Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.


The Glory of God: How it Changes Your Life, Part II

Read "The Glory of God: How it Changes Your Life, Part I" if you haven't already for the first part of what Sarah, Lauren, and I learned during our Bible study in Utah.
II Corinthians 3:7-18 was a life-changing, eye-opening passage for us: “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
This brought us to a conclusion that we could now firmly base in Scripture: the Law outlines God’s glory, and Christ’s fulfillment of the Law revealed God’s complete glory to those who believe. Imagine, for example, a puzzle where all but one, central piece is put together. You look at the picture and can make out the idea of it, yet you still do not have the precise message because there is not only a piece missing, but also “seams” in between every single puzzle piece. This is similar to what the Law did for the glory of God. However, Jesus came and finished the puzzle; He put the last piece in and brought the whole scene into clear focus by eliminating the seams. Because of this, if we will look at the “puzzle” (the glory of God) and not hide our eyes (as the unsaved who, without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, do), then we will perceive God’s glory.
Furthermore, all mankind can see God’s glory, but man cannot glorify God until he believes in God as II Corinthians 3:14 and 15 says. Only those whose eyes have been opened will see God’s glory. When one believes in God and “chooses” to glorify God (which is not a volition born out of one’s own sinful heart, but rather out of the conviction of the Holy Spirit), one will see God’s glory: “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD (Jeremiah 9:23-24).” Therefore, it is only when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit and believes in God and His glory that one can see His glory in a small part: “But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55).”
This study has brought many spiritual things into perspective as I have realized that any glory I can offer to God is rubbish. It is not God who needs my glory, but I who need to glorify God. In “The Weight of Glory,” an excellent sermon by C.S. Lewis, Lewis says, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
I have seen the glory of God—all of us who are Christians have—but I continue to make mud pies in the slums. Now, however, I have tasted a holiday at the sea, and I know that I will never be the same again. What can compare, I ask you, to living in the rays of God’s glory and reflecting those rays back towards Him? It is a human’s ultimate purpose, man’s greatest joy, and God’s most generous gift.


Loose Ends All Tied Up

Over the course of the ten days that we were gone, I learned much more than I could describe in a paragraph. I played Twinkle Twinkle for hours and enjoyed it, I watched teachers from Argentina, France, and Sweden and was inspired by them, and I learned to be a thoughtful, fun teacher who diagnoses the problems and doesn't nag on the symptoms.
On our final day in Utah, we woke up at our usual 6:00 time and scurried around our messy hotel room taking showers, brushing hair, and eating breakfast. We grabbed our bags of lunch (cold pizza), instruments, and books (if our shoulders are slightly more hunched when you see us next, you will know why!) and ran outside to catch the shuttle for the last time. The shuttle, you must understand, was an unforgettable experience. It is a 15 passenger van in which we try to stuff 15 adults and their 15 assorted violins, violas, or cellos. This is not even considering briefcases and precarious cups of coffee. If you are blessed enough to get a seat in the front, you sit there and hold back seatbelts for the people who squeeze past you to the back. If you must wriggle to the back, you stare down the jungle of seatbelts, hand your bag to someone, take a breath, and claw through the tangle, hoping you don't have to hold a cello on your lap. I must say, though, this was an extremely effective ice-breaker!
Once we arrived safely to the school, we trekked off to observe our teacher teach her last group class to those adorable children!

The last day was more laid back, but usually we were running upstairs, downstairs, and across halls to get to our next class in time. The official ruling is that if you are five minutes late, you may not get credit for the class. Our teacher, thankfully, was very understanding!

