What would life be like if your identity was wrapped up in something that could change in an instant? How would you live knowing that anything that happened to that one thing would cause your whole world to fall apart?
I jammed one of my fingers yesterday playing Frisbee. This morning I woke up and it had swelled some during the night, even though I put ice on it as soon as I jammed it. I started to freak out a little, because I've jammed fingers before and had them not heal completely until like a month afterward. And I kind of need my fingers right now, since I am a piano major at college.

As I was freaking out about all this, it suddenly hit me. I was wrapping my identity around my ability to play the piano. My ability to play the piano is definitely something that can change in an instant, as has been brought to my attention before (see this post about how I had to learn this same thing freshman year). If I let my identity become wrapped up in playing the piano, my whole world can be shattered very easily with an injured finger, wrist, arm, back, or anything. But, if I remember that my identity is wrapped up in the love of God which will never change, then I can stand secure.

I like to think of the comparison this way. I can define myself either as a Pianist Who Follows God, or as a Daughter of the King Who Plays the Piano. As a Pianist Who Follows God, something like a jammed finger is a huge deal, because playing the piano is my main focus. But as a Daughter of the King Who Plays the Piano, a jammed finger can be seen in His perspective. My goal is no longer simply to be a good pianist, but to glorify God.

This means that whatever happens with my fingers, hands, arms, back, health, emotions, anything - all of it is an opportunity to point people to God. Even if it's as simple as saying, "Yeah, I jammed my finger and probably won't be able to practice for a couple of days, but I'm okay with it because I know God is in control." That brings God glory.

And by God's grace, this is what I aim to do today.

What is your identity wrapped up in? Do you truly rest in the unchanging love of God, or are there other things that you identify yourself with?


Button Swap

Bree over at Tea & Bree is having a button swap, and happily I was invited to join. I'm so glad I did, because through it I got to meet a brand new blogging friend whose blog I had somehow missed in my time so far in the blogosphere. I'm still surprised that I didn't run across her blog before, seeing as her blog (not to mention her writing) is amazing. It was a lot of fun to interview her (as well as be interviewed by her), and I hope you all will hop over to her blog and see for yourself how beautiful her writing is.

So, I give you: Jenny, from The Penslayer.
(My questions are in bold, and her answers are directly after.)

Well, first off I have to ask: where did the title of Penslayer come from? How did you originally decide to start a blog?
You know that saying, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”  Everyone knows that saying.  Well, the story goes, on a forum of which I used to be a part I would post pieces of my work: snippets from large stories, one-shots, short stories, those kinds of things.  It really helped build my confidence because I would get sound criticism and, in general, people liked my work.  And one time a friend of mine liked a piece I had written so much that she said, “Jenny, you’ve penslain me!”  And suddenly I became The Penslayer and I made a name for myself slaying people with my prose.  (There must be a story in that…)  The name stuck, and when I made my writing blog I had a name ready to hand: The Penslayer.  As for why I had to start the blog, I started it right around the time my book The Shadow Things came out to help carve a niche for myself on the internet and get my name out there.  It seems to have done none too badly!

About you: if you could pick three words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Elemental.  Ginger.  Sehnsucht.

Describe the perfect day.
The perfect day is in autumn with clear air and only a few clouds, cool but not cold, with plenty of sun to make you warm again, the maples in full flaming foliage, and a bonfire somewhere filling the air with a sweet fragrance.

What would you say inspires you to write books? What do you do to ignite the spark or keep the words flowing?
Reading helps me most.  Sometimes music helps, if I already have an idea and just need the impetus to write it down, but reading helps the most.  When I am dry, when I can’t think of anything or (which happens more often) I simply don’t feel that I want to write, I find a good book of fiction, sit down, and read.  When I get caught up in the glory of the novel I find I am fighting the itch to go write myself, and I soon leave the book behind and am back at the computer, writing my own scrawling fire-ink on the page.  Jealousy in a woman is a powerful catalyst.  I cannot long stand to be outdone by the masters.  I must imitate them.

If you could wish for anything in the world, what would it be?
To do magic.  Really nice, instantaneous magic with pretty lighting.  But no one would let me do it because I would make River Tam look like a Girl Scout.  C’est la vie.

