COUNTING + one thousand gifts {#3327-3502}

 I’m one of those people who can push and push and push…but only for so long. I LOVE being involved in a myriad of activities, but there comes a time when I just have to stop to rest and reflect or else I will be absolutely good for nothing. This is the first free weekend I’ve had since Christmas Thanksgiving (I think) and it’s been SO wonderful to catch up on some much needed sleep. And now that I’ve slept most of the weekend, I’m trying to cram in some time for reflection because when I don’t reflect, my life seems as if it is in great disarray.

Much of my time outside of work the past couple of weeks was spent counting–yes, counting (mainly to four), as I was given the privilege of playing for another production of the Wizard of Oz. During our second night of rehearsal while we were on a break, we discussed the importance of counting. (See Gift #3460 below.) This provoked all sorts of interesting thoughts in my little mind about similarities between counting in music and counting grace-gifts, but my brain was too drained to formulate any kind of post.

Ironically, the very next day Ann Voskamp wrote a whole blogpost centered around the importance of counting. “When you are a musician and you stop counting — it’s like running around in the forest in the dark without a flashlight.” This is SO true. (I had just experienced it firsthand!) When you’re playing a song and lose count and have no idea where you are in the piece, you become very unsure of yourself and playing is not at all enjoyable. Playing is most enjoyable when you know right where you are. I’ve found this is true in everyday life as well. Counting gifts helps you keep the rhythm of grace! (It especially helps to keep your eyes on the conductor, particularly when the conductor is gracious enough to help you count along.)

“Without counting, keeping the rhythm of grace,  life gets a bit like smashing into trees in the dark without a flashlight.” In the dark without a flashlight…kind of like the first little bit of the Wizard of Oz. But, never fear! When you count through the cyclone and darkness of Act I, you’ll soon be out of the woods, out of the dark, and out of the night. And you can step into the sun, step into the light. [Wow. Please forgive the cheesiness. I’ve sat through no less than probably 15 performances of the Wizard of Oz the past year alone.] Keep counting His faithfulness and you’ll see His hand was guiding you all the way.

As I muse on what has transpired over the past month or so, it becomes obvious that even through the 70+ hour work-weeks and all the go-go-go, God is the only One who could give me strength. When I see the Lord blessing in the little things, it helps me trust Him in the big things. And through it all, I see Him always looking out for me in His love. Counting His gracious gifts reminds me that He loves me and is always working for my good. In life, as in music, it’s a lot more enjoyable to play when you know right where you are. And I’m right in the blazing center of His love.

“She who re-views her blessings, re-views herself — sees herself as beheld by her Beloved.”
{ann voskamp}

Keep counting, friends.


3327. having time to put up my little charlie brown tree
Christmas Tree
3328. such grace all over my life today. He continues to prove the wonders of His love
3329. others being thankful. love the quirky traits of people i’m surrounded by
3330. grace in a response
3331. so much done. such tired eyes.
3332. insulin vouchers?! for real?!
3333. just to think that God loves me
3334. gentle, kind doctors
3335. having to work late, meaning it was dark outside, and being able to see that i really do have enough lights on my tree
3336. filet & potato cakes from sal’s and a hilarious precious convo with our waiter (“Lord, please help these idiots”)
3337. sweet far-away friends who popped up tonight saying they were praying for me ♥
3338. an exceptionally rough and challenging day
3339. the privilege of praying at all times
3340. spoken words of affirmation
3341. election training that was entertaining and fun spent talking with anita c.
3342. the Com-Forter (with strength!)
3344. almost cancelling a flute lesson because i was so swamped and running late, but pushing anyway and God affirming His love in a foggy window where my student and her little sister had written, “welcome flute teacher” with their fingers 😀
3345. thankful friends
3346. God ordaining my day and inserting surprises like a laughter-filled lunch with erin & will and getting sent home early to work so i wouldn’t slide around
3347. grace to finish
3348. those lady cats! 4 OTs!
3349. lunch in my favorite room at the glitz with the golden girls
The Glitz 2013
3350. a nonesuch kiss
3351. a lovely post about “my favorite things” provoked by laura’s pork schnitzel recipe link. ha!
3352. ♪ the punishment of God on God has brought me peace ♪ {stuart townend}
3353. three languages still going on in our little service despite the ice
3357. the life, love, and contagious cackle of mrs. cantrell ♥ small words with such an impact.
3358. acoUstiKats on NBC! ahhh.

