Inspiration

5 Inspirational Books to Read This Summer

5 Inspirational Books to Read This Summer

There’s something so quintessential about having a good book (or several) to read during the summer months. From plane rides to road trips, trips to the beach or lake, picnics in the park, or simply sitting on the porch in the afternoon, reading is the perfect pastime for those sweet, slow summer days.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I tend to make my book list for the year in January (here’s what I plan to read in 2018, in case you’re curious). The list may change as I go through the year and pick up books on sale here and there or come across a newly-released book that I want to read, but I like to begin the year with a list of books (one per month) already picked out.

What We Can Learn From Others: Six Things to Listen to, Watch, or Read This Week

What We Can Learn From Others: Six Things to Listen to, Watch, or Read This Week

There's a message that bears endless repeating and living out in our world today: we need each other. 

We live in a world where we are taught to live in fear of those who are different, to question those with differing beliefs, to be defensive and respond to violence with more violence; but the truth is, we need each other.

We need diversity - different perspectives and ways of seeing the world, different skills and approaches, different opinions. Each one of us is unique, in the way we approach the world, the things we create, the skills and talents we cultivate, and the way we use those gifts in service to others. This is a gift, and an opportunity to learn.

The Importance of Creating a Sabbath

The Importance of Creating a Sabbath

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” - Exodus 20:8

The idea of a Sabbath is probably not new to most of you. You’ve likely heard about it in church, read about it in your Bible, and seen it outlined on countless 10 Commandment posters, but what does it really mean to "remember the Sabbath day”? How do we “keep it holy”?

Before we get into the details of all that, here’s a little bit of the history behind this sacred practice:

History of the Sabbath

We read about it from the beginning of the Bible, how God finished the work of creation and rested on the seventh day. "God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:3)

2018 Book List

2018 Book List

One of my favorite things about beginning a new calendar year is choosing which books I want to read in the coming months.

I like to read one book at a time and one book per month seems to be a good pace for me. I also like to read slowly and take notes as I go (these are my favorite journals for book notes) so I can go back and review the highlights later.

I lean toward books that challenge me to think in a new way or look at the world from a new perspective; books that teach me something or inspire me or help me grow in some area of my life. I use the following categories as a basic framework:

Health/Lifestyle
Spiritual
Personal
Business

Why What We Are Doing Is Important

Why What We Are Doing Is Important

Today's post is written by my church musician friend, Janis Maxwell. She's the Director of Youth Music Ministry and Organist at Athens First United Methodist in Athens, GA. I hope her thoughtful perspective on ministry encourages and blesses you in your work this season.

- Ashley

"Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing." - Psalm 100:2

As I reflect on the topic, “Why What We Are Doing Is Important”, this Bible verse pops into my head.

Are You Running On Autopilot These Days?

Are You Running On Autopilot These Days?

Are you running on autopilot these days?

You know the feeling: distracted, absent-minded, forgetful, foggy, disengaged, disconnected.

It's easy to slip into this way of living without even realizing it, especially during months like December (can't imagine why!).

But what does running on autopilot really do for us? And how can we switch back into manual mode?

Shauna Niequist, in her book, Present Over Perfect, describes the soul as our connection point - to God, to life, and to the world around us. It’s with our souls that we really feel, that we love, that we ache, and that we feel God’s presence the most.

34 Meaningful Quotes for Music Educators

34 Meaningful Quotes for Music Educators

Sometimes, it's important to remember why we started.

Indulge me for a moment and ask yourself the following:

What first drew you to music?
When did you know you wanted to teach?
What are the pivotal moments that stand out in your memory - those particular students or experiences or revelations that propelled you forward, that fed your soul, that inspired you to keep going?

We all have our own answers and a whole collection of stories we could tell. This is one of the things I love most about teaching.

It's the heart behind what we do and the reasons why we do it that make teaching such a wonderful, life-giving profession (but maybe I'm a little biased?).

Four Reasons Why Playing Your Instrument for Fun is Vital to Your Music Career

Four Reasons Why Playing Your Instrument for Fun is Vital to Your Music Career

When was the last time you sat down at your instrument and played music for fun? I mean, not music you had to practice or prepare, but music you chose to play for yourself, for your own enjoyment?

So often as professionals, we don’t make time for this. We assume that all the music we’re being paid to learn and practice will also count as the musical satisfaction we need to keep going in our career. Kill two birds with one stone, right? I mean, who has time to play for fun?

But the problem is, this can become stifling. Instead of making music as a form of expression and creativity, making music becomes something we have to do, a task on our list. In short, it becomes work.

And when it becomes work, we lose that spark of inspiration, we miss the connection to the creative process, that feeling of making something personal, real, and deeply authentic. We lose some of the meaning behind why we started playing in the first place.

But, the good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

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:

An Inside Look at My Creative Process

An Inside Look at My Creative Process

Creativity is one of those illusive things that’s hard to wrap your mind around sometimes. What is it? Does everyone have it? Can it be developed?

One of the big things I’ve learned about creativity over the past few years is that, more than anything else, creativity is a way of thinking. It’s a way of looking at the world, interacting with it, challenging it; studying things, testing things, and a relentless desire to explore new territory.

Some people naturally tend to think this way, but that doesn’t mean creativity is limited to certain individuals. Creative thinking is a strategy; it’s a skill that can be developed.

Let’s delve into theory for just a minute:

Creative thinking (in any context) has four main components: Flexibility, Fluency, Originality, and Elaboration (source).