Saturday, January 10, 2015

An Open Door

A month and a half or so ago when a door shut in my life, I found myself wondering, "what do you have for me now, Lord? What do you want me to be doing?"

I knew fairly soon one door God may want me to go through . . . for quite some time, ministering at a nursing home has been on my heart, but I had not yet started anything. Now, though, seemed like the right time. 

In preparation, the past several weeks found me playing the piano even more than I had been before. Playing through arrangements of favorite old hymns and also brushing up on my sight reading skills as if someone requests a hymn that I am unfamiliar with, I would like to be able to play it well enough for them to enjoy!

Right now what I am envisioning is to go to the nursing home every other week or so, play the piano, and then visit with whoever is around. I am hoping for the music to primarily be an opening door to people's hearts . . . a door to being able to build relationships with them, to be able to share the gospel, to be able to love and care for them whether it be reading to them, listening to them, praying with them, laughing with them and enjoying their memories with them, or anything I am able to do.

So . . . I practiced, picked out hymns to play the first time, called a local nursing home and got things set up, and yesterday, I went and played for the first time. And it was wonderful.

When I first sat down at the old piano and began playing the familiar hymns, there were very few residents around, there was clattering and talking behind me as the kitchen workers cleaned away the lunch dishes and wiped down tables, and as my fingers glided over the keys, I prayed that the music would touch whoever could hear.


(just a note, all photos in this post were taken at our home, and not at the nursing home.)

People were coming and going and at one point, out of the corner of my eye I saw a lady come around the corner, I glanced up at her while I played and smiled, she frowned and looked away. Before long, though, I saw her sitting and tapping her foot along with the music!

Later someone else came and stood by the piano for a long time, so excited to hear the music, humming along with the hymns that he must have recognized. After each song, I would talk with him for a bit before playing the next song. After "Tell it to Jesus" I shared for just a moment about how wonderful it is to always be able to talk with Jesus about whatever is on our hearts. To which he nodded emphatically, a smile on his face.

After playing for around thirty minutes, I was putting my books away when a lady who had been listening wheeled by in her wheelchair. I smiled at her, and she quickly turned in and came up by me and we ended up talking for quite awhile. She seemed like she just wanted someone to listen as she shared special memories from her past, friends that she had known and now missed, and more. We laughed and smiled together as she shared.

Before long, another lady came up in her wheelchair and joined us. After talking with her for a bit, too, she excitedly asked me if I had come to play. I shared with her that I already had, but that I had time to play another song for both of them. I asked if they liked "Amazing Grace" and both of their faces lit up as they answered with an enthusiastic 'yes!' So once again, my fingers found the familiar notes as I played for a sweet audience of two.



I finally said my goodbyes, letting them know that I would be back. And I am already looking forward to it! Which if all goes as planned, will be next week. :)

It was such a special time there! I do not know who was more blessed . . . the residents, or me. I heard someone say once, that as we pour out to others, we ourselves will be filled. And I think that was in part what God was doing for me during my time there. I am so thankful to Him for that and how He is opening doors for giving, serving, loving, and prayerfully, helping draw hearts to Him. I am excited to see how He will continue to lead!

29 comments:

  1. This is wonderful, Sarah, that you can use your gift of music to minister to others. I was involved in a ministry at a local nursing home ~ It's one place that any time spent there is well worth it for all involved. The residents truly appreciate someone coming and visiting with them.
    God bless,

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  2. Sarah, I think that is wonderful. However kind the care staff are, they also have so much to do, and your visit must have been such an open window for the residents, bringing in something new and fresh. Time to talk is so healing. I have several friends in Care homes and I know how they appreciate visits.

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  3. Dear Sarah, is a wonderful idea the power to go to the residence of aniños and to be able to give them your company, your support, your music and especially your presence. You are the whole example to continuing.
    Mari Carmen

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  4. Linda Andrews SmithJanuary 10, 2015

    Sarah this is wonderful. My husband plays the guitar and was always involved in our church music. When we get moved we are praying for God to open the door for him to be able to do this kind of thing. Such a blessing to those residents and also to you. May God bless this new ministry He has set you on!

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  5. It's so nice of you to make the time to go visit people at the nursing home and play music for them. I know they really appreciate it especially when they're lonely and have no one else to visit with. I'm glad God opened this door for you.

    It made me think of my father. He used to preach a sermon at the nursing home once a month for as long as I can remember and visited my Grandma (his Mom) in a different nursing home every week for the past few years.

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  6. in June we sadly placed my father in residential care as we could not longer keep him safe overnight. He is a home run by nuns and they have over 200 volunteers. I don't think there can ever be enough. Music touches a person in a very unique way. Sitting and singing to them one on one is very therapeutic and something music therapists do. One of the gentleman in dad's place even has his own piano in one of the many lounges in the locked unit where they live. Play a note and surely Dr R will soon be there. Some of the ladies are working on a knitted blanket. Even though they have advanced dementia the need to share with others is there waiting to be released.

    God bless your gift.

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  7. This is so nice! I bet it was delightful to hear you play - to the residents and staff. :-) Music therapists come play for the patients (children) at the hospital I work in, and I sometimes sneak up outside the door to hear them play/sing. Music is such an important part of holistic healing. God bless your music ministry and may it touch a lot of hearts!

