Sunday, November 29, 2009

In the Moment

To read about the FIRST part of my Sunday,
(H20, Hope, Humbled, Holy) click here!

WHAT a day! I tried really hard to be IN the moment today, and not just zoom past each one of them or just check them off as they went. There were just so many moments today!

I worked super hard this afternoon on Messiah, which feels good. I happened to run into the Chancel Choir director, Dr. Dan Grace, and begged him to play on the big choral pieces (the harpsichord part wasn't included on a couple of big numbers - Why? Because Handel could only play ONE keyboard instrument at once. Either organ or harpsichord. Mind you, the guy was conducting, too...but I digress.) Ok, I didn't really have to beg - Dan was more than happy to oblige, and now instead of just sitting there during all the big choral pieces (because I sit so well), I'll be playing. Happy, happy Brenda!

Somewhere, in between Messiah practice and the Art Show, I managed to fit in a bit of the Canto Deo concert (it was at Bethany). I sat in the back row, and quietly listened for about 20 minutes. I would have loved to stay, but other commitments pulled me away. Centered me a bit before rushing off to Denver, though, which is always a good thing.

The Bells: I get to the City and Council Building, and the guard on Floor 1 hands me a tiny key, and tells me to go up 1 elevator to the 4th floor, get off the elevator, and switch elevators to go to the 5th floor, as not all elevators go all the way up. Is that not the most ridiculous thing!? How about...directing me to the elevator that actually makes it all the way to Floor 5? Too funny. And the best part? He said all of this in a thick Russian accent - I don't know his first name, but his name badge said Kowolsofsky. Awesome. Genuine Russian accent. We shall call him Dimitri.

Check out the hallways inside the City and County Building, Floor 4. If I had to get off the elevator, you KNEW I was going to have to check things out first. You should HEAR the amazing acoustics in this hallway - thankfully, there wasn't a soul around to hear my crooning. I'm coming early next week, just to sing. I'm sure the security guards really appreciated the strange sounds coming from floor 4!

Here is the CAVE known as the Chime Closet. Too funny. Check out the fancy schmancy chairs. I didn't sit in them, as the keyboard was a bit too high. Plus, I was too busy chuckling and dancing by myself in this tiny room. Picture Will Ferrell and Cheri O'Teri on SNL and their little keyboard skit.

See the fence!? Creeeeeepy. I could touch all sides of this room by stretching out my arms. I could also hear the bells from inside this room, which was comforting. I had these nightmares of playing for 45 minutes...with no sound actually reaching the public. Thankfully, it was super simple, and everything worked as I was told. Oh, and please note the candy canes. I think they add that special touch...

I'm such a goon. I was having so much fun in my little room!

This would be the outside of the building. UNREAL! See the Red Tower at the top? That's where the bells hang. Dena from my Disciple group came to listen with her husband, and sat across the street on a bench, enjoying the melodies - yeah!

Brought home the altar flowers today. They WERE my front seat! Just gorgeous, although I took one turn a bit too fast, and the flower-water was all over my floor. I know we're all surprised at Brenda's driving.

Look who came home with me! I would have loved to spend more time at Delia's art show, but the bells were calling. I'll give you one guess as to what this angel's name is...word of the day....that's right: HOPE!

And we end the day full circle: I was able to place the first candle on my Advent Wreath. Yes, it's on the top of my tree. Yes, it's fabric - it was one of the cool crafts the kids were able to take home from Family Faith Night back on the 14th. I think we will all agree these are the safest kinds of candles for Brenda to have in her home!

Happy Advent!

H20, Hope, Humbled, Holy

I am quietly sitting in my church library as I type this entry. It's been a whirlwind day, which is a fabulous way to kick-off the season of Advent. Wait, watch, wonder, worship. Four weeks that help us prepare for Christmas. And not the commercial, over-loaded with gifts, everyone loses their mind kind of Christmas: the REAL Christmas. Lighting the Advent wreath has always been a part of my church tradition, and now that extends into my home as an adult.

I woke up today, and listened to my H2O Devos! (If you haven't subscribed or listened, please STOP reading my blog, and sign up HERE).

Did you sign up?
It's worth hearing.

