Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sweet Beginnings

I was sorting through my memory box this morning when I stumbled upon it. A letter-sized, white, sheet of paper, slightly stained with a mysterious substance (I'm guessing chocolate), that made its way into my possession about 9 years ago...
I had only been taking from my new piano teacher for a couple months when she gave me the insurmountable assignment: find a poem I liked, and put it to music. Coming home that morning, I was filled with trepidation. Grapple with the time signature, key signature, and the actual logistics of writing a melody and accompaniment out on a sheet of paper? Much as I loved the idea of composing my own songs, I was certain that a purposeful tune of my own was beyond my abilities.

But an assignment is an assignment. I struggled through the process, eventually finding myself with a piece that fit together, worked with the poem, and met all the theory requirements. Nonetheless, I was disheartened by the result. Benjamin, however, thought "The Captain's Daughter" was wonderful, and could daily be found pounding out the minor tune on the piano, until I finally cried in exasperation: "Ben, write your own piece!"

And so he did. A few days later I found a sheet of paper, folded in quarters, sitting on my bed.
Opening it up, my eyes beheld a two-line tune that switched meter not only unconventionally, but also unnecessarily, considering that the beats did not always add up anyway. I knew as I looked at it that the tune was unplayable - my musical prowess at the time was such that I could not understand playing a piece without the exact beats. Yet, I was touched by the title, and went to find Ben and thank him for "my song." "Yeah, well, I figured that I want to write lots of music, and if I ever get famous, I wanted the first song I had written to be for you," my 9-year-old little brother told me, gazing proudly at the sheet in my hand. I had him play it for me, and then copied his performance to the best of my abilities, using the paper to be sure of the notes. And so Ben's first composition was performed in the quiet of our music room - just he and I, sitting on a piano bench, sunshine warming our backs.


Several years later, in 2010, another piece of his was performed, this time for a much larger audience, when friend Jenny and I played the piano-cello duet he composed specifically for us: "Forgotten Fantasia." And again, this spring, another ensemble of his, "Time," was played by Emmy, Rachel, and friend Jo.

But tomorrow is the real deal. At 3pm, in the sanctuary of Mount Scott Church of God, Benjamin will conduct OPAYCO in the first performance of his orchestral piece, "Battle for Skandia." Exciting, beautiful, and just plain fun, it has been such a privilege to be a participant in the premiering of his music. Tomorrow, as the grin slides over my face in response to the catchy cello motif, or the throb of the timpani beat, or the melancholic measures of the English horn, I'll look at Ben, and remember his first song. I'll remember that afternoon, swinging our bare feet from the piano bench, playing "My Sister Sarah." And I'll be proud of my famous composer-brother.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Want Cute?

This evening, Madeline asked if she could show Mama and I her new dance that she had made up. With Madeline, this is not an unusual request, so "Sure" was our slightly-preoccupied reply. The following demonstration ensued (please excuse the poor quality, our little p&s was all I had on hand):


She finished it all off by telling us "And then you just do it again and again and again until you get dizzy!"

Do you remember those dances?

It's a Question of Music


This is hilarious! I was blog-surfing and ran across this post idea. I thought it was funny, so here we go! :)

Instructions:
1. Put your iPod or MP3 on shuffle (Hmmm...I just put my iTunes on "shuffle")
2. Press "Next" for each question
3. Use the title of the song to answer the question
4. No cheating (Well, I shan't really cheat, but if the shuffle comes up with one of the sermons I have downloaded, I will skip it...that's not my music).


HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
"Hope" - Michael Card
Hmmm, that's a good thing to feel, I suppose.

WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK ON LIFE?
"My Father's Favorite" - Sense and Sensibility soundtrack

Yes, because I am my father's favorite, dontcha know. hehehe

WHAT DOES YOUR FAMILY THINK OF YOU?
"All the Better for Her" - Sense and Sensibility soundtrack
I have a great support team here...