Our class photo! L to R: Gabriel from Boston, Erynn, Erin, Mikaela, our teacher Carrie, James, Micah, me, and Sarah

After we took this photo, our class was officially ended, and we would have loved to hang around and say lengthy good-byes, but our shuttle was waiting. Sarah, Mikaela, and I ran through the halls, which were now silent because all of the children had left that morning. The only sound was the occasional thunder peal, and our shoes on the linoleum. Outside, the rain was streaming down, and a few Red Cross vans and an ABC van waited in the parking lot so they could be on location if there was a mudslide. How comforting! We rode the shuttle home alone, divided in our emotions. We were sad that our journey had ended, yes, but we were equally glad that we would be going home the next day. Erin had offered to take us to dinner that night, so we quickly packed and then headed off to the Training Table, a Utah restaurant that boasts a telephone at the table which you use to order your food. We had a wonderful time with her, and we also had some good conversation about Mormonism versus Christianity. I am grateful for that opportunity, and am definitely praying that God used us to sow some seeds!
She then took us on a beautiful hike up South Mountain, which zig-zags across the "Widowmaker"--an impossibly steep trail that people used to charge on motorcycles. Apparently, many died in the attempt, thus the ominous name. We, however, took the safe trail, and a beautiful view of Salt Lake met us at the top.
Erin sweetly offered to take us to the airport the next morning, so we woke up bright and early (4:00), endured security, and soon found ourselves waiting for our flight. Strangely, we met two people in the airport who had been at the Suzuki Insitute, and one of them we only parted from when her ride came at the Portland airport! The flight went without event, and when we saw Mount Hood out of our window, we all grew giddy with excitement. That was our mountain, and there was definitely something comforting about seeing our mountains again rather than Utah's, beautiful as they were!
The good-bye to Sarah was difficult, but when our van pulled up and my family piled out, I only thought of how glad I was to see them again! It was Father's Day, so we went to the Saturday Market in Portland and also to the breathtaking Crystal Springs Rhododenron Garden.
Reunited, we are munching ice cream sandwiches at the market!

My adorable little brother who headed up the Welcome Home poster committee!

We were exhausted, but we still had a wonderful time strolling through the serene gardens.

For Father's Day, we are giving dad the experience of the Washington Father Son Retreat this summer! We tried to make him guess it through Twenty Questions, but his deductive skills were no match for our creativity, and we finally had to tell him!

Now for my list of states I've officially been to. There it is. Utah? Check. Wonder what's next?
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.


The Glory of God: How it Changes Your Life, Part I

We have arrived back in the Northwest safe and sound, but I will leave the “summing up” post (along with our adventures in Portland on Father’s Day) for Lauren to post on Friday. While in Utah, Sarah, Lauren, and I chose a rather ambitious subject to study in the Scriptures: the glory of God. While we came to realize that this would be a lifelong endeavor, I will attempt to relay to you what we discovered in the eleven days we had.
All three of us listened to Passion for the Supremacy of God, Parts I and II by John Piper in preparation for our study. This is literally a life-changing message which I would highly recommend to anyone and which is available free on Mr. Piper’s website. This established several presuppositions for us:
  1. We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.
  2. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
  3. Your passion for the supremacy of God in all things must be rooted in God’s passion for the supremacy of God in all things.
  4. God loves Himself more than He loves you, and therein lies the hope that He might love us, sinful as we are.
  5. If God is to love you, He must give what is best for you—and God is what is best out of all the universe.

I knew, as most Christians do, that I was created to glorify God. Yet, while having a knowledge of my supreme, highest, and most fervent mission, I had no idea what that meant. How do I glorify God? I did not even know, I realized, what the glory of God was. Thus began this study—and what a journey it was and will be!
Of course, everyone will acknowledge God’s glory when Jesus comes back for the second time: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).”
I fervently believe that if Christians steadfastly and perfectly gazed upon God’s glory every moment of every day, there would be no sin. This is not possible, due to our own sinful natures, but it is certainly what God wants us to aspire to. It is impossible to be in the presence of God’s confounding glory and live in sin.
However, one of the most eye-opening revelations for me during this study was understanding Isaiah 40:5 (“And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it”). We realized that there was a point when God’s glory hadn’t yet been revealed to all men. After literally hours and hours of back and forth discussion, we still could not find any Scriptures that even discussed this, until Lauren discovered a passage that literally made us squeal for delight:

“But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
(II Corinthians 3:7-18, NKJV).”

To be continued next Tuesday...

All of the pictures in this post were taken in Utah by Sarah.


The New Salt Lake City Dictionary

Astounding: Violinist Jenny Oaks Baker’s performance on Monday. She played songs from all over the world including “Golliwog’s Cakewalk”, the most jaw-dropping version of “Yankee Doodle” (technically called “Souvenier d’Amerique”), and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” We had no trouble keeping awake during that concert!

