Friday, May 31, 2013

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.  Matthew 5:9
Peace…what is it?  Is it the absence of conflict?  Or is it the active presence of God’s peace in my life?  The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom, meaning “nothing is missing and nothing is broken.  In Greek, the word is eiréné: (εἰρήνη, ης, ἡ), meaning one, peace, quiet, rest, cloth woven together and restored.
I think that peace is more of a proactive attitude than the absence of conflict.  Conflict is always going to be present in our lives.  My reaction to conflict, though is an action…an action of binding together God’s gift of peace, which I already possess, to my actions in the world.  I have a choice in my behavior.
Yesterday and today we are experiencing much wind in South Dakota….it’s an outside force of nature…nothing that I can control for sure.  Trying to harness the wind and it’s effects is pretty hard to do.  Most of the time, perhaps all of the time, it’s fruitless to try to manipulate, rearrange things so that the wind does not blow something across the yard. I’m spending energy battling forces that I don’t have any control over!
What other kinds of “wind” are there in my life?  Criticism, betrayal, hurtful words?  Often, my gut reaction might be to push back with more hurt, more criticism.  But does this help anything?  Instead, a response rooted in the peace that Christ has given us, will put the situation into God’s hands, not mine.  If I can cultivate this peace within me, not only am I more in tune with God’s will, but it will be evident in my actions.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Wordle: Blessed are the MercifulBlessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Matthew 5:8
What does it mean to be pure in heart?  Does it mean that I must be perfect in all that I think and do?  We may try to strive for purity, but we are not perfect, and we are not going to attain perfection in this life! 
In the story of Mary and Martha, Luke 10:38-42, Jesus is not telling Martha that all of her preparations and organization are unimportant.  He says, 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I can easily relate to Martha.  I have to consciously tell myself at times to stop, be a Mary, and choose what is important.  It’s easy to become distracted with “things” that need to be done, even while in prayer.  If I can unite all of my actions towards my relationship with Jesus, (singleness of heart) then my day will flow as acts of worship, always bringing my attention back to Jesus, not burdens that distract me from my real purpose in life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mercy

Blessed are the Merciful for they shall attain mercy.  Matthew 5:7
What is mercy?  Here’s a definition from The Free Dictionary:
mercy
noun
1. compassion, charity, pity, forgiveness, quarter, favour, grace, kindness, clemency,leniency, benevolence, forbearance Neither side showed its prisoners any mercy.
compassion

Mercy comes from the Hebrew word for kindness, Chesed (or khesed (חסד)) – often translated loving-kindness. 

It is said that God’s first act of mercy was the  creation of universe…into nothingness, there was created something.  God made a covenant with us.  So, is mercy a kind of covenant? 
In my own relationships at work, in my family, in my church, is mercy a visible characteristic?  Do I readily show mercy when someone wrongs me in some way?  After all, we are not a perfect people.  It’s not going to be very long before “I” am the one making the mistakes!  If I am not willing to show mercy, will others show mercy towards me when I have fallen?

When I think of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, it gives me a model for my own parenting.  I hope that I am a parent, a grandparent,  that is always scanning the horizon, watching, waiting, hoping, for the child to return that has gone on a difficult path of life.  I know that God, my Father, is also watching and waiting for me when my life is not on the path He desires for me.  God never tires of forgiving me (us). I think that my relationship with God experiences exponential growth when I have truly accepted His forgiveness and experience total contentment with my God.
Who are models of mercy for you in our world today?  Mother Theresa comes to my mind.  Humble, selfless, loving. When I was a child, we learned the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.  These are a good guide to use to examine my life to determine if I am a person others will think of as one who shows mercy.
 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Taste and See!