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?"
"Joy in the Journey" - Michael Card
Just ask 'em, I'm never stressed, depressed, or sad...just don't talk to me about my upcoming birthday or student recital halls!

WHAT DO STRANGERS THINK OF YOU?
"Impromptu No. 3 in G flat" - Schubert
Because I'm so spontaneous.

WILL YOU GET MARRIED?
"Recovery" - Miss Potter soundtrack
Uh-oh, that doesn't sound promising.

WILL YOU HAVE KIDS?
"Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" - played by Jenny Oaks Baker
I'm really not sure how to interpret this one, it's a beautiful song, though!

ARE YOU GOOD AT SCHOOL?
"There is Nothing Lost" - Sense and Sensibility again
Meaning, of course, that nothing is lost on me. Even though I have technically graduated, I continue to absorb information the way a sponge absorbs water.
What was the question again?

WHAT SONG SHOULD THEY PLAY ON YOUR BIRTHDAY?
"Walking on Water" - Ever After soundtrack
No. I shall not attempt it.

WHAT SONG SHOULD THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
"The Parish Church Aflame" - the Patriot soundtrack

O goodness me.

THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR LIFE:
"God of All" - Twila Paris

Hey, good one!

YOU AND YOUR BEST FRIEND ARE:
"Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" - Herbster Trio

hehehe - well...kind of...I suppose...

HAPPY TIMES:
"God's Own Fool" - Michael Card

It is a good song! Don't be weirded out by the title.

SAD TIMES:
"Waiting for the Lights" - Tangled soundtrack
What?? Why am I still answering these questions??

EVERY DAY:
"She" - Celtic Thunder
Ok...

FOR TOMORROW:
"Oh, Father of Jesus" - Michael Card

Hmmm, another good one.

FOR YOU:
"Home" - Michael Card
Apparently iTunes shuffle likes Michael Card

WHAT DOES NEXT YEAR HAVE IN STORE FOR ME?
"Come By the Hills" - Celtic Thunder

Suweet! I knew it!! Ireland, here I come!

WHAT DO I SAY WHEN LIFE GETS TOO HARD?
"A Time for Us" - Jenny Oaks Baker

I can see it now. The car breaks down, a tree crushes our house, I loose all my music students and break both arms, Joshua switches to viola, and I look around and say "A Time for Us" hehehe.

WHAT DO I THINK WHEN I GET UP IN THE MORNING?
"Cinderella" - Ever After soundtrack
Naturally.

WHAT SONG WILL I DANCE TO AT MY WEDDING?
"Not a Beau for Miles" - Sense and Sensibility soundtrack
Hahaha! I may have no beaus, but I will have a husband!

WHAT DO YOU WANT AS A CAREER?
"The Family Farm" - the Patriot soundtrack
Actually, that would be fantastic!

YOUR FAVORITE SAYING?
"The Park" - Miss Potter soundtrack
Yup. I say it all the time. In fact, said it this morning as I was getting dressed. (???!!!)

FAVORITE PLACE?
"Patience" - S&S soundtrack
Um - this is a flat-out lie. To quote Inigo Montoya, "I hhhhate waiting."

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR PARENTS?
Haha! The sermon came up "From Trials to Triumph"...but like I said, I'm skipping sermons so...
"Like a River Glorious" - Herbster Trio
Yes, they are like a glorious river that flows...flows... um, yeah ok, it flows.

DESCRIBE YOURSELF:
"A Song for the Night" - Michael Card

No comment. I have no idea what to think of this.

WHAT DO I LIKE DOING MOST?
"To Die for Love" - S&S soundtrack
"To die for love? What could be more glorious?"

WHAT IS MY STATE OF MIND AT THE MOMENT?
"Come to the Table" - Michael Card
there are cookies! and tea!

HOW WILL I DIE?
"Escape Route" - Tangled soundtrack

Note to self: don't bale out of a second story window to evade a spider.

THE SONG THAT YOU'LL PUT AS THE TITLE?
"Marching to Zion" - Herbster Trio

That somehow seems wrong to put as a title for such a post as this. I don't think I will.

