reflection

Life Lately: Winter Edition

Life Lately: Winter Edition

There’s something about winter that causes us to slow down, to reflect. I suppose you could say the same thing about any season: it’s really a matter of being intentional with your time and attention and being present.

I’m making it a practice to sit and write out some of my thoughts during each season this year - a practice I hope will help me cultivate a sense of peace and gratitude, recognize and acknowledge things I’m learning, and be more present.

We’re all works in progress, right? This is me, sharing where I am and what I’m learning along the way.

So, let’s pretend it’s the weather and say this reflection was inspired by quiet snow days and clean, winter-white landscapes, okay? This is life lately:

The Choir Year in Review: 16 Questions to Help You Evaluate Your Year

The Choir Year in Review: 16 Questions to Help You Evaluate Your Year

Have you ever done a year-in-review for your choir year? Have you taken time recently to evaluate yourself and your teaching? Do you set goals for your choir at the beginning of the year, or make a mental list of things you'd like to accomplish?

Taking time for reflection and evaluation is a healthy and productive way to check in and stay engaged in your work.

Top 10 Posts of 2017

Top 10 Posts of 2017

These last few weeks of the calendar year are always some of my favorite - time to reflect on a year well-lived and make big plans for the year to come.

Here are a few fun facts from this year:

2017 By the Numbers

Blog posts written: 81
Online courses created: 2
Online workshops created: 4
Videos recorded: 31
Emails written: too many to count!
Site visitors: 125,000+
Page views: 295,000+

Six Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started in Ministry

Six Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started in Ministry

Hindsight is 20/20, right?

If we knew then what we know now, we probably would have done things differently, handled that situation another way, said “yes” instead of “no” (or vice versa).

But the thing about life is we can only live going forward. We can’t go back and edit our choices later on, though hopefully, we take the time to reflect and learn from our experiences as we go along.

I’ve been doing that lately with ministry. What have I learned over the years? How have I grown and changed? What would I tell my younger self? We all have different answers to those questions, but they’re important to think about and perhaps even voice from time to time. This is how we learn. This is how we grow.

In the spirit of all that, here are six things I wish I’d known when I first started in music ministry:

This Is My Story, This Is My Song

This Is My Story, This Is My Song

A few weeks ago, the youth led worship. They planned skits and a children's message, wrote prayers, made T-shirts, wrote testimonials, and chose music. They poured their hearts into this service. And it showed.

The overall theme was packing for a long journey - carrying extra baggage through life and trying to do it all on their own until Jesus revealed himself to them and offered to carry their burdens. But instead of playing fictional characters, the youth assumed their own identities - they were themselves and the baggage they carried were real things they struggle with in their own lives.

One high schooler shared her struggle with depression and anxiety.

Another about grief and loss.

One talked about turning her back on God, the way He sought her, and the joy she's found in returning to Him.

A 6th grader spoke about taking a stand and choosing to believe in God even when her friends and teachers try to tell her He doesn't exist. 

Getting Perspective 30,000 Feet In the Air

Getting Perspective 30,000 Feet In the Air

Sometimes, I need a little perspective. Because when I'm immersed in the details of planning, creating, teaching, and making music, it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. And sometimes, it takes getting to 30,000 feet above the earth to get the perspective I crave.

.  .  .  .  .

A few weeks ago, SD and I flew south to sunny FL. He had a composition residency (rehearsals, presentation, and two premieres), I had a visit with church music friends (choir rehearsal, duet practice, and three services). 

We packed our bathing suits, new books, and clothes we haven't worn since last summer, and left our new home nestled in two feet of fluffy white snow.

The airport was quiet as we navigated to our gate, sandwiches from Au Bon Pain in hand. We nestled into our seats and I looked out the window (because SD always lets me have the window seat) at the grey morning sky.

2015: A Year in Review

2015: A Year in Review

Happy New Year's Eve, y'all! 2015 was a whirlwind for us - so many big changes! It's pretty amazing to think back to this time last year and see how far we've come and how much has happened. Here's a look back on one of our biggest years yet:

We visited NYC twice - once with SD's parents to see "Lion King" on Broadway, and then again a few weeks later for the Chamber Music America conference. This was the first time I ever stayed overnight in the City and I actually felt like I knew my way around the Times Square area by the time we left!

In February, we went cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing for the first time at a nearby park (rentals were only $3/person!). I started my dissertation research (eight weeks long) and we had the opportunity to see the St. Olaf Choir in concert - amazing!

Thankful

Thankful

Thanksgiving.

It's that time of the year when people seem to become a bit more intentional about counting their blessings and naming things they're thankful for. A time when people gather together from near and far to share a special meal around the table. A time when people google things like "how to cook a turkey" and "watch macy's parade online" (No? Am I the only one?).

Maybe it's the time of year, or maybe it's a response to the chaos of life the past few months, but I find myself needing to take a step back, needing to create space for thankfulness. Eugene Peterson said it best:

"We stop, whether by choice or through circumstance, so that we can be alert and attentive and receptive to what God is doing in and for us, in and for others, on the way. We wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies." -Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way