Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Pathway Through Isaiah

    I get excited when is comes time every four years to teach Isaiah to my Early Morning Guests. Of all the Old Testament books, I have lingered longer in that book than any other and my calendar says I have three weeks to teach it.

   We actually had almost finished the second week when I stumbled upon the idea to compile a list of  similes, one from each chapter, to get a feel for the images Isaiah leaves us. I was surprised by what can be learned from reading through this list.

1. Your sins are like scarlet and repentance is like snow
2. The temple is like a mountain
3. The apostate rulers of Israel are like babes
4. The atonement is like a cloud in the day and a flame at night
5. The house of Israel is like the plants of a vineyard
6. The coal from the altar is like the cleansing of the atonement
7. A sign from God is like getting a message of greatest worth
8. Isaiah's sons names were like signs from God
9. Trees are like the people of Israel
10. What happened to the Northern Kingdom is like what will happen to Judah in Isaiah's time
11. The Savior is like a new rod growing from the branch of Jesse (house of David)
12. A well is like salvation from which you can draw living water
13. Babylon is like the mortal world
14. The fall of Babylon is like the fall of Satan in the millennium
15. Being bald and beardless is like what the people of Moab will feel  
16. The people of Moab will be like a wandering bird who has fallen out of it's nest.
17. The destruction of Damascus will be like the gleaning of grapes where there are just a few grapes left on the top of the vine
18. The restoration will be like an ensign on a mountain
19. Egypt will be like a woman who is afraid
20 Isaiah walking around barefoot is like Egypt when the Assyrian's beat them
21. Isaiah is like a watchman on a tower who cries about the enemy coming
22. The Messiah is like a key that will open the house of David
23. The people of Tyre are like their ships that have no wind in their sails
24. The destruction of Jerusalem will be like the harvesting of olives and every last olive will be stripped from the tree
25. The blessings of the Atonement are like a shadow in the heat, like a feast of the best food, like a covert in a flood
26. A woman in labor is like a people repenting of a grievous sin
27. A Leviathan is like the nations taking on Israel
28. Christ is like a beautiful foundation we can build on
29. The strangers who come to overrun  Israel will be like dust in the future
30. The atonement of Christ is like a glue that can bind up a breach and is seven-fold the light of the sun

40. The Lord's strength is like the wings of an eagle

53. Jesus is like a tender seed because no one could see in him his potential as a child
    We are like sheep who go astray
54. The tent is like the church

55. My words are like rain, they bring forth good fruit

58. A person who fasts correctly is like a well watered garden

59. Mortal man without a Savior is like a blind man
60. The House of Israel is like a light shining before the world
61. Righteousness and praise will be like a garden in bloom
62. Watchmen are like prophets who watch over their people
63. The Savior's atonement is like treading a wine press alone.
64. We are like clay; the Lord is like a potter

66. The Lord's peace is like a river

The chapter is not in the scriptures, we made it up ourselves
67. The Celestial Kingdom is like a Harry Potter tent.

   Only 23 more chapters to go and one week to explore more word pictures.

       We certainly spend intense time in some verses but finding these similes in every chapter gives my students some overall themes to traverse the path through Isaiah.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another Season of Swingset Comes to an End

   Winter Swingset just ended today.  I teach pre-school music once a week, many weeks of the year. Our Singing Stories curriculum was very easy and smooth to teach and I hope fun for the kids. Did you know that many picture books are songs and qualify as Singing Stories, not just reading stories. It warms my heart to see two-year olds singing and moving without self consciousness. Grandmas and Dads show up as well as Moms and Caregivers and all participate to the joy of their children.

   Here we are moving up and down with Miss Froggy , our mascot, who teaches us many adverbs to increase our moving skills.

  Could it be that pesky flea on my head as well as on my toe?


             Dancing like the wind is so whirly and twirly.

   And playing the drums requires listening, evaluating each drum for it's sound value, and trading back and forth.

