Sunday, April 30, 2006


Blase (okay, I know it should be spelled with an accent over the "e," but I can't figure out how to do that in html). This last Thursday and Friday was the Junior High (for these purposes, classified as 7th-9th grades) Fine Arts, Bible, and Acadmeic (FABA) competition, hosted by our Christian school. We had about 17 other schools coming from around the state to compete in things like music, speech, art, science fair, and academic testing. We've had Elementary FABA and ISSMA in February, run-offs for Jr. and Sr. High FABA, Sr. High FABA in March, and last weekend I judged for a different music festival in the area. I guess I felt kind of competitioned-out. I guess it's kind of like that old cliche (yes, another accent missing): "You can have too much of a good thing." I went into Thursday feeling rather blase about the whole competition, which I don't think was a good thing. I mean, part of the reason for competitions is for students to get nervous performing for an audience/judges, to help with that nerve practice, but when you've done it so many times that you just don't care how you do anymore , it's probably time to reevaluate your focus. I guess part of my apathy came from confidence in knowing what was expected of me, which is not necessarily a bad thing. And I'm not saying that's how the students felt, but it was what I was struggling with. I guess I just missed that adrenaline rush that usually comes at a performance when you are a little anxious and excited about the performance. And usually I still get it, even after years of "performing." This time around I found that I hardly even remembered to prepare for the performances. In fact, I realized at 7:00 Wednesday night that I had assigned someone to play an organ solo and he was playing at 10:00 the next morning and I had never even heard his piece to see if he was ready yet! The bad thing was that it barely even crossed my mind! Usually the week leading up to a performance I spend frantically practicing my accompaniments (well, at least I usually play through them once or twice). Not this time around. But I was thankful that the violin student I was accompanying called me to come over to her house to practice Thursday night because she didn't feel ready--so perhaps I was the only one that had the "blase bug." Maybe my mind had already begun to focus on the Spring Programs coming up this week and next and I was past the competition season in my mind. But I don't like that feeling. That apathy...blase. Ah, "too much of a good thing."

By the way, our participants did VERY well in the competition. We had competitors place first in categories such as classical piano duet, sacred piano solo, handbell ensemble, band, choir, reader's theater, choric speaking, string solo, brass solo, large and small vocal ensembles, and other things. Our school also got the first place plaques in Science, Academics, Speech, and Music.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

What Kind of Cookie Are You? Quiz

I have to thank Keilah Brown for introducing me to these weird blog topic/questionnaire thingies. There are many categories to try out, as referenced on Keilah's blog. Check them out sometime when you are bored!

You Are an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

On the surface, you're a little plain - but you have many subtle dimensions to your personality.
Sometimes you're down to earth and crunchy. Other times, you're sweet and a little gooey.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"The Beautiful Ten"

There is a phenomenon sweeping the blogosphere known as "The Beautiful Ten." This is a revolution, as I understand it, to recognize the beauty around us by listing our top 10 most beautiful things. ("A thing of beauty is a joy forever"--John Keats.) This worldwide phenomenon has spread to a grand, far-reaching total of...2 blogs that I have seen (other than the original posting). And the honor has been bequeathed to me (on the 24th day of April) by my good buddy Banke$. (The other post on this topic is on 4/19 by Beth Viars.) It originated with someone who goes by Father Brown, whom I do not know. But first, you must read the rules in accordance with which this list is compiled. (Rules taken from Father Brown's original post.)

1. You cannot list abstract ideas (i.e. love, truth, etc.).
2. You cannot list people (i.e. Tom Cruise).
3. You must have experienced each item on your list. If you’ve never seen Paris in the spring, then you can’t list it.
4. No commentary is allowed. Avoid the urge to explain why you think such-and-such-a-thing is beautiful.
5. If you post a list, you must invite at least one other blogger to come up with his/her own list. (There is no limit on how many people you invite to join you.)
6. When you post your own list to your own blog, you must include these rules.

So, here goes my list of the Top Ten things I have experienced as most beautiful:
10. Going home to a clean house after a long day and watching a good movie with a bowl of popcorn.
9. God's creation as seen in Glacier National Park in Montana.
8. The Keweenaw Peninsula (in Upper Michigan) in the fall.
7. Walking in the woods with a faithful dog/the sunrise from The Bluff in Ishpeming, Michigan.
6. Canoeing on a river in Canada/walking the sandy beaches of Lake Superior.
5. Playing games with my family at a campsite beside a crackling fire (providing there are no mosquitoes).
4. Singing at the top of your lungs with fellow believers in praise to God.
3. The wedding of a godly man and woman.
2. The funeral of a godly senior saint.
1. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, believing and knowing that He paid the penalty for my sins so I can be forgiven.