What kind of music do you most like to listen to, and why? Could you list a couple of your favorite songs?
I don’t know the music genres, so I can’t answer that.  I listen to music (I can answer this) because I must: there are some things in life, many things in life, some snatches of words, some emotions, many truths, which cannot be adequately communicated or received apart from music.  I am, as to that, keeping a rough list of the songs that seem to help me as I write Plenilune.  To date, they are the following:
You As You Were—Shearwater
Animal Life—Shearwater
Viva La Vida—Coldplay
Brother, Stand Beside Me—Heather Dale
Sherwood—Heather Dale
Dementia—Owl City
Take It All Away—Owl City
Lothlorien—Lord of the Rings Musical
Wonder—Lord of the Rings Musical
Now and For Always—Lord of the Rings Musical
Breaking Through—Audrey Assad
Show Me—Audrey Assad

Since you are a writer, I’m sure you are a reader as well. Can you name your top ten favorite books and why they resonate with you?
My train of thought wrecked.  There were no survivors.  I want to answer this question with the caveat that these titles are my favourites to date.  The more I read and the more I grow the more these books are replaced by better ones.  (And thank you for giving me ten titles, not just one.) 
The Gammage Cup—Carol Kendall
The Worm Ouroboros—E.R. Eddison
The Eagle of the Ninth—Rosemary Sutcliff
The Silver Branch—Rosemary Sutcliff
Simon—Rosemary Sutcliff
The Shield Ring—Rosemary Sutcliff
The Ballad of the White Horse—G.K. Chesterton
The Great Divorce—C.S. Lewis
Perelandra—C.S. Lewis
The Hobbit—J.R.R Tolkien

I see you have published a book! That is awesome (and I am quite jealous)! Can you tell me a bit about your book and the journey you had to publication?

I didn’t really think about why I was writing The Shadow Things while I was in the process; it was only when I had finished (or nearly finished) that I looked back and discovered I had explored the torment endured by a lonely Christian soul in a thoroughly anti-Christian environment—but more than that, many of us know what it is like to hurt and be lonely: I had written a character who knew how to live it, to rise to it, to walk almost joyfully through an oppressive life.  We know what it is like to be crushed: in Indi I discovered what it looked like to glory in this momentary light affliction.  It is, in a novel, a depiction of those in the Beatitudes.

The journey to the publication of The Shadow Things was unusually short, and two years and several subsequent stories have blurred my memory.  Somehow I wrote that odd critter called a query letter and, among the houses I contacted (unagented) I found one that took me.  We were on the verge of the Christmas market so it was really a rush to get The Shadow Things through so that it would be out on time.  That, too, makes it quite a blur.  We had book signings (very new experience) and a television interview (VERY new experience), and it really happened so quickly that it was really only in the past few months of this year (2012) that it really struck me: I’m an author. 

What other works in progress are you currently working on?
I have quite a number of ideas at varying stages.  We’ll focus on the core three.  Adamantine, for a long time my magnum opus, is a finished fantasy that I am currently in the process of finding an agent for.  (Ended that sentence with a preposition!  Oh yeah!)  To either baffle you or pique your interest, I will tell you that it combines Victorian England, Beowulf, Faerie, an ancient god, and a tip of the hat to the Roman Empire.  It makes sense.  You’ll just have to wait for the novel to come out to find out how.  It’s companion novel, Plenilune, is what I am writing now.  This deals with another Victorian girl placed as a pawn on the political chessboard of a confederacy bereft of a ruler and not liking the candidate for ruler that is lined up to govern them.  It deals with politics, magic, treachery, love, and war.  It is a full, red-blooded story and I am enjoying writing it.  The third book, which I have not begun to write but is also meant to be a companion to the other two, is Gingerune, about the product of a ruinous war between two powerful races and about the secret that slumbers, waiting to be discovered, that will turn the world upside down.

What is your favorite genre to write in? Are there any genres you haven’t attempted or tend to avoid?

My favourite genre to write is fantasy.  It gives you more room than historical fiction does simply because you’ve got to get your facts right in historical fiction: someone already came up with those.  In fantasy, however, though you are allowed to come up with your own facts, one is handicapped simply because fantasy has to make more sense than reality: the reader will suspend his disbelief only so long: you can’t just wildly break every physical and ethical law we all take for granted.  Fantasy really does demand a lot from the writer.  But I love it all the same: it allows me to best express my own imagination and communicate what I see and feel.  I have written a little science fiction, nothing worth mentioning (no really, don’t mention it), and I tend to steer clear of contemporary fiction.  I’m sure there are some great contemporary authors out there and I just haven’t found them yet, but my style suffers an almost fatal blow when I try to write contemporary.  Everyone notices it.  I notice it.  And so I avoid it.

I would love to see some excerpts of your work, if you are willing to share.

