Tell Me a Story...

Peace in Christ: The Story

 

IMG_3119
Thanksgiving 2019 Nathan and Rebecca Harper Style (in Eagle, Idaho)

The best way to get to know Rebecca Harper is to go to her home.  Drive up to her beautiful house and watch as she throws the door open wide and stretches out her arms like you see in this picture.  “Have I done some great favor to her?” you wonder, as she is positively giddy giving you and yours hugs and talking about the fun we’ll have together.  Somehow, us coming to her home to benefit from her hospitality seems like the best gift we could have given.  As Nathan and Rebecca play right along side your littles over the next few days, you wonder where they get there never-ending-energy.  From hot tubbing to building Kinex to dancing her heart out, Rebecca is in the center of the action and delights in making us all feel special.

In the last post, I talked about the heartache of finding out that Aunt Rebecca had died in a car crash and family members were in the hospital.  Our hearts ache for the months and years ahead for Rebecca’s sweetheart, Nathan, and son, Dallin without their sweet Rebecca.

Though we didn’t know that it would be possible when we received the sad news, we were blessed to be able to gather as a family despite the COVID 19 restrictions (outdoor graveside/funeral) last weekend.  As we we shed tears together over Rebecca’s passing and talked about the past and the future, this scripture seemed to be the only way I could explain the way I felt:

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  ~Philippians 4:7

The peace we felt was beyond what made logical sense.  In the wake of such tragedy, how is it possible to feel such an overwhelming sense of love and hope and peace?  The feeling of angels surrounding us and the strengthening power of Jesus Christ were real and evident in a way I had never experienced before.

There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon that I read while I was in Idaho that described well the feeling I have had since I returned home:

“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” (Mosiah 24:14-15, Book of Mormon)

We as a family, too, have been visited “in our afflictions” and now I stand as a witness of the reality of Jesus Christ, His power to sustain, lift, strengthen, and comfort all of us.  It is the truth that “When there is no peace on earth, there is Peace in Christ.”

I hope you enjoy this recording as much as we enjoyed recording it (not possible 🙂 ).  It was a gift that all of the sister-in-laws on both sides of the family could gather and sing together.  We presented this musical number at the graveside service.

Peace in Christ

Tell Me a Story...

Peace: The Story

90813598_2280720908897201_6363800686552376663_n(1)
Permission received from Kate Lee

This piece was written several years ago for my son, Gabriel and the sheet music is entitled “When Fear Creeps In.”  Today I finished the recording which I dedicate to my sweet Sister-in-law, Rebecca Harper.  On Sunday, she became a guardian angel and our hearts grieve her passing.  As I wrote the title at the top, the title with fear in it didn’t feel right.  As I have worked on this recording, I have kept calling it “Peace” and so that is what the recording will now be called.

The idea to make this recording came on Sunday night when my son, Gabriel, asked me to play a song for him on the piano as he tried to fall asleep.  We had just been given the news of Rebecca’s passing and he felt scared and worried that he would have nightmares.  I pulled out the binder with music I had written over the last several years and played through several, this being one of them.   I thought of the message of peace that our Savior, Jesus Christ offers and how much we need Him.  I find comfort singing about His peace and so I share it in hopes that you find some comfort here.

(Click on the link below to hear the recording.)

Peace

 

Music

Abide with Me: The Story

nelson-santos-jr-PuaIPFH3FHg-unsplash
Photo by Nelson Santos Jr on Unsplash

Dear friends,

It is late, and I can’t hardly believe I’m still up, but I have something in my heart that I want to share.  I, like you, have been watching FAR too much of the news for my good lately.  No, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be up on what’s going on in the world.  And I appreciate those who are working hard to give us accurate information.  But today, after reading news articles, and wondering if a grocery pickup for a few more things on Monday would be futile (likely!), and scrolling through posts on facebook and instagram for far too long and far too frequently, and and and….I sat down to read my scriptures and listen to a BYU devotional (this one: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/janet-b-bradford/carry-on/).  Wouldn’t you know it, by the time I was done, the dreary feeling that had been there only minutes before was replaced with hope and peace.  Magic?  Nope- even better: light.

At the end of the devotional that I watched, Janet Bradford quotes several hymns and I was (again) struck by how powerful they were; power we need in our world today!  It was then that I made a resolve to add my voice to those that are sharing positive messages around the world.  Have you heard them?  Messages that speak of this being “our greatest hour”, of a loving God who is watching over us, of the hidden blessings that are to be found in the challenges of our day…I add my voice: peace and joy are available today and are found in Jesus Christ!  “Who but thyself my guide and stay can be?”  This is my very favorite line of the hymn “Abide with Me.”  Who else can I rely on when chaos is both outside and inside of me?  Only He can provide the deep security and help that I am looking for.  I am resolving to spend more time focused on the light and less time spinning in the dark.  Tomorrow, the Sabbath, is a good day to start.