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.  Matthew 5:6
Filling the needs of hunger and thirst are paramount to our survival.  It’s not a luxury for us to nourish our bodies, but a necessity.  Our relationship with Jesus is not a luxury either, it’s a necessity for our spiritual survival.  It is in prayer that we seek to fulfill these needs.  Christ first seeks us, He DESIRES us!  Prayer is an encounter of God’s thirst with ours….it’s mutual fulfillment.
In John 4:10 Jesus promises the gift of living water, the Holy Spirit:  “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water”.  Jesus is a never-ending source of nourishment for us.  The more we seek Him, the more we will be satisfied – and satisfied to overflowing! 
Think about Thanksgiving dinner.  I always eat more than I should, I am stuffed.  It was all so good, I could not resist trying a little of everything.  I feel like I could not eat another bite ever.  Yet, evening arrives, and I am foraging for leftovers.  I am not hungry again because the big Thanksgiving meal did not satisfy me, but BECAUSE it did!  We hunger for more because it was so good.

Do I seek Jesus as a starving, thirsting woman, as the only source for my parched soul?   I come to Jesus HUNGERING and THIRSTING after righteousness, not just casually wanting a sample. I am starved.  I’m ready for that Thanksgiving meal. Jesus can feed my deepest hunger and quench my parched mouth.

Monday, May 27, 2013

O say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave?

I love Madison Rising's version of our national anthem.  Here it is in honor of all those who have bravely served our country!!



A Day to Remember...

Memorial Day is a day set aside in the United States to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.  It is always an honor to participate in some way in honoring our soldiers.  Take time today to thank a soldier who is still living as well as honor those who have died.  
Here's a short video with the history of Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Strength Under Control


Meekness is not weakness.  Many times meekness is thought of as the opposite of strength.  A person may not think it’s a compliment if they are described as meek.  The word meek comes from the Greek word prauß (praus), which means mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, strength under control.   It might be thought of in terms of domesticating an animal for work in the field because of its strength.  The horse yields to the farmer, it has a teachable spirit. 

So it is with us.  A meek person has the ability to use one’s gifts to build up rather than tear down.  People who are meek are those who listen to you, who make you feel special and appreciated.  Their focus is not on themselves, but on others and on God’s work.  People who are meek are happy to submit to God.   There is an openness to what the Lord wants to give, Christ is in control.

Again, we have a paradox…it is only in releasing ownership of the earth (something that will not last!) that we realize that it is a gift to us to care for, treasure and enjoy.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rend Your Heart


Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Matthew 5:4
On the surface, this might seem to be a paradox….it’s a blessing to mourn??  St. Augustine initially refused to mourn the death of his mother Monica.  He thought it was inconsistent with the resurrection of Christ.  Eventually, though, he did grieve and states that “my tears became like a pillow for my soul.”

There are two types of mourning being referred to in this verse.  There is the mourning we experience over our lifetimes of deep pain, grief, sadness for perhaps a death or event.  As we work through our grief, we often find that we are not alone.  It is then that we receive the blessings of God and experience His presence in our life, right beside us.  It can even be a catalyst to conversion.  We experience God’s mercy, and can trust and hope in Him! When I have walked through periods of grief, I find that the lessons I learned, the comfort that I received, enables me to console others with God’s mercy in similar situations
.
The second type of mourning we need to consider is spiritual mourning.  Do we mourn not only our sins but also the sins of the world - abortion, genocide, terrorism, the abandonment of the poor?  As we weep over our sins, we are led to repentance.   This is spoken of in Joel 2:13:  Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 
I looked up the definition of rend (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rend):
 1. To tear or split apart or into pieces violently. See Synonyms at tear1.
2. To tear (one's garments or hair) in anguish or rage.
3. To tear away forcibly; wrest.
4. To pull, split, or divide as if by tearing: "Chip was rent between the impulse to laugh wildly and a bitterness that threatened hot tears" (Louis Auchincloss).
5. To pierce or disturb with sound: a scream rent the silence.
6. To cause pain or distress to: tales that rend the heart.
v.intr.
To become torn or split; come apart.

