Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas albums 15-21 know you've been waiting for it...numbers 15-21 of my favorite Christmas albums:

15. Harry Connick, Jr. "What a Night!"

Ok, so it's obvious by now that I love jazz reflected in many of my choices here for these favorite albums.  Yet another great album by Harry...he just puts such great New Orleans flair in every song.  Love listening to both his albums.

16. Sarah Mclachlan, "Wintersong"

I'm normally not a fan of Sarah McLaclan.  I'm sorry!  I think she has a unique voice and some pretty songs, but I find her music...well...boring.  Maybe because I tend to like extremely singable music...which I guess hers is, but I don't like singing it.  Anyway...this album is hauntingly beautiful and I think entirely appropriate to the seriousness of the occasion of Christ's birth.  She also does some rarely done Christmas hymns like "O Little Town of Bethlehem."  It took me a while, but now I enjoy when the songs from this album pop up on my Pandora station. 

17. Eddie Higgins Trio "Christmas Songs"

Great album.  I love jazz trios, and this album does a fantastic job.

18. The Skaggs Family, "A Skaggs Family Christmas"

I was given this album by a good friend years ago...and hated it.  It is country...and I like country, but this is country.  Know what I'm saying?  However, the day came last year when I found myself harmonizing with slightly twangy vocals and realizing it was very easy to blend with this family of musicians...and then I was hooked.  The banjo, the fiddle, the pureness of the child's "Christmastime is here"...give this one some time and you might find it enjoyable too.

19. Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker Suite

Of course, right?  What a beautiful ballet.  I have seen this a few times, and know many of my students go every year to see it.  When Tchaikovsky originally wrote this, it was not well received, but grew in popularity starting in the 1960s. 

20. Andrew Peterson "Behold the Lamb"

I have been blown away by this album.  This man is an amazing really pricks your heart and brings home the message of God's grace and love for His people in sending Jesus.  It's brand new...check it out.

21. Ella Fitzgerald "Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas"

And the First Lady of Song!  My favorite is "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas."  Swing, swing swing!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Merry Christmas all!  May you be blessed with peace these next few days.  I aim to get back to some more thoughtful and less frivolous posts soon...but my brain and psyche can't really handle much more than this at the moment.  :)  Family is here, good food is being eaten, spiked drinks is good.  We have been having some wonderful advent sermons at church which have challenged and comforted me in the past few weeks.  It feels much weightier in the best way this year - more conviction about the materialism and more focus on God's sacrifice and incredible love for us in providing a way to Him, after all humans had done to spite Him.  What an amazing God we serve.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas albums 8-14

So, here's the next installment of can't-do-Christmas-without albums (at least for me!)

8. Amy Grant, A Christmas Album

An oldie but a goodie.  I know every chord and lyric to every arrangement by heart.  I even made one of my church choirs at one point do "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" like her arrangement.  And Smitty is playing background at this point in his career. 

9. Chris Rice: The Living Room Sessions, Christmas

Simple, beautiful piano arrangements of Christmas carols.  It is understated and perfect for the background of someone coming over for a talky visit, or just reading/studying.  It is not really that distracting of a cd, but still is beautiful to just sit and listen to.

10. Michael W. Smith, It's a Wonderful Christmas

I know...Smitty again.  It's Jon's fault...he loves this guy.  We have a good amount of his cds, as well as the piano books.  Anyway.  This second Christmas cd of Michael W. Smith is a bit more serious than the first one, but no less beautiful.  In fact, I would say this one is downright awe-inspiring, in the best possible way.  More than once have I been caught by Isaac or Jeremiah with my hands raised singing Alleluia's to my God for His precious gift to us.  I do wish his voice was not so tinny, but other than that, this album is wonderful.  He is a gifted arranger and composer.

11. Christmas with The California Raisins

Sorry for the grainy picture.  This is actually The Temptations, pretending to be raisins for some reason...I guess it was an ad thing they did in the 80s?  But...really fun motown arrangements of classic Christmas songs.  I clearly remember my dad turning up the TV when their version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" came on during one of my Christmas specials.  He loved these songs.

12. Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas

Ok, so this album is fantastic, and I know not everyone's cup of tea (including my husband's)...but you cannot deny her vocals.  Great diva moments and really fun cd overall.  Great for belting out some Christmas cheer when you need to blow off some steam.  :)

13. Lady Antebellum, On this Winter's Night

I just discovered this album, and the harmonies and arrangements are so comforting and clear.  In general, I like this group (I am a fan of country music) because they tend to do the whole story-telling thing well in a modern setting.  They also make great music that is not too over-the-top (unlike Ms. Carey above...).  It keeps popping up on my pandora, and I find myself improvising harmonies over the top of their arrangements more often than not.

14. The Messiah, G.F. Handel

There are so many renditions of this work...I can't begin to claim enough knowledge about which would be the best cover to portray here.  So, I chose to a part of the original scribblings of G.F. Handel himself.  This part is the soprano recitative "And the Angel said unto them, "Fear not!"  I sang this many moons ago with a string quartet and full choir when I was a junior in college, and it was a blast.  This work is full of such beautiful composition - a true treasure to listen to at Christmas.

