Friday, January 27, 2012


lately, i'm in more of a reading mood than ever, so watch out!

these are a few books i've finished this month.

Hope Unseen: The Story of the U.S. Army's First Blind Active-Duty Officer (Captain Scotty Smiley with Doug Crandall)  I'd say 3 out of 5.   This book provided insight into the life of a soldier.  I came away feeling grateful for the people who serve our country in the military.  He candidly describes the highs and lows of what it was like for him (on multiple levels) to go blind as a young soldier.  I always like a good adversity-overcoming story and this was one of those.  It's not top-notch literature, but still an interesting, personal story of one soldier who sacrificed for our country.

Tramp for the Lord (Corrie ten Boom)  I read her book The Hiding Place last year, which details her life in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII.  If you haven't read that one, you should read it.  This book (Tramp for the Lord), though not the most well-chosen title if you ask me (which they didn't) is a series of stories and lessons from her time spent post-WWII "tramping" around the world for the Lord.  She gave up having a home with a bed and a dresser to live her life out of a suitcase sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She was in her 90s when this book was written back in the 1970s and it still feels fresh and rejuvinating to read.  I couldn't get enough of her insights into scripture and her passion for the gospel.  It's contagious.  5 out of 5. 

The Thank You Economy (Gary Vaynerchuk) I read this one because a friend of mine made it sound interesting in his review of it.  (He does way better book reviews that I... you can check his out over HERE)
I initially felt like it was redundant... like, I was on page 50 and thought - did i miss something or have we only gotten about 2 or 3 things so far.  However, I ended up really liking it.  The author explains how big bad scary technology (mainly social media) has actually taken our world back to the times of ma and pa shops.  He explains why and how customer service has completely changed with the advancing of social media and makes several compelling arguements for why you should get on board.  A relevant read for anybody alive in 2012.  3.5 out of 5. (Is that allowed?)

Have you read anything interesting lately??

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TMI about piano lessons

some of my students had mini piano breakthroughs (HOORAY!!!!!) this week and it got me thinking... piano is really good for people.  now, i know i'm biased, but these are some of my hodge podge thoughts on the matter.

there is something to be said for an activity that takes more than 1 hour to master, or even more than 1 day.  i know other activities take lots of effort over a long period of time to master - all kinds of instruments, sports, academic pursuits, etc...  and i am a fan of ANY of those things.  for a kid to work at the same thing 20 minutes a day and progress, progress, progress... it's a good habit. it instills discipline and hard work.  example - i had a few kids who started in september between ages 4 and 6.  anyone in this age group still has a VERY hard time sitting there and getting their fingers on the keys.  we are talking like 3 minutes to put our thumb on C.  they're easily distracted, don't remember where their thumb is, which hand is right or left, how not to swing their legs. they fall off the bench, they ask silly questions, and they suddenly forget the order of the alphabet.  but by now (and even earlier than december), every single one of those kids can focus and sit through the whole lesson.  they can play their songs, find all the notes, read the music (for an entire 2 minute song) without stopping to ask questions.  it's pretty cool to see.

so, why piano over all those other activities?  well, there is something about an instrument lesson that makes parents more hesitant to let their kid quit at the first sign of lacking interest.  if you hate soccer, you hate soccer - you don't have to play next year.  if you hate piano, suck it up. [an aside- finish the season.  seriously, there can't be too many good reasons to let a kid quit mid-commitment.  ok maybe there are a few, but all-in-all, finish what you start.  that is something i learned from my wonderful mother.  we weren't allowed to quit.  so if we wanted to take ballet, we took ballet for the duration of the class even if we changed our mind after week 1.]  that was for free ;) i digress.  if you don't want to play piano, a lot of parents make their kids do it anyway.  it's different from other activities in that way, and i think it's good.  we don't like to put down our toys to do piano practice; but we, as adults, don't like to put down our toys to go to work either, and we have to.  another life lesson to instill at an early age.  sometimes, you do things you don't like in the moment for the long term pay off. 

