28 February 2009

Tinwhistle, Fiddle and a Little Scripture...

I'm having a great time just loafing today on my weekend off. Oh, I'm being sort of productive. I've gotten some laundry done and I have plans to do some cooking eventually. But while the house is quiet and everybody else is gone it seemed like a good time to do my noisy music practice.

First of all I got my fiddle out of the case, popped in my DVD lesson and once again practiced some scales (not much progress in getting that right, but I'm not giving up!) and then limped my way through "Shortnin' Bread". My left hand seems to have a life of its own and keeps moving out of position so that my fingers never come down on the same spot twice, but I know that will improve over a lot of time. It's fun just to feel like I'm on the way to learning!

Then I listened to some really great tinwhistle videos on You Tube and thought, "Hmmm...maybe I'll dust off my tinwhistles and give them another try!" I have two Clarke tinwhistles which have been basically collecting dust in the magazine rack next to my favorite reading chair. I also have music from a great little website called Whistle This! which is dedicated to helping folks learn to play the tinwhistle. So I went to the website and refreshed my memory by listening to some MP3 files of two tunes I had tried a long time ago. Lo and behold, I actually got through them (in a fashion) and now I have TWO instruments to play with in my spare time...when nobody is home. =0) The tunes I'm working on are "The Road to Linsdoonvarna" and "Star of the County Down". I lean more toward Irish music than American, so my fiddling may take more of that direction as well.

As for the Scripture part, I'm reading from Isaiah 58 today and was reminded once again of the meaning of "true fasting". This chapter gives examples of the wrong idea of fasting and also the good way. God always uses his Word to open my eyes!

Now I'm going to eat a chocolate donut and watch "Northanger Abbey" via You Tube. (You can find the link in my left hand column! Not recommended for the younger set. There are some instances of "steaminess"...) =0/

26 February 2009

Fiddle Lessons

Well, I have a couple of fiddle practices under my belt. I hope these were the first few steps on the road to an enjoyable hobby. I have no illusions of becoming a concert violinist, but maybe I'll actually make it into the ranks of passable fiddlers.

Besides your usual squaredance type of fiddling, I also love celtic/Irish fiddle and I look forward to playing that type of music as well.

Right now I'm basically learning to hold the fiddle, play an eight note scale, and then how to play my first song, "Shortnin' Bread". No "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" here. That's for violinists. Us fiddlers, we play "Shortnin' Bread".

I'm having a little difficulty with the scale, but then I've only played it a few times. When you get into your 50's you kind of forget how long it takes to learn a new skill. It's been a LONG time since I learned to read, write, count, etc. This is much the same thing. As my son Jordan says, "You have to be willing to really suck at something for a while if you want to learn something new." (paraphrased)

My teacher, via DVD, is Elan Chalford. He seems to be a pretty talented musician. And, of course, DVD's are very patient, so I can mess up all I want and keep on trying and he doesn't even get mad. His address is http://www.fiddleguru.com/ if you're interested in checking him out. I found a really cool place for tuning my fiddle at http://www.violinonline.com/tuning.htm . Very simple.

Here's to old dogs learning new tricks. Wish me luck! =0)

20 February 2009

More From "The World's Last Night"-The Last One...I Think!

"It would be difficult, and, to me, repellent, to suppose that Jesus never asked a genuine question, that is, a question to which he did not know the answer. That would make of his humanity something so unlike ours as scarcely to deserve the name. I find it easier to believe that when he said "Who touched me?" (Luke 7:45) he really wanted to know." C.S. Lewis

Ah, the mysteries of God! =0) He will have all of eternity to tell us stories and it will be wonderful! Praise you, Lord God Almighty!

19 February 2009

Lilies That Fester-C.S. Lewis's Take on the Goals of Public Education

"...the pupil is now [in Lewis's day] far more defenceless in the hands of his teachers. He comes increasingly from businessmen's flats or workmen's cottages in which there are few books or none. He has hardly ever been alone. The educational machine seizes him very early and organizes his whole life, to the exclusion of all unsuperintended solitude or leisure. The hours of unsponsored, uninspected, perhaps even forbidden, reading, the ramblings, and the "long, long thoughts" in which those of luckier generations first discovered literature and nature and themselves are a thing of the past. If a Traherne or a Wordsworth were born today he would be "cured" before he was twelve. In short, the modern pupil is the ideal patient for those masters who, not content with teaching a subject, would create a character; helpless Plasticine. Or if by chance (for nature will be nature) he should have any powers of resistance, they know how to deal with him. I am coming to that point in a moment."