From Plenilune:
I spoke with Mark Roy this evening before coming up to my room.  Somehow he got out of me, in one of those moments in which politeness must disarm my tongue, that I am leaving tomorrow, and I was surprised to see that he seemed genuinely sorry.  Perhaps he believes Centurion and Lord Gro.  Perhaps my episode in the woods has helped prove to him that I am not willingly Rupert’s pawn, that I should wish better things for them—as if wishing had any weight.  He was sorry, and urged me to visit them in Orzelon-gang’s capital some day.  Of course I told him that I would—what else could I have said?—and he began to tell me of its beauty, a little like a man who is homesick, and the strange thing was that I felt he was painting a portrait of his wife as he spoke.  He talked of the black marble, that is native to Plenilune, with which his home is made, and of the many little streams and pools that run all through it, making music in the background, and the great red and gold fish that they keep which flicker like flames in the watery dark.  He spoke of the golden dragons which are the doorposts of the house, of the lotus gardens that make the grounds look as if the sky has come down among them when the plants are all in bloom.  I thought of strange, beautiful Romage and her harp-music, of the red-and-gold thread of her hair and song, and the huge orchestral dark behind her, and wondered if Mark Roy thought of that too when he spoke of his home, and if that was why he sounded homesick.
From Adamantine:
Everything seemed to come from far away to Adamant, drifting on the silver-rimmed rush of storm-sound from without: and herself, she fancied, in a hollow shell, cupped by timber walls as the storm surged around her, the warmth of fire and malt and small beer porridge fortifying her against the cold noise of the wind-surf.  But just at the moment sleep was stealing upon her, and she thought somewhere in the confusion of sounds that she heard a voice calling her name, a child shrieked with laughter, and the silver spell was broken.
Rhodri took her empty bowl from her and passed it to the fairy woman.  “I apologize; my conversation is boring you to sleep.”
She was too tired to even feel embarrassment.  “Small wonder she’s dropping asleep as she sits,” the woman remarked.  She was aware of a grey, bundly, mothy creature hustling over to her, and she was suddenly loathe to let go of the hand which Rhodri extended to her to help her up.  “After a long ride in the sleet-swale, small wonder—tsk! small wonder!”
“Eikin,” said Rhodri.
The familiar warm-smelling figure of the Catti loomed beside her.  “Come in-by, firur,” he murmuring to her, and she stumbled off Rhodri’s hand onto his arm, catching herself with a wave of self-consciousness in order to walk steadily.  But she was blind-weary, and confused with food and drink; yet even in her weariness, as one would be aware of a thing in a dream, she was aware of Rhodri’s sharp eyes on the back of her neck, watching her go, watching Eikin go.  Even as she passed out of sight into a long dark hall, with a softness of feather-stuffed mattress somewhere in the depths of the dark, she felt that awareness looking after her still. 
“Mind that I’ll be by the door,” she heard Eikin say, and she did not understand what he meant.  “Call if you need anything.”
Then he left, and she let her fingers slip on consciousness entirely, falling into a dreamless place where she heard the sough of the wind and the drumming of Andor’s breath, and someone from very far away—far away as years are far away—calling her name.

And that's it! Don't you love these excerpts? Even though I don't know anything of either of these stories, she's drawn me in where I'm left wondering what's next. I would highly recommend you check out her blog and read more of her writing for yourself. And head over to Bree's blog where she has listed the rest of the lovely ladies participating in her button swap!


The Daughter of Time

I have been reading a lot of books this summer. A friend challenged me to see which of us could read the most pages from May to August (when we go back to school). Currently we're neck and neck at a bit over 4,000 words read!

Since I have been consuming books in such large quantities, I thought it would be fun to review some of them for you. I've been reading such varied books as Crazy Love by Francis Chan, Alpha Centauri by Robert Siegel, Father Brown books by G. K. Chesterton, some Janette Oke books, and also I even started the Harry Potter series (which I will definitely post about once I've finished).

But there was one book that I read that I knew I must share with you. I had actually read it some years ago, but only had a vague memory of intrigue and suspense with a bit of humor... and a very satisfying ending. When I read it this time I remembered why I liked it so much.

The book is called The Daughter of Time, and it's written by Josephine Tey (which, by the way, is a pseudonym, though I'm not sure why the author chose to have one). It is a mystery, but a very different sort of mystery than you usually read. The detective is not trying to figure out "whodunit" (at least not at first), the crime is not current (in fact, it is centuries old), the setting is a hospital room, and the case doesn't even seem like one at first.