no piano-playing adult ever looked back and said "i wish i never learned the piano. i hate this skill."
mostly you hear, "i always wish i would have stuck with it."

there are lots of proven connections between studying music and improvement in math and reading abilities. you probably already know that.

it's fun.  barring some horrible emotionally scarring experience with a crotchity old lady teacher, playing music is fun.  it's not for everybody.  but most little kids particularly have fun with it if you make it fun. 

it's mentally challenging!! processing all the fingers and notes and expressions at one time (and so much more).  it's rewarding when you can play a song well and it's rewarding when you can play automatically and it's challenging.  woohoo! i love a good challenge.

my personal experience?  sometimes i think people assume that because i teach piano, i have always been a perfect student...
i cried in level 3.  a lot.  the songs were too hard.  there is a transition from one-hand-at-a-time to both hands that is just hard. there's no way around it.  i cried through level 3 [oh, and crying is still my response to every emotion...]
i wanted to quit in junior high (the answer was no).
i wanted to quit in high school (the answer was - talk to 3 adults hand picked by my mother and if i still want to quit after talking to them and thinking about it for a month, i had to tell my piano teacher of 10 years myself.). i stuck with it. clearly.

i've been processing these thoughts all week. thanks for letting me spew them out on here.

musically yours :)

hahaha only dorky music teachers sign their notes (pun intended) "musically yours" !!!! hahahaha i crack myself up.

Friday, January 20, 2012

seeking to know God

i have been reading a chapter a day from Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer.  each chapter is like 3 pages, but it's so dense. my mind can only handle 3 pages per day.  i finished it yesterday and i am tempted to type the whole last chapter for you, but i'll refrain... that has to be illegal in some way.

here are a couple key thoughts i took away from yesterday:

"any forward step in the Church must begin with the individual. What can we plain Christians do to bring back the departed glory? Is there some secret we may learn?  IS there a formula for personal revival...? The answer is yes.  Yet the answer may easily disappoint some persons, for it is anything but profound... The secret is an open one which the wayfaring man may read.  It is simply the old and ever-new counsel: Acquaint thyself with God" (114).

"To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world.  It is easy because the knowledge is not won by hard mental toil, but it is something freely given... But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them... we must forsake our sins... 'blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God...'  There must be an utter committal of the whole life to Christ in faith... we must practice the art of long and loving meditation upon the majesty of God... and as the knowledge of god becomes more wonderful, greater service to our fellow men will become for us imperative" (115).

"There is a glorified Man on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven faithfully representing us there.  We are left for a season among men; let us faithfully represent Him here" (117).

if you've read it, what are your thoughts?  if not, you should probably buy it today

Thursday, January 19, 2012


as you probably know, i give private piano and voice lessons here in Lincoln.  Yesterday, 3 of my lessons that happen to be back-to-back-to-back were a 67 year old lady, a 15 year old girl and a 5 year old boy.  That's kinda fun :)

so I have this kid who is 5. he is so stinkin' cute.  every week his mom comes with a new "john story."  something he did that is hilarious.  this week's story as told by his mother:  so i was quizzing john on his flash cards.  and every day he would get the notes right. and when i was little we learned "every good boy does fine" but he only had 4 cards, and they seemed random so i wasn't sure how you were teaching them, but he was getting it right every day.  so we did this all week and on the last day, he saw a card and had to think about it for a long time.  after a long time of thinking, he got the right answer, so i asked him - "john, how do you know the right answer? what's your thought process?" and he said "i can see through the card to the answer on the back."  
BAHAHHAA!!! hilarious.  should i feel a teacher-failure moment?   (i quizzed him without being able to see through and he got them right, so i guess not...)