Rending my heart is not an easy thing!  It will be painful, it will be changed.  It will OPEN.  It will be open for me to peer in and see my true self and it will be open so that it can be filled with the merciful love of God.  It is spiritual broken-heartedness.   This video from Come Wind, a band from the Canton, Ohio area, called “Rend Your Heart” puts these thoughts to music.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Begging Bowl



Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.   Matthew 5:3

NYC - Rockefeller Center: International Building - Saint Francis of Assisi with Birds
Photo credit: wallyg / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Have you ever heard of a begging bowl?  It is a bowl carried by a beggar to receive food or alms.  This practice is especially common with Franciscans as well as Buddhist monks.  For both Christians and Buddhists, the begging bowls is a symbol of nonattachment. In the 13th Century, Western monasticism rediscovered a truth more often remembered in the east, in Hinduism and Buddhism - that the holy man's only possession is his begging bowl.  (Read more:  http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/plaintexthistories.asp?historyid=aa90#ixzz2U21xoY2b)
To be poor in spirit does not mean that we are necessarily poor monetarily, although I think that living a lifestyle of poverty certainly does put into concrete practice these words of Jesus.  We are called, no matter what our economic standing, to be humble hearted.  When we understand that apart from God, we have nothing and we are nothing, it is then that we have everything.  St. Francis said to hold loosely to all that is not eternal.  Hang on tightly to God and His Word.  Having nothing, we possess everything. 

Today, these prayerful words written by St. Francis seem appropriate:
Let us desire nothing else
Let us wish for nothing else
Let nothing else please us and cause us delight
Except our Creator and Redeemer and Saviour.
The One True god, Who is the Fullness of Good.
All good, every good, the true and supreme Good.
Let nothing hinder us,
Nothing separate us or nothing come between us.
May the power of your love O Lord, fiery and sweet as honey, wean my heart from all that is under heaven, so that I may die for love of your love, You who were so good as to die for love of my love. Amen
“Lex orandi lex credenda”  - “As we pray so also we believe”  



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Jesus' Blueprint for Our Lives

We find The Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5: 1-12.  This is the first of 5 great sermons of Jesus in this Gospel.  It’s also known as the Sermon on the Mount.  Lots of important things have happened on mountains in our Christian history .  God revealed Himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Mt. Horeb) and gave him the 10 Commandments. (Exodus 19:16-20:12).  Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18).  Jesus taught His disciples on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:3), and Noah’s ark came to rest after the flood on the mountains of Ararat (Genesis 8:4), to name a few.  Is there anything in your life that has been a “mountaintop experience?”
The Beatitudes are a guide for us as we journey towards the Kingdom of God.  They are a blueprint for our lives.  The Beatitudes reveal the human person fully alive - the heart of God’s plan for humanity.
 Below is a well-done performance of David Haas’ “Blest Are They” by the Mississippi Baptist All-State Youth Choir.  As you reflect on the Beatitudes, see them also as the face of Jesus Christ….like mini bios of Jesus, snapshots of Him from 8 different angles.  As you reflect on each Beatitude, does anyone in particular come to your mind?    Take time today to read aloud the Beatitudes.  Hear the Word.  Let it resonate in your heart.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"American Beautiful" The Henningsens ft. PS22 Chorus

The Henningsens  collaborated with PS 22 for this new video from PS 22.  I'm always impressed with these young singers:)  Watch till the end for a special treat on the drum set!




Monday, May 20, 2013

The MOST expensive iOS apps!

expensive ios apps
If you're like me, one of my criteria for an iPad or iPhone app is, "Is it free??"  Or VERY cheap!  Well, here's a compilation from Make Use Of for the more "sophisticated" techie....

The 10 Most Expensive iOS App Store Downloads

Didn't see anything there I needed :)  Guess I'll spend my extra $1,000 elsewhere...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lord, Have YOUR Way With Us!

Today is Pentecost.  Can others see the power of the Holy Spirit in the way that I live my life?  Are my decisions, my actions, my goals, formed by my relationship with God's Spirit?  Reflect on how you have seen the Spirit working in your life lately as you listen to Consuming Fire by Hillsong United.  The Hillsong United band is an Australian band that originated as a part of Hillsong Church. The band tours the world, performing at the various Hillsong church locations as well as general concert venues. Wikipedia
(Did you know that red is the color associated liturgically with Pentecost because it recalls the tongues of flame in which the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles on the first Pentecost.  It also reminds us of the blood of Christian martyrs.)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Music, Emotions, and Movement!

