Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nathan Clark George

At the Reformation Day Faire, we were privledged with meeting and listening to Nathan Clark George. I had never heard his music before and it was wonderful! He has so many wonderful songs, many of which were taken from the Psalms.

He did a concert on Friday night, and then on Saturday afternoon he gave a more casual workshop. He gave us lots of info on music, namely guitars in church. I found it to be extremely helpful.

One thing that really hit home for me was when a lady asked him how it is, that when he plays, Christ is reflected and not just himself. What he said was something so simple and yet so profound.
He said that when he gets up there he already knows he's not the greatest and that so-and-so is better than him. He doesn't have to become that other person in order for God to use him. You don't have to be as good as so-and-so, you just have to do what God calls you to do. This was so good for me to hear because I tend to make playing at the same par as other people a very high priority. Not to say that we shouldn't strive to be better, but that if our main focus is being as good as the other person we will have a hard time bringing glory to God. How true!

He also talked a lot about using guitars in church which can be a touchy subject. He went through and explained how playing the guitar in church is different than how you might play it at other times. He gave us examples of how you don't need excesive, ever count strumming for hymns, but rather just some lite, on the first beat strums. I think it was really good for all the guitar players to hear. (I can't decide if I fall into that category yet since I haven't practiced guitar in a couple months.)
Someone also asked about solos in church and I really liked his answer. He said that he tends to keep most of the music congregational, but he does allow some solos because frankly if you over-rule solos then the whole congregation should be preaching on Sunday mornings because every pastor does a solo when he stands to preach. I never thought of that. At the same time, he said we still need to be cautious with that because we don't want it to become showy.

Anyways, as far as hymn music goes, he has some great songs. You can click here to listen to clips from his cd's. I really enjoy his psalms. They are so good and I love that they are taken from scripture. Some favorite songs of mine were:
"You Make Me Smile"
That song has got to be one of the sweetest songs I have ever heard. He wrote it for his wife and I just love it! There are only a few "love songs" that I really enjoy being that I'm not "in love" so to speak, but this one is now my favorite.

"The Lord Will Provide"
Song about a chicken hawk and the Lord providing, need I say more? It is hillarious!
"I Will Rejoice"
This one touched my heart in a way that I can't describe simply because it is a prayer that I have had to pray many times over. Rejoicing in the trials of life is a hard thing, but God will and does carry you through.

More pictures to come later, but I had to put this one up for some friends. I started this dress last Monday and had to finish it by Wednesday, which was quite difficult because it had more hand stitching than I have ever had to do on a dress. It could almost pass for a Christmasy sort of dress. The trick now will be finding somewhere else to wear it to.

God Bless,

Sunday, October 23, 2011

So, you thought you knew...

Well, once again I find myself here on Sunday night after arriving home from the Reformation Day Faire. Last year at this time I wrote out my music testimony, which has been and still is my most popular post. I find it amazing how God works. I was rather nervous about writing that post, but I am so glad I did because God is continuing to use it, probably in ways that I may never know about.

This has been our third year attending the Reformation Day Faire. It's a highlight of my year so I tend to think of the year in terms of this weekend. I was thinking about the first time we went two years ago and how far God has brought me since then. I can clearly see the frustrated 15 year old that I was then. That weekend was a life changer for me, in more ways than I even care to tell you. God taught me many things through it and in the process of time afterwards. The last two years have been a whirlwind of emotions and struggles as I seek to discover God's plan for my life. Two years ago today, I left the Reformation Faire thinking that I finally had it figured out. I knew exactly what I was going to do, who I was going to become, and how it was going to happen. I was so thrilled and excited. I clung for dear life to that plan. I so wanted my life to go exactly how I told God I wanted it to go. I was so sure, that now I can only laugh at how naive I truly was.

You see, if there is one main lesson that I believe God has taught me over the last two years, it would be this:
A story worth having is a story worth letting go.

Let me explain this a little.
 First, I use the word story because I like to think of my life as a story being played out. A story like that of one of my historical heroes. A life of perfectly planned events all knit together to play out God's ultimate plan.

Second, I say, "a story worth having..." because I have always dreamed of leaving a life legacy that future generations will actually want to pass down. I hear of the great women of faith and I want to leave behind me a story like theirs.

Third, I say "...a story worth letting go" because I believe in the sovereignty of God. My story is not my own. It is a story with an Author other than myself. My life story is not going to turn out the way I had planned two years ago. (And I am 100% okay with that!) I would not trade what my life is now, for the life I planned two years ago, ever! And I mean that. God has taught me so much and changed my heart in more ways than I can explain. He brought me through trials, some very emotional, simply to teach me more about Himself and to teach me what it means to truly trust Him with my life.