And here are the people I would like to continue this revolution, partly because I think their answers will be creative, and partly because I'm sure they always need topics to blog about!
1. Sarah Hill (of Hill's Flippin' Sweet Page)
2. Andrew Doerr (of My Blog)
3. Rob Summer (of A Day in the Life of Me)
4. Rebecca Thomas (of Once Upon a Time)
5. Betty Gray (of A Little Gray Matter)
6. And, of course, anyone else who wants to take part. (and of course seminarybeachbum should post something on my blog since he doesn't have his own yet)

Be sure to leave a comment on my blog if and when you decide to impart your worthy lists of 10 so we can track this growing phenomenon! Happy Blogging!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Laptop vs. Piano

I am considering making a major purchase. (By major purchase I mean something over approximately $500--and actually probably closer to $1,000.) I am seriously considering getting a laptop--but not just any laptop, an Apple Powerbook G4, so I can have wireless internet, software like Garageband, and other cool features like iMovie and iDVD. I hear Mac is the way to go if you are into cool projects like movie making and music recording. So it is becoming more of a possibility. I have been watching deals on ebay and such, but I'm still waiting for the tax refund check to come in the mail until I make a final purchase. So I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a laptop in the next month or so...yay, a new summer project to figure out!

But then I think maybe I should be investing my limited funds in something like a piano. I've also been looking for a piano, too, seeing as how I don't own one. But I can be pretty picky when it comes to pianos, so I don't just want any piece of junk just taking up space in my house. And I've decided that if I found a baby grand worth getting, I would make room for it in my living room! But a good piano isn't cheap; in fact, the ones I 've seen are probably more than the laptop costs. So maybe I should save my tax refund for that piano...but I'm pretty excited about getting a laptop, so I think that will be the first purchase. Plus it's hard to know just how much I should be putting in savings and how much I should spend. You never know when an emergency might come up and you might need funds on hand (for a new car or whatever). Why does everything have to cost money? I guess it helps us to be good stewards of the resources God has given us.

Or else I could get a dog...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Kid Quotes

A collection of what I get an ear-ful of every week. You never know what kids are going to say!

"This is irreverent, but..." When these words came out of a 5th grader's mouth during a piano lesson, I dreaded what was coming next. Then he said something totally unrelated, and I realize he had meant...irrelevant.

Wednesday night I was sitting nearby my friends Maggie and Jackson, who are approximately 5 and 7. Maggie was picking the meat out of her taco salad, and Jackson said: "She could be a veterinarian when she grows up." Don't you mean vegetarian??

I asked a 4th grade piano student to play something as slowly as a snail. True to her dramatic nature, she played it SUPER slowly, then concluded: "I played that as slow as a baby snail who was just born!"

Occasionally I let kids play with my keyboard, and eventually they discover the sound effects section: laugh, scream, machine gun, explosions. One 5th grade boy had fun playing with the fireworks. Then he said these very clever words about the fireworks sound effect. "But we can only hear them. We got bad seating."

Wednesday I had a 4th grade girl who was very frustated with her "C is for Cookie" song that she had been struggling with for about 4 weeks. I told her, that's why you come to piano, so I can help you learn the song. True to her very outspoken nature, she shot back with: "That doesn't really help, you know." We had a good laugh over that; I knew what she meant. (By the way, she DID pass the song.)

From a preschooler: "Did you comb your hair today?" (Remind me not to try THAT hairstyle again, apparently.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Don't Quit

There's a lot of "Senioritis" going around--even the teachers have it! There's still about 5 weeks left until school's out, and most people are hoping it's next week. But it's going to go by fast. For some reason, even with the lovely weather outside, I'm still in "school mode," and I'm not sure exactly why, because usually I'm ready to call it quits this time of year too. Maybe it's because I have a lot of things to do before school gets out: we have Junior High FABA next week, 2 spring programs the next week, and 2 more spring programs over the following 2 weeks. Then there's K5 graduation and a spring recital (or 2) for my piano kids. So a regular week of school doesn't sound all that bad right now. Now don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to summer vacation, too, but I'm also enjoying the anticipation part of it. I guess I'm one of those people that enjoys the anticipation of something almost as much as the actual event--like Christmas, for instance. The actual day goes by SO FAST, but the anticipation gets to last much longer.