Here, I'll post the link again:

I was FINALLY able to share my new song, "A Time of Hope", with everyone at Bethany. Pastor Ron infused the song right into his sermon. Unreal. He'd preach to the text and message of the day, then I'd sing. Repeat. Here's the link to the 12 minute sermon by Pastor Ron. I was humbled that he would want to include my simple text into a message that reached hundreds of people in the pews (and countless others online). One last time in the sanctuary with both Pastor Ron and Pastor Ruth Ann, and I can truly say I'm ready for "A Time of Hope!"

Today was also the first time I served Holy Communion.
This is big. BIG.

I don't think I was ready for the emotion that accompanied this task. I know I wasn't. To say the words "This is the body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you." to another congregant was powerful. People in our Disciple class have spoken of this awe, and I was able to experience it firsthand today. And mind you, I only held the Gluton-free station, which served around 10 people total. I think I would be positively overcome if I served in a side aisle, or even the main aisle!

Now, that was only the first 4 hours of my day. I am here at church to get some SERIOUS Messiah study time in at the keyboard. Our first rehearsal together is Monday evening, and I would like to appear prepared. After Messiah, I'm headed to a member's home for an Art Show. Delia Stewart pulls together these amazing angels from scrap pieces of metal. I can't wait to see more than one at a time!

THEN, oh yes, I'm headed off to the City and County Building for my first night of bell ringing! They lit up the building this weekend with the super-cool new LED lights, so it should be rather exciting to go inside and play happy tunes for the city. I'm also bringing the camera so you can see the scary room mentioned in the last post!

Happy Advent!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blogging by the Numbers

5,000 hits
My blog just informed me that there have been 5,000 hits on my site. A shout out to the person in Mankato, MN for making the number turn to 5,000. (Go figure - Minnesota! Says the Colorado girl originally from Wisconsin!)

5,000 visitors. Some, just once. Others, regular readers.
That just amazes me!

Some people have told me they laugh out loud at some of
more ridiculous stories of my real life. Welcome to my world!

Others have told me they've had a good cry reading some of the behind the scene details I hadn't previously shared. Who knew a blog could do that?

People have checked in on me more than once
if I've gone silent for too long! Love it!

I've used this blog to...
  • communicate with family, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers
  • announce things, both simple and spectacular
  • connect with people near and far, thus staying current on the events of their lives
  • put a personal spin on what's happening in the world around me, letting you see the world through my eyes, er...eye
  • share exciting and emotional times in my life

I've been blogging now for 534 days.
193 posts in 2009.
43 posts in 2008.
1 thank you.
One big thank you for taking the time to read my story!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving, Thanksliving

Once again, the main altar of Bethany was filled with the generosity of spirit I so often see in that sanctuary! Here are the Health Kits for Refugees, a project our church sponsored. Inside each towel is a wash cloth and bar of soap, nail file, band-aids, a comb, and a toothbrush. People kindly assembled these kits, then brought them forward as an offering on Thanksgiving Eve.

The service once again included a ton of wonderful music - children's choir, adult choir, bells, organ, and this year, a liturgical dance! Here's the dancer, Sarah, with Pastor Ruth Ann and Pastor Ron. Such a graceful way to express our thanks for the ultimate sacrifice!

Ready for the Turkey Trot 2009 in Washington Park in Denver with the Glusenkamp Crew! Here's Sue Ann, Ron, Me, Caroline, and Noah, ready to hit the pavement on Thanksgiving Day. Four miles in beautiful weather (nearly 70 degrees!) with just lovely conversation. I'm one thankful camper!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Time of Hope

The first Sunday in Advent stirs up all sorts of hopeful, joyful feelings of the season to come! I'm singing this Sunday morning, and I wanted to have lyrics that matched the Prayer of the Day, the first reading, the Psalm, and the Gospel text. Whew!

I read through all the Scripture, and once I figured out that "HOPE" did not below at the END of a sentence (YOU try incorporating antelope, cantaloupe, envelope, microscope, etc. into a rhyme scheme!), I melded all the thoughts and concepts into the following three verses:

A Time of Hope
Tune: Jesus Shall Reign

A time of hope, now that Advent is here,
Stand, lift your heads, redemption's near.
As we prepare for the coming of our Lord,
C0me and rejoice, our King adored.

