Wednesday, August 24, 2005

i did not practice today.

I did go to Target with my husband just to wander around before we met my parents for...

mountains of maranatha ice cream... in a cone...turned upside down

and a was "homeschool talent show night" at the snack shack...i'll let ryan blog about that one. he claimed it :)

fun conversations with my mom and dad about church, and scripture, post-modern thought, and theology

I think I have a rare and beautiful gift to have parents (including inlaws) that continually and deliberately show unconditional love and interest...with so much wisdom, and openness. I hope that when I am a parent/grandparent that I will be as flexible and thoughtful as they have been to their children-willing to dialogue about, question and even reconsider my ways of thinking, to teach and offer wisdom and experience, and still continue to learn until I die.

. . .

My far away niece, Jaelyn, had her first day at a new school today (first grade). It sounds like it turned out beautifully. It is no surprise that she found friends. Her great ability to create FUN and her incredible compassion and generosity will always make her a wonderful friend. Still, new schools are scary. (at least for me)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

as late afternoon sun flooded my living room...

...with warm yellow light,
three new friends filled my house with music.

minor chords,
hesitantly srummed.
two powerful smoky voices singing
haunting lyrics.
a viola
and cello echoing sadness
a djembe
evoking loneliness and distance

It was the music of SADE (but with an 'earth-ier', raw sound)...

"There is a woman in somalia
The sun gives her no mercy
The same sky we lay under
Burns her to the bone...

There's a force stronger than nature
Keeps her will alive
That's how she's dying
She's dying to survive
Don't know what she's made of
I would like to be that brave
She cries to the heaven above
There is a stone in my heart
She lives a life she didn't choose..."

I'm excited to play again, under stage lights, in an intimate room built for accoustics...maybe you can hear it too, when we play tegether this Saturday at the Dogwood Center.

Music has been heavy on my mind this week. Though the challenge and risk of what's ahead is exhilarating, I've also made it something stressful. Somehow I've worked myself into believing that my whole validity as a musician (even as a person) hinges upon this one audition. That if I have to face rejection, all the other opportunities I have to play will somehow disappear too. But they won't. I'll always do this. And this year isn't my last chance to ever play in a symphony.

I forgot how much I love being with other musicians.

Tonight was a perfect outlet to just play. Enjoying the process of creating...sharing something.

. . .

I just got off the phone with the principal of one of my schools...and I committed myself to another class. How am I EVER going to fit 30+ private students into my crowded week? I think I will experience great shock in a few days after my lazy summer of reading, blogging, and travel.

Monday, August 22, 2005


My friend Rachel reminded me today about the incredible Story that should always preoccupy my thoughts.
Instead, I anxiously dwell on uncontrollable future events, past mistakes, insignificant frustrations, shallow desires...

..."how much more should our every day and every thought be consumed by the agony of hurting our loving God, our Creator, of sinning day after day and laughing about it. Yet Christ does not want us to walk in this misery, he wants us to walk in irrepressible joy, as one walking forth from a prison, our jail-time paid by his death."

A song I love came to my mind...

My chains fell off,
my heart was free!
I arose, went forth
and followed Thee
Amazing Love!
How can it be
That Thou, my God
shouldst die for me?

Daniel talked this week about chains...about what it means to be truly set free. How we sometimes like to go back to our bondage even though Someone died...for us to be free. I passionately sing together with my family of believers about my freedom and my "new life," but daily I use sarcastic, thoughtless words. I make value judgements of people based on physical, intellectual, social appearances. I live in luxury, consuming, wasting, and sometimes wanting more.

So if I'm really free,...and I'm really following--like the song says, I think the journey would probably lead me to people that are hurting. I'd most likely have lots of opportunities to show love and generosity like Jesus.

I'm pretty sure that happens every day. But I'm usually thinking about my own needs, and hopes, and insecurities. And I miss it.

