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On Symphonies and Life

I love listening to music. I enjoy various genres and instruments, simple and complex.

I listen to music while I drive in the car.

I listen to music in the morning as I get ready.

I listen to music sometimes while I work.

I listen to music a lot.

However, I’m noticing that I rarely JUST listen.

I sing with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and this past weekend we got to sing with the orchestra as they kicked off their season. This meant a lot of rehearsing and a lot of time spent at Kleinhans, the music hall where we perform. On Friday night our call time was 6:30, but we ended up not getting to our part in the rehearsal until sometime around 9. We knew there would be some wait time but weren’t sure how long and I contemplated bringing something to do during the wait… a book to read, a journal to write in, some emails that needed answered.

But then I stopped myself.

What would it be like if I just sat and listened to the music?

How often do we get the chance to sit in an amazing music hall and listen to incredible professional musicians (including one of the most well known American soloists) for a couple hours (for free) just because?

By putting down my phone/book/etc. I was able to simply enjoy the moment. The way the themes moved across the orchestra. The way the soloist communicated a story though I had no clue of the English translation of what he was saying. The way one song was completely different than the next. The fine detail the conductor could hear, able to correct one little note that was slightly flat or late or simply just not what she wanted despite the intense, complex sound coming from the dozens of instruments before her.

I watched intently and then I closed my eyes to take in all the sounds and then I opened them again to watch. There is something about being in a moment (whether on stage or in the seats) that makes you come a little more alive when taking in some live music.

  • Maybe a night at the orchestra isn’t your thing. That’s okay… go find a dueling piano bar or your favorite heavy metal band in concert. Go and just listen. Or perhaps music all together has no intrigue; symphonies are all around us if we pay attention: the roar of the crowd rising and falling with the plays in the sporting event, the giggles and conversation of kids on a playground, the hum and beat of tools in a workshop.
  • Whatever your “music” of choice, the key is this… get lost in a moment. Stop and listen. Enjoy the simplicity of the ‘task at hand’ while standing in awe of the complexities it holds. Take it all in and perhaps you’ll breath a bit deeper, smile a bit wider, relax those tense shoulders, and live.
  • 66 in 52 Challenge

    Acts – Week 38 {66 in 52 Challenge}

    This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I will focus in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will be posting a summary page with some thought about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey!

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    Week 38 - Acts

    The Big Picture of Acts:

    Acts is the story of the very beginning of the Christian Church. While Jesus was on earth he trained and walked with His disciples preparing them to carry out His mission once He left. In Acts we see the Holy Spirit come (as Jesus promised it would before He left) and the church exploded throughout the world. Paul (named Saul at the beginning of the book) and Peter are two of the men we see God use in these early stages. This time in the early church was not always easy as those who followed Jesus faced great persecution. Despite this persecution the church continued to spread and because of the faithful work of the men and women we read about in this book, the church continues to spread to this day. Now it’s our turn!

    Main Timeline of Acts:

    • AD 30 – Jesus dies, rises from the dead, and ascends into heaven
    • AD 30-33 – God sends the Holy Spirit and the Church begins to spread, Saul persecutes the early church
    • AD 34/35 – Jesus meets Saul on the road to Damascus and changes his life (and his name… the rest of his life he’s known as Paul)
    • AD 34-62 – Missionary journeys and other events of Acts
    • AD 60 – Paul imprisoned
    • AD 62 – Paul on trial and preaches around Rome

    A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

    Some of us are planning to read through the whole book or books each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse per book. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.

    • From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”  Acts 17:26-27
      REFLECTION: Where has God put you during this time in history? Literally where are the places you go each day? Where do you live? In what ways do you see verse 27 true that God put you there so people, including yourself, might seek and find Him?
    • “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Acts 2:42
      REFLECTION: What is one way you can commit (or mentally re-commit) to Christian community this week? /
    • “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”  Acts 2:17
      REFLECTION: Who is the Holy Spirit to you? What have you learned in reading Acts that tells you about Him?

    Some Other Resources:

    The Challenge:

    So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!

    God-Sighting Saturday

    Let me count the ways You love me {God Sighting Saturday}

    In productive work and deep rest

    In time alone and time with others

    In timely sermons and songs of hope

    In trees lining a rushing creek on a rainy day and a chance to sit and stare and listen

    In an “Ode to Joy” on repeat all week long in rehearsal after rehearsal

    In walks with friends and time on the floor with babies

    In great hugs (and bananas) given generously from your favorite four year old

    In clarity about next steps about a big decision even when it comes with disappointment

    In dozens of students continuing to show up on campus desperately seeking connection and love and ultimately Jesus

    In conversations that just can’t be ‘coincidence’

    In friends and mentors and colleagues who stop and listen and really hear and help point the right direction

    In unexplainable peace

    In a team that KEEPS working together week after hard, awesome week

    In safety of friends and family through medical procedures

    In good food for my body and good encouragement for my soul

    In the chance to sit still and listen to professional musicians rehearse for two hours paying attention to every little detail

    In relief and hope

    In cancelled meetings that provided the gift of unexpected time

    In having a clean kitchen

    In a few nights of really good sleep

    In the sound of rain

    In a fuzzy blanket and warm homemade chai latte’s with “Kansas Sunset Chai” tea

    In all this and more, I know You are near, God.

    You make it undeniable, whether my eyes are open or not.

    Again and again You show up.

    Again and again You find new ways to remind me.

    Again and again you promise and prove:

    I AM HERE.

    I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

    I am Immanuel–which means God with us. (Matthews 1:23)

    I am among you, a mighty one who will save. I will rejoice over you with gladness, quiet you by My love and exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17)

    Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

    Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4)

    And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

    66 in 52 Challenge

    John – Week 37 {66 in 52 Challenge}

    This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I will focus in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each wee

    k I will be posting a summary page with some thought about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Week 37 - John

    The Big Picture of John :

    Over the last few weeks of reading Matthew, Mark, and Luke we’ve gotten various perspectives of primarily the same events. As we head into reading John this week we’ll hear the life of Jesus in a completely new way. Instead of thinking about the beginning of Jesus’ story at his birth, John shows us that Jesus has been around since before the beginning of the world (John 1:1). Where Matthew, Mark, and Luke tend to tell narrative stories of what Jesus did, John seems to highlight more of his character and identity as both fully God and fully man. There is also a high emphasis on the signs and miracles in John’s book. It is believed to be written much later than the other three gospels with a clearly declared purpose that readers would believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that we’d find life as we believe (John 20:30-31).

    The “I Am”s in John:

    One thing that seems to be true is that John was passionate to prove that Jesus IS God. One of the ways he did this was by using the phrase “I Am” many times throughout the book. For the Jewish readers, this would have been an obvious claim to Jesus’ as God as they would instantly recognize it as the very name for God. Back in Exodus when God was calling Moses to go rescue the people out of slavery in Egypt, Moses asks God, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you.’ they will ask me, ‘

    What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God’s response to Moses: I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people: I AM has sent me to you.” This was a powerful declaration of the name of God. So when Jesus shows up on the scene and starts using this phrase, people took notice. Here are some of the key places we see it in John’s Gospel:

    • “…but he called out to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here!'” – John 6:30
    • “That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” – John 8:24
    • So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. – John 8:28
    • Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!” – John 8:58 (When he said this the Jewish religious leaders even picked up rocks to try to stone him. There is no doubt in their minds Who He was claiming to be.)
    • “‘I am he,’ Jesus said.”- John 18:5
    • “I am the bread of life “- John 6:35, 48, 51
    • “I am the light of the world” – John 8:12, 9:5
    • “I am the door of the sheep” – John 10:7, 9
    • “I am the good shepherd.”  – John 10:11, 14
    • “I am the resurrection and the life.” – John 11:25
    • “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” – John 14:6
    • “I am the true vine.” – John 15:1

    A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

    Some of us are planning to read through the whole book or books each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse per book. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.

    • And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14
      REFLECTION: How do you see both grace and truth played out in Jesus’ life? What does it look like to be full of both in our every day lives?
    • “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. … May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”   John 17:20-21, 23
      REFLECTION: This whole section is the prayer Jesus prayed right before he died. These specific verses in essence are what God prayed for US today. He had US on his mind as he prepared to go to the cross. What are your thoughts about His prayer? Where do you see unity or disunity among God’s church today? How might unity be crucial in showing the world the love of Jesus?
    • “The disciples say Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.”   John 20:30-31
      REFLECTION:What are your thoughts about John’s purpose for writing the book? How do you think that shaped what He chose to put in the book?

    Some Other Resources:

    The Challenge:

    So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!

    God-Sighting Saturday

    9-8-18 {God Sighting Saturday}

    • A congregation gathered to pound the door of heaven seeking wisdom which our faithful Father promises to pour out
    • Two hours on a couch with a dear friend, sharing life, sharing tears, sharing hope, sharing laughter,
    • Dinner and a walk watching the sunset over the river with one of the most beautiful women I know
    • Looking back and remembering a time when what I’m seeing around me now seemed absolutely impossible; hope for a time when what seems impossible now might become reality
    • Two of the cutest babies around giggling and climbing all over me while catching up with a dear friend
    • Energy to actually do the dishes despite so many things working against me on that specific day
    • Abundant provision via the farmer’s market
    • A car trunk and office full of snacks to share with our college friends at UB over the next few weeks
    • Our incredible volunteers at UB
    • People offering help out-of-the-blue for things I was too busy to even try to find help to accomplish
    • Friends who encourage me and give me chance to encourage them
    • Reminders of why I do what I do
    • A friend and colleague praying with me after a meeting on campus
    • Cute note cards and colored pens
    • Being able to serve and get to know my new neighbor when his water stopped working for over 24 hours and the landlord wasn’t showing up
    • Getting to spend time in my role as “Godmother” with at least one of my godchildren every day this week… who doesn’t see God in baby snuggles or preschooler hugs?!?
    • A gorgeous sunset on the way home on a cool evening at the end of a long hot day
    • Teammates I can trust
    • Catching up with my sister on the phone on her way home from work one evening
    • Homemade cookies served with ice cream

    Books

    What I’m Reading Wednesdays {September 5, 2018}

    Here are a few favorite quotes from two books I recently finished:

    “Anyone who thinks it’s easy to get to the States as a refugee has no idea.”
    “It was light out when we found them, the sun rising slowly in a pale blue sky, casting a warm glow over the fields of sorrow and grief. I remember thinking: How dare the sun rise, as if it were any other day, after such a gruesome night.”
    As a child, I witnessed the unthinkable: I saw my sister murdered before my eyes because of discrimination and hate. But I have learned that if we want to change the world, we can’t harden our hearts and shut ourselves off from other cultures. … We must open up our hearts.
    “I realized God never picked the wrong girl for ministry. The enemy picked the wrong girl to mess with!”
    “If we want to be free, we have to move beyond confessing our need for healing. We also have to believe this truth: Christ came, walked this earth, paid the price, bought us, and set us free. He declares, You are free; be who you already are.”
    “I don’t know why God answers some prayers immediately and not others. It’s a mystery. What I do know with full assurance is this: God has given us the freedom to ask him for anything–anything. Perhaps in God’s economy what’s most important is that we have the freedom and faith to ask. What if we lay aside our concern about the result of our prayers? What if we simply confess and declare what we have been given–the freedom to ask?”
    “Paul asked God to remove his thorn, and God offered him a humble heart instead. Sometimes we ask for a healing we can see, and God offers instead a heart-healing we can’t see. So, yes, it sometimes seems God has a purpose for allowing our brokenness to continue. Still, we confess our need for healing and wholeness. We pray against the brokenness of the world.”
    “Somehow, when I’m faithful to the grieving process, when I give in to mourning, I find great freedom on the other side. … Every time we express grief, we allow Jesus to absorb our pain.”
    “One day I told Jesus I felt like my brokenness was too great. Maybe I’d thwart his plans for my life. Instantly I heard, What if your purpose is for me to love you?”
    "God didn't pick the wrong girl for ministry. Satan picked the wrong girl to mess with!" ~ Rebekah Lyons Jeremiah 1
    66 in 52 Challenge

    Luke – Week 36 {66 in 52 Challenge}

    This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I will focus in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will be posting a summary page with some thought about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Week 36 - Luke

    The Big Picture of Luke:

    I love the first few verses in Luke. Where Matthew and Mark seem to be writing to groups of people, Luke’s intent wasn’t quite so broad. We see the author was presenting this gospel as an investigation report to a man named Theophilus (which means ‘one who loves God’). It is possible that this was the person who would circulate this book, but it seems there is also a personal nature to the writing. Luke longed for Theophilus to be able to be certain about what he had heard so far about Jesus and so Luke interviewed those who were there and pulled together the best report he could. Luke fact checked his info and presented the case. He seems to outline his book in three main parts in connection with Jesus’ presence in three geographical areas: in and around Galilee (4:14-9:50), Judea and Perea (9:51-19:27), and Jerusalem (19:28-24:53).

    Women in Luke’s Gospel:

    Perhaps more than any other of the four gospels, Luke seems to highlight the role women played.  Here are some of women he tells us about:

    • Elizabeth – mother of John the Baptist and wife of Zechariah (chapter 1)
    • Mary – Jesus’ mother (chapter 2, 19)
    • Anna – prophetess in the temple when Jesus was presented as a n infant (chapter 2)
    • Simon’s mother-in-law (chapter 4)
    • Widow whose son was raised back to life (chapter 7)
    • Woman who anoints Jesus (chapter 7)
    • A dead girl (and her mother) and a sick woman (Luke 8)
    • Mary and Martha (chapter 10)
    • Crippled woman healed on the Sabbath (Chapter 13)
    • Women used in as an example in a parable (Chapter 15, 18)
    • A widow giving an offering (Chapter 21)
    • Women who followed Jesus during his crucifixion and stood watch at the cross while he died (Chapter 23)
    • Women who went to prepare Jesus’ body in the tomb (Chapter 23-24)
    • Women were the first to see Jesus alive – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and others (Chapter 24)

    A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

    Some of us are planning to read through the whole book or books each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse per book. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.

    • “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us … to rescue us from the hand of our enemies and toe enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”  Luke 1:68-69, 74-75
      REFLECTION: What fears are creeping up in your life? What would it look like to serve God all our days without fear? How might our lives be different?
    • “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it…. But seek first his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for Your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.”  Luke 12:29, 31-32
      REFLECTION:What are you setting your heart on? What does it look like to receive the Kingdom?
    • “For the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10
      REFLECTION: What does this tell us about Jesus’ mission on earth? If we are to join Jesus on His mission in the world, what might this look like for us?

    Some Other Resources:

    The Challenge:

    So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!