You kick it into 4-wheel drive, and you go… til you hear the banjo.


Have you ever played in a band? Tell us all about that experience of making music with friends. If you’ve never been in a band, imagine you’re forming a band with some good friends. What instrument do you play in the band and why? What sort of music will you play?

Thanks WordPress, I haven’t wanted to write for a few days… this I’ll write on though, for sure!

I have played in a band — worship band, at Camp.  There’s nothing like it.  

Two weekends ago, I played violin in a worship band at Camp for our Sunday morning service.  I’d never played in front of people before.  Not more than a few, anyway… and not for anything more significant than a talent show.

I’ve sang for years and years.  I played piano for several years as well, until I finally acknowledged that it’s not my favourite thing, and that while I value the skills I have now because of how long I played (read:  I don’t have to learn theory while I learn to play the violin, I did it as a kid…), I don’t really want to play much.

My ideal band has an acoustic guitar, a banjo, a mandolin, rockin drums (portable ones, because, well, you’ll see…), and you guessed it… me on the fiddle.  We’ll have an amazing vocalist (because sadly, I haven’t figured out how to fiddle and sing at the same time yet…), and we will just have fun.  We will play and sing, we will rock out and jam.  The drums should be portable, like a jambe or a cajon, because this will all take place on some hot summer night around a camp fire.

Picture:  what I’d like the theme song of my life to be right now…

My idea of perfection right now is the end of a country road …. I kinda have country fever.  It’s what happens when you put a country kid in the city for 6 years I imagine.  Anyway… I won’t entertain that thought too seriously right now, since I’m city-bound for the time being… but there it is 😀

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What Brings You Joy?


Holley Gerth over at holleygerth.com has asked us this week “What Brings You Joy?”  That’s what she wants to talk about today on Coffee For Your Heart.

Let me tell you what just fills my heart up to the brim with joy.

It’s music.  It’s singing, it’s playing, it’s listening to music.

It’s anything played on a fiddle.

It’s pretty much anything with a country twang.

You know, they say there are studies that listening to music does fantastic things for our health.  I forget where I read that, so I can’t cite it… whoops.  But I was reading that listening to music releases endorphins and gives the illusion of happiness that may not otherwise have been there.  That’s my paraphrase.  I personally will take it one step farther and assert that for me, music gives more than the illusion of happiness.  Music makes me joyful.

I have God-given talent in music.  I won’t argue that.  I can play both the piano and the violin by ear.  I taught myself to play the harmonica so that I could teach it to Grade 6-8 students who just really didn’t want to play the Recorder for another year. 

I can sing a (low) soprano, alto, or tenor part when singing with other people.  I love my vocal range, and I thank God for it all the time, because I have a lot of fun with it.

I use my musical talent to give back to God, and I feel like that makes a huge difference in why it makes me more than happy.  I’ve learned to play the violin (am learning) for two reasons — so that I can fiddle, but also so that I can play on the Worship team at my church.  I haven’t made it to that level yet, but I’m getting there.

This weekend, I played with a group of people for the first time in my life.  Pretty much in tune, and all by ear.  My Mom asked me to sing with the team, but since I’d just been sick, I declined.  She said, “well you brought your violin, right?”  On Saturday afternoon, my Mom and I worked through the music she gave me, a couple of the songs being unfamiliar to me.  I played off of guitar chords, which, on a violin, means I played pretty much by ear.

Now, I’m starting to feel a little bit like I’m bragging, so I’ll stop talking myself up and start talking God up instead.  I felt so incredibly privileged to be able to participate in Worship in a completely new way this weekend.  I’ve never played an instrument in front of 75 people before.  I’ve only used my voice.  And let me tell you, my heart has never meant it as much as when it was a bow across a set of strings… not while I was helping lead.  I find that normally, while I’m singing on a worship team, it’s a fight for me to pay attention to the reason that I’m singing rather than the mechanics and the act of singing.  Is my part right?  Am I flat?  Where do I come in?

On Sunday, when I played with the Worship team, I messed up all over the place, but I made those strings sing for Jesus, and it was the best feeling I’ve experienced in a long time.

