Saturday, April 30, 2011

Resurrection Day pictures...

These are some beautiful pictures, taken by our resident photographer, Blane Fowler Jr., of our Resurrection day afternoon fellowship. It was so much like a family gathering. So wonderful. Please check them out.

And these gorgeous pictures were taken by Hannah Blevins. What an eye...
I made these cupcakes for Resurrection Sunday, using a Martha Stewart recipe and they were so delicious. I'm glad I went to the extra trouble of making them from scratch. Such a difference. The icing was her recipe too. Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I think I fell in love with that stuff...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Music and the Glory of God

The Blue Ridge Homeschool Choir had it's Spring Concert on Tuesday night. 
After a full semester of challenging music, the kids really did an amazing job!

I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with being the accompanist for the choir. 
Let me explain...I don't like to be challenged. But I know being challenged is what I need to move forward and progress in my abilities.

I don't like the pressure or the hard work of practicing, but I do very much look forward to seeing the new selections at the beginning of each semester. I love learning the pieces and especially the feeling of finishing the last song well.

This last semester I think I realized that I had gotten into this sort of slump in the area of practicing. I would practice everyday, but that 'practice' consisted of playing through each piece once. I should and do know better that that just doesn't cut it!!! 
So I changed what I was doing. First I picked out the pieces which were most challenging. Then, I sat down with the metronome on a very slow speed and played over and over one page at the time. I didn't play through the whole song until I was able to play each individual page *almost* perfectly. Then I worked on bringing up the tempo. 

This 'new' method for practicing really helped. The two pieces I thought were just impossible actually became possible.

So, now that choir is over, I can choose a piece to learn over the summer. Originally, I had wanted to try to tackle my favorite Chopin piece, Nocturne in D flat Major, but chickened out. It really seems quite beyond what I am able to do right now. But then I think, "How will I get to that level if I don't try this?" 

Then I heard the "Pathetique" Sonata, 2nd movement, by Beethoven. I kinda fell in love with it. Thought that would be it. But then I played a couple pieces by Chopin that I still remember and there really is no comparison to Chopin.

Next I thought about perfecting a Chopin piece which I never quite finished. It's the one I put down as one of the things I'd like to accomplish this year, in a previous post. Nocturne in E minor it's called and it is just so haunting and emotional. It pulls my heart strings somehow.
I don't have much melodrama in real life, so I get it in the music I listen to and play, I guess ; )

I want to choose one that I will be able to make progress with in a reasonable amount of I guess the jury is still out on this one. I'll let you know what I choose.

Click the links to hear the ones I'm talking about and if you have an opinion, let me know!

Isn't music such a miracle? If you think about it, how do we have any knowledge of putting sounds together to make something pleasant and entertaining? Only because God put it within us. He put it there for us to use to glorify Him and for us to enjoy. Those two things are one in the same. Read this quote by Martin Luther : 

"I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ!

I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God.

The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them.... In summa, next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits...

Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason that music be always used in the churches. Hence, we have so many songs and psalms.

This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God." 

Isn't that wonderful? And I just learned the other night that Luther was "instrumental" in bringing music back into the church where it belongs. Before Luther, the only music was the chants performed by the Priests or maybe a choir. It did not involve the congregation and it was in Latin. Luther began to involve the congregation by providing songs in the people's language. Can you imagine church without singing?

Now, I know there are many people who have not been gifted in such a way as to make beautiful music. But clearly, just enjoying music and praising God for it is glorifying to Him. 

The theme of the Blue Ridge Homeschool Choir this semester....Colossians 3:16
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Making Choices

It's been one of those days, and I'm just now taking the time to write my entry...

This was written last Friday, after a little going-away party we had for Chef Jean-Claude, who is finally retiring from the kitchen after 50 years. God has called him to serve however he can in Haiti, and mostly it will be with the children of Haiti. They call him "Papa Jean-Claude".
We will miss him.


I am just in awe of God's goodness. Do you ever get that way?

We have just said good-bye to our chef at the Cove, Jean-Claude, and from what he had to say to what everyone else shared, God was honored. Over and over he said, "God changed my heart." and the testimonies were, "God changed you."

This goes right along with what I've been learning about the Doctrines of Grace, specifically the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. That teaching says essentially that once God changes your heart (or 'flips the switch' I like to say) towards Him, it is irresistible. We cannot resist Him because He makes us desire to come to Him. And I would venture to say that this not only happens at Salvation but also throughout your life.

