Two for One Time

Okay, I wrote this post in early December and I totally forgot to post it.  So I am going to post it (pretend it is still December) and then tack on my next post.  It is going to be a little long, but I hope you will stick around til the end! So two for one, aren’t you excited!

#1-Winter is Here

Fall is usually my favorite time of year.  I love how the trees magically change color and how everything looks at us from a different eye.  I love the mountain dashed with brilliant colors and the weather changing to cool down. But this year has felt different. This year I just feel like everything is dying and I don’t like the barren trees.  It makes me feel exposed I guess and I am really not looking forward to driving in the snow. I haven’t been looking forward to the change of the leaves, I have dreaded the chill of winter coming and have missed the green grass and flowers in delicate colors.  A Sarah McLachlan song keeps rolling through my head;

“The winter here is cold and bitter
It’s chilled us to the bone
I haven’t seen the sun for weeks
Too long, too far from home.”

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I guess I have just not been ready to be freezing all the time and never be able to get warm.  I also had a hard time sending my kids off to school this fall.  I love my kiddos and it is hard to not spend more time with them and to hear their laughter and see them all play together.  Now, the nights are full of homework, piano practice and reading minutes.  My kids complain about not having time to “just play” and I am totally with them.  So, I am not ready for this year to be gone.  Where did the year go anyway?  I feel like it was just April, but it is December.  Seriously, time does go faster when you are older.  I just want time to slow down a little.  I want to continue to enjoy snuggles with all of my kids before they don’t hug me or they are bigger than me.

So now I am trying to get into the Christmas spirit but I keep dragging my feet, pretending that it is Spring.

One thing for sure is that I realize I like all the seasons for different reasons.  I don’t really have a favorite anymore, but I am sure looking forward to spring!

#2 Shine On

I play the piano, I don’t claim to be the best piano player but I can mostly hold my own when I have some time to practice.  A couple of weeks ago I played the piano for a musical number at church.  I was pretty excited they asked me to, because it was all the men in a family I think the world of.  So, the music was brought over and I was like..yep, lots of practice time for this one! It has always been a challenge to get all the practice time I need with my kids.  It was hard though to get through all 11 pages of the piece in one sitting without one child needing help, or someone screaming, or you know just life here!  It was a beautiful song though and it was a fun challenge to up my game for this quartet, because they are all amazingly good singers.

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When I accompany anyone or any group my goal is to go unnoticed and have the singer(s) be center stage.  Basically I am letting them shine!  When I was preparing this last time it just reminded me that accompanying people is a lot like life.  There are many people behind the scenes helping us shine and look good.  Do we thank those people enough?  Do you think about those people?  Do you thank them for their “practice” time.  It is a lot like being a parent!  But my mind also turned to my Savior.  He is always there behind the scenes for me.  He has put in a lot of work for me, and continues to always uplift, inspire and strengthen me.  What a blessing to have just had the Christmas Season upon us.

Our Christmas was simple and relaxed and we did a lot to help focus not just ourselves, but our children toward Christ.  Did you remember Christ at Christmas?  I hope you thought about how that little baby born long ago is not a baby anymore, but is your brother and friend and is doing His best to make you shine.  Look for those people that help you and allow you to shine, thank them.  Then, look for people that you can help and let them shine!

 

 

 

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Singing with the choir

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Music has always been a part of my life.  I have been blessed to be surrounded by people with musical talent.  My grandpa was in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for years.  My dad is very musically gifted.  He can name almost any classical piece by just listening to it.  He can sing, he used to play the violin and the guitar, and he can teach people how to sing.  My mom was a concert pianist and could sing opera.  They were an amazing match.  They met in college doing musical theater stuff.  I have so many memories of growing up with music.  My mom would play the piano often and I loved to hear that music through the house.  My dad would sit in his den with the door closed and BLAST his classical music.  I am not sure why he closed the door, you could hear like it three houses down, but it is always a fun memory to think about it.  For a number of years my mom and dad were the backbone of the ward choir.  My dad conducted the music and taught the choir members tons!  I learned a lot from him while I was sitting in those choir pews.  My mom played the piano for the choir, and the organ for sacrament meeting, and the piano in Relief Society.  When I was little she played the piano in primary.  My sister can sing high soprano and it is amazing as her kids are getting older to watch in amazement at her kids and their vocal abilities.  One of my favorite memories was when my sister and my dad sang together.  I still have the sheet music for that song and hold it dear, it was an incredible moment.

