11.14.2011

Creativity: rediscovered

My creativity is finally seeping out of me after lying dormant for most of this school year. I wrote a song and a poem two nights ago - now I feel the urge to write a blog post even though I have a class in ten minutes.

It feels good to be creative - like I've been breathing stale air for a long time and only just now realized it. Creativity is my breath of fresh air.

I feel like I'm a plant, growing strong and tall, with many green shoots - but no flowers. At school I've been growing so much with piano and violin and voice and relationships and learning new things about the Bible and God... and yet I'm not being creative. My plant is strong and tall and green, but nothing more.

I think the reason I haven't been creative is tied up in the reason that I feel I haven't been growing in my walk with the Lord. My main problem is that I haven't given myself time. I feel that a day isn't worthwhile unless I have done something productive - and I put that highest on my list. So I've been super productive - but also crammed full of knowledge I can't process, and burned out in my spiritual life. Don't get me wrong - being productive is great (especially in college!), but only God should occupy that first priority in my life.

Re-arranging my priorities solves that dryness in my life. And when a plant receives water - what does it do?

It blooms.


10.19.2011

Precious Gifts (Guest Post)

You have all heard the saying, " Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain." I couldn't agree more. Ann Voskamp, the author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are remarked that "Life is not an emergency." Every moment is a precious gift. It's our job to slow down to savor it.


The world is full of pain. The world is full of ugliness and despair. Still, God has chosen to give us beauty. We don't deserve His gifts, but, still He choses to give them. They are truly gifts of love.

Open your eyes. Notice the beauty of the little things around you. 
A baby's smile. 
A loaf of freshly-baked bread.
 Golden sunshine.
 Sparkling dewdrops. 
Bright bursts of color. 
Leather-bound books. 
Classical music. 
New life.
Holding hands with your siblings. 
Twirling until you get dizzy. 
Laughing so hard your sides hurt. 
Blooming flowers.
Rain.
These are beautiful things. 
These are the things that God has given us to enjoy. 
These are the things that require us to slow down and notice. 


It's all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Trust me. I know. As the oldest of five children who is trying to balance family, friends, and chores while earning a college degree from home, slowing down for the little things in life is a daunting task.
Still, I need to step back and breathe. I need to stop all feel the presence of an Almighty God in my life and watch as He writes a story. My story. And, when He writes my life story, He puts in wonderful beauties of little things that I don't want to miss. 

I'm Cassandra. Hazel eyes behind black-framed glasses. Sixteen-years-old. A girl set-apart by Jesus Christ. Lover of words, pictures, family, friends, laughing, and life. Laughs often, takes pictures compulsively, writes like there is no tomorrow. A book-worm, singer, heath-nut, beach girl, bibliophile, wanna-be-world-traveler, adventurer, skirt-wearer, daydreamer, homeschool student, college sophomore, humanities major, and lover of beautiful things… This is me. You can visit my blog here: Inside My Mind

10.11.2011

The Art of Arranging (Guest Post)

Hello everyone! I'm Sally from Treble Clef, and I'm really excited to be posting here on Vividry. Thanks so much Melody for this opportunity :)

And so without further ado, I give you...

The Art of Arranging
(Sally's exclusive secrets on how to arrange phenomenal music)


Arranging music is, in my opinion, harder than composing your own music because it has to actually sound somewhat like the song you originally started out with whereas in composition you can literally put any rhythms and notes together and you're fine. When you arrange, you are basically taking a song and formatting it for your group. You can make an easier piece harder (or vice versa), make a song compatible for your instrumentation, or play around with the bass and harmonies while keeping the melody relativity intact. When arranging I am most often doing the second two things in that list.

One of the things that I spend a lot of my time arranging for is an 'Arts Alive' week at my summer camp. If you follow or read Treble Clef  then you probably read part or all of my arranging experience for this camp over the past year as I took on the task of arranging the song 'Bring Him Home' from Les Miserables. This was a challenge, but a very fun challenge at that. I began actually arranging in January (the camp was June 26-July 2) but had done pre-arranging work for months beforehand. It really is a long process. Recently, I have actually started the process again....for next summer. It may seem crazy, but I think that after you see how much will be put into this project, you may re-think that thought.

  ---

The first thing that I do when starting to arrange is sketch out a plan. This is kind of confusing, so I took a picture of the one I did the other night for my upcoming project. 
The first thing I have to do of course is lay out some possible music ideas (very important). I go through some books of mine that have songs that fit the theme I'm trying to match and also look on the internet too. For this particular group we tend to do a lot of movie music- especially ballads. In the past we've done The Black Pearl (Pirates of the Caribbean), Eight Days A Week (the Beatles), A Whole New World (Aladdin), and Bring Him Home (Les Miserables). (All my arrangements by the way.) This is where I start. After looking at a BUNCH of stuff, I wrote down my four most likely possibilities- something by the Beatles, Hallelujah (Shrek), The Rainbow Connection (the Muppets) and Can You Feel The Love Tonight (the Lion King).