   There are more classes to view here and here. We are starting again in April, maybe you will join us?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book of Mormon II- Alma 35-41

This has been a weekend for fasting and prayer for me and my husband. Our focus has been for our daughter-in-law and our tiny, new granddaughter, Gabi, who is in the hospital with an infection. Our faith is that they will both be renewed and that they will have new strength and vitality. I understand how Alma felt as he looked back on his striving with the Zoramites, both those who set themselves up higher than their brothers, and those who felt lower and rejected by their brothers. Seeing that the consequences of teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ were both good and bad, he turns to his sons, to shore up his own family in perilous times.
    Alma 35:15-16"Now Alma, being grieved for the iniquity of his people, yea for the wars, and the bloodsheds, and the contentions which were among them; Therefore, he caused that his sons should be gathered together, that he might give unto them every one his charge, separately, concerning the things pertaining unto righteousness. "
  In chapter 36 we have the most beautiful piece of Hebrew poetry in the Book of Mormon. Written in Chiastic form, these verses retell Alma's spiritual journey. He testifies of the power of the atonement to lift him out of his prison. 

Alma 36:3 "And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day."
  This verse is paralleled exactly by verse 27, reviewing the same conviction in the atonement of Christ.
    Alma 36:27 "And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me."
   To Helaman, to Shiblon, and to Corianton, he gives words of admonishment and counsel, specific to their needs. Every parent can benefit from the example of Alma as they read his words.
     Alma 37:37 "Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."

    I am currently reading a new book by James Farrell entitled "Falling to Heaven". Many of the chapters in this book deal with the teachings of Alma.  Both Alma's verses and this book have been comforting to me this weekend.
    "Plant this word in your hearts—the word of the divinity of Christ—then will your burdens be made light through his joy. This was Alma’s message both to us and to those who were down. Would you not now humble yourselves and begin to test whether or not this Christ can lift you? Alma is asking. There is nothing so down that He can’t lift it. As the tree of his divine reassurance and testimony grows within us, the promise is that it will lift our burdens and soothe our souls."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Early Spring at Fisher Pond

    I have made it my duty to compare changes from season to season at the Fisher Pond Preserve. Since yesterday yielded sun, I invited my friend, sans camera, to go investigate the early Spring sights.

    The path in changes from season to season. In Summer the grass takes hold and the ground is dry and firm, while in the Fall the yellow leaves pepper the path leaving gold coins amongst the dark mud. This time the Poplar catkins made us feel we were walking through living worms.

The Pond was quiet, no fish to scare on the surface, and the light was misty and hazy.

Garna suggested we look for the alphabet in the scenery to add line and shape. A's, V's. W's were plentiful in the fallen trees and shrubs.

While we were looking at the world through our lenses an eagle swooped from overhead making us chase  him with our cameras.

Still vulnerable in it's nakedness now, the Pond will soon have an explosion of green and very little of the water will be visible from the road or even from the trail. 

I can't wait to see it dressed up for Easter.
 See pictures from other seasons, here, here, and here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pinterest- My Bulletin Board

   In the stone-age, young women and young mothers made idea files. We set up a system to keep all those projects we intended to make and great talks we'd heard, so that someday we would find them again, quickly. I still have many of those files but I haven't a clue what is in them. Technology has saved the day. Introducing, Pinterest, a virtual bulletin board to save all those great ideas.

    Name a folder and then pin the picture or website on your board. Save your favorite recipes, book titles, sewing projects, and pictures on your site. Anything you find on the internet can be pinned to your board or pin things from your own blog to keep for quick reference..
    My first few boards were all about color. I wanted pictures of various images all in the same color. I had dreamed of making that kind of file from paper images. But Pinterest is so much better. I like looking at color images and seeing. Then I started a board for books to read, seminary games to play, favorite photos I have made myself or seen on the internet., and recipes I have tried. I still have a real bulletin board to put quick visual reminders.

This one was made by my friend, Jen, and I love sliding a favorite memory behind the ribbons. Look at this cute card another Jenny friend made.

    Well, to get back to my point, if you want to see what Pinterest looks like click on my link on the right side of this post. You might want to do some pinning, yourself.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Day In The Studio

  Can I tell you about my amazing day in the studio with Kim, recording two of my children's songs? No? Too bad, I am going to do it anyway. This is something that I have always wanted to do. I record my stuff on my computer but I wanted to work with some high-tech equipment and do the job right. My partner in music and movement found a way to trade violin lessons with recording time in the Pumpkin Palace owned by Jason Staczek.

