30 September 2011

The Beauty of the Mind

My mom just posted a lovely article about memory. Especially focusing on things learned in childhood, she talks about how important it is to give children a pure and wonderful mental diet, teaching them to memorize the lessons of the Bible in word and song. The following are some thoughts that are running around in my mind in response to her article.

The things I memorized in childhood still stick with me. My husband and I both recited the fourth commandment the other day, in unison, without missing a word. It's not something I review on a regular basis. I hadn't read the words terribly recently. But unlike my upcoming recital repertoire, which I do review and attempt to engrave more deeply in my mind for hours every day, these words flowed easily off my tongue, instantly available, word for word.

I think there are a couple of reasons for that. One is that, as most of us realize these days, children's minds are especially efficient in memorizing and retaining information, perhaps partly because children love repetition as much as they do.

But perhaps there's another good reason. Bible verses, Sabbath school songs (or any hymns or spiritual songs) are all things that God has a big interest in helping us retain and retrieve when we have need of them. This is one memory tool that is available to every person at every age--even those who feel that their minds are slowing down.

In my own life, I've experienced many times the blessings of memory.

During two or so of my adult years, my Sabbath mornings were spent with the littlest children, playing the piano for their Sabbath school class. I hope they still remember the songs we taught them, and the lessons from the stories my friend told them every week. I do. They have come back to encourage me during quite a few trials, and have inspired hope and faith in my heart.

I've also worked on some memory projects of my own, and I'm well on my way to memorizing an entire book of the Bible (praise God who gives the wisdom for this endeavor!). I cannot even begin to count the times that this memory project has enriched my Bible study, both within the book I've been working with and in other books of the Bible. It has been an amazing journey to see how often the Bible interprets itself, and how often God gives me insights into His Word through my increasing familiarity with it.

I want to say one other thing about singing and memorizing: I know of few things that can bring my heart more courage than singing--OUT LOUD--words of faith in Jesus and praise to God my Creator and Redeemer. Try it out for yourself. It's hard to let Satan get you discouraged when you openly and outwardly give yourself to worship in song.

26 September 2011


Things get goofy in the music department sometimes. We work hard, we get tired, we don't know where to find the next source for our research projects. We sit down on the couches in the lounge for supper, and the conversations take interesting turns.

One classmate is particularly known for her quick wit. I asked her what price she found on Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments.

Keep in mind that this man has been dead for a very long time, and has absolutely no need of a monthly income. Also keep in mind that our copies in the library look like an equivalent could be found for a more than reasonable price.

So when she replies "FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS", I nearly faint.

And she sympathetically blurts out, "It's a good thing you ain't pregnant, 'cause if you were, you would have just had your baby right then."

Another classmate offers this explanation for the high price:

They printed the translation in Taiwan and had to ship it accross the ocean in a row boat. The high price for each copy sold pays the rowers.

Evidently used copies sell for a little cheaper, and now you have a glimpse into the true life a musician.

Pleasing God

I've been studying. Of course, my classes and exams call for a disciplined study. More important to me than any degree or class, however, is the study of the Bible.

Most recently, my course of study has taken me to several chapters in both the old and new Testaments that talk about judgments on nations. I've discovered that even when people or nations are rebellious, God gives space (or time) to repent (see Revelation 2:21 and Jeremiah chapter 18). The mercy and patience of God are beautifully depicted.

This morning, my study took me to Jeremiah 48:38, where it says this: "There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof: for I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith the LORD."

Several things immediately leaped out at me. I had seen this imagery before. If you dig out your concordance, you will find the imagery of a potter's vessel broken in Isaiah 30:14, Jeremiah 19:11, Revelation 2:27, as well as Psalm 2:8,9 (there might be more--these are just the ones I've studied so far).

But something in the description of the vessel this time caught my eye. There is no pleasure in it. What would cause me to be a vessel wherein there is pleasure? I wonder.

And almost immediately another text comes to mind, this time having more to to with a person in history than a nation.

"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is [or exists], and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:5, 6.

What did I learn here?

  • I can please God by having faith in Him, and believing the promises (and all the other parts) of His word.

  • While I might not immediately know exactly how to diligently seek Him, I can think of several ways to seek Him more diligently than I do now (including more time spent studying and even memorizing His word, diligently protecting my time for secret prayer, remembering Him throughout my busy days, and the like).

  • God is pleased and delighted when I exercise this faith and trust in Him.

  • Without this diligence, this faith in God my Creator and Redeemer, my life will have no purpose and might as well be broken like a potter's vessel. Which thought reminds me of this verse, these words of Christ: "Whosoever shall fall upon that Stone [meaning Himself] shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." Luke 20:18.

