Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Is 2014 Really Over?

How did it fly by so fast?!  This year has been incredible.  I have been blessed beyond measure... in so many ways!  The Lord is so good to me and I am eternally thankful for all that He has done and is doing in my life.  I really feel like I accomplished a lot this year... I was baptized as a Believer in Jesus Christ, got my Lifeguard certification (that was a big highlight for me!), ran my first 5K, had amazing violin ministry opportunities... and so much more.

Last year I did the top five Spiritual and physical lessons/observations I learned in 2013.  This year I'm going to do the top 10 from 2014.  (And next year I'll be doing the top 20... and so on.  Okay, we'll see about that one. ;) )

Top 10 Spiritual Lessons/Observations from 2014

1) You don't know what you are missing out on until you have a congregation you can call home.  Up until last year, my family had been church hunting for--well, much longer than you want to know.  For me personally, I kind of got used to the idea of not having a church.  But I had no idea what I was missing out on.  When the Lord brought us to the church He wanted us to attend, I found that I started growing so much more Spiritually, learning new things, experiencing a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, and having so many wonderful ministry opportunities opening up.

2) There is hope.  It is interesting to see the contrast between this year and last year.  Last year was a year full of difficult trials.  At times, it was very hard and very discouraging.  This year has been the exact opposite.  It almost feels like a breath of fresh air!  The Lord is always in control... no matter what.  I often think of Keith Green's song "Trials Turned to Gold":
"The view from here is nothing near
To what it is for You...
He's brought me low, so I could know
The way to reach the heights
To forsake my dreams, my self esteem
And give up all my rights
With each one that I lay down
A jewel's placed in my crown
Cause His love, the things above
Is all we'll ever need"

3) Just when you are experiencing so much joy in worshiping our Lord, Satan will try to attack and rob you of that joy.  Spiritual attack: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  Ephesians 6:12  Enough said.  ;)  And that would bring me to my next point...

4) Thinking of other will help you feel better in these circumstances.  And of course prayer!

5) God always has His hand of protection upon us.

6) God works through us to work on others.  He will always have you at the right place at the right time.  Don't miss out on those chances.

7) Living out the life a Christian should speak volumes.  You are different than the world and people are going to notice.  Sometimes the little things that might seem insignificant to us--kind words, smiles, friendly "hellos"--are the things that will make big differences in the lives of others.

8) Christians have no excuse for complacency.  We have the power of the Holy Spirit and through Christ Jesus, we will triumph!

9) "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." ~Isaiah 40:28-30

10) "Worship is not a repetitious exercise of rituals and formulas. These create a veil that actually prevents us from enjoying the presence of the Lord. Worship is the heart poured out in gratitude and awe, expressing our appreciation of who He is and what He has done for us by His grace through Jesus Christ." ~Dave Hunt


Top 10 Physical Lessons/Observations from 2014


1) No matter how far the group is into the dress rehearsal, don't ever try to button a white chorale shirt with a cut finger.  Trying to be careful in a circumstance like this is out of the question.  It's impossible.

2) It amuses me to see a Romanian man speaking broken English while using American sarcasm.

3) Trying to break someone's planking record the day before a musical gig is a terrible idea.  I broke their record all right, but I sure had to pay for it.

4) The cousins that swim together, stick together!

5) Violin and swimming go hand in hand.  You try to say "brushstroke", but it comes out as "breaststroke".

6) When I have a packed schedule I feel half-awake and half-asleep.  And I don't know which one I prefer.

7) Performing violin, piano, and alto in one concert is like a musical triathlon.  However, recommendations prove that it shouldn't be tackled with a severe case of a weird type of strep throat.  Trust me.

8) Punching bag poles standing unattended in the Goodwill are tempting... they are a perfect target.  Go ahead and give it a hit, but always check to make sure no one is on the other side.

9) Going down the world's third tallest (120 feet) and fastest (60mph) free fall body slide is insanity!  You definitely experience an adrenaline rush, but in a very thrilling and fun way.  Sliding that fast will give you shoulder-blade-slide-burn, which is actually understandable but comes as a shock at first.  Combine that with a crispy sunburn and a 7 hour flight home and you have a recipe for smoky hot-sauce.  Or something like that.

10) If you're doing it right, prank techniques will only get better and better.  And of course, there's a lot a strategy, scheming, and dedication that goes into it too.  Word to the wise: If your victim is zip-tied into a tent all night, they should surrender before--oops, I don't want to give anything away.