Following our Sunday morning service, I got a chance to play some fiddle with our guitar player and our drummer, and my heart just soared. 

Music makes me joyful.

Even when it makes me seat dance in the car and look like a fool at stop lights… I’m joyful.  My heart is full of joy.

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One Word for 2014. Some goals, and my favourite posts from 2013.


I had actually already thought about my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 when I read She Loves Magazine’s One Word idea for the year.  I’ve decided to combine this with Mama Kat’s writing prompts, and add in my top 12 blog posts from 2013 and to talk about some Resolutions, or anti-resolutions if you will.

Here’s what I love about this one-word idea, to get myself back on track.

You pick one word for 2014.  Not a bunch of New Years’ Resolutions.  Not a bunch of lofty probably unattainable goals that you’ll be discouraged over later.  No.  One word.  I had already thought about it.  I had already given 2014 enough thought to decide that the only thing I’ll be ‘resolving’ is this:  value.  I will value myself.  I will value those around me.  I will refuse to devalue myself on account of things of this world.  I will wrap my value up in things of Christ, knowing that that’s where my true value is to be found.  I described this idea to my parents as “I will be less hard on myself,” but when I saw the One Word idea put out by She Loves, I wracked my brain for one word.

So the things I’m not resolving to this year, because I’ve resolved to them every year and failed:

I’m not going to put a number on weight loss.  Instead, I’ll value myself enough to make healthy choices, and if that results in weight loss — awesome.

I’m not going to put a kilometre goal on running.  I haven’t been able to run in such a long time because of a stupid ankle injury from LAST CHRISTMAS that I may stick with boxing and take up swimming instead anyway :p  I will value myself enough to know that I don’t need to obsess, and that if I don’t get in a certain number of kilometres or minutes or whatever… accomplished in a week, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure or that I should be so hard on myself.

I’m not going to put a ‘I hope to be in a committed relationship before I’m 30’ marker on this year, because that doesn’t value my singleness or myself AS a single individual.  I will instead recognize that I have value whether single or coupled.  Besides, I’m currently rocking the preferable term, ‘independently owned and operated.’

I have a few things I’d like to accomplish this year, certainly, but these things have less to do with beginning a new year, and more to do with being a person who likes to set goals for herself.  Most notably, I’d like to rock the violin this year.  I’m starting a 52 week money saving challenge with the end goal being a stellar (probably refurbished) violin which was not made in China and which will not break as easily (mine’s currently with a repair guy and I have a borrowed one.  Handing it over to a stranger was like turning over my baby.  It was sad).  I actually may have a resolution for 2015… I’d really like to enter the Canadian Open Fiddling Competition held every year in Shelburne.  I went with my Grandparents for the first time this past August… and I was enraptured.  I don’t think I’ll be ready for this August.  Maybe next year though 😉

Ann Voskamp summarizes really well my thoughts on heading into 2014.  I want to fall forward, not stumble backwards.  Check this out.  Wonderful words, here.

And as I get ready to usher in 2014 with One Word, I’m going to bid 2013 farewell with a few of my favourite blogs from this year (both my posts and those that I follow).  I’ll do 12 of each.  One for each month, I suppose.  Check out Sarah Bessey’s post along the same idea.

First:  Blogs I followed.

Tim and Olive, Olive To Run, A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp), Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Megan Gahan, Sometimes Screaming Helps (Sarah Richardson), Holley Gerth, She Loves Magazine, The Young Woman’s Bucket List, Mama’s Losin It, Darcie the Kindred Spirit, The Road To Rome, Avoiding Neverland (I know… that’s 14.)

Second:  My top 12 posts from 2013.

1.  My ‘2nd Blogiversary Post — I Will Not Humour the Cray Crays.‘  I wrote this just kind of summarizing my most recent dating experiences, and didn’t expect it to get kind of out of hand.  Blog Her picked it up and featured it and it got like 1300 views or something insane like that.  For a fairly newbie blogger, it just blew my mind.