The next step is to analyze your chosen songs to figure out which one of them you want to work with. *do NOT choose a song that you are not TOTALLY in love with- you won't be very enthusiastic about arranging it and therefore you won't have as stellar of a product*  After careful consideration of difficulty, known instrumentation (see lower left) (although in my case I don't know all my instrumentation yet so I have to make an executive decision from my know facts and speculation as to what we might have. I will find out much later what my full instrumentation will be), popularity, and other factors, I decided that the song that I would work with over the coming year would be Hallelujah. After choosing the song I laid out some basic ideas that I want to use in this arrangement, and then I'm finished with my first step on the road to arranging an awesome piece. (I just used the reference to my upcoming project as an example because it is a bit confusing otherwise. The above step and those below are the ones I use for EVERY arrangement.)

After you've spent some good time on your sketch, make sure to look it over one more time and double check everything that you've done so far. When you have finished with that, congratulations! It's time to move on to step two!

Remember, to arrange music you are taking someone else's composition and arranging it to fit your group, so to do this you're going to have to find some sources that you can work off to create your arrangement. These will give you ideas about key signature, time signature, melody, harmony, chord patterns, and the general way that the song is put together. I usually look three places to find my base music- first I look in my own personal library, then the internet (free or cheap downloads are GREAT), and then at my local music stores. I usually like two or three pieces of base music because then my arrangement has a lot of neat variety. One thing that is the most helpful in arranging is finding a piano part that has the melody line on top, along with guitar chords. This is good because:

(a. the piano part is the hardest to write, so it's really nice to have one right in front of you to build off of,
(b. the melody is right there ready for you to work with as you wish and
(c. the guitar shows you point-blank what chords are being used.

Choral arrangements are great too for ideas on harmony.

For both Bring Him Home and now Hallelujah I used/am using the piano/melody/chord arrangement and a choral arrangement to help me with my arrangement. 

OK! You are now ready to start arranging! Before you go to the computer though, take a look at your base music and mark in some thoughts. Things like 'cello solo here' and 'trumpet descant', etc. This will help make it so that your brain might not end up quite so fried after finishing your arrangement.

Speaking of fried brains...If you've done all the above in one day without really taking a long break (which I do not suggest...) STOP. Go take a hot shower, put on your PJ's, make some popcorn, and watch a movie. Do not work on your arrangement again until a least the next morning. Rest is good. And if your parents complain, well, tell them I said so.

To do your arrangement you are going to need a music writing software. I suggest Finale Notepad which is great for writing music and is only a $9.95 download.Once your software is up, get it ready with your key signature, time signature, etc. Don't necessarily add all your instruments right away, but you can if you want to.  The first part you should start writing for is your piano accompaniment. The easiest way to write this part is to simply take the piano part from your piano/melody/chord base music and plug it in your score. Then go in and change it up a bit to make it your own. The end product of this part could be drastically different from the base music you started out with but it makes it a whole lot easier on you if you work directly off the base music to create your hardest part.

Once you have your accompaniment it's time to start on your melody. You can have the melody stay with one instrument, but it's a lot more fun if you bounce it around different sections and create interesting section combinations with the melody. Make it fun- fun to write and fun to play. You can also mix up the melody to really make it your own too, by putting in accidentals, rhythm changes, whatever floats your boat. Remember, you can ALWAYS go back and change things later. I do :)

The next step is to add in the background parts to your melody. These include (but are not limited to) your harmony, secondary melody, descant and bass line. Use your knowledge of chords (especially the guitar part in your base music), balance, instrumentation, and music theory, to write these parts. Use the playback feature often to make sure everything sounds the way you want it to. You want your score to be absolutely amazing.

If you don't really love how things are coming together there is no reason why you can't change it. Deleting and completely changing your piece are natural parts of the arranging process. If you get discouraged, just take a break and come back later. This is the longest part of the process and it is extremely important to not get frustrated with yourself. As I said before, it is a hard, long, brain-frying process, but eventually it will all come together and you'll have something that you can be really proud of.

Once your parts are finally written, add in dynamics, articulations, fermatas, measure markings, tempos, etc. Look your piece over one last time and listen to it very carefully. Fix anything that needs to be fixed and once you are totally satisfied, split your score into individual parts and print.

Congratulations! You have now arranged your first piece of music, a truly great accomplishment.

If you want more guidance on your own arranging endeavors, I'd love to talk with you and share some tips and listen to your music. If you want to hear more about my own arranging, especially about my next project with Hallelujah, catch me on my blog where arranging is a common subject that I cover. You can contact me at trebleclefblog@gmail.com and/or pop in at my blog Treble Clef. Seeya!

thanks to Melody for letting me guest post!

