Our eldest daughter’s birth followed my father’s death by fourteen hours. She was a week later than her due date and the only one of our four children to be born after their due date. On her due date, Tim and I had prayed about a name for the expected child. We were settled on a boys name (Caleb Nathaniel) but struggled with a girls name. That night after praying, we chose a girls name that was Tim’s mother’s name and two middle names taken from Tim’s sisters’ middle names. Joy was one of these names.
And then Ruth was born amidst the most unprecedented time of my life. My father died at 1pm and she was born in the early hours of the following morning. When I fell pregnant with her, God promised me she was my Isaac blessing and this at a time when we were looking to enlarge our territory (so to speak) and move house. When she was born, I laughed! My Isaac blessing!
The minister at my Father’s funeral stood at the gate into the church yard as we were going in, turned to my mother and I, and said “It’s just suddenly come to me…” and he quoted Psalm 30.5, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” And indeed she did. My mother asked Tim and I if we had tagged the name Joy onto the end of her names as a result of the circumstances. But on top of that, the same prophecy was given at her birth, by different people. This prophecy spoke of her having an attitude in whatever she faced, to overcome with joy.
Should I be surprised then today by how well she conducted herself? She shows very natural musical gifting and applies herself well. She has already grasped that music is a gift from God to be used to worship him and after Tim’s accident (last year) she connected very dramatically with God in her freedom of expression in worshipping Him. Music suddenly really meant something special to her as a language she can use to worship God with.
On Father’s day, Tim quizzed me how I thought he could be a better Dad to our children. I told him I thought he was a brilliant Dad, but that no Dad can give his children too much time. After thinking about it he said, to give them more of his time, he thought he could be more involved in their music. It was a great delight to me, then, that Tim was able to rehearse with and accompany Ruth in her first graded exam.
She took her Grade 1 today, and I struggled with knowing too much. I was trying just to be Mum, not violin teacher, but I still knew when she wasn’t doing things right and how to do them better. I tried to give my tips to improve her performance as wisely as I could. I knew too well the nerves that could present themselves in the moment of performance and made it my prayer that she would enjoy herself. We talked together about the importance of playing first for God and then for the examiner’s pleasure. We also discussed and I showed her where it says on the ABRSM guidance that the examiners want the examinees to do well and that they are interested in a musical performance.
She has a lovely teacher who is just perfect for Ruthie’s development. So father and daughter set out at mid-day fairly confident of delivering a convincing performance. Her teacher met her at the examination centre (an old Welsh Chapel) and as she held the door open for Ruthie into an awkward passage, Ruthie caught her violin, the front came off the case, the violin toppled out and the bridge broke!
Daddy and her lovely teacher managed to sort the sorry situation and her exam was rearranged to the end of the day. Her teacher had a spare half size violin which she transferred the expensive strings from Ruthie’s violin to and brought to our home in time for her to practice and get used to before her exam. This replacement violin has a much nicer tone than her broken bridge violin!
Ruthie, meanwhile, had impressively remained quite relaxed about the situation and still determined to do her very best. After practising for a bit on the new violin, she said “I’m glad I’ve got this violin now!”
So father and daughter returned again to the chapel. It now wasn’t a new place to her. When she had gone before she’d seen a girl go in for her singing exam and come out in tears, but this didn’t seem to phase her either. And now she had a better violin to perform on!
She phoned me after her exam, on her way to the kids club at church to say that she thinks her exam went well. She said she made one mistake in one of her pieces where she paused on a note too long. Tim showed me where in the music, when they came home, but he said she kept going and they pulled back in time, between them. She said she also did one scale twice because the first time she got it wrong. While she was at kids club, I got Tim to tell me how he thought she’d done and whether her intonation was secure in her pieces. There’s nothing like being an over-anxious, musical mother provided she doesn’t see that side of me!
She came home from kids club and gave me huge hug. I congratulated her on how proud I was of the way she’d handled everything she’d done today. We talked more about how it had all been. Then later, when she kissed me good night she said to me “I actually really enjoyed my exam, today!”
YYYYEEEEEEEESSSSSSS!!! That’s my girl! That’s my JOY! That’s what it’s all about. So she overcame all her trials today with joy and learnt that God can bring the best out of a bad situation! The best lesson has been learnt and whatever her final mark in her exam is, it is subsidiary to everything else that has been learnt. But it is so important to me she enjoys performing and does it ultimately for God’s pleasure, otherwise music is a hard gift to share.
Nehemiah 8:10 “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”