Ok, more next week!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Christmas albums, days 1-7

Christmas music.

I think I like these types of songs better than almost any other type of songs.

The anticipation...
The joy!
The silliness.
The awe.
The memories the songs evoke.

No other time of the year is quite like it.

Here are some of my favorite albums (will be added to each week):

1. Michael W. Smith's Christmastime

Every year (and it seems to get a little bit earlier each time) my husband will suddenly put this cd on while we're all driving somewhere, and...there it is!  It's Christmastime!  No other cd gets us in the mood quite like this one.  It is beautifully orchestrated, awe-inspiring, and has a good dose of Christmas silliness in there too.

2. Harry Connick, Jr., When my heart finds Christmas

This is one that keeps popping up on my pandora, and I would listen to it for the "(must've been ol') Santa Claus" - so fun!  This cd is full of New Orleans big band style, and just makes me so happy every time any of the songs come on.

3. Whitney Houston, The Preacher's Wife soundtrack

This is not technically a Christmas album per se...but the movie is set at Christmas time and many of the songs are christmas songs.  Primarily gospel, with a bit of Houston pop thrown in there...I think it's fabulous sing-your-heart-out kind of music.  Her "Joy to the World" is phenomenal.

4. Michael Buble, Christmas

Another one that I don't actually own, but am trying to create a Pandora station exclusively of his songs...this guy has great style with classic songs.  I love his "I'll be home for Christmas"'s these little vocal stylings he does so effortlessly that are subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) wonderful.  In my humble opinion, he really is a Sinatra of our time.

5. The Carpenters, Christmas Portrait

I grew up listening to this every year, when my dad would throw the tape in our cassette deck while we decorated the tree.  Before I knew anything about vocal technique at all, I knew this lady had something different and special.  Her rich sound was like none other I had heard, and I spent much of the Christmas season trying to imitate her sound.  I hear this album and feel like I am in my parents' living room and unwrapping all our old ornaments again.

6. Vince Guaraldi trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas

What needs to be said?  I feel like I just saw a bunch of you out there nod your head in approval.  This is quintessentially Christmas.  Everyone can hear this jazzy, light-hearted  music and think of the special scenes from this show that they love.  It is just fabulous.

7. Straight No Chaser, Christmas Cheers

I have loved this group for years, and they have a great Christmas album.  Spectacular, original harmonic structure under traditional carols and christmas songs, clear vocals, a lot of whimsy and flair - this album is so fun.  You won't be able to help but sing along and smile real big.  :)

Another 7 next week!  What are some of your favorite Christmas albums?

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Ours was full of loud children, turkey roasted with olive oil and rosemary, 8 different pies, leaf raking, and loud children.

Did I mention the loud children?  Yes.  There were 5 boys ages 6 and under.  And they loved every minute together.

Anyway, let's dive right in, shall we?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I think I want to rethink how we do Christmas this year. The materialism and sugar rushes and craziness are exciting, but shallow. It fades all too quickly into a stomachache and a need for sleep.

Who am I kidding, I always feel that need for sleep. :)

I just hate that our culture has made it about that first part of the song, and forgotten the second part:

Please put a penny in the old man's hat.

Not only that, but even beyond generosity with those less fortunate, the reason we are supposed to be celebrating is because of this GIGANTIC miracle called our Redeemer otherwise known as God in Son-form sent to us to live our life out and bring us back to Him because there's no WAY we could ever make that happen on our own!

I want SO much for my children to grow up without the materialism focus. Without the bribing for good behavior. Without (gasp!) Santa. I'm not sure how this can happen when we are completely surrounded by these things...but I know we are supposed to be in the world but not of the world. And I know that His truth is worth celebrating more than our pleasure and comfort levels. I want to bring home the truth of this advent season to my children.

This lady has written an awesome post on this...much funnier and more eloquent than I could ever write. If this is something that peaks your it is.

Please know that I am not intending for our house to be a "no-fun" zone, or for us all to be serious about Jesus' birth at all times.  No! I want joy and awe and wonder at the Christ-child come to us, and stories read and beautiful music, and VeggieTales to make the story live for my littles, and baking for neighbors, and Operation Christmas child.  I want white lights and peppermint, Christmas concerts and snow, choir parties and great food.  But I want the celebration to be for God's love, not for our own satisfaction.  

also...I plan on doing a favorite Christmas song per day leading up to Christmas...will probably post once a week stating all seven songs.  I could love this time of year for the music it produces alone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

thanks list

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

For a thought-provoking Thanksgiving post (that won't be this one...ahem) read this.


