Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: My Year In Review

Nothing happened this year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


A few months ago I wrote about my crush on a celebrity--a baby polar bear named Knut. Knut is now one year old.

Ah, how time wears on us all.

Speaking of crushes, as of this weekend I have a new boy friend! Details to come....

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gods incarnate

File this under "what if your god answers your prayers."

This morning, a 2-year-old girl had an extensive operation performed to remove the additional 4 limbs she was born with, due to an extremely rare condition known as isciopagus, basically a conjoined-twin type condition where one twin was never fully formed and remained attached to the sibling upside-down from the pelvis, leaving her, in this case, with an unusually symmetrical-looking set of 8 limbs.

This happened, in all places--in India.

For centuries, Hindus have worshiped various gods and goddesses of various things, and the characteristic trait of many of them, as commonly seen in beautiful Hindu art, is their multiple arms. As would be expected, most of the villagers from the girl's region worshiped her as a goddess incarnate.

The girl, named Lakshmi after the Hindu goddess of wealth, who is represented as having four arms, was not expected to live into adolescence. She had been plagued with various internal ailments from birth. The surgery took 27 hours and was done by a team of surgeons taking 8-hour shifts to not only remove the extra limbs but reconstruct her body, including transferring a kidney from her dead twin's body into hers, and completely reshaping her pelvis. The cost was $200,000, thankfully paid for by the hospital's foundation, since Lakshmi's parents are poor villagers from rural India and could not afford medical care.

As well as the obvious difficulties her parents faced in their daughter's many health issues (she had not seen a doctor until this) and simply caring for her, the family had to keep her away from people who wanted to buy her for a circus.

Satan is in the business of twisting all things beautifully designed by God and trying to make us not only believe that they are desirable but to make us worship them. But when the reality is revealed, these "gods" are shown to be as unhealthy, undesirable, dangerous, and--dare we say it--freakish as the one who mutilated them.

Take a look at your gods. If you were to really analyze their nature, what would they be? When the God of Abraham, the Creator of all things beautiful and perfect, was incarnated, what was His character?

Fortunately the girl Lakshmi is doing well after the surgery. I hope that she will be able to live a normal life from now on, learning to walk, play, grow up, and love.

And I hope that the testimony of a girl who was once a "goddess" will live to tell us what these unnatural gods are like when the cloak of mysticism is taken away.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Refiner's Fire

I've had the privilege of leading the Sabbath school lesson discussion group twice so far this quarter--I say privilege because whenever I teach, I learn so much. (If there's a topic you'd like to study in further detail, I'd strongly recommend you teach it, or at least work up a study as if you were going to teach it.) This quarter's topic is "The Refiner's Fire." Surely, the question of "if God is so good, why do humans have to suffer so much?" is the classic first objection to Christianity. The studies have been presenting this question in the context of the great controversy between Good and Evil, God and Satan--that God is like a Refiner, who subjects his work to extreme heat and fire in order to purge it from impurities. A beautiful illustration, and certainly one that clearly shows not only how bad sin is and how much is necessary to make us holy and fit for Heaven, but also the great lengths to which God will go to make His people holy and fit for Heaven.

The good news for us is "God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]." (1 Cor. 10:13) What a privilege to know that we have help from God Himself!

But there are still a lot of unanswered questions on our end. Certainly God's character and His ways are enough to study for the rest of our lives. We can't possibly think that we have all the answers to the questions, and as we attempt to answer some, more questions arise. This is part of the test, I think. Here's a good example, a story (which in all likelihood may have been true at some point):

A certain Brother X went to prayer meeting. During prayer and testimony time, Brother X stood up to share.

"Praise God! He has truly answered my prayer! Here is my testimony of praise. For three months now I have been searching for a good job which pays well with good benefits. I interviewed at Helen's Department Store downtown for the position of manager. The outlook looked almost impossible, as they had told me that the position had been filled for a long time now, but they said they'd see what they could do. I prayed and prayed, but I hadn't heard from them for weeks, until this past Monday, when they called and said that I got the job! Praise God!"

When all the Amens and Hallelujas died down, Brother Y stood up to speak.

"I have a prayer request for myself and my family. As you know, our little Tommy was diagnosed with diabetes last month--I thank all of you for your constant prayers and support during this difficult time. Fortunately, I have had a good job with excellent medical benefits which were able to cover all of our entire family's medical costs, including Tommy's supplies and medication. I was the manager of Helen's Department Store downtown for 15 years, but you see, on Monday I lost my job...."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Important announcement

I have not seen any moths or flies in my kitchen for several weeks now. Praise God!