---

Hi, I'm Sally, and I run the blog Treble Clef. I'm a fifteen year old Christian, and I'm about to go into my sophomore year at my local high school. I'm not your average teenage girl though, in fact, far from it. I'm a feisty, smart, talented musician, standing at only 5'0'' but that doesn't stop me from wielding a mighty powerful trumpet. Want to learn more about me, and join me on my journey? Catch me over at Treble Clef (link above) where I share my story, the drama, the love, the adventure, and most importantly, the music.

10.04.2011

Just Breathe

Hello, bloggers!

Yeah, you've probably forgotten about me, haven't you? I'm the girl who tries to juggle 2 blogs, 17 college credits, 20 hours of practicing a week, sleep, and a social life. I'm pretty good at multitasking, but not that good. My social life, sleep, and blogs have kind of dropped by the wayside (and practicing too, but don't tell my teachers that!). I'm barely staying on top of homework right now, not to mention studying for tests that almost all of my teachers decided to give before next Thursday (which is our fall break).

And then to try to put God in the mix...

Yeah, I haven't been doing so well with that either.

I know I can't do everything (though sometimes I find myself acting like I can!). But even in the midst of this crazy busyness, where life seems non-stop, God asks me to stop for a moment and be with Him. To get in His word and soak in His peace and joy and satisfaction.

via pinterest

I once heard a speaker in our chapel talk about how God's word is like a breath of air. Have you ever been outside in the fall and breathed in deeply just as a gust of cool air whoooshes into your face? God's word is just like that. It is the freshest, most deeply satisfying breath of air.

So, dear friends, if you are stressed, burned out, overloaded, working non-stop, I would encourage you to take a moment to breathe. Breathe in the energizing air of God's word daily so you can be renewed in your mind, your heart, and your strength.

You can do it. Just breathe.

9.25.2011

The Fountain (Guest Post)

The forest is blooming with life…the fresh fragrance of the wildflowers and trees filling the air as a soft breeze sweeps around you, almost lifting and carrying you further down the path. You continue walking, drinking in the glorious beauty and the silence and wonder of it all as the woodland continues to come alive…as everything around you continues to sing anew and praise their Creator. Then you see it…glints of sunshine sparkling and shimmering on the water’s surface, beckoning you to come closer to the treasure that awaits you.

You make your way to the water’s edge and find yourself gazing into the clear, pristine spring water…taken aback by the vigorous and fresh life surrounding you, all nourished by this life sustaining blessing. You dip your hands into the spring, bring the gleaming water to your mouth, and as you drink it in, you are instantly filled…refreshed…and renewed; the glistening water a true treasure…a beautiful treasure.

“But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” ~John 4:14

“Even before we have a clear idea of what this image is referring to, we yearn for it because it seems to imply sweet coolness and refreshment; it implies moisture and growth and life…These very evocative words refer to something real…they are meant to put us in touch with something solid and powerful and living outside ourselves” (John Piper).

The water Christ gives us takes away our thirst forever…He satisfies every longing of our heart and promises to be our Sustainer, and it is all so truly beautiful. It’s in Him that we have a fountain of life, and it’s in Him that we live and are thus filled with His strength and comfort and love. Nothing refreshes my soul as much as being in His presence and walking with Him, because it is in Him I am strengthened, in Him I restored, and through Him I am transformed and made new.

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” ~John 7:37-38

Christ’s Words and life carry this living water, and “the essence of believing in Jesus is finding in Him the satisfaction of our deepest soul-thirst.” He promises that we will be satisfied. “When a drop of His water falls on the parched land of our soul, it doesn’t make a puddle; it makes a spring, and from the spring there flows a river. Drink in Christ by faith, pour Christ out in praise and love, and never thirst again; drink deep and savor the magnificence of Jesus who fulfills all” (John Piper).

“For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” ~Psalm 36:9

_________________________________________
Lauren Nicole is a young lady whose heart's desire is to live daily for her Heavenly Prince and Savior. A few of her favorite things include adventures, dreaming, simplicity, disney world, sunshine, orchestras, books, handwritten letters, kindred hearts, and diamond-filled skies. She is the authoress of the blog, With a Smile and a Song, where she hopes to inspire and encourage others to live wholeheartedly and courageously for Jesus Christ.

9.20.2011

Composer (Guest Post)

i’m a novelist.

it’s one of those things that slightly mandates my life, particularly during the month of November.

November is National Novel Writing Month. affectionately known to the writer world as the start of nanowrimo.

it is during this month that i and hundreds of other insane authours will embark upon one of the most incredible and frightening endeavours of our lifetimes.