This year has been so full, so here goes my list of "thankfuls":

*note: not a comprehensive list...just a list. :)

a warm house

no mortgage

gobs of gluten-free info on the web

grace for a sweet as sugar older boy who struggles to understand the world around him

flashes in the eyes of my younger child

Toy Story 2

a Daddy for my boys

good clean humor

Jeremiah's wonderful amazing kindergarten teacher

support from my school

stretching experiences in teaching

a Masters degree 2/3 done

A chance to perform solo

a wonderful group of singers to help choral music live

a barter system childcare solution

understanding whole food cooking

The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin

coconut oil

parents to stock our pantry, rejoice in our joys and help through our troubles

an amazing church family

new friends who see me

old friends whom I have learned to trust

graceful imparting of wisdom from God

a scattered brain helping me let go

an easygoing eater in my older child

a husband who is willing to eat pretty much anything (even liver and onions!)

stir fry with peanut sauce

Jeremiah learning to play

observing a brother relationship up close

grace for a headstrong little boy of laughter

Jon starting full time seminary (a long time goal!)

a scholarship!

lots of couches in which to build forts

a reading boy


My brother coming into his own


grace for this flawed girl

composers who have talent in abundance to bring home understanding of God's loving sacrifice and redemption at Christmas

better understanding of colleagues at work

a light in Jon's eyes

a fresh interpretation of the Old Testament

challenging 3rd grade students

always having what we need

sometimes having what we want, too!

local honey from wonderful friends

a very very patient husband

soft, warm baby feet to hold during nighttime wakings

a toddler baby who suddenly settles when I sing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" (he calls it "why oh why" as in the line "If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh, why can't I?")

Snuggles with my older boy as we read the same book for 4 months in a row for bedtime

The Jesus StoryBook Bible

Permission to decorate

love of an all-powerful, all-knowing Savior


Hope you have a peaceful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I feel like there is too much, and yet not enough...














Things I've been pondering. I wish I was more, but then there would just be...more. I've been reminded by many good people - some I know very well, some I only just am beginning to know - that I need I NEED to give myself grace in the day-to-day grind that is life right now.










I feel like I have let go of so much and yet there is so much screaming for more of my intention. I feel a bit purposeless while being driven by every need from place to place. I must work so we can survive and pay bills and have health insurance...I must care for my children physically so they don't get sick, emotionally so they feel secure, academically so they know what's up, socially so they know how to treat people...I must clean the house so we stay healthy and can have a functional home and have people over occasionally without embarassment...I must create a homey atmosphere so we all have a sense of belonging and trust to lean on...I must continue to sing so I don't lose the skills I've worked so hard to hone...I must minister to others as I can because of God's desire for His work to be fulfilled...I must be a loving, supportive wife to a hard-working husband who draws strength from me as I do him...

I must remember when this all too often becomes SO overwhelming that

God has equipped me to do His good work

I cannot possibly do this all on my own strength, much as I constantly strive to (and fall miserably short)

Jesus has asked me to trade my yoke for His - He desires freedom from fear and guilt for me.

Responsibility is something that feels very heavy to me. I do not crave it or desire more of it. I do not ever recall wanting to be the one in charge. And yet, here I am. In charge of so much...but with God's grace.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sorry for the somewhat heavy posts lately, friends. It seems to be a valley-like season of life for me, but pleae know that I acknowledge my blessings and have many moments of complete contentment from day-to-day. What I write here reflects the deep murmurs of my heart-thoughts, so things tend to dig a bit deeper. Big thoughts and questions and wrestles with the God of my heart lately. Thank you for your prayers and for simply encouraging me by reading this little blog of mine. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Voice.

Ok. So you knew at some point, on a blog about singing, I would probably comment on the new(-ish) show, The Voice. In my opinion, a much better singing competition show than Idol. And my golly...can these people sing.

I like that, whereas Idol was anybody and everybody singing, and so you felt that the obligatory awful person was thrown in there about every 5th time until the last few shows, Voice has real artists who are a bit established and looking for their first big break. So, regardless of whether you like them or not, they can usually sing. And sing well.

The entire reason I am even taking the time to write on this little blog about such a cultural fad as Voice is because of Trevin Hunte. If you have not been watching the show, then you at least need to click on the links below and listen. to. this. man. sing.

Please, I beg you. You won't regret the few minutes you spend listening. I get goosebumps every time I hear him even start, and by the end, I kid you not - I am choked up with how powerfully he conveys the music. He is up there with Whitney and Mariah.

No judging my musical tastes, please. comments about me being overly emotional and chronically tired. While this state might affect me to the point of crying at commercials, this boy is truly phenomenal.

Take a listen.

I laugh every time at Blake yelling at Adam, "What is wrong with you?!" Seriously...I theorize the only reason he didn't push his button for Trevin is because he knew there was nothing he could offer him.

Here's one that's called a knockout round...both singers sing the same song as a duet and the coach chooses which one did a better job.  As you will hear, this was a crazy pairing in which the singers, Trevin and Amanda spurred each other on and on.

Both singers ended up staying, neither was eliminated. Good call, Voice.

And one more, just because he is incredible. This is another knockout round, but the singers sing two separate songs, one right after the other. Trevin begins about halfway through the video.

Who knew a Phil Collins song could sound like that? What a surprise at 2:39! and the end...can you imagine how overwhelmed and blessed he must be feeling?

This boy just turned 18. According to his story from the show, he has had not an easy life. I hope he wins, because the other singers do not even come CLOSE.

not that I'm voting or anything. Just if America has ears at all...Trevin is the Voice.

