Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fairest of the Fair

Our county fair has a competition every year for the "Fairest of the Fair." This is NOT a beauty contest, but rather a speaking contest for young ladies involved in the fair. Whoever wins, basically represents the county fair and the county. I decided to enter the competition this year and it has been a whirlwind of new experiences. I have had to go for interviews, do radio commercials, and work with lots of new people. The last part of the competition is Sunday, when I will have to do a commercial on stage and answer some questions. I really felt that this would give me a platform to share Christ with others, and so far it definitely has been. I actually got to share my testimony with the newspaper reporter who interviewed me for the article below.
Not your average Fairest of the Fair candidate
(This was actually published in our local newspaper this week. To God be the glory!)

The Lord has really opened many doors for me and I am so grateful to Him for that. I mentioned that I have to answer questions on stage this coming Sunday. Two of the questions I already know and one of them I will not know until they ask it on stage. (Scary!) I am so excited about the questions that I already am preparing for. They are:

"How has teaching piano broadened your perspective on life?"
"What is Bright Lights and how has it affected you personally."

Well, those that have known me for a long time know that Bright Lights is a huge part of my personal testimony. God has taught me so much through this ministry started by Sarah Mally.

I just want to ask for prayer. Sunday is approaching quickly. Please pray that God will give me boldness to glorify Him. Also, please pray that my nerves will not distract me and that I might be wholly focused on Christ. God Bless!

In Christ,

Friday, August 26, 2011


So this is it! The post about opera is finally being written. Thank you to everyone who commented. It was very interesting to read everyone's thoughts. As a whole, I think that opera is mainly a thing of the past. It seems to have lost much of its famous glory and grandeur. Usually I don't ask for people's opinions until after I write an article, but I am not as educated in the area of opera as I am in some musical realms. Even so, I have given a great deal of thought to this particular subject as of late and I do have an opinion - although perhaps, not quite perfected.

When it comes to opera, let me give you my record. I have seen one opera on video, I have listened to that same opera plus one other on C.D., and I have read a book that tells the storyline of several operas, as well as half of an opera history book. So, I am not lying when I say that I have not extensively researched opera, but I do have a pretty good grasp of many of the storylines. Besides, I love studying different composers; hence I get a little more back ground history on the different operas.

First of all, I think that it is very important that we have consistent standards. If we are commanded in scripture not to take the Lord's name in vain, then we should not swear and we should not tolerate swearing (even when sung in a different language). To clear things up, I'm not saying that you should never watch anything were someone is murdered or were any one of God's laws is broken. Just as in real life, sometimes we must see the sin and evil before we can fully understand the glorious plan that God has, none the less, we should not be relishing in sin and watching or listening to things that glorify man's sin. This applies to music, movies, plays etc. (Trust me, I cringe on writing this as I know I have failed in this area many a time.) :-(

One thing that I do not like about opera is that the storyline is often very much like any old romance novel. Boy meets girl, love at first sight, bad guy loves girl, bad guy hates boy, various other characters add to the trauma, boy and bad guy fight, and everyone dies in the end either by murder, poison or a broken heart. Like the quote I put up last time said, they get stabbed and they sing about it. Just as in romance novels, romantic movies or anything else of the like, we need to make sure that this is not romance merely for the sake of romance. Romance is just fine in the proper context, we just need to make sure that it actually is in the proper context. (Once again, guilty.) :-(

Another issue that I have with opera is its tendency to glory in tragedy and in human flesh. When I see tragedy in the form of an opera or play, I tend to see a romanticized tragedy that is very unlike real life tragedy. A person drinking poison in order to join the one they love in death is very different then the reality of a wife who loses her husband and must now continue to care for her family without the aid of the leader of her home and her loving life partner. Opera often makes tragedy seem appealing when in the real world these things are very painful.

There is much more I could say about opera, but I don't feel that I am 100% "there" yet. All of this thinking was sparked by my sisters and I watching "The Phantom of the Opera." (Don't drop your jaw...I'm learning too.) As my sisters and I went about the house singing songs from this opera, I realized that perhaps this tantalizing opera has caused us to glory in God less and glory in man more. I find it amazing how easily I can pick up on a song from an opera, and how difficult it can be to memorize a hymn. So I have been trying very hard not to sing any opera these last few days, but rather sing psalms and hymns whenever I am tempted to do so.

I rather miss stretching my vocal limits though. 'Tis great fun I'll have you know....
My only consolation now is that there were some great composers who came up with the idea of Oratorios. So now when I want to exercise my vocal chords I can just sing "For unto us a son is born..." and my personal favorite, "All we like sheep, have gone astraaaaaaaaay...". (Thank you Handel!)

In Christ,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Quest Continues...

Opera is when a guy gets stabbed and instead of bleeding, he sings.-- Ed Gardner

The opera isn’t over till the fat lady sings.

And so the quest for some different opinions on opera goes on! One opinion down, hopefully more to follow. Alright, I have some humerous, hopefully inspirational quotes on opera. Please leave a comment on what you think of opera. Like I said previously, I want to write an article on opera, but first, I want to get an idea of what people besides me think about it. I hope you all have a great rest of the week!

In Christ,

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Opera - What's Your Take?

Welcome back y'all! I'm sorry that I have been away for so long, but I have good reason. Last week we had 4-H judging all week plus I had to do a radio commercial and an interview for a competition that I am in. All in all, I am really enjoying the first un-busy day in a while.
Last night, as a treat after the business of this week, my sisters and I watched one of my favorite operas. Hence, we have all been stretching our vocal limits today. :-)

Sometime soon I want to write a post on opera music, but first I want to get some different opinions.
So I have some questions that I would really appreciate if all my readers answered.