50,000 words. 30 days. innumerable cups of coffee, endless playlists of Imogene Heap and Alex Goot, and a straight month of kissing midnight. 

one incredible novel.

or perhaps a collection of 50,000 words of ramble. it depends on how much sleep we get.

it’s this music we compose.



it’s the strangest collection of words and notes, all brought together to create one of the strangest masterpieces ever seen.

you wouldn’t think that all this stress, sleepless nights, and speed-writing would be worth anything at all.

but honestly, it’s gorgeous.

 it’s a flawless collaboration.

it leads to tears and pain and sometimes even a nightmare or two. it’s hard and full of longing.

but oh, the results.

it’s watching the birth of newness and the start of characters never once known. it’s creating magic upon the page.

time and
time and time
again.

kiss this inspiration. embrace the challenge.

write like the world is soon to end.

just pour out your soul

and write.

_________________________________________
This post was written by Rachel, a dreamy 20 year old newlywed with ink and Dr. Pepper for blood, and red velvet curtains and rose petals for a heart. She adores her amazing Savior with a passion she cannot describe. Her husband is her hero and her better half. Her family is beautiful, strong, and incredible. Her two best friends are breathtaking. Narnia is real. The wardrobe may be closed, but she will find another door. One day. Her letter to Hogwarts was lost in the mail...maybe, for her, they'll make an exception and let her take her place at the Gryffindor table under the banners of scarlet and gold. Her heart is made of red velvet curtains and sheet music, with a hint of rose petals for good measure....beating to the rhythm of Parisian streets and carriages passing atop cobblestone-paved avenues.

You can find Rachel at her blog Dramatic Elegance or at her Twitter (@souldancer1009)

9.16.2011

Because He delights in me

Recently, in my reading through the Psalms, I was struck with a vivid description in Psalm 18. In verses seven through fifteen, the author David describes God in such vivid, powerful terms that I could not help coming away awestruck. Listen to these powerful words:
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.

He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.

He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him -
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.

The LORD thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies
great bolts of lightning and routed them.

The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

Doesn't that take your breath away? But the even more amazing thing is in the next verse:
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.

And why did this all-mighty, totally powerful and incredibly HUGE God do this for me? Verse 19 has the answer:
He rescued me because he delighted in me. 

How amazing is this love? I can't even begin to comprehend it!

9.11.2011

Would you care for some tea? (Guest Post)

There are few things I love in the world so much as a good cup of tea. Worries and fears seem to seep away as I listen to the pleasant bubbling in the kettle and spoon some golden honey into the bottom of a flowered teacup. As I pause to sip the delicious liquid, I am completely and wholly content... that is, as content as we sinful humans can be. :P


"Tea is a cup of life." ~Author Unknown

tea |tē|


noun
a hot drink made by infusing the dried, crushed leaves of the tea plant in boiling water.

Now, since I like to be extremely thorough, I have chosen to include a very brief history of tea, to give this post a little background. There is a legend that a Chinese emperor first discovered tea in 2737 B.C. when tea leaves blew into his cup of hot water--this tale is not fact and we cannot be sure if this is really how the delicate beverage originated. No matter how it came into existence, though, we do know that tea has been enjoyed by many in the East for thousands of years, while those of us in the West have only been drinking it less than five centuries. 


"There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

In 1589, the Europeans were first exposed to tea when a Venetian author suggested it to be the reason behind the Asians' lengthy lives. After that, tea slowly began seeping its way into the Western culture, starting with the Dutch, who brought back green tea from the East in 1610. In 1662, it is stated that tea-drinking became so chic (due to the fact that the queen was a tea-drinker) that it replaced ale as the most popular beverage. Although it was rumored that black tea was enjoyed in the colonies, it wasn't until the year 1690 that tea was first publicly sold in a shop in Massachusetts. And of course, who can forget the famous "Boston Tea Party" in 1773 when American men--dressed as Indians--raided the British ships and dumped chests of tea into the harbour, all in protest against the British tax on tea. In 1840, it is told that the Duchess of Bedford introduced the British custom of afternoon tea, which has remained a tradition ever since. 


"There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea." ~Bernard-Paul Heroux

There is a common misunderstanding among Americans that "high tea" means a fancy afternoon tea. This is untrue. Afternoon tea (also called "low tea") takes place late in the afternoon. High tea, however, is taken around supper time and a much heavier meal accompanies it. The rules of British etiquette when it comes to tea-drinking are very specific. Here is something I found on a website about what is and what isn't considered proper:

"In order for one not to spill the hot liquid onto oneself, the proper way to hold the vessel of a cup with no handle is to place one’s thumb at the six o'clock position and one’s index and middle fingers at the twelve o'clock position, while gently raising one’s pinkie up for balance.

"Tea cups with a handle are held by placing one’s fingers to the front and back of the handle with one’s pinkie up again allows balance. Pinkie up does mean straight up in the air, but slightly tilted. It is not an affectation, but a graceful way to avoid spills. Never loop your fingers through the handle, nor grasp the vessel bowl with the palm of your hand.


Do not stir your tea, with your tea spoon, in sweeping circular motions. Place your tea spoon at the six o'clock position and softly fold the liquid towards the twelve o'clock position two or three times. Never leave your tea spoon in your tea cup. When not in use, place your tea spoon on the right side of the tea saucer. Never wave or hold your tea cup in the air. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer. If you are at a buffet tea hold the tea saucer in your lap with your left hand and hold the tea cup in your right hand. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer and hold in your lap.  The only time a saucer is raised together with the teacup is when one is at a standing reception.

