Monday, July 25, 2011

Treasure of My Heart

"Jesus, You are the treasure,
Treasure of my heart.
I'm amazed at Your beauty and all that You are;
My everything, the song I sing,
My sun, moon and stars.
Jesus, You are the treasure,
Treasure of my heart."

This is the chorus to a song that I learned a couple of weeks ago, while working at a horse camp. (The theme was storing up treasure. I think that it is a "Patch the Pirate" song, but I'm not sure.) Saturday, we Babiak ladies went to the Reformation Ladies Tea, hosted by Providence Church. (If you think like me, that would be James and Stacy McDonald's church.) The theme of the talks was "Idols of the Heart." It was an exceedingly wonderful time and I was deeply convicted by many things.

I was thinking about the above song this afternoon, and comparing the difference of having the treasure of Jesus in your heart or having an idol in your heart. Truly, it is very easy to let idols in your heart because even good and wonderful things can easily become idols. Mrs. Becky Morecraft was one of the speakers (a dear and wonderful lady) and she said something that really struck me. She said, "Christ will have all of you, or He will have none of you." As I got to thinking about this I wondered how this would apply to me. I thought, "Well, I think I have given all of myself to Christ. I mean, I've surrendered my life to Christ." It's funny how quick and prompt God is to reveal to you the truth about yourself. God gave me this picture of how I had been withholding myself from Him.

Imagine on your wedding day, a day you have waited for with great excitement and anticipation, your future spouse came up to you and told you, "I am all yours except for this one little part of my heart. Don't worry, this little piece is only for the occasions when I want to have a little fun, or you aren't giving me everything that I want. You get everything else; I'm only keeping this little part for myself." I thought, "That would be horrible! I would never ever want that to happen." Then God showed me how I had been just like that. True I have surrendered my life to the Lord, but every now and then, when I am a little unsatisfied and discontented, I take back just a tiny piece for myself. It may be so small, maybe just daydreaming about my future or trying to plan how I want my life to turn out, because I don't feel like trusting God. Just a little thing can quickly turn into an idol.  Even good things, like dreaming of a future spouse can quickly turn into an idol if we are not trusting in God, and making sure that He is the treasure of our hearts. Even love can become an idol if we are yearning for the wrong kind of love.

"Christ will have all of you or He will have none of you."
This rather scared me, because it is so easy to reserve even small, teensy parts of our hearts for other things rather than God. I still think about the future, I still think of my future spouse, but the important thing is that I am clinging to Christ and putting my trust in Him. Rather than dreaming of my special someone, I need to be praying for him that God will strengthen him and prepare him to be the leader he will have to be. I cannot afford to let these dreams become an idol in my life. Of course, there are other things that will try to become idols in our lives; things like money, cleanliness, obedient siblings, quiet...yes, I know even I can idolize peace and quiet sometimes, but that doesn't change the fact that it is wrong.
Jesus is to be the treasure of our heart. He is our all in all. He died on the cross, saved us from our sins, gave us eternal life; if He never did anything else at all for us that would be enough. (That was something mentioned by Mrs. Morecraft as well.) Let's not idolize over earthly things, even good things, and let us make sure that Jesus is the treasure of our hearts.

Anyways, we had a wonderful time at the tea. Every speaker had such wonderful words to share. I was convicted and exhorted. It was wonderful. We also had a great time getting to know the Serven ladies better as we shared a table with them. They are delightful and it was so nice fellowshipping with them. Vision Forum sells C.D.'s of their family teaching you how to sing in 4-part harmony. These are the C.D.'s that have helped my family begin learning how to sing in parts. Click here to see their family blog.

God bless and remember to make sure that Jesus is your treasure!
In Christ,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why Are Folk Songs Important?

I love history! I always have and always will. It gives me the thrills! But nothing is as great as learning about your own history, that is to say, the history of your family. Sifting through pictures, digging up old notes and files, watching videos from the 50's... in my book, nothing quite compares. I think it is so sad that many young people nowadays don't seem to have an interest in their family genealogy. What a blessing to spend time with Grandparents, listening to stories and just savoring every story told!