In my better moments, those few times when I *am* aware, I get a glimpse of that fulfilling joy of true freedom.
I hope tomorrow is filled with that kind of living.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

getting nervous

maybe it's the frapuccino I just finished at midnight...

I'm so jittery.

The West Shore Symphony just updated it's website-posting dates and requirements for their auditions...less than a month away! I just finished marking my music, downloading recordings of the pieces, and searching for online performance notes and advice from other violinists. That prep work *feels* like practice. But it's not. And now I need to...though my neighbor who is preaching in a few hours might not appreciate my midnight serenade. I'll have to wait until tomorrow.

It isn't like me to publicly announce opportunities for failure. I'm usually quite secretive about plans like this. In a few weeks, I may be blogging about my terrible audition experience. But I've already committed to this, so at least I'll have to follow through...whatever the results.

I would be so happy to be even a substitute violinist. But it looks like they only have one regular violin opening, and the auditions are in Grand Rapids, so that could immensely broaden the competetive aspect. If they're looking for locals, I'm that. But my instinct tells me that they're looking for professionals. I'd like to be that, but my experience just isn't. I'm a teacher, who wants to play professionally.

The rehearsal schedule is quite full. So maybe this is too much right now anyways. I'm still going to try. I'll just console myself with that if they don't hire me.

On a calmer note....I love Mr. Darcy.
Misconceptions, pride, ...and prejudice. Oh the drama of Jane Austen.

Friday, August 19, 2005

my day of golf

Fun students.
They played for two hours, entertaining generous golfers at a fundraising golf outing for "Spread the Music."

Now i'm off to another golf course... for more stringed music.
Silver & String Quartet has a wedding.


My summer days have just about vanished. Part of me feels the loss...deeply.

But my mind has been on school for a few weeks now. I'm looking forward to the routine and the productivity. I love interacting with students. They give me so much life. And purpose. I've spent too much time in solitude (unfortunately Ryan has not convinced Pratt & Whitney to give him the summers off too). Though I love being alone, at the beach, in a book store, at home, I couldn't survive like this for very long.

I haven't been bored. In fact, there are not many days that I remember just being at home. I just crave people. Soon, I'll be talking to myself. And I'm not complaining. I treasure my summer. If they decided to postpone the start of school by another month, I wouldn't protest. But now, I'm just waiting, and trying to enjoy the last moments of rest.

I'm just glad I have work that is so meaningful to look forward to. Spending my days investing in people is so fulfilling (and sometimes draining....I'm not delusional).

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Angelic Angela

I grew up in a world full of pink. The only girl, with three brothers, my mother worked hard to ensure that everything I ever wore, looked at, owned...was pink and decidedly feminine. My bedroom walls were pink. The carpet was pink. To provide some contrast, the bedspread was white...with pink flowers. Dolls were everywhere. I've seen a picture of myself as a toddler on a bed, surrounded with, covered by dolls. Faces fill the picture. My dark eyes distinguish my face from the lifeless creatures surrounding me. Rather disturbing image, actually.

I was the princess of my family. The only girl. The pastor's daughter. And in my dad's church at the time, the only new baby. An artist in the church painted a portrait of me. I had handmade dolls, clothes. Since childhood, I've heard stories of the generosity of the people there. But we moved away just before I turned three. Apparently the overflow of love poured out on me was not enough to make up for the deceitful, manipulative leaders in the church, my dad's near depression, and the cruel, legalism of my brothers' school.

Even in our new church, I was still spoilled with gifts. Already cluttered with dolls, my new room soon began to be filled with more collectibles. Later, in school they would sometimes ask if we had any collections. Some kids collected stamps. I personally did not collect anything. People did it for me. Kind people would bring me gifts. Little nic nacs they had found. Always with my name and some kind of 'clever' association with angels. "our little angel" "Angel of Joy" "Angelic one"....they called me.

When I started playing the violin, it was even easier to pinpoint the exact figurine meant for me. You would not believe how many Hallmark designers have created angels playing violins. I was trained so well that it was never hard for me to (I think genuinely) show gratitude as people presented their amazing find, "I was just in the store and saw this. I immediately thought of you." "It's an ANGEL! and your name is ANGELA! and she's even playing the violin...just like you!"