Milk is served with tea, not cream. Cream is too heavy and masks the taste of the tea. Although some pour their milk in the cup first, it is probably better to pour the milk in the tea after it is in the cup in order to get the correct amount.


When serving lemon with tea, lemon slices are preferable, not wedges. Either provide a small fork or lemon fork for your guests, or have the tea server can neatly place a slice in the tea  cup after the tea has been poured. Be sure never to add lemon with milk since the lemon's citric acid will cause the proteins in the milk to curdle.


And now we come to the all-important question: loose-leaf tea or tea in a bag. My mother and father much prefer the loose leaf tea, and I will admit that it tastes more authentic. We can only purchase it a few times a year, because it is very expensive (we buy from Teavana). As for myself, I am quite content with a cup of Irish Breakfast (my favorite!) or Lady Grey tea. I also enjoy African Roibos, which a friend of ours introduced to us, and Vanilla Chai. While the tea in a bag is very simple to prepare (boil hot water, add the tea bag for your prefered amount of time, and add sugar and milk to taste), loose leaf tea is not quite so easy.  We purchase it in cans, on which there are instructions for how to brew the specific type of tea. There is a special metal tea bag in which the tea leaves are placed, and this is put in the teapot to brew for the requited amount of time. When finished, you pour your tea into a teacup, add milk/sugar/honey, and enjoy!



"We had a kettle; we let it leak: Our not repairing made it worse. We haven't had any tea for a week... The bottom is out of the Universe." ~Rudyard Kipling

I would be very blind if I were to end this post without making mention of something vastly important--tea parties. For if there is one thing that can improve teatime, 'tis a lovely friend with whom to share it. We have a very charming book called Let's Have a Tea Party! by Emilie Barnes (yes, I did have to include a book in this post :P), and it lists many creative and fun suggestions for how to plan your very own tea party. From a garden tea party to a Little Women-themed gathering, this book includes everything: even down to invitations, a suggested menu, and decorations. I loved pouring over it for hours when I was younger--is it any surprise to you that the Little Women and elegant British tea party ideas were my favorites? 


There are many other things I could include, such as delicious treats that go well with tea, but I suppose that will have to wait for another time lest this post turn into a novel. :) 

Happy tea-making, ladies! 

"You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me." ~C.S. Lewis 

Elizabeth Rose (also called Elizabeth, Lizzy Rose, or just plain Lizzy) is a young lady trying to do her best to live her life to His glory in a sinful world. She is far too old-fashioned for her own good. She loves long skirts, lace, window seats, and chatting with dear sisters in Christ over a cup of Irish Breakfast tea. Elizabeth is happily living at home, taught and instructed by her dear parents, along with her many little siblings. She blogs at Living on Literary Lane, where she reviews works of literature, posts poems, and shares her thoughts on every important matter under the sun, and at Unsinkable, an event blog she hosts with her sister dedicated to the centenntial of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic. Teatime is her favorite time of day, and she wishes she could somehow share it with you over the Internet. 

9.03.2011

Chests of Hope (Guest Post)

“And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” – Psalm 39:7

Hope chests are an old-fashioned tradition. As a young girl grows and prepares for her future marriage, she fills a special chest with precious things to give to her future husband and to adorn her future home. She thoughtfully writes love letters and poems, collects delicately-painted teacups, embroiders tablecloths…while she eagerly waits for her Prince Charming, daily preparing to better serve him and love him even before he arrives in her life.

As the Bride of Christ, we will one day enter into a marriage relationship far greater and more spectacular than any earthly romance. We will be blissfully united with our beloved King for all eternity. We will be constantly satisfied with sweet, intimate communion, and be fulfilled with the truest, deepest love.

“My beloved is mine, and I am his…” – Song of Solomon 2:16

All our hope is found in Jesus. Nothing in the world can replace the joy found in hope in Him. He is always, perfectly faithful, and we know that our hope will never be disappointed.

As His well-beloved, blood-bought Bride, have we ever thought of preparing ourselves for our Bridegroom? As we wait on Him to make “all things new,” are we storing up a “hope chest” for Him?

Are we treasuring precious, sacred things in our heart that are only for Him? Are we growing in His grace and truth? Do we joyfully offering Him the “sacrifices of praise” and the “fruits of our lips” (Hebrews 13:15)? Are we loving others and serving them even as unto Him?

Are we daily falling more in love with our Lord, Who Himself is Love incarnate?

Let us realise that each moment of our earthly lives we have the priceless opportunity to invest in our one everlasting relationship – with the King of kings and Lord of lords! May we not pass it by.

