Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Little Tiny Rant about Church Music and Those Who Sing It

This morning in our church service, we sang, a cappella, the old hymn "He Hideth My Soul" whose words were written by Fanny Crosby in 1890...and my soul worshiped.  After that, we sang, with instruments accompanying, the song "Ancient Words" which was recorded by Michael W. Smith in 2002...and my soul worshiped.

We did not sing Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus"...but if we had, my soul would have worshiped.  We also did not sing "Seu Shearim," a song I loved to sing with the congregation in Israel...but if we had, my soul would have worshiped.

With my education and experience in music, it would maybe be an easy trap for me to fall into, this arrogance that sadly seems to accompany knowledge.  I could turn up my nose at modern worship songs because of their repetitive melodies or their simple chord structures.  I could disdain some of the "old" hymns of the faith because of their origins as folk songs or bar ditties.  I could choose to only sing pieces from "high church."  I could reject this or that worship song for any number of reasons, but I WILL NOT.

I refuse to make divisions within the body of Christ, solely on the issue of the 12 notes of the musical scale and the whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and so forth that go with them.  I refuse to set a boundary and declare this style of singing acceptable while this style is not.  I refuse to allow pride in any one cultural style of music to make me think less of another style.  I refuse to let my personal opinions and preferences sit in the place of judgement.

Why have all these thoughts been roiling around in my head to the point of spewing forth in a Facebook rant?  Probably because it wasn't too long ago that I saw an obvious display of musical arrogance in the middle of a worship service, and it made my heart ache.  And then I thought of all the disagreements that have happened throughout the history of the church, just because of music; and it suddenly struck me that of all the things to argue about, music would have to rank high on the What a Silly Argument list, right up there with color of carpet in the church building and pews v. chairs.

It's not a new argument, however.  Surely every generation, as it grows up, pushes against the music of the former generation and changes/updates it; and surely that former generation peers down at the music of the youth and expresses its disdain.  Why do we continue this cycle?

As I've been thinking about this, a remembrance came to my mind of something wonderful my maternal grandmother did.  During one of our visits to their home in Pennsylvania, she asked my brother David and I (we were probably junior high age) to teach her a song from church that we liked to sing.  As a matter of fact, we may have taught her several; but the one that I specifically remember teaching her and then singing together was Lift Up Your Heads (by Steven Fry, written in 1974, if my online research is correct).  Now that may not have been the most contemporary choice at the time, since 1974 was two years before I was even born!  :)  I suppose we could have really stretched her ability to relate to the younger generation by pulling out one of the songs from Petra Praise or something like that. ;-)  But for whatever reason, we chose Lift Up Your Heads, and she learned it from us and sang it with us.  What humility!  She didn't tell us the beat was too strong, or that the tune was no good, or that we should stop singing that and instead sing How Firm a Foundation (written in the 1700s).  Instead she built a bridge between her generation and ours, and love and respect walked over it.  I want to be like her.

Oh, Lord, thank You that You look beyond the notes we sing to the spirits that dwell within us.  May our hearts be filled with humility as we worship you through music, no matter what particular piece we're singing.  And Lord, one more thing: when I am an old lady, help me humbly and joyfully ask my grandchildren to teach me a new song of worship to You...and no matter what it sounds like, help me smile as we sing it together.  :)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

In Which Moriah Conquers a Slide

Today we spent the afternoon at an International Festival held at a nearby park (I hope to post more about that tomorrow), and the highlight of our time there for Tobin, Shav, and Moriah was probably the simple fun they got out of playing on the playground equipment.  Forget the beautiful ethnic dresses, the music and dances, the booths with their great varieties of displays, the friends we bumped into and stopped to chat with.  Just make sure there's time to do the most important thing: enjoying the playground!  :)

Moriah had fun climbing up on the play structure and going through a tunnel, but she was very hesitant to go down a slide--even the littlest one.  Finally, after we had been there a while, she sat down at the top and let me scoot her down the slide as I held her around the waist.  The next time, she went down with only my hand holding securely to her arm; and the next time, I only needed to hold her hand for her to have the confidence to push off and go down.  And then came a number of times of her going down while holding my hand, but I really wasn't giving her much physical support at all--just the mental comfort of knowing I was there, holding onto her.

Finally the moment came that I had been waiting for: she did it all by herself.  :)  And isn't that what motherhood is all about: holding on until the child is ready to let go, then standing back and applauding as they launch out?

Here is how it looked when Moriah launched today...  :)

What a big, brave girl!  :)

Well, just when we'd gotten the hang of an all-by-herself-on-the-slide girl, big brother Tobin came over and started swinging on the bar at the top of the slide before going down.

 So, Little Miss Imitator had to do the same.  :)

She learns so much by watching her big brothers and following in their footsteps...

...footsteps that lead her, one small step at a time, to launch herself out of the nest.

And today, her step was conquering a slide.  :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

A New Adventure in Food Preservation

It's something I've been wanting to do for several years--drying food, that is.  I remember my mother drying fruit when I was young, and I seem to have inherited her food dehydrator; but up until today, it had sat unused in my cellar, just taking up space on a shelf.

No more.  :)

Today I pushed it into service and loaded up some racks with the last of the fresh peaches we bought at our nearby orchard this summer.  I don't really know what I'm doing, but I hope everything turns out OK.  :)

At least the peaches look pretty!  And--secret confession time--I just snuck a slice off a tray and into my mouth and...YUM!  Now my only regrets are that I didn't start using this dehydrator years ago and that I didn't dry more peaches this summer.  Why did I wait so long?

Oh well.  At least the apple harvest is still ahead of us, and I sure do love dried apples...  :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

It Was All Their Idea {Fisher Fall Performance}

I'm not sure what planted the idea in their heads; but for some reason, my boys decided that we should have a little show so that Grandpa, Grandma, and Dad could see what we've been up to when they weren't around.  :)  Since my dad was picking my mom up from the nursing home anyway today (so they could go together to a senior lunch at their church), this was a good day for her to join us for dinner, followed by the performance.  The boys decided what to do, they practiced their parts, and David made a hand-written program for each of the people attending.  My involvement was minimal: I just did what they told me to do, and when I didn't have anything else to do, I simply sat and enjoyed watching my young actors and musicians.  :)

Last summer Tobin memorized the poem "Hector Protector," so he got the honor of reciting it before the boys acted it out.  I especially like "Queen" Josiah's wig.  ;-)
We're using music to memorize Bible verses this year, and here's a sample of one we've learned.  Every day the dance that accompanies this is different.  You can tell that twirl with David was Moriah's favorite part. ;-)
I don't have a video of the last act in tonight's show; that's because I was one of the participants in that one.  :)  In his recent choir retreat, Josiah learned a simple Middle Eastern dance; and he tweaked that--and taught it to the rest of us--so it would fit with "Seu Shearim," a song we used to sing when we lived in Tel Aviv.  You'll just have to imagine how delightful that particular act was and how skillful we were as our feet kept time to the music!  ;-)

I'm pretty sure that when I am old(er than I am now), I'll look back on these years of homeschooling and smile so big when I remember the joy, spontaneity, and creativity that we experienced together!  :)

When the Fisher Boys Watch a Jousting Tournament...

...they then try to reenact it.

Who wouldn't?  ;-)

Way back in June, we attended a nearby jousting tournament (as I briefly mentioned in this blog post, but you have to scroll nearly to the end of that post to find it).  For several years, I had heard about this annual tournament, but I had never gone and didn't know much at all about the sport of jousting, so I was excited to take the kids (and some friends) and go this year to experience a new event for us.  The tournament was not the huge, grand display of bravado that I thought it might be; in all honesty, it was quite small and had a decidedly homespun flavor to it.  But I enjoyed it regardless.  Really, it doesn't take much to make me happy--just let me watch horses running, and I'll be thrilled--and this tournament definitely had beautiful horses.  :)

I didn't take my camera to the tournament, so I have nothing to show from that event; however, later I did enjoy making some short little movies while watching my kids imitate, here in the comfort of our home, the events they watched at the tournament.  :)


In this next video, if you pay attention - not just to the jouster, but to Moriah - you might hear how she imitates the rhythm patterns I'm saying that have been part of the Musikgarten classes that the boys have taken.  Even before she could talk much at all, Moriah could imitate those patterns of quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes.  :)


It's loads of fun for me to watch their creativity at work in their play!  :)

Charge, Sir Knight!  :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday {Field Trip to the Arboretum}

We're excited to be part of a great group of homeschoolers this year, and last Wednesday we went on a field trip with some families from that group and learned about medicinal plants (and other useful plants).  We look forward to many more events together this year!  :)

~ in the photo below, Josiah smelling some needles from an evergreen tree

 ~ next three photos by Tobin or Shav (I can't remember which)  :)

 ~ next two photos by Tobin or Shav (still can't remember)  :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What Does Carl's Jr. Have to Do with Homeschooling?

It's probably been 12 years since I ate a big juicy hamburger from Carl's Jr., one of the Southern California fast-food restaurants that Jeff and I occasionally enjoyed during our San Diego days; but recently I've been thinking about Carl's Jr. pretty often.  Oh, not because I'm craving a 1/2 Lb. Texas BBQ Thickburger or a Famous Star with Cheese, but because of a slogan used in Carl's Jr. advertisements beginning in the mid-1990's.

"If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face."

Now how in the world does THAT relate to homeschooling?  :)

Here's how: so many times, as we wrap up our morning of homeschooling and begin to shift gears towards lunchtime and afternoon quiet time, I look around at the MESS in the living room and shake my head.  But then, before I can bemoan the situation too much, a thought runs through my half-teacher/half-housekeeper brain.

"If it doesn't get all over the floor, they're not really learning." 

Not quite as catchy as Carl's Jr's, but potentially more accurate than theirs.  ;-)

I've written before about my willingness to let my kids do other stuff besides sitting and listening when I'm teaching them, and my philosophy hasn't changed much since that post.  Is it any wonder then that my floors end up looking like this?  ;-)

Sometimes I get a little antsy, wishing for more of the "just sit down and listen" style of homeschooling and less of the "sure, get out the beads and blocks and make something while I read to you" style.  But then I think of Carl's Jr., and my version of their slogan begins to cycle through my head.

"If it doesn't get all over the floor..."

Thanks, Carl.  I needed that.