May we all know only the brokenness that comes from falling upon Christ, and leaning upon Him for our total salvation, and not the crushing weight of being a vessel without pleasure and without faith in His righteousness, His blood shed and plead for us.

24 September 2011

More of Our Lives in Food

Today we are visiting with friends, the wife a Brazilian in the music department with us, the husband a graduate of the seminary from Rwanda.

Their Sabbath school begins at 11:00, so we are going for Sabbath breakfast, Sabbath school, the worship service, and lunch afterward around 2:00 p.m. We are bringing home-made grape juice, and pancake mix from our favorite recipe. I don't know when we've been invited over for breakfast before, and I'm quite looking forward to it.

This morning I'm remembering our other friends who picked grapes with us last week, planning to do their own canning for the very first time, which must have been an adventure for them. I'm also remembering the best Friend of all, our Savior, who promised not to drink any grape juice until we could drink it with Him when He comes to take us home.

I can't wait.

23 September 2011

Our {Recent} Lives in Food

Sabbath Lunches with Friends

A couple of weeks ago, we gleefully accepted an invitation to Sabbath lunch with some dear friends, the husband of Serbian descent in the seminary, the wife of regular American mix in the music department with us.

We discovered that it is the Serbian tradition to eat simply--a bowl of good, hearty soup preceding the meal. In this case, we had a delicious butternut squash soup, made with the obvious squash with a bit of onion (and maybe potato) cooked and blended together. The seasoning was simple as well, the vegetable stock, salt, and a few herbs enhancing but not overpowering the flavors of the vegetables. We've already experimented with recreating this item from the menu.

Hearty bread, a lovely rice casserole, a soy-bean hummus, and a tomato-cucumber salad completed the meal.

Once the food was settled in our bellies, we took a walk in the sunshine, greeted the neighbor kitty, leaped through the harvested corn fields, arriving back at their house to jabber the rest of the day away...until 10:00 p.m.!

Also recently, some friends came into our home for Sabbath lunch. Thanks to an academy classmate of mine, a basic meal of spagetti and garlic bread had a special and very delicious flair.

Food Preservation

You would understand, wouldn't you, the drive to pick as many bushels of grapes as possible in the one hour you have available, only to find that picking the grapes went much faster than juicing and canning? And the urge that came only a day and a half later, when the kitchen STILL wasn't cleaned up, to pick more the next weekend?

You'd also understand how glad we are that, as we used our last jar of applesauce this week (made from the apples pictured above), we have fall break coming up so that we can make at least as much applesauce as last year? And maybe even buy twice as many so that we can make our own apple juice as well? Even though we know it's tons of work?

The Bread of Heaven

Most of all, I hope you understand how it is that a person could be stuck in the same three chapters of Isaiah for about as many weeks, searching out other texts that illumine them and learning life lessons from them every morning and evening--what it means to have Bible study in your life that not only fills your spiritual hunger for TODAY, but also quickens your mind regarding the eternal truths of the great controversy between God and Satan.

08 September 2011

We had hardly been home for three days before we (translate I) made a long list entitled "things to accomplish before school starts". We had three weeks.

One item on it was to finish all my Alaska fishing posts. We are nearing the end of our third week back in school, and as you can see, my fishing posts aren't anywhere near complete! I do promise them someday, but I'm not going to guarantee when. As I told my mother the other day when she said it would be fun if I were on Facebook, "I hardly have time to clip my toenails, let alone join Facebook!"

Yes, I'm immersed in music and studies at present, and spent some time with the Bach French and English keyboard suites, as you might be able to tell from a miss-spelling on a little menu item on my list last week: "Yam/Suite Potato Fries". Or should that have been sweet potatoes instead?

But we did pick blueberries (as you can see from the photo) before school started, and managed a few other homey chores in the mix. And we're enjoying the beginnings of fall in Michigan--which reminds me that we need to call our lovely, faith-filled blueberry lady to see if her grape harvest is nearly ripe. Maybe she'll let us pick from the "thank-offering row", which is a different row every year and yet yields more than any of the other rows.

Though busy, the days are filled with delights:

  • The best husband ever

  • Excellent teachers

  • Friends new and old

  • A new niece

  • Tasty food

  • Amish country and farms

  • Piano lessons full of new insights into the physicality as well as musicality of being a pianist

  • A second year of Analytical Techniques, just for fun

  • New insights in the Bible after I asked God to help me understand

  • Cheerful, sturdy clothing

  • Our crockpot

  • Prayer time alone and with my husband

  • Feeling healthy and energetic

  • Getting more exercise

  • Starting the second year of the master's program instead of the first, and having many familiar things in life where last year at this time almost everything was unfamiliar

May God grant each of you, dear readers, the sweetest of His blessings this week.