Stir up your power, Lord Jesus, and come,

Your mercy helps us overcome.

Show us the threatening dangers of our sins,

Redeem our hearts, and reign within.

God's promise turns darkness into light,

The coming kingdom, now in sight.

Watching and waiting, placing trust in God above,

A time of hope, a time of love.

First Reading: Jeremiah 33: 14-16
Psalm: Psalm 25:1-10
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Gospel: Luke 21:25-36
Prayer of the Day: Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection alert us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and redeem us for your life of justice, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ding Dongs

I just left the “Bell Orientation” session at the City and County Building in downtown Denver, and I was surrounded by the craziest, zaniest, most insane bunch of music teacher and music enthusiasts on this planet. Seriously. I counted so many piano ties and piano socks and piano cardigans and piano book bags. Honestly!

There was an article in the Denver Post/news broadcast on 9News last week about needing volunteers to play the giant Bells in Denver, and Ann's husband, Kim, thought it might be a fun experience. I agree!

Anway, the orientation: I gave up trying to keep a straight face and just stood there, grinning like a goon. They were all self-proclaimed musical experts – ALL of them. They ALL knew how to play a Christmas Carol in C Major BETTER than the person standing next to them. Really now. I just grinned and kept my mouth shut, for fear of my not being the BEST musician in the city, as they eagerly would have told me!

The bell people decided to do an all-at-once orientation, which means 60 people crowded into the stairway outside what HAD to at one time been a janitor's closet/boiler room. (I swear, I am going to verbally check-in with loved ones before entering that room, and again once I leave.) Anywho, the bells are controlled by was a most ridiculously-size Casio keyboard. I think the string of Christmas lights stapled to the wall added a nice effect. Groan. They trained 5 people at a time (yes, only 5 could fit into this tiny room - the room that was straight out of a horror flick).

They are letting me play next Sunday evening, November 29 from 5:45 – 6:45pm, so if you happen to be in downtown Denver, and hear happy Christmas Carols coming from the City and County Building....that's me playing!

I’m going to have to go and find myself some piano leggings….

Here's the view of Denver from the top of the City and County Building. AWESOME! That's the Capitol over there! I would have loved to just quietly spend a couple of hours up here. Had it not been so cold. And had it not been literally 2 feet from bells that would have deafened me and probably exploded my head.

Once we were done with our 5 minute orientation, we were excused to either go home OR go tour the bells. about a tour!? This is just one of a series of stairs that seemed to get smaller and smaller and smaller. It was like something out of "Alice in Wonderland" - I kept waiting for the Rabbit to jump out at me around each corner!

This is the miniscule hole we all had to crawl through in order to reach the Promised Land of the Bells! Honestly. It messed with one's depth perception. Wait...I don't have depth perception. Well, it messed with my SENSE of depth perception. Look at the tiiiiiny man through the grate. I would never NEVER go up here alone.

TA-DA! Check out the size of that bell! UNREAL!
I actually crawled inside it. INSIDE IT!
(I know, we're all surprised.)

These pictures cannot possibly capture the sheer SIZE of these bells! They were massive! I would have loved to see them in action. From a distance, of course.

Sing Joy - It's devo time!

FINALLY! I have been waiting since April 11th (you've caught on by now...patience does not come naturally for me!) for the next round of podcasts to begin, and in 6 days (or 153 hours or 9,236 minutes...depending on when I finish this post), the next round of devotionals will arrive!

They are called H2O devos, and are authored by my Pastor, Ron Glusenkamp, and are based on the music of Peter Mayer. The theme for this season is Sing Joy! ALWAYS looking for more joy!

Podcasts begin this coming Sunday, November 29th, so check out the blog, get yourself signed up for the podcasts, and start singing some JOY!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Before and After

Here's a weird one: this tiny screwdriver came with my new batteries! Where was THIS when we wanted the batteries INSTANTLY inserted into our new toys as kiddos!?

Sharing. It's all about sharing. I LOVE my Disciple group. Remember when Dena brought the gingerbread cupcakes? AND whipped cream? (Read here) I remember. And Matt, our leader remembered, too. He brought me my very own can for our last class. :) Yes, I shared. Eventually.

