Thursday, August 25, 2011

Piano Spot

in case you didn't know, i've opened a "piano studio."  i use quotes because it just feels so official, i'm not sure what to do about it.  speaking of official, i have 2 official students as of yesterday. woohoo!  one is 6, the other is 5, and they are so dang cute.  can't give you their pics b/c
1. didn't take any during the "meet and greet free lesson" -that'd be creepy.
2. pictures of littles on the web by their teachers - also creepy.

maybe after a recital on my studio blog? not as creepy.

anyway, I have this little space in the front room (which will function as living/ dining/ piano).

and a different angle

and a view from the other side of the room.  

 That last one is an okay shot of the whole space... card table? you ask.  borrowing while saving.  our previous place was furnished soooo we're saving for furniture one little bit at a time.  what are those pictures over on the right wall? i'm so glad you asked.  i took it before fixing the crooked shelf. oh, and must fill blank frames.  i was pretty proud of the fact that i could hang those shelves (with anchors, drill, and all) by myself... with a little training session from my fabulous husband!  and i love that we can just keep adding to it.

anyway, back to the piano "studio..." spot.

i'd like those walls to be fun, colorful, but not too much like a 1st grade classroom if you know what i mean.  also, perhaps some sort of magnetic, cork, or chalkboard for changing activities, contests, info etc...

i've been looking for ideas of pics to frame...

if i was crazy, i'd just paint the piano. ha jk. i am crazy and i will not paint my piano. although maybe one day, i'll buy a cheap piano from craigslist and paint it for fun.  probably that won't happen.  anyway, i like something similar to this as a print.

fun. artsy. maybe too artsy? i dont know if i would put a picture of colored pencils in a frame. but i like it.

in a different direction... work hard!

haha this like the poster that your dorky music teacher had pinned up in the front of her classroom. oh wait i am a dorky music teacher.  which is why i like it.

sooo if you see anything that "fits" let me know. "fits" because i don't even know what i'm going for :)

Thrift Stores

I'm not one of those cool people who gets all their clothes from thrift stores and still looks pulled together (like this girl). But i do like browsing at a goodwill or salvation army here and there.  And I especially like it for certain things.

For example, shirts for Ben for his T.A. job.  we put this particular shirt back... a little too much rainbow sherbert goin on.

 but we got all these :)

And lamps.  I needed an extra lamp for my new scrapbooking space (which I LOVE having).  And I ran into this guy for 99 cents :) All he needs is a head.

 The reason I was so excited about that little yellow lamp is because he matches the other little yellow lamp I have.  Which I also got at Goodwill. For $2.99. like 3 years ago.
Now my crafting will be well lit :) Totally relevant side story - i created a scrapbook page the other day, feeling good about it.  only to look at it in better light and realize the papers didn't match like i thought they did.  enter a 2nd lamp. 

As we were packing to move out of our Chicago apartment, I found a giant bin of VHS movies.  Who watches those right?  Ben reluctantly let me donate them along with our VHS player, which we hadn't used all year.  (He wanted to save them. I hate clutter and I especially don't like unused clutter.  and i love to throw things out, sometimes to the extreme.)

But, on the infamous night last week when we went to the Salvation Army Thrift Store to get Ben's shirts, we saw all these fun old movies while standing in line.  Ben started picking some up. I followed suit.  They were 99 cents.  We purchased them, went back to the electronics section, picked out a VHS player for $5.99 and the rest is history.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

wednesday night.

right now i'm in my basement. with a hoodie and slippers. [it's cold, like basements are.]
watching "best of friends" ... on vhs.  it's blurry.  and you can fast-forward. remember fast-forwarding?
while browsing etsy & pinterest
with a small glass of wine.

this is all kinds of fun.

i feel like this...


Yesterday, I wrote about how Satan is a liar.  One way I think he lies is through distractions.  huh? you say... well, let me give you a personal example.

I use this website as a way to help me memorize (and remember!) scripture.  I usually do this first thing in the morning... cup of coffee in hand, of course ;)  Recently, I signed on to memverse, and while it was loading opened a couple more tabs for email, blogs, and facebook.  because, why not have social media overload.  oh, she moved there? and they got engaged? and answer the email from my mom.  and respond to new student emails. and fun new blog post. and.... wait, what did I get on the computer to do?