He is my anchor.  He is my strength. He is my source of peace.  And I am so grateful for Him: Jesus Christ

This arrangement was written as an expression of my testimony after a very difficult several weeks last fall.  I’m delighted to share it with you tonight.  Much love, friends!  (Click on the link below:)

Abide with Me

Quote

Give me a light…

cherry-laithang-NmPpz1jA_JE-unsplash
Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

This morning I read this quote that was too good to keep to myself.  This is the source if you’d like to look up the entire talk: https://speeches.byuh.edu/devotional/choose-a-growth-mindset

I love the poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins in 1908 and originally entitled “God Knows”.  It invites each of us to put our hand into the hand of God when we might be feeling fearful and the path ahead is not visible.  It reads like this:  And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:  “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”  And he replied:  “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.  That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”  That poem leads my thoughts to a Book of Mormon scripture with a similar feel. It asks, “Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power …. ” (Mormon 5:23)?  When you feel overmatched, please remember that God can open all doors and help us climb the highest peaks.

Isn’t that inspiring?!  Happy Thursday!

Love

Laura

Thought

Chug, Chug, Chug….

denis-chick-mHqIs22M2Kw-unsplash
Photo by Denis Chick

I promised to take you along on my music journey this year, remember?  I didn’t forget.  My little music train has being chugging along- a little slower than planned because of some unanticipated stops, but it’s still moving!  Jump on for a few minutes and I’ll catch you up on where I’ve been.

September:

I helped the boys adjust to being back in school. They did fabulous!  I began to shift gears and get back into a routine.  I set goals, and looked forward to making some progress with my music journey (did I tell you how much I enjoyed Richie Norton’s 76 day challenge?).

Mid-month I went to my doctor to get a procedure done that was much more painful and a much longer recovery than anticipated.  My compassion for others who are in pain grew exponentially (aka holy cow that was rough).

October:

I finally felt like myself for one day before my entire family became very sick for several weeks.  Flat-on-our-backs type sick.  Kids took turns staying home from school and I played nurse-mom.

In the minutes to myself, I was privileged to learn from the great Hans Zimmer through his masterclass (online).  Wow that was fun!

November:

It had been two months since school had started and I had made very little progress with my goals (you can see why!).  The boys were back in school so I had more free time than I’d had for weeks, but I felt SO discouraged.  I spent much of the month wondering if I even wanted to write music.  I wondered if I even liked writing music.  Maybe I was barking up the wrong tree.

A good friend spent a lot of time listening to me during November.  She and I talked a lot about hope, and it was through her that I started to find my footing again.  Through our chats I realized that the “unknowns” of my music journey were part of what was making me feel so frustrated, not necessarily music itself.  Maybe I didn’t hate writing music after all!

I also worked on a hymn arrangement of “Abide with Me” for two women’s voices and piano.

December:

Early December I began singing lessons again.  It has been a joy to learn from a wonderful teacher.

Family is my number one and the holidays didn’t leave a lot of room for music time, but I managed to meet up with a friend in Spokane who helped me record a song I wrote with a friend called “Feels Right” (it’s not done, but I hope to share it soon!).

January:

Kids going back to school and New Years Goals gave me a fresh start.  I needed it.  I set some new goals (for one thing, I wanted to write music every day, even if it was only a few notes!) and felt like I was gaining momentum.

I started taking some online classes- one on music for film, one about orchestration, and one on composing.  One night, at about 9:00, I finished analyzing a piece Beethoven wrote for a string quartet.  My husband came in to the bedroom where I was putting away my headphones and I commented, “How did I ever think this was not my thing?  Who else analyzes Beethoven at night and feels like they’re a kid in a candy store?!”  I started remembering why I love music (listening to it and writing it!).

Then my youngest son broke his leg snowboarding.  Actually getting off the lift.  The first lift of the day.  Bummer.

IMG_20200125_180637895
Photo of my son’s broken leg taken at Deer Park, Washington Urgent Care

Fortunately he loves his wheelchair (we’re headed in to X-ray it again Monday!) so it’s been as easy as having a full leg-cast could be.

February:

After an initial recovery period, my youngest son went back to school full time, loving the ramps (“I get to ride down them while everyone else walks, mom!”) and doing very well.  My oldest had been fighting an infection on his big toe which climaxed in a minor surgery last week.

Two and a half weeks ago I was asked to write an arrangement (using three existing children’s songs), gather some friends to perform it, practice with them, and share it- today.  It would have been a tight enough timeline as it was, but I knew that we were leaving for Banff, Alberta (for an anniversary trip!) in a few days.  Though that didn’t give me much time, I was excited to have an opportunity to write for something that was already scheduled to be performed- not a common opportunity for me currently.  This morning I had the honor of singing “Trying” with some talented friends at a Women’s Conference.  

And that brings you up to speed!  It’s been a busy couple of months.

