Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A song for the season...

. . . and for the rest of the year, in my book: track #11, Stille Nacht. This is the Mannheim Steamroller version of Silent Night, arranged by Chip Davis and transcribed for violin and piano by Chuck Penington. I LOVE this piece!

There are several reasons why I've included it on this CD, which is meant to be enjoyed year-round, not just at Christmas. The main reason is that I am filled with a very real, very tangible sense of peace every time I hear and play it. (Except when I was recording... for some reason, this is the only piece that I felt nervous playing in the studio! After feeling unsettled through the first couple of takes, I suggested we move on - to my two hardest numbers left, ironically - and we came back to it at the end. Guess I had to get my mind off the other stuff ahead of me first.) When I get anxious in the crazy traffic around here, listening to this song is like pushing a magic "Relax" button for me. With this I sense that really "all is calm". Or at least that all of me can be calm.

I love the tender yet powerful phrasing in this music; through it Chip Davis sensitively approaches the range of emotions surrounding the birth of the Tiny King. I feel that the melody could be spun on and on and I'd never wonder when it would end. Just like my need for Him, my love and gratitude for Him, and my awe of what His life means in relation to my own.

I knew this track needed to be last on the CD because usually the last song I hear is the one that stays in my head. And in this case especially, in my heart. I need some of that heavenly peace to be mine. I need the daily reminder that the Son of God came with love's pure light and that His redeeming grace is enough for me. It is somehow, miraculously, enough for all of us.

May this peace be yours and mine all the year through. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A beautiful reminder

Hi everybody, hope you are enjoying this holiday season! I am really looking forward to Christmas myself. Just before Thanksgiving we held a family Holiday Planning Meeting and asked our boys what traditions they'd like to continue or begin this year. It was eye-opening (and somewhat amusing) to hear their ideas and memories and find out what was really important to them. I'm not a Super-Mom who can do everything and make it look easy, but there is one tradition I can say we're fully enjoying and can cross off my list every day before we even have breakfast: the Chocolate Advent calendars are up to date!

Go grab some chocolate for yourself, and then take a minute to watch this video interview with my good friend, Heidi Johnson. She served as a missionary in Austria and wrote the story for the movie, "The Errand of Angels," based on some of her experiences there. I also served as a missionary (in Seattle, Washington) so I can really relate to the situations, emotions, challenges and joys portrayed. Even if you haven't served a mission, it's an enjoyable, touching story I highly recommend seeing.

I love this interview for lots of other reasons, though, because it goes a step deeper and shows us a few of the things Heidi learned while working on the movie. I feel like I can say my own "amen" to it from my experiences working on my CD. There are things for each of us to do that no one else can do for us; we all have our own challenges before we see the miracles; none of us has to do what we came here to do alone. In fact, we can't do it alone, and that is the point. Once we get it, amazing things happen. This interview is a beautiful reminder. I hope it will give you some inspiration today!

P.S. If you're still looking for Christmas present ideas, Heidi's movie and my CD both make great gifts!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Has anyone ever told you that you look just like..."

Okay, so this is admittedly not my most thought-provoking post, but it does have to do with an "Aha!" heritage connection I made today. And I do think it's a mildly entertaining topic.

From people who know me well, to total strangers, I've been told for years now that I look like Barbra Streisand. I even have two friends, from totally unrelated phases in my life, who've both nick-named me "Barb". It happened to me again today. One of my neighbors who I've only waved to in passing, stopped me today and told me that every time he sees me, he thinks, "She looks just like Barbra Streisand!"

So my "Aha!" moment occurred when I started thinking about where this look might have come from that so many people have observed over the years. Take a look back at this picture of my Great Granna and I think the mystery is solved!

(No relation to Barbra as far as I know.) But I guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree, I just never noticed it until today.

So, who do you look like?