A Poem

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Trust me

Said the scientist to the farmer, after selling him genetically modified grains.

And one leader to another, shaking hands and scratching backs.

And the policeman as he ushered a gangster into the safety of a waiting taxi.

You’ve broken it

The people cry

They cross their arms, jilted

Digging heels into surprised tarmac

Now what, the watching world wonders and then turns

To more pressing news

And the leaders scramble to their tired toes to try to think

And the farmer surveys his infertile seeds and empty purse.

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Back in the Co-leading Swing of it (2011 Oct 12)

Last Sunday I had my second chance at co-leading at church with Glen. I had two week’s notice after the schedule came out, and we settled on the final setlist a few days later so I had enough time to practice. I showed up to our first practice with a guitar which Glen then lovingly suggested I did not play this time around. At first the thought of leading worship without an instrument to hide behind terrified me – not because I am one with my instrument and cannot bear to be without it – me and my guitar are really not well acquainted enough even after all these years. The main reason for the wave of fear was that every single worship leader at our church plays the guitar and I just don’t feel equipped to blaze a new trail with the voice-only thing…

 

Anyway, Glen was pretty sure I needed to not play – which I must say was simultaneously scary and a relief. I am not good enough at guitar to be turned up in the mix.  We practiced very quietly at Glen’s work place, not wanting to disturb the neighbouring offices. Then we practiced again at VC Wanchai (woot woot). The multifunction room there felt like a fishbowl. People kept walking past and looking in to see what we were up to. I got real intimidated and when that happens my voice box likes to fold up and go for a dive down my throat. Not good. No way to recover once that has happened. I remember thinking to myself I was feeling more nervous practicing in the MFR that day than I did when I sang BVs for Martin Smith.

 

Went home in a quiet state of freakout and knew I had no one to turn to but God – as uncomfortable as this is, it is the best pace to be. Spent the next day in prayer and getting centered again – always good to remind self that the only approval needed comes from God – if He’s in it, it will be fine, if not, then not. I felt that he was in it, and yes, it went fine. At the end of the day, the church sang to God and I didn’t get in the way of it, so I think that’s okay.

 

Okay, the truth is I am falling asleep at the keyboard and that thinly veiled excuse to wrap up sucked. Can’t write any more. Laterz…

Life in the Fast Lane (2011 Sept 27)

No time to write much – but much to write… alas. Woe. Shucks.

 

Here is me singing a song by Nikki Fletcher called All Glory. You can hear how it’s meant to be sung on Spirit Break Out, the latest Worship Central album. I was particularly proud of myself for transposing this without the help of an iAnything. Then I was even more proud of myself for memorising the chords after I lost the chordsheet.doc I had painstakingly formatted.

 

The second song is Draw Near – the song I wrote. I chose this one because I need to remind myself to come away from all the things I do daily right now.

 

Peace.

x

For Good Measure (2011 Aug 24)

While I’m feeling all open and broken I shall indulge in a second upload for today – this one is a song I wrote mangled together with an oldie but a goodie. It’s got a hymn-y / prayer-y feel to it.

 

Here are the lyrics:

 

May this prayer

Pave the way before me

A path that leads directly to your heart

 

In my life

May I live to know you

Set my hand to all you made for me to do

 

Let my lips

Sing to you a sweet song

Speak to this hurting world a healing balm

 

Help this world

Use its eyes to see through

What is me to find you

And find you in this world

 

 

x

The Thing I’ve Made It (2011 Aug 11)

This is not only my first upload in a long time, but also the first time I have really had the chance to pick up my guitar for a quiet moment of music. I must admit how reluctant I am to post, but in keeping true to this project, I feel that there is more integrity in just doing a one-take on my iPhone and putting it up, that in practicing for hours and hours, and then going through Garage Band and trying to get it sounding a bit closer to something I am entirely happy with. Who is this for anyway? The goal isn’t to impress you, or to satisfy me. It’s just a little singing to God. “Audience of One” sort of thing.

 

Well then why the hell am I posting it online? I am a moron. An oxymoron.

I love that word :)

 

No, I am not entirely sure why I’m doing this. It is one thing in a long line of things I just feel like doing. Truth is I haven’t figured out how to redirect my URL to come here, so I don’t actually know if this thing is live or not. Whatevs… like I said, it’s not a polished idea that I am able to defend. It’s a whim, an impulse that I feel responsible for acting on.

 

The past five months have been incredibly hard, but I am not here to whinge. As far as musical worship goes, I have learnt something – unfortunately it’s not specifically voice or guitar related. But I think it’s important. When the going has gotten tough, and I have let my focus on God slip, and switched gears from God-dependency to Me-Me-Me, I often question whether or not I should remain on the worship team and in the band, or whether I should just throw the whole thing aside and fill my time with other things (of which there is no shortage). Then, usually just around the corner, comes some drama – some life with a good dose of strife. I get knocked down…but I get up again, a little disoriented (which is good because my previous orientation was me), and reach out my hand for God to steady me. That almost always results in prayers that I prayed from desire instead of obligation, and is followed by me reaching for my guitar.

 

That is how I know that it’s okay for me to play even though I am not Brooke Fraser (who I love), Alison Stephens (who I really really love) or any other highly competent guitar playing chick with pipes.

 

I chose this song to sing today because I am feeling particularly weak and poor.

 

Bye.

 

Just a Quickie (2011 Aug 11)

Hello!

I’m in the thick of it right now so I can’t write much.  I have a weird video file from Worship Central, but it’s protected or something so I can’t get it on to a external drive.  It’s weird.  I am determined to get some of it onto this blog but I don’t dare ask any of the techy people at church because we are at the end of a building project complete with last minute catastrophes that have everyone stretched beyond their limits.  I will get killed if I make any extra requests of these people, so we shall just have to wait :)

Back In Action (2011 May 30)

I took myself a little maternity leave!  Wow – two kids is substantially harder than one kid!!  I will spare you the details of the birth and all that – maybe that belongs on a blog of its own – all I will say is that I was surprised by how unprepared I was for the new addition to our family.  Dylan is nearing 10 weeks old now and I am most happy to report that life is settling into a cool new groove.

 

As for music and worship – the break I’ve taken has predominantly been in journalling the process.  I haven’t been out of action really.  Let’s see…  I did come off the WACA roster for the month of April, but have been strumming away at home to comfort Dylan who seems to like my playing:)  In May I got to cover for someone who was sick at the 4pm, and then this weekend…this weekend….

 

Worship Central HK happened again.  It has really hit it’s stride as a conference now I think.  The vibe was incredible.  I was over the moon because we had several practices as the Vine Band, and then I also got to sing with Ben Cantelon and Martin Smith.  What an honour.  What an intimidating honour! Thank God I have been in a pretty stable stable head-space since Dylan’s dramatic first 6 weeks – pretty sure I had some baby blues.  So anyway, I chose not to dwell on who I was BVing for, and simply keep my focus on doing what I love to do – singing to God with a bunch of like-minded other people.  I think it went well.  I will ask Michelle for the MP3s and stick some up!

 

Now, here’s comes of potentially controversial honesty: I have to say that situations like this weekend are tough in terms of who gets to sing/play – who gets picked, why they got picked, why they didn’t etc… Having been married to the decision maker for almost 10 years now I can say that I have seen/felt the problem from many angles – I will speak for myself though.

 

As a worshipper I have never hit my limit, I mean, if there is an opportunity to worship, I want it.  I think I could be on the team every single day of the week without getting sick of it.  I haven’t really experienced a time when my preference was to not sing.  I want every single opportunity that anyone is willing to give me.  Because of this, I have had to deal with the issue of disappointment when not picked for things – backing guests, getting to lead songs at church, singing on albums… Tom has been amazing in the midst of all this.  He has strong principles about not having favoritism – we’d both agree at times this has almost been to the extent of our marriage working against me when it comes to music.

 

Anyway, the hard truth has been that I haven’t been at the level of ability for those roles.  Progress is a process and while I have tried hard and have come a long way musically, I’m still no Andy Bau and can’t say I ever will be.  I will just keep plugging away and take what I can get as it comes.

 

The ugly face of insecurity and jealousy really does tend to make an appearance at big events – I’ve seen it in the mirror and on others.  While I can’t say I have slain the beast, I can say that God has given me a final word on the matter and I am responsible to return to it as often as needed.  Here it is:

Every good opportunity comes straight from His hands.

 

To human eyes it looks like Tom & Mark who select the various lineups, but I truly believe that if God wants/doesn’t want someone involved, ultimately, no plans of Tom/Mark/anyone else can mess with that.  I am not entirely sure about the theological accuracy here, but this has been what I have been going with for a few years now and it tends to help diffuse tension in me.

 

When I don’t get picked I have to choose to believe it is because God has other business to do with/in me.  It often takes me a while to get there.  When I do get picked I must try to be unapologetic about taking bulls by horns.  This helps me in building my target attitude of being consistent regardless of what I get/don’t get.

 

For whatever reason I was blessed to sing this weekend.  I loved it.  I didn’t herrang Tom (that never works anyway) or even God, I feel like it was something really special that God arranged as a treat.  I want to be the kind of person who would be equally happy to see someone else get the opportunity.

 

If I may be so bold as to also share some further encouragement I experienced from God – I have long had an quiet undertone of failure in my life.  As a jack of all trades I have tried my hand at so many things that I don’t feel like I’ve never actually achieved anything more substantial than a whole lot of experience.  This sense of failure and wasted time was cemented after my dance business died and I was not accepted into a Masters program at the APA.  I won’t make a long list of failures now, but I will say that God really healed a wound at Worship Central simply by reminding me that being on stage in the worship team is not purely about musical ability – my ‘expereince’ in dance and other areas of creativity afford me a level of unencumbered freedom that is visible on stage.  Nothing is wasted with God.

 

Okay, will stop there.  Heston’s on the telly and he’s perfecting Peking Duck!!

In Hindesight (2011 Feb 18)

It has been 8 days since I co-led worship at the AM services.  The morning itself went pretty well – no major train-wrecks/catastrophes…I didn’t go home in tears, so that was really the main thing I was hoping for.  The 11:30 felt substantially smoother than the 9:30, I think mainly because my confidence had gone up and of course, there’s always the generally accepted fact that the 11:30 crowd are a little more awake than the earlier one… not always, but last week this was true.

 

I asked our lovely soundchick/percussionist Michele to email me the MP3s the following week so that I could have a critical listen in the name of improvement.  The email came in about 1 minute after I had left the house, so I went and stood outside our kitchen window in hopes of catching our wifi and having a faster download time without having to go home again – this worked a treat, and I listened to the recording as I walked down to the plaza.

 

In complete honesty, I was more than pleasantly surprised by how good everything sounded – It was one of those can’t-stop-smiling-to-myself moments.  This left me a great mood all evening.  When I got home from Plus group I thought I would have another listen just to double check – this time was okay, but not as rivetingly good as the first time.  Oh well, I thought, maybe my ears are just sleepy now.

 

The next morning I asked Tom if he would like to hear some of the recording over breakfast – he said yes, and I played it through the iPad speakers.  Oh dear.  I mean, seriously, things that had sounded in tune the night before were suddenly way off pitch.  Just me – the rest of the band sounded really good.  Glen has a crazy good voice and also totally carried the weight in terms of worship leading.  But suddenly my vocals sounded like they had accidentally fallen all the way down my throat and just couldn’t get back up.

 

Tom was very very gracious and remained encouraging about how things went on the actualy morning, and said that I shouldn’t expect great sound off an iPad, or a great mix out of the house… but seriously – oh my goodness!  I couldn’t believe how different it sounded.

 

Tom left for work and Ellen took Layla to the playroom, so I was home alone feeling very down.  What had happened?  Had I deluded myself that successfully the night before?  I was seriously considering delving into a pit of despair, but then realised that I didn’t have the patience or emotional resource for it.  I spent all of that last semester after receiving some critique at uni.

 

So, my choices were:

  • quit trying and jump out the window
  • quit trying and move on to other things
  • tell myself it was okay when I really don’t think it was
  • ‘man up’ to it all and try harder for next time

 

Okay, option 4 it will be.  I wasn’t expecting everything to go perfectly, and in honesty, the morning went better than I had expected, I must admit that the idea of having a perfect live recording on top of it suddenly really appealed and I got a bit unbalanced.

 

Anyway, that’s that for now.  I don’t know when the next chance will be because baby boy could make an appearance any day now.  Meanwhile I will practice at home and spend lots of time in the bible.

 

Ciao

Two More Sleeps (2011 Feb 18)

So, this Sunday I get to co-lead at church for my very first time.  This is incredibly exciting and even more potentially frightening.  I am doing all I can not to succumb to the nerves.  I am in the safe hands of our awesome band, and also the guidance and (let’s face it) the real worship-leadership of Glen, who has been gracious enough to take on this challenge!

 

The last time I spoke at church my dyslexia really did a number on me – my notes literally donned ball gowns and began to waltz around the page.  It was beautiful dancing, but it did not help me get to any of my points.  Since then I have seen a bit of waltzing every time I have been on stage and had to look at paper at the same time.  I decided that in order to avoid this happening again this Sunday I should memorise all the chords and lyrics like real worship leaders do.  Done!  I actually managed to do this.  My only decision to make now is whether or not to have the ipad up there with me as backup in case my mind blanks.

 

I was planning to record & upload a song from the set because I haven’t recorded anything recently, but the results of my one-take Garageband challenge tonight left me so unimpressed that I just can’t bring myself to do it.  I’m feeling particularly pregnant right now and just can’t breathe or come up with a better excuse.

 

Bye :)