3359. election day. so thankful for a stress-free day
3360. a houseful of ladies focused on the true meaning of Christmas
3361. tired eyes
3362. a full wednesday night service
3363. breakfast at bob’s with ashley parks. so thankful for friendships God sustains
3364. playing prelude music at Bluegrass’ sweet Christmas program
3365. ross hill’s smoother than josh groban voice. love.

3366. piercing truth. “the sin under all other sins is a lack of joy in Christ.” {tim keller}
3367. a christmas card that made me cry
3368. singing with jane
3369. sarah bartsch’s beautiful wedding. what a sweet couple.
Sarah Bartsch Wedding
3370. remembering what Christ did for me, an unworthy rebel.
3371. ♪ and now i’m loved forevermore because of what You’ve done ♪ {bob kauflin}
3372. {nahum 1:7}
3373. hugging aunt janna on her bday
3374. an angry person who drove me to Christ {psalm 55:22}
3375. lca love all over my phone
3379. the little bellmer boys rescuing me from being “stuck in the muck”
3381. catching up with will sallee–always such an encourager and so aware of  how God is working. ever learning and growing
3382. trying to bless someone and them trying to bless you instead and then the cashier intervenes and decides to really bless and it just becomes one big “God’s so watching out for you” blessing!
3384. crepes with all the cousins
3386. kerry spotting a dci sticker in the culver’s parking lot and then walking in to see the wades and bsip staff. hahaha!
3387. running into ashley parks outside sally beauty supply. love that.
3388. dad coming to rescue charla’s dead car
3389. He came. for me.
3390. bob brown christmas dinner. so much appreciation from the residents’ families. love hugging their necks.
BBH Christmas Dinner 2013
3391. alumni band. oh my. so much fun.
3392. candlelight service. a drunk pentecostal. oh goodness.
3393. ♪ ruined sinners to reclaim ♪
3394. a messed up pizza mix-up resulting in a free one
3397. my mema’s chicken salad
3400. driving to the beach in scarves and sweaters to hug my aunt rhonda
Beach Christmas 2013
3402. frogmore stew served with bearded cousin hugs
Clayton Frogmore Stew
3404. giving a gift that was so appreciated and humbly received
3407. getting chosen to play at the u of l game. what a privilege!
Alumni Band
3409. when we uncover our sin, God covers it! grace!
3412. bob’s with aunt janna and nancy
3413. mercies anew for a rough monday morning
3414. faithfulness proved with every breath
3415. kind words and wishes from bro. dunbar
3417. TWO pairs of jeans that fit. what?!
3419. such kind, affirmative words from kerry. “i look up to you even though you’re shorter than me.”
3420. a full house of laughter, love, good food, apples to apples, and catch phrase
NYE 2013
3421. an absolute whirlwind of a year: mostly eaten up by work, but a lot learned about the importance of balancing life and keeping Christ as my constant focus. lots of friends moving far away–some friends moving back. a record number of weddings. transition. friends lost~but experiencing life everlasting…life to the full.
3422. the Lord sustaining me through another year AND another night! He’s so faithful!
3424. starbucks date with lindsey. so uplifting to hear her share her beautiful heart
3425. LOVE {ephesians 5:2}
3427. a lower a1c!
3428. snow drifts dancing in swirls to the rachmaninoff playing in my office
3430. He loves me. unconditionally.
3431. a frigid, frigid morning
3432. surprise lunch with erin
3433. spending the evening with 24 precious band friends
LCA Band Reunion 2013
3434. sweet wishes
3437. another trip around the sun!
3442. the kingdom in my heart…reign supreme, Lord Jesus
3444. getting to know some fellow piccolos at the florida game
3446. running errands all night in frigid temps. 13 hour days
3447. a monday and a half
3448. a dad who brings forgotten office keys
3449. no internet at work, giving me plenty of time to hang out in munchkinland with my headless piccolo
Headless Piccolo in Munchkinland
3450. frost inside my nose and IGLOOS on my weather app
3457. a most beautiful sunrise
3458. practicing piccolo at every stoplight
3460. KEEP COUNTING! just keep counting. every four. keep on
3463. curtain torn in two…
3464. ♪ tomorrow’s freedoms are today’s surrenders ♪ {all sons & daughters}
3468. jitterbug all over the stage

