Ellie’s Hymn: Day by Day

When I was pregnant with S, we talked about having a song or hymn for each of our kids, that would be “theirs.” I wrote before about how we picked S’s, and wanted to share some about how we chose Ellie’s.

Unlike with S, I had lots of ideas for Ellie. “Though He Slay Me,” by Shane and Shane, and “Psalm 42/Satisfied in You” by The Sing Team, though not hymns, were frequently on my mind while I was pregnant. Postpartum I often sang “In Christ Alone,” while putting her to bed, and lines from “Day by Day” came to mind almost every day. But since Ellie’s full name put together kind of means “my hope is in the Lord,” I also felt drawn to the hymn by that name. We talked about it off and on before our move but I could never decide, though by that point it was down to the two traditional hymns.
As we slogged through jet lag and sickness and PPD over the next month it became clearer that “Day by Day” was Ellie’s hymn. It was what I was learning at the time, and is what we can sing when our hope is in the Lord. Two kids is totally different than having one. I feel like with one kid it’s a matter of prioritizing things in your day, but with two it’s constantly juggling and it’s so easy to fret about chores or dinner or how to work all the stories and feeding and cuddles into our day (though it’s so much easier now that daily life doesn’t include moving!). One of the things I really had to learn in the first few weeks of Ellie’s life was not to worry about how the next day would play out or feel guilty about nursing Ellie to sleep again (tomorrow is another day to try independent sleep!).
I chose it as my hymn to memorize for March and it’s still a good reminder for me as we sing it every day of what my response to trials should be, and how I want S and Ellie to know Him well enough that that trust comes easily.

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best–
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Ev’ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in eve’ry tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

P.S. – S’s plaque was tea stained; Ellie’s we did with coffee – MUCH easier, though a different shade.

And above Ellie’s plaque in the girls’ room is this, that I saw the idea from on Pinterest  and we did with family and friends before leaving Japan and over the holidays – still missing a few though! We thought the house from Up was fitting for our Ellie. 


Me? Teach Piano? – Book Review

About the Book (from Amanda)
“You play piano? Could you teach my daughter?” The parent looks too desperate to turn down, yet your thoughts run wild. “Me? Teach piano? I can barely play myself! Do they know what they’re trying to get themselves into?!”

“Me? Teach Piano?” is a simple guide to clear up some of your questions as you learn a down-to-earth approach to creating piano policies, interacting with students, and choosing the correct curriculum. This booklet contains ideas, suggestions, and advice based on Amanda’s experience.

I wish I had had this when I first started teaching piano! I’ve written more about my piano teaching journey here, but to sum it up I started teaching my little sister and neighbors heard and so I ended up with more students, not really being a pianist myself, and only having had experience with the books my family had. There was a lot of floundering and learning things by experience that Me? Teach Piano? could have helped me avoid! I really could have used the section on different curricula, as well as about having a studio policy and tips on writing and implementing one.

Me? Teach Piano? focuses more on the practical side of things than on ideas for engaging distracted students or creative ideas for helping them understand new concepts or review things without getting bored – struggles that were bigger for me than the practical side as a teacher, but beyond the scope of a booklet.

The booklet is easy to read, perhaps more like a blog than a book, and full of good, practical tips from Amanda’s experience. Sometimes that differs from my preference or experience, but getting another perspective was helpful and may be just what someone else needs!

My only critique is that the way she uses “cadence” isn’t the technical theory definition but just a chord progression (she seems to mean teaching students how to find/use I-IV-V in any given key).

You can get the book on Amazon here! I highly recommend it for anyone interested in teaching piano.

About the Author:
Amanda Tero is a Christian music teacher, currently residing in Mississippi. She has played piano since the age of seven, studying classical performance, theory, and arranging from various teachers. She began teaching private piano and violin lessons in 2007, equipping church musicians with a balance of classical and hymn education.

Connect with Amanda
Website: http:// withajoyfulnoise.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/withajoyfulnoise
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/wajnmusicvideos
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/withajoyfulnoise/
Blog: http://www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AmandaTero
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/amandatero

Book Review: Resounding Truth

Jeremy Begbie’s book “Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music” had been recommended to me a few years ago. I read the first few pages on our West Coast road trip this summer since a friend had it on her bookshelf, and then put it on my list to read in 2016. It took me a while to get through it, but was very good. It’s probably the most academic and technical book I’ll read all year, but was still very easy to follow and understand, and very accessible to my level (or memory ;)) of music theory and history – background that you wouldn’t absolutely need to read the book, but that was very helpful and meant that I didn’t have to stop and look things up while reading. I enjoyed that side of it, though, because it’s been a while since I did anything that engaged me with music theory and history so my brain was eager to have those thoughts again.