(For those of you who may have been afraid to come to my place for potluck this Sabbath for fear of insects, do not be afraid.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Introducing VideoVerse

One of my favorite websites, AudioVerse, now has a sister site of videotaped sermons, appropriately called VideoVerse. Check it out--more and more videos will be added from various sources, I'm sure (such as Southwest Youth Conference, Restoration, etc.)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

O Let Me Walk With Thee

O let me walk with Thee, my God,
As Enoch walked in days of old;
Place Thou my trembling hand in Thine,
And sweet communion with me hold;
E'en though the path I may not see,
Yet, Jesus, let me walk with Thee.

I cannot, dare not, walk alone;
The tempest rages in the sky,
A thousand snares beset my feet,
A thousand foes are lurking nigh.
Still Thou the raging of the sea,
O Master! let me walk with Thee.

If I may rest my hand in Thine,
I'll count the joys of earth but loss,
And firmly, bravely journey on;
I'll bear the banner of the cross
Till Zion's glorious gates I see;
Yet, Savior, let me walk with Thee.

L.D. Avery Stuttle

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Sealed canisters"

Update on the current moth situation in the kitchen: After I took every item out of my cupboard, inspected, cleaned, and put it away (the un-infested ones, that is), I am still battling large numbers of moths every day. I thought the problem had been taken care of because of this--One of the very last things I took out to inspect was a container of whole wheat flour in a "sealed" canister. You may recognize the model of this container. If you do, do not assume that it is safe from bugs!

Friday, September 28, 2007


Just a little experience I had with a student this week...

Johnny's* mother came in early before his lesson alone, frantically gesticulating and pacing, exclaiming that Johnny wanted to quit violin, that he hated it and every practice session was a session of tears and temper tantrums. She herself is a music teacher, so she understood that there's only so much a music teacher can say to parents, especially considering that although I have over 30 students I don't have any children of my own. I asked her, "What do you usually say to parents of your students who are going through the same thing?" She gave the usual reply, that all of us have gone through this, there are phases where children, especially preteens, don't want to do what their parents want them to, etc.; things I would say as well. I did my best to encourage her, but that was all I could tell her, too. I assured her that her son was doing very well, and was just at the point where he needed the encouragement to take it to the next level. I'd hate to see him quit, because he's a very good player and I enjoy teaching him.

After a few minutes Johnny came from class into the studio for his lesson. We did not mention what his mother and I had talked about; I thought I'd save it for the end. Johnny proceeded to play a few scales, review pieces, and a Vivaldi concerto. Everything he played had a feeling of tension and anger in it. It was truly amazing to me how much this little boy could express with his violin. I kept reminding him to slow down his shifts, relax his left hand for vibrato, and loosen his right elbow to smooth the sound. Toward the end of the lesson, I gave Johnny a little talk. I pretty much just told him, "Johnny, no matter what you feel, you have to be obedient to your mother, and practice just the way she asks you to. No temper tantrums are allowed; crying does NOT count as part of your practice time!" Then I told him: "I can tell simply by the way you are playing that you are angry. You have to understand how much your violin expresses the way you feel. It's great to express your feelings through your music, but you must control your anger."

As Johnny was putting his violin in its case at the end of the lesson, he listened intently to me as I told him and his mother, "You always hear about controversies involving musicians' unions and various theater companies and films wanting to save money by using 'canned' music, synthesizers, multi-track recordings and so on, as opposed to hiring live musicians. Sometimes people have even theorized that with so much technology that can produce computer-generated music, real, live musicians will become a thing of the past. But we can see that this is why there are musicians in the world. It's truly amazing how much you can express with your instrument. I get this all the time--parents tell me something about how practice is going at home, and immediately I can see what they mean from the first piece a student plays in the lesson." Believe it or not, this applies to Twinkle as well as Vivaldi concerti.

*not his real name; names changed to comply with HIPAA policy

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Praise du jour

Apart from insect infestations (the conclusion of the story to be revealed shortly--keep checking back), and an occasional computer crash (thanks go out to Ben M., for his kind work on my computer), my life is fairly uneventful, and my praises to God are for personal day-to-day things that may not make sense to other people in a blog. But once in a while I have to share certain experiences that were truly God's workings.