To sum the story up in one sentence, The Daughter of Time is a story about a detective ("Inspector Grant") who decides to solve the mystery of the little princes in the tower. He comes upon this mystery because of a picture of Richard the Third, which to him does not look like the picture of an evil man who would murder his own nephews who were merely children. So, he begins to investigate, and uncovers a deeper mystery than he could have known.

I love this book because of the way it challenges you to think and really dig deep before simply accepting history books as "facts." When this book was written, it sparked many people to unearth the truth on Richard the Third for themselves. The book is also a fun (and rather quick) read, though the references to almost all of the royal lines in the War of the Roses can get very confusing sometimes. (Why did there have to be so many Henrys?) I also love the style of language the author uses: it's witty and engaging, and yet also demonstrates a masterful use of language.

The title of the book comes from the Francis Bacon quote: "Truth is rightly named the daughter of time, not of authority." I would encourage you to read the book and decide for yourself - do you believe that? Or does truth withstand time - even if our perception of it does not?



 "..that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17b-19 (NASB, emphasis mine)

Isn't it amazing that God has given us knowledge of something we can't even grasp? Like the concept of fullness: God has given us the desire for it, the ability to perceive it, even a name for it. But true fullness in life is being completely filled with God - something we never can really know in its entirety until we get to heaven.

Even Christians, who do experience a measure of the fullness of Christ now, cannot perfectly be filled with Him until we have our heavenly bodies - without sin or desire of sin.

Doesn't it make you long for that day, when that emptiness that all mankind aches with will finally be filled for those who are in Christ? And doesn't it make you long to tell others so that they too might have the sure hope of true fulfillment?


You Know You're A Music Major #2

I was looking back in my old posts, and I saw this post that I wrote my freshman year of college. I thought it only fitting that I should add to it, since I have now completed another year and have more music major-ness seeped into me. ;) So without further ado, here are more evidences of my music major craziness.

You know you're a CU music major if...

...The practice room/music lounge is your second home

...You've slept, studied, skyped, cried, or prayed under a piano in a practice room.

...You know solfege is a way to sing, not a food.

...You're in multiple music ensembles... because you want to be.

...Singing in class is perfectly normal.

...One of the best days of your life is when you've finished your last aural skills test.

...You see the same people every day in class, the practice room, and everywhere else.

...You know the form of torture called "Death by MacGamut"

...Tour guides talking about the practice rooms are always a source of amusement.

...you know everyone in your department by instrument over name.

...Is there life outside of the music building?


My Psalms

This past school year had a lot of ups and downs for me. It was probably my busiest and most stressful year yet, and I often had to fight away worry and fear. And yet it also was my most fruitful and encouraging year, as I saw God bring me through each busy day, stressful situation, and difficult discussion.

There was a time towards the end of my year when my hands began hurting like my freshman year. I wrote these two Psalms during that time. The amazing thing is that my second psalm was written only one day after the first. 

I thought I would share them with you in hopes that they will encourage you. No matter where you are, remember that you can pour out your heart before God. Remind yourself of His love and power - and be amazed at what He can do.

via pinterest

Melody's First Psalm: Lament

Oh Lord, rescue me -
For I am weak and doubtful both in mind and soul.
Rescue me from my fears,
These anxieties that will not go away.
They well up in me like a flood
Whenever I think of my struggle,
My difficulties with the piano.

Give me grace, oh God, to trust You as I ought.
Give me perseverance.
Let me not grow impatient with myself,
Or give up because I don't understand how.

Teach me, oh Lord.
You created the piano,
You created me.
Surely You best know how those two fit together.

But I will trust in Your sovereign hand.
Even as I struggle, I will quiet my heart
With remembrance of Your omnipotence.
You see past this hurdle
And in Your eyes it is but a small hump
A mere blip in my existence.
Help me to keep Your eyes in my heart.

via pinterest

Melody's Second Psalm: Joy

Oh Lord, I will praise You.
My joy knows no limit,
It overflows though my life
Like a flood; I cannot contain it.

For You have rescued me from fear
And strengthened my mind to understand the technique
You've granted me a taste of victory -
Oh that I would always praise you like this!

Oh that I would worship You always,
For You have done things I despaired of.

Great are You, Lord.


All I Have is Christ

I don't usually post videos on here, but when a friend shared this video on facebook, I was moved to tears.