More C.S. Lewis-The Efficacy of Prayer

This is another excerpt from "The World's Last Night and Other Essays". This particular essay is entitled "The Efficacy of Prayer". You'll have to get the book to see what leads up to the parts I'm posting here, but I thought there was some good food for thought in this:

"It would be even worse to think of those who get what they pray for as a sort of court favorites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that. And I dare not leave out the hard saying which I once heard from an experienced Christian: 'I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one that I thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning; before conversion. or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too, are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic.'"

"Does God then forsake just those who serve Him best? Well, He who served Him best of all said, near His tortured death, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" When God becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need. There is a mystery here which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore. Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle."

18 February 2009

The World's Last Night

I just finished reading C.S. Lewis's book "The World's Last Night and Other Essays". It contains seven different essays which he delivered at various times. It would be impossible to summarize the book in a single blog, but I just wanted to quote a few favorite excerpts.

The World's Last Night is the last essay in the book. It talks about the Second Coming of Christ and some of the things which distract us from looking forward to this event as we should.

"The doctrine of the Second Coming is deeply uncongenial to the whole evolutionary or developmental character of modern thought." (p. 100)

"The idea which here shuts out the Second Coming from our minds, the idea of the world slowly ripening to perfection, is a myth, not a generalization from experience. And it is a myth which distracts us from our real duties and our real interest. It is our attempt to guess the plot of a drama in which we are the characters. But how can the characters in a play guess the plot? We are not the playwright, we are not the producer, we are not even the audience. We are on the stage. To play well the scenes in which we are "on" concerns us much more than to guess about the scenes that follow it.

"In King Lear there is a man who is such a minor character that Shakespeare has not given him even a name: he is merely "First Servant." All the characters around him-Regan, Cornwall, and Edmund-have fine long-term plans. They think they know how the story is going to end, and they are quite wrong. The servant has no such delusions. He has no notion how the play is going to go. But he understands the present scene. He sees an abomination (the blinding of old Gloucester) taking place. He will not stand it. His sword is out and pointed at his master's breast in a moment: then Regan stabs him dead from behind. That is his whole part: eight lines all told. But if it were real life and not a play, that is the part it would be best to have acted." (p.104-105)

Diary of an Old Soul

LORD, what I once had done with youthful might,
Had I been from the first true to the truth,
Grant me, now old, to do--with better sight,
And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth;
So wilt thou, in thy gentleness and ruth,
Lead back thy old soul, by the path of pain,
Round to his best--young eyes and heart and brain.

-excerpt from The Diary of an Old Soul by George MacDonald

17 February 2009

Been Visiting...

Oh, the temptation to follow all of those blog rabbit trails!

I was first inspired to start a blog by reading Gumbo Lily's blog (Jody) and, of course, one blog leads to another. All of those links with fascinating names. How can a person resist. Just one more! Who knows what wonderful things await.

And so it goes...and goes...and goes. But, I'm not complaining!

Tonight I've visited Mary Jane Butter's website and watched some videos about what goes on at her organic farm. This is one busy lady. It almost makes me feel stressed out to think about her keeping that whole enterprise running. What a beautiful place and so many creative and useful things going on. You can see a video at the bottom of my blog.

Another blog espousing ideas organic is Self-Sufficientish. Whah? You just hafta look into a blog with a name like that!

I also visited Coffee, Tea, Books and Me. I really appreciate the insights expressed on this blog and I look forward to reading more and following some of her links. I knew when I saw the copy of "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Schaeffer on her table, that I would love her blog. It's so much fun to find others who share our interests and our outlook on life.

Of course, there are millions of blogs out there and we could spend a lifetime running from one to another. So this is one more area where we have to discipline ourselves not to get carried away. But it is a pleasant occupation to unwind after a long day.

Thanks to all of you who make it so much fun!