Well, you're amazing if you read through all that...It was amusing for me, at least! If you have a couple spare minutes on your hands, it would be fun(ny) to read your lists (but more because I get to know the kind of music you listen to, than because these questions make any sense!) Happy Wednesday!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Everything



“Walking on water? Please, people, this is the 21st century. Are we really so immature as to believe a story that blatantly defies all science and logic?”
Snickering. Incredulous head-shakes.
Chansen was warming to his theme. Without a doubt, this was one of his most passionate lectures – and he was good at it. It was in this class that he had effectively shaken the na├»ve and childish beliefs held by so many sheltered subscribers to the Christian fairytale.
“As to the supposed ‘miracle’ of Jesus’ resurrection, that is the most despicable, horrendous, uneducated story of them all,” he continued, emphasizing each adjective with dramatic pauses. “Dead cells do not come to life again. A body cannot function after being dead for three days. With all our modern science, we still don’t have the technology to bring people back from the dead – and a body certainly couldn’t come to life itself. The science of such a claim is completely impossible. C’mon! Do people even think when they tell these stories? No. It’s all too obvious that they don’t.”
With a snort of disgust, he swiveled on his heel toward the whiteboard, swiping a red dry-erase marker off his desk while he turned. As he spun, he noted several of his “religious” students squirming uncomfortably in their seats, and nodded to himself with smug satisfaction.
“Excuse me, Professor Chansen?” a self-assured voice rang out from the back of the classroom. Half-turning to meet the gaze of the questioner, the professor’s eyes lighted on the bright face of Cathurs, a science-savvy student with not a fleck of religious tarnish in him. With a grin, he pointed to the young man, “Yes, Michael, do you have a question?”
“Well, of course you’re correct in your assertions – I think we all realize the futility of claiming observable science is false – but I’m just wondering: In light of the modern times, what difference does it make whether these first-century stories are true or not?"
Chuckling, Chansen turned again to his whiteboard. “If I didn’t know any better, Michael, I’d think you were trying to get out of hearing my finest lecture.” The class tittered as he smoothly popped the marker’s lid off and began to write. “But it’s a good question. Regardless of whether these tales could be true or not – and I hope you all realize how completely illogical such ideas are – does it even matter? What would change, if they were true?” He paused for a moment, contemplating the pithiest phraseology available for answering such a question. And in that moment, briefly, he wondered.
What would change? What difference would it make if an ignorant fisherman in the first century really did walk on water? What discrepancies would one have to admit to if the Red Sea really parted, allowing thousands of people to pass through without so much as a damp shoelace? What points would have to be conceded if a man – who claimed to be God – actually did come to life after three days of lying in a sealed cave, dead and unpreserved?  If one accepted these alleged “miracles” of the Christian faith as true, then he would also have to accept that there truly was a God. A Being who could not be easily dismissed, this God would not be the “one of many” so many religions revered, or even the “clock-winding” god of the Deists. No, if the “religious fairy tales” of Christianity were true, then there was a God who not only created men, women, and the world for a specific purpose (for anyone, whether man, beast, or Being must needs have a reason for creating), but also created it to be run by observing the laws and lines laid out in His ‘inspired word’. If the miracles recorded in such a book were truly brought about by the power of God, then it would mean that, not only had He created and laid the laws for this world – the laws of science – but also that He could and did break them at His pleasure. If the power of this God could and did superimpose His supernatural will on the laws of the universe then it would undoubtedly be true that He, in the form of a man, did die and somehow, mysteriously, come to life an astounding three days later. And if He truly died and rose again, as the Bible said, then the message proclaimed in such a book was indisputably true: that he, Chansen, could never measure up to the unachievable perfection of an unerring God, and was thus required to throw Himself on the mercy of a Being he could not see, or else wallow in endless death for an eternity.
"What would change, if it were true?" His own words, now thick and oppressive, still hung in the air like smoke, choking him. Suddenly weak and shaken, Chansen’s hand fell to his side as he turned, once more, to face the class. “Everything,” he replied, his mouth sandpaper-dry, “It would change everything.”
Photo Credit

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You Know That Feeling...