Friday, October 26, 2012

put on a happy face...

Today I had the most epic fall I've had in a while.

Those of you who have been around long enough to have not fallen in a pretty much is embarrassing, humiliating,and OH SO PAINFUL.

I wasn't expecting it at all.  I was getting my voice student a glass of water, had turned to get my coffee mug in the other hand, then go up the three stairs into the kitchen...

and then I have no idea.  I just knew I felt the most blinding pain in my lower half and liquid was everywhere and my sweet little voice student was running around saying things like, "oh no!  I've got a towel! are you alright?  oh no!"

I can usually tough out little falls and things when people are around me, it is rare when I cry over an injury...

I would've cried if she hadn't been there.  I contemplated not getting up, but thought that would scare her.

So, instead, I got up and desperately tried not to limp and led her into the music room all while chattering like a silly ninny who hadn't just broken her kneecap just to make her feel like things were ok.

I think I have a problem with pleasing people. 

My knee and shin and feet hurt, as the day goes on, I'm considering taking something for the pain.  I'm pretty sure it's just bruises, but my knee is complaining something awful.

I don't know about you, but I feel pretty stupid when I fall...and then I got thinking - even when I was a kid I felt stupid, so maybe that never goes just recover faster as a child. 

I feel like when I try to walk tomorrow, I might consider not.

I wish this was a funny story...anyone have any funny stories of falling out there? 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

marriage...or just the wedding?

I have a coworker, I'll call her Susie (not her real name).  She is someone that I don't really associate with at work mostly because we just don't really get a chance.  But...I'm also not really sure she is someone that I would be able to associate with easily, given the few interactions I've had with her, and given the way I've seen her relate to others and talk about others when they aren't around.  She's young, probably my age or younger, works in Special Education, and tends to act like her job is the most important while cozying up to the principal and anyone else who might help her get "her" way of things done.

Now...I know this is how a lot of people tend to operate in business and many jobs...but it is exactly why I am so glad I am not in one of those types of jobs.  I enjoy the "kid" aspect of my job and the "teaching" aspect of my job...not the agenda-acheiving aspect of my job.  Priorities for me tend to be a bit different...and that creates some awkward moments sometimes with coworkers.

Anyway - that derailed fast.  My point was...

Oh, yeah.  So, Susie.  She very recently got married to her boyfriend that she's been living with for a while.  It has been all wedding planning for this entire school year, and she has made sure that everyone knew about it.  She was VERY excited. 

So, the following week after she was back from her honeymoon, I see her at dismissal duty and offer my congratulations and ask her how everything went?

"It was really totally out of a movie.  I couldn't have imagined it any more perfect," she said sadly.

That's right, I said she said it sadly.  She goes on.

"Now, I'm just feeling so bummed out, like, every day since we got back from the honeymoon, I just feel like that's it!  No more planning, no more appointments...we've been so focused on planning everything perfectly, and now it's just ho-hum life.  I've been like, on the verge of crying every day!"

I look at her with, I hope not as quite an incredulous look as I am feeling inside.  I want to shake her.  What is wrong with you?!  I am thinking.  You just got married, supposedly to the love of your life.  Was the wedding all you wanted? 

I am not one to get on my soap box very often, but this one bothers me.  So many people now live together before marriage, and I just don't believe it's a good idea!  It's definitely not biblical, and some people even have this mentality about it once they are a, well, now what?  What's so special about this?  The honeymoon stage of a relationship should start during the honeymoon.  How's that for a revelation? The honeymoon stage is all about discovering each other and finding out how to love each other as you live together for the first time.   After that, it's about a commitment you made to each other and honor no matter what. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

a Singer.

“The major benefit for me as a writer? 
No guilt…There are things more important than your writing career.”
 –Jerry Jenkens, Writing for the Soul

I read that Jerry Jenkins (Christian author) made a commitment to only write when his children were asleep. He believes God blessed that commitment by granting him success in his writing, and I'm sure in his relationship with his kids. He felt compelled to keep his priorities straight.

I try to do that with my singing too. I usually try to take gigs that do not take too much time away from my children, something that is becoming increasingly hard, which is why I'm really not doing any singing right now.

That, honestly, makes me feel very insecure in my singing. Not singing makes me feel like I really can't sing. Which, is an entirely different thing. I wish I could just trust that I can sing well and be done with it, not needing affirmation from anyone and everyone for that confidence.


Back to keeping priorities straight. I believe that God has made me a singer...I'm still trying to figure out what kind of singer, but I think I'm slowly learning why: because it glorifies Him. I just need to remember that it is from Him and for Him, not of my own doing or for me.  I need to work hard to gain more "talent"...but it should not be at the expense of other callings He has placed in my life.

A little story:  Recently, my kids and I were having a day.  It might have been due to the fact that we weren't really feeling that good, but we didn't know that yet.  All I knew is that my limited resource of patience was being tested.  It was the dinner-bath-bed time of the day, and Jon was at class, so I had this lovely routine all to myself.  With two whiny, tired children.  I had Jeremiah at the table eating (this is the 4th time I've said it..."TAKE a BITE!" - commence broken-hearted pleas of relationship restoration from my sensitive, yet ornery 5-year old) and Isaac in the bathroom tub about 5 feet away, whining and standing up trying to maim himself by slipping.  I started feeling irrationally irritated, so rather than yell...I decided to start singing.  What did I sing, you ask? 