Some "Angelas" seem to really like the cute nicknames that our name affords.

My inability to avoid clutter as a child has led to a strong distaste for most things Hallmark. My best friend always liked the classic pooh or disney Christmas ornaments and collectibles. I might have liked them too if I hadn't had to spend the last ten years of my life trying to get rid of these tacky figurines.
I am just now beginning to actually appreciate small sculpted art.

Please. Stop giving me "angels."

Disclaimers: Mom and Dad. I have no problem with my name...or even your intent to gratefully name me "messenger of Joy." I know you thoughtfully and lovingly chose the name for me. (In fact, I like it.) I also know that the generosity shown to me has always been because of you. Thank you. And thank you for teaching me gratitude. (I really *am* grateful...even if it doesn't sound like it.) You have been given more than your share of tasteless gifts to fill your home.

Friends who have given me angel figurines, cards, violin-playing angel ornaments. I really am grateful for the thought. I've even loved and kept some of these things...especially Christmas ornaments (these are easy to display for a month). However grateful I may be for some of your gifts, I just might have 're-gifted' them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

on my mind tonight...

...the validity of asking questions without finding answers. the exhaustion that comes from questioning everything. how i usually determine my own personal 'satisfaction' with church by considering how my intellectual, emotional, entertainment needs are met. how i really long to please be a loving bride. to honor his sacrifice by learning to love and submit as He did. to build and strengthen Christ's body by living a life of love, forgiveness, and grace instead of cynicism and pride.

...sadness that my brother Daniel won't be my pastor for very much longer. I've loved it.

...the obnoxious amount of screaming that goes on at concerts...especially 'Christian concerts'...where the lines are not always clear about whether we are screaming about Jesus or Toby Mac.

...dreading the close of summer, and the freedom i enjoy these days.

...loving my students and being energized by the time i spent with them today. kindergarteners are really fun. so are high-schoolers. my job is perfect. so almost done with school. I can't wait to feel that burden lifted for him. much i really like the movie, "Love Actually."

...cherishing the amazing neighbors we find ourselves living next to...

...the sadness of realizing that relationships are different from what they used to be. that things I've shared with people...are no longer something we have in common...that i've changed (in good ways and bad). that i've hurt people. that i've been a bad friend who sometimes uses people. that i act out of selfish motives...often. have so many wise, loving people in my life to learn from and talk (write) to about ideas, about faith, about truth.

Friday, August 12, 2005


We might have a garage sale this weekend. So, yesterday I started cleaning out the closet in the guest room...which was literally packed with boxes, luggage, loose papers, pictures, frames. It was dangerous. Anything could happen when you opened the door. The problem with cleaning one closet, is that in order to actually fix things, I have to have a place to put them, which means I have to clean out another closet. And so the cycle began. So last night, when I went to bed at 2 AM, my entire house was torn apart.
Also last night, Ryan informed me that his aunt, uncle, and cousins may come to visit tonight. Fortunately they are very real, gracious, loving people. However, I don't want them to hurt themselves. I better get to work.

Currently Reading...