1. As a whole what do you think about operas?
2. Do you feel that operas are immoral entertainment?
3. Are there any operas that you feel are morally sound?
4. When watching an opera, would you use the same standards to evaluate it as you would a movie?
5. There have been many people that have said different things regarding operas and entertainment of that form. Do you have any words of wisdom (including Scripture verses) that could apply to operas?

Feel free to bring up any other thoughts that you have. Even if you have never personally seen an opera and only know a little about them, please help me out as much as you can. I love getting a feel for what others think about different aspects of music.

So, please drop a comment and let me know what you think.
I can't wait to hear what you've got to say!

In Christ,

Friday, August 5, 2011


Oh, the glories of the orchestra! I absolutely love listening to the music of the orchestra. I find it utterly amazing as I sit awed and transfixed on the musicians. All of those beautiful instruments playing together with such beauty and intricacy; it is so breath taking....

Picture courtesy of Microsoft Online

Okay, so can you guess? I went to the orchestra last night. It was our "Girls Night Out," so Mom, Sarah and I went with some very dear friends to see the Lake Geneva Orchestra play. The concert theme was waltzes and marches. I had forgotten what the theme was going to be so I was simply delighted when they announced the night's theme. I tell you, music does things to me! I felt like waltzing so bad I nearly wanted to get out of my seat and act like Lisle from "The Sound of Music," when she waltzes with the air. I'm not great at waltzing by any means of the word, and I very rarely ever even get a chance to waltz, but I just love attempting to waltz and listening to waltz music. Every time I hear it I feel like getting up and dancing. It was simply delightful.

They also played some fantastic marches. My favorite was "March Slav," by: Tchaikovsky. I had never heard the history behind that song. Extremely fascinating! Look it up! It completely changes the song for you. I can't lie, I have always thought it sounded rather Egyptian, not Russian, so I was completely surprised when they read the true inspiration for the song. Of course, they also played "The Stars and Stripes Forever.” I always think of fireworks and extreme explosions when I hear that song. Sometimes I get a patriotic picture in my head, but sometimes, like tonight, I picture bad explosions and buildings falling down. (It must have been the coffee.) :-)
Oh, and I forgot to mention another favorite of mine was the "Cat's Waltz." It is hilarious how the strings can make the sound of a cat meowing. I am pretty sure I have seen the Tom and Jerry cartoon that goes with this song. Here’s another funny story. They played "The Blue Danube Waltz," and they talked about how it was in the movie "Space Odyssey," (for the record, I have never seen and never plan to see this movie). I thought this was humorous because whenever I hear this song, I think of the Veggie Tale, "Madame Blueberry." Yes, I am actually admitting that at one point in my life I watched Veggie Tales. That was a very long time ago.... Anyhow, I guess we will always have connotations with certain songs that never leave us.

It was a fabulous night and I had so much fun being with my Mom, sister and friends. So that was what I did last night. I am terribly sorry that I have not been able to blog more lately. We are running out of time on our countdown till 4-H fair judging in two weeks. I also have some interviews and a competition to prepare for, as well as teaching and living regular life at home. I thank God for all of the wonderful opportunities He has given me, but I am looking forward to all this 4-H stuff being done and over with. I probably won't be blogging much in the next couple of weeks, but don't worry, I didn't disappear. :-)

God Bless!
In Christ,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Psalm 150

Psalm 150 KJV
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

When it comes to music the above Psalm is one of my favorite passages. It gives such a glorious picture of our worship to God. We praise Him in His sanctuary and in the whole firmament of His power - i.e. the whole world. We are to praise Him for His mighty acts and His greatness. With all that we are also suppose to praise Him with instruments. I think far too often we live life and do not praise the Lord, and even if we do praise the Lord we surely do not do it enough. My mom once shared a quote that someone had shared with her. It said something to the effect of, "If God took away everything you had except for what you thanked Him for yesterday, how much would you have?" I think this could apply to praise as well. If God took away everything that you have except for what you praised Him for, what would you have left?

This is rather funny, but when I write things like that I begin having a sort of conversation with myself. I thought, "Well that would work out nicely if I praised Him for all the good things and left out the bad things." As I was thinking about this, God showed me that the "bad" things are really good things in disguise and I am not looking for the big picture of life. He does great and mighty works in our lives through the bad things so therefore, I need to praise Him for the "bad" things as well as the good things.

Anyways, back to Psalm 150. I love this chapter because it reminds us not only to praise God, but that we can and should praise Him with instruments. Now I think it is very important not to let our instruments and performance take away from our praise of God, but I most assuredly think that musical abilities are a fantastic gift from above!
Some of the great reformers of old thought that worship and singing to God should only be done with human voices. I obviously don't believe this way but I think I understand their point. I think, from what I have read, that it is a matter of extremes.  On one extreme, you have those that would allow music and instruments to take away from the worship of God, and on the other extreme you have those so conservative that they end up leaving out good things like instruments. While I think that it is very important to make sure that when we are worshipping God, we are truly worshipping God, I think we also need to be careful that we are not limiting worship. Psalm 150 tells us to praise Him with trumpets, psaltery, harps, timbrels, dancing, stringed instruments, organs and cymbals. Wow! That is a lot! God wants us to use our musical abilities to praise Him and bring glory and honor to His name.

The Lord has blessed me with several friends that are striving to use their musical talents to glorify Him and it is just so encouraging. Let's praise the Lord together for the wonderful gift of music because, you know, the very fact you can make sense at all of what you are doing when you play or sing your music is a great and mighty work of the Lord! So let us praise, praise, praise the Lord!

I would love to hear about your favorite musical passage. Drop a comment below and let me know what passage on music you like the best and why.

In Christ,