another student i had recently is a lady in her mid-50s. we'll call her jane. i really like her!  she's very personable and positive despite a lot of obstacles she's had to overcome.  and she loves jesus.  so, we were working on 2 arrangements of 2 different hymns. one has a funny rhythm pattern that we worked on last week.  she came this week and opened it and said "i'm just not doing this one." and closed the book. haha and that was that. (teacher side note- we can learn that rhythm in a different song.  if someone has made up their mind not to learn it, they won't learn it, so you might as well move on and sneak that concept in later) :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

just visiting

lately, i've felt a bit... well, i don't know what the word is.  out of place, maybe.  socially awkward in a situation, longing to do something meaningful with my time, missing teaching in a classroom, but enjoying my private lessons, wanting a deep effortless conversation with a friend, wondering about future plans.  i've been content,  but just feeling out of place.

then, yesterday, i went to my first women's bible study for the year.  i am in a class that is doing Beth Moore's study on the book of James.  Wow!! the first video rocked my world.  i am stoked!  afterwards, i was thinking about what i'd just learned, and the Lord whispered this to me:

remember, you aren't at home here.  you were created to be with me in heaven.  you're temporarily on earth.  

how amazing!  that thought had nothing to do with the particular lesson from Beth Moore's study, but as i was thinking about God's Word, God gave that to me because he knew what i needed to hear. and as he spoke that to me, He brought to mind other bible verses that say the same thing:

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body...

2 Corinthians 5 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling...He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.  So we are always of good courage.  We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

i so needed that reminder - i am not at home here. at times i will feel out of place, content as i may be, i will still be somewhat a misfit.  because i belong with my jesus in heaven.  this reminds me of one of my favorite songs.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reading in Twenty-twelve

I tried to make a reading list last year, but then I discovered other books throughout the year that I wanted to read.  So I'd read those instead.  But then I'd be sad because I love lists, and I love to check things off lists and then my original reading list was left pretty unchecked.  So rather than have a 10-commandment-style-set-in-stone-reading-list for 2012, I decided to make a list of books I'd like to read and set a more general goal.

2 books per month.  I'm open to suggestions, but here's some that, as of right now, I'm interested in reading:

Last year, I read The Hobbit and surprisingly really liked it.  Once I got into it, I could hardly put it down because I was so captivated by that little Frodo Baggins' adventures.  I also started re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia but I stopped after #4.  So, I am debating whether to venture into The Lord of the Rings, or finish The Chronicles of Narnia.  

or read Harry Potter.  I know, I know... if you are a Harry Potter fanatic, you probably can't believe I haven't read it.  If you think it sounds stupid you might wonder, why now?  well, I saw the 2nd part of the 7th movie with my family and I couldn't believe how many parallels there were to Christianity, especially since J.K. Rowling received so much criticism from Christians.  But in the 7th movie, the parallels to Christianity seemed so blatant.  So we were talking about it afterwards, and my mother in law found some articles on the subject, one of which was an interview with J.K. Rowling.  In the interview she said something to the effect of "it upsets Christians more to hear I'm a Christian than if I said I were an atheist."  (we could talk about that statement for awhile, but it's not the point.)  Now that I've seen the ending and read about some of the intentional symbolism she used, I'm kinda curious to go back and read the whole story.  I always thought I didn't like the fantasy stuff (and I don't think I'll seek out every single novel in fantasy anyway) but I did love The Hobbit.  Plus I've heard a lot about how intricate Harry Potter gets throughout the books.  And the 7th movie was great.   So, I don't know... it may or may not make the cut in 2012. We'll see.

As for right now, I'm working on a couple good books... so you'll get the run-down when I finish (which I'm sure you're super excited about). :) 

What are you hoping to read this year??                             

Monday, January 16, 2012

Last two books of 2011

 Two books I read towards the end of last year were...
The Street Lawyer is a good, easy-to-read legal thriller, per the usual of John Grisham.  Interesting brain candy, the perfect vacation book :)

The Faith: What Christians believe, Why They Believe it and Why it Matters.  Colson (who came to Christianity while in prison for his involvement in Watergate) writes a compelling explanation of the Christian faith. Written simply yet eloquently, The Faith was challenging and inspiring to me as a believer and also a book I would give to my skeptical friends.  It's not insulting of non-believers, but speaks the truth boldly.  He proclaims the hope and love of Jesus Christ & defends the doctrine of Scripture soundly. Worth reading and giving away.