So, anyway. Enjoy the anticipation, and keep focus! It's on those hard-to-focus days that we really need to make sure our priorities are right. And I know from experience that when our focus is on pleasing God and pleasing others it turns out to be so much better than we try to please ourselves. (Rabbit trail: I had a birthday like that once. I wanted to do all MY favorite things and have everyone serve ME and it was the worst birthday ever. Since then I've tried to focus on serving others and the whole experience is much nicer.)

So don't give up! Don't "check out" and go fishing. It's when we're tired and worn out that it's easy to give into temptation, but DON'T! Take one day at a time, and make it a priority to spend time with God and keep your focus up! (I'm talking to myself here, too.)

Here's an old poem that's been around a long time. I memorized it when I was in grade school, I think, but think it fits the occasion:

Don't Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will.

When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill.
When funds are low and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns.
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about.
When he might have won had he stuck it out:
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

- Author unknown

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Weekend

This will be a boring "this is what I've done in the last few days" type of blog, so if that doesn't interest you...tough.

So much has gone on in the last few days, I don't know where to start. The Passion Play was incredible this year. Trey and Deb Garner are awesome (they rewrote the whole thing)! The crucifixion in Scene 1 was very exciting (loud) and theatrical and was actually kind of scary with the earthquake and running off stage screaming and all. And the other new theatrical item with the paralytic man(equin) being lowered from the ceiling and then the switch to a real-live human being was pretty cool, too. The message was clearer than ever, with cleverly-woven writing and humorous points along the way. I'd never given much thought to how the disciples had reacted when Jesus had died...why weren't they at the cross? Why didn't they believe Jesus could rise from the dead as he had predicted? It just shows so much how we human beings truly just don't get it at times.

We had an almost-packed house each night, and the Long Center seats almost 1200, I believe. They said Friday night we had 1090. I don't think there was an open seat on the floor. We had 16 people who filled out the response cards saying they had made the choice to accept Christ as personal Savior! And about 17 more who wanted more information on accepting Christ. Praise the Lord!

From my perspective, I thought Saturday actually went the best. The music seemed to gel more and there seemed to be less stumbling on the actors' parts. Not that any night went really badly, just Saturday seemed to have the smoothest seams, I thought. It's amazing how God can use us in spite of ourselves, though. Friday night was the night that we had huge thunderstorms and the tornado siren actually went off in the middle of the production. But the show must go on! Pastor Viars and Arvid Olson made some announcements at the end about the status of the tornado warnings for the area, and I was thankful I brought my umbrella, but thankfully where I live there were just strong thunderstorms and that's about it. They preempted all the local programming with weather information, so I guess it was a pretty big deal. I watched a movie instead.

Easter Sunday I spent with my good friends the Rausches. They are so thoughtful--they even gave me an Easter basket! I got to color eggs with their youngest (Daniel--4th grade); that was fun. And they even let me have an afternoon nap! We had a great meal of ham, mashed potatoes, and asparagus, and I made this chocolate cheescake stuff for dessert. Then Marney and I got to play a game similar to Skipbo (which she won, but BARELY), we had eggsalad sandwiches for supper, and by then it was 8:30 and time to go home. It was raining and there were tornado watches out again.

Anyway, so that was my Easter weekend. Yup, a pretty boring post, I know. Maybe I'll come up with something more creative next time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Passion Week

"But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." I Corinthians 15:13-14,19

This week my church puts on a big production--The Lafayette Passion Play--at a theatre downtown. This year's new script focuses on the time between the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ through the eyes of the disciples. The church choir is most of the "extras" in crowd scenes between their musical numbers. We have a pit orchestra, and I'm playing the piano with the orchestra as well as for various scene changes. In fact, our church music guy Titus Curtis wrote some transition music so I was busy Monday trying to transcribe it so I could replay what he'd created! (Sibelius is a really cool music program for that.) The last two nights (Monday and Tuesday) I've been downtown at the Long Center in rehearsals until at least 10:00 p.m., so it's going to be a long week! I haven't been home (except to change clothes) until 10:30 each night. Tonight is the dress rehearsal and then we have 3 performances--Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. (Thankfully we don't have school on Friday, though!) There are a lot of new elements this year--new music, new script, the paralytic coming in "through the roof," but overall I think it's been coming together.