The last week Joelle and I have been frantically stuffing endless boxes and envelopes for GYC promo materials, which needed to go out this week. I think we've spent an average of 4 hours a day since Sunday on this, and along the way, have encountered numerous technical problems--computers, printers, ink, moving boxes between our houses numerous times, etc. (I've been reading a book about early Adventist history, where a quite a few of the Advent camp meetings in 1843-1844 drew 6,000+ people daily to hear William Miller preach about the soon return on Christ--and none of the organizers of these events even had cars, let alone Internet, mail merge programs, or Endicia pre-paid postage systems. But that's another blog.)

Yesterday evening Joelle, Norman and I loaded my Jetta to the brim with yet another shipment of envelopes to go out to all the SDA conferences on earth, I think, and my assignment for the day is to take them to the post office.

This morning at exactly 3 AM my car alarm went off. For a bit of background, there have been quite a few car break-ins in our neighborhood recently (the apartments in the area have carports with no garage doors). Also for clarification, although you hear endless car alarms all night and day from the kind of cars whose alarms go off at the slightest vibration or possibly affront to their feelings, my car alarm has never gone off before. I just knew that this meant someone was trying to break into my car. Granted, 500 brochures advertising "Be" are probably not the mother lode for car thieves, but I couldn't help thinking how disastrous it would be if someone decided to vandalize them for fun, or take them (or my car) away just to check if there was something more valuable in all of those boxes.

All of this was going through my head, in those odd intersomnious 3 AM moments, when everything is scarier than reality. I certainly didn't want to go out and try to chase anyone off all alone in the dark at that time, so there was nothing to do but pray. So I prayed and prayed, "Dear Jesus, this is your work and your ministry; please keep these brochures safe so they can get to the people who need them!" While I was praying, my favorite part of a hymn came to mind, "I Sing The Mighty Power of God:"

There's not a plant or flower below but makes Thy glories known;
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne.
Creatures that borrow life from Thee are subject to Thy care;
There's not a place where we can flee but God is present there.

I figured if God could do all of this, He could certainly protect some brochures.

Eventually I fell asleep, and first thing in the morning I went out to see what became of my car. There it was, completely intact, nothing missing and no damage to my car.

A postscript to the story: I was so excited that I called Joelle at 7:45 and told her the story so she could thank God with me, because I didn't think I could thank Him enough. Maybe that's what praise really is.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's new, second edition

There are so many exciting things happening in my life right now, I can't help but share some of them with my friends on the blogosphere. Here are a few of the highlights:

1. My landlord kindly left me an extra bag of potting soil the other day. The front of the bag proudly boasts of its contents in large letters as such: "All Natural with Added Organic Ingredients: Worm Castings, Kelp Meal, Bat Guano, and Chicken Manure." I wonder if I'll plan on wearing gloves when I'm gardening from now on.

2. The critical phase of Operation Stupid Little Mothlike Flies in the Kitchen is in full effect. I killed about 10 of them the other night. The turning point occurred, however, when I found larvae in my bag of Cheerios, which I have not had in the cupboard for more than a week. Yesterday I spent a large part of the morning taking everything out of the pantry cupboard, throwing away large amounts of suspect food, inspecting every angle of everything else, and scrubbing. Now I realize that all I have left in the cupboard is a few cans of beans, an extra veal baby food jar for the cat, cereal (well locked up in tupperware), a can of powdered "wassail" which was a gift from a student last Christmas, and an unopened very large bottle of Vietnamese spring roll dipping sauce from when Monica lived here, I think (do you have any recollection of this, Monica?).

3. In other insect news, a black widow spider was found in my teaching studio at the school the other day--on the ceiling, precariously dangling above where my students usually stand. Needless to say, I moved to another room for the day and called maintenance. I know they did come the following morning looking for it, and there is now no spider in the place where it was; however, nobody told me whether or not they actually found it or not. I have an awful lot of bookcases in my studio.

4. I think it rained last night.

More exciting updates to come, I'm sure.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Annual Birthday Blog

This past week, I celebrated another year of life God has so graciously granted me. It's easy to take time, people, and events for granted, so a birthday is an excellent time to reflect on how God has led each of us in our lives. I was assigned by a friend the task of blogging the answer to the question, "How do I feel God has led me and blessed me in the past year?" Yesterday this same friend helped me define exactly what the answer is.

If I could sum everything up in a small statement, it would be this: Praise God that there are things in our life that we absolutely cannot control on our own. It just makes us realize how much we have to depend on God for constant guidance.

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:6, 7.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lessons learned...while teaching

A few thoughts today from today's violin lessons...