Velvet Elvis
By Rob Bell
The book I'm actually reading is Pride & Prejudice, but I couldn't resist my curiosity when I saw this on my brother's coffee table yesterday. One of my brothers has talked about it, and my blogging brother has mentioned it several times lately too. So while my twin nephews were napping, I started Rob Bell's new book. I didn't ask Daniel for permission to read it, so don't tell him.
In his opening words, he proposes that faith is like painting. Not A painting. Not something that is already complete.
This process, was reflected in the name that Luther's contemporaries originally called themselves, "Reforming." Not Reformed.
He says that because times change, and people change (God doesn't) we need to keep re-examining, refreshing, repainting the way we understand fatih. In the process, we might not really be finding NEW things. "I am learning that what seems brand new is often the discovery of something that's been there all along-it just got lost somewhere and it needs to be picked up, dusted off, and reclaimed."
One of my favorite ideas that Rob and my brother/pastor Daniel, have really expressed well is Jesus "way" of living (in the book of John). While I still think Jesus may have been speaking of himself as the way, the road, the only route worth travelling...leading to life, I do think we often miss the concept of living the "WAY" he lived and taught us to live. He was saying that living His way, generously, with forgiveness, without bitterness, compassionately, peacefully, listening, seaking wisdom, a better way to live. It works because it is rooted in profound truths about how the world is. It is living in tune with reality. Ultimate reality. When we live this way, we are more in sync with how the universe is. Jesus knew this. He knew it would bring full, abundant, life. Because he IS Ultimate Reality.

When we really understand that Jesus is the way, we have to face that fact that it is not about being right. It's about living rightly.

I get caught up in being right about doctrine and theology instead of recognizing the real point. Doctrines of faith aren't the point. They do help us understand the point. And we should take them seriously, but in perspective. They are merely our own help us better understand God. But the moment God is 'figured out' with lines and definitions, and rules, we are no longer dealing with God. If it is something that can be defined, it's just something we've made up...something within our control. And God is not. Through all the stories of the Bible, He is constantly reminding people that he is BEYOND, and BIGGER, and MORE!

I liked some other things he said about questions..and about Christianity not being a wall of "bricks" (doctrines, like creation, the virgin birth, the Trinity) that could fall if one brick is removed. God is not defined by a wall. He is bigger, stronger. Bigger than our faith, our doctrines. And He doesn't need to be defended. He asks us instead to love him. To live His way. To love others and invite them to join us.

I didn't even finish the first chapter. And I couldn't STEAL the book, so I'll have to wait to finish.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

mesmerized in the city

A quick annniversary trip.
As we drove into Chicago, Sunday afternoon, we arranged to meet some friends for dinner. A few hours later, we headed to Rush St. for 'Carmine's' italian cuisine with Rachel and her sister Tabby. We sat outside under strings of lights, savouring pasta, Chicken Milanese, warm bread, stories, and laughter. We met Tabby for the first time last night, but we managed to pry from her the details of her complicated romance...and offered our expert opinions on the matter. Sorry Tabby.

Returning to our hotel room on the thirty-first floor, we soaked in the beauty of our breathtaking view.

The glamour of the city always mesmerizes me. Theatre, jazz, music, art galleries, artists....upscale restaurants, hotels, shopping... I usually spend at least a few seconds looking up at the high-rise condos, imagining life inside.
My materialistic tendencies are heightened upon entering the "Magnificent Mile."
But I also love the energy of the city. So many people, moving, running, working. I wonder where they are from. Have they lived here forever? Or have they left home, family, stability, to pursue something? Love? Learning? Anonymity? Money? Adventure? a chance to 'make it' in the theatre? a fresh start?
Their willingness to risk so much, to really try, to abandon their fears inspires me. It makes me want to work harder at the things I love... music, teaching, learning.
But observing people isn't always energizing. Sometimes, my 'people-watching' habit leaves me with different, less gratifying emotions.
Whenever I visit Chicago, I always see the familiar hoards of little girls clutching expensive dolls and American Girl shopping bags. And teenage girls on shopping trips with their moms. Professionals dressed in suits in 90 degree weather. Runners with ipods. Well dressed, beautiful people. And not so beautiful people...sleeping on benches, standing on street corners, pulling carts (filled with treasures...or garbage?), holding signs expressing their most present need: "I'm just hungry."

Waiting for the stores to open, I watched perplexed and guilty as a frail woman, hunched over, wearing layers of dirty clothes, pushed a cart filled with bottles and bags. As I peered into windows of stores filled with beautiful things, she reached into her pocket, pulled out a dollar, and gave it to a man sitting on the ground, silently rocking back and forth.

Then, I walked into the Water Tower Place.