Now obviously we've all experienced this in other ways.  I.e. flashback to college.  for me, not that long ago.  get online to do research, next thing you know, 1 hour has passed and you're on facebook.  with no research.

But how much more detrimental to be distracted from God.  from meditating on his Word.


I truly believe that Satan whispers things to us to distract us from activity that honors God.

Reading the Bible... He's whispering don't forget to do this later, you need to check the laundry, email so-and-so, put up that sign, post that blog, defrost that chicken.  seriously. personal experience. 
Quality time with spouse... think about this. read this book. you don't want to watch that movie.  what'd he say? whatever.
Getting ready for church... distracted by rushing around, petty arguments, tiredness
Small group... how is it that a million other things come up that night of the week to say "no" to.  Coincidence? I think not. 

you get the picture... 

So, no matter how long that memory verse website takes to load (sometimes, it's slow) I resolved not to open any more tabs.  I will wait patiently and not be distracted.  I will ignore the enemy and tell him to go away.  Because he is "roaming around like a roaring lion, seeking those he can devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

Here's to resisting distractions!!

p.s. I've been loving this blog, recommended to me by this friend... hence the rainbow text.  (scroll down the "whatever" blog and you'll see what I mean. the lady likes her rainbows)  you might be seeing more rainbows here. what can i say? it's cheery :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Name the lie... insert truth

Satan is a liar.  John 8:44 says "When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

James 4:7 tells us to "resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Well, how do we resist lies? 

The most succinct answer I ever heard... name the lie, insert the truth.

Lie - you're not good enough. you're a failure.
Truth - God knows me and loves me "How precious about me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!" (Psalm 139:17)

Lie - nobody will know.  just try it.  
Truth - "Your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23) 

Lie -  nobody cares about you.
Truth - Indeed the very hairs on your head are numbered.  You are much more valuable than the sparrows which God cares for. (Luke 12:7)

Lie - you're not gonna make it. you're running out of money. do something drastic. worry worry worry! 
Truth - "If God so clothes the grass, whcih is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, o you of little faith!  and do not seek what you are to eat and drink... your Father knows you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you." (Luke 12:28-31).

See how it works?  Identify the lie and insert the truth. 


Holmes Lake Apartments

So I'm working on starting a piano and voice studio out of our house in Lincoln.  The Lord gave us a wonderful rental house in a nice neighborhood near lots of families.  I've been advertising in lots of ways...

* signs up on busy streets
* tear-off fliers in coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, etc...
* contacted school music teachers
* churches

After a week or so of staying home and doing.. idk.. stuff... i realized I couldn't sit around for too much longer.  So I decided to go "cold calling."  aka: door-to-door.  ahhh!!! 

[mini side story - my dad is in sales.  he and his reps go cold calling all the time. he's a pro.  my brother ran a college painting franchise one summer and i cold called for him... for about 3 weeks.  frankly, i didn't care whether or not they got their houses painted.  sales wasn't for me.]

but this time, i did care whether or not they took lessons from me. :)

i drove to a random neighborhood ("random" meaning carefully selected b/c it's close by me, with big houses, & young families).  as I passed this Holmes Lake Apartment complex, it occurred to me to turn down that street.  But then I thought nahhh... there's no houses.  so i kept driving to said random neighborhood and parked my car.  started going door to door.  Most people were very friendly.  My first real success -  a lady with 4 littles, the oldest of whom is 7.  she said they were just talking about starting piano lessons.  we chit-chatted.  she said she'd call & gave tips about where to go to find more young families.

i left that neighborhood and headed back home for a hot date ;) I passed the Holmes Lake apartment complex again, thinking I should turn.  I could only see apartments but I figured, what the heck.  So I followed the road back into a neighborhood with houses.  I parked my car and started to walk towards a house kitty corner from where I parked.  It didn't make sense to go to that house first b/c it was the furthest compared to the other houses nearby.  But I started walking anyway.  Lo and behold, out comes a lady carrying a baby.  I thought that infant is too young, but maybe she has others...?  I introduced myself and explained I was opening a home studio.  She said, "We were just starting to look for piano teachers.  I want to sign my 5 and 7 year olds up to start in a couple months. we're just waiting on my mom's piano."  We chit chatted a little more and she too gave me some tips about where to find more families.  And then I drove away.

as I headed back home for real, The Lord said, see I told you to go down that street.  When I'm paying attention, He's always leading.  And when I'm ignoring His voice because something doesn't seem to make sense to me, I'm thankful He's full of grace and willing to try again... gotta get past my fuzzy, confused receiver :)

Has He been leading you?  If not... check your receiver.  Are you listening?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Recent Random Stuff

We have had all sorts of random fun lately.  Here's some snapshots of our recent activities. 