2.  I Am Not Bible Barbie.  This was another one that kind of blew up on me.  I had decided that I’d had enough of being held to this impossible standard by potential suitors, and some friends and I were talking about it at church, and this happened.  And then 450 views happened.  It was my first big post, and the first one that blew up without help from anything else.

3.  The More Boys I Meet, The More I Love My Dog.  I’d been on an AWFUL date.  Seriously, read the story.  I decided that I’d better channel it into good writing that would get new readers, lest I sit around and mope.  It was good therapy 🙂

4.  I Don’t Want to Marry Bible Ken.  The day after I wrote I Am Not Bible Barbie, it occurred to me that I had picked on guys for holding us women to this impossible standard, when we do the same thing to them, and that I don’t want to keep looking for the ‘perfect’ guy.  Read on to find out why 🙂

5.  Singleness is not a disease, nor a curse, nor an affliction… nor is it a problem of mine for others to solve.  I wrote this post about a year ago.  Someone obviously had a ‘solution’ to my singleness problem.  I haven’t re-read these posts, so I don’t remember what prompted it, but it sounds angsty.

6, 7, 8, and 9 were parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 in a series of stories I wrote about a girl named Anna (fictional) who was sold into the sex trade.  I wrote it for The Exodus Road, an organization which works to spread awareness about sex trafficking and the work that’s being done to combat it.  Read Part 1 here.  Part 2 is herePart 3 is hereAnd Part 4 is here. Please read them.  They were hard to write because the details were supplied by Exodus Road, and I knew they were technically fictional, but it was gut-wrenching to think that even though I was making this up, it could very easily have happened in real life.

10.  How I Feel About Endings — A Tribute to My Buddy, Jack.  Hardest post to write this year probably.  I wrote it in the days before we had to have one of my Mom’s dogs, Jack, put down… he was very sick, we had no choice, really.  But it was really hard.  So hard.

11. A Picture’s Worth A Whole Lot… Apparently.  I updated my profile pictures on the dating sites I was registered on because a friend of mine showed me how to use makeup…. and like magic, I had a whole bunch of interest generated.  It caused me to reflect on the value we place on looks.

And tied for number 12 (yes, I know that means I have 13… but I have 4 tied into one story that took 4 months to finish, so I think it’s fair.  Also — it’s my blog.  #idowhatiwant)  “My ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment about Rob Ford’ and ‘A Duck Call for Love.’  Both of these posts were written in response to public figures blowing it in view of the entire Western World, and how I feel like there has to be a better way to do things than we’ve been doing it.  As Christians, we’re called to love, and that’s what both of these posts are aimed at.

favourite TV

Bones, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago Fire, Rick Mercer Report, Elementary, Castle, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and… apparently there are only 11 of these.  That’s ok.

Books:  Confession ~ I didn’t read anywhere close to 12 books this year.  I’d like to read more in this next year.  I guess that comes with valuing my intelligence and not squandering so much time on Facebook?  We’ll see how that goes.

Pirates of Savannah, The Sacred Search, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Made To Crave, Every Body Matters, The Sweet By and By, Love Lifted Me, Softly And Tenderly, Flabbergasted.  I can’t think of any more that I read this past year.  There might be more, though that number in itself kind of shocked me.  I have a giant stack beside my bed to get through still, so… we’ll see how that goes :p  Next on the list, which I’m really excited about (just have to finish The Sacred Search first), is Real Men Don’t Text, by Ruthie Dean.  Can’t wait.

Movies: I should preface this — I’m not super picky when it comes to movies.  I’m pretty easy to please.  The only one I really didn’t like was The Heat.

The Hobbit, Frozen, The Butler, Captain Phillips, 12 Years A Slave, The Family, Oz the Great and Powerful, Gangster Squad, Safe Haven, Olympus Has Fallen, 42, Runner Runner.  Those are just ones I saw in theatres.  Like I said, I’m pretty indiscriminate.

Music:  I could never pick just 12 songs.  I guess I can pick 12 artists, though.  Note:  I fell in love with Eastern Canadian Folk Music this year.  So…. get ready for this.  That’s right… The Rankins are in there.  Classic, 1990s Rankin Family.  On repeat in the car for the last 5 days.  Straight.  Legit.

