Monday, December 17, 2012

DIY: Flower Sheet Music Ornaments

 This year I decided I was going to give all of my students small gifts at their last lesson of the year. I did last year, except it was in the baked variety. I think I gave them pumpkin bread, but since I don't remember I have to conclude that they don't either.  Thanks to pinterest, I got a few ideas for some sheet music art and decided to see what I could come up with to create my own sheet music ornaments. I did two different kinds, the one you can find here and the other I'll show you how to make. The modern paper ornaments I did half the size that the instructions give, and they were perfect sized ornaments, I just did sheet music strips on the outside to make them more music-ish.
      The end result was (supposed to be) that each student got a cupcake and an ornament, but I had cupcake-counting/cupcake-frosting issues and in the end a few students didn't end up getting cupcakes. I felt bad, but what can you do?
Chocolate-peppermint-candy-cane cupcakes: yum!

  So, without further delay, here's how you can make your own lovely sheet music ornaments.
( A few credits in order: I combined ideas from this post and this post that I found on pinterest to create my own.)
probably about half of the ornaments i made total...

Sheet music ornament

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

II. Obedience and Stewardship

"To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, each according to his ability."
~Matthew 25:15 (click here to read the whole chapter)

        This week I am beginning to prepare some practice incentive ideas and goals for my students. I made a couple of lists of goals that my students could acheive over the course of the semester. The first list encompasses all of my students, it contains goals that are acheivable no matter the level, age or instrument of my students. The second is specific to my older, more advanced piano students; it contains more challenging goals that will fit their level of playing. The third list is for my younger piano students, it has challenges that are contoured toward their lower level of playing. The fourth is for my violin students, with goals that relate to the challenges specifically involved in playing the violin. When I hand out those lists next semester and ask them to pick out some goals to aim for, I won't give my beginner piano students the second list or the fourth list. Nor would I give the violin students the second or third list! They need challenges according to their ability.

Obedience: I. Introduction

    Most mornings I sit down with my Bible and a notebook and a pencil and read, and then if something sticks out at me I'll write for a while. I'll pull out my Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest and read, or whatever other book I'm reading at the time and see if anything connects, and I'll write that down too. I don't journal every time, but usually the frequency of my writing about what I'm reading is a pretty good indicator of my spiritual life: if I'm writing pretty frequently I feel like I'm learning things, I am spending time tuning in to what God is saying, if I'm not writing then it's the result of a dry period. Writing reflects life.
      Every time Ally and I sit down (usually its over texting or phone) to plan a worship night, we go over some themes that have been recurring in our lives, ideas or topics that God keeps bringing up. And then we'll pray about those topics and pick one, or God will lay a completely random one on one of our hearts and we'll do that. But I realized after doing four or five of these worship nights that every time Ally asked me what the themes were in my life (what God has been teaching me about), obedience just kept coming up. We haven't used it yet,  but I looked back in my notebook that I use with my Bible reading and discovered that it's something God has clearly laid on my heart recently. It seemed like almost every other page was about obedience.
     Obedience. It's not exactly the number one best selling topic among Christians. We prefer topics like "God's Promises" and "God's Forgiveness" and "God's Presence". "God's Love" and "God's Mercy". Those are all wonderful topics, and I need to be reminded of them, but on days when I've spent too much time reading blogs and stalking people on Pinterest, I need God's reminders about obedience. Maybe I'm not the only one.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Performance Class

     I taught my first ever performance class tonight! And, wonder of wonders, it went really well! It wasn't seamless, and it wasn't perfect, but we had a lot of fun and I got a good idea of how many activities you can fit into one night and what games work well.
     I used the "Call-It" game from the Music Matters blog as an opening activity after having students introduce themselves. We changed up the rules a little bit, one of my students was a violin student, and one was a fairly new beginner, so I let the student who drew the letter have a chance first to come up with a word for the letter. They got one point if they could come up with a word, and if they could define it they got another point. If they couldn't come up with anything, the letter was up for "steal", and a steal is only worth one point. The first student to 10 points won (I only had four students, so if we had gone through all of the tiles it would have taken a long time). I think that if I had a group of older students, the original rules would work better, but for younger students it was a great ice breaker.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The "Gap" Year