Turn off the music, blow this up to fullscreen, and just watch. Think about what Christ has done for you. No matter if you were the worst sinner in the world or have never done any "big" sins - without Christ we are all lost in darkness, bound for hell. And yet He sacrificed His life so that you and I might live... not for ourselves, but for Him. 

Watch this with an open heart. Let the words change you. Join me in asking yourself, "Can I truly say that all I have is Christ?"

p.s. if you like this video, check out "prodigal," also by the same guy on youtube.


Odd days

{Listening to this song sparked this blog post.}

Today is an odd day. 
A day I feel like writing,
But somehow cannot 
bring myself 
to write.

A day to stand
and watch the world 
outside my window 
brighten, then dim
dapple, then dark.

Running in the rain
Capturing drops
On pink petals
silhouetted against 
a peek of sun.

My days at home have 
been like this:
disparate mixtures 
of creativity and toil,
quiet and rush.

Summer seems to 
do that - mix up moods,
schedules, thoughts, time;
but somehow this muddle is
the best soil for beauty to bloom.


Down the Piano-Teaching Path

Ever since I started playing the piano at age seven, I knew I wanted to do something with my life involving music. Eventually, after being thrust into the teaching world by a few well-meaning moms who wanted me to teach piano to their children, I decided that I might like to teach piano. So I advertised and soon built up a small studio of piano students.
I had no prior teaching experience other than helping my brothers with their homework, so I learned much by trial and error. Oftentimes I simply made up things as the lesson went along. I wanted to teach well, but I just didn’t know enough. As time went on I gained more and more experience, but I still felt like I was short-changing the kids I was teaching. I needed real training to be the best piano teacher that I could be. 

Enter Cedarville University, a small Christian college with a major that fit my calling. The major is called Keyboard Pedagogy, and it is designed specifically for students who want to go on to teach piano from their home or studio. Cedarville is actually the only Christian college within a reasonable drive of my home to offer this degree, and so I was overjoyed when everything lined up for me to be able to go there.

I have now just finished my sophomore year at Cedarville University, and already it has made an incredible impact on my life. I’ve learned more than I thought there was to learn about music and teaching, and I still have two more years to go! I also have already had the opportunity to teach piano students at the school, which has helped me apply my knowledge to a real-life setting. Next year I will be observed and critiqued while I teach, which I know will challenge me to get out of the teaching ruts I’m in and become a better, more creative teacher. This teacher observation is a valuable aspect of the pedagogy degree, and one many schools do not offer.

But probably the most impacting part of my degree and the college itself is the people. I have seen the value of getting to know a person so you can encourage them, speak truth to them, and build into their life. If I had not gone to Cedarville, I don’t think I would have experienced this, and in turn, learned how to do this for others.

I know that because of the strict training I am receiving at Cedarville I will be able to be a successful piano teacher anywhere, but I also know that because of the people who have poured their lives into me, I will be able to pour my life into the students that I teach. And to me, shaping a life is just as important, if not more important, than teaching the skill of playing the piano.



 The world glows,
awash with color
bright trees dancing 
in the epiphany
of wind and light.

I can't get enough of this
glorious outdoors
with the one splash of sun
that colors my back

With no deadlines
squeezing my creativity,
My eyes are finally open
To the beauty all around me.
I am free.

 I am home.



This post convicted me tonight.

To tell you in all honesty, I'm jealous of how the author of the blog talks about God. Even as a Christian, I know I don't let Him into my life that deeply. I fill my mind with so many other things - homework, responsibilities, friendships, dreams, hopes... and then slip God in there and hope that He penetrates all the other sections I've partitioned my mind into. It's like the boxes I once referred to.

I even did this on Easter. Out of any day you would think that Easter would point me to God's love, but instead my mind was filled with making sure I got enough homework done, practiced adequately, played the offertory at church well, talked to enough people, etc. The church service was good, with many truths that stood out to me that I could apply to my life. But as soon as I took note of them I tucked them away into a nice little corner of my brain and haven't looked at them since.

I desire an ever deeper relationship with God, but I don't have it. I don't even really seek it.

I don't mind being "the one who is obsessed about music" in my group of friends, so why do I shrink from being labeled as "the one who is obsessed with Jesus?" Why do I treat Him as a section of my tidy little life, when He desires all of me? It's no wonder that I don't feel close to Him - how can you feel close to someone who you constantly push away?

It's hard to admit failure, even when you are simply typing words on a screen, but this is true. I have failed in loving God more.

And yet this is where I am made aware of His grace, wafting around me like an invisible scent. So faint I fail to catch it most of the time. Only when I am aware of my own inadequacies do I take note of His grace and breathe it in.