We also shared a very personal last session this past Wednesday. Talk about ending on a strong point - we shared our Spiritual Gifts, both gifts we possess, and those we think others have. It was a wonderful way to focus on the strengths of each member.

Finally, we shared Holy Communion together. Pastor Ruth Ann led us through a brief, yet powerful mini-service, just for Disciple members. I'm going to miss meeting with this bunch.

Here's what a Lutheran World Relief Health Kit
for refugees looks like BEFORE....

...and here's what they look like AFTER!
Learn more about this project here.

I love my Castle Rock. Here it is BEFORE....

...and AFTER the beautiful star is lit!
I love that you can ONLY see the star!

Ok, sunrise from my deck is pretty awesome
right now. Cold, but definitely awesome!

Yes, this is my Christmas Tree. It's been slowly coming together for a while now. I am always happier when I can come in the door and turn on the tree. I absolutely love falling asleep under the tree. I also love staring into the tree. I love my tree.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How can I keep from singing?

“No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?"

My life is storming right now. . . in a really, REALLY good way. Things are happening faster than ever, and that's saying lot, coming from someone who normally operates at WARP speed. The kind of exciting storms that have me just shaking my head and bursting out in song! Here's the scoop:

Church Council: the congregation of Bethany voted on Sunday morning, and I'm in! I'll be serving on the Council for the next 3 years, and my duties begin soon. YEAH! Having really thought about this one, I'm overjoyed that the members of the congregation believe I'm up to the task. I LOVE being a part of the action, and I'm excited to walk along such faithful people! I also know that a few new friends were not voted in, and I'm hoping that they can come to peace with the final decisions. I'm proud of them for agreeing to serve and for putting themselves out there in the first place, and perhaps another opportunity will arise for them soon.Organist Search Committee: Hooray! I was selected to serve on this committee, and be a part of selecting the next person to serve Bethany, musically speaking. Having been on hiring teams before, this is the last you'll hear about this until the new person is chosen. Blogs are great for communication purposes, yet the integrity of the process is super-important, so mums the word until official communication is released by the church. Just know I'm extremely happy to be a part of helping Bethany move forward musically!

Bradley John: After passing his physical (and jumping through a hundred other hoops), my younger brother, Brad, has enlisted in the Army. He'll be shipping out to Fort Bragg in North Carolina mid-December, and is excited about starting this next part of his life. I really do wish him luck on his journey, and I know he could use all of our positive thoughts and prayers!

Dot Update: My grandmother, Dot, is doing considerably well for an 82 year old woman who fell off her porch and fractured her arm and dislocated her shoulder. Movement in her injured limb is slowly beginning to return, and I check-in on her enough to feel confident that she is focused on getting well. She made it to church for the first time this past weekend, which was an important first step. Kudos, Dot!

Chancel Choir: Woohoo! I was just invited to play the harpsichord at the Messiah performance (the Christmas portions) in December! YEAH! They are such a hard-working choir - they take their job as church musicians very seriously, and have such a great time doing it! Again, I'm just excited to be part of the action! If you live anywhere near Denver, stop on by for the 75-minute concert: Friday, December 4th. 7:00 pm, free-will offering. Where? Why Bethany, of course!

Disciple Class II: While in the middle of my trip to DC, I was contacted about co-teaching the next round of Disciple Bible studies at Bethany. Go figure -just one year after joining the class, they are letting me assist in leading it! HA! I actually look at this as being asked to help facilitate. My co-teacher is awesome, and we'll be there to help guide and steer the conversation, to draw people into faith talks with one another, and to better understand the stories of God and the Bible. The course name is Disciple: Remember Who You Are, and we are going to be studying the letters of Paul and stories of the prophets, and as long as the Pastors feel I'm right for the job, then game on!

My Eye: Long story short, it's time for a new shell. I'm guessing most of you know this already (but just in case) my actual right eye is blind and I wear a lovely glass eye (shell) on top of it. After a scary week of being told I might have to have the blind eye removed (I'm a bit attached to the little guy) we figured out that my shell is simply getting old and that it's wearing out, thus irritating the blind eye beneath. Shells are supposed to last 5-7 years, and mine will be 10 years old this coming January. Emotions aside, I'm starting the process of having a new one crafted, and will keep the updates coming.

