How to Get through Life’s Hard Parts (Video)

When the notes keep coming out all wrong, Hope looks up from the piano.

“Is that what she said? Didn’t she say play only the left?”






Yeah, that’s what she’d said, I had heard her — that willowy piano adjudicator who’d tucked a loose strand of mouse brown hair behind her one bending ear and she had said that it goes like that, that your life can’t sing unless you play.

And you can’t really play unless you know how to play through the hard parts.

So if you ever want to play through the hardest parts — play the left hand alone.

I lean over Hope’s shoulder, look at notes ascending like this climbing of ladders, searching for dreams.

I pick up the sheet of music, as if just by holding notes the harmony would come.

“How did she put it again? That the right hand is your default, that the right will come naturally.” Hope lets her left hand find keys…

“But if you want to make music through the hard parts — play the left alone. Practice the left again and again. And then –” Hope looks up at me and we say it at the same time, us both remembering how the adjudicator had pushed her glasses up nose to punctuate that handful of words: “Write. out. just. the. left.” Hope smiles, runs on with the rest:

Because when you can really write out the left hand from memory, you can really play!”

Hope plays the left hand alone.

She writes out the left hand notes alone.

I strip down beds. Wash linens. Match socks. Have theological and political and economical debates with insatiable teens and read apologetics and Dr. Seuss and the Puritans and The Wind in the Willows to littles. Snap at a husband. Wash gravel down the mudroom sink. Mutter about messes.

Make squash soup and line up four boys and give four boys their spring crew cuts and sweep up the shorn of the four and there’s a lifetime of sins that can’t ever be swept under the rug. Work through bills and files and taxes and blow a fuse over too-wired boys and serve 8 bowls of squash soup and bend my stiff neck in prayer over a steaming bowl. My burned hand weeps.

Dishes still strewn, kids scattered, laundry piled, I sit at the table, blind to what needs ignoring and seeing truest, and I write out  Romans 1,  the shoddiest scribe, brazenly desperate to know His face and my way.

This is being hooked up to life support.

Because the thing is — you can read as many self-help books as you want, a daily diet of bulleted how-tos… but the only way to mend a heart is to memorize God’s.

The only way to really breathe is to inhale Truth.

There is always a way back.

There is always now.

Memorization isn’t for the saints who have made it. It’s for the sinners who want to make it.

Memorization is like learning to say your name, like learning where north is, like knowing your phone number home — it’s knowing who you are, where you are, Who He is. What the heart knows by heart is what the heart knows — how else can we know who we are? Memorization is 24/7 soul orientation.

I sit there after dinner with the scraps and the remains and a pen and verses and there’s this remembering the contours of His heart, the way the lines pulse.

Your life doesn’t sing unless you play.

And you can’t really play — unless you know how to play through the hard parts.

And you know how to play through life’s hard parts when you know His love by heart.

And the verses, they come, sitting there writing out the left hand alone.

Verses that come again in the hard parts and the dark parts, to get stuck on continuous replay in the heart, the lame dancing new and slow.




The Romans Project
Guess which sisters met in the middle of the midwest and played the left hand together?

My heart sister, Liz Curtis Higgs , the wise (and funny!) author of 30 books, including her nonfiction bestseller, Bad Girls of the Bible , and her newest release, The Girl’s Still Got It: Take a Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World, joins us in  The Romans Project, with videos of us reciting to each other, and Lord willing, Liz will meander up here to the farm porch throughout  The Romans Project and share how God is changing her through the memorizing of Romans 1, 6, 12. (It’s only 2 verses a week for the year — come join us? Over 4,000 of us are gathering over at Romans at — Liz and I would love to have you! Consider Scripture and your heart and the 1 Habit that God really wants for you in 2013.)


Join The Romans Project! Memorize Romans 1, 8, and 12, in 2103, just 2 verses a week:

Start here: The Romans Project – The 1 Habit God Really Wants for your New Year –
Or join our Online The Romans Project Community — Type out the verses to memorize with us over at at Scripture Typer… 

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The First Friday of Every Month:  We’ll host a link-up here on the blog for you to link over to a video or audio on your blog of your memory work recitation … We’re leaving no one behind!  Or you can share on our Facebook page?

Can’t wait to hear your own #RomansProject. Link up?


Be Inspired to Begin: (It’s never too late. Baby steps. Forward!)

The 1 Habit God Really Wants for Your New Year (The Romans Project)

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The Big Reveal: What Faith is from First to Last

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The Sister Promise: What We Make to Our Sisters (Updated with Video)