Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunset Season

So… A new season is upon us!  Spring happened a couple of days ago whether we felt it or not; Siberian Season is finally over and in comes….  Sunset Season!  Sunset Season begins when the weather finally turns warm enough to stand outside and raise a glass or two to toast the beauty in the sky as the sun dips below the horizon.  Of course, we can watch a sunset from any window all winter long, but to stand in the great outdoors and see the entire sky lit up with the colors of flames astounds the soul bigger and better than any window view.

I say bring it on!  It's time for Sunset Season to officially begin!

I'm anticipating many many beautiful sunsets in 2014.

Aren't we all?

My brother built the longest dock on Clear Lake to catch the last rays of sunsets…

Some friends of ours built a tower that reaches into the sky to view the vast Iowa vista of greens and sunset golds...

Other friends built a huge porch deck (twice the size of their living room) to view the sun dipping into their cornfields…

Other friends decked out their dock on Lake Okoboji with outdoor living room furniture to watch sunsets while we sip the house speciality Manhattans ...

John and I have rented log cabins high in the mountains to view the sun setting behind the continental divide…

And popped to the back of a cruise boat to see the sunset dip into the sea…

Haven't we all tried to capture all that magnificent light on our teeny tiny phones and sent that photo to all our friends…

And haven't we all 'liked' each others' sunset pics because we all know how it feels to experience that beauty and otherness…

Magnificent, glory-filled skies deserve our standing ovation.

There is always that feeling of awe that that sky full of beauty generates, a throbbing of the soul..

An absolute know that there must be Someone Who

has way more power than anything,

can create more beauty than anyone,

and must be in control of all creation

to be able to load the skies with that kind of exploding color and light.

We all know we have experienced the artwork of Someone:  God Almighty.

He reveals Himself to us in all kinds of ways and through all kinds of people and situations, but a sure-proof way of getting our attention is to light the heavens with glory:

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands."  Ps. 19:1

God as Creator has revealed Himself in that sky and in the throbbing of your soul as you look at it.  He is wooing you to Himself, speaking to you and showing His love for you.

                   You were meant to notice and be wooed.

God tells His intentions for the Israelites in Hosea 2:14 that are meant for you and me as well.  Choose one of these six translations that speaks to you:

(Complete Jewish Bible translation)  "But now I am going to woo her ... I will speak to her heart."

(Common English Bible translation)  "Therefore, I will charm her... and speak tenderly to her heart."

(God's Word translation)  "That is why I'm going to win her back... I will speak tenderly to her."

(New King James Version)  "Therefore, behold, I will allure her... and speak comfort to her."

(Holman Christian Standard translation)  "Therefore, I am going to persuade her... and speak tenderly to her."

And perhaps this is my favorite translation from the Message Bible:

"And now, here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to start all over again. I'm taking her back…. to where we had our first date, and I'll court her."

Let yourself be wooed

           be charmed

           be won

           be allured

           be persuaded

           be courted

God Himself is after you.  

You were meant to notice Him.

Follow your heart throb 

              and experience God Almighty.    

Sunday, March 9, 2014

My Chosen Instrument

So… What started out as a bit of a hobby has turned into a full-blown 'I-need-to-add-a-room-to-the-house' project around here.  Who would have thought that John's impulsive purchase of a harp on Ebay would turn into all this!

One harp has turned into 4 harps and where, oh where, is the space to put them?

The first harp to arrive at our house was purchased on Ebay… by John, my dear husband… without my consent.  He bought this electric Camac harp because he thought it looked cool (which it does.)  Please understand that no one played harp in this house at that time, nor did anyone want to.  He spied this harp on the cover of a catalog and, by showing it to me several times, hoped to encourage me to take an interest, of which I was lacking.  At the time, Ebay was a new hobby of his; in his free time, he looked up odd things to buy and sure enough, found the blue electric Camac listed with a really good price.  Certain that he would not actually purchase the harp, he put a really low-ball bid on the line.

You know where this is going - he bought it.

My first harp:  Blue Electric Camac Harp

The blue electric Camac has turned out to be an excellent harp and yes, I've taken a shine to it.  Since it is an electronic instrument, the sky is the limit in its capabilities of sound and volume.  This is my chosen instrument for big auditorium type venues.  I've also given programs in the elementary schools here in town and this harp was hands-down the students' favorite.  I used a 'milkshake' foot pedal on it to make that famous star wars sound and, of course, the children loved it!  It's a fun harp!

This harp has been signed by Deborah Henson-Conant.  She stayed in our home for three nights when she came to give a program through Marshalltown's Live On Stage series.  Because this harp is one of her favorites, I asked her to sign mine.  My Camac is now worth a whole lot more because her authentic signature lives right there on the frame.

Deborah Henson-Conant's authentic signature.

The second harp to arrive at our house was this lap harp.  It's called a lap harp because you play it on your lap.  John built this harp from a kit and had a wee bit of a problem making it, but as you can see, it turned out beautifully.  This is my chosen instrument for long distance road trips.  I have thrown it in the back of the station wagon for trips to Estes Park because playing folk tunes on the porch of our Y camp cabin was always the right thing to do.  This harp does the road trip thing well because it is compact. It has a great little plunky celtic sound.

John made my 2nd harp:  a lap harp with levers

The third harp to arrive at our house was this Lyon and Healy Petite 85 with the Extended Soundboard.  Because it is a pedal harp, my repertoire could be kicked up a notch.  This harp is 5' 4" and fits exactly into our station wagon when the seats are down.  It has a big luscious sound and is similar to harps used in symphonies, except smaller.  I love this harp and chose it right off the salesroom floor for its big clear sweet tone in the upper half.  It is the perfect harp for me and it is my chosen instrument for glissandos and technical music.  My CD was recorded on it, as well as the Youtube videos listed on my website.  If I want to impress anyone, I use this harp:  programs, weddings, funerals, important stuff.

Petite 85 Lyon and Healey Harp with Extended Soundboard

Right now this harp is homebound.  I would need to ford a river that has developed in my patio with all the melting snow and ice.  And while I'm at it, I'd like to mention that this old victorian house with its multitude of steps is not an ideal home for harps.  Fortunately, my dear husband John is perfect at moving harps and has developed a real knack for it.  However, a swim will not help the Petite 85 and it will need to stay home until the patio is much much dryer.

The fourth harp to arrive at our house was this Lyon and Healey Ogden.  It is a mid-sized mahogony  harp with a big sound.  Since it is a lever harp, it is relatively light weight and easily portable.  It fits in a bag that I can throw over my shoulder.  This is my chosen instrument for intimate settings:  small funerals, small programs, prayer services, yoga classes.  Many hours have been racked up on this work-horse harp while playing at the Hospice House or in the home of someone needing prayer.

Lyon and Healy Odgen - harp #4

Each of the four harps is perfect for specific occasions and suits a particular situation.  I'm extremely blessed to be able to choose which instrument I will use for each event.

The wheels of my thinking started turning one day when I read the phrase "My chosen instrument" right out of Acts 9:15:

         "Go!  For this man is My chosen instrument to take My Name to gentiles, kings and the Israelites."

Jesus appeared to a man named Ananias in a vision and told him to find Saul, heal Saul's blindness and then start discipling Saul to become a believer.  Ananias (probably a very mature and dedicated follower of Jesus) wanted nothing to do with this task because Saul had been scouring the country looking for Christians to annihilate.  Death by stoning was big in those days and by Saul's command, rocks were thrown.  Ananias reminded God that Saul was a bad guy but God's reply was:

         "Go!  For this man is My chosen instrument…"

Ananias DID find Saul and Saul DID become a believer in Jesus and turned from killing Christians to evangelizing with all his might.  His name was changed to Paul, and eventually, he wrote much of the Bible and took mission trips and spoke convincingly to thousands of people who became believers.  He started countless churches and performed miracles.  This was God's plan for this man named Saul, who was renamed Paul.

Frankly, this is a bit surprising.  Saul was a real bad guy and yet he was chosen to do great things for God… which leads me to ask the question:

What's God's plan for you?  If "let's-kill-all Christians" Saul was God's chosen instrument, isn't it possible that YOU are God's chosen instrument, also?


Be assured, you are "God's chosen instrument" to do something…  probably something big…  and probably something big and unexpected…  maybe even something out of your comfort zone.

You were "knit together in our mother's womb" (Ps. 139:13) in a particular way. Your personality  was determined by God Who "created (your) inmost being." (Ps. 139:13)

You answer the Myers-Briggs questions a bit differently from anyone else.  (I'm a middle-ground ENFP.)

You were packaged with a particular DNA that was mixed up just for you.

You are not a random accident of personality and size and strength and intellectual ability without a future or reason for being.  You are God's masterpiece of creation, perfectly suited to be God's chosen instrument as His follower and to do something He wants and has planned for you to do.

Not one of my harps just gets to sit there looking pretty, even though they do that extremely well.  Each harp gets chosen to do a certain job or gig because they were purchased or built to excel in that certain type of venue.

You don't get to just sit around looking pretty either, even though I'm sure you do this extremely well.

You were created to be God's chosen instrument to do something… probably something big and unexpected and a bit scary but perfectly suited to your unique personality and strengths.

Now, go do it.