     At one point I had this entire post written out in my head. It was witty, profound, had incredible, vintage-esque pictures in it and might have made you cry. (Or not.) Since I didn't write it down, you get to read this instead.
     My name is Jessica. If you read my blog, you probably already know that. I graduated highschool last spring and since then have been taking what the people around me call a "gap" year and what I just call "a year off from school".
     Disclaimer #1: I am not taking a gap year because I don't know what I want to do with my life. That is a great reason to take a gap year, but it is not the only reason to take a year off before you go to college and incur thousands of dollars of debt. When someone tells you they took a gap year, ask them why, don't assume that it's because they have no idea what they want to do in the future. They'll appreciate the question even if they don't know what they want to do.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shame and Honor

            How do you feel about awkward moments? I tend to avoid them, steer clear of them, stay away from them. I have a friend who is learning that sometimes, you have to be awkward and that's okay, as long as you are being obedient to God's will. She's totally right, and I am thankful that God is using her to teach me the same lesson in my life.
      As I was reading the following passage this week, I realized that for the woman, what was supposed to be a beautiful thing had just turned into a terribly awkward, embarrassing moment. See for yourself:  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Your Head to Your Heart

(Today's post is a guest post by my dear friend Allison Marie. She is a dancer, fellow student, a terrific writer and a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. The text of her guest post comes from a devotional she gave at a worship night we hosted recently. Enjoy!)

2 Timothy 2:1-13
1 Timothy 6:11-16

As my dad once said, “It’s not just about the head, it’s about the heart. The 18 inches between your head and your heart is so crucial.” When he said this it automatically struck me, because I had been doing a lot of thinking, praying, and journaling about the difference between knowing things and actually believing them. The gap between your head and your heart. Your head knows something and your heart believes that something, your heart is what makes things real.

The Bible says we need to be growing in all knowledge and understanding (2 Peter 3:18), but there is a major problem when knowing something is where we stop. When we are okay with just knowing something and not believing it… the 18 inches…

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Excerpts from "Orthodoxy"

      I recently finished G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy and enjoyed it so much that I almost started it over again. I didn't though, instead I started re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia again. But I find themes that interlace, interestingly enough, and connect between the two authors. Chesterton makes me think of Lewis, whether it is something in Narnia or one of his other books or essays that it; and as I read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader I am reminded of Chesterton.
       (On a side note, there is an anouncer on Moody radio who keeps calling him "J.K. Chesterton" There's a play, I guess, about a conversation between him and George Bernard Shaw, but the announcer thinks his first initial is J. His first name was Gilbert! That doesn't start with a "J"!)
       Tangents aside, I give you some quotes from Chesterton's Orthodoxy.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tune Me, O Lord

Tune me, O Lord, into one harmony
     With Thee, one full responsive vibrant chord;
Unto Thy praise all love and melody,
     Tune me, O Lord.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Something Worth Dying For: A Critique of the Hunger Games

     As of late, the popular world has been awash with discussion of the recently made film The Hunger Games and the trilogy by Suzanne Collins. My sister read the entire trilogy not too long ago, and my mom read the first book after Kelsey and I went to see the movie. Unlike usual, I gave in to the trend, and let Kelsey convince me to read the book after we went and saw the movie. At the heart of the plot is a deadly game: twenty-four children forced to fight to the death, with one remaining victor. What is the excitement all about? What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the movie and the book, and how do we as Christians fit the Gospel with The Hunger Games?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoughts on Orthodoxy: Progress

I am currently one-hundred-and-two pages into G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy, a book that has long been on my reading list and remained unread. Thanks to Allison, I am finally getting the chance to read it. Frankly, I love his writing. It reminds me of the logic of C.S. Lewis's writing with a twist of the fantastical side of George MacDonald. Yesterday as I was taking my half-hour break between teaching, I sat down to read, and stumbled upon this quote:
"Now here comes in the whole collapse and huge blunder of our age. We have mixed up two different things, two opposite things. Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to suit the vision. Progress does mean (just now) that we are always changing the vision. It should mean that we are slow but sure in bringing justice and mercy among men: it does mean that we are very swift in doubting the desirability of justice and mercy: a wild page from any Prussian sophist makes men doubt it. Progress should mean that we are always walking towards the New Jerusalem. It does mean that the New Jerusalem is always walking away from us. We are not altering the real to suit the ideal. We are altering the ideal: it is easier."  [G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


     The book of Colossians is full of comparisons: once you were _______, but now, in Christ, you are _____. As I was reading through it in May, I took the time to write down some of the contrasts I found. Equally true and applicable are his challenges: put off ____, that you may put on ______. They are beautiful reminders of the power of the Gospel: once we were lost, but now we are found! And so by the power of Christ we can put off our body of flesh and put on the life of Christ. May these reminders be a blessing to you wherever you are, whatever you are doing.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Barriers and Deliverance

     "We found one particularly horrible jail in the bush [in Uganda] that had warehoused more than a dozen kids behind an old wooden door for years. A couple of amazing guys from Pepperdine Law School came over and prepared those cases for trial. Those cases were heard, and when the last kid was dropped off at home after their trial, I had that old wooden door ripped off of its hinges. It now stands in the corner of my office. It's a reminder to me that God searches for us, no matter what dark place we're in or what door we're behind. He hears our impossible, audacious prayers for ourselves and others. And He delights in forgiving us and then answering those prayers by letting us return home to Him. It reminds me that when we take Jesus up on His promises, He doesn't just stand in our lives knocking. He rips our small view of Him and what He can make possible right off the hinges."
                                      [Bob Goff, Love Does, 181-182]

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Grass

Summer grass aches and whispers.

It wants something; it calls and sings; it  
         pours out wishes to the overhead stars.
The rain hears; the rain answers; the rain is slow 
                  coming; the rain wets the face of the grass. 

[Carl Sandburg]

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Servant Leadership and Story

     I am just coming out of a week of hosting for a Lead 222 short-term ministry trip, a 'mission trip' experience, combined with leadership training. After a week of arriving at the church at 6:45am each morning, I was glad to sleep in til 10:20 this morning.
     The theme of the week (the same as every Lead 222 trip this summer) was "Live Differently". The students, from Jr. High through High School, were encouraged to live differently in a way that reflects the glory of Christ. On Friday, I had an interesting conversation with two of the students as we worked. We had a long conversation about video games, the real life things that they simulate, and whether they can be harmful. I came out of the conversation with a similar question that has risen in many of my thoughts lately: what if our lives were lived in such a way that we didn't need to simulate things like adventure, creativity, collaboration, creation, relationships, story? What if we didn't need video games to give us a sense of having created something, given us a sense of accomplishment without any actual work involved? What if we were so intentional about spending time with the people we care for (and the people we don't) that we didn't need facebook or texting for our conversations? What if we were so busy living a story that we didn't need to, or have time to spend hours in front of the computer or the television?

What if your life was a story so interesting that you didn't need to live vicariously through stories and adventures of video games, facebook, pinterest, or the television?

What if our lives were stories that magnified the glorious radiance of our King?

I don't know about you, but I want to live differently in that way.

Students worshipping at the evening session.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hermit’s Song

Give me a wild moor
I will search it up and down
And there I shall find
There on the heathered moor
Free as the thistledown
Alone, I will only mind

~Dom Julian Stead

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Love's Burning Tide

This is where the dark and light collide,
Moon has waned, the strength of dusk has died.
Where once the waves were black with might
There now are swept with strokes of light.

Stand! Endure the burning flame of morn,
Hold! Though all from thee thy life is torn;
Let the fire consume and clean
All unpure no more be seen.

Friday, May 4, 2012

False gods

     When I was younger, I had this unconscious belief that there was one and only one God, that YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was the only true God, and therefore the sole God. The rest (the idols that the Israelites worshipped, the gods of false religions, etc) were silly or stupid fakes made by confused people. This was the idea I had of different religions, and other "gods".
     In some ways, I was right, and in some ways I was wrong, though as a child I am not sure that my understanding of various religions could have traveled much further.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter

by Ezra Pound

after Li Po

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan;
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