Charlie Worsham, Natalie MacMaster, Leahy, The Rankins, The Band Perry, Luke Bryan, Third Day, Dixie Chicks, Sugarland, Duelling Fiddlers, The Piano Guys, Lady Antebellum, Lindsey Stirling.  I know, I know, that’s 13.  It’s the best I could do.

And that’s it, guys!  That’s it for 2013!  Stay tuned for January.  Another NaBloPoMo kicks off January 1.  Am I insane for taking the challenge during a Report Card month?  Probably, but it could lead to some really entertaining (albeit brief) posts 😉

Tastes Like Christmas, and other Christmas traditions.


Yesterday I wrote a post from Mama Kat’s Losin It’s blog’s writing prompts.  Sorry, there were a lot of possessive adjectives in that sentence…. woah.  Not fixing it, haha and I only care a little bit……..

**Yesterday I wrote a post pulled from the writing prompts given on Mama Kat’s Losin It, a blog I’ve been following for a while because of the great prompts she gives.**

I feel better now.

Ahem.

A favourite holiday tradition, she says.

I have a few.  And I have a few “tastes of Christmas” to share, as I write this on Saturday, from my Grandparents’ farm.  After lunch, Grandma handed me one of her amazing sour cherry tarts, and with a mouth completely full of deliciousness, I muttered “this tastes like Christmas.”  How can something taste like Christmas, you ask?  Well, read my list, and see if you agree.

Things that taste like Christmas to me:

  • Grandma’s Sour Cherry Tarts
  • Egg Nog
  • Clementines
  • Misty Mints

And finally, I suppose turkey dinner tastes like Christmas, though it also tastes like Thanksgiving and Easter… so… who knows?  What does Christmas taste like to you?

Two traditions that happen every year that I don’t like going without are things that I can’t taste.

1.  The Christmas program that gets put on every year at Grandma’s.  I arrived a day ahead of most of my family due to a pending ice storm.  I was coming from South of Grandma’s, and everyone else is coming from North of here, so I left in time to not get stuck in a ditch somewhere between home and here.

cuz… you know… awesome.

This morning over breakfast, Grandma and I cracked open the Bible, picked the passages we’ll be reading from the Christmas story (in the various Gospels), and then she left me with a Christmas carol book to pick the songs that would go with them.  I finally got my violin in tune… gosh, it’s hard…. and then she played piano while I played piano.  Dad and the rest of the crew are slated to arrive in about an hour and a half, and he’ll bring his guitar, and we’ll have a musical night of praising Jesus and celebrating His birth.  We didn’t do this last year because Christmas was at my house.  I had just bought a house and I really wanted to entertain, so I invited everyone down to my place.  It’s really nice to be back at Grandma’s again this year.  Shout out to my Grandparents, who are more than likely reading this….

2.  Decorating the tree with my Mom.  Ever since I was old enough to do this without busting ornaments, Mom and I have done it together while watching the Toronto Santa Claus Parade on TV.  My brother joined in when he was younger, but it became ‘our thing’ as he got older and didn’t want to do it anymore.  We would eat Voortman’s cookies and clementines, pop popcorn, watch the parade, and hang the ornaments on the tree.  Now that I’m all grown up and I don’t live with my Mom anymore, I feel it’s imperative that I wait until my Mom can get to my house so we can decorate the tree together anyway.  It never seems to coincide with the parade anymore, but we’ve changed the tradition a little bit so that now we watch a Christmas movie while we decorate the tree.  It’s probably my favourite tradition of all, and if I ever have kids, I hope to recreate it with them… though I imagine it’ll be easier with girls past a certain age…. but regardless.  I want to keep it going.  Love you Mom, I know you’re reading this!

This year’s masterpiece
My favourite ornament, bought at the Christmas store in Banff last year

When you lose your voice


November 2013 has been the month where, unlike any other, I have battled with my voice.  I’ve lost it as a result of a cold a few times before, but never as frequently and for so long as I have this month.  I was without it for nearly two weeks between a concert and a cold.  I JUST had it back last week…… but…. it’s gone again.  Well, I have half of it.  I got another cold.  I’m a victim of working in an elementary school with little little kids.