Lutheran Study Bible: Honestly, this is just awesome: I promised myself that after I finished the FIRST Disciple Bible Study course, that I would buy myself one of the newest Lutheran Study Bibles. I keep seeing them in use in our class, and my Bible-envy was growing. (Insert lightning strike here.) Then, on Facebook (the other social network site that seems to zap what little free-time I actually have), I see that Augsburg Fortress (publishers of anything Lutheran) is sponsoring a contest about "How does scripture inspire you?" I submitted my story about re-writing the words to "Lift Every Voice and Sing", and they wrote me to tell me I had won a hard-cover edition! WOOHOO! How cool is that - here I am at Week 33 of 34, just one week from purchasing this Bible...and I win it! Too cool!

So...storms and all, I ask you:
How can I keep from singing?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Questions and Answers

Yes, these questions are written in the third person.
No, I haven't lost my mind. It just seemed easier.
Thank you, readers, for still reading this blog.

1. Where have you been?
Everywhere but my own home! A week in Washington DC, training in El Paso, Texas (thank you snow, for the extra evening in this city), training in Mesquite, Nevada (an hour or so from Las Vegas), Women's Retreat with the Church Ladies (just outside Littleton, CO), and now, a hotel in Denver, CO.

2. Have you given up on this blog?
Me? Give up on anything?! You know me better than that! Of course not! The fun part about a blog is that you can update it when you want to. I wanted a break, so I took one. It's exhausting trying to keep up with myself sometimes, and the break did me some good. I'm back!

3. Where are you at this moment in time?
While I could certainly wax philosophical, I am literally sitting in the Sheraton 4 Points Hotel in Denver, CO. Why? Because tomorrow's Congregational Meeting at church means a lot to me. Anything having to do with church business (God's business!) is important to me, and the crazy snowstorm wasn't about to keep me from this meeting!

4. Don't you live in Castle Rock? Why aren't you sleeping there?
Because I thought another evening in a strange hotel room would be fun. Wait, no, that's not why. What people don't understand is that when a snowstorm is predicted for anywhere in CO, you should add a good 6-10 inches of accumulation in Castle Rock. We always get smacked with a ton of the white stuff, and with an inch per hour predicted (and still falling, mind you), I wasn't about to wake up to DOOM, and miss my 8:00 am lectoring, 9:00 am class, 10:30 am worship, and 12:00 pm Congregational Meeting.

5. How on earth did you get to the Hotel in your little Hyundai?
While I cherish the Brenda-mobile dearly, I am able to recognize its limitations. Ann offered to swap cars with me on Sunday morning, and after watching the latest news reports, offered to swap earlier so I could carry through on my insane plan to stay closer to church. SO, I drove her Subaru up I-25 at 11:00 pm so I could be close to church. Thank you, Ann, for swapping out the car in a snowy parking lot at 11:00 pm, for lending me the Subaru, and for just understanding me in general!

6. What's so important about this Congregational Meeting you keep mentioning?
Well, let me tell you: we're voting on a bunch of issues tomorrow. The agenda will include election of Council members, Foundation Board members, BECC Board members, Nominating Committee members and the Bethany representatives to the Rocky Mountain Synod Assembly in 2010. Area of special importance to me: ELECTION of COUNCIL MEMBERS! The day has finally arrived! Remember when I first told you about this? (read here) And when I mentioned this AGAIN here? Super important to me. Very exciting.

7. Why are you updating your blog right now if you have this big meeting tomorrow?
Good question! And technically, it's already tomorrow! Oy! I guess I just wanted it on the record that I am excited for Bethany, regardless of whether or not I'm elected in a few hours. I take this stuff quite seriously! The Beacon (our newsletter) was filled with the bios of caring, compassionate people that will serve Bethany well, and I say that with an honest heart. You know I like to be a part of the action, no matter what!

8. Shouldn't you be sleeping?
Why, yes, I should be. Aside from forgetting a belt for tomorrow (that should make for an interesting meeting, now, shouldn't it!?), I'm ready to go. The snow is gently falling, Bethany is literally within sight, and I'm now ready for bed.

Ciao for now.