A few times I commented aloud “this is so good!” while reading it, and Ezra would ask “what’s it about?” and I found myself struggling a bit for answers, since it was about a lot more than I had expected. Resounding Truth is about how our theology should affect our music, but also pulls a lot from music that helps understand theology more. But that’s an overly-simplistic summary because it’s about a lot more than that, as Begbie traces aspects of music history and church history, applying it to life as a Christian Musician as he builds on things he talked about in previous chapters.

In his conclusion, Begbie asks questions that I think summarize well what the book is about –
“Are music making and music hearing to be understood as embedded in and responsible to an order wider than that which we generate? One that is worthy of respect and trust? … even if not raised with theological concerns in mind, this issue inevitably presses us strongly in a theological direction – if the world is given, then by what or whom, and to what end?” (page 307)
On page 308, he says “my prime concern has been… to jolt the imagination by setting every aspect of music in the context of the breathtaking vision of reality opened up by the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Begbie looks at a lot of pitfalls in how Christians think about music, how having God as Creator should affect the kind of music we write/perform/listen to, and how as Christians Musicians we can take part in the cultural mandate (Genesis 1:28), discovering, respecting, developing, healing, and anticipating together as the body of Christ, musicians and non-musicians.

I am glad I read Resounding Truth more slowly than I read most books, but even so I feel the need to go back over many parts of it and re-read the book from time to time to really grasp everything Begbie writes. And I have some listening to do that I didn’t get around to while reading… like listening to Messaien’s “Quartet for the End of Time” with a better understanding of its history and Messaien’s approach to music.

If you’re a musician I can’t recommend this book enough, and if you have little to no background in music I still recommend it, but you may want to read a book about music history first, or something about art and worldview, like Nancy Pearcey’s “Saving Leonardo” before you read Resounding Truth to be more familiar with some of the music history Begbie builds on.

looking back: 2013

just a few words and photos on 2013.

Midnight thoughts: last stars of 2013\don’t want to say goodbye to this year\”everything has got to end sometime. Otherwise nothing would ever get started”\first stars of 2014\I get married this year {sometime I’m going to go to bed in one year and wake up in another – the closest I’ll ever get to time travel}

Worship changed a lot for me. It’s become much easier to be delighted in God, especially in little daily things like clouds or stars, because I’ve come to see His hand in everything, and remember that everything comes from Him. Worship isn’t just praising Him but also beholding Him. And I think with that has come what I want my life to be about. I want to behold God, and want to help others behold Him, to see how great and awesome God is, not only in how He saves us but also in other areas, like how He orders creation.

All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me,
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see!

Music also changed a lot. Throughout the year there were lots of mini-revolutions in the way I think about practice, technique, and music in general. Practicing slower to always practice it right. Using technique to get out of the way so the music speaks. Music showing the culture of its time. How music should be different for Christian musicians, in how we practice and perform and use it to communicate.

I realized how much this introvert really loves people, and also how much I am loved, and how worthwhile relationships are. This was made clear in both family and friends. With all the wedding and moving deadlines and other things I wanted to get done, whether it was practicing or otherwise, I was always reminding myself that people were so much more important, and because of that life was so much richer. And then watching the most recent Doctor Who episode, and watching others go through change and goodbyes and thinking about all the people the Doctor loves and helps and then has to leave behind – and some really profound quotes and thoughts and faces and feelings as I was thinking about change and goodbyes and all that {more on this coming}.

Marriage just around the corner, and wedding planning taking up time, energy, and creativity, but it was mostly enjoyable. And in just a few days, I’ll be married to Ezra, and we’ll start life together. I can’t wait!

Highlights of 2013
going to the US in April to visit Ezra and do wedding planning, have special cousin and mom time.

Csehy. That’s almost all I’ll say about it because I’ve said so much elsewhere and the words and highlights of Csehy overwhelm. But it sparked the musical and worship revolutions and also began the realizing of how much I love people and how much I am loved by people.

