“…a little bit of this, a little bit of that”

the ramblings and musings of an elementary music teacher and aunt extraordinaire

It’s not about me February 28, 2007

Filed under: what I'm learning — marlise @ 3:37 pm

I’m a little afraid this phrase is becoming trite. I mean, I grew up in the church, and while I didn’t memorize the entire Westminster Shorter Catechism, I did at one point (I don’t even remember where or when) memorize the first question.

Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

So, why is it so difficult for me to fully appreciate this truth–to not only think it’s true but let that truth influence every aspect of my life? I know in my head that it’s true. I believe it. So, why do I try to steal the attention?

I ask myself these questions all the time. (Prepare for the big shocker here.) It turns out, I’m a very self-centered person. That’s why I was so struck by some reading I did this morning.

The book was Pierced by the Word by John Piper. I’ve read a few other books by John Piper, and I’m always struck at his way with words. He has a unique gift for explaining God’s Word and the proper perspective of our relationship with God. The first chapter in this book was no exception. To get the best impact, you should read it yourself, but I’ll do my best to summarize.

He used the story of Jesus Christ raising Lazarus from the dead to exemplify how God shows His love by glorifying Himself. Think about that for a second. I don’t know about you, but for my self-centered heart, that’s a very strange concept. Looking at the passage in John 11:1-46 drove the point home, though. In verse six, we see that Jesus took his time getting to Bethany. Jesus was in Jerusalem–a mere two miles from Bethany, but “when He heard that he [Lazarus] was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” He didn’t want us to miss this point, either, as we see in verses 14 and 15. The disciples misunderstood, and thought Lazarus was just sleeping.

“So Jesus then said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.'”

Jesus confirms again that this story is not about human interest (as we understand it) when he thanks His Father in verses 40-42 for showing His glory.

“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”

I’m very familiar with the story. This take on the passage, though, made me think of it in a whole new light. I knew God is/was a loving God, and I knew He will glorify Himself and will use me and all of His creation for the purpose of His glory. Those two ideas have never really merged for me, though–until now. God shows His love to us through His God-centeredness. And God-centeredness is the only way that we can show our love to God or others effectively.

Anyway, those lessons have been on my mind all day. As usual, it was the humbling reminder I needed. I was observed/evaluated by my principal this afternoon. It was my first evaluation at this school. (A few of you knew and were praying–thank you. It went well.) I was very nervous–more because this has been put off for so long than anything else. So, in my quiet time this morning, what lesson did God lead me to learn? Did He point me to His comfort? No, my loving Father in heaven pointed me the lesson I needed most: It’s not about me!


Encouragement from a friend February 26, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 8:19 pm

This is a link to a good article on the Christian life as a single person:

Finding Your Place

A friend sent the link to me by email because we were talking about this very issue over lunch the other day. The scenario of the family dinner is all too reminiscent of my own family’s dinners. The encouragement listed in the article is a list of truths that I already know, but I think it’s a good, concise reminder for me.

Also, the same friend sent the link to the video below. I’m hoping to get out to see the movie before it leaves town. It wasn’t going to come to town at all, except a man bought 1,000 tickets to make sure it would. Now, the Christian bookstores and my church are selling the tickets so that he can be reimbursed. It really does look like a movie I would enjoy, and the song is pretty, too.


My weekend debut

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 2:28 pm

Over the weekend, I played my first concert in the percussion section of the local symphony. This symphony has grown significantly in the past few years, gaining sponsors, so that now it qualifies as semi-professional. My very musical family has been closely involved with this group for several years now–through a few name changes and conductor changes. My brother plays trumpet, and his wife plays oboe. My sister is the secretary to the conductor, and her husband plays clarinet.

My sister called me a few weeks ago, asking if I would be willing to join the group for a couple of songs in an upcoming concert. I thought she’d ask me to play one of my main instruments (piano or clarinet.) Instead, she said they really needed people to fill out the percussion section. I was asked to play, not because I have special skills, but because I can read music and count rhythms pretty well, and the recruiting secretary knew she could get me to do it. With the offer of some financial compensation for my efforts, I was officially recruited. So, I practiced up to play the glockenspiel and crash cymbals on two songs.

I was very nervous the night of the concert. It didn’t occur to me until about an hour before the concert how obvious it would be with the cymbals if I made a mistake. (Clarinet mistakes are much less noticeable.) Also, I started to see several people I knew in the audience. Several of my students were there, waving excitedly when they saw me on stage. Also, while I have lived away for a while, it is a small town, so I still know lots of people here, and they know me. The pressure was on. I somehow survived, managing to play at all the right times, though. It was great fun, and it was a highly complimented performance. The comments made me laugh. “I didn’t know you played the cymbals,” several people commented. “It sounded great.” I thanked them, thinking to myself, “If you only knew.”

During the concert, my parents and sister watched my brother’s kids. After the concert, my sister told me my niece’s reaction to my playing. For the first song, I played the crash cymbals for the first couple minutes of the song, then set them down to switch to the glockenspiel. When I set them down, my niece (who is 3 and 1/2 ) turned very matter-of-factly to my sister and said, “She got tired.”

In other news, our area was hit with another round of treacherous weather. This time, it was an ice storm. A half-inch coating of ice on the roads on Sunday morning caused church to be cancelled. My house didn’t have power for a while on Sunday morning, either, so it was a good thing for me that I didn’t have to get ready for church by candlelight. By early afternoon, the ice had melted. Since, I had slept in, I didn’t needed my nap as desperately as I do on most Sunday afternoons, so I decided to get my grocery shopping done. At the store, I saw several people from church doing the same thing. We joked about having an impromptu service in the aisles of the store. When I got home, I realized that I had been wearing my slippers the whole time. The do have hard soles on them, but they are fluffy and not meant to be worn in public. Oh well.

