Sunday, October 30, 2011

I've never ever...

in response to Pioneer Woman's list:

1. Broken a bone

2. Eaten pineapple upside down cake.

3. Painted my toenails purple.

4. Been swimming in the Pacific Ocean.

5. Toured London.

6. Watched "The Office"

7. Bungee jumped.

8. Given a name to a girl.

9. Been a maid or matron of honor.

10. Flown in a plane with fewer than 100 seats.

11. Taught middle school.

12. Read Crime and Punishment.

13. Gone skydiving. Or snowmobiling. Or skeetshooting.

14. Played a pants role in an opera.

15. Mowed a lawn.

16. Eaten a bug. At least on purpose. (while running or biking doesn't count, because unfortunately I've done my share of that...and it's just not pretty when it happens.)

17. Painted a landscape.

18. Been to Italy.

19. Sung a song in Russian.

20. Woven a rug. (but I plan to!)

21. drunk Cognac. (drank? drunken? drinken?...drinkalinken?)

22. Been the lead in a musical or opera. I am, I fear, a forever sidekick.

(but at least I am in a show soon! Yay!)

Let's talk about voice for once!

Yeah...haven't posted about voice for a while because, um...I haven't been singing.

There's been the occassional solo for church, and of course, my choir, Lyricora...but nothing beyond that.

And what's worse, is I haven't been practicing either.

So, needless to say, I've been in a bit of vocal limbo...self-imposed for a few reasons:

1. I just had a BABY. Pregnancy was not fun for my voice, and I can't even begin to describe how tired I am by the time I have time to work on my personal music studies. So, it's gotten pushed to the side until I have "time".

I am beginning to realize that there may not ever be a convenient "time" for me to do it anymore. I simply have to start making it more of a priority.

2. My voice seems to be changing. What else is new, right? I feel like I just keep gertting lower and plummier as the years progress...which is kinda fun, because I still have high notes. It's just that I think I'm sounding more and more like a true mezzo now.

But this time around...this pregnancy - I am having an easier time singing in the bottom of my range, and it seems bigger down there too. I'm cautiously excited about this...cautious because I don't know what the heck I'm doing with it half the time, and I still want to make sure I'm singing well.

Which brings me to the biggest news of the moment - I have begun the search for a new voice teacher! Yes, I've talked about it long enough, and now I have 2 trial lessons set up with a few teachers to see if they're a good fit for me.

One woman is a dramatic mezzo who began by singing at the Met for 20+ years. Yeah...that'll be a fun lesson in getting over my fear of failure in front of someone who's a billion times better than I'll probably ever be. I just hope to convey my willingness to work and hope she likes working with me.

The other woman is an older soprano who actually gives "tuneup" lessons to the mezzo above on occasion. She comes highly recommended from a few of my friends who take with her, and our email interaction has already shown me that she has quite a bit of spunk.

Both these lessons are next weekend. I've begun singing more, brushing things up and hoping I don't make a fool of myself. I know it's seemingly insignificant for some, but this is a big deal to me, and I would love for one of these teachers to work out - that they would understand my situation as a homemaker and yet my desire for bettering my voice. I would appreciate your prayers if you wouldn't mind! I want to make a good impression and not waste the money...these lessons are not cheap!

In other news, I have a solo in one of Lyricora's songs for our Christmas concerts. It's pretty modern, a piece called "The Rose." I'll write more about it's weird, yet fun. I've also been asked by our church's music director to sing some solos in their Christmas cantata. Not sure what they are yet, but that will be something else to look forward to.

It's been a while in coming, but I'm excited to get my voice back in shape!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

why communism doesn't work

"God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.

There is no such thing."

~ C. S. Lewis

Sometimes I look around at the world I am living in, and am driven back by the amount of pain, the mountain of suffering, the sting of resentment. Other times, I am angered by others' lack of humility, passion without reason, and self-serving actions. And then, I fight intimidation by those who have acquired some sort of status, those who have "lived life" and "known victory and defeat." And many of the people who I meet and interact with on a daily basis, the ones who are broken, blind, and frantic...are the ones most in need of the God who lives in me.

I used to choke on that terminology...Jesus in me. How could I possibly have the God of all things living in me? But it's true, whether I fight accepting it or not.

"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27

It is a mystery. It is a profound, glorious, wonderful, head-scratching mystery. The Lord has deigned to send his Spirit to live in me as His chosen child of grace. I die so that He may live in me.

I have found that others who are broken tend to be in my life. I don't always know what to say, but I love that they feel comfortable around me. Well, as comfortable as they could feel at any given moment, I guess. Right now, I have a coworker who is a big part of my school-life who is about as low as life in the middle class can get. Her health is failing, her husband lost his job a year ago, they are out of savings and retirement money, they are about to lose their house, and their marriage is falling apart because of his pride and her resentment.

What do you say to such a person? Everytime the least little thing goes wrong, she gets all ho-hum and figures God must be punishing her for something. Sometimes I will lead into a bit about my beliefs of God's love and grace and how I believe He doesn't necessarily bring things like this into people's life...and she listens. I don't say much, because I'm not always the most confident with my words and someone like her takes words from a processor like me as gospel truth, when instead, I am really just thinking out loud. And I want to be more careful with articulating my faith with those who are questioning than just thinking out loud. I want to have an answer.

But I often don't. I am trying to trust God to give words where I have none, to give right responses, even if they might not seem appropriate at the time. He knows their heart and their mindset. I don't. My job is to love, keep my eyes on Christ, and let Christ live through me that she might see Him more.

So often, I am afraid of rejection from others when I talk about my relationship with God. I always feel like those who aren't Christians hate talking about God. They automatically have a defensive stare and a couple pointed questions and so much hurt behind it all that it seems to be inviting argument to mention His name. Why is it in our "tolerant" society, that Jesus still causes so much controversy? It amazes me how violent people are in their accusations against God. It shows me how much people are hurting, how much the devils lies are succeeding, and how deep of a need there is for God's grace and love in our lives. There is truly no peace for those who don't know Him. He longs to welcome them, but they turn away. Without God, there is nothing happy.

On a side note, our pastor mentioned that this is why communism has never really worked. The One person who can make it all come together, give people the motivation and love to stay and work together and sacrifice for each not welcome. How can we be a community of people working together for a common good without God? It can't happen. There is too much that gives the Devil a foothold.

As Christians, can we trust that we all have this God in us? Can we begin to trust each other so that these dark days won't seem so dark when we are together? Can we truly be a light to those who are bumbling around with their darkened hearts in this increasingly frightening world? By God's grace, I hope so. I need you all more than ever. I need help with raising my kids, trusting my husband and friends, loving my coworkers and those who are in authority over me. I am desperate for comraderie that reeks of peace and love and laughter. I need a haven...and the only One who can provide it lives in us. Let's seek Him together. Individual devotion times are wonderful. But let's also strengthen each other by trusting this God who gives us peace and joy beyond measure and understanding. He gave us Himself. Let's give to others.