The thing is… my voice is really important to me.  It’s hard to teach with no voice.

Even bigger than that, though…. I sing.  As often as I can.  All the time.  In the car, in the shower, at church, at school, while cleaning.  Whenever I can.

This morning at church, my step Dad leaned over during worship and whispered “it must be killing you not to be singing right now!”

And it was.

But it made me do something I don’t normally do.

I had to listen.  I had to worship with my heart while listening to the words, which is harder to do than I thought it would be.  I had to focus on the words and what they say and mean instead of just singing.  I find it can be so easy during worship to just sing without really thinking the words through, but that doesn’t work when you can’t get enough sound out of your vocal chords to sing a note.  What you can do, though, is focus on the lights, the other people, the sound booth, and everything going through your brain.  It takes real intentionality to be able to have a worshipful spirit when you can’t get words out of your mouth.

I found I was able to quiet my thoughts and my heart down, and I was able to realize the beauty in the words that everyone around me was singing.  But it took the first two songs of distractedly looking around before I could do it.

It was these words that finally got me:

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm

He is my light, my strength, my SONG.  My song.  Jesus is my song.  My voice doesn’t have to sing.  My spirit can.  I can focus with my heart, and Jesus knows what’s there.  Worship doesn’t have to just be with my voice.  Worship is the very act of letting God know how worthy He is of my praise.  I can do that without my voice.  And it’s like it just hit me this morning….

Though, while I’m mentioning it, I would REALLY like my voice back any day now… I miss it.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Moved By Music


Oh, I’m excited to write this one.  I’m excited about this post.  WordPress feeds me prompts, and this one — this one I can write about.

Music.  Sweet, sweet music.

Whenever people ask me what I’m into, I have to throw music in, because I can’t picture life without it.

I play it, I sing it, I listen to it often.

I’m not sure why it’s so important to me, but those three things consume a lot of my being.  I know I’m musically talented, so that certainly helps, but I suspect it’s more than that.  I suspect it’s wired in.

Anyway, those are my three sub-topics — playing, singing, and listening.  Wasn’t planning on turning this into an essay, but I guess it sort of ended up that way.

I play.  I play piano and violin, though lately my piano skills are used only for figuring out how to play a song on the violin when I’m struggling to get the timing or the notes just right.  I’ve linked to a video of me playing an apparently traditional Metis fiddle reel that I put on YouTube.  The song is called Caribou Reel, and I looooove it.  I sat around for years musing that I wished I could fiddle.  I’d listen to Dixie Chicks and Emerson Drive, and tune out everything but the fiddling.  In December 2009, I finally caved and bought myself a violin and started taking lessons.  I have never regretted it, and my fingers are finally starting to fly.  (there’s not supposed to be any visual to this video… my phone was sitting on my stove while I played — sorry.)

I sing.  I am on a team at Church and we sing together every so often (about once a month at the moment).  I was on just yesterday, and the way the harmonies blended together was just incredible.  The voices, the harmonies — none of that is technically important, since none of it is the focus, but I sincerely believe that the worship (in song, though there are many other ways to worship) that can come from well-led singing (I’m not bragging here, I wasn’t the leader) can be incredible.  Not being all that shy, and knowing that I’ve got a good voice, I’ve never really felt shy about being on stage to sing.  Sure, when I was younger and I sang by myself, that was nerve wracking, but it doesn’t make me nervous anymore.

Finally, I listen.  To say that I’m eclectic in my taste in music is accurate, but I definitely prefer to listen to Country when given the option.  Particularly, I adore a good country love song.  I know they’re often unrealistic.  I know that often, life doesn’t pan out the way that country love songs make it look like it does… but some of them still make me swoon and want for a love like that.  I think too, that the type of song that resonates so clearly with a person says a lot about them.  I won’t interpret that statement for you — I’ll let you figure it out on your own if you so choose.

Oh, these songs.  These songs….