Privileged to play in The Rep's production of The Wizard of Oz!  [pic compliments of their FB page]

Privileged to play in The Rep’s production of The Wizard of Oz!
[pic compliments of their FB page]

3469. knowing confidently that His mercy will endure and preserve me
3470. safety
3471. above and beyond, way past way past
3473. grace in my fingers
3474. counting. (!!!!)
3475. He holds me that i shall not be moved ♪ (and so to Him I leave…it all)
3476. {hard eucharisteo} the growing pains through conflict
3478. gentlemen holding doors
Jeremy Wizard of Oz
3479. silence
3480. that He loves me unconditionally in spite of me and my quackiness
3482. {psalm 27}
3484. secret doors
3485. hazelnut coffee mid-afternoon
3486. {psalm 106:7} He paraded them through dry land 😀
3487. la rosa’s for dinner and going to williamstown to cheer on those harden coaches and their dubtown boys! big win over bellevue and an even bigger shot in the arm spending time with all of them
3488. hugs. ones that mean something like a “thank you”
3490. swamped.
3491. hugs from diane aubrey at the dermatologist. makes that getting up early thing worth it!
3492. showing up for a drums only pep band game but getting to spend time with friends
3493. He is mighty to save! {isaiah 63:1}
3494. that God’s promises were meant to be used!
3495. chicken risotto from bella notte
3497. being dressed in birthday love
3498. braving the waffle house for lunch alone because i was craving breakfast something fierce!
Waffle House
3499. snow falling gently outside my office window
3500. {isaiah 41:14}
3501. rest and relaxation. bliss.
3502. symphony for unstrung tongue!

“To see the glory, name the graces.”
Since reading One Thousand Gifts, I started my own journal of grace-gifts God blesses me with every day. I will spare listing all of them here, but I will try to share some of my favorites as I have the opportunity. 


Things People Search to Get Here

If I ever need a laugh, I go to the blogs I manage and look at the things people have searched to arrive there. It’s hilarious.

Crazy search terms people have used to get here include (but are certainly not limited to) the following:  

  • what to serve with tacos for dinner
  • trashy copier
  • can you make almond roca when its raining
  • changed an adult diaper
  • problems with church secretaries
  • punkyville
  • what can u give your guest at a funeral
  • grannyfresh
  • rain gentleman

And my all-time favorite: Does John Piper drink coffee?

I went through this routine last night and saw that someone had searched “recorder fingerings for wizard of oz. It killed me to think they left here frustrated and disappointed because I’m sure those were nowhere to be found on my blog and I wanted to fix that even though it might be too late.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you my probably not-so-helpful fingerings cheat sheet for the recorder part in the Wizard of Oz (specifically for the scarecrow).


Dear friend, you also get a bonus. Since you’re probably also playing flute and piccolo in this production, I’ll even share my chicken scratch alternate fingerings for the flute and piccolo parts.


Lastly, I have several more helpful goodies for you. It’s like you’ve been to MunchkinLand!

The method that probably helps me most when practicing is listening to the piece. YouTube is full of horrible Wizard of Oz school musical recordings that have hacked up the parts and ruined it, but since it’s a Monday and I’m feeling extra generous, I’m including the three recordings I found most helpful below.