Today I was thinking about how some of my students resist letting their parents help them learn. The "secret trick" we have for teaching young violin students how to make a beautiful tone right from the beginning is: to do it for them. Once they have learned how to hold the violin and bow (a good 2-3 months right there), the day finally comes when they can put the bow on the string. The next thing that happens is not to let them move the bow on their own. Instead, for a few weeks, the teacher and the parent moves it for them. I teach the parents how to reach over and move the bow on the string while the student is holding the bow and violin in play position, just relaxing, a process called "patterning." In the process, the student learns the physical feeling of how the bow moves on the string properly, and most importantly, learns to relax his elbow while Mom or teacher does the work for him. In essence, by learning submission he learns the right way to make a beautiful, relaxed tone.

This works extremely well--until the child starts refusing to let Mom help him and wants to do it on his own. Scrub, scrub, scratch, scratch. This is where the fights and tears and "I wanna quit" breaks out at home practice time. Yes, it is practically inevitable that this will happen at some point. I try to counsel the parent to take control of the situation, not to let Junior manipulate or control her. Because the alternative is that the child will learn a pattern of disobedience--not to mention a tight bow arm and a horribly scratchy, uncontrollable bow stroke which is extremely difficult to unlearn, except by Mom regaining control and our young violinist learning to submit to authority.

Lesson number 1 is that we are all children, like it or not, and we have an Authority, as well as our earthly authorities. If we submit and let the ultimate Teacher and Parent control our bow arms for us, we will be able to make the most beautiful sound possible. If we think we can do it better on our own if we just work harder, we will make a scratchy, horrible sound. That's hard to unlearn.

Lesson number 2 comes from listening. The way I teach young beginners how to play new songs is by listening to them on the CD over and over again until the tunes are stuck in their memory, like new words for an infant building its vocabulary. This not only frees up the student to concentrate on technique, but also gives him a pattern of tone, phrasing, etc. to imitate. The music will flow out of the student naturally as if a recording were played in his mind, rather than "the C# comes after the E, then two beats on the B," etc. When the student has trouble remembering how to play the notes to a piece, all I ever say is, "Go home and listen some more." If the student has learned the notes wrong, my usual line is, "This week, listen to this piece more often than you play it. If you play it three times a day, listen to it four times; if you play it ten times, listen to it eleven times."

Oddly enough, this answers a philosophical question involving what we should be studying as Christians. Sometimes I've asked the question, "Should I study other religions, what other people believe as well as the Bible, so that I can relate to them and be able to answer their questions with knowledge of where they're coming from, rather than ignorance of everyone else's worldviews except my own?" It's a tough question, because it does make sense; however, the more we study other worldly philosophies without truly grounding our own beliefs the more danger we're in to be influenced by them.

How is this idea related? If my students have not listened to the CD enough to know the correct notes, they will have their own ideas stuck in their heads, and no matter how much they practice, they will be practicing the wrong notes to perfection. Practicing is great, though. Just be sure to study the real thing more than you practice your own wrong notes. Likewise, intellectual study and philosophical thoughts are great. Just be sure to study the real thing more than you study your own ideas, otherwise, you won't have the Pattern in your head, and your own philosophies will take precedence.

This thought occured to me when I was reading from 1 Testimonies, a letter of reproof to a Brother Hull: "You will receive more strength by spending one hour each day in meditation, and in mourning over your failings and heart corruptions and pleading for God's pardoning love and the assurance of sins forgiven, than you would by spending many hours and days in studying the most able authors, and making yourself acquainted with every objection to our faith, and with the most powerful evidences in its favor." (1T 433-434)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What's the bean???

The other day I had the privilege of accompanying Monica to her ultrasound appointment. It was very interesting; amazing what technology can see nowadays. I was one of the first to see the little face and toes! So...what is the bean? I won't tell, you have to click here. (I will, however, say that the little hands have great potential for a very nice bow hold.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Photo albums

By popular demand (Tim), I have published several photo albums.

One of the albums includes pictures from various friends' weddings I've attended recently (this one from Alison and Jay's).

as well as Yosemite.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


For some reason, I don't know why, I've been wanting to be able to play Wagner's Overture to Tannhauser on my blog, and now I finally figured out how. Click the arrow on the blue bar to the right twice to listen to Tannhauser while reading my blog.