Why does music make us feel happy or sad? Or angry or romantic? How can simple sound waves cause so much emotion? I went from my comfy chair to the streets of Austin to investigate how it might be written into our neuroscience and evolution. Modern neuroscience says our brains may be wired to pick certain emotions out of music because they remind us of how people move!

Humans are the only species we know that creates and communicate using music, but it's still unclear how or why we do that, brain-wise. Is it just a lucky side effect of evolution, like Steven Pinker says? Or is it a deeper part of our evolutionary history, as people like Mark Changizi and Daniel Levitin argue?

New evolutionary science says that we may read emotion in music because it relates to how we sense emotion in people's movements. We'll take a trip from Austin to Dartmouth to Cambodia to hear why music makes us feel so many feels. The connections between movement and music go far beyond dance moves! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nT3O93-nxDc#!)

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Piano Guys - HOME

Here's a new one from The Piano Guys - an arrangement of Phillip Phillip's "Home." See if you recognize the Largo theme from Antonín Dvořák's "New World Symphony."   There is a version of the  original symphony's 2nd movement here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNTDpU... and a version of the spiritual-like vocal adaptation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FMUtt...

A beautiful way to begin a Friday morning!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Our Brain....on wifi!

How often during your day do you check email?  Face Book?   Text?  For many of us, the answer is OFTEN!  Will a beep on your phone take you away from what you are doing to check out what's going on?  Do you take time during your day to chill.  Turn off the electronics?  Chat with your family and friends and really look into their eyes and listen?  I am as guilty as anyone about "multi-tasking."  Sometimes I will be checking email and realize that I don't even remember what my husband just said!  I myself need to daily stop, slow down, immerse my energy into a specific project/person/thought/prayer.

This video by Epipheo  is an interview with Nicholas Carr, the author of "The Shallows:  What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains".  Learn about how our long-term memory is affected when we are constantly absorbing small bits of information and not digging deeper.  Our creativity, our ideas, our thought process is all affected.  What do you think about his theory?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Ground Control to Major Tom"


The first Canadian to command the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield was scheduled to make his return trip to Earth late Monday after five months aboard the International Space Station.  He came back in a Russian capsule, unlike his previous missions in 1995 and 2001 when he traveled aboard one of the now retired space shuttles.
He decided to commemorate his final hours in space with a spectacular music video. Hadfield covers David Bowie's classic (and incredibly appropriate) song "Space Oddity." In the video, he sings a "revised version" of the song and plays the guitar solo while floating through the hulls of the ship.
Check out his YouTube Page for more!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Media and Children

Change the beginning and you change the whole story!

The typical child, before the age of 5, is watching an average of 4.5 hours of television per week, approximately half of their waking hours!  How does this influence our childrens' brain development?  Does it affect attention problems later in life?  How does cognitive stimulation affect our children?  (reading, talking etc.)

This TEDxRainier - Dimitri Christakis video discusses this subject.   Mr. Christaskis is a professor of pediatrics at the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development in Seattle, WA.   Below is a snapshot summary of his talk.  

Watch the video below for more insight!



Monday, May 13, 2013

The shadow theatre company Attraction from Hungary with an amazing performance at Britains Got Talent.  Breathtaking!




Sunday, May 12, 2013

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bill Bailey....

Bill Bailey is a British musician and author.  His creative combination of comedy and music is appealing to all audiences.  I hope to share his Guide to the Orchestra video with students before the end of the year.  Here is a sampling of his talent, with an unusual twist to a favorite Metallica hit!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Music...what is it exactly?

Music can be as simple and sweet as a nursery rhyme or as complicated as a symphony.  This motion animation is a creative way of looking at the pieces of what we call music!

Understand Music from finally. on Vimeo.
Music is a good thing. But what we did not know until we started with the research for this piece: Music is also a pretty complex thing. This experimental animation is about the attempt to understand all the parts and bits of it. Have a look. You might agree with our conclusion!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Little Old, a Little New

We have been having fun these last weeks of school!  Students have been reviewing some musical terms and symbols lately.  As you all know, I'm quite the techie, but rest assured,  there is variety in my instruction!  Students had fun using both "new" technology (ipads) and "old" technology (chalk) this past week!  Take a look.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Gerald the Giraffe drawings

After the Kindergarten students read and discussed the book Giraffes Can't Dance, we explored our illustrating skills.  First, we drew and colored Gerald.  Each Gerald is unique!  The next class period, we used colored chalk to create a background on black construction paper for our giraffes.  It was great fun!  Here are some shots of giraffes in the making!  **click on the previous sentence!