 The time recording was intense as Kim and I were concentrating so hard to get our instruments and singing just right. It certainly was an "in the moment" four hours and we were both so tired after. I played on a nice Steinway to accompany our singing. We decided to record voices and instruments all on one track because, guess what? We had a videographer filming the recording session. I am excited to put the U-Tube video on my blog once it gets edited.
 Jason has some pretty cool computers with three huge monitors to watch the digital recording. I recognized the basic look of the multi-tracks but this was so much more sophisticated than I have ever seen.

This scene looks familiar with the synth underneath the screen. We filmed Jason playing the tuba part on the keyboard to add to our singing tracks. Tuba, you ask? You'll love it!

Jason used slices of trees to insulate the studio to control the sound. That made quite a texture portrait.

  Our videographer was Sam Veatch who was very creative and easy to be with. Can you imagine how many takes we did to get two voices and two instruments working perfectly? Sam was very patient.

One of the songs we recorded was "Singing Stories", which we are using in our music and movement class right now. We brought our books in for inspiration and decor on the video.

I will post the video of our songs "Take a Breath" and "Singing Stories" very soon. Thanks for caring!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Body Of Pain

   One of my first blog favorites was The NieNie Dialogues. NieNie is a nickname for a lovely mom who had a tragic accident in a plane and was severely burned. She has written for years and her blog started before her accident and through her long and painful healing process. I read her posts with compassion as she talked about grieving over what she lost and the struggle to maintain a normal life. When a mother loses the use of her body or has constant pain, how does that affect her family? My family is dealing with such an issue and I have scoured the internet looking for first hand accounts of mothers suffering with rheumatoid arthritis. I haven't found much and I suppose that makes sense since if you were suffering with this debilitating disease you would find it difficult to type on a computer. So, I am writing this about, and for my daughter-in-law. This disease has slowly taken away Vanessa's strength and mobility. She was once an athletic woman and loved to be outside. Growing up on a farm forced her to take an active role in tending to the animals and garden. That spunky, competitive, girl is hard to imagine as she struggles to climb stairs, make food, even brush the errant strand of air out of her face. What is a mother of five children to do as she faces this experience in life? She gets up every morning and copes with the job of overseeing the children's meals, their getting read for the day, their intellectual stimulation, and their need to be loved. Most of these jobs must be delegated to the children and her husband who take on a great deal more on then they expected.

  There are some benefits to this situation, and I am not being cynical here. I still find a mom who finds her children amusing and delights in their antics. Her eyes light up as she tells a funny story about them. She has found some unique ways to show affection and love even when her body cannot endure much contact.
  I find children who know how to do many things beyond their age ability, simply because they must contribute. They can fix simple meals, do dishes, empty the dishwasher, sweep, and clean up, which to tell the truth, they need to do more often. Even though they fight bitterly at times, they know each other well and they offer support.
  I find her loved ones coming to her support and doing it because they want to ease her burden and carry a bit if her sorrow. What seemed hard gets easier as the effects of the added help show life getting a bit more fun.
  I am meeting angels who aren't family coming and doing so much to make life better for Vanessa. She feels a bitter-sweetness as she tries to explain why she needs this help so desperately. She would rather be the one who has it all together and can help others, but that is not her lot at this time. Will her illness get better? I pray everyday that it does and I have that abounding hope. In the meantime, I am learning that we don't rise to heaven we fall to heaven. In our weaknesses we grasp the hand of the Savior and he brings heaven to our door.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Alma 28-34

    After the people of Ammon are situated in Jershon, a mighty struggle with the Lamanites begins. This is a terrible time of war. So many people are killed; it is truly a time of great sorrow. Alma expresses his need to continue preaching when he sees, not just the death and destruction, but the spiritual death amongst those who reject the Savior.
   Alma 28:13 "And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men. And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing -- sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life."
   If Alma could be an angel and cry repentance unto every soul he would do it with all his energy but he is just a man whose next calling it is to judge an Anti-Christ, named Korihor. Korihor's philosophy is very appealing. He speaks to the subject of being "lifted up", out of the shackles of religion and the restraints of a unknown God.