When you ran hard, pushed yourself at the end, and consequently feel rather sick?

That's how I feel right about now.

It's good to run again.
Photo Credit

Monday, April 18, 2011

Girls and Teacups

Once upon a time, there lived a group of girls who loved Christ, their families, and each other. They were friends, and they liked nothing better than to go a-visiting one another.
But in the dark months of winter, when the rain pounded on the roofs and the wind whistled through the streets and trees, the girls dared not venture out too often - even to see each other - for fear of catching cold. So they stayed at home, studying, practicing, and dreaming of the days when gentle Spring would take the edge off of Winter's bite. 
And then, on a particularly dull afternoon, one of the girls looked at her calendar (the view outside her window wouldn't change 'til July), and said, "Dear me, it's Spring! We must celebrate with tea!"
And so, a happy little note went out to all the other friends, and when they all looked at all their calendars, and saw that what she said was true, they could hardly contain their excitement! A real Spring Tea! It was finally time.
Yet, even with the calendar's assertions that Spring had truly come, the girls found it hard to really believe; for grey clouds persisted, and sunshine was scarce, and the chill of the outdoors still bid them bundle up warmly. Was Spring really here? They did not think so. 
Until, that is, they saw the tea room. It was lovely! Filled with cheery orange flowers, white floating pom-poms, and lace and cloth blossoms, and every dainty, Spring-y thing a girl's heart could desire.
Yes, on that day, it finally felt like Spring. They sipped their tea, and laughed and laughed, and then went outside to enjoy the gentle Spring weather. They didn't turn blue, freeze, or shiver, because, of course, Spring was finally here!
  

 And so, the tea was a success! The girls had a lovely time, and were so happy to once again have a party with their friends!
"Friends we are
Friends we were
Friends we will forever be."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Routine's a Routine



Every evening I babysit, this little lady requests two very specific songs to have sung to her before she goes to sleep. Last night was no exception (although she did add "Yankee Doodle" to the list this time).


The first song is hilarious, and I can't for the life of me sing it right - but I blaze through anyways as penance for introducing it to her. She calls it "De Tacow Sowng":


The second, "Fawthew Dod," is ten times sweeter, and always has me leaving her bedroom with a renewed outlook on life... She learned it at Family Camp last year and, as I sing, she watches me, mouthing the words.
(this isn't exactly the same version, but...)


Her taste in genre combinations, and her strict adherence to the routine always makes me grin!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Smiles



When I got home from orchestra tonight, Daddy asked me what I was planning on posting.
"Nothing," I said, "I posted on Thursday."
"But you said you would post every Monday."


So here 'tis - Monday's post! I thought I'd share a couple smiles I've enjoyed this last week, in hopes that at least one of them will brighten and lighten your upcoming one!


People:
Mama, Daddy, Ben, Rachel, Z-man AND Grandma and Grandpa are home - YYYEEEAAAHHH!!!!


In Music:
1. Schumann. I began learning a few pieces from his "Kinderscenen" and, Oh, how beautiful and heart-wrenching they are! The harmonies in some of them make me feel like weeping, but deep inside; real tears would be too much on the surface to express the emotion...
2. Chopin. Learning the 'Revolutionary Etude,' and loving it!
3. Bruch. "Scottish Fantasy" - always!
4. Tangled. "I See the Light" - so sweet!
5. Gettys. "Behold the Lamb" I love how each verse takes you through a different part of communion. This is another one of those "deep-down beautiful" pieces.