We are the music-makers,
     And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
     And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and World-forsakers,
     On whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers
     Of the world for ever, it seems.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Because the Few with signal virtue crowned
     The heights and pinnacles of human mind,
Sadder and wearier than the rest are found,
     Wish not thy Soul less wise or less refined.
True that the small delights which every day
     Cheer and distract the pilgrim are not theirs,
True that, though free from passion's lawless sway,
      A loftier being brings severer cares.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Our Lady of the Night

Sheldon Vanauken

When this world hides the constant heart of light
We sink to chill despair through stars that wheel
In deathless unconcern, our senses reel
At nothingness, and darkness steals our sight.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

[national poetry month]

The Emigrant Irish

~Eaven Boland

Like oil lamps, we put them out the back

of our houses, of our minds. We had lights
better than, newer than, and then

a time came, this time and now
we need them. Their dread, makeshift example:

they would have thrived on our necessities.
What they survived we could not even live.
By their lights now it is time to
imagine how they stood there, what they stood with,
that their possessions may become our power:

Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them.
Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering
in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World.

And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

[national poetry month] I Sang

~Carl Sandburg

I sang to you and the moon
But only the moon remembers.
I sang                              
O reckless free-hearted
                                        free-throated rhythms
Even the moon remebers them
And is kind to me.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Holy Week: Easter Sunday!

     "Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."
      "Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall al be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed."
     "Death is swallowed up in victory."
     "O death, where is your victory?
      O death, where is your sting?"
   "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"

~I Corinthians 15:12-19; 51-52; 54-57

Friday, April 6, 2012

Holy Week: Good Friday

Beneath Thy Cross

by Christina Rossetti

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter, weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
I, only I.
Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holy Week: Thursday

(Today's post is a guest post from my sister Allison. Check out her blog for more poetry and theological musings: )



I can't stand anymore;
it's too heavy.
my whole being is throbbing,

Intense pain
I see his hand, stretched out toward me,
and I turn away in shame
and something like hatred.
But his hand is still there, waiting.

Finally, desperation overcomes;
I reach for him;
put it in his hand.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Holy Week: Wednesday


~ Dom Julian Stead,
from There Shines Forth Christ

Dare to go with you, be seen with you,
Listen in silence while you speak and touch and heal,
Or while you're spat on, questioned, nailed and left to die
Do people call you prophet now?
No, "myth". Make me believe that you are real:

Holy Week: Tuesday

Silk Tie Easter Eggs

Monday, April 2, 2012

Holy Week: Monday


You, once, two-thousand years ago,
Were a man. Would that I could
Grasp the truth of that reality.
When you walked, dust puffed up
In muffled protest to the tread of your
Sandaled, dirty feet. The same feet were
Washed with tears and anointed with
Perfume, dried with a woman's
Tumbling hair. Did, I wonder, that

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Holy Week: Palm Sunday

from Calvin Miller's The Singer

Humanity is fickle.
They may dress for a
morning coronation and
never feel the need to
change clothes to
attend an execution in
the afternoon.

So Triumphal Sundays
and Good Fridays
always fit comfortably
into the same April

Saturday, March 24, 2012


In honor of the fact that it is, once again, puddle time, one of my old favorites.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lenten Prayer

Would you, Christ, come alive to me?
May the Word become Life,
May the bareness of its bones
Be wrapt in the flesh of man;
Take on the breath of God for me;
That I might know your reality

Thursday, March 8, 2012


     We sometimes say of people, especially young people, "They don't know who they are yet." And often it is true. But even some who think they know who they are will be betrayed if it is not based on truth.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

the Cost

If I follow,
a disciple, leaving all behind
If I obey,
a servant, doing only thy will
who will I be then?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Women of the Cross

     We want to be women of the cross.

     We want to live for Christ; to die for Christ; to every day submit the selfish desires and needs and worries of the self over to the altar that they might die. We want to walk by faith.

     We want to be women who abide. We want to be intercessors, message-bringers, light-bearers, grace-givers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Poetry for a Valentine's Evening

Love. Our world is in love with love, with the idea of love, the feeling of love, the fairy-tale "happily ever after" love. And yet our ideas of love are very different. There are probably hundreds of poems written on love, but these are a few of my favorites, each setting forth an aspect of love.

What Shall I Give My Love?
~Sara Teasdale

I asked the heaven of stars
What I should give my love
It answered me with silence,
Silence above.