   Alma 30:18 "And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms -- telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof."
  The paradox of Korihor calling for people to look up and be brought up out of religious slavery is so chilling when the reality is  that Satan has no desire to elevate man at all.
   Alma 30;60 "And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell."
  Alma is actually dumbfounded when he hears the audacious statements of Korihor.
   Alma 31:25 "Yea, and he also saw that their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride."
   The great missionaries embark again on a journey to save souls. This time they take along, not just the sons of Mosiah, but also the sons of Alma. They are given power and strength through the atonement of Jesus Christ, to be able to go forward on this mission.
   Alma 31:38 "And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith."
   Alma bears fervent testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He speaks of those in the past who knew of Christ and his atoning power. Even Moses, who used the serpent on his staff to teach the power to heal that comes through our Savior.
   Alma 33:20 "But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them."
  The power to heal is known to Alma. He testifies of his own healing and the change of heart he endured. Oh, that I had some of the faith of Alma.

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Early Morning Guests Are So Wise

   Solomon certainly was known for his wisdom and the Book of Proverbs hold many sayings that ring true and are remembered throughout time, but my Early Morning Guests are in possession of some truly awesome insight.

   We have been learning about Parallelism in Hebrew Poetry and trying our hand at writing our own Proverbs.

    Choosing a religion is like trying to find one Skittle in a bag of M&M's; you have to taste them to find it.

   To have a book is like carrying a cell phone; you never know when you are going to need it.

   Getting to heaven is like waffles; you don't get the butter until it's cooked.

  A great meal includes washing dishes; a satisfying seminary lesson is preceded with preparation.
After cleaning up the last dish; it is time to make the next meal. In the afterglow of an early morning successs, the next day's lesson must be read.

   A proverb a day keeps ignorance at bay.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Swingset Music and Movement Goes Into the Studio

   Big news! The Swingset Music Duo is heading into the studio this weekend to do professional recordings of their original songs.

   This is a big dream come true as over the years we have written many songs to use in our music and movement classes. A favorite song of mine is Singing Stories which we are using currently in our classes.
I wrote it just after taking a cruise to Alaska and I was enamored with the Inside Passage.

Sing Me A Story

I ride a sailboat in my imagination
I take a ferry to places in my mind
Take me along as we cruise the inside passage
Open the pages, let's see what we can find

Sing me, Sing me a story.
Sing me, Sing me a rhyme
Take me and wrap me in your arms
Just do it one more time

I am a froggy who wants to find a sweetheart
A teddy bear, lunching in the woods at night
My bags are packed so my aunt and I can travel 
All these are stories,  can't wait for us to start.

   The studio is big with state of the art equipment and the engineer is so very nice. I will know so much more about recording when I'm done with project. Tell you more next week. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The French Period

    I am on a French binge lately and I may be on a German one soon.  I have never been to France and the nearest I have come is Germany but I think my reading a favorite blog called Design Mom has piqued my interest. Gabrielle and I share a first name, we both have children, she loves photography, and she loves to read. The fact that she loves fashion, is a designer, by trade, and lives in France, makes us different but I think I may be a wannabe of all those things that make us different. I so enjoyed her sharing how they chose a house to rent in France and I like the insights she gives to living there with her large family.
  I am currently reading a book called, "Paris, My Sweet" which is making me mad for trying croissants.

 I have tried all the sources for chocolate croissants in my town, so this morning I ventured farther afield. West Seattle has a French bakery.

   West Seattle is known for many things, but I really love the murals on the sides of many buildings. Look here for some background on the murals, painted by artists from many places.
   Nouveau Bakery, in West Seattle, is a step above what I can find in my town. Believe it or not, it is even a bit less expensive.

   See those Parisian Macaroons on the menu? I had to try some  after seeing pictures everywhere on the interment.

  They have a crunchy outside with a soft and chewy coconut inside. The many colors are flavors of delight from lemon to raspberry.

   A must at every bakery is the chocolate croissant. As the delicate layers of flakiness litter your lap you know you are eating fresh dough, baked in the wee hours of the morning. These were twice baked.