The Jitterbug

 Apple Throwing & The Tinman
After you practice your scarecrow recorder part, don’t forget to read the Lessons I Learned from the Wizard of Oz Pit and watch for flying apples!
It is my pleasure to attempt to help you find all the eclectic things you search for. Thank you for keeping me entertained!

one thousand gifts {2949-3038}

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
{2 Corinthians 12:9}

2 Corinthians 12:9

It’s not Monday and there’s not a multitude, but I do have a moment…a moment that’s free. (And I thought I was crazy busy last month. HA! God showed me.) So I’m using this short moment to remember. To remember how good He’s been even in the busy of ordinary life. I’ve had so many “Just keep swimming…Just keep swimming… moments this past month that it’s been borderline ridiculous, but the Lord has constantly reminded me of my need for His grace and strength and He’s been faithful to fill me with both.

He’s also been so good to let me continue to do things I love in addition to working multiple jobs that I enjoy. This past month, I’ve been able to teach music, play music, eat delicious food, spend quality time with many friends, celebrate my church, interact with new people, and so much more.

In all reality, I’m a girl who deserves to be eternally separated from God. But God, in His rich mercy, while I was wallowing in my self-centered sinfulness sent His Son to live a perfect life that I could never live and to die the death I deserved. If that isn’t grace, I don’t know what is! With Christ covering me, everything is a blessing. 

2949. biking in the basement with bonhoeffer
2950. covenant Maker becoming covenant-Keeper & dying for covenant breakers
2951. pep band–past and present coincide

Pep Band with Madison piccolo2952. thank yous
2953. new tasks
2954. not of this world
2955. smashfries with erin
2956. staying late
2957. chats with cute neighbors and a delicious dinner
2958. not having a spare second to be bored
2959. singing along with T4GII
2960. chats with a smily, happy aly
2961. “did you get the dress?!” hahahahaha!

I was responsible for getting a high schooler's dress to a college girl. From Lindsey to Aly's locker to the ensemble room to the band office to my car to my closet, to my car, to Wilmore. It went through a lot to be safely transferred to Kerry's hands. You have no idea how many people asked me with very wide, concerned eyes, "Did you get the dress?!"

I was responsible for getting a high schooler’s dress to a college girl. From Lindsey to Aly’s locker to the ensemble room to the band office to my car to my closet, to my car, to Wilmore. It went through a lot to be safely transferred to Kerry’s hands. You have no idea how many people asked me with very wide, concerned eyes, “Did you get the dress?!”

2962. faithful to promises: He gives His beloved sleep (even when they’re stupid).
2963. breakfast and sweet chats with helen
2964. the kentucky symphony with gilbert rollins
2965. kerry playing clarinet in a college concert & seeing miss bailey
2966. having kerry over for a comfort food meal in wainrights’ kitchen
2967. being appreciated with breakfast at the bob brown house
2968. miss erica rose’s squishy cheeks

Erica Rose2969. way beyond. way past. {ephesians 3:18-20}
2970. seeing dr. patel for the first time in 3 years and getting my sugars straightened out
2971. practicing the tinman run at the doctor’s office on a pencil via my phone
2972. playing all night after a full day of work
{you can read a full recap of things i learned from playing in the wizard of oz here}
2973. going silent to end it
2974. snow in my hair
2975. practicing piccolo in the pizza plaza parking lot. high A-flats. yay!
2976. dinner with the golden girls at saul good
2977. mrs. b’s faces. my favorite!
2978. ||: ding dong the witch is dead :|| (in case you missed it the first 423 times)
2979. writing hard words
2980. chatting with crows and hugging jitterbugs

Jitterbug Crow
2981. “why is she said?” -little kid in the audience asking about dorothy
2982. hugs from ellen!
2983. God’s rich mercy & compassion
2984. lunch with friends & familiy
2985. rolling xylophones and carrying cabasas and timpani stools in heels and a dress. favorite!
2986. the gruesome finale of judges {Jesus, be the King on the throne of my life!}
2987. “My grace is sufficient for you.”
2988. sadie loving me in my mess
2989. 5 months worth of work in a couple of days. o.O
2990. catching up with charla at dinner
2991. watching friends perform at the station show with mom & seeing other friends unexpectedly
2992. kind goodbyes–so courteous
2993. God answering prayers for the words i needed to hear to be placed in bro. vance’s mouth
2994. the urgent reminder to be in the Word and to pray
2995. lunch at shaker village!