Before we moved to Lincoln, we had a fun "goodbye" dinner with my uncle and my brother.  We went to Ruth's Chris for the best steak in the world.  It was delicious.  

And then we went to Chicago Cut for a fun dessert - a chocolate bag.  It was all it was cracked up to be and more.  VERY tasty.

We had a delicious pancake breakfast for Ben's first day of school. :)  [We're currently eating on a card table.  And it's classy.]

And I didn't put non-stick spray on the pan for the bacon.  Woops...!

We made signs advertising piano lessons.  We put the first one in our yard.  Wouldn't you want to come take piano lessons from me!?!?

Ben reading studiously.  Me playing old school nintendo.  Perhaps what many of our nights this fall will look like?

I went to Hobby Lobby today.  :)

Going for a jog...

Running intimidates me. Every time I try to "start running" I feel like I'm going to die after 5 blocks and quit.  Also, sometimes, my legs get a strange itchiness that is extremely uncomfortable.  I didn't really care to run with my friends or whatever, so I saw no reason to enjoy it.  There are lots of forms of exercise anyway.  However, for many other forms of exercise, you need a gym of sorts - a membership, a fitness center to play sports at, or whatever... Plus, getting the same cardio workout from, say, biking or the elliptical, as from running takes a LOT longer. 

I thought being able to jog for 30 minutes would be a good goal.  Not just for the sake of jogging, but to develop a habit of exercise.  As my brother graciously commented, "You can eat like that now, but not forever.  Eventually, if you eat like that and don't workout, you'll get fat."  So, 30 minutes - A manageable amount of time for any season in life.  But, since I have insecurities about failure [i'm sure you don't, but imperfect me does] I didn't want to try something that I would end up quitting. 

So I found this run-walk training program.  You can see it here.  It starts with a sequence of running for 1 minute and walking for 2 (for 30 minutes total). And it gradually increases the amount of time you run and decreases the amount of time you walk.  After 8 weeks, the goal is to run for 30 minutes.  Now for my marathon-running friends, you might think that sounds pathetic.  And I'm okay with that.  But the first time I ran for a minute and walked for 2 for a total of 30 minutes, I felt REALLY tired.  There, it's on the internet.  Shameful, but true.  But now, after a few weeks in, it's semi-enjoyable (I don't look forward to it, but I feel good after) and I can run for several minutes at a time without exhaustion.  This feels like a major accomplishment.  [Sigh - nostalgia to high school when I was in shape and even semi-athletic. Oh well.]

I don't plan to run marathons, or even to become "a runner."  But, the 30 minutes out and about (especially in this 68-degrees-in-the-morning-with-a-light-breeze weather) getting some exercise and solitude is good for my body and soul.  

Here's to exercise  :)

Excerpt from "The Faith"

I'm finishing up The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe it, and Why it Matters by Charles Colson.  Excellent book outlining the foundations for a Christian worldview.  Here is a story he tells in the chapter titled, "The Sanctity of Life."  (This LONG excerpt is several pages into the chapter which discusses the Christian belief in "the sanctity of life at every stage, from conception to death.")

Belief in the sanctity of life may be fine as an ideal, many will say, but there are real-world problems that demand exceptions.  It's hardly compassionate to bring millions of unwanted children into the impoverished nations of the world where they will experience hunger and be afflicted with disease from the moments of their births to their premature deaths.  There are genetic "defects" that can now be detected in the womb that condemn children to lives of misery.  Why should we obliged to perpetuate their lives through modern medicine when nature has so clearly decided against them?  And there are many less extreme but still difficult situations in which reasonable people believe that the termination of a pregnancy or the practice of euthanasia offers the only way out.  What about the promising, bright, fifteen-year-old girl whose pimply-faced boyfriend as much as forces himself upon her in one overheated backseat encounter?  Why should that young woman and her family's hopes and dreams be dashed unnecessarily? 