I have noticed, though, that in the midst of "productions," it's easy for me to lose focus on the big picture. Sunday afternoon I watched Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" again to be reminded of what Jesus went through on His way to the cross. Even then it's easy to get caught up in the movie elements and not realize that this actually happened! Jesus died on the cross--for ME! I've also been trying to read through the gospel accounts this week to again be reminded of what Jesus did for me. It's so easy to get caught up in the story, though, and not realize the truth of how important this sacrifice was. Jesus was beaten, bleeding, and bore the sins of the whole world--so we could have fellowship with Him and gain direct access to His throne room and live forever with Him in heaven. I pray we are able to communicate that effectively this week.

Friday, April 07, 2006

College Reflections

Recently I discovered a new advantage to blogging--reconnecting with old college friends! I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to hear from a college friend who had stumbled across my blog, which led me to discover a whole new blogging world out there--those who have been to Northland Baptist Bible College! (Check out the new set of links on my sidebar to those who have attended NBBC.) Honestly, other than my good friend Jackie and a few other friends who email, send Christmas cards, or prayer letters, I haven't done a very good job of keeping in touch with a lot of college people. Looking back on my college experience, it's not like I did a good job of making friends while I was there either. Let's just say I had/have a lot to learn when it comes to socializing and reaching out. I don't know why peers scare me so much. Put me in with a group of young people or older adults and I'll feel right at home. (I don't know, maybe one of the disadvantages to homeschooling...however some people don't seem to be bothered this way at all.) I guess I just never wanted to be one of those friends who everyone tolerated but no one wanted to really hang around, so I guess I was a little scared to reach out, even to people whom I really admired and wanted to be around. So I waited for them to reach out to me (bad choice; still waiting). ;) Besides, I was very busy with my studies-- music majors do have a lot of practicing and work to do, and I was very content to just go about my own business and not be "bothered" by other people. Plus I was motivated to get good grades and excel in my schoolwork. But looking back, I think I should have tried to build a few more relationships and really get to know some other people and not be so stifled by the fear of man, because there were a lot of great people (as there still are) at Northland! And as I've told multiple people, I don't regret going there for one instant! But, anyway, it' s great to hear from those old friends--some whom I never really gotten to know, but I'm sure could (and can!) still teach me many things about life. What I've learned in thinking through my life experience is that God has not created us to live as single entities (as I tend to do too often). He has created the BODY of Christ. The family of God is there to help each other and encourage each other. I have a wonderful church family who I can call on and they'll be there to help me--as good examples of the person of Jesus Christ. And maybe I can encourage someone else along the way, too. And don't hesitate to reach out!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

My Brother

Here is my brother Tim on the lively isle of St. Kitts in the Caribbean. He actually WON a trip for 2 through his job--an all-inclusive long weekend from Friday-Monday (I think). So while I was here working away on "Fiddler" the last weekend in March, he and a guest were basking in the sun, sipping virgin pina coladas. (And no, he never did ask me if I wanted to go!) His girlfriend couldn't go either (besides, you only get 1 room on these trips so that wouldn't work anyway), so he decided to take our dad along! (Although due to the 1 room stiuplations, Dad was required to provide ear plugs for Tim...Dad tends to snore rather loudly.) I assume they had a great time, and I want to see the new DVD they took with Dad's sweet new camera.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Isn't She a Cutie?

Here is a picture of my new "niece." She is my sister Rachel and her husband Mathew's new little miniature dachshund puppy (7 weeks old now, I think). Isn't she cute? Her name is Reeses because she's brown and black like a peanut butter cup. Her big sister Tippy is keeping her in line, although she does the normal puppy things like chew, pee on the floor, etc. I understand she is quickly learning the word "NO!" I can't wait to get home and meet her in person!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Daylight Savings Time

For the record, I am glad we switched to Daylight Savings Time for the first time in 36 years in Indiana. I can't believe that some people have grown up their whole lives never having to change their clocks to "spring forward" or "fall back." I guess it was just standard fare in Michigan where I grew up. And I love having it get darker later. It seems more like summer. So I am glad we went to Daylight Savings Time. Now we can finally be in a "time zone" instead of being with Chicago only half of the time. At least now I will always know that Chicago is an hour behind us and my parents are always on the same time. Whew!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spring Break

Last week I spent spring break (Wednesday-Friday, March 29-31) in Columbus and Kennesaw, Georgia with the Faith Ministry Team on our Spring Tour. We spent a lot of time in our lovely bus this year: 12 hours there and back! I don't often get a chance to hang out with people who want to have fun and play games, so I look forward to the bus ride for playing games like Rook, Euchre, Catch Phrase...and this year I learned how to play Apples to Apples.

