feels like a different life, I was a teacher … a middle school teacher … a middle school choir teacher.  And, I have to say, this meme is so true:

Middle schoolers are just a whole different animal! Ultimately, it was not a career I wanted or felt led to stay in long term, and after our third baby was born and the business Josh had started was better established and successful, I started working from home for the business instead.

But there were moments of magic as a middle school choir teacher.  I had individual classes of up to 45 students at a time, grade level choirs of up to 90 at a time, and a whole combined choir that was up to 200 middle schoolers that would perform together.  Getting each voice in tune, each young human with their focus and attention on me as the director, holding the tempo, phrasing, and dynamics of the music in my hands as a conductor, and actually creating beautiful music together … magic.  

As I would consistently tell my students, if even one voice was off – not singing the right note, not shaping the vowel of the word the correct way, not watching me in order for the choir to stay unified, then the magic would not happen.  The voice not in tune would be a distraction.  

The beauty of good harmony can bring chills and a feeling of peacefulness; when things are out of tune, it can bring uncomfort or even a painful feeling. Just ask the middle school band director across the hall, bless his heart! 

Recently I had a phrase from a song pop into my head as I was praying, and it kind of stuck.  I keep thinking of it often, and I think it was from the Lord – something for me to remember heading into the new year:  “Tune My Heart.” 

It’s from the old hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Here are the words written by Robert Robinson in 1757:

“Come Thou Fount of every blessing

Tune my heart to sing thy grace;

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet,

Sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,

Mount of God’s unchanging love.”


“O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let that grace now like a fetter

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.

Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, O, take and seal it,

Seal it for Thy courts above.”

How easy it is to get “out of tune” … to complain instead of praise, to be prideful instead of humble, to be selfish instead of serving.  Aren’t we all “prone to wander?” Don’t we all need mercy … streams of it? Paul called himself the chief of all sinners in 1 Timothy 1:15.  I think it is important to remember that I am the chief of sinners, and His grace binds my heart to the Father.  I want to be in tune with the Father’s heart.  I want to see as He sees, I want to hear His voice, I want to be filled with His Spirit, and I want to reflect His love.  

When I’m frustrated … When I’m angry … Lord, tune my heart. 

When I’m scared … When I think I can’t … Lord, tune my heart. 

When I feel the need to be right … When I’m hurt by someone … Lord, tune my heart.  

As Elizabeth Elliot teaches in Keep a Quiet Heart: “A steadfast look at Jesus instead of at the injury makes a very great difference.  Seeking to see things in His light changes the aspect altogether.” 

In a vocal ensemble, the conductor alone holds the sheet music while every eye in the choir is fixed on the conductor.  In an instrumental ensemble, each instrument only sees the music for their part.  Only the conductor sees the entire composition, every note, every accent, every change in speed or dynamic, how and when each part is to enter and shine or play an accompaniment or harmony part.  May I always be fixed on You my conductor and the mount of Your unchanging love.   

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” 

-Psalm 139:23-24

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” 

-Psalm 86:11

*I’ve written before about words for the year: You are Not Alone and STEADFAST if you’d like to read them*

Do you have a word or phrase you are taking into the new year?

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