Many Christians think this way; our secular neighbors generally all do.  So many people, in fact, that even if the U.S. supreme Court were to return the abortion issue to the states, half would vote to legalize it.  Even many Christians have succumbed to a "lesser of two evils" mentality.  After all, this world is hard - it truly is - and the prospect of avoiding further pain by choosing the seemingly "lesser" evil has strong appeal.

I thought about this appeal when I visited my daughter, Emily, in Massachusetts.  One Sunday afternoon we attended a special needs basketball game in which Max, my autistic grandson, was participating.  The game was in an elementary school on a tree-lined suburban road.  The school itself was... the epitome of New England architecture. But the gymnasium had been added on.  It looked like a big sandy-beige concrete-block cube... I thought it would be dreary inside.  But inside it was anything but dreary. There were about thirty children in attendance who suffered from autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or other conditions.  Almost an equal number of parents and high school student volunteers ahd shown up as well so that each youth or child had his or her own caregiver.... Not one kid among the thirty could fully manage for himself or herself.  One of the boys, who looked to be in his midtwenties, was helped onto the court by his middle-aged mother... She held on to her son, keeping him drawn up with a tight grip on his jacket in order for him to stand.  He wasn't able to speak but evidently communicated well enough with his mother through his eyes.  The parents and volunteers were excited to see how eager the kids were to play.  

After everyone had dribbled and thrown the balls about for a while, the group assembled for a prescribed warm-up.  They formed a big circle around one of the baskets and every participant took a turn shooting baskets until he or she made one.  A few scored on their first shot.  Max was actually one of the more functional kids, although his first couple shots missed wildly before he sank one.  Most of the kids had to take five or six or as many as ten shots.  Every time a participant scored, a look of pure joy appeared on his face and on the volunteers' faces and the family's.  There was tremendous enthusiasm with whoops and hollers at every basket...

Then they had a game.  Half the kids composed one team and the other half their opponents.  No one was allowed to interfere with anyone who had the ball.  The coach, his assistants, and some of the volunteers now turned into helping-hand referees, supervising the kids as they dribbled, passed, and took the ball up and down the court... It was well organized and exciting for the kids.  

After the game, the mother who had to help her son stand was about to leave a bag behind when Emily noticed it and brought it to her.  It was filled with diapers.  Imagine being the mother of a twenty-year-old whose diapers still need changing.  I wondered whether I could ever summon the stamina and grace these kids demand of a parent.  My daughter will tell you, however, that Max is the greatest blessing in her life.  What occurred to me that day, though, was that all of these parents, as well as coaches and volunteers, displayed a love that was utterly missing in most of society today.  Their reaction to the situation was, indeed, the exact opposite of what one might expect.  They were the happiest group of people I'd met in a long time.

Why were they so happy when so many others in Western society who live privileged lives, utterly free of such cares, are so miserable?  It's because, whether they know it or not, they are doing God's work.  It's not that autism or Down syndrome or cerebral palsy are good things; they are consequences of the fall.  It's not that raising such children or caring for the hungry in distant lands doesn't entail incredible sacrifice.

But when I reflect on the joy in that gym, I realize God gives a special anointing to those who care for others - even to those who don't believe in the God who is blessing their actions.  [This reminds me of something my dad says often, The Bible is working for or against you whether or not you believe it.]  The disabled and the poor end up being God's gifts to us, for they present opportunities to serve our common Creator, who has fashioned each of us in His image.  As Mother Teresa said, "The poor, in whatever part of the world are to be found, are the suffering Christ.  In them, lives and dies, the Son of God.  Through them, God shows us His face."

I left that day with two other thoughts.  The greatest advocate in our day for utilitarian ethics, Professor Peter Singer, argues for infanticide and euthanasia as good things, since they are free resources to maximize the happiness of the majority.  And if life has no inherent worth, he's logically correct.  So why don't we get rid of these burdensome kids?  Because the truth about life is understood - the imago Dei is in us, even when we don't want to acknowledge it.  