The trip Hannah and I took to RAK, two really special days with my friend of many years who’s like a twin sister.

seeing Sarah T. in Hong Kong

desert trips

Fontgoneano escapades

lessons and fellowship with Sarah M. (and baby Isabelle!)

the lovely shower the C’s and M’s hosted for me

playing music with DCO, NSO, DWB, and singing with the Dubai Singers.

last visit to the W’s.

snow mountain with my dad’s family}

stargazing & cloud chasing

playing volleyball

hospitality –all the varied and wonderful people we had in our home and who had me in theirs

Well Group

piano teaching

Nate getting Eagle

travels: Greece & Lyons, Bahrain & US

times with Cait, Joel, and Jacqueline

And 2014?
Getting married is the big one! So is moving across the ocean and starting a new life. And new stories and compositions and ensembles and people to love and foods to cook and thoughts for the blog {big ones coming after the wedding}.

Happy New Year!

Lament for the Sons of the Covenant

December 20.
Hugh M’Kail was hung.

His ambition was to preach “Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God, unto salvation,” even through persecution by the English. After he was taken captive, they tortured him with the boot, which crushed the shin bone into a pulp. Yet still he refused to own Charles as head of the church. He was sentenced to die, but his response was joy. “Only four more days till I see Jesus,” he said.

When they took him to Grassmarket for his hanging, he spoke to the crowd. Usually the drummers would drown out whatever the condemned said, but today they were silent while M’Kail spoke. He told them not to mourn for his youth, for his blood might cause more to repent than many sermons would have.

He sang a part of the 31st Psalm, prayed, and then ascended the ladder.”I care no more to go up this ladder and over it, than if I were going home to my father’s house… Friends and fellow-sufferers, be not afraid; every step of this ladder is a degree nearer heaven.” He seated himself and addressed the crowd again. His whole speech is moving; here are excerpts.

“I do willingly lay down my life for the truth and cause of God, the covenants and work of reformation, which were once counted the glory of this nation; and it is for endeavouring to defend this, and to extirpate that bitter root of prelacy, that I embrace this rope.”

“There is a great solemnity here, of a confluence of people, a scaffold, a gallows, a people looking out at windows; so there is a greater and more solemn preparation of angels to carry my soul to Christ’s bosom; again this is my comfort, that it is to come to Christ’s hand, and he will present it blameless and faultless to the Father, and then shall I be ever with the Lord. And now I leave off to speak any more to creatures, and begin my intercourse with God, which shall never be broken off:—Farewel father and mother, friends and relations; farewel the world and all delights; farewel meat and drink; farewel sun, moon and stars; welcome God and Father; welcome sweet Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant; welcome blessed Spirit of grace, and God of all consolation; welcome glory; welcome eternal life; and welcome death.”

I wrote a lot about the Covenanters last year, and wrote this lament.
It isn’t meant to be sung, but I did write a melody to it, as a piece for solo violin. I sent it to my friend Anna, knowing she would understand the heart of what I was getting at, as well as the Celtic style. We recorded it this summer at Csehy, and you can hear it here.


November was a crazy month – one of the ones that you look at and wonder how in the world everything is going to get done. But it all did get done, and not just done but was enjoyable and deep. The Kadys came to visit, I had two orchestra concerts, lots of rehearsals and practicing, a half marathon, composing, church events, schedule changes, and wedding planning. Full of ups and downs and lessons and growing. Learning still more about humility and mediocrity, serving and loving others, being still, and slowly and reluctantly getting ready to move while joyously counting down the days till I will be married to Ezra.

{baby dedications}

{the C’s and Mrs. M hosted a lovely shower for me}

{this is us all the time…}

blessed shower – such dear friends
pieces done
lists growing shorter
10 miles

{clouds after an afternoon with Sarah and Isabelle}

{volleyball at co-op}

golden-pink sunset clouds + silhouettes of burj + pink perfect setting orb
deep thunders – 1000 people laughing
soul trilled by God
glorious glorious Savior
missing going to the field with those thoughts and running with head thrown back and arms wide or lying in silence under stars. because how can I sit in a chair indoors when overjoyed at Him?