I wish I could say that I no longer felt drawn by the elegant designs, rich fabrics, diamonds, and books I saw inside. But I did.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

three years ago, i said...

"Ryan, you are
my best friend,
and today, I choose you
to be my husband.
I am placing this ring on your finger
as a symbol of my unending love
and a reminder of my promise."

I loved our wedding day..and most days since.
And today..I still choose you, baby. You are so much more to me now than I ever could have ever understood on that day...the most intimate friend I have ever found. With you, I am vulnerable, safe, beautiful, content, and deeply happy. I still am amazed that I am the lucky woman that gets to spend my days and nights with you...hearing your thoughts, dreams, frustrations, ponderings... I get to know you, like no one else on earth. And yet, you still intrigue me. You are a wonderful mystery that I get to spend the rest of my life discovering. I love you.
Happy anniversary.

This strikingly handsome, witty, intriguing man I get to live with gave me another ring today.... not a diamond this time, but a beautiful deep red garnet.
Image hosted by

recent portraits from "father daniel's" page

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Some of my most well spent moments seem to be spent in convivium.

My family loves to just sit at the table, long after the food is gone...arguing, laughing, telling stories. Usually the candles start dripping wax, the "in-laws" begin clearing the table, watching the kids, doing responsible things...while the 'notals' sit, contemplating theories, discussing post-modernism, openness of God, the emergent church, politics...oblivious to the immediate surroundings. Thanksgiving is too far away.

Last night, Ryan and I enjoyed this kind of 'living together'...while we watched the boats pass through the channel, eating mediterranean pita sandwiches and drinking rasberry juice.

Sunday night, Kim and I prepared a convivium together (penne pasta with sauteed mushrooms & red bell peppers...tossed with feta and basil pesto sauce). I love eating with friends.

In church on sunday we ate together. we celebrated communion...singing about our freedom through Christ. We studied Romans, trying to recognize how fully we are condemned, drowning in guilt and sin. Trying to fully comprehend how beautiful our redemption is!

No condemnation now I dread
Jesus and all in Him is mine.
Alive in Him, my living Head
and clothed in righteousness divine.
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
and claim the crown through Christ my Lord.

Amazing Love, how can it be?
That thou my God shouldst die for me?

Monday, August 01, 2005

waiting for inspiration...

Sitting here in my living room, I've somehow wasted another hour wandering through blogland. A student recently gave me her xanga address...opening up to me the world of student's blogs, an interesting adventure. I've also added some new friends links to my menu...greg, the jazz singer, and dave, the new blogger convert (my great hope of having all my friends blog is slowly being realized)

I didn't mean to not post for four days, but sometimes I revert back to my days of silent blog reading...back when there was no tranquility in my chaos. I used to merely observe, admire my blogging friends' musings from a safe distance without contributing anything in return.

Actually sorting through my racing thoughts (mostly shallow & uninteresting) to write something of value takes a lot more work than just clicking links and reading. My lack of meaningful inspiration, mingled with the guilt of not accomplishing anything practical (running, grocery shopping, laundry, visiting family or friends, cleaning, planning for school, practicing, composing/arranging music, reading/studying in my field, reading/studying Scripture) leaves me feeling rather blank...

The many things that I could/should be doing are calling to me.

And until I answer, my mind will be clouded with thoughts of productivity, and checklists.

I think that's why it's hard for me to pray too. Or call friends, or write letters, or contemplate/meditate on truths for any length of time.

It's really not in my nature to be a "list person." I usually project a more "dreamer" type persona. And I don't want to start measuring my value or level of success merely by the number of specific tasks I accomplish in a day, but I do hate 'wasting' time...that sinking feeling that something very valuable has been irretrievably lost, and I have nothing to show for it.
And at the moment, I think my reservations about spending anymore time with this computer are kindof valid.

It's a beautiful day, and I cannot miss another minute of it. But when I return, I hope to come with more to offer...and less guilt on my conscience with which to burden you, my patient reader.