I haven’t decided if the church crowd simply didn’t notice my attire, or if they were too polite to say anything. The moral of the story: If you live in a small town, you are bound to run into at least a few people you know every time you leave your house, so you should always be careful to be fully dressed (including shoes) when you leave the house.


Thankful Thursday February 22, 2007

Filed under: Thankful Thursday — marlise @ 8:49 pm

A few things I’m thankful for…
*A loving Father in heaven who sent His Son to take the death penalty for my sins
*A loving mother and father on earth who set a wonderful example of following God and loving each other and who pray for me all the time
*Great siblings and their spouses–A group of people that manages to see past my worst flaws and love me anyway. Sure, they have to because I’m family, but they don’t try to deny that.
*My adorable nieces and nephews (all 8 of them, and the one on the way)
*An awesome church home–my second family
*(At the risk of sounding really cheesy) Friends– I have lived in several places in my life. In each place, I formed new and wonderful friendships that have lasted. Those people care for me, pray for me, encourage and let me be as crazy and random as I want.
*A job I love where I get to sing and dance for most of the day
*A wonderful house for which I can share rent with a good (and easy-to-get-along-with) housemate for a very good price
*A car that runs well

* The fog day (see below) that cancelled school yesterday and allowed me to get all my laundry done
**Finally, I’m thankful that I did this today. I stumbled onto this meme on a day when I needed a tangible reminder of how much God has given me to give me my much-needed attitude adjustment.


In a fog

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 2:16 pm

Yesterday, school was cancelled due to freezing, dense fog. It did make for some very pretty pictures. Apparently, in freezing fog the water droplets that make up the fog freeze onto lots of surfaces. Trees around here were covered in tiny little icicles. It was very pretty.

Normally, I can really enjoy this beauty. Normally, school cancellations are something I welcome. In the average school year, they are a rare and unexpected chance to catch up on some lost sleep and some neglected housecleaning, and do some minor errands without the aggravation of the after-school crowds.

This year, I have to admit, I am a little tired of missing school. Yesterday was our seventh school cancellation of the year. Five of those have happened since Christmas break. We’ve also had ten two-hour delays. My summer “vacation,” which was already full of places I had to be and things I had to get done, is now the incredible shrinking machine.

A friend of mine was trying to help me think of the positive in this situation. I do appreciate that, but the comment she made was “Sometimes a break during the longer winter months is worth a little extra school time in the summer. ” I replied, “Yes, but we’ve had ten breaks.”

Every year, our school chooses a passage of scripture as our theme for the year. This year’s theme is “Building a Foundation on the Knowledge of God.” It was taken from 2 Peter 1:5-11. From the year’s passage, we choose a character quality for each school month and use it as our focus. This month’s character quality is perseverance. Who would have ever thought I’d need a lesson about persevering through school cancellations?


Tired….must sleep soon…. February 16, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 8:45 pm

It will never cease to amaze me how much more tired I am after a shortened week of school. This week had a normal day on Monday, snow days on Tuesday and Wednesday, a 2-hour delay on Thursday, and lots Valentine’s day parties, chocolates, and cards today. (There was even a chocolate fountain!) It should have been an easy week, right?

Wrong! I’m exhausted.

Compared to a normal week, my actual instruction time was cut roughly in half. Still, I can make it home just fine on most Fridays and, after a brief time of vegetation to clear my head, I can manage to socialize with friends, and keep awake until a reasonable bedtime (like 10ish.) Tonight, I’m doubting my own ability to stay awake for my six-minute drive home. I don’t know if it’s the sugar and caffeine the kids took in or if it’s the huge piles of snow, but I am completely worn out. So, I’m off to my comfy home where I will be spending the rest of the evening vegging and sleeping.

Valentine’s Day Blizzard February 15, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 2:52 pm

OK, I don’t normally have very strong feelings about Valentine’s Day, but this one made me feel the need to rant a little. I don’t hate it like some of my single friends, and I don’t love it and look forward to it like some of my “coupled-up” friends. I am usually able to neutrally enjoy the holiday. Since I have spent the last few years teaching in an elementary school, I’ve enjoyed the sweet little notes and pieces of chocolate that have been offered by the students.
Yesterday, though, I have to confess feeling a little bitter about being single. I was home on a snow day. My roommate is also single, so it had nothing to do with seeing others receive fancy Valentines and gifts. No, I wasn’t longing for romantic gestures. I was longing for someone else to shovel the snow, dig out my car, and clear off the sidewalks. It took me and my roommate nearly five hours. Of course, for part of that (before we made paths to the cars), we were taking turns with one shovel. Still, most of the area surrounding our house consisted of giant four-feet-deep snow drifts, so I’m not exaggerating on the time it took to dig out.
Now I know that some people who are part of couples do shovel. Still, the man I’m picturing would have let me stay inside under a blanket, sipping hot coffee while he dug me out. It would have been his very sweet Valentine’s Day gift to me, and I would have been very thankful. Well, looking back over this post, maybe it was a romantic gesture I wanted. I think my romantic gestures just look a little different than the ones I’ve been seeing in Valentine’s Day-based commercials for the past month. Speaking of which, I’m very glad the season is finally past, so I don’t have to watch all of those commercials for a little while. I’m SO TIRED of those commercials. I’d like to think that single or not, I wouldn’t ever enjoy watching other people bite each other’s lips. (You know which one I mean, too, don’t you?) It’s disgusting!