{Piper conference: Friday morning John Piper preached on Romans 8:12-18, about a “spectacular and scary promise,” and how it’s spectacular because of the inheritance we get, but scary because we have to suffer for it. He talked about how we know if we are a child of God, and what it means that the Spirit testifies – and what led by the Spirit means (not voices in your head but killing sin and crying – not just calling – out to Him as Father). Then he went in to what it is we inherit – so majestic it makes Dubai look like a slum! We get the whole world (his comment: prosperity theology just gets the timing wrong!), God Himself, and glorified new bodies (can eat all food, and perfect music, and we can see God without being incinerated – so Rachel and I were wondering if there’d be one kind of music everyone would like, or if we’d just like it all because it would all be worshiping Him). And then he talked about what kind of suffering it would be – not necessarily persecution, but from the context, just the groaning of living on this earth. And he talked about its purpose, so we won’t love the this earth too much, and about how we shouldn’t grumble because of the great wealth we have.

And Mr. Piper himself – I’d never seen him preach in person before, and he is so real and transparent and humble, not caring what people think of how he looks when he preaches but just being so glad and excited in God and so in love with Him. He’s so logical and a great speaker, but he also just says things how they come to him, which makes him so real and funny. But the biggest thing was just seeing how much God means to him; how delighted he is in God.

Mr. Piper’s messages at the conference were good, too. More and more about worshiping Him and glad-hearted worship and what that means and how that relates to missions and how all peoples coming to Him brings Him so much glory.
On Saturday he was focusing on what glad-hearted worship is, and how since we can’t see people’s hearts, what it is we can see to see that they are worshiping, using 2 Cor 8:1-3 as an example, with how their joy in God was shown in how they gave so much even in their affliction – and how love is an overflow of joy in the grace of God that meets the needs of others. And how when we are content in Him during trials it brings Him so much glory because then the world sees how we treasure Him more than all else. I kept wanting to sing “All That Thrills My Soul.”
I love how he doesn’t lose sight of the gospel but still recognizes that its purpose is to get us to God, and so dwells not so much on the gospel but on the God it brings us to.

{Well group}

mint chip ice cream from daddy
no oboes in Mozart = night off
dad done my dishes
Vorisek intensity
quarter note = 136 (offbeats and Krommer)

{Satwa decked out for National day}

{We got bread after a visit to the tailor and shopping for fabric}

{last DCO rehearsal}

{in rolls the storm}

{the aftermath}

quiet in car – thankful for a red light
unexpected compliments
Messiah rehearsal chills
back row altos
baby words

{NSO rehearsal at Al Raha Theatre. The 22nd and the 30th were huge days for me. The National Symphony Orchestra is the UAE’s only “professional” orchestra. And they needed a second oboe and the DCO conductor gave them my info and I was able to play with them. It was pretty crazy, going from being first oboe at DCO to being second at NSO with an amazing first oboist (felt a HUGE ability gap between us!), and wondered why I hadn’t know he was here so I could have been having lessons. Oh well – I did still learn from him just from watching and listening, and we did talk some, too. Rehearsal was long and mostly counting rests, and I felt not very good because of a bad reed and because of how good the first oboist was, so I wasn’t too excited about the next week when we had a shorter rehearsal and then the concert. But partway through those events I realized what a privilege what I was doing was, and how I’ll probably never get to play with a pro orchestra again, and was so thankful for the opportunity to play with them}

only 6 laps needed
under 2 hours
long-awaited baby
perfect weather
professional orchestra

{half marathon: the one on the 6th of December didn’t work out – registration was already full when I went to register a week before early registration closed. But I decided since I’d gotten so far in training I’d run it as soon as I could – since I didn’t want to do too many more long runs and also knew balancing other activities and long runs would be increasingly difficult over the next weeks, so I picked November 23, drove to Safa Park, and ran 13.1 miles, mostly while listening to Elijah. But when it got to when Elijah is depressed, I was having trouble putting one foot in front of the other, so I changed to bluegrass to help me run better. I almost gave up on my second-to-last mile. I wanted to walk so badly and was so tired, but gave myself until the next corner to keep running, but by then I only had one side of the park left so kept going, and made it in the time I was hoping for, though I really wasn’t expecting it, so it was really great to see the time, especially since I was dreading my time because so much else that week had gone awry that I was expecting the half marathon not to go well, either. What a gift!}

{last DCO concert}

{Glory Kids}

{Messiah rehearsal: the view from the back row of the Alto section}

{time with grampa}

Thanksgiving #1

{Making sweet potato casserole with Hope}

{and chillin’ with Faith}

{M looking forward to Thanksgiving Feast #1}

{a dear friend was in town for a day}

{and these ones were in town for a week}

{Thanksgiving #2}

{brother is playing baseball and earning money umping}

{massage line at the church picnic}

{Venus after volleyball}