"Somewhere over the Rainbow", gospel style.

Well I'll be if they didn't shut right up and start eating and playing and smiling happily as if their little worlds were all right with them.

I liked this effect so much, that I sang another song "Bye Bye Baby", arranged by Jane Monheit.  By this time, I'm feeling much better as well, and I came to a stunning (for me) realization.  God has made me to be a singer.  End of story.  And this doesn't eclipse my calling to be a mom, or a wife, or a teacher.  All of that is meant to work in tandem.  But my greatest talent and gift is that of singing to bring glory to Him. It makes everything else seem...right.

Now, you may disagree, or think this is bad theology...I've never claimed to be any sort of great theologian (I leave those discussions to my husband).  All I know, is that I felt God's presence while I sang jazz to my children, and He calmly reminded me that I don't need to define my talent or success by the world's standards, but by His.

What about you readers out there?  Anyone else have dreams and aspirations that you feel compelled to "shelve" or that look differently than you imagined as a teenager?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A wormhole of sickness

Oy, what a couple of days. A week actually...we have been in a sort of time stand still called 'the flu"...or at least something that resembled it an awful lot.

Coughing (lots of coughing).
Occasional puke.
Nearly sleepless nights.
Needy children.
Needy adults. (Myself included)
Calling in sick to my entire week of school.
Jeremiah not going to school all week.

Not. Fun.

But, there are a couple of bright things. Jon has something called "reading week" at seminary this week so he did not have to be at class! Even though he is pretty sick too, it is nice to have another adult around to share the moaning and whining and coping with. And it has been so nice to have cuddle time with my boys while they feel rotten...especially Isaac who seems to never stop long enough for me to cuddle him unless he is met by an unfamiliar face or is feeling sick. So, trying to focus on the positive.

Also, I've been trying out a few new things lately, mostly due to our sickness...home remedies and whole food living stuff. Here's what we've tried:

Garlic and honey. Did you know this is a natural disease fighter? You can take this several ways...we have been swallowing it whole like a pill. Even Jeremiah tried it, although he was a bit distraught with the "onions" as he called them. You put some honey on a spoon, finely mince a raw clove of garlic, put that on the spoon, then put more honey on the spoon, then down the hatch! It really is not too bad, although Jon might beg to differ. There have been many people on the web saying this is a great preventative thing for illness and disease...I want to try this recipe soon (although hopefully we Won't get this sick again anytime soon!)

Vinegar. On our noses, in our ears, on our counters. I've found it helps to un-stuff my nose, which is nice. But really burns when your nose is which case I put some coconut oil on my nose, and that was really nice. It has helped that rubbed raw feeling your nose gets when it's been running for a day or so.

I've been making bone broth for us to be's a cool concept, I'll let you know how we fare this winter with it. It's always simmering on the counter, and at the end of the week, you throw it out and start a new batch. It's supposed to leach out the gelatin and vitamins and minerals and such from the bones of whatever meat you're using, and that's good for tastes good and is so nice to have something warm whenever I want it. And it only costs .03 cents an hour to run your crockpot.  So they tell me.  I'm gullible, so I'll believe it. Until I get a monstrous electricity bill!  HA!  (I hope that doesn't happen).

Sprouted/soaked grains. This is a whole other post, but I'm trying it for the first time right now. Soaking the flour tonight, cooking pancakes tomorrow. Maybe I'll let you know how it goes. " Maybe" only because I don't really update this super frequently, have you noticed?

Honey instead of sugar. We've pretty much cut out all white sugar (which includes brown sugar). Instead, we use honey, maple syrup, fruits, agave nectar, and stevia. I'm not totally sold on this one yet 'cuz I need to do more research (like, isn't cane sugar natural too?) but for now, it's nice not feeling so sugar crazy all the time.

So, that's our week. Oh, and Jeremiah's full on reading now. And Isaac can open the fridge. And Jeremiah's favorite movie is Toy Story 2, which we may or may not have watched a half dozen times since 4 days ago. And Isaac says "no", "school", " '-Miah", "apple cider" "go!", "bottle" and about a dozen other things, usually very emphatically, which would be cute if it wasn't 3 in the morning.

But, gosh my kids are cute. I am grateful for this week to observe them.

We are going to try to have tomorrow be a 'normal' day. Here's hoping!

Here's some fun for kiddos at the local Fair recently:

Friday, September 21, 2012

train of thought...

i am sick.

but then i put vinegar on my nose and ears and felt much better.

I read that on some website.