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:20-21
_______________________________________
A little snippet about the guest poster: Annie is a girl passionately in love with Jesus Christ. She writes for Passion Magazine and The Pursuit. Some of her favourite things are: majestic sunsets, worshipful music, heart-to-heart talk with kindred spirits, and her amazing family.

8.30.2011

Only the end of the overture

When we die, it's only the end of the overture. ~(said by a good friend of mine)
Have you ever listened to an overture? Sometimes old movies will play them in the beginning, while the credits roll. I believe "The Sound of Music" is that way. Before you even see the movie, you hear strains of "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" "The hills are alive..." "Do re me," and more. An overture pretty much gives you little tastes of each song - just enough for you to recognize them later.

Our lives are like an overture to heaven. Have you ever thought about this? For the Christian, when we die, it's not the end. It's only the end of the tastes we've gotten of heaven. We'll finally be in the real thing.

In our overture, all the melodies God weaves by and through our lives are simply snatches of the eternal song. Even the songs of sorrow, tragic tunes, refrains of remorse - God will transpose them to the major key in heaven. Then we'll see how much beauty He can make from tragedy.



It's a beautiful and comforting way to think of this life, isn't it? Yet these truths only apply to the one who has put their trust in God and is seeking to live by His Spirit and His standards here on earth. God only promises to work all things out for good for those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Is this you? When you die will the God of the Universe transpose the melody of your life into major and weave it in with the eternal song - or will your song continue to be one of sorrow and regret?

8.25.2011

Thoughts on Words (Guest Post)

Hello everyone! My name is Miss ALK and I’m the author of the blog Confessions of a Maine Teenager. I was so honored when Melody asked me to guest post for her! My post today is similar to one that I posted a couple months ago on my blog, with the same title… 

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. ~Proverbs 16:24 NIV 

One night back in July,  I was flipping through the book of Proverbs in my Bible, and the words “Pleasant words” caught my eye, and I stopped to read the worse, which was Proverbs 16:24. It really stuck out to me, and I felt as though that was just what I needed to hear, since speech and language are such important tools that we all use every day. This verse reminded me that they are a gift from the Lord, and we have to bless him in the ways that we use them!

As Christians, we need to be extremely careful about the words that we say, either in real life, online, or in our thoughts, because Christians are called to be an example to others. (Note: This doesn't mean that Christians are "better" then other people. That is entirely false, and all are created equal in God's eyes.) What I mean though is that typically when someone who is not a believer finds out that you are a Christian, they may begin to watch your actions and words a bit more closely, and we should try extra hard to be good examples, and show the "right" uses for words.

Cursing and using profanity is a sin, especially when it’s the Lord’s name in vain that is being used! Disappointing Him should be enough reason not to use these types of words, but another good reason not to is that foul language can help to ruin someone’s reputation. However, choosing not to curse doesn’t mean that you can never express anger. It just means to think twice about the type of language that you do to do so. For example, when I’m upset, I use words like “oh man,” “shoot,” and “oh gosh,” which are much better alternatives to cursing, and still get the point across!

Another thing that I thought about after reading this verse was how we can use words to encourage and uplift. This verse describes kind words as “sweet to the soul.” I think that everyone could use a little sweetness to the soul! Isn’t it nice when someone gives you a genuine compliment? It always brightens my day. :) Instead of complaining all of the time, how about trying to make someone else happy by telling them something kind? You’ll be surprised at how much better you will feel!

Now remember, no one is perfect, and there will be times when we will make mistakes with our words, and say things that are cruel or wrong. But amazingly, we serve a wonderful God who forgives us when we mess up! The most important thing is to thank God for his forgiveness, and learn from your mistake.

I hope that this post was an encouragement to you!

Blessings
xoxo Miss ALK


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About the guest poster: Miss ALK is a soon to be 17 year old teenager from Maine. She blogs at Confessions of a Maine Teenager, where she blogs about faith, friendship, fashion, music, entertainment and her life! She loves the ocean, bunnies, jewelry shopping, scrapbooking and the color aquamarine. She'd be honored if you visited her blog!

8.19.2011

Summer in a Jar

I wish I could capture summer. Bottle it up, so it would always be with me.

All images via pinterest

Don't get me wrong, I love fall & am getting pretty excited about the school year. But there's just something about summer...

Summer embodies freedom.



Summer in a Jar
© Melody 2010

Scoup up some wind,
Mold a mound of brilliant blue sky,
Pour in bird calls, cicada buzzes, and echoing laughter,
Sprinkle on some slurpy juciness, cold creaminess and grilled goodness,
Press together sun-washed grass, refreshing pool water, and a fragrant wildflower meadow,
Shake it all together
Stirring vigorously,
And there you have it.
Summer in a jar.

Do you wish you could keep summer with you always?

8.12.2011

Sometimes...

(all images via pinterest)
Sometimes those who spread the most light struggle the most with darkness.

Sometimes the roughest people turn out to be the softest.

Sometimes those who look like they have it all together are the ones who need the most encouragement.

Sometimes the strongest are only completed by the weak.


Sometimes those who say "You are beautiful," don't believe that about themselves.

Sometimes the prickliest people are the ones who need the most love.

Sometimes those who say they'd rather go it alone simply want someone to hold their hand.

Sometimes the simplest things are the most beautiful.



Sometimes sometimes happens most of the time.

8.06.2011

To spread beauty

I've been reading Lynnette Kraft's excellent posts on the reasons for blogging. (I would definitely encourage you to read them - she gives a lot of helpful tips on what makes blogging beneficial for you and your readers.) As I've read them, I'm finding my goal for this blog narrowed and strengthened. I've typically posted thoughts on what God has been teaching me, events in my life (especially musical ones), samples of my writing, and devotional/encouragements. And I believe the thing that ties these all together is one word: beauty.

To me, beauty is more than just something that strikes you as "perfect" or "pleasing." Beauty is more than something external - it is the evidence of God.

The subtitle of my blog says "Painting beauty across the palette of life," and that is exactly what I desire to do with this blog. Sharing the beauty in the everyday, the fictional, the musical, even in the painful. I want to detect and magnify the evidence of Christ that I see everywhere around me. And I hope that in painting beauty through my words, pictures, and music, that you may see it and be encouraged to do the same in your own life.


All that said, I am in need of bloggers to help me continue in spreading beauty throughout this school year. The school year is coming up fast, and with it, sadly, will be a much diminished amount of free time for me. So I would like to recruit at least ten guest posters for the school year.

If you would like to guest post for me, send me an email (find it up at the top right under "contact me"). Let me know what you'd consider writing on, and I'll pick the top ten. Thank you so much, sweet bloggers - and continue spreading beauty!

7.31.2011

I've Come to Realize...

So awhile ago there was this tag on facebook about different things you've come to realize about yourself, life, and other things. I thought it looked like a cool tag, so I decided to start it up on the blog world. Feel free to take it (or parts of it) and spread it around! 

1. I've come to realize that my hair: will cooperate with just about anything I do to it.

2. I've come to realize that when I talk: I need to be genuine.

3. I've come to realize that if I make a mistake: it's okay. I can't be perfect, though I ought to strive for that in Christ.

4. I've come to realize that all I really need: is God. He is more than enough to satisfy me.

5. I've come to realize that I've lost: a lot of sleep at college. :P

6. I've come to realize that I hate: how the world has twisted, broken and bent out of shape so many good things that God has created.

7. I've come to realize that money: needs to be kept track of.

8. I've come to realize that when I get old: my witness will be an even greater testimony and encouragement to others than it is now.

9. I've come to realize that I'll always be: a musician at heart.


10. I've come to realize that I have a crush on: someone who I'm striving to be simply a sister in Christ to.

11. I've come to realize that the last time I cried: I was on the phone with a friend.

12. I've come to realize that my cell phone: is kind of essential for a college student.

13. I've come to realize that when I wake up in the morning: it's God who wakes me up.

14. I've come to realize that before I go to sleep at night I: like to get a hug.

15. I've come to realize that right now I am thinking about: too many things at once...

16. I've come to realize that my life: can be used by God to bring Him glory - only when I'm satisfied in Him.

17. I've come to realize that when I get on Facebook: my productivity level goes way down...

18. I've come to realize that today I will: be practicing music for most of my waking hours.

19. I've come to realize that tonight I will: probably still be practicing.

20. I've come to realize that tomorrow I will: always have a fresh start.


21. I've come to realize that I really want to: be with those I love forever. Never leave.

22. I've come to realize that I really dislike to: be stressed out and not have enough time for the people I love.

23. I've come to realize that relationships are: vital and yet so difficult to keep healthy.

24. I've come to realize love: is a lot deeper and more time-consuming than presented in movies.

25. I've come to realize my best guy friend(s): are not many.

26. I've come to realize my best girl friend(s): are one of the best gifts God has given to me.

27. I've come to realize food: (homemade food) is awesome, and I should appreciate it more.

28: I've come to realize that this summer: is almost over, and has been such a blessing for me.

29. I've come to realize heartbreaks: are not something I want in my life if I can at all help it.

30. I've come to realize that my parents: are the best counselors and friends besides my Heavenly Father.


31. I've come to realize that my sister(s)/brother(s): don't have to come from the same family - and they love me more than I know.

32. I've come to realize that crying: is often healing. And it's ok to do, even in front of people.

33. I've come to realize that death: has been conquered by Christ my Lord!

34. I've come to realize that if I'm sick: I hate being a total invalid. I still try to be up doing things, even if I really should be in bed.

35. I've come to realize when I'm bored: there must be something wrong with me. I'm never bored.

36. I've come to realize that my sibling(s): are one of the best gifts God has given me.

37. I've come to realize that work: (a job) is hard to come by, especially for a pianist with little experience in other fields.