Shaker Village2996. gathering with a family who waits peacefully for their mother’s coronation moment–so precious.
2997. such a sweet spirit
2998. breakfast with iron-sharpening sweet ashley~laughing about birds in plane engines, hilarious parents, and life in general
2999. awnings–especially on a rainy day
3000. washed clean–showered with His love and numberless blessings. Hosanna has saved me–a scumbag who deserves death. He gave me life–abundant & eternal life–instead.

Gift #30003001. buying too many passion cd’s on my lunch break
3002. saul good being out of plastic spoons for my to-go french onion soup & trusting me with a metal spoon. of course i’ll be back.
3003. getting glory bumps during EVERY song on the passion cd at some point and nearly crying during “we glorify Your Name”
3004. mom making waffles after dinner–just because
3005. catching up with a far-away friend who is always so swift to give a compliment. kind words soak to the depths of my soul and can keep me rejuvenated for days. may my words ALWAYS do the same for others.
3006. words of appreciation not often expressed
3007. hysterical laughs with erin midday over a “hu hu ha” call from george
3008. smiles from a squishy baby!
3009. doing a myriad of tasks–may of which convenienced others and eased their burdens. my favorite.
3010. ♪ the Lord our God is ever faithful, never changing through the ages! ♪
3011. words of affirmation
3012. streamers and choreography. oh my.
3013. isaiah 26:3-4 being repeated in my life. emphasis much?!
3014. going with my gut
3015. ♪ wake up! open your eyes–no longer dead, we are alive! ♪
3016. hearing a voice that sounded trinidadian–almost made me cry.
3017. reuniting with kerry! laughs on top of laughs. 😀
3018. returning the spoon to saul good (see #3002)
3019. $5 ballet flats!
3020. windy country road adventures for a windy corner breakfast with kristen

Windy Corner Breakfast3021. God’s grace triumphing in the life of trick–such a beautiful testimony at her funeral
3023. jamie grace being so presh in person. (“i’ll thank my husband for paying the bills and buying me chickfila!”)
3024. worshipping with TobyMac & his little indoor drumline. band geek love. ❤

TobyMac Drumline
3025. celebrating 16 years of God’s faithfulness

16 Years @ NLBC3026. being a treasured jewel {malachi 3:17}
3027. church pot-blessings complete with anita’s chocolate pie
3028. promises to keep His promises
3029. eating, fellowshipping, and memphis reminiscing with the drurys
3030. hearing how a friend is being obedient and walking in the truth
3031. an ordained open night to catch up on a little work
3032. talking to myself
3033. being loved because i am covered
3034. prayers being answered–urging & encouraging me to pray more
3035. feeling put together–on a wednesday, nonetheless
3036. finally feeling like i’ve hit a point of true friendship
3037. a premature “amen” from lucy. so cute!
3038. peace through His blood & ordained good works

“To see the glory, name the graces.”

Since reading One Thousand Gifts, I started my own journal of grace-gifts God blesses me with every day. I will spare listing all of them here, but I will try to share some of my favorites every Monday. 

Lessons from the Wizard of Oz Pit

This past week I had the privilege of playing in the pit for my high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz. The only other time I’ve ever played for a musical was when I was a sophomore in high school and guess what the musical was…yep. The Wizard of Oz. It was incredibly fun to relive such an enjoyable experience. I have very fond memories from the first production, which at the time I thought was so over-the-top, but my-oh-my, LCA has come such a long way in the past 9 years.

The first time around, we had a fabulous cast, but from what I can observe from the yearbook, Toto was a…poodle?!


This time, we had a flying Glinda and two professional dogs straight from Broadway or somewhere famous…unbelievable!