I've been reading a lot of natural type things on websites lately.

man, people are pretty opinionated and vocal about it when it comes to...almost everything?

maybe it's easier on the internet...some sense of anonymity because you can't see people's faces and change your mind to please them or argue with them or be disappointed because of their expression...

the internet is the introvert's security blanket while still interacting with the world.

never mind. that sounded stupid. :)

did you know vinegar is naturally antibacterial?

true story.

i know some high school students who say that about 12 dozen times a day.

true story.

are they assuming i think they're exaggerating? or untruthful? or hypocritical?

just because they assert the truth according to them, does that make it the truth?

do i have to believe it?

how many people actually do this in their lives?

some would argue that i do this in my belief of Christ as God and belief of the Bible as authentic truth and my belief of God as real and living.

but i KNOW whom I have believed.

Nothing I read or have seen compares with the work He has done in my soul.

everyone should listen to Eric Whitacre's "Hope Faith Life Love" because in it is the most extraordinary expression of those words and more, including "soul."

makes me miss my choir.

did i mention i quit my choir?

true story.

sad story.

but needed to happen as now is just not the time for me to off doing things that take me away from my family.

that was the last 6 months and it got a bit old towards the end.

also, Jon needs some time to pursue his purpose and be the one who is gone chasing dreams and i stay home and be the constant.

He has been a wonderful constant for me and our kiddos over the last years.

he is taking Greek and it is HARD.

which reminds me.

i said i would help him make flashcards of these greek words that I don't understand.

problem is, neither does he.


just kidding.

not really.

but that's what the flashcards are for!

can I get an amen?

it's all greek to me.

(you know you were thinking it too)

ok, bye now. :)

thanks for reading.

unless you didn't, then thanks for nothing.

k, bye for real. :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

my heart on my a rambly way.

I've been reminded tonight.

God has arrested my thoughts of saving my family, granting better health through my efforts at nutrition, cleansing, detoxing, etc, etc.

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." Matthew 16:25


I've not written much about him here. But my oldest boy is a constant struggle for me between the light and dark inside me. The struggle between the trust I know and have learned of God and the doubt I sometimes believe more than my trust at times.

He has autism.

I've never even written it out here, hoping that it would go away in time. I didn't know, still don't know at times how to view it or talk about it. How to share who he really is instead of "what he has." This diagnosis in our world shades most everything.

And I believe with all my heart that he is more than this diagnosis.

But sometimes, even I have to remind myself that autism is not the end of him.

This term, autism, is simply a way for the medical community to define a set of medical problems a person struggles with, just as any name for any disease or illness. It is a broad term, covering many aspects of delay in children. And there is no conclusive acknowledgement of what causes it, which is perhaps the most frustrating thing of all.

When he was first diagnosed, the doctors and specialists assured me that it was nothing I had done that "made him this way," that he was "born with it." Part of me is not ok with that statement, if only because how could they know if they don't know what causes it? My husband asked me at one point why I would torture myself with ways that I could've caused this in him...but I don't think I am. I just want answers. Mostly, I want answers so I can fix him.

That has been the dark side of my struggle. I want to "fix" him.

I wonder if other parents of children with delays think this. I feel awful about even admitting it, but there it is.

Then, I always feel as if God is prodding me to think deeper about it - this disease - and about His plan. I do not believe God gave my son autism, but I do believe that He will use it for good, somehow.

What I don't know is how my role fits in. I have been researching diet changes, naturopaths, therapists, school programs, etc. Diet has been a big thing for me lately, feeling like I am seeing changes in my boy from his diet modifications. Hopeful changes. So, if I stick to this plan of gluten-free or grain-free or everything-it-seems-to-be-at-times-free then my son will be healed and walk and talk and play like the "normal" kids and I won't feel so terribly fearful about his future and everything will be all right with our world.

And maybe that's exactly what is wrong with my thinking about this. I want everything to be all right with our world.

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." Matthew 16:25

But...isn't God in control of our world? Do I think He doesn't have a divine plan to either save us from this pain and disease or help us to walk through it? Am I willing to sacrifice my ideal of our lives day-to-day and trust?

No. Sometimes, if I'm honest, I don't think He does and I don't feel I can. But I am struggling to believe.

Why is it so hard with your kids to trust? I never knew how naive I was in my ability to trust God until I had to put someone else in His hands beside myself. Go ahead, God, I would say. Do whatever you want to me, and I will stick by you. But now I find myself saying, just, please, don't let bad things happen to my kids. They don't understand, they are so vulnerable, they are going to get hardened...

And maybe one of the gut-wrenching things for me to realize is that I still end up making it all about me. I am afraid to be seen as a failure with my kids. I am afraid they will blame me when they are messed up by the world.

I am trying to save my ideal of my life. My ideal of their/his life. How do I trust God enough to lay it down?

What a heavy post. I'm sorry to bring you down. This has been weighing on me, literally, for about 3 years now. How do I trust that God will "work all things together for good"? And yet, there is a part of me that honestly, truly believes that. And I am clinging hard to that hope.

What's hard is that my definition of good might not be God's definition. But I trust that He will open my eyes to see His goodness.