In literature:
1. My Bible, of course. Favorite passage at this moment is Psalm 27, but I am being strongly convicted from James, so maybe that ought to be my favorite...
2. Elsie Dinsmore. I began reading this book aloud to the Twinkles, and was instantly re-hooked on the series (haven't read it in years)! So, I am ravenously re-reading them, and enjoying ever minute of it!
3. Ella Enchanted. Another re-read for me, but JT had never heard it, so several of us read it together over the weekend. I'm afraid I'm a hopeless fairy-tale addict. :p


In deed:
1. Baking sourdough bread.
2. Sewing.
3. Crocheting.
4. Running! (aka 'shuffling'...gotta get back in shape!:)


A lovely week to you all!


photo credit

Friday, April 8, 2011

Queen of the Fort

      
This is not usually my job.


As a matter of fact, my job is usually to laugh at the people doing this job.


Because they're paranoid.


Waaaay paranoid.


And I am not.


Usually.


How could I have switched roles so fluidly? Without even letting myself know? Didn't I realize that I was supposed to check in at the personality desk and notify myself that I would be having a temporary role reversal? What if it's not temporary? What if, in forgetting to check in, I forgot to alert myself to the fact that this is, in fact, permanent? I don't think I can even go there... Why borrow trouble from tomorrow? Ahhh, that sounds more like me, maybe I'm fine.


But why in the world, then, do I find myself checking to make sure the doors are locked, not once, but twice? Why would I pull JT from bed at a quarter to one this morning to go downstairs with me and investigate the thumping sound, which was, of course, simply the dog having a heyday in our trash can since we forgot to lock him up? Why do I feel the need to check on my sleeping siblings three times before I finally go to bed? Why did I lie in bed for an hour last night, listening to all the sounds a sleeping house makes, fighting my imagination as it concocted 'worse-case-scenario' explanations for every creak?


Because, duh, my mom, dad, and brother - the ones on whom I usually depend to discern any grave catastrophe (such as trash can thumping) - are gone this weekend! Ben took off Wednesday morning for Narnia and the North! Um, I mean, for Seattle, to go to some conference-thing with his honor's society (obviously, I was a little vague on details). Mom, Dad, Zach, and Rachel soon followed his itchy-footed example, but being loath to mimic him to the letter, they departed Thursday for the sunny south, travelling down to California to visit Grandma and Papa.


And so, you see, I am stuck here in the middle, burdened with the responsibility of being the paranoid, "is-everything-secure?" guard, and liberated by assuming the self-declared title of "Queen of the Fort." Even though the seven of us feel a bit forlorn without our MIA family members, we have had a lovely couple days, and have fun plans for the rest! Emily, my "Queen of the Fort in Training" (also a self-assumed title), and I have ruled with an iron hand of gentleness, and our minion--I mean siblings have done their duty in keeping us amused. Behold, as an example, the following conversation, which took place last night after the Twinkles (at the capable age of five) had been attempting - for nearly ten minutes, mind you - to spread a blanket on the floor:


Sarah: "Hurry up already, girls, It's taking you, like, three years!"
Megan: "Well, this is still the first day, hello!"
*choking laughter*


Besides providing smiles, the Middles and Littles left to our care have been a great encouragement in completing their mandated tasks--that is to say, their minuscule chores we graciously suggested. I believe their diligence was largely aided by the reward system the wise heads of the QOTF and QOTFIT set up for them. To be brief, we offer one, almost-full meal to each individual who completes his/her tasks within the course of a day. It has been unequaled in its results, and I strongly recommend it to any less-wise authority struggling with slacking, lazy children who refuse to work twelve hours straight.


O, look at the time! I must be off to my beauty sleep. A queen, you know, needs her rest...If I can sleep in this thumping house. Maybe I should go check the locks again.


Signing off, this is the totally paranoid prepared Queen of the Fort, leaving you with these words:


Mom, Dad, Ben, Rach, and Z, we can't wait 'til you come home!

NaPoMo?



Now you say, "Na-Po-What?"


I found out from my aunt's blog t'other day that April is National Poetry Month. Who knew? I also found out - again from her blog - that a haiku is actually a pretty cool form of poetry. This discovery was confirmed a few days later when a friend showed me a page of haikus she had written - all very amazing!