   At the Nouveau Bakery they also sell chocolates in the manner of the french chocolatier. I can't give you a description as yet. I am saving these for a later day. Most of them are dark chocolate, my favorite.

   This has satisfied my interest for the time being and now I need to come back to work on my own turf, knowing I have those chocolates waiting in my drawer.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Alma 22-28

   The love of God, spoken of by Lehi, which he saw as the fruit of the tree, unto which he steadfastly hastened, knows no bounds and knows no limits. I think Lehi and Nephi saw in vision the glorious teaching of the Sons of Mosiah. It must have been such a bright spot in the future of their posterity. I marvel at those people placed in the right place, like Abish, who through God's power taught the Lamanite people.

    Alma 24:14 "And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations."
  Truly, God desires to enlighten all his children. But, some push him away and become full of the opposite to his abiding love. 
     Alma 24:30 "And thus we can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things."
  Before we read the chapters of retaliation and war, I marvel at the power given to these missionaries and at the power given to the Lamanites who opened their hearts and allowed their world to be turned upside down.
     Alma 25:17 "And now behold, Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and Himni, and their brethren did rejoice exceedingly, for the success which they had had among the Lamanites, seeing that the Lord had granted unto them according to their prayers, and that he had also verified his word unto them in every particular."
  The words of Ammon to his brothers bear powerful testimony of the greatness of God. He convinces me that the teaching of the Lamanites was one of the greatest miracles in the Book of Mormon.
     Alma 26:12 "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."
  What a marvelous miracle that these "savage people" would be softened by the power of God and come to even know his mysteries.
     Alma 26:22 "Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing -- unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance."
   The power of the open heart goes further as Ammon asks the Nephites to let their old enemies live amongst them. 
    Alma 27:24 "And now behold, this will we do unto our brethren, that they may inherit the land Jershon; and we will guard them from their enemies with our armies, on condition that they will give us a portion of their substance to assist us that we may maintain our armies."
   And since opposition exists, the joy is tempered with the enormous sadness of the retaliation of the Lamanites, spurred on by the apostate Nephites. I hear the voice of Mormon, in these last verses, marveling at the words he has read and seeing the past in comparison to his own time.
    Alma 28:8 "And this is the account of Ammon and his brethren, their journeyings in the land of Nephi, their sufferings in the land, their sorrows, and their afflictions, and their incomprehensible joy, and the reception and safety of the brethren in the land of Jershon. And now may the Lord, the Redeemer of all men, bless their souls forever."
    This account of the teaching of Ammon is amazing.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bringing In Spring

 During the winter months some things go fallow in my life. I stop cultivating my desire to walk outside, to explore in the woods and to throw open the windows. Everything goes inward during the winter months. But, I see change emerging and I want to bring Spring, in.

    Physically, I gathered up some of my early variety Rhododendron blossoms and put them front and center in the kitchen. To add more pizazz to my table I switched my off-white tablecloth for a more lively topping. Where did I get those cute dots? Well, the idea came to me when I was wrapping a gift for my granddaughter. You see, that is wrapping paper on my table. What? Not practical? It is if you have a sheet of plexi-glass on top, which we have to protect the light wood underneath.

   I can leave the table bare without freaking out about spills, or I can put different designs under the plastic for some variation.

    So that brings in spring physically, but, spiritually what can I do to bring in a new lightness in my life. I feel the need to put off the crash after work. When my piano students leave I tend to crash on the couch and watch TV. I noticed this week after work I just meditated a few moments. I recalled what happened and counted up the many nice events which made me feel good. Then, slowly, I started dinner and kept that mindful attitude. Tomorrow daylight savings messes up our inner clock but I intend to use that extra hour of daylight to avoid the TV. Bringing in Spring means lightening my view.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beauty Among Stones

I look for beauty in the everyday of my life. Sometimes beauty is scattered among the stones and it seems to fight to hold it's rightful place. Often it is the stumbling blocks that actually turn into stepping stones which give more beauty to life. Do I embrace this concept? Not so much....

      That is why I see so many rocks in my path. If only I could welcome the truth that every path which is lined with beauty also is anchored in the hardness of struggle. Hmm...just thinking.