Thursday, August 28, 2014

Moments of Music






Music and I are often in a love-hate relationship.




Growing up playing the piano, there were times when I blinked through tears and sobs, frustrated and ready to quit after sitting practicing at the piano for over 2 hours. Other times, I'd walk off the performance stage, holding a competition trophy in my hands, and the world couldn't have been brighterAnd again, there were times when I let the recital hall door close behind me, knowing that the judges weren't impressed, and my 10 year old ego was crushed


And yet, after all these years of success and failure, love and hate, winning and losing, and hours and hours of practicing, I still crave smooth ivory keys and the chance to turn silence into song.



To me, playing the piano has always been a form of expression. If I'm anxious, I'll sit and play Chopin till I'm content while Beethoven's my go-to when I'm happy and confident. Mozart if I'm particular, Liszt if I'm daring, and Debussy if I'm relaxed. What can I say.


#composerfix



Since becoming a full-time missionary, I've come to appreciate more and more the spiritual power of music. I've fallen in love with its ability to convey testimony, love, and praise to God.


Just this past week, I was able to perform "How Great Thou Art" for our congregation (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) on Sunday, and it was an incredible opportunity! Practicing and subsequently performing that hymn has reminded me once again of the goodness of God in my life, and in each of His children's lives. He truly is aware of us, knows and loves us, and the evidence of His love is all around us if we look for it. And I am so grateful for that love!


Being able to convey my love and appreciation for Him through music is worth all the years of practicing, struggling, rehearsing, and learning. He truly means everything to me, and how blessed I feel to know that I mean everything to Him!




Perhaps my favorite verse from that hymn is the last, which reads,

 "When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation

And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!

Then I shall bow, in humble adoration

And there proclaim, my God how great thou art!'"

















Enjoy!






video

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Yea But....




Meet Isaac.


7 years old. Blonde and blue eyed. Sweet. Handsome. Good-natured. My little man. And the best little brother a girl could ask for.  


About a year ago, I was off work, came home early, and found Isaac playing by himself in his room. Spending time with my siblings is never an opportunity I pass up, so I plopped down on the floor beside him while he strung out a long line of train cars down his wooden track.


"Isaac buddy, do you wanna go fishing??"

He looked at me with wide bright eyes as a shy smile lit up his face, "Like, just you and me?"

"Yep, just you and me."



Fifteen minutes later, we were grabbing and tackle box and fishing lines and heading out the door to hit a small river near our home. We got down to the bank, jumping from rock to rock, and occasionally getting sprayed by flow of the river. We eventually found the “perfect spot” and sat down in the speckled sunshine, baited our hooks, and flicked them out into the current.


Time passed…..the snacks came out……kids waded downstream from us…..but no twitch of the pole….and no fish to show for our time spent waiting on the rocks. Isaac crossed his hands behind his head and laid back on the granite rock. He then chatted on, discussing his 6 year-old life with me, and I watched his brow knit as he pondered my question, “Would you rather have Star Wars or Police legos for your birthday coming up?”


We waited and waited, re-baited hooks, moved locations, and even waded across pools to try and get a catch……but nothing. Nada. Disappointed, mostly for Isaac’s sake and my pride in planning an activity with him that turned into a flop, we eventually clambered back up the bank, and back to the car, with no fish in tow.



As we walked, I said, “Geez Isaac, I’m sorry we didn’t catch anything, bud.”

He just looked up with, “Yea, but we got to see some cool rocks…..”



I laughed. But as we drove back home, I realized that he truly was perfectly content with the outing. He got to see cool rocks. He didn’t care about the empty nets or the un-touched bait…..he got to see cool rocks.


Even a year since that experience, I can still see his sweet eyes looking up at me, “Yea, but….”



Life doesn’t always turn out the way we’d hope. Good intentions don’t always turn out the best. Our hard work doesn’t always yield results.  We don’t always find readily-available rewards.


But, there’s so much more to be enjoyed, if we just look around and find joy in the journey.  Take time to appreciate what you do have. Notice and take pleasure in the small things. There’s always something we can find to enjoy.



That’s what I learned from a small 6 year-old boy fishing on a warm summer afternoon..……





“Yea, but….”









all my handsome brothers.....;)


<3



cool rocks;)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Know The Drill





"Life drill!!!!"


All the counselors on the beach exchanged sulking glances at each other, until one by one, eight of us had our socks and shoes off and the other 6 had stripped down to swim suits.


Once a week we'd run the drill......what to do if a child went missing in the lake. And once a week, we all dreaded the monotony of filing through the water, finding nothing but irritated frogs and sticky algae.


While the 6 counselors in swim suits dove into the deeper water and began combing back and forth, I locked arms with the rest of the group and we began zig-zagging through the dark and shallow lake front, till we were waist-deep in the water.



Back and forth.....back and forth......



We'd then clamber out of the water when the whistle blew, happy to be walking on warm sand again instead of slimy silt, and perhaps still grumbling over the seemingly pointless drill.


Two weeks later, I was laughing alongside the other counselors, while our campers were swimming, when the lifeguard's whistles began blowing and we looked up to see three of them dashing up the dock, screaming at us to get in the water:



"Missing camper! Missing camper!!"


We frantically began stripping, while the rest of the campers were pulled out of the lake and started flooding back to their counselors. Panicked, I began counting my group of kids..... 1.... 2.... 3.... 4.... 5... 6....7....8........ Was it one of my campers?? The thought of that possibility hit as hard as it was nauseating.


I kept losing count as they swarmed around on the beach, half scared, half giddy, and it only made my heart pound louder as the lifeguards yelled, "Just get in the water! Get in the water!!" We knew the drill. We lined up, locked arms, and quickly began combing the water. This time around, we didn't even notice the squishy mud or the brown-green water.....all we could do was hope and dread that our next step into the dark lake would find us the missing child.


However, by the time we'd finished our area, we'd found nothing, so we turned to stagger back onto the beach, when we heard the lifeguard's whistle blow and turned to see two swimming counselors lifting a large sand-filled manikin out of the water.


At first all I could think was, "Are you kidding me??"



A bit irritated, we pulled our socks and shoes back on until the head lifeguard came up the beach and our kids ran off to play nearby. She sat the counselors down and spoke, "Had that been a real kid, they would've died 15 seconds later, had you not found them when you did."



DANG.



We sat there kinda dumbfounded, but we had definitely learned our lesson. The weeks of drills and wading through the swampy water suddenly became worth it, and we realized it wasn't a pointless checklist drill designed only to make counselors work their hardest for that measly $7.50 an hour.



It was to keep us prepared. Sometimes, things in life seem unnecessary, monotonous, or even stupid. "Just in case" seems over-rated, and "safety first" sounds like your mother reminding you to wear your seatbelt in front of your high school friends.


But there is something to be said about "better safe than sorry."




Whether it be emotional, physical, or spiritual safety.....why walk the edge?? My Mom would always tell me, "Better a fence at the top of the cliff, than an ambulance at the bottom." Well....she was right. Don't put yourself or others in danger by ignoring chances to be prepared and to stay safe.


Set standards for yourself. Practice standing up for your beliefs and defending those who can't. Resist temptation. Avoid bad influences. Listen to others' advice and counsel that's meant to protect and guide you. Know where you stand, and stand firm to what you know.



"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30).  



Know the drill.






at the lake.....