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‘God seems to provide everything’

 
‘God seems to provide everything’
Minni Florence is one of only 12 certified music therapy teachers for special needs in the state of Texas. She offers lessons to adults and children with special needs.

She’s constantly on the go, and does so much for so many. But you’d never know it, as she’s also very humble and modest.

Minni Florence is a wife, mother of four, woman of faith, musician, certified music therapy teacher, cancer survivor, handcrafter, and animal rescuer. And the word “can’t” isn’t part of her vocabulary.

Minni, one of only 12 certified music therapy teachers for special needs in the state of Texas, teaches music lessons to special needs children and adults; she’s been teaching for more than 20 years. Some students have stayed with her for 10 to 15 years.

Her face lights up like Christmas when she talks about what music has done for her students.

“I’ve seen kids who have not verbalized since birth, start speaking,” she marveled.

One such student’s first word ever spoken, at age 8, was “piano,” Minni said.

“His mom and I broke into tears,” she recalled, tears in her eyes. “It’s kinda cool giving a voice to somebody who doesn’t have one. I’ve seen kids walk towards the piano who have cerebral palsy and are wheelchair bound.”

Some students, who are non-verbal, begin to speak, inspired by music, Minni said. One of her non-verbal students doesn’t carry on conversations, but she makes sounds for the different instruments she wants to play or hear.

“If she says, ‘boom,’ she wants to play the drums,” Minni said. “Toot-toot” means she wants to hear her teacher play the flute.

Minni teaches piano, cello, flute, drums, violin, mandolin, viola, and saxophone. She has two rules for her students.

“We don’t say ‘can’t,’ because you can do anything you put your mind to,” she said. “And we don’t make mistakes in music. We rewrite the song.”

When students make a musical misstep and stop because they’re upset, Minnie offers encouragement.

“We just rewrote it and keep on going,” she says.

Some of her students’ families cannot afford lessons, so Minni accepts barter.

“I’ve never turned down cheesecake or brownies!” she said jokingly.

As a child, she would sit down at her grandmother’s piano when she was 3 years old. Noting her interest, her dad bought her books of piano lessons and she taught herself. He then bought her a violin and books to go with it, and she learned violin. She never stopped learning new instruments.

“He is the reason I do music,” she said.

But her talents go beyond music. Minni also is known for her crochet and has a Facebook page, “Hooked by Minni,” featuring her handiwork. Among these are darling little caps for cancer victims, which she gives to patients free of charge.

She creates lap throws for wounded warriors, also at no charge, as part of her “Hooked on Giving” program. She donates leftover yarn to the senior center in Liberty Hill for their crafting projects.

How does she fund all that she gives away?

“God always find a way,” Minni said. “I always seem to have just enough.”

Another of her ministries is making blankets for babies who never get to go home. Minni has friends who work in the neonatal intensive care unit of the Seton Medical Center in Austin, who call her for such needs.

She’s faced her own challenges, too.

Diagnosed with cervical cancer during her third pregnancy, Minni underwent treatments after her child’s birth. When she again became pregnant, she was advised to have an abortion.

Minni, arguing that God had placed the child in her, was determined to continue her pregnancy. When her baby was born, all signs of cancer were gone -- not even any scar tissue. “We got it all!” the doctors said.

Minni responded, “No, you didn’t. God did!’”

In addition to all she does for people, Minni also fosters rescued dogs awaiting adoption and rescues horses. A foster location for the Meadow Haven Horse Rescue in Smiley, she doesn’t receive funds for feed or vet bills for the horses, which often are older, gaunt, and abused. She sometimes receives donations of hay or feed.

“My goal is to make sure they don’t suffer anymore,” she said. “They’ve been though enough.”

Currently, she cares for four horses and a donkey. Her children -- ages 15, 10, 8, and 7 -- give them all names.

The jackass, a rodeo-roping header in his former life, is “Greg.” He’s been with her for almost a year. Also used for roping target practice, he was traumatized, and was so shy when he arrived, they couldn’t get near him.

Now, Greg comes right up to the car, seeking treats. He defends her homestead, and has brought Minni more than one dead coyote in his mouth.

She’s such a selfless, giving person, one question simply had to be asked

“What do you need?”

“God seems to provide everything,” Minni said, simply. “I pray about everything and He finds a way. I put it in God’s hands and He just rolls with it.”

As one busy woman to others, she shared a little advice.

“Slow down and take a deep breath,” Minni said. “My daddy said ‘Don’t go faster than your guardian angels can fly.’”

 
 
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