I had never written a haiku. To be completely honest, the form seemed rather...shhhh...silly. But now that I have been proven wrong, I decided I ought to at least try one. So I did. And it kind of worked.


Shimmer like a dress,
Sparkle like a lady's laugh,
Sunlight and water.

Somewhat weird, somewhat cool, not at all conforming to strict haiku format, but hey, first tries aren't supposed to be perfect.

Do you like haikus? Have you ever written some? I'd love to see them in a comment!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Some Random Style!





style: A distinctive manner of expression


Lauren from One Bright Corner has bestowed upon me the great honor of the Stylish Blogger Award! If, as Webster's dictionary claims, style is distinct, it would follow that style is unique. And if style is unique it would follow that the samples of styles found would be rather random. And if styles are random...what is more natural than to require that the acceptor of such an esteemed award list seven random facts about oneself before passing on this prestigious title? So, with a sincere hope that I do not bore you to the point of tears, I hereby list my seven points of randomness:


1. I have never liked any sneaker- or tennis-shoe-reminiscent foot covering (I believe this has something to do with the fact that I mostly wear skirts, and I dread the homeschooler cliche of "jean-skirt-and-tennis-shoes-with-white-bobby-socks"). And then, one day, it was love at first sight for me and a certain pair of these offending shoes. They are big, black, clumpy, and squeaky, and I trip over them almost as often as I take a step, but for some, inexplicable reason, I think they're wonderful (and I've even worn them with jean skirts)!


2. I have Raynaud's Phenomenon - a disease usually triggered and aggravated by smoking cigarettes. Hmm... I've never even spent the night in the same house as a smoker...


3. My favorite age so far was 17. I couldn't really tell you why...it was just a lovely age and year!


4. Before I went to England, I hated scarves. Two and a half years later, I own twenty of them.


5. I have never been snowboarding, water skiing, backpacking, or skydiving. I don't care about the snowboarding. I'm not sure, but I think I'd like to go skydiving. And water skiing and backpacking are definitely on my bucket list.


6. Poetry in general is fantastic, but Robert Frost... ahhhhh


7. All-time favorite quote: "...it is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy..." (Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis)


And now I get to share the fun! I hereby do tag the following people, and sternly charge them to share their seven random facts and pass on this o-so-honorable award:


Karissa from A Daughter's Devotion
Kirsteen from Life in My Houseful of Boys
Mama from Keri--On


Have fun!


http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/style?show=0&t=1301931844
http://books.google.com/books?id=9hWKm2sFV2gC&printsec=frontcover&dq=surprised+by+joy&hl=en&ei=zu6ZTfnaLuzQiALL6pCdCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=unsatisfied&f=false

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Can Only Imagine




Have you ever been so amazed by real beauty, that it made you short of breath? Made you feel as though you would burst? Made you feel, somehow, like there was a void deep inside of you that only that beauty could fill, if only you knew how to really embrace it? It’s rare, but when I do have it – whether it has been triggered by a heart-wringing strain of music or a breath-taking glimpse of God’s creation – it is not only beautiful, but it hurts. It makes one inexplicably happy, and senselessly sad; sad in an intense, longing sort of way, not in a sorrowful sense. Does that even make sense? Not really, but it is the case, nonetheless.

Anyway, there is something truly beautiful and mysterious about the book of Revelation. Its pages fill me with a wonder and desire that I cannot understand or explain. Today, reading this passage in church, that feeling over-whelmed me again:

“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.
And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.
Around the throne were twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.
And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thundering, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.”  – Revelation 4:3-6


Think of the beauty of the power, and the fear of the power, and the awe of the power of God that we will feel when we see this scene. Think of what it will be like to sing with all creation “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13b) O! Do you get goose bumps just reading those words?

Who can comprehend a beauty so great, it frightens?

Who can understand a sight so breath-taking, it terrifies?

Who can envision a scene so stunning, it petrifies?

How beautiful! How exciting! How amazing! How awesome! If simply reading this passage gives such an indescribable feeling, what will heaven be like?

I can only imagine.