If you feel so led, I am asking for help. Please pray for my children, specifically my oldest son as he navigated kindergarten with his impairment. Pray that he will grow in social understanding and find joy in friendships. Pray also for Jon and I as we help him understand, parent his heart, and struggle with response to this disease even now. I believe God listens and hears our prayers. Pray that His good will will be done in our lives. I would really appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Hello Lord

Oh, I needed this song tonight. It all feels a bit overwhelming, with



Developmental concerns

Schooling options




Longing for Peace





Lord, who am I but Your child? I am who You made me and I long to be as You made me to be. These little ones are the same. I ask for strength and grace and love; above all things, love.

Let me not be a clanging cymbal. Help me love as You love.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What if it's not ok...

This post has given voice to what I've been thinking lately.  Not for any particular reason, just because God's will and providence have been on my mind.

I particularly like this:

"If you listen carefully, if you follow the logic, you will see it. God’s favor associated with the outcome. Perhaps that’s comfort to the healed and their families. Perhaps it’s a good story for the Sunday morning meeting. But one man’s salve is another man’s sore.

What if God fails to orchestrate the proper cure at the proper time? What if he stands to the side, seemingly idle, while the innocent go to the grave? What if the proper providential miracle is conspicuously absent? Does that mean that God was absent, that his hand was too short to save?"

Have I been expecting God to answer all my prayers for my children with "yes"?  If He decides not to heal, not to give comfort - is He wrong?

Are they really mine?

One family in our church recently lost a young daughter to drug use.  I didn't know them very well, but keenly felt the devastation through our church body - it was a difficult time.  The Sunday after her death, the mother sent a message with one of the elders to tell the church body, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.  Thank you all for your prayers."

I cannot fathom such a response, but hope that I will someday be able to trust God's providence in such a way.  He loves my children more than I can ever hope to, and has their best in mind.   His best for them might not be my best, but I need to pray for more trust.

Friday, August 17, 2012


On July 22, I turned thirty years old.

There are a few things I would like to remember and a few things I feel I've learned. And there are many more things that I need to continue to learn. So...

I've been inspired by a few blogs to tell my former self a few things.  I'll choose my past twenty-year old self and describe things that, if she had known them then, might have helped her relax a bit about getting older and "growing up"...things that she would maybe be surprised at. 

Here we go...

1. You will not feel grown up, or like a wise adult, or that you even have most of your life together, at age 30. What a revelation that would have been! I have always felt that "once I'm older, I will finally be mature and know what it is I'm supposed to be doing, and how life is supposed to work". But no! Life is still in flux, and I'm still a bit surprised at that, although happy about it in some ways. Life does not suddenly become easy and predictable after college, and God's purpose for you does not shine down in some obvious divine splendor of sunshine on your graduation day. There is still a lot of process going on, and I have a feeling there's still quite a bit of processing to come in my next ten years.

2. You will get married straight out of college and have two kids by the time you are 28. I know you did not necessarily plan on that happening, but what a blessing! You tend to go with your gut when it comes to big decisions, and this 30 year old has learned that the "gut instinct" for you, tends to be God's prodding.  Listen to it - it tells you about jobs, relationships, and trust.

3. Because of #2, life has ended up much less traveled with less performing than you hoped for.  Yet, it is still more wonderful than you can imagine right now.  God has taught you so much about Him, others, and myself by transforming that 'ideal' life  into a life guided by Him.  You still perform, but it's not the focus anymore.

3. You will struggle with God over trust issues, especially with your kids. It has affected your relationship with Him, and you will have many spiritual valleys to walk through in these next ten years.  Keep up the struggle, though, as His blessings are all the more abundant as you take the time to pray through them.  Trust that God is good, all-knowing and mighty in His creation.  Nothing He has made is a mistake, and He has plans.  Work every day to trust them.

4. Enjoy being near family now, because pretty soon, they will all be gone.  Most of them live in the southern Midwest now, which will make more sense in a year or two when your mom starts researching her family's genealogy.  Don't take them for granted and love on them all you can while they are here.

5. Having a house, 2 cars, well-paying jobs, and no debt is not as automatic as you might think.  Stop using your credit card and start balancing your checkbook.  Yes, it is not sexy or exciting to do these things, but TRUST will be kicking yourself later and literally paying for it even now.

6. Pay attention in music education classes.  This will be your primary source of income, and it is, after all, what you are going to school for.  You have enough natural ability to skate by and teach relatively well, but you will regret not paying better attention in class while you could have.  Stop worrying about performing so will have plenty of time to build that resume.  Remember to also focus on teaching well, not just to please your professors, but because one day soon you will realize that you are affecting hundreds of lives over the years.  You need to teach them well.

7.  Evaluate your friendships and be intentional about who you spend time with.  Friendships are not as conveniently made and kept after college.  Push yourself to open up and trust friends with the big things.  Trust people to love you, and love them with all you have.  Don't hold back, and if they let go, it does not mean you are unlovable.