I’ll leave you with an experience that I’ve been pondering from last week:

At my voice lesson, Stazya (my teacher) was helping me with a vocal exercise.  I was singing a pattern of notes that would get higher each time I finished the pattern successfully.  It was getting high, and I was having a hard time adjusting in the higher range.  After an attempt that didn’t sound the way I wanted it to, she looked at me and said, “Everything is set up and working right with your voice and your breathing.  Now you just need to let go in order for the voice to be free.  You just simply have to let go.

ankush-minda-VcD5OD2jDGA-unsplash
Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

What in your life is technically ready and working, but in order for it to really soar, “you just simply have to let it go”?

TTFN,

Laura

Quote

“It violently sweeps everything out of your house….”

This quote rang true to me today:

In a paradoxical way, afflictions and sorrow prepare us to experience joy if we will trust in the Lord and His plan for us. This truth is beautifully expressed by a 13th-century poet: “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”

~https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2019/10/27budge?lang=eng

Happy Monday, friends!

Cause it makes me happy...

Autumn Time

20191009_143208

Hello there, friends!

Autumn is in full swing here.  Do you know how I know?  The bushes in my back yard have turned a brilliant shade of red.  Flaming red.  They make me so happy.  Oh, and you want to know what else makes me feel happy?  My one living flower in the back yard.  It’s a sunflower that my son planted several months ago.  Bright yellow amid the wilting leaves from our garden.  It’s even MORE impressive to me because we did not do anything to it besides plant it and let the automatic sprinkler do its job.  This year our garden philosphy was “do whatever the heck you’re going to do, little seeds.”  We got a few cherry tomatoes and a gorgeous sunflower.  And I’m VERY happy with that.

This past month has been a mixed bag for me.  I have had an opportunity to “practice my patience” (a phrase Levi’s kindergarten teacher used regularly last year- brilliant…) as I healed from a procedure and then turned around and got a doozy of a cold which threw me back to flat on my back for a week.  Though I have missed my regular healthy self, I am coming back to the table with more than before.  Isn’t that how it goes?  The hard, steep learning curves we experience are not the things we usually would choose to go through, but we get to take with us the gold nuggets we find along the way.  I am a better human being because of the learning that has taken place this month.  Lots to be grateful for.

Because I promised to take you along on my musical journey this year, I want to update you (and hold myself accountable!).  Here are a few little tidbits, and with any luck, I’ll be checking in a little more frequently in the coming weeks!

-I LOVE journals.  I purchased a beautiful journal at the beginning of this school year (Mom gets to school-shop too, right?!) and I have used it to process music-related thoughts.  It has been magical to sit down and start my music sessions by writing.  Who knew?  I have always been someone who loved to talk things out, but there ain’t anything talking back at me during the school day currently (unless you count Siri…).  Journalling has allowed me a way to bounce thoughts off….myself!  It probably helps that my journal greets me with “Hello, Sunshine!” every morning.  I have been a typing journal writer for some time now (I print out my journal once a year and put it in a binder) but I’ve rediscovered the magic (and therapy!) writing my thoughts can be.20191009_143421

-Have you heard of Richie Norton?  My sister and brother-in-law introduced me to the 76 day challenge he created to help us “do something stupid”-  essentially work toward your big crazy dream.  I started the 76 day challenge when the boys went back to school and I have LOVED it.  The structure is just what my black and white brain needed to get on track, and it has really helped me settle into what I really want to accomplish and get to work.  It’s funny that as an adult I still find the hardest part just sitting my bum down and getting to work.  I’ve been using a timer (as he suggests) when I’m doing my “dream work” and it’s surprised me how long 15 minutes feels…I think “Seriously?  Haven’t I been working on this for over a half an hour?!”  Nope….apparently I’m working to extend my attention span…Seriously- here’s the link in case you want to try it too.  It’s fabulous!

-I’m chasing rainbows, people!  Actually what it really looks like is doing something out-of-the-box to create.  For example, I decided that it sounded fun to play the flute.  So I borrowed a flute from a friend and this morning, for my 1/2 hour of Joyful M.E time (I’ll have to explain later…) I played around with the flute (looked up fingerings online) and came up with a melody.  Turned out I had only been playing around for 15 minutes, so I decided to hop on the piano and crank out an accompaniment.  I was so delighted at how it was turning out that I pulled up my music program and input the music into my program- voila- I have sheet music for my new song….wait for it….”The Flute-y March.”  The point of all this is that I’m re-learning that “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.  FIND it, and snap!  The job’s a game!”  Thank you Mary Poppins.  But honestly, I’ve approached this music thing WAY too seriously so many times and it just gets stressful.  Today?  It felt magical.  With that concept, I’ve been thinking about how crazy it is that we can “hear” someone smiling while they’re singing (sometimes).  Do you think you can “hear” stress?  Or can you “hear” how magical someone felt creating it?  Something to think about!

Much love,

Laura20191009_143324.jpg

(Oh nuts- the sunflower decided that it had had enough today and fell to the ground.  But even on the ground it’s sunny and beautiful! 🙂