And then there is my husband.  He can play guitar, he writes his own songs, records his own songs and is just plain amazing.  Seriously, we have 5 different guitars in our house and multiple recording things to go with them.  It is great!  I have been truly blessed by his talent and he always amazes me.  And his dad is a great singer, his mom taught herself how to play the piano and the organ and can sing as well.  He has a sister that plays the violin, so there are lovely musical people that have surrounded me!

I would like to say that I can hold my own when it comes to music.  I started taking piano lessons when I was 8 and enjoyed it.  I must say I didn’t always work as hard as I should have.  I can read music pretty well and sometimes just let my musical ability pull me through, instead of practicing seriously.  But, I am so grateful for my loving piano teacher and all that I was able to learn from her. Now that my kids can entertain themselves to some sort it has been fun to play a little more when I can. I can sing, but I am not the best.  I taught myself to sing alto as a freshman in college, because I was sick of just being the “regular” soprano.  Harmonizing is fun!  Anyway, it was a switch though because in high school I always was singing Soprano II and it was hard to switch, but I like it.

In high school I sang in the women’s choir (which was super early, like 6:30 am) and it was fun.  My senior year I played the piano for a few friends when they auditioned for chamber choir.  I was shocked when the choir director asked me if I wanted to audition.  I really wanted to, but AP Biology was the same hour as chamber choir, and I decided AP Bio was a better idea.  I really, really regret that.  I was horrible at Biology and wish I would have been brave enough to do something I really wanted to, instead of something that I “should” do.  But, what is done and done.  In college I auditioned for a choir, but didn’t make it and that was the end of me trying at all. I didn’t think I was good enough and so it goes.

Later when I served a mission for my church, I got to sing a lot.  One memory stands out.  My companion and I were asked to sing at a funeral, no big deal.  Well, we were to sing in a church that was a different denomination, which was fine, but the pastor was not happy at all about it.  When we got to the funeral we had prepared but we had never met our pianist and didn’t practice with her specifically, so we just prayed that we would add to the spirit of the meeting.  When we started singing, I am pretty sure that a choir of angels was singing for us.  My companion and I just looked at each other when we were done and knew that our prayer had been heard.

Because of the wonderful time I had in choir growing up with my parents, I have always wanted to be part of the ward choir.  You don’t have to try out, you don’t have to claim to sing amazing, you can just go and sing praises to God no matter who you are.  Well, with my husband and his responsibilities in church and three young kids, choir seemed like it was something that was going to come later in life, whenhad time for it.  A few months ago, I keep getting the feeling that I should really try and figure out how I could get to choir and rearrange things so that I could do it now.  I needed some outlet and knew that the choir director had a lot of musical knowledge and I could learn something.  But it just came down to the fact that I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifice because I didn’t have time for it.  Then a got a call to meet with the bishop…oh man.

I was asked to serve as the person that set up the special musical numbers in my ward and a big part of that was supporting the choir.  The bishop asked that the choir perform once a month.  I thought that was a daunting task because of the size of the choir, but recognized this as the way that God wanted me to have time for choir.  There are lots of other things to do with my calling, besides supporting the choir, but I feel that this was a huge blessing for me.

When we sacrifice our time, our talents, or whatever it may be, the blessings in return are immeasurable.  My only regret, is that I would have CHOSEN to humble myself and make that sacrifice myself because that would have been sweeter.  The joy comes faster when we truly humble ourselves instead of being compelled to be humble.  There have been and continue to be answers to prayers from my choir attendance.  I cannot say that it is easy to go every week, but then the uplift comes and I am so grateful for the opportunity I am given at this time to make the sacrifice and truly be refined in the process.  The tender mercies are too close and personal to share at this time, but I have truly been humbled.

So my question to you, what are you going to sacrifice to be a better person, to be willing to give what you can so that you can receive those tender mercies in your life?  I hope you will be humble and be willing to give of yourself to help those around you and to thank your Heavenly Father.