What have you been reading?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

sew what?

i got a sewing machine for christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  i am sewwwww excited to learn how to sew.  [pun intended]

some things i've been eyeing as a first project are....
an easy-to-sew jersey skirt, although the creator said she's always hesitant to sew w/ knit materials. perhaps harder?
from HERE
or perhaps my own version of this pretty pillow with a similar fabric
Lush Garden Toss Pillow | World Market
from world market
a tote bag
from this tutorial

the last couple days have been filled with we-just-got-back-home-things like laundry, grocery shopping, bank, oil change, car wash, etc...  but as soon as i have a chunk of free time i'm going to hit up the youtube tutorials for beginner seamstresses.  VERY BEGINNER. like, how to get my sewing machine out of the box, beginner.  

in the meantime, i've been thinking about/ pinteresting ways to reorganize my craft space. i am SEW lucky to have a space in the basement to leave out all my scrapbooking stuff.  it's way easier to use when i can just leave it out.  
current craft space (messy!) 

not sure what's up with my computer - it's making all my pictures look crazy. dark. sometimes with extra neon colors. anywhoooo....
the space works well for my current scrapbooking stuff (this picture was taken mid-project) but i want to make room for sewing too. and i want things to be practical, accessible.  so i'll have to use the space slightly more efficiently. plus i love organizing, so it's a win win!  here are some cool ideas (some of which are completely unrealistic).

for all the random small stuff (buttons, paper flowers, paperclips, etc...)  

or this 

 or this! magnetic spice containers - sold @ ikea cheaply :)

 if this lady can get all that in a closet, i can use my space well. 

file scrapbook paper. i love filing stuff (seriously) and have tons of paper - not sure why i didn't think of this earlier! i'm imagining files to fit in the cube shelves or on the bottom shelf of the book shelf.

this would work well for paper too if i can't find the right size files. 

peg board!  i'm seriously considering this for that ginormous wall. 

smaller pegboard might make more sense since we live in a rental temporarily.

easy way to keep ribbon. cheap too! 

 very fun way to store thread... although i don't have that much thread. 

woohoo! this all makes me excited to craft and learn to sew and organize!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

home and book

Well I haven't been inspired to write anything on here and I'm still not but this blog is something I want to keep up with, so I'm doing it anyway!  I was in a lull on our 3-ish week vacation.  haha which adults take a 3 week break from life? we do.

we spent about 9 or 10 days in chicago.
then spent a day driving back to nebraska.
then i taught piano for 2 days (i crammed all my lessons into 2 days). okay, so we didn't take a complete break from life.
then we spent about 10 days in omaha.

it was all pretty awesome!  but i'm glad to be back in a normal routine and it feels good to be home.  this truly feels like home.  i love that feeling.

on a different note, i've been reading slowly through A.W. Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy.

The Knowledge of the Holy [Book]
this book is SO great. you can get it for like $2.00 online, so you probably should.  i wish i could quote the whole thing, but here is a quote from my reading for today.

"The truth is that there is not and can never be anything outside of the nature of God which can move Him in the least degree.  All God's reasons come from within His uncreated being.  Nothing has entered the being of God from eternity, nothing has been removed, nothing has been changed" (87).

at the beginning of the book, Tozer writes, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us...The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.  It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place."  He explains that we "learn by using what we already now as a bridge over which we pass to the unknown.  It is not possible for the mind to crash suddenly past the familiar into the totally unfamiliar."

although i am tempted to copy the entire second chapter, i'll refrain.  needless to say, this book is helping my finite mind to understand God better than before, although still far from a true understanding of Him.  it is humbling to read about the fact that though God made me in His image, He is far greater and vastly different than i.  

i've been reading a chapter per day.  that's all i can mentally handle and think about at once.  
happy tuesday! :)