Bible study: The wonderful time in the morning (or afternoon, or evening) when you sit down with your fellow Washingtonians and study God’s Word. The topic of this trip’s study is the glory of God, and we have been learning amazing things about the glory of God in the Old Testament and New Testament and how it relates to our daily living. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a blog post or two on the subject, because it really is life-changing!

Caffeine: The thing that is keeping me going!

Class: The group of people with whom we learn each day. This includes Erynn, the girl we have gotten to know the best, and who is taking the class to start to earn some money. Erin also is in our class, but she is mainly interested in viola. Gabriel is from Boston, is “not religious,” and has a wife and son. James is the one with the ponytail and beard, and he seems to be always smiling! Micah is living in Salt Lake City right now, and he is studying for his Master’s Degree. Carrie, our teacher, is not a Christian, but she is extremely sweet and has wonderful insights into some things.

Crisis: When Salt Lake City gets one inch of rain overnight. Under such conditions you will of course have to evacuate people!

Dad’s Birthday: Today—June 19! I’m sorry to miss it, but I hope he has a wonderful day!

Friendship: Sleeping in the same bed for nine nights, putting up with each other’s oddities and exhaustion, and still loving it and wishing the time were longer!

Fiddling: Aaron Ashton is the essence of a jaw-dropping fiddler! Here he is with his fiddling class, and they are all having a blast! During his own performance with his band, he would improvise on the spot and at one point changed keys with every shift up his fingerboard. I think we all were sort of stunned by what he could do!

I’m Leaving: An exercise we worked on in class yesterday. It has to do with dead weight. (-:

Mormonism: The religion of most of the people around us; many of those we have met are in bondage to this religion. Please pray that we might have an opportunity to witness to those around us. We have already been able to share how we use music to glorify and worship God, but we would love to get into even deeper conversations.

One year: The average amount of time a young student might spend on “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

Popularity: When you buy a package of coconut M & M’s, and the lady at the snack table says, “Oh, let me know how those are.” This phenomenon continues when you walk into a classroom of 21 people, calmly take out the package, and everyone’s eyes zero in on your candy. “Tell me if those are good, OK?” they all say, and watch for your reaction. In case you were wondering, they were quite delicious.

Prayer: A blessing that we hope all of our friends and family are giving us right now!

Scream: A loud sort of screeching noise that you make when you get a big bowl of ceasar salad from the cafeteria for lunch, are eating happily away, and discover something odd on your lettuce leaf. A yellow-and-black-striped-dead-bug something to be precise. The other two people at our table kept placidly eating away, not caring to ask what the fuss was about.

Scrumptious: The box of Mrs. Fields cookies that we retrieved at the front desk of our hotel from our family! Needless to say, we have been enjoying them very much! When we first got them, I said, “If we were nice, we could share these with our class.” Mikaela and Sarah instantly shook their heads: “No, we’re not that nice!”

Weather: The conditions outside that are subject to change at a moment’s notice. In fact, you must always bring your jacket when you go to browse through Barnes and Noble, because you might get caught in a rainstorm on the way home (but then you get to run back to the hotel in the downpour, and how fun is that?).