We had a unique bus stop on the way down when we were able to see a shoplifter getting arrested! (See Emily's blog for more details.) And we also had a unique experience on the way back driving through lots of rain and lightning and a tornado watch area! And let me just say that Rebecca is The Woman.

We were able to see the Liedtkes again in Columbus, GA They moved there last year to work in a church and school. Mrs. Liedtke's sister is the senior pastor's wife, and I was able to get to stay in their house (with Emily and Courtney). We got to see Sam again. We sang in their church Wednesday night and at their Christian school for chapel on Thursday morning. Our program consists of testimonies, singing, playing instruments, and usually a memorized speech by Sylvia (this info. is for people who don't get to see us--like my mom and siblings). We also got a tour of Fort Benning in Columbus, GA by a missionary to the military there (HOO-ah!). We didn't have much time, but we got to visit the infantry museum and see some parachuters training! Fort Benning is also where "We Were Soldiers" was filmed. Friday night we saw a drama class's play at Shiloh Hills Christian School (in Kennesaw, just north of Atlanta) before being split up to stay in various homes. (We had a little extra time to hang out when we got there so Joey made the most of it and earned $2 by eating a worm. And Luke rolled down the hill.) It is part of tour to get to fellowship and hopefully be a good testimony in the homes of people from the churches and schools we visit. Then Friday morning their chapel was our last performance before the long ride home.

I agree with what Justin said in chapel this morning, that it is often easy to get caught up in the "fun" aspects of tour and forget about the reason we are going out: to minister to others and hopefully give them a better view of our GOD, not necessarily of us or our school. I was guilty of that this trip, I know. It's easy for me to get caught up in taking pictures, making sure I have documented everything so I can make a good movie at the end of the trip, and it's easy to make that my focus instead of the service. So I hope I didn't let that get in the way of my ministry opportunities on this trip. I know since I've been back my focus hasn't been on thankfulness to God for what He allowed us to do, but on "will I be able to get the pictures together for the movie?" or "that was such a fun trip." My focus the last day or so has not been on God and thanking Him for His strength and provision and safety, it's been on "will people like the movie I put together?" and "will I get the right pictures together?". Then it's also easy to get discouraged when things don't turn out exactly right (or when you don't have any pictures of Robbie and Al wall-climbing...sorry, guys). So I need to get my FOCUS UP!

"Draw Me Nearer" is probably my favorite song from tour, and it is so powerful when I have the right heart attitude in it, it almost makes me cry. That's how I need to be every day...drawn to God, doing nothing apart from Him. One comment I heard from a girl at Sam's school while eating lunch with her was that she almost cried during that song. It encouraged me to know that the message was going across.

Another neat thing was Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, where we stopped on the way home. Unfortunately my focus there was also taking pictures instead of focusing on God's marvelous creation. Especially being able to sing "Almighty and Everlasting God" in the cave. How cool! Especially if you are able to focus on the words. Actually, our tour guide saw me taking pictures and asked if I would send him one or two so he could put it up on their bulletin board (I think), so I am looking forward to doing that and maybe sending him some information about our school and such. He seemed to be impressed with our group. You never know how God could use even this to be a witness for Him.

So, FMT "kids" who read my blog (and apparently you're the only ones who do because I had absolutely no comments from anyone else over the break), thanks for a great tour this year. I was sorry to have to come home; I wish we could have been away longer. But my challenge for you would be what it is for myself, to keep going with that servant's attitude and looking for ways to be good testimonies and living examples of God's love, even here in our own backyards.

Getting "chased" by a tank at Fort Benning, GA:

Outside the Liedtke's church (Grace Baptist) in Columbus, GA

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky:

FMT outside Mammoth Cave: