Prayers for Choirs: No. 10

Prayers for Choirs: No. 10

It's that time again.

The time when some of us start to feel a little anxious, a little unsettled. When everything feels like "us" vs. "them." When we sometimes feel like we're on opposing sides from people we call friends and neighbors. When it feels like we're more divided as a country and a community than ever.

It's election season, and this year, it's more polarizing than ever.

All you have to do is turn on the news, or scroll through Twitter or Facebook, or scan the headlines in the checkout aisle.

Some people get loud about their opinions, others get quiet. Some get angry, others feel uneasy, and many feel afraid. Some people put signs in their yards or stickers on their cars to let everyone know where they stand - constant visual reminders of the turmoil and conflict across our nation right now. Others keep their opinions to themselves to try to keep the peace with family, friends, and neighbors.

In the Face of Violence

In the Face of Violence

I had another post scheduled for today, but given the tragic events of yesterday, it just didn't seem appropriate. It's easy to stand by quietly, to be sad in our hearts but keep our thoughts to ourselves. But in the face of violence, we need to be bold. We need to stand up. We need to say something. --

Another day. Another mass shooting. More fear. More hatred. More confusion.

Can I be honest with you? My first reaction to the tragedy yesterday was polite sympathy - sadness for all who are hurting, but only from a distance. When did that become okay? When did acts of violence become so commonplace that we stopped feeling their weight? When did the shock and daze and heartsickness wear off?

I'm tired of mass shootings becoming one-day news cycles. I'm tired of feeling helpless and numb and indifferent. 

I'm afraid that violence is becoming more and more the norm. That tomorrow we'll go back to our normal lives, eating our normal breakfast, reading normal headlines about the election and the Tony Awards, thinking about our normal (crazy) week ahead. I'm afraid that hate is growing stronger. That the world is growing numb to it

Prayers for Choirs: No. 2

Prayers for Choirs: No. 2

It's that time of the year again. It's hard to ignore the daily reminders - pink and red hearts in the store windows, chocolate displays, and flower delivery ads in the sidebar of your browser.

Valentine's Day. Perhaps more of a "Hallmark holiday" than a true representation of what it means to love and be loved, but still, isn't it worth thinking about?

"Love one another" was the greatest commandment ever given, after all.

Love one another - no qualifiers, no rules, no exceptions. Just love. It's a way of life, a calling, really. But, you should know: This kind of love is not the kind you read about in Hallmark cards.

"The kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence." - Bob Goff, Love Does

This kind of love asks us to give of ourselves and set aside our own wants and needs. It's time-consuming and it won't always be reciprocated. But it also never fades. It "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7). This kind of love never fails.

The Season of Giving + A Giveaway!


Ashley Danyew | Share Give Love A few weeks ago, I found out that my Grampy needed semi-emergency foot surgery.  All went well but he has a long road of recovery in rehab ahead of him (prayers appreciated!).  SD and I had already planned to visit my grandparents in NJ over the Thanksgiving holiday (and surprise them with a short holiday-themed saxophone/piano concert) but given the recent events, we ended up with the opportunity to spend part of the day visiting with them in the rehab facility... and we brought our music with us.

Love is something we do, something we show with our actions, not just our words.  Love does things.

The facility was thrilled to feature us as "special guests" and at 2:00 p.m., they wheeled residents from multiple floors into the Dining Room to hear us play.  We had a 30-minute program prepared - a mix of art song transcriptions, holiday classics, and more modern reflections on the season.  I thought some of the residents might know some of the things on our list so we encouraged them to sing along!  And they did.  Melt my heart.

Ashley Danyew | Holiday Program

For those of you who are interested, here is a list of what we played:

Danyew 2013 Holiday Program

Simple Gifts (arr. Copland) Dank sei Dir Herr (Ochs) Ave Maria (Schubert)

Silver Bells (Livingston/Evans) White Christmas (Berlin) The Little Drummer Boy (Davis)

Listen to Christmas (Hayes) The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting) (Tormé/Wells)

Ashley Danyew | Sharing Our Gifts

This is what it's all about, y'all.  Sharing what we have with others.  Giving of ourselves, our time, our talents, our resources to others.  Loving on others.  This is what matters.

Christmas is two weeks away (TWO WEEKS!) and in the spirit of love and giving, I want to challenge you to go and do something this season that shows someone you really love them.  Bake cookies for your neighbor.  Write a note to a loved one who lives far away.  Be a good listener to someone who needs a friend.  Dust off the hymnal in the piano bench and gather friends and family together for an evening of singing around the piano.  Hug your loved ones a little tighter.  Writing this post made me realize that it would be fun if we shared some of the meaningful ways that we are sharing our love and gifts with each other.  To help encourage this sharing, I'm hosting a... drumroll...

Holiday Giveaway! Win a set of eight hand-lettered note cards with matching white envelopes for thank yous, love notes, or thinking of yous (two of each design: "love," "joy," "thanks," and "hello" with blank inside).

Ashley Danyew | Holiday Giveaway

Enter any (or all!) of the following ways:

1. Leave a comment below with one of your favorite holiday memories or traditions or a way that someone has blessed you this holiday season. 2. Follow me on Instagram, post a photo of your sharing/giving/loving in action, and tag me. 3. Follow me on Twitter, share your story, and tag me.

Giveaway runs from today, December 11, 2013 through December 25, 2013.  Winner will be chosen at random and announced here on the blog.  Yay!