Sunday and Rainday

The sky stretched unspotted blue above us, finding its only boundary in the craggy mountains that rise up to meet it and encircle all of Salt Lake City in a breathtaking delineation. Standing only a few blocks away from Temple Square, Sarah, Lauren, and I entered the large building with even larger letters announcing GATEWAY. Inside, we could only stop and gaze, dumbfounded. We had been transported back one and a half centuries, and found ourselves suddenly only a few years after the Civil War, standing in a cavernous room, elegant and regal, but with not another soul in sight. This room used to be a train station, functioning as a vital stop in the transcontinental railroad. I could just see the brave young men off to the side, hoping to try their luck in a California mine; a large bustling immigrant family planning on joining the sturdy farmers in Montana; and the elegant young ladies off to have a mini adventure.
Leaving this room by the opposite side, we suddenly found ourselves once again with a ceiling of pristine blue, in an atmosphere of sunshine and laughter, and with a sound and sight that nearly brought us to tears. (What can I say? We’re girls through and through!)
Before us stretched stone stairs leading down into a gorgeous plaza on which—all the same level as the rest of the ground floor, mind you—was a vast expanse of jets shooting up water to the exact rhythm and emotion of triumphant music serenading hundreds of people from loudspeakers. After watching the spectacle in unabashed delight, we promptly tore off our shoes and tiptoed through the “fountain” not knowing when the jets would randomly and unexpectedly shoot water at us. What fun that was!
We spent the next several hours exploring nearly every store in that outdoor mall called Gateway, which was built for the occasion of the 2002 Winter Olympics. We stopped at a delightful little shoppe called “Ben’s Cookies” which originated in England and had the most heavenly, delectable, tasty orange milk chocolate cookies we had ever tasted.
We all had to get matching purple headbands and of course honored Starbucks with our presence. Nearly every half hour, though, we scurried back to the fountain to watch the spectacular water show, which occurs on the hour and half past the hour.
Finally, after exhausting ourselves soaking up the local color, people watching, shopping, and dancing in the fountain, we ate at Tucanos Brazilian Grill, a delightful restaurant which is quite unique. Lauren sampled sushi (for those interested to know, she reported that it tasted decidedly of raw fish) and quail egg and I tasted palm heart (Sarah wasn’t as adventurous with her food (= ).

While in the restaurant, our splendid view of the mountains quickly faded as clouds completely hid them from our view, the sky grew dark, rain began to pound, thunder commenced rumbling, and lightening lit up the general mist. Finishing our dinner, we ran through the rain and the now-deserted mall, gave one last longing look at the fountain, and re-entered the train station dripping wet. Sarah unsuccessfully attempted to teach Lauren and I the polka because the huge room was just beckoning us to dance. However, because Lauren and I seem to have two left feet, she ended up dancing the polka alone while we capered around the room.
It was time to go, though, and we walked down the road to catch a Trax train, which—stop by stop—had us to the end of the line within thirty minutes. By then, the mountains had reemerged, the sun and come out, and the air smelled fresh and invigorating, so we walked the few blocks “home” to our hotel, stopping to pick wild flowers. We got to our room tired, happy, wet, content, and reinvigorated for classes the next day: the perfect conclusion to our one precious day to explore SLC.

Visit Sarah's site for another perspective in her blog, and make sure and click on her "albums" to see all of our pictures!


The Three Violins in Salt City

To you this post looks exactly the same. To me, however, it is completely different. I am not writing from my cozy bedroom but from a spacious hotel room. It is not 8 o’ clock, but 9. Most strangely, I am not in Longview, but in Salt Lake City.
Yes—Mikaela, our friend Sarah, and I have ventured here for one purpose: Suzuki teacher training. Along the way, though, we’ve had our share of adventures. And we still have nine days left!

For example, we hailed our first taxi. (Jonah informed me that to do this, you just wave your arm in front of the windshield.) In addition, as bizarre as it sounds, we’ve been marveling at our hotel’s amazing breakfasts and dinners which appear without a spot of work on our part! Three people sleeping in one bed really hasn't been that bad--it would just be too lonely to isolate one person in the other room on the couch! Needless to say, as we have each had to assure our parents, Sarah, Mikaela, and I are definitely still speaking to each other! (-: We have also felt right at home in Salt Lake City because it has been raining so much. However, “It really doesn’t rain that much here” the Utah-onians keep telling us. This is clearly evidenced by this sight that met us as we came out of our classes yesterday!
Salt Lake City is in a valley, is surrounded on all sides by beautiful mountains, and usually has a blanket of beautiful clouds across the sky.
These photos of the mountains were taken during our expedition to a Super Target for necessary provisions.

In our first class yesterday, I was so excited and pumped after six hours of classes that I could hardly wait to get back to teaching! Never mind the next week and a half—I learned enough in that class to last a lifetime! But I get ahead of myself.
The classes are held at a Catholic high school, and our hotel shuttle dropped us off at the door along with a cellist and a few teachers. We finally located our class and we furtively glanced at our fellow classmates. There was one man in particular that I just wasn’t sure about. Is he a student or…? I asked myself. Turns out, “he” is James, a man with a gray flowing beard and a ponytail and who gives off the impression of being an ex-hippie. My other classmates are equally as diverse. From the college girl who goes to Brigham Young to the French Canadian from Boston who is thirty-something to another college girl who simply is coming because she has to pay the rent and decided she would rather teach to earn her way. And then there are these three strange girls from Washington who wear skirts, already have students, and sure ask a lot of questions! (-: All in all, there were ten of us.