And only then do I realize that I've been holding my breath this whole time.  



The night is so dark before the sun arrives. You can't tell anything about the outdoors - if there are clouds in the sky, frost on the grass, or a tree right in front of you. The darkness permeates everything. 

via pinterest
Then slowly, faintly, the black of night peels off the world, revealing brilliant colors. The sky melts into a soft yellow-blue, grass reveals its greenness, buildings rise out of their shadows in various shades of brown and grey.

via pinterest

So it is with my life: God is peeling the black of my sinful self off and slowly but surely revealing more and more of His brilliant glory in my life.

What needs to be peeled off of you so that God's glory can more clearly shine through your life?


My prayer for this day

Oh Lord,

Just knowing that You are near satisfies my soul. There is nothing I can compare You to - my deepest aching longing, the cry for perfect all-knowing-yet-all-accepting love, the joy of unexpected kindness, a warm embrace, sudden sunshine on my face - all is a pale shadow, a dim fuzzy image of You.

You are the reason I live, the reason I get up each morning and breath and work and love and learn. You are the reason for me to reach out in love and brokenness to other hurting people - regardless of if they look like they have it all together or if they push me away and hurt me. Regardless of how I'm feeling or how my pride says to stop wasting my efforts on them or if they have begun to fade from my life. You have given me a call to love, and so love I must.

Come fill my mind and my heart with the overwhelmingly joyful fact that You love me always. You loved me first. And when this truly sinks in - how can I help but respond in overflowing praise and adoration?

Oh Lord, help me to love today, in ways that are not just sweet or thoughtful but ways that show You.

In my Savior Jesus' name I pray,


I am

I am a pianist. This is how I have always defined myself.

(via pinterest)
That is, until my freshman year at Cedarville, when God taught me that this wasn’t entirely accurate. And unfortunately, He had to teach me this the hard way.

I’m a piano pedagogy major, which means I want to teach piano from my home or a studio. It also means that I practice – a lot. I’m at the piano at least two hours each day, if not more.

My second semester of freshman year, I started feeling sharp pains whenever I practiced the piano. I was being taught that “If it hurts, it’s wrong,” and so I had to stop playing for awhile as I, my teacher, and concerned fellow pianists tried to figure out what was wrong.

Was I using bad technique? My teacher didn’t think so. Was I playing too strenuous material? Of course not. Was it signs of carpel tunnel? The symptoms didn’t point to that. And on and on down the list. There didn’t seem to be anything horribly wrong with the way I played – yet every time I tried to practice I inevitably would experience pain and have to stop.

For at least a month I practiced only lightly for maybe 15 or 20 minutes a day. It was definitely one of the hardest times for me. My beloved piano playing – which was not only my major & career, but also my identity and way of expressing myself – was pretty much taken away from me. There were days I cried at the piano, days I was angry at my hands and played through the pain. I had based so much of my worth on playing the piano that when it was taken away from me I hardly knew what to do with myself. At times I felt like I had no purpose anymore.

But God gently and insistently taught me during that time just how important He was in my life: reminding me that I am his child, first and foremost. It doesn’t matter what I can or cannot do in this world – simply to be His gives me purpose enough.

Most of this I knew from my church’s teachings and reading the Bible, yet it had never sunk in in such a profound way before. Often we don’t let things that we know affect our life until we’re forced to come face to face with them.

I was forced to surrender and believe that if God took my ability to play my instrument completely from me, I would still be whole. Because I am his.

That was such a hard surrender, but by God’s grace, I was able to lay my piano playing at His feet. And you know what? Soon after I laid it down, He gave it back to me. Slowly, sometimes maddeningly slowly, but he restored my hands. I was able to pinpoint a few things that might have caused the problem, and build up my strength with short, “light” practices and plenty of stretching. And throughout it all I had to hold to the promise – God is my father, and He loves me. He does what’s best for me.

I am a pianist. But a better way to define me is:
a daughter of the Most High God,
who, by God’s grace,
plays the piano.

(This post was originally a guest post at my friend Kim's blog, Thinking Deeply. Reposted with permission.)


Undeserved Favor

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. ~Ephesians 3:16b-19

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~Ephesians 2:8-10

I've seen firsthand the effects of showing God's kind of love to other people. Unconditional love (which can only come from God), has the power to change people, to build them up, strengthen their faith, and encourage their hearts.