Monday, July 30, 2007

On Bible Promises and Chocolate Fondue to go with them

Yesterday I enjoyed a lovely day with my best friend Monica in Pasadena. Unfortunately, her husband Andrew left that morning to go to Washington DC until early September for AFIP. I was having kind of a tough day myself, so we indulged in a trip for some girly "retail therapy" (although neither of us bought very much, but it was fun to window-shop). We also splurged on a four-course dinner at a restaurant called The Melting Pot. This restaurant is unique in that every table has its own stovetop burner, on which they put the pot that you can dip things into. The first course was a cheese fondue, with bread chunks and pieces of raw vegetables and apples were dipped in the pot of melted cheese. Then a salad, and the main course, which in our case was the vegetable plate, for which they bring out pieces of all sorts of different raw vegetables. The pot is now filled with boiling vegetable broth to cook all the vegetables and things in. But, of course, the crowning glory was the chocolate fondue, with strawberries (my favorite), banana, pineapple, poundcake, and cheesecake pieces to dip in the chocolate. Not a meal I'd indulge in very often, but after all, I had a duty to console Monica! :)

Speaking of consolation, I get the feeling nowadays that many Christians pretty much use the Bible solely as a source of "nice verses" of consolation, wisdom, etc. For that alone, we might as well consult Confucius or Hallmark. I've been studying the book of Deuteronomy lately, which has some beautiful moments (ch. 7:12-26; ch. 28:1-14), and some not-so-pretty ones (ch. 9; ch. 28:15-68). I'd pretty much sum up the book of Deuteronomy with the words from 11:26-28--

"Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:
And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known."

I believe that everyone who wants to claim the beautiful promises in the Bible should also read and claim the words from the books of the Pentateuch and the Prophets.

With that in mind, here's a tiny list of texts I've been looking at lately that have brought courage and hope. (I'm going to make my blog readers do some homework and look them up for themselves!)

Exodus 33:18-23

Psalm 27:13

Psalm 68:6

Daniel 12:12

John 14:14

Revelation 21:1

Friday, July 27, 2007


Of all the spectacular, mind-boggling events that took place in the process of Creation and Earth's early days, it's difficult to imagine which ones would have been the most beautiful. Perhaps the process of God speaking the words of Life to bring everything into existence (or, as C.S. Lewis imagines it in The Magician's Nephew, He sang the words, which brings an interesting picture to the imagination), or Adam's first look into God's eyes, or Eve's eyes? Of course. But also, as I imagine it, I think one of the most fun parts would have been when Adam named the animals.

Names have always held such a special meaning that you could almost say that part of a being's personality is in their name. I am thinking of Parsnip the Opossum. Of all the forest creatures which came to the back porch, Sam Campbell-style, of my childhood home in the Ohio woods, the opossum was not necessarily one of the loveliest. It rather looked like an overgrown rat. But when someone in my family (I can't remember who it was) came up with a name for him--Parsnip (think of the shape and color of the tail)--suddenly, he was a cute pet.

From what I gather, names of people in ancient languages, especially Hebrew, held more meaning that names today. People named their children according to the characteristics they wanted them to have, or what was especially important to them, or describing some event or experience surrounding their birth. I can only imagine that Adam used his language to name the animals the same way. But what characteristics would he have chosen for each animal to describe it?

I can only imagine the bonding experience between Adam and God as they discussed what Adam thought of God's creatures. It would have been so much fun for Adam and God to share thoughts on what these creatures seemed like to them. Maybe the first ancient name for "cat" meant "that furry thing that won't stop pouncing my ankles." Or, "dog" meant "whenever I throw something like a stick away, it brings it right back." Maybe "spider" meant "too many legs" or "penguin" meant "oddly-shaped birdlike creature that doesn't fly and wears a tuxedo." "Giraffe" meant "get a load of that neck!" and "pig" meant "really pink with a weird nose." And, of course, "opossum" meant "overgrown rat with a tail like a parsnip." I can see Adam and God just rolling with laughter together at these descriptions.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I'm writing this blog because I am bored--this is my practice time, and I would really like to practice (most of the time I don't; I'm suffering from severe lack of motivation right now), however, I can't--my A string is breaking. You would think that I would actually follow my own advice I tell all my students: "You must have an extra set of strings, in case one breaks," but I'm not smart enough for that. I ordered one today, and it should arrive later in the week or early next week (holiday Wednesday...sigh), but until then I can either practice only Air on the G String or something comparable, or not practice at all. So I'm writing, to pass time.

Today's subject: plums. I have a nice medium-sized plum tree in my yard, next to the sidewalk. My landlord planted it before I moved in. Last year, it yielded all of 3 lovely plums. Just as I was going to pick them, someone came along and ripped them all off. I was very upset. I had been thinking of putting a sign on my tree this year, "Thou shalt not steal plums" or something to that effect. But this year, the tree yielded such an immense profusion of plums, I took a few just before they were quite ready to ripen inside (they were amazingly sweet and tasty), and planned to harvest the rest in a few days. I was looking forward to the plum harvest so much, because growing up in Ohio, we didn't have lots any fruit trees to harvest. I thought it would be safe because I had so many plums that even if someone came and stole a few, that would be OK, I would share some with my neighbors, and they wouldn't possibly take all the plums.

That was the plan. So a few days ago, I went out to harvest my lovely plums which I had waited so long for, patiently watching as they slowly ripened, to see the sad fact--every last one of the plums was gone! I was shocked that someone would possibly be rude enough (and in Loma Linda, of all places!) to steal every single plum off the tree in my yard, on private property. Needless to say, this tormented me bitterly inside. I went around grumbling about the stolen plums all week. Which made me think--if I am this bitter about some stolen fruit, which wasn't really mine anyway, how would I react if someone did something really bad to me?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Professor Steph

Writing this title, I'm reminded of our dear family friend Pastor Wil Alexander, who, knowing that I teach violin lessons (to little kids) at the elementary school, always addresses me as "Professor...."

Well, tomorrow morning I'm off to Yosemite, camping with friends. My brand new Canon 28-135 mm F3.5-5.6 IS lens arrived in the mail today, right on time, so pictures should be forthcoming in a following blog (if I remember).

I'm looking forward to a little vacation, since I can't afford to take off work time for an actual vacation this summer, thanks to the US Treasury and the democrats. However, I wish I had a couple of extra days this weekend to work on a project I just found out about. I registered for a conference at La Sierra University next weekend called the Camerata of Adventist Musicians, kind of a very small GYC for musicians. Wolfgang Stefani, a pastor and musician from Australia who has done extensive research into the spiritual nature of musical aesthetics and Adventism, will be the keynote speaker, and Israel Ramos, GYC president, will be giving the devotional meetings. The conference seems to be lacking in a certain amount of planning however, given that an advertisement email was sent out to all the local musicians after the actual deadline (and this was the first I had heard about it), and it was only yesterday that I got the email with the conference schedule and, oh yes, I'm assigned to present a lecture recital on Friday at 1:30...

I have to reiterate that this was the absolute first I had heard about presenting a lecture recital next Friday. So I've been frantically deliberating what I am going to speak about (we are to choose two pieces to present), researching about the music, writing a paper about them, and practicing them because I have to talk and play. I feel like I'm back at school again. Or perhaps I even feel like I'm a real intellectual scholar or something, presenting lecture recitals at conferences. Maybe I'll make the conference circuit, and they'll be asking for me at Yale. Or, maybe if the speakers are recorded, I'll even make it to AudioVerse (just kidding)! All right, enough dreaming and back to work so I can make a little progress on this before I leave tomorrow morning, because next week I only have two days to work on it (and they are full teaching days).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On being a violin teacher, part 1

I'm titling this blog "Part 1" because I hope to do a better job in the future of collecting these little vignettes from the life of a violin teacher. I'm not nearly as good at remembering all the great stuff as my friend Joanna, the piano teacher, who's always full of great stories. But here's a start.

One of the assignments I give to all my students each week is to write down the title and composer of one piece of classical music they listened to that week. One fifth-grade girl showed me her assignment, a piece she listened to by Tchaikovski--perfectly spelled, but she said she didn't know how to pronounce his name. After instructing her on the pronunciation, I wanted to make a connection to help her remember this composer, since he is a pretty important one to know about. I asked her if she had ever seen The Nutcracker at Christmastime, to which she replied, "I've seen the Barbie version!" Good enough.

Today I was handed this piece of paper from another fifth grader. The student dutifully informed me the composer was Bach. I realize he did write a Coffee Cantata (this is true), but I was not aware that he wrote a piece to go with it for his afternoon snack.

Perhaps the Bach she had in mind was PDQ?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Throwing rocks at goats

Today I was listening to a brilliant opus by David Asscherick while getting some D vitamins by the pool. The topic was various concrete proofs of the Bible's authenticity, including the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Besides being infinitely powerful, brilliant, and loving beyond any human comprehension, God is also incomprehensively imaginative and downright, well, charming in His ways. Think of all the multiple millions of dollars spent each year sending the most intