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Music, music, music

Last week was what I call “recitals week.”  Thus, the lack of any blogging.  My time and attention were spent focusing on the details of preparing for 40 plus Little Flock students to show off their musical accomplishments at three separate recital events.  Eleven instructors teach seven different instruments and voice at Little Flock Academy of Arts, and they work hard to prepare their students for moments like this.

As it so happened this year, my home students had their spring recital on Saturday afternoon, after all of Little Flock’s recitals were completed.  “Busy” was the word for the week. 

My heart pumped fast while the adrenalin flowed unrelenting.  There were lists to check and duties to accomplish, things that can only be completed the very week before.  My days went by fast and furious.  A good night’s rest was required when I could get it.  And I tried to give myself that necessity.

I am one of the fortunate few who gets to show off my work on a regular basis.  Recitals are such times. 

However, my part in recitals is not to be compared to the hard work done by the other instructors and the at-home-work the students do daily that can only be called what it is – practice.  The 30 minutes shared by instructor and student is only a portion of the picture.  What is done after the music lesson, at home,  is what shows on stage during the performance.  

Getting to share the excitement of each students’ accomplishments is the reward of recitals.

I noticed so many times this weekend, how a student looked to his/her instructor when the performance had ended.  It was a look of “Did I do it well?  Are you proud of me?”  I realized how much influence an instructor holds on a young life.  An instructor significantly impacts each student they teach, not only musically but in areas of work ethic, integrity, and self-esteem.  I am proud to work with the group of instructors at the Academy of Arts.  They are a cut above the average.  They take their role seriously to impart their own love of music as well as to encourage students to be the best they can be. 

Sometimes a child just needs someone to believe in him.  An instructor can be that person who makes a difference in a life.

Recitals week is hard work, intense concentration, and wearying on my body.  At the same time it is one of my favorite times of the year.  Seeing and hearing a student accomplish a new technique, move to another level, finally get that rhythm correctly is a kind of joy that is hard to describe.

I count myself blessed to be part of the beauty of sharing music with my own students.  Along with that is the joy of being part of the Academy of Arts and working with such dedicated instructors who share my passion for music and for passing it along to the next generation. 

As one of my sweet young students said last year, “Music is for life.”  And I could not agree more.

“Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre, sing praises to Him with the harp of ten strings.  Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a loud and joyful sound.”  Psalm 33:2-3

You are welcome to share your musical expressions here.  I love reading your comments.

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On saving daylight

 

Well, I’m about to get adjusted to the spring-forward time. I have dragged myself out of bed several mornings this week. Even strong hot coffee didn’t seem to make a difference.

Is there anyone besides me who wonders why we pretend to “save time” by changing the clocks?

I found out from RightJuris.com that old Ben Franklin first suggested the idea to add more daylight and save on using candles. The United States began practicing Daylight Saving Time During World War I, and it has come and gone ever since.

The way I see it, there is a set number of daylight hours no matter the time on the clock or how often we set it forward or backward. It messes with my system twice a year by having to adjust to a different bedtime and wake up time.

It seems our culture expects more and more work from already overloaded  individuals. Perhaps it is that we pressure ourselves to produce more, to accomplish more, to excel more.  No time to stop.  Put on another pot of Maxwell House!   Drink some Dew!  How about another energy drink?

Do you remember when the computer was a new invention, and we thought it would give us extreme amounts of leisure? Instead it has simply increased our work loads.

Whatever happened to rest? It is supposed to happen every seven days. At least that is how God planned it.

When God created the world in six days, He “rested” not because He was tired but because He had completed His work.

The Ten Commandments, however, instructed Israel to remember the Sabbath Day, the seventh day of the week, and keep it holy unto God. God knew our tendency to overwork, overdo, and overachieve. In fact, we often act like we are gods who need no rest and can just go forever.  Energizer Bunnies on adrenalin.

I must confess that I used to treat every day as the same with lots to do, working from dawn to dark, so to speak.

I was convicted of that back in 2005. The Lord dealt with me about my need for a “Sabbath rest,” a day to rest and relax, to lay aside the To-Do List, to close the planner and allow my body and mind to refresh.

It was tough at first, like a junkie kicking a habit. But soon I began to plan for my Sunday Sabbath by finishing tasks on Saturday. I closed my Day-Timer on Sunday. I went to church and came home expecting to take a nap. It was absolutely wonderful.

I have to guard my time even now; it would be my tendency to go back to the old way of working until I dropped. That is not healthy for me physically, emotionally or spiritually.

My commitment to keeping Sabbath honors God by acknowledging that He is more than able to keep the world turning without me. It frees me from the load of too much to do and too much to think about. I recognizing that He is the only One who never slumbers or sleeps. He doesn’t need to.

But He knows I do.  Sabbath rest – it is a good thing.

Psalm 121: 3b . . . He that keepeth thee will not slumber.

 4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

 5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

 

 

What about you?  Do you work too much and rest too little?  Do you keep “Sabbath?”           Please leave a comment.

2011 is here! What now?

 HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Bill Vaughn said, “Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve.  Middle age is when you’re forced to.”  I’d like to add my two cents worth:  Old age is when you sleep through New Year’s Eve.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

This is my last day for organizing tips.  I hope you will let me know if you plan to try any of them.  Or even better, share your tips with me.  

Limit your social networking time.   Facebook is fun, no doubt.  And I guess it’s a legal way to snoop, to be the ultimate nosey neighbor.  If we are not very careful, however, it can eat up our time.  Be aware.  Set a timer.  Limit yourself.  If necessary, be accountable to someone.

Don’t buy so much.  This is a no-brainer.  I can be tempted to buy what I don’t really need because marketers are so good at their jobs.  The glitz is enticing.  The price may be right.  But if I don’t need it, it really isn’t a bargain.  Ask yourself these two questions:  Do I really need it?  Where will I put it? 

If something comes in, something must go out.  This is an appendix to the above.  If you make this a rule when you shop, it might help curtail some impulse buying. 

As I continue with my January organization (begun in December), I am serious about paring down.  It is difficult.  Simplicity is a  far off destination, it seems.  But I’m on the right road.

I remember a quote attributed to WIlliam Morris (1834-1896):

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

I’m not sure I am there yet.  I can easily pick out the useful and the beautiful items.  What stops me dead in my tracks are things that I might need in the future.  I just never know when I will find a use for all those popsicle sticks, the boxes of fabric, a half set of mittens, the clothes that will fit when I lose 20 pound, or old scarves that are sure to come back in style.   Sometimes I think I’m a hopeless keeper of stuff. 

I encourage myself that even the Bible mentions people and their stuff.  Genesis 31:37 is talking about Jacob.  Applying it to me is a bit out of context.  Actually, it is very much out of context.  But here is the verse anyway:

Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff?  (King James Version)

That’s me in a nut shell.  

One thing for sure about this brand new year.  I will be held accountable for the way I spend it.  I’d better spend it wisely.

Happy New Year and Good Organizing to you.

Countdown to 2011 – Part 2

Here I am again with more tips on  getting organized in 2011.  Just remember, I am not a pro.  I am only sharing information that has helped me or that might help me in the future.  Organization is an ongoing project.  It only takes a little accumulate of things to feel out of control.   And I like to be in control.  Just ask Sweet William.

Work on the areas that are visible first.  For sure, those closets need your attention, but putting your visible surroundings in order first will give you a respite when you take a break from the closet chaos.  Besides, if someone drops in unexpectedly, you don’t have to make excuses for the whole house being in an uproar.

Keep only one, and I do mean only one, calendar.  This takes some discipline but is well worth it.  Whether you use a Day-Timer binder, a Blackberry or some hand-held computer, or a simple calendar on the refrigerator door, use only one.  Otherwise you will mark an appointment on what is at hand and forget to transfer it to your personal planner. 

Keep an ongoing box for Goodwill or Salvation Army.  Regularly deposit items that need to be re-positioned out of your house into the designated box.   Don’t go back through the box when it’s full and ready to be removed. 

Remember the stuff you keep is really keeping you.  Have you realized this?  The more stuff I have, the more time it takes to dust it, wash it, straighten it, and protect it.  Is that really the way I want to spend my life?

Reward yourself.  After you complete a number of tasks, take a break and do something you enjoy, like paging through that new magazine (stacked neatly with your other reading material) while sipping a great cup of hot coffee (made from the pot that is sitting on a neat kitchen counter).  Set the timer so you can get back at the task at hand.

The wise man Solomon said this in Ecclesiastes 3 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . . A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away . . . ” (verse 1 and 6).

January is my time to cast away.   More to come tomorrow.

I wish you a happy, safe New Year’s Eve and a blessed New Year 2011

 

Are you making resolutions or goals for next year.  Leave a comment.  I’ll share some of mine with you later. 

Countdown to 2011

January magazines are on the stands, and often they boast how you can get organized.  Obviously it is a goal at the beginning of a new year.

Several years ago I started a January project of going through every drawer and every closet in the house.  I’ve thrown out, given away, and found a lot of stuff.  After several years of this mentally deranged undertaking, I have, at the least, a much better idea where things are when I need them.

Some of you are probably thinking I’m weird to enjoy this.  Maybe I am.  I  know my organizing-orderly tendencies can drive other people crazy at times.  Blame it on my DNA.

So . . . I thought I would share some organization ideas with you over the next few days as we countdown to year 2011.  

Now before you start thinking I’m very wise (along with being very weird), let me tell you that what I’ve learned has come from others.  I’ve picked up tips from articles and books that endeavor to teach me how to organize my space, my time, my life.  Is that even possible?  It’s a work in progress for sure.  Some of it has sunk in and actually works for me.  Maybe it will work for you.  I will share it, and you can be the judge.

File it – don’t pile it.  One of the best pieces of advice I ever took hold of is to do something with what I have in my hand.  It is so easy to lay it down while planning to put it away later.  Before you know it, there are piles of things to put away later.  Whether it is the daily mail, the clean laundry, or something you picked up from the living room, put it where it belongs instead of laying it down to do later.  

Creat a system for your papers.  Yes, I know we are trying to go paperless in our society.  But I still have a lot of it coming in to the house.  Don’t let it accumulate on the kitchen counter.  Have a bill file, a hold file, a to-do-later file, a read file, or make up your own categories that will work for you and your family.  After you’ve put it in a file, make a note in your planner or calendar to go through your files on a regular basis.  You will feel better knowing your stuff has a rightful place to be.  And your kitchen counter will not become the land of the lost papers. 

Make up your bed.   This is what we tell the kids, right?  It will make the entire bedroom look neater, and you’ll feel better about going in there.  The simpler your coverlet and pillows are to spread and fluff, the quicker this job will be. 

Break big projects into smaller ones.  You’ve heard this one before, I know.  Don’t let giant projects overwhelm you.  Take bite-size pieces.  Instead of planning to organize the entire house (such as weirdos like me do :)), plan to go through your dresser drawers; or organize the kitchen cabinets; or clean out the freezer or the refrigerator.  Accomplishing a smaller project will boost your morale and make it easier to tackle the next project.

Now the tricky part of this post:  How do I take this subject and make a spiritual application to it?

There is a verse in 1 Peter 4:9 that I think applies as I make the effort to maintain order in my home. 

Welcome people into your home and don’t grumble about it.  (Contemporary English Version)

If there is reasonable order in my home, I am free to extend a spur-of-the-moment invitation.  You just never know when someone needs a welcoming place to sit and refresh and be encouraged.  Your home could be that place to a weary traveler.

P.S.  Be sure to click on the five at the top.  It’s just  fun to watch the countdown.

   More to come in the next few days.  I would like to hear your organizational tips.  I’m always ready to try something that works for someone else.  Leave a comment.

A personal note . . . December 3

Started my day with prayer time at 6:30 a.m. with my prayer partner, Julie.  We prayed for people we care  about and love, and we prayed for grace to deal with our busy schedules today.  Joy fills me as I anticipate what this day holds.

Wearing my green sweater and my Christmas socks, I head to work at Little Flock.  The piano recital will be in the evening, and beautiful music will be everywhere.

A song fills my head, a prayer actually, “strength for today and glad hope for tomorrow.”  It is from one of my favorite hymns Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  “Yes, Lord, You are always faithful, and I’m trusting You today.”

The recital will be held in the sanctuary of Little Flock.  I set up the refreshment table in the foyer using the punch bowl my mother purchased in 1972 for my wedding reception.  It’s been used for graduations, showers, wedding receptions, and piano recitals.  In spite of it being very breakable, I enjoy the memories associated with it each time I bring it out.

At recital time, the students, their families, and friends begin to gather.  Excitement is in the air along with a bit of jitters.  Time to start, and the students begin to play.  From the youngest to the eldest, music flows from their fingers.

My students work so hard to prepare for this special evening.  Their efforts show.  And I am so proud of each one.   

A personal note . . . in anticipation

     Today, I worked from home finishing some last-minute details for yet another recital.  This one will include the eleven piano students I teach from my home.  They have worked hard to prepare and I know their songs will be beautiful as they play with skill and confidence.

I anticipate a beautiful Christmas Recital tomorrow night, a fitting beginning to my Christmas season.

The melody of Christmas, the song the angels sing . . . Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

“The earth has grown old with its burden of care but at Christmas it always is young, The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair and its soul full of music breaks the air, when the song of angels is sung”   –Phillip Brooks