Tomorrow we will get our “permanent” classes for the rest of our time here. Mikaela and I will try to keep you posted, but meanwhile, we miss all of you back home! Let us know about all the sunshine we are missing! We look forward, however, to more dashing through the rain to get back to class in time, furiously scribbling notes, and, of course, asking a lot of questions!


Project Gutenberg

My new favorite website these days would have to be Project Gutenberg. The mission statement of this wonderful organization is “to encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks .” With over 28,000 books in their database, I now have completely free access to many books I never would have found or read otherwise. They have "everything," from Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks to A.A. Milne's Red House Mystery to Swiss Family Robinson to portions of Scripture to works by G.K. Chesterton.
Although I certainly don’t prefer to “read” books online, there are many times when Project Gutenberg comes in handy. For example, I was thrilled to see the What Katy Did series, because after reading the first excellent book, I was never able to find the sequels. Additionally, I can easily search the text of a book. I own all of Jane Austen’s books, but it sure is easier to search for a specific quote using Project Gutenberg than to peruse every page of Austen’s writings! Finally—and this is the most exciting application of all—Project Gutenberg provides hundreds of audio books, both human and computer read for free! I have had such fun downloading these to my MP3 player and listening to them while I scrub bathrooms or clean my room. It seems as though I have less and less time to read these days, and Project Gutenberg makes it just a little bit easier for me to multitask. ;-)
So I’d like to know:

  1. Have you heard of Project Gutenberg before?
  2. If you’ve used it already, what ways do you make it work for you?
  3. If you haven’t used Project Gutenberg, what do you think of it?

Enjoy this gem of a website and happy reading!
(Stay tuned for Lauren’s post on Friday from the grand old state of…Utah!)


What is Holding You Back?

He was a young man, typical of the upper middle class. Those who knew him best, however, would argue that he was anything but typical. He was the kind of man everyone aspired to be. They would frequently comment, “What a hardworking boy! There isn’t a lazy bone in his body!” And indeed, this was true.
He had cultivated his time so wisely as a boy that he had always been acknowledged as the leader of his peers. Nothing had changed with adulthood. In fact, he was one of the youngest men in politics. A high achiever with big goals, he seemed bound to succeed.
Not only that, but everyone looked up to him for his unimpeachable morals. There was no law that he did not follow, no “t” that he did not cross, and no matter of ethics in which he did not take the high road.
Somehow, though, he still found himself pondering life, its meaning, and its end. Things had been difficult lately, he admitted to himself, and time seemed to rush by so fast that he found himself strangled. His parents were getting elderly, his companions were marrying and moving away, and his leadership was facing several crises. He wondered what his future held. Thankfully, he still had his wealth to fall back on. He could still pay for the best care for his parents. He could make new friends through his connection and power. He could buy more time for himself by hiring more employees. Surely, if he could use his money to do this much, he could use his righteousness to do more! Everything in his life was bought and sold, and it only made sense to treat his future in the same way.
Suddenly, off in the distance, he saw a quickly growing crowd. After just a moment of perplexity, he realized whom the fuss was about. It was about a man he knew from the exuberant stories of a friend —a man called Jesus.
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, but whether he was or not did not really matter to the young man. What mattered was that He was reputedly very wise, and He might know how he could gain eternal life. A wild idea entered the young man’s head.
Suppose he asked Jesus about the very question he had just been wrestling with? Then, if Jesus really were the Messiah, He would know the true, godly state of the young man’s heart and could encourage him. After all, why should he needlessly remain in despair?
The young ruler was on his feet, elbowing his way through the motley crowd. His feet dug into the dusty road. The hint of a smile lifted his lips as he imagined Jesus’ warm reception.
There Jesus was. The rich man called out through the noise, “Good Teacher!” and Jesus turned his sun-weathered face to him. The young man noted his plain, almost shabby attire and lack of ornaments and hesitated. Then, almost unconsciously, he knelt in the dusty road.
He asked, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” He waited for Jesus’ assurance that he did not have to do anything more for eternal life, but none came.
Jesus did not hesitate before the gaudy stripling. “Why do you call me good?” He asked, and the young man cocked his head in surprise. “No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” The young man had felt embarrassment and conviction as Jesus questioned his motives, but then he caught on the word “commandments.” This was his area.
“Which ones?” he asked.
Jesus replied, “’ You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ You shall not steal,’ You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
With smugness, the rich man said to Jesus, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
He put up a confident front, and he waited. But Jesus had left out one of the commandments on man’s relationship with his fellow man—the one on covetousness.
Jesus looked him in the eye and said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
The young man stared down at the sand and rocks on the road, and he snorted. God had given him his wealth, had He not? Riches were not a bad thing, and here Jesus was telling him to distribute his wealth to the lazy men of the world! Somehow, though, he felt the truth of Jesus’ words. He slowly rose, shaking his head. Now he almost felt tears in his eyes, and he knew that he was stuck. His wealth was his lifeline, his crutch, and his consuming desire. Eternal life just couldn’t compare to a life of riches in his mind. He turned his back to Jesus, and he staggered up the road he had just walked. He heard Jesus say, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
But he was too far away to hear either the astonished disciples ask who could be saved or Jesus firmly answer, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
The rich young ruler walked up the road. He had his power over thousands. He had the admiration of thousands, and he had his thousand, but he had chosen these at the cost of eternity. His money handcuffed him and held him back from choosing Christ. Like so many other possible distractions in this world-entertainment, fame, friends, habits-he let temporary money become such a priority that it kept him from choosing eternal life. He walked up that road, and he felt the jingle of coins in his pocket and the fires of Hell on his face.
Taken from Mathew 19:16-26


Our Students' Recital!

Someday, the sun will be on my back, my steps will falter, and my road will end. My road may be a long one, and perhaps I will achieve the unlikely age of ninety years. If that time comes, I do not anticipate sprinting through ten kilometers. I likely won’t shoot hoops, twirl pirouettes, fake out my soccer opponent, or remember my Spanish numbers. At any age, however, no matter how many miles I have come, or the vastness I have still before me, my violin will be my constant companion. I will walk with it always tucked beneath my chin, for my life is the music of classical strings. Violin and piano have furnished me with an accomplishment that will elevate, beautify, and enrich every single step of the rest of my life.

The worth of music to me today is inestimable. The violin has changed the life I live; the way I walk through life, the people who walk with me, the music that surrounds and brightens each step.

Classical music has taken my hand, led me off the main highway, and set me in the world of extraordinary artists: spattered potters, talented painters, prize-winning authors, and, of course, virtuoso string players. The value of all that I have gained in the decade since I was first introduced to the violin can be quantified by only one thing: the joy it brings to my life.

The way ahead of me—my future—is already benefiting from the presence of piano and violin. I will be capable to climb any jagged cliff that I encounter because I have been trained in perseverance, courage, and ambition. Additionally, the violin ensures that my road will never be dark, lonely, or bleak. When I am sad, I have only to play a rousing jig and my spirits lift. When I am lonely, I merely begin Concerto in D minor for Two Violins by Bach, and I never fail to find a partner! The classical strings have set a high standard for me, and every day I come closer to that challenging, inspiring, elevating touchstone.

I have performed at weddings, nursing homes, concerts, and contests. I have played for friends, critics, strangers, and Grandpa. I have learned Suzuki, Book One by heart, Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 by endurance, and Mozart’s Concerto No. 5 by infatuation. I am a classical string and piano player, and my life would not be right if I was anything else.

I know that the time will come when more miles lay behind me than ahead of me. Those miles will be strewn with the intensity and ecstasy of music. Right now, though, I keep walking down my road. The sun—ahead of me—is in my face, and the wind is in my hair; my violin is under my chin and my bow is on the string. And I am dancing from the power I possess!
Photos taken by Mama during Lauren and my students' recital last night.

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