Also, how could anyone watch that game and still believe that Darwin's theory of natural selection is correct?  According to his theory, natural processes would have selected out those characteristics which do not strength us in our struggle to live.  In other words, the strong would eliminate the weak.  But why hasn't that happened?  It's because of what Darwin and his defenders could have never understood - human kindness and altruism.  Darwin's defenders would deny us the blessing of caring for people like Max and those who played basketball that day.  It's not a burden, thank you.  It's a joy.

Later, Colson concludes his chapter with this statement: 

Christians propose to society a biblical humanism "deeply grounded in the dignity of the human person at every stage of development, disadvantage, or decline."  It would be difficult to find a more effective answer to the encroaching culture of death than the love and justice of God.  

~Colson, p.180-185

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Paid to Organize!?

Did you know people get paid to organize other people's stuff?  Well, I am just realizing this.  Here's the thing... I love organizing.  Like, enjoy it.  think it's fun.  look for things to organize when I'm bored. 

So the fact that there are people out there who go to someone else's house or business, help them setup and keep up organizing systems (at the client's expense), and get paid... let's just say, How can I get in on this!?!?!
Well, I'm currently working on a piano and voice lessons business.  So, maybe one business at a time.  I'm in entrepreneurial mode.

Observations about Lincoln

We've lived in Lincoln for 12 days.  I've made some observations and comparisons between Lincoln and Chicago.

1.  Drivers do not treat bikes like cars (like in Chicago).  In fact, mostly, drivers don't notice bikers. 
2.  When you are turning out of a business driveway on to a busy street, people wave you to cut in front of them with a smile (as opposed to speeding up and glaring at you for even thinking about entering the road.)
3.  There is no Marshall's.  Sigh.
4.  Strangers ask personal questions.  For example, checking out at the cash register, "what is that rash?" (regarding a burn on my hand that looks gross and disgusting.)
5.  We've met all our neighbors.
6.  I was in and out of Lincoln Public Schools HR in about 30 minutes tops.  CPS HR was NEVER even close to that efficient.  And LPS is recovering from a fire that burnt down their district offices...
7.  There are lots of local businesses

more to come. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Master Bedroom

Well hello there.  It's been a while.  I have to admit, I've missed blog world.  I mean, the google reader app just isn't the same.  We're all moved in to our new rental house in Lincoln.  We just got internet today :) woohoo!  Ben and I have been enjoying surfing the web all morning!!! Our house is beginning to feel like "home." 

Disclaimer - I have a lot of free time these days, so be prepared.  There might be many more posts than you care to read.

So, in some of my free time in between moves, I was playing around with this whole "mood board" thing.  Why is it called a mood board? Idk.  But I have a slight interior design obsession lately.  It's been a long time developing - first trading spaces on TLC (anyone remember that), then HGTV, then the design blogs...  Anyway, I'm not super trendy or into spending a lot of money on design, but I do enjoy browsing the world wide web and getting ideas.  I'm just gonna stop trying to justify why this is fun for me.

I made this "mood board."  I'm visual and was trying to picture a few different items we've purchased and what would look good in our master bedroom.  I just did it in Microsoft Word... not very fancy.  Then I couldn't figure out how to turn the file (doc) into a picture file (jpeg) so I just took a screen shot of it. And voila. 

Here was our blank slate:

and here's the current work in progress

Unfortunately, the "neutral" comforter we own is the exact color of the beige/blan walls in the ENTIRE house.  We like our landlady.  She's willing to let us paint, but she seems hesitant.  I'm workin' on it.  Hoping to get a white comforter and paint the walls a cheery light blue/grey... we have some time in this house so we'll see. it's not on the priority list.

my half of the closet :) we're going without dressers - open shelves built into the closet work just dandily

That frame w/ wedding vows was from a family friend; the vase was from a crate and barrel set and the table is from my childhood bedroom :) donated by mi madre. 

So not exactly what the "mood board" dictated, but hey - we're on a budget.  I had fun doing one of those little mood board things and it occurred to me - this is fun even if I wasn't going to try to recreate the final product.  I can't believe people get paid to do that (probably they do ones a lot more high tech than mine, but still...) They get paid to make one of those, then somebody else pays for the items and they put it all together. Not a bad deal.  How can I get in on that?!

Well, off to do more internet surfing.  Is anyone into this pinterest thing? I can't make a decision about it.  Adios for now. You can bet I'll be back shortly with all my spare time :)