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  8. Praying God will continue to bless you as you use the gifts & talents He has given you in blessing others x

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  9. Hi Sarah,

    What a blessing for the residents and you! I pray your ministry will touch the hearts, minds, bodies and spirits of all who have the pleasure to hear you play.
    May God abundantly bless you,
    Mrs.B

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  10. Older people do love it when people will come, play music, and spend time with them. May the Lord bless you in your ministry!

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  11. Hey Sarah,
    I know God is going to use you to be such of blessing! My daughter and I are also involved in a Nursing Home Ministry with our church, and she plays the Piano.
    Also, we are looking into possibly finding another one to visit.
    I have two questions-
    One: The music book that you show in the picture; What is the name of it, and who is it by?
    and also;
    Two: My daughter wants to know where you got the stand that the book is sitting on (The one that has the hooks to keep the book open).

    Blessings~
    Terry

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  12. Sarah, that is an excellent way to share your blessings of playing music instruments to them all.

    They have found that ones that have alzhemirs, dementia, love music, its something that is all common to them and old songs they know and can relate too, not new songs.

    I know at christmas they loved having kids coming in and singing to them.

    The centre I go too the choir we have goes and sings to different places, care places, hospitals and are very enjoyed alot.

    You are doing a great thing for patients and get to know them by name as time goes by and maybe spend some time chatting with them too before or after as so many are so lonely.

    kathy

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  13. Thank you for your kind comment, Mrs. Anne! That is wonderful that you had been involved in a ministry at a nursing home before! I would agree . . . it is indeed well worth it for everyone. I am excited about how the Lord could use my time there!

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  14. It would indeed be hard as the staff to meet all of the needs of the people there, Elizabeth! They do so much for the residents, but as you shared, they have a lot to do and cannot do everything. I am thankful to have this opportunity to try to help meet the needs of the residents and to hopefully touch their hearts in some way!

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  15. Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Mari!

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  16. That is great, Linda, that your husband plays the guitar! Prayerfully when you move, doors will open for him to do something like this. That would be wonderful!

    Thank you so much!

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  17. Thank you, Leah, for your encouraging comment! I, too, am so glad that God opened this door.

    That is so special that your father would go regularly to the nursing home to teach and to visit his Mom as well. What a great blessing that would have been for everyone!

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  18. I am sure that was a hard decision, Suze! I remember when we were faced with that with my Grandpa. You want so much for family to be able to care for them, but sometimes for their own safety, a nursing home is the best choice. It sounds like where he is has many opportunities to be uplifted and blessed what with all of the volunteers! And how neat about one of the men having his own piano there and that some of the ladies are able to knit blankets as well. It sounds like a wonderful environment for them!

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  19. Thank you for your kind comment, Gabby! What a blessing for music therapists to go visit the children at the hospital where you work! I can just imagine what a help that is to them and how uplifting it would be to the children. I would agree, music can play a big part in healing and touching hearts!

    Thank you so much!

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  20. Thank you so much for your prayers, Marie! I am very grateful to you for them!

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  21. Thank you so much, Mrs. B., for praying! I appreciate your prayers very much!

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  22. They do indeed! Music has a way of touching hearts, and sometimes when nothing else will. And it is a ‘language’ that everyone recognizes!

    Thank you!

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  23. It was good to hear from you again, Terry, and thank you for your sweet comment!

    I am so glad that you and your daughter are able to be involved in a nursing home ministry as well! That is wonderful! In answer to your question, the music book is called “Smoky Mountain Gospel Favorites: A Collection of 37 Timeless Gospel Hymns” by Hal Leonard. It has the piano music, words, and the guitar chords as well. I really like it! I also play out of the Bright Lights Songbook: “Let My Life be a Light”. It has some really nice hymn arrangements, too.

    I think the music book clip we got at our local music store. It’s been so long ago, though, that I can’t remember for sure! I looked on Amazon, and they have quite a few there that look similar to mine. Simply search “Music Book Clip”, and they’ll come up!

    If you have anymore questions, please feel free to ask! :)

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  24. Thank you, Kathy, for your kind comment! It was good to hear from you again. :)

    Music does have a way of touching hearts, and as you shared, I think especially for those with dementia. That is wonderful that you have the opportunity to go to a center as well! I am sure the choir that visits is a great blessing to everyone there.

    Yes, that is my desire to get to know them by name (I already know a few of their names, now!) and then visit with them as well. It will be exciting to see how the Lord leads in this!

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  25. I was so happy to read this, Sarah! We go to the nursing home about once a month with our church if we're able (to sing/play for them), but we've been talking about going more regularly as a family. Elyse has really been enthusiastic about the idea.

    This really encouraged me about what a great ministry this is! May the Lord bless you as you serve Him!

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  26. That would be so wonderful if your family started going to a nursing home more regularly, Joy! I just know that the residents (and you yourselves :) would be so blessed by it. And especially for Elyse!

    I am glad that this could be an encouragement to you! And thank you so much!

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  27. Welcome to my blog, Lindsey, and thank you!

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  28. This is such a wonderful idea! The little music group that I play with once a month plays at a nursing home a couple times a year and we bring cookies and try to visit a bit, too, but my sisters and I have been talking about going more often. This gave me a little more motivation and inspiration to get some plans underway! :) May God bless you with His love, wisdom, and peace as you minister in this way!

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)