But recently I've also been challenged to show grace to others. Grace is unmerited favor - mercy and kindness that goes beyond what I think a person deserves. Grace and love are close to synonymous, but not quite. I believe grace has more to do with showing another person kindness, care, love, mercy, forgiveness - no matter if you think they deserve it or not. In a way it goes beyond love by actively seeking the best for that other person.

When I usually think of showing other people grace, I think of being able to forgive someone who has wronged or hurt me. But grace goes beyond that. It also is simply showing people how much God loves and cares for them - no matter who they are or what road their path is on.  It's reminding and revealing to people how much God was willing to sacrifice because he desires a relationship with them.

I want to be that kind of person - who shows God's grace to all around me. And the only way that will happen is if I first know and experience His grace in my own life.

Who do you need to show grace to?



Tonight I had one of those rare moments at the piano.

I was playing the Chopin Nocturne that I'm working on (Op. 62. No. 1 if you're interested in listening to it), and decided to approach it a bit differently. Instead of focusing on all the things I was doing wrong at the piano (and working on correcting them), I stopped and really listened. Really payed attention to the incredible, gorgeous sounds the piano can create.

Slowly, I savored each melody note, each beautiful harmony and sighing suspension. I stopped on a few chords and closed my eyes, just listening to the resonance of the piano. Each note blossomed into an even deeper beauty after the initial hammer strike of the string. Like the waves of the ocean, the sound of that one note rolled away and then flooded back again, each time dying a little more, and a little more....

When I was done, I felt like for perhaps the first time I really enjoyed the sound I was playing as I was playing it. 

I don't think I have ever given myself permission to enjoy the sound of my instrument while I am playing a Classical piece on it. Sure, I can enjoy a recording of it afterward, when I don't have the arduous task of managing the multiple muscles and memories and brain functions that it takes to play the piano. But to do all that and listen with attentiveness? That's a hard one. Typically, I either focus solely on voicing one or more parts, or just take sound for granted.

All this got me thinking - if I can play a piano for two thirds of my lifetime (so far) and never really listen to the gorgeous, lush sounds I can make on it... what other things am I taking for granted? 

 What things are you taking for granted? Where do you need to stop... and listen?



We've received little snow this winter, making the world for the most part bleak and dreary. But on one of those rare occasions where it snowed, I was inspired to write this story. I cannot for the life of me come up with a title that does not give anything away - so perhaps if you are so inspired after reading it you can help me come up with one.

* * *

Solemn and hushed under a full moon, the forest lay. Its dark trunks stood in perfect rows, stretching further than the eye could see. Yet in the very center, one tree was missing.

A girl stood in the gap, straight as the trees around her. Her feet were firmly planted in the sparse sprinkling of snow on the ground. The full moon pulled her shadow out behind her, painting it dark and straight as the forbidding trees. Her flaming hair flowed loose down her shoulders, barely lighter than her bright red cloak beneath. In all the cold, bleak woods she was the only thing alive.

The air crystallized around the girl with every breath she took, and her hands were blue beneath her cloak. Her cheeks stung with numbness and her pale eyes threatened to melt from the frigid wind, but she dared not move. He had promised.

The night progressed slowly and fleeting clouds shadowed the stars overhead. Snow drifted down, settling like fairy dust on her hair and cloak. The flakes clumped together thicker and heavier, but still she would not move. She could not. He had promised to come.

The full moon touched the earth at the horizon, sending its last rays of pale silver over the world. Already the eastern sky was lightening and the birds were beginning to awaken. Yet still she remained, upright and immovable. He had promised to come rescue her.

The sun arose in its splendor, warming the earth from its chill. Fresh and pure after its nighttime sleep, the earth awoke. People began to stir to life for another day.

Yet deep in the forest, a red maple stood frozen over in the midst of black columns. Its bright leaves still clung to its branches even through the weight of deathly snow. He had promised… 
©Melody 2012


Five Minutes on Trust

I've been meaning to write about my piano recital for some time now (since it happened almost three weeks ago), and have either been too busy or not motivated or just haven't been able to pull my thoughts together.(College will do that to you, unfortunately.) But when I saw this linkup, I knew I had to join. Especially when I saw the word for this Friday.


This word has been my theme, my song this year, and already it has carried me through quite a number of situations. I'm sure you will grow tired of hearing about it - but God is really speaking to me through this word.


When I stepped out onto the stage for my recital, I didn't just step out onto a wooden floor. I stepped out onto trust.