So, without further adieu–lessons I learned from the pit of the Wizard of Oz:

  • Always, always, always beware of flying apples.
  • You can’t always just click your ruby red slippers to go home.
  • Being Glinda the Good Witch’s theme can be a little annoying when she gets stuck in mid-air. (Ab-Eb-F-D-G-Db)

Glinda the Good Witch
[Full Disclosure: This pic is not mine. I stole it from FB–one of my friends was tagged.]

  • The saying that the piano is a crutch? Totally true; however, in this case, it was so much more than a crutch–it was my wheelchair.
  • When in doubt, leave it out.
  • Sometimes Lion can’t get his belly zipped–and it’s hilarious.
  • A dog on the stage always steals the show.
  • If you really want to live on the edge, eat bacon right before a performance where the dog is staged right next to you. My hands wreaked of the best bacon in the world (from Saul Good) even though I had washed them. Considering I was starting to drool a little myself, I was really concerned that Toto might get a whiff and dive on top of me like that dog in the Beggin’ Strips commercial.
  • Timpani make the coolest scary sounds! (Well, next to a bow on a cymbal.)
  • “Who else would wear ruby slippers with those socks?” Who knew the Wicked Witch was so aware of fashion?!
  • I still hate fire in any shape, form, or fashion. Pyrotechnophobia came into play even in a school musical. Thank you, Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Light is good–especially when it gets dark, but take heed lest your light blinds someone in the audience.
  • Stand lamps make exceptionally wonderful hand warmers for those with the circulation of a 94 year-old lady such as myself.
  • Playing recorder during the Scarecrow solo never gets old.
  • The yellow brick road is more like a road block to some.
  • Sometimes it’s necessary to practice fingerings for “The Cyclone” on a pencil in the doctor’s office waiting room. Other times, it’s more appropriate to practice a piccolo part on your lunch break in your car in the Pizza Plaza parking lot. (Because why would I risk damaging everyone else’s ears with high pitches when I could risk damaging my windshield?)
    Piccolo Wizard of Oz Car Cyclone
  • The Scarecrow may not have a brain, but he has some awfully wise words. Case-in-point…
    Dorothy: “How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?”
    Scarecrow: “I don’t know, but some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?” 
  • 3 hours a day for a week is an awfully long time to hold a flute/piccolo/recorder and be intensely mentally engaged–especially when you haven’t played in a real ensemble in well over 3 years and have had a record busy week at your full-time job. BUT OH SO WORTH IT!
  • I think I should’ve been born in 1939 considering how much I love the Jitterbug.
  • P.S.–I love real jitterbugs, too. And crows. (Even though in real life, I hate birds.)
    Jitterbug Crow
  • “Hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable.” So true, Mr. Wizard.
  • The more I’m around dramatic people, the more dramatic I become. You should’ve heard my normal conversations by the end of the week. Oh my. Every time I opened my mouth, I would think, “Who iiiiis this girl talking?”
  • Thank God for alternate fingerings.
  • I can’t look at Mrs. B. Ever. Her faces are far too hilarious and draw tears every time I look up–especially during the 29th repeat of “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead!” when she has thrown her head back in misery and is still conducting!
  • The little boy in the front row the second night was a smart one–he plugged his ears every time I had to hit that High Ab on piccolo in the Stars & Stripes Balloon Ascension quote. Good call, my friend. Good call.
  • “I already played this once. Can I go home now?” (Jenny references a Friends episode on our third round of the show). I don’t think this is technically a lesson, but it was really funny and I didn’t want to forget it. 
  • Life would be a whole lot more convenient if I could eat a sandwich during rehearsal. Unfortunately, I don’t just play one-handed boom-chicks during vamps.
  • There are some experiences you just don’t want to end and when they do, you feel like Dorothy as she sits and watches the yellow brick road being ripped up after the show.
    Dorothy Yellow Brick Road rip

Oh you sweet Ozian orchestra, you were delightful to play with. Thank you for putting up with my out-of-shapeness. And to the cast–extraordinary job. What a joy it was to see you use your talents to make much of the One who gave them to you.

Wizard of Oz Cast[This one isn’t mine either. Another from FB where a friend was tagged.]