When I first was told the Gospel, I felt like, "Well, why wouldn't I follow Jesus?".
When I felt called to act differently in regards to dating and marriage, I felt there was no other choice, because I wanted to go God's way. When I felt a conviction to dress more modestly, I felt there was not other choice because I wanted to do what God told me.

God had done a work in my heart in each of these, but most importantly the first.

When we are 'saved', or converted, it feels like we make a choice, because on the human side of things we did make a choice, but that was only after God changed our hearts and made us able to make the choice.

It happened for Jean-Claude when he was miraculously saved and I believe that it has happened again, in order that he might obey God's voice and serve in Haiti.

I've resisted the Doctrines of Grace, or Calvinism, in the past because I didn't understand and it all seemed so unfair for some to be chosen and some not.
But as I'm learning more and more about God and His word, I see that it's really not fair that any of us are given the opportunity to spend eternity with our Holy, Righteous, Loving God.

It's not about fairness; it's about His Goodness. And the more I learn that, the more I'm humbled. And the more I'm humbled, the more I love and need Jesus.

"Have mercy on me, a sinner."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thoughtful...just not here

I was sure this was going to happen from time to time, that I would not have something prepared for Thoughtful Thursday.

Indeed I have been very thoughtful since last week, it is simply that I did not make the time to write what I've been thoughtful about.

So, here is a promise that I will prepare something for next week.

I promise.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Finishing Well

"So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air."

This statement, "beating the air" always makes me chuckle. It's a funny mental image.
But I totally get the idea. It's from 1 Corinthians 9, in a passage comparing the one living the christian life to a runner in a race.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it."

The competitors need to have a goal in mind, the prize, in order to do all that's necessary to win, i.e. the long hours of training and running with all they have.
Neither the training nor the running is particularly easy or pleasant. It is a struggle to do both. But winning the prize--that is the ultimate. If that is kept in mind as the goal, it will make the training and running the race worth the effort.

I suppose this is why Paul said to keep your mind on things above, not on things below. (Colossians 3:2) Our goal, as believers, should be eternity. So we should have our minds set on eternal things.

Whenever I am reminded to think on eternal things, I find that my perspective broadens, my mood lifts. The small problems, small irritations fade almost to nothing. Bigger problems shrink and I can see past them to the other side. And Christ is on the other side, as well as on this one.

If we listen we can hear Him urging us on to the finish. We can hear the prayers of the saints and the writers of the Bible shouting their encouragement to run the race and finish well.

And what is finishing well? (according to our eternal, omniscient God)

 Like in the 'Parable of the Talents' (Matthew 25:14-30) we are each given our 'talent', i.e. things to accomplish, work to do, responsibilities, and if we are faithful to God and faithful to His calling on our life, we will have finished well.

What if we don't know what His calling on our life might be? Well, I think a lot of what He expects from us is already written down in His word, both the New and Old Testaments. How we carry those things out in our own individual situations is the tricky part. That's when the Holy Spirit does His work. God says in several places in the Old and New Testaments that He will guide us.

So we study His word, seek His guidance and make the wisest choices and decisions that we can, no matter how hard. If we fail, we repent, ask for forgiveness, and get back on track.

God's will is not a mystery. The larger portion has been revealed. The rest we don't need to know yet or ever.

A little bit of a soapbox moment there...ahem.

So where am I going with this? Somewhat of a different direction...I was going to talk about some things I would like to accomplish before 2011 is over. Now, for a disclaimer, these are not my spiritual goals. These are here and now things to accomplish. My spiritual goals will not change. I will always be striving to be more like Jesus, to be closer to God and love Him more, to gain a deeper understanding of the Word of God, and to love my fellow man better.
No, these are just earthly goals, in no particular order.

1. Take a music theory class

Being a piano teacher, I feel like a refresher would be helpful as my students get more advanced.

What have I done towards this goal?

I have contacted the local tech college and asked about auditing the class. I don't need the credit. All I need to do is set aside the money and sign up.

2. Begin to sell some of my handiwork

As you can see from my previous post, I have already started doing this. It is really exciting to see so quickly that people are interested.

What have I done towards this goal?

I continue to knit as fast as I can and I'm setting aside the profits from the sales and will use that to buy more supplies. I will be updating how things are going. I plan to approach a local natural, organic baby items shop in West Asheville about maybe consigning my products in addition to having them at the Farmers Market. I need to get up a good supply first.

3. Get my drivers license

It's about time. That's all I have to say about that.

What have I done towards this goal?

My parents and I have researched the options and decided on our game-plan. I am biting the bullet and will make the payments to add me to their policy starting in June. That's also when my learners permit expires. In the meantime, I have been driving a lot more than I used to and it is getting better. Everyone who has ridden with me says I drive well, it just doesn't feel that way sometimes.