8. Keep praying.  Even when it seems too busy or you don't know what to say - keep praying.  Talk to God because He loves you and He knows.  You need Him more than ever now.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Here's my stream-of-conciousness rambling of what has been going on in my day-to-day:

Masters' class: Analytical Techniques

This is a sort-of interesting, sort-of boring start to my tuesdays and thursdays that lasts for 3 hours with a professor who LOVES analyzing Mozart sonatas and discussing the different definitions between cadential extensions and closing phrases with the 2 other students (out of about 24 others) who seem to enjoy these mind-numbing expoundings as well. I really don't mind the idea of theory...and am glad I am being challenged...and i know it will most likely help me in my overall musicianship...but I feel sometimes too much of big picture person to worry so much about whether something is an extended upbeat or an introductory phrase. At least not worry about it so much that it's worth talking about for 10 minutes at a time. I think more often than not in this class "whatever floats your boat, people."

Masters' class: Learning and Assessment

This class is HARD but in the best way. We are learning about how students learn music, and how to teach them to actually be making music, not just learning about music, and it is exciting and somewhat revolutionary to me and the professor is so knowledgeable and down-to-earth and I love every minute. We took a music aptitude test...I am anxiously awaiting my results. I might even share the results here and talk a bit about that once I'm not exhausted and feeling like I might die from lack of sleep swamped with homework and projects.

Master's class: Choral Conducting Seminar

The first day, this class made me sick to my stomach. Imagine having to get up in front of all your colleagues of a Master's program and conduct them singing college level choral repertoire. You must not only teach them the music accurately, but you must be listening for intonation and style and be engaging to boot. Oh, and all the while, your professor is criticizing your conducting pattern and ictus and prep beats.

Got that picture/feeling in your head? Now imagine that after this terrifying experience you get to sit in a class with this professor for 3 hours and watch your video of this rehearsal and get criticized some more. This is my Tuesday/Thursday afternoon.

It is really stretching and I like it in a weird way...but it can be pretty scary. The professor has said a few times that I don't seem to be shy...if only she knew how long it has taken me to overcome that. In some ways I still haven't. At least I'm putting on a good act. :)

Master's class: Supervision and Administration

This class is interesting. It is all about the role of the Fine Arts Administrator in the school setting ...which it sounds like many people in the class do not want to be...but it is helpful to think about. We discuss and do projects on things like building renovations, angry parent emails, scheduling conflicts, program advocacy, and curriculum just to name a few. The professor is young guy from a local school district who actually does this, so it brings a lot of real world experience into the classroom. It's most amusing to see my classmates get into somewhat heated arguments over these potential situations we are supposed to gets a little tense in there sometimes between the band and choral people. Great big picture class.

Master's class: Lab Ensemble

This class brings in the practical aspect of what we are all really doing here. As I said before, I am one of the three conductors for the choral portion. There are four student conductors of the band portion ( for which I play French horn...let's just say their are some sad tuning issues) and there are two student teachers for the general music portion. It is a safe place to try different techniques for these classes or ensembles and hone your rehearsal skills and conducting practices. Even if you're not a conductor though, you still get the benefit of hearing the professors teach the student conductors in lab, and that is pretty beneficial, I think.

The kids

Oh, the poor children.  :) I think Isaac is getting a tooth because he is waking up about 2-3 times a night.  Either that or the monstrous boy is growing again, because giving him a bottle when he wakes up shuts him up again and I can sleep he can sleep.  Jeremiah is sensitive, but having fun with people who are here to help while I'm in school, like his Grammie, who's a ton of fun and a big lover of kids.  He needs me to be here when I'm here (as does Isaac), so I do all my schoolwork from about 8-12 or sometimes 1am at night.  Yeah.  It's a bit tiring...but so far, we are halfway through and still having a somewhat good summer together.  We go to the beach for dinner every friday night.  We play a lot of angry birds on my new ipad (thanks mom and dad!).  We discuss not pushing each other (this is for both boys, believe it or not).  It's all good.  I just want to say that Jeremiah has the best laugh ever invented.

The house's not very clean.  But that's not really news, now, is it?  It's livable and looks very lived in.  Male-ness and kid-ness has taken over.  But never fear!  I will take up my cross again in the fall!  :)  Here's one thing I've done:  the new old hutch. (translation: old hutch that was here is now painted some fun colors and I LOVE it and it makes me feel like it's worth going on in life...or at least coming in the house as it's the first thing I see when I walk in):

 the before: brown honey stained wood
the after: black with cloud blue inside

The garden

MY TOMATOES ARE GROWING!!!!  (commence Hallelujah chorus)

friends and family happenings  

My hubby is enrolled in his seminary classes for the fall and is very excited.  I am halfway through my masters for my second of three summers and am a little overwhelmed but love being there learning what I'm learning.  Jeremiah is doing summer preschool and liking it a lot better than last summer and is probably going to be 6 feet tall by the time he's in 1st grade.  Isaac is walking more than ever and so cute and thinking he is 4 years old as well.  Jon's mom and gram were here to help with the kids the past week, and it was so nice having so much help.  Jon's sister and her family just moved here from cross-country and we will see them so much now!  Blessings abound.  :)

Hope you have a great rest of your summer...maybe I'll post more at some point, but I have oodles sonatas to analyze and choral pieces to conduct and tests to take and papers to write and and and.  It will all be over soon, and then it's back to the real world of teaching.  I'm trying to enjoy this while I can.  :)  'Cuz it is pretty great.