After we were finished, Jennifer, the Kindergarten aide, hung them in the hallways by their rooms.  Below are two videos of those artistic masterpieces!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Giraffes Can't Dance!

Inspired by a fellow music educator, I got out one of my favorite books.  Last week, Kindergarten music students read the book, Giraffes Can't Dance by Andreae, Giles and Illustrator Parker-Rees, Guy.  It is a story about Gerald, a giraffe who is made fun of at the annual jungle dance because he is not a very good dancer.  He comes to find out that there is someone who DOES believe in him!  "Everything makes music", says the cricket, "if you really want it to".  From then on, Gerald listens, and hears his OWN music and gracefully, beautifully dances!   

After we read the story, we discusses what kind of musical things WE wanted to become better at.  Responses included, singing, dancing, playing a variety of instruments, which included LOTS of drums and guitars!  Not everyone is good at a special skill right away!  Sometimes it takes time to get better and learn.  

Here is a video of the book in musical form!  We will be watching this video this week.



Coming tomorrow....the students use their artistic skills to portray Gerald and his story!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Handel and God

 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.--John 14:27

The video below is an interesting take, using the life of Handel as an example, of  God's constant care for us, and the serendipities in life that often occur when we are open to them!  Did you know that when Handel wrote The Messiah in 1741, it took him 23 days to complete the entire work?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Boy and His Atom

IBM research has created this movie that holds the Guinness World Record for the World's Smallest Stopp-Motion Film.  They used a scanning tunneling microscope to move thousands of carbon monoxide molecules into a movie!  The first video shows the movie.  The one below will take you behind the scenes to the lab.  The scientists will talk about how they made the movie with atoms as well as their research in the field of atomic memory an data storage.



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Friday, May 3, 2013

Google Glass

You have probably heard about Google Glass.  Do you think it will become commonplace?  What apps do you think would be useful to have in Glass?  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Nike, Shopping?

To engage the headset you will speak, "OK Glass".   From there you can take video, connect with friends, find directions, google a topic....LOTS of things.  It even comes in a variety of stylin' colors!  Glass currently markets around the $1500 price range.  Some say in mass production the price should come down to about $500-$600.  The possibility (eventuality?) is that it will also be integrated with eyeglass prescriptions.  Will you be the first in your neighborhood to own one????

Here's a basic tutorial on how to operated Glass:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New iPad app from the Black Hills of South Dakota!



Living Puzzles, is a new iPad app, just released on April 25.  A new company, Puzzleroo, developed the game.  It features various levels of jigsaw puzzles....with MOVING VIDEO!  Puzzleroo is a company in the Black Hills area, and many puzzle scenes are from our beloved Black Hills as well!

There are 4 difficulty levels, and a variety of categories of puzzles including African Animals, At the Beach, and Autumn Beauty.  More categories can be unlocked by earning stars with fast completion of puzzles.

Any puzzle can be played in either "Puzzle Stretch" or "Living Jigsaw" mode.  Both modes contain pieces that are themselves an ongoing movie!  Makes for a challenge in placing the pieces!

Right now, it is being offered at a special introductory price of .99!  I downloaded it on my iPad to check it out.  It is WAY cool!   Here's a new article from KOTA featuring the product:

KOTA Territory News

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Crystalize

This is a violin original from Lindsey Stirling.  Awesomenes!  This was the #8 top-viewed video on YouTube for 2012 with over 42 million views!

Stirling is working on a new album which should be ready to Spring of 2014. 
“‘Crystallize,’ on the other hand, is a much deeper song: the crystallization of water is affected by its surroundings to create either beautiful patterns or meaningless masses. Similarly, I believe that through our thoughts, beliefs and the environments we create, we each possess the power to make a positive change within ourselves and others.”--http://www.lindseystirling.com/lindsey/