4. Continue to improve my jogging/overall health

Mom and I have been doing a running program since last fall. With the winter weather, we lost some of the progress we had worked so hard for. 

What have I done towards this goal?

Gotten back to where we were before winter made us stop jogging. 30 minutes a day, Monday through Saturday. I need to find a good pedometer and once I do, I'll work on going faster/farther.

5. Learn Chopin's Nocturne in E Minor

This piece is the last one I learned back when I took lessons. But I never completed it. Now I have mostly forgotten it.
I remember it being very therapeutic when I was going through I pretty difficult time in my life.

What have I done towards this goal?

Well, another goal which takes precedence over this one is learning all the choir music in the next two weeks. So I haven't done anything towards the Chopin piece goal yet.
So, after the choir concert, it will be a pleasure to work on this one all summer long.

6. Take a cooking or baking class

For the past year I have wanted to take the bread baking class (because I love to bake) or the soup class (because I don't love to cook) at the local tech college. It is rather pricey and it wasn't a priority, so it hasn't happened yet. So, hopefully this fall I'll have the funds available to take one of the other. Or maybe a totally different one.

What have I done towards this goal?

Gawked at the prices of the courses.

7. Memorize Catechism/Gain a better understanding of Theology

The church I attend believes in catechizing the children, (and those of us who were not taught it as children) which means teaching them the doctrines of Christianity. This is a regular part of our church service. We work on about 5 questions at a time until most of us have learned them. We say them at home, but I haven't learned them. It's a lot to remember. If I would just dedicate a little of my time each day, I would be able to get them down. And when I'm learning the catechism, I am studying and learning Theology.

What have I done towards this goal?

Nothing yet. But my plan is to copy down the questions and answers on index cards and practice them everyday.

8. Start teaching a few more piano students

Once I get my drivers license, that will free me up to offer to come to the students instead of them having to come to me. This would double, maybe even triple, the amount of students I could teach.
I would like to add at least 3. Then I would be back to the number I had a few years ago.
Then, with more students, a recital would make more sense. Maybe we could do one at the end of the year?

What have I done towards this goal?

I'm working on getting my license and I am starting to ask around to see if anyone is interested.

9. Write on my blog regularly--hence Thoughtful Thursday

I've written before about my desire to develop the skill of writing some. I don't fancy myself to be any kind of gifted or prolific writer, but I would like to practice putting words to my thoughts and feelings. To be able to share what I'm learning in life in a more understandable way.

What have I done towards this goal?

I've made an effort to write everyday about whatever topic is on my mind and, as you see, have written two Thursdays in a row!

I'm not going to number this one because it's somewhat out of my hands and I don't expect to accomplish it by the end of the year.

To marry and have a family.

Now some of you might say, and some of you have, "Well, get out there and meet some fellas!"
 But see, that goes against my understanding of Scripture.
Scripture presents the idea that men pursue and women respond,
not necessarily in so many words, but by the way maleness and femaleness is presented.
But this isn't an explanation of why dating isn't really biblical or why courtship is more so.
This is simply to say that this is a goal I hope and pray to accomplish sometime in my life and
so my real goal is to trust God to bring it about.

To refer again to the 'Parable of the Talents', I am seeking to be faithful in the small things, so that one day I might have the opportunity to be faithful in larger things.

I love God because He first loved me and my ultimate goal for my life is to "do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with {my} God." Micah 6:8b 

That, o man(or woman), is what God requires of us.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I'm in business!

For a long time, several years, I have experimented with different ways to create. Drawing, clay, painting, calligraphy, crochet, sewing, embroidery, cross-stitch, quilting, basket-weaving, knitting.
 And I loved the idea of sharing what I created. 

Of all the projects I have started, and the few I've completed, I have never taken that step. 
That step of putting my creations out there. Claiming I had something to offer.

Well, now, I have.

I came across these sweet ideas last year and fell in love with the design. After making samples of each, I discovered I really enjoyed the process of making each one. I wanted to make more! 
I thought if I was going to be making things for babies, organic cotton would be the best way to go, especially for the washcloths. And even for the rattles, which will probably end up in baby's mouth. For the shoes I still wanted to use cotton, but wasn't so concerned about them being organic. 
I did my research and found the most cost-effective organic and natural yarns so I can make these items quite affordable.

This is still a very new endeavor and we have yet to see if it will be very 'successful'. But, I'm enjoying the adventure. That's enough for me.