12 February 2009

Violins and bamboo flutes...

I just acquired a violin. I've wanted one for years and I hope I'm not too old to learn new tricks. I've found some tutorials on You Tube, and then, after some searching I came across a gentleman named Elan Chalford who has a program on DVD which looks great. It will be a lot less expensive than lessons and should help me to see if I'm really serious about continuing. You can find info on him at www.fiddleguru.com.

My son, Josh, has a hankering for a bamboo flute. At least, I think that's what it's called. It really has a beautiful sound.

So, here's wishing us both luck on our new endeavors

09 February 2009

Israeli Elections Tomorrow!

Please send up prayers concerning the election in Israel tomorrow! God's will be done!

Personality Tests-What Do They Really Reveal?

At the bottom of this blog page you'll find the results of a personality test I took a few days ago. It was a lot of fun. I'm always curious to find out how I'll do and just what a particular test may reveal about myself. But just how accurate are they? If you're expecting me to quote from various studies and give a really scientific answer to this question you'll be disappointed. I'm not a really objective, scientific type. This is more of an emotional response...

While attempting to take a nap today, I found my mind whirring away as it usually does when I try to take a nap. I found myself wondering how these tests could really be accurate. "Well," you may say, "they're designed by scientists who understand how our minds work." Yes, I suppose some of them are. (I always leave room for doubt, just in case.) My main source of skepticism is this...

Have you ever read "Wild at Heart" or just about any other book by John Eldredge? He talks a lot about our "wound". This wound, he says, is usually given by our father. I think most of us would have to admit, even if our dad didn't give it, we received it somewhere in our childhood. Something happens to almost all of us that "damages" us in some way. This wound can be large or small and usually there will be many over our lifetime. These wounds change who we are, or at least how we view who we are. They may make us feel ugly, unloveable, clumsy or in some way undesirable. Even with the best of parents and childhoods something will sneak in to try to steal something of our sense of worth. In this fallen world the enemy of our souls is on the prowl and loves nothing better than to "steal, kill and destroy" that which God has created.

So, as I work my way through a personality test I'm constantly perplexed. How do I really feel about these two possible answers? I hyperanalyze every question. Neither answer seems quite right; or maybe BOTH seem right. But I'm not given that option. I have to pick ONE. This drives me up the wall. Truth and integrity are huge with me. To answer a question without really thinking it through is unthinkable. And yet they tell you there is no right answer; just the way you feel about the answers! Where's the truth and integrity in that? *sigh* I battle onward in the quest to better know myself, but I fear "the wound" gets in my way.

How can we pigeonhole our real, original personality when parts of it have been blown away by the katyusha rockets of this world? How closely does what is left really resemble what God intended when he sent us into this world?

The results, actually, describe me quite well, at this point in time. I guess no test can show what we would have been had we come through life thus far unscathed, because nobody has. Only Jesus, the Lover of our souls, can walk with us day-by-day as we work through the healing process. When we are born again our spirit is re-created and washed white as snow. Our soul, on the other hand, must be worked on daily with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is a lifelong journey as we learn to surrender our wounds and everything else to Jesus. As we become more like Him.

A description of my personality type: (Wow! I'm rare!)

"INFJs, making up an estimated 1% of all people, are the most rare type (males even more so). They are introspective, caring, sensitive, gentle and complex people that strive for peace and derive satisfaction from helping others. INFJs are highly intuitive, empathetic and dedicated listeners. These traits tend to act as a "tell me what's wrong" sign on their forehead, hence the nicknames Confidant, Counselor or Empath. INFJs are intensely private and deeply committed to their beliefs."

" Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities.
(Oh, yeah!) Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types."

04 February 2009

So Many Books; So Little Time!

Books. I love them! I've spent some of the past year collecting a home library. It was a lot of fun while I was doing it, but I eventually came to the point of realizing that I now had enough books to last the rest of my life. So, I slowed down a bit.

I acquired a bookcase from an old middle school that was no longer being used as a school. The case measures about 8' x 8'. Lots of room to fill with wonderful reading materials! So...how to fill it?

First, I joined an online website called Paperbackswap.com (which can be found at http://www.paperbackswap.com , of course). This is a site where you begin with 10 books you want to swap. You have a page of your own where you list your books. After listing your first 10 books you get two free credits to use right away. Most of the books on the site cost 1 credit. You find a book you want and you request it. The person who owns the book sends it to you media mail and they pay the postage. When you receive it you mark it received and they get a credit so they can get a book. When someone requests a book you have you pay the postage. So, basically, each book costs you about $2.50 or so, which is the average cost of media mail. I found quite a few books through Paperback Swap and they have an active message board and other features.

Secondly, and best of all, was our local library booksale. I've gotten tons of books this way, and it's like one big treasure hunt! I usually spend $5 or $6 dollars and go home with bags and bags full of books. I redonate many of them after I read them. Gotta make room for more!

So, right now I need to pick a new book to read. It's so HARD to single out one book from a bookcase full of wonderful choices!! But, I guess it's a job that has to be done...

02 February 2009

Kicking Against the Goads...

Oh yeah...I've been kicking for about five years now. (Well, actually, most of my life!)

Ever worked in a deli? I read about a study that discovered that food service people are among the most depressed folks around. It may be a combination of stress- juggling 3 projects at once and being constantly interrupted to wait on customers, and knowing that you spend your days preparing unhealthy foods that will be sold to people at ridiculously high prices. That doesn't give you a real feeling of satisfaction.

So, day after day, I've found myself feeling depressed on the way to work and having to really talk myself through it. (Wow! This is beginning to sound like a therapy session.) I've rebelled at the very thought of being stuck in this particular job. I've also rebelled against working outside the home, period. Home is my comfort zone. I'd like to hide there forever. If you look at the personality test at the bottom of my blog, you'll see that I'm 100% introverted. That explains a lot.

Lately, God has been changing my heart. Or, maybe, I've begun to allow my heart to learn something from Him. All isn't suddenly exciting and fun, but I realize that this journey has been really necessary for me.

Now many of you may have been offended by me talking about hiding at home. Don't be. Being home to raise and homeschool my kids was one of the most important things I've done in my life. I look back and see that it's a miracle what God brought about in my children, considering the fact that their mom needed a lot of work.

Being home THEN was the right thing to do, but for an extreme introvert like me, staying at home after the kids are grown would only leave me stunted and unusable for God's work. So He "gently forced" me out of my comfort zone and began a period of training, which continues to this day.

I'm learning to relate to others in a way I never would have if I hadn't been pushed out into the public eye. I can't believe how different I am now from the fearful, shy person I was 5 years ago. My extroverted husband still thinks I have a long way to go. I'll never be an extrovert, and I don't believe God made a mistake when he made me. But the enemy of our souls can take our personality type and contort it in such a way that we will be crippled and unable to follow God's leading in our lives.

Sometimes it's necessary to go through a painful course of treatment so that we can become a vessel God can use. It's worth it in the end. If you're going through the same thing, keep your eyes on God. Things aren't nearly as mundane as they appear on the surface. Eternal things are being formed inside of you through every daily struggle. God doesn't waste an opportunity.

"...but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5:3-5

God wants to use you...

01 February 2009

Reading About Running on a Cold Winter's Night...

I was exploring Laura A's wonderful blog (so much interesting stuff to read!) when I noticed the word "running" in her list of labels. Following this tempting rabbit trail I came across several entries about her husband Bob running marathons and half-marathons. You go, Bob! I'm proud of you!

I've run a couple of 10k's, and quite a few 5k's over the last 3 years. I discovered running late in life; at about age 48 or 49. We live next to a beautiful hiking and biking trail here in the northwoods of Minnesota, so I have no excuse to vegetate when the weather is nice. So, when I saw Bob running all of those long races it made me begin to really count the days until I could get out there once again.

At the moment I can hear snowmobiles racing through the dark just down the hill from our house. In the winter the trail belongs to them, but come warmer weather, when the snow and ice finally disappear, I'll be out there. I may just be walking at first, but I'll work my way up until I'm ready to enter that first 5k of the summer.

I'm more of a "plodder" than a runner, but I think any of us can get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and get a little more fit if we will just take that first step and then another. Give it a try. I'll be rooting for you!

(This is not a picture of me!)