Trust made me put one foot in front of another, bow next to the piano, and sit down and begin to play. Trust calmed my heart, guided my fingers, focused my mind. Trust - not only in my Lord, but also in the fact that I had prepared well. I knew I had done all I could to bring myself to this point - so I gave up worrying and focused on executing.

And when you're trusting in the right thing, the results are amazing. God blessed, molded, and encouraged me through that recital - from the very beginnings of preparation down to the last detail of the day. It was simply amazing - a tribute to the God who can bring me through anything.

I just have to keep trusting.




It's been a long time on the horizon, a small speck of light that keeps me pressing forward, practicing daily, struggling through hardships, slogging through discouragement... and now it's here.

My sophomore recital.

Your prayers for my strength and God's glory to shine are greatly appreciated. For ultimately, the goal that makes all of the hard work worth it is that God's glory be revealed in my life.



When I picked the word Trust as my word for this year, I expected to think about it in relation to a certain set of circumstances. It seems natural to focus on trusting God for my future, trusting that He has everything under control, and trusting Him for strength and words to say each day. (Not to say that I can do these things well at all, but just that I tend to think of trusting God in those ways first.) But God brought to my attention a different aspect of trust I had not thought of before. It involves trusting God with my piano playing.

Now I have had experience trusting God to get me through pain in my piano playing and to give me the strength needed to play and practice the piano well. But recently I was challenged to trust God enough to risk in my piano playing.

I have a recital coming up (this next Friday, actually), and I know the pieces I'm playing for it quite well. Memorized, analyzed, choreographed, practiced... I could probably play these pieces if you woke me from a sound sleep with cold water in the face, set me in front of a piano and told me to play. Granted, the pieces are still difficult, but I've played through them in their difficult-ness so much that I'm used to it.

I had my recital check so my professors could make sure I was ready to play for the recital. It went fine - I played my pieces well even though I was nervous, and my professors said I passed. But one thing they deeply impressed upon me was their desire to see me take a risk. Make an impact. To not hold back and play it safe, but to put my all into my playing.

I'm totally a play it safe kind of person, and not just in the realm of music. I am almost always concerned about doing things "just right:" not too overdone vs mediocre, not too cheesy vs insincere, not too harsh vs indifferent. I think it comes from a basic desire to fit in and be liked and accepted by others. Plus, I've seen too many people risk and fail, or just look incredibly foolish, and I don't want to be like them. I want to succeed - in life, in relationships, in music.

But I'm starting to realize that success does not necessarily come from control. Success comes from giving it all and trusting God for the rest - in piano playing, and also in my life.



Last year I decided to use one word to help me grow. My word was Satisfied  - to be satisfied in Christ alone.

It helped me, some, though I did not think of it as often as I wished. So when it came time for me to think of a new one this year, I hesitated. I had to be sure of just the right word - the one that would stick with me no matter what and help me through the most difficult times. It had to be able to apply to every area of my life.

One morning as I was praying, it hit me.


I need this all the time, even when I think I have it all together. Trust is what makes me courageous, gives me hope, reminds me where I fit, keeps me humble, gives me strength, and helps me be real. I need to trust in God every day of my life for every aspect of my life. This is the word I want to meditate on this year.

I was given a test in this almost immediately after I came up with it. Grace at Grace's Garden Walk (as well as a few others) posted about not letting blogging become a popularity contest and instead just being real in their posts. That really convicted me. I know I've struggled with wanting to be cool and admired and "followed" on the blog world.

But do I trust God enough to be authentic and not worry about the popularity stuff?

I've decided to try - and trust God with the results.


A Beginning

Oh how long it has been.

This little blog has sat silent now for almost two months, cold and dormant with the winter weather.

{via pinterest}

My life has gone on as usual, practicing, studying, eating, sleeping... endless routine with little creativity mixed in. I've had my Christmas break which was a welcome reprieve, but I will be going back to that routine in little less than a week.

In all honesty, I'm scared. Scared that I will succumb once again to skimming through life just so I can get by. Some days skimming was all I could do just to get through the homework I had to do. But that became my rhythm, my routine. I began skimming everything, always looking for the next thing to do instead of the next opportunity to be.

I do not want that to happen again.

So, in this new year, I have decided to go out and hunt inspiration, instead of skimming over it in my never-ending search to finish tasks. I've determined to work my creativity muscle so it will not atrophy. I have resolved to let my thoughts spill onto this blog at least once every week, and not to worry about how structured or on-topic my posts are. Perhaps they won't be the longest or have pictures in them or even make all that much sense. But that is okay. I'm on a search for creativity... and I do not want to quit.

Are you with me?

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