Yes, it has been a wonderful year.  It's been so good I don't want it to end... but I know that the best is yet to come!  There are so many more things my heavenly Father has in store for me just waiting to be discovered!

And for some of my favorite quotes from the year...
"I have one desire now - to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it."
~Elisabeth Elliot

"To leave a legacy, you must live a legacy."

"Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise."
~George Gershwin

"As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction!"
~Irish Wit

Below are some of my favorite moments from this year... and it's really hard to pick just a few favorites... not to mention just a few pictures!  (Sorry, they aren't in chronological order.)

 Music at my brother's graduation with our friend and bodhran player, Cecily.

 I got to do so much swimming this year... and I loved that.  :)

 Jesus has blessed me with wonderful friend!

 I am so thankful to the Lord for blessing Judah's eye surgery!  This little guy is so special to me.  :)

Don't mess with these girls! 
(Don't worry, I have not forgotten the promised Disney World post!)

 Surfing at Cocoa Beach, FL.  One of the best days of the year!

 Some of my favorite people.

Worshiping at church.

 There was that time we got snowed in...

Experiencing a horrible case of Cabin Fever when the power was out.

I've been able to call at a few folk dances and am looking forward to doing more of that in the future!

 I was so happy to be able to attend the wedding of my special friend, Madi (despite the fact that I was sick).

 Lindsey and I try out our kayaking skills--my first time!  (I just love the light from the sun setting)

And yes, I also need to post the pictures (and video!) from our Hanukkah music/dance video!

 Being baptized--amazing, awesome, and unforgettable moment!!!

Playing at Camp Dwight was a huge highlight.  That was one of the best weekends of the year!

Serving cake at a friend's wedding.

Dancing, dancing, dancing!  (I had such a terrible sinus infection that day. ;) )

Arguably one of my best photobombs from 2014.

 Being crazy while on the road.  ;)

Learning how hard it is to run in high altitude!

 Playing "Schindler's List" at our Passover Seder.  That was such a special moment.

Finishing Eden's unfinished sentence...

 And that is a moment that won't be forgotten.  ;)

I smile.  I laugh.  My heart is full.  
I am so blessed and thankful for all the special people God brought into my life.  May 2015 be even better because my God is amazing! 

I echo the Psalmist by saying, "Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." (Psalm 40:5)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Holiday Season

...Is a insanely busy season!  
There has been so many exciting things happening as we get to celebrate at lots of different events!

 On our way to a Hanukkah ladies tea.

 I'm not bias or anything, but I'm pretty sure our table was the most exciting.  ;)

Eden and I.

 We had fun taking some group pictures.






 It isn't every day you meet a trio of twins...

 We spent an evening with our dear, long time friends to celebrate Christmas.  We just pick up where we left off with all sorts of fun things!  I found this neat sword they had on display.

 The Nutcracker is special to all of us, so we went to see the ballet perform it with our good friend, Tabitha W.

Now that is some artsy lighting and we weren't even trying!


 And then we had a lot of fun at our church's Hanukkah party.

An amazing highlight was putting a group together to see Handel's "Messiah" and "Judas Maccabeus" in concert!  Wow, what a phenomenal event!  Beautiful music and beautiful words.  This is something I hope to do again next year.  And thanks to Evan S. who took this lovely picture.

So yes, I am trying to keep everything updated... I still have a couple more posts that are waiting to be posted, but right now I can just squeeze this one in!

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Disney World Fireworks

How in the world can I fit an amazing ten day trip to Florida in just one blog post?!  The answer is: I can't.  You will just have to bear with me as I try to keep up with our trip posts from November.  (The business of the holidays are upon us, so I am doing my best to get the posts up without getting buried under more of it!)

At the Magic Kingdom, we watched the firework show.  It was just beautiful!  It was amazing to see how they used the castle as a backdrop for their shows.  I couldn't help but smile when I passed a worker watching the firework show with wonderment as if it were her first time seeing it.  It really is spectacular!



















Just beautiful!  And if you didn't get enough of the beauty of lights, here are some night scenes I was able to snap. 

 Walking down Main street.

The carousel with what I think it the moon above it.

 Overnight they put up Christmas decorations!

 Riding the ferry back... I love lights on the water!


My favorite picture!