38. I've come to realize that family: is so very precious.

39. I've come to realize when I go shopping: I get consumed too easily.

40. I've come to realize that my car: is still currently nonexistent... :P


41. I've come to realize my boyfriend/girlfriend: will only be revealed to me in God's perfect timing.

42. I've come to realize that God: is bigger and stronger and wiser than I ever imagined.

43. I've come to realize I let out my emotions by: playing the piano or talking with someone.

44. I've come to realize I wish I would've: formed a close relationship with my mom earlier.

45. I've come to realize that high school: was fun, but not as fun as college. ;)

46. I've come to realize that music: will always be a part of my life.

47. I've come to realize that time: can be my friend if I use it wisely.

48. I've come to realize that books: are best shared with a friend, or even read aloud.

49. I've come to realize that nature:'s beauty is only a tiny reflection of God's character.

50. I've come to realize that sunsets:, while gorgeous, are not as beautiful as sunrises, in my opinion.


51. I've come to realize that secrets: are usually not wise.

52. I've come to realize that hugs: make me feel especially loved.

53. I've come to learn that smiles: are one of the best things to give away.

54. I've come to realize that laughter: brightens up my life like fireworks on a clear night.

55.I've come to realize that tears: can heal.

56. I've come to realize that faith: is what I must live by every day. ("The righteous shall live by their faith.")

57. I've come to realize that trust: is how I want to approach my Savior.

58. I've come to realize that hot cocoa: is not as good as tea... though much better than coffee, in my opinion!

59. I've come to realize that political parties: will never be perfect until Christ's 1,000 year reign.

60. I've come to realize that life: is one huge blessing, no matter how rough the road. Simply to breathe and move and be is an amazing gift from my almighty God!

If you liked the daisy pictures, feel free to hop over here for more of them on my photography blog.

7.27.2011

Dear friends...

Today is my birthday!

God has blessed me so much this past year - He's taught me the meaning of His strength, His joy, and His peace no matter what circumstances I'm facing. He's blessed and enriched my life - and I can't wait to see what is in store for this next year!


On this occasion, I thought it would be fitting to share one of my poems with you. I hope you enjoy it. :)


Stop and savor
The flavor
Of God’s presence.


 Just the way the sky looks,
Peace floating in the air,
A song carrying the breeze,
Joy coming from nowhere.


Satisfaction striking me
With sudden clarity.
Love sparkling my sight
With all the creativity of light.


Oh, stop and savor
The flavor
Of God’s presence –
In this world,
In this life,
In me.
© Melody 2010


7.25.2011

All about Him

As I was reading my Bible this morning, I came across this passage in Colossians:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

I've always loved these verses, but this time I read them I really tried to think about what it meant to live in Christ, to be rooted and built up in him.There's a lot packed into these two short verses.

From the very beginning of the verse, it's evident that I ought to live in Christ as I have received him. And how have I received him? As Lord. So my day to day living ought to always be with the attitude that He is my Lord, and I am His servant. He is my Master, I am His slave. My time, my possessions, my thoughts, my actions, my very life is not my own; it is a gift from my Master to use for Him.

As I live in Christ, I must also be rooted and built up in Him. I cannot just "abide" passively; I must dig down deep, always desiring to know more of Him. He sinks my rootlets down into real roots when I study and apply His word to my life. And He builds my character house up high when I listen to His voice and obey.

I must also be careful to continue in the same faith as I was taught, and not waver from the seemingly simple truths. Do I remind myself daily that Jesus loves me, that He died on the cross to save me? Do I remember that God is my Maker and made everything I can see (and more besides)?

The end of the verse could easily be skimmed over, but I think it's the most important. After all these other foundations are laid down - living in Christ, being rooted and built up in Him, and strengthened in the faith - then the natural result is overflowing with thankfulness to God. Thankfulness that He would use me as His servant, that He would root and build me up in Himself, and that He would be willing to die for me. As you can see, it's all about Him - we are simply the blessed beneficiaries of His grace. Oh that I would seek to praise Him even more!

7.17.2011

Bucket List

I always thought the idea of a bucket list was interesting. But not interesting enough for me ever to make one.


Well, after reading this post by the lovely Polka Dot, I decided it would be worth a try. So here is my bucket list, right off the top of my head, in the random order I think if it:

Have at least one of my books published

Record my music in a real recording studio

Have a CD of my music published (with a recording label)

Bring someone to Christ

Play the violin (as well as guitar and cello) in church or a worship setting and have it really feel musical/worshipful

Play in a piano trio and perhaps tour or record.
Take voice lessons and develop my voice

Fall in love with and marry a godly young man

Have as many children as God provides (though I like the idea of having four... ;) )

Get (and know how to use) a DSLR camera

Own a mac

Visit a real castle

Play a pipe organ

Have one of my piano students continue on in music as their career

And that's all I can think of at the moment. :) What's on your bucket list?

 

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