Anyways, about folk songs (I have to have some kind of tie into music). I was just thinking about how folk songs play an important part of history. Now for a bit of background here. I didn't always care about folk music. I used to listen to Christian Contemporary and that was it. When God began changing my heart I began to think that other than hymns, there was nothing good to listen too. How wrong I was! As I became more familiar with different types of music I began to realize that there were many different things to listen to that still glorified God. Folk music was one of those types. Now, I know that not all folk music is great, I mentioned this lightly in "Whatsoever Things Are Pure-Part 2" (just in case you're interested). But, there are so many great folk songs out there. I have only just begun familiarizing myself with many of the wonderful folk songs there are out there. Why are these songs important though? These songs are important in that they preserve history and give us a glimpse into the lives of those that came before us. I think that singing folk songs, in a way, is just like looking through an old, old scrapbook or reading a story of someone from way back when. They tell us about people’s lives, their families, their beliefs, their cultures, the events that took place in their lives.

Tuesday, I had the privilege of getting to go through old pictures with one of my Grandmas. It was wonderful looking for certain relatives, hearing stories about her life and memories that she had of her Grandparents. I think the best treat of all was that she found two DVD's that had been burned for her that she had never watched. They were the videos that her parents had taken on their eight millimeter camera. They had no sound but whoever burned them had put them to music. I cannot describe how special it was watching the events of the lives of my Grandparents, Great-Grandparents and even Great-Great-Grandparents.

You have no idea how badly I want to write my own folk song about my family right now! I have plenty of stories just not I'm praying for an hour or so of poet, musical talent (mind you, the last time I tried this, half the song was fictitious because the true story didn't fit the rhyming words, and it still ended up being horribly un-poetic). If you are a poetic person, feel blessed right now.

So, my main point is that folk songs help us preserve history, and even if you usually listen to some other kind of music, do listen to folk music because there is so much rich history there that you don't want to miss out on!

In Christ,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New and Old - What Does It Matter?

A couple of Sunday's ago, I was telling a dear friend about a musician I found out about recently. His name is David Garett, and he is an absolutely amazing violinist. But, he does a lot more than play the violin. In fact, he is the leader of a band/group that basically modernizes music ranging from the Baroque to the Beatles. I have seen video footage from one of his concerts and it is really quite interesting...although, in a disturbing sort of way. It is rather difficult to describe the music. Play Vivaldi and add drums, electric guitar and some other modern rythmns and sounds; that's what his music is like. I would put a link to his website...but, when I looked it up I was rather disturbed with it. (He looks....interesting and has rather worldly pictures up, we'll just put it that way.) Now I must in all fairness say that some of the movie music that he did sounded neat, but the "rock symphonies," didn't flow well with me. ("Rock Symphonies" was the name of his C.D. and concert.)
So I was thinking about this and I began to wonder why this mix of the old and modern bothered me. I mean, the violin part was so beautiful that I could almost ignore the rest, but it still bothered me. I had let the issue go for a while, but last night my Dad, Mom, brother and I watched a movie that took place in Rome during the time of the gladitorial games and the music in the movie was so modern that it drove me nuts. Most of the music did not fit the movie or the times at all! This mix of ancient times and modern music brought back to mind David Garett's music. What is so wrong with this mix of new and old? Here is the conclusion that I have come to. I may be wrong, but this is what I thought of.

In music history I see a downgrade of musical order. Let's say we start with Baroque; very orderly, technical and exceedingly beautiful. Then we get into Classical; still orderly and technical (although not as much so as Baroque), but more emotional. Then you get into the Romantic era where order begins to slip and although you have some composers trying to hang on to traditional ways, many composers are branching out with strange melodies and discombobulated sounds. Heading into more modern music, order has sliped and now you get repetitive, off-beats meant to stir inward feeling in unatural ways.

I know this may not be the greatest outline of the eras, but as I have studied different composers throughout the different eras this is what I notice overall. Now, I think the reason that I do not like David Garett's mix of the new and old is because it is a mix of order and disorder. Mixing Vivaldi with electirc off-beats seems to destroy the order and technicality of Vivaldi, at least to my ears.
This sort of mixing is becoming more and more popular, but I must add that it is not all bad. My teacher is splendid at mixing Baroque and Classical music with different hymn arrangements. She is acctually working on recording a C.D. of some of them. But, she is very careful at matching the proper sounds and emotions together, ultimetaly creating an even more beautiful work of order and complexity. She isn't trying to modernize the old, rather she is using the old to aid her in making "newer" sounds better. The order and beauty of the old is placed into the new (that is to say, newer songs that still maintain order and harmony). I personally am enjoying getting to learn this art of mixing from her and am greatly blessed to be gaining this knowledge. One of my favorites of hers is a mix of "Immortal, Invisible," and one of Bach's Minuets.

In all things, we must be working and creating for the glory of God. We can do this by using the order and harmony that others have used to glorify God, but we must be careful not to mix order with disorder and harmony with disharmony, because that destroys much of the music's potential beauty.

In Christ,

P.S. On a side note to all of my friends who love dancing like I do, click here to read an article written by a friend on how dancing can help teach orderlieness and harmony in music, as well as other things. You have to scroll down a little bit past the pictures to get to te article.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

American Music

Happy late 4th of July to all! I hope everyone had a great time celebrating our Nation's independence. I know I sure did. Our family went to Old World Wisconsin for the first half of the day. Old World is one of my favorite places to go. I just love it. The setting was 1876, the 100 year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I decided that since it was the 4th I could get away with dressing up colonial style. It was very hot, but I had so much fun... even if I was a century out of style. :-)

They had an old fashioned band that played; the Harmony Coronet Band. It sounded so 1800’s and set the mood for the whole day. Back during this time in history, most counties had a band. It was a very important part of the community. Nowadays, it seems that most of what we get is school bands. :-( Too bad.

They marched around playing "Yankee Doodle" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and a few other songs. I think they also played "Hail Columbia" and "The Star Spangled Banner." During the flag raising ceremony they played "Doxology" while everyone sang.

In the park they did a concert and later they marched in the parade. It was great fun to see all of the people picnicking in the center of the town, listening to the band play. It really gave you that old time community feel.

Now for the main point of this post. After lunch, they had a hymn sing at the old church. It sounded beautiful having so many people crammed into such a small building and all singing their hearts out to the Lord. It was breath taking. Well, after singing hymns for a while, the band leader came in and gave us an important musical lesson. I am going to try to quote what he said to the best of my ability. It will not be word perfect, but you will hopefully get the point. He said, "I hear some people ask, 'What is Northern music and what is Southern music?' I don't really know and here's why. One very popular Civil War song was premiered in New York, (sounds Northern right?) was written in Ohio, (still Northern,) and President Abraham Lincoln had this song played at his inauguration. Very Northern right?"
(Mind you, I knew exactly which song this was, and I kept guessing it to my Mom. Important detail)
"That song was "Dixie," one of the most popular Confederate songs of the Civil War."
At this point I blurted out, a little too loud, "Yes! That's Dixie, I got it right."
The guy started laughing and said, "I see we have a Southern lady among us."
I am quite sure I turned red as I replied, "Well not exactly, I just like singing 'Dixie'."
So that was my "moment." Go ahead, laugh at me.
Continuing with his history lesson, he said, "Another song of the Civil War started out as a Southern revival song, "Canaan’s Happy Shore." Some Northern soldiers heard the song and put some rather vulgar words to it. Words too vulgar for me to repeat in front of the ladies and children." (I hate to admit it, but I (a lady) knew the name of that vulgar song, "John Brown's Body." Hehe)
"President Abraham Lincoln did not like that the soldiers sang these words, and asked Miss Julia Ward Howe if she would write some new ones. Of course she did, and that song is now known as "Battle Hymn of the Republic." So you see, I don’t know what is Southern music and I don't know what is Northern music, but I do know what is American music."
And of course, as he said that last line, he looked right at me the whole way through. Please, just let me melt! I do not think that he realized that I really do agree with him.
It was a good point though and one that we need to remember. While it is wonderful to study history and great to discuss these things, we must not let ourselves lose the Patriotism that we ought to have for our Nation under God. We may not agree with all of our leaders, but if we lose our Patriotism for the Nation that our forefathers fought and died to secure, we may just lose our Nation. "In God We Trust," let us never forget it!

Rachel, Kendra and I were asked to be Liberty Girls, in the parade. It was fun, but hot as we had to wear white robes over our already warm outfits. But, we survived and enjoyed every bit of it.
I am sure my Mom will be putting more pictures up later. It was the most Patriotic 4th of July we have ever celebrated.

After Old World Wisconsin, we joined our church family for a continuation of the celebration. Some of us girls were even able to get a few people over to the barn where we had a barn dance. Since we did not have music we sang out loudly, (can you guess?) Dixie, which I had the greatest fun singing out loudly. We sang some others like Mari’s Wedding and Yankee Doodle as well.   What a day!

Happy 4th of July Everyone!!!!!

In Christ,