I asked the darkened sea
Down where the fishes go
It answered me with silence,
Silence below.

Oh, I could give him weeping,
Or I could give him a song
But how can I give silence
My whole life long?

Monday, February 13, 2012


I wrote this poem exactly a year ago yesterday. It is still one of my favorites, especially when I find myself off of the path that I had planned so carefully and onto a path that God had prepared.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Some photos I took over the weekend up in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thanks be to God

If everything is lost, thanks be to God
If I must see it go, watch it go,
Watch it fade away, die
Thanks be to God that He is all I have

the Seed

The seed must fall and die,
It must wait, alone; and lie
Upon the frozen ground
While winter comes with bitter chill
To kill the earth without a sound.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gifts of Grace

LORD—all glory and world and fullness therein art thine,
        The weight of sorrow, hungry child and stormy sea,
        The height of joy, blushing bride and budding tree,
How wondrous, then, thy strength and Spirit which art mine.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Long Delay

     A quick note before the poem—this was a school assignment based upon Milton's On His Blindness. If you have never read it, you can read it here. The assignment was to write an original poem based on the style of a poem that I'd memorized, expressing similar sentiments. I had previously memorized Milton's On His Blindness and the words "They also serve who only stand and wait" had been an enormous encouragement as I considered the prospect of staying home next year and taking the year off of school. I wrote my poem with the same rhyming pattern and idea. Here is the result.

On His Blindness

'When I consider how my light is spent
      Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
      And that one Talent which is death to hide
      Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
      My true account, lest He returning chide,
     "Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
      I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
      Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
      Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
      And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
      They also serve who only stand and wait."'

~John Milton

Thursday, January 26, 2012

so as to hear..

"Steadfastness, that is holding on;
patience, that is holding back;
expectancy, that is holding the face up;
obedience, that is holding one's self in readiness to go or do;
listening, that is holding quiet and still so as to hear."
~S.D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Stern Command

"Come and die," he says, "that thou may live."
and stubbornly we cling, we hold to faded dreams,
tattered bodies of death, worthless things.
While all the time there is the full life He will give.
"Come and die," he says, "that thou may live."
will I have the courage to give,
like heavy packs from tired shoulders to His
able back, my life? to die?

Thou knowest, Lord, only.

Temples of Mankind

The world, with every passing hour our mettle tries.
“Worship me!” each pagan god doth cry. The air
Is rent with silent desperate hurts; each aching care
Given o’er to worthless things. Crushing weight upon us lies.

Friday, January 20, 2012


"Be near!" we cry in
desperate voice to Christ whose
name is "God with us."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Glass Cage

You have built around me
A glinting cage of glass,
Which I dare not touch
But peer from as you appraise
Me from the exterior.
I look better behind this fa├žade,
But ache to reach out my hand in order
To grasp yours, watching the glass
Shatter and shower to the ground.
I wish to limp out, scratched
And scraped and weep on your shoulder,
Stretch, walk, stumble, run, dance,
Without the glass to confine.
But with passing remarks and
Silent cues we are steadily reinforcing
The glass until it is crystal, the crystal
Until it is diamond,
And now I have become the very
Glass itself.
                A mask, a beating heart within
       A body of glittering diamond.

O Lord,
       break me.

Under The Mercy

     "We are, I think, so made that our greatest happiness is in doing God's will. If I am right, those who rebel against God do not find either joy or happiness, except momentarily, for they are rebelling against happiness itself. There is only one fountain of joy...I should not have found that happiness, that exaltation, had God cast me off as the disobedient sinner I was. Instead, in His mercy, He patiently drew me back to Him.
Thus it is that I know that my life, and all lives, are under the Mercy."
(Sheldon Vanauken, Under the Mercy)

     I love the idea that we are under the Mercy of God. One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 46, "God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble..." When we begin to understand that our lives are sheltered beneath the Mercy, that in Christ we have a solid rock, a refuge that will stand when all else falls, we will have the context that comes with the fear of the Lordthe understanding that we are part of a bigger story.
     Somehow, I hope that my words, or poems, or thoughts, will help you to glimpse in some way another part of the story. I hope they will remind you that you are always under the Mercy.


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