You can say that you trust God all you want, but I think that for many of us there are many areas of our lives that we still cling to. I thought that I trusted God with my whole life, and to some extent I did, but not to the extent that I thought. God had to take me on a journey of showing me how my plans for life were not going to line up to His perfect plan. As He showed me this, I had to make some changes. There were things that I had to let go of because I wanted them so bad that I was making them idols in my life. It is so easy to set up idols in our hearts. Mine was the life that I had planned and that I wanted to live.

I now see that what I thought would be the perfect story, was not what God had in mind. I had to hand over the pen... and the paper....and the ink....and the title.....and the other characters besides myself....and the plot...and the places I would go... and everything else that was included in my story. I even had to remove my name from the cover of the book.
And what I ended up with looked a little bit like this:

My Story

By: Kaila Babiak


His Story

By: Jesus Christ

Because you know what? That's really what I want my life to be. I want my life to be Christ's and Christ's alone. My plans, whether they include music, or marriage, or missions, or motherhood, or whatever, do not belong to me. They are His, and He is teaching me more and more to just leave the writing up to Him.

So, I want to challenge you. Look at your life. I mean REALLY LOOK at your life. Seek out that part that you are hiding in the depths of your heart. Ask the Lord to show you any ways that you are not trusting Him. Ask Him to help you find whatever it is that you are still clinging too.

Then hand it over. No regrets. It will be one of the best decisions of your life. And then be willing to live the life God has written for you because, a life worth living, is a life worth giving to the Lord.

A story worth having is a story worth letting go.

In Christ,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Harvest Country Dance

We finally got to have a country dance at our house last Friday night. 'Twas great fun! We invited a few families from church. We had a smaller group, but it was just the right amount of people. We had a blast!

I got to call the dances that we did, which was so much fun. It was my first time calling and all went well.
 (I think :-)

Michael, my tech guy, spent hours helping me compile all of the music we needed and getting all of the sound stuff to work properly; not an easy feat, by the way.

I got most of the dance calls off of Dominion Dance. My siblings helped me practice some of the dances.

So, here's a list of the dances we did. I do not have pictures from all of them because of the lighting.
1. The Virginia Reel (of course)
2. Patty Cake Polka
3. Jefferson's Reel
4. The Gay Gordons (a personal favorite as I love getting twirled across)
5. Waves of Tory (I have never danced this one before, but it just looked so fun that I couldn't resist. It took some time before we all got it, but once we had it down I think the dancers all enjoyed it. I think we had the most people dancing on this one.)
6.The Physical Snob (Love it!)
7. Stellengers Round

We had a camp fire and roasted hotdogs for dinner. Everybody brought a pie (or two), which was a delicious addition.

We had so much fun that a couple of us are already thinking of when we can do another one. I want to find a bigger place so that we can invite more people.

God Bless!

Friday, October 14, 2011

You Raise Me Up

It's dark, the wind is blowing, I've just started my day.
 Today, we planned to have a harvest dance. Last night, our joy was turned to tears.
You know that Bible verse that talks about how there is a time to dance and a time to mourn? It's so true. There's no smoothly paved road in life. There's only mountains and valleys.
 I like the climbing mountains part, because you're strong, on top and you have a pretty good idea of what's coming ahead.
I hate valleys.
 I don't like feeling small and trapped with dark walls around me, because then I'm weak, I can't tell what's ahead and I have to trust with every step that my guide really does know the way.

Last night, a very dear family from our church lost their little boy Theodore.
He was born with many problems and disabilities, and his family embraced those difficulties to care for him. I know it was a struggle and more difficult than I can imagine, but they did it.
And now months later, he's gone.

I can't help but wonder, why? Why did they have to go through all of that. Why did it all have to end this way? Why don't I understand God's plan.

I can't see the bigger picture. I don't know what lessons God wanted this family to learn. I only know my imperfect feelings.
I know God's bigger than all of this, but sometimes living by faith is not the easiest thing in the world. Last night Theodore was made whole and given a body more perfect than any earthly body. I rejoice for him, but there is still sadness for the family left asking, "Why?".

Last night, I was listening to some different songs. For as long as I remember, when I am feeling down or saddened by the sorrows of the world, I listen to music. Soft, gentle music that reminds me of Gods great love.
There were two songs I couldn't get out of my head last night. "Blessings" by: Laura Story, and "You Raise Me Up" by: Selah. So instead of crying, I simply let my heart pour out before the Lord through the songs I listened to. And God fillen my heart with peace.

God is leading that family through a dark valley to make the mountain tops brighter. Just as He has with my family, He will lead them through this time. My guess is, there will be some "footprint" moments for this family in the days to come. Moments where rather than walking by their sides He will simly carry them.
When we can no longer stand, God will raise us up into His strong arms.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hymns: George Washington to James Monroe

From George Washington to James Monroe

            The United States of American is known for its rich heritage and the great men who founded it. These men are known for many of their attributes and accomplishments, but not often do people dig deeper to get a glimpse into the lesser parts of these men’s lives. While the music that these men listened to and enjoyed might seem like an unimportant detail, it gives us a fuller, clearer view of who these men were. This last month I have studied our first five founding Presidents; studying not just their presidency, but also studying the music (namely hymns) that they enjoyed.

            George Washington: This man who left probably the largest legacy on our Nation was not only a devout Christian, but also a lover of music. Known as his favorite hymn, the song "How Happy Is He Born" and Blessed is one of the best descriptions of Washington’s life that I have ever read. This humble, Virginian frontiersmen became a national hero during the French and Indian War which led to his entrance into politics. Known for his great honesty and humility, Washington understood his dependence on God. Providence protected him many times in his life against all odds.

 He had a love for good music and even though he himself may not have been very musical, he made a very large effort to ensure that his step-children and grand-children had proper musical education. Alexander Renigale, a popular composer at the time, performed and taught for the Washington household. Washington enjoyed different kinds of music including opera. Although, his favorite hymn may not be very well known now, it is a hymn the needs to be resurrected. The powerful truths of the song can be seen throughout his entire life and give us an even stronger idea of who Washington was and what he believed.

            John Adams: Being the second President and following in the footsteps of a man like Washington, Adams had his fair share of trials. At first glance, it does not appear that music played very much of a role in this President's life, but that is most likely because of his strong Puritan background. He did however write about some of the different denominational singing that he enjoyed and it was he who is responsible for first bringing the U.S. Marine Band to the White House. To this day the band is known as "the President's own band."

His favorite known hymn was "How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings Fair," by: John Milton, the author of “Paradise Lost,” and “Paradise Regained.” The tune used is more commonly used for Watts' song, "O God Our Help In Ages Past." This hymn must have greatly comforted Adams as he left office quite un-liked by most people. In times of depression and discouragement it must have given him hope in Christ.

            Thomas Jefferson: Extremely intelligent and heavily influenced by Enlightenment thinking, it is easy to see how Jefferson came to be the primary author of The Declaration of Independence. He worked very hard to separate church from state and ensure religious freedom for the American people. He was probably one of the most musical Presidents. He played several instruments and had violin duets with his friend Patrick Henry. He also made sure that his daughters were well trained in music.

Jefferson was not just a lover of music, but he was a lover of good music. His favorite hymn was “Hark the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes,” by: Phillip Doddridge. (By the way, of the songs that we have done so far, this one is my favorite musically, although I enjoy singing all of them.) At the age of 74 he said that music was “the favorite passion” of his soul.[1]

            James Madison: Father of the Constitution, James Madison definitely left his mark. Like Jefferson, he was not an evangelical but he fought hard for religious freedom. During his Presidency, the War of 1812 broke out, which did not make him very popular. (One very common theme I have noticed in studying our first few Presidents is men who were great men and did amazing things, but were not very popular during their terms as President.)

Madison and his wife were very hospitable while he was in office, which made music a vital part of their lives. They were the first couple to purchase a pianoforte for the White House. His favorite hymn was “O God My Strength and Fortitude,” by: Thomas Sternhold, the groom of robes to Henry VIII of England.  There is great solace in this song that must have uplifted Madison many times.

            James Monroe: Born in the oldest county of Virginia, serving in the Militia during the Revolutionary War, serving in Congress, being minister to France, becoming Governor of Virginia for 3 terms and eventually gaining the rank of President, James Monroe ranks high up with the men who served as President before him. His presidency was known as the “era of good feelings,” and it was he who gave the address before Congress we now know as “The Monroe Doctrine.” (The cornerstone for America’s foreign policy)

            Music wise, we know very little about him. He was the first President to have an inaugural concert. His favorite hymn was “O Lord, I Would Delight In Thee,” by: John Ryland, Jr., who is the Baptist minister that baptized William Carey. (Sorry, I just love learning about those kinds of connections!)  It’s a shame that we do not know more about the music he enjoyed, (if he even enjoyed itJ) but he did have a wonderful favorite hymn.

[1]  From the book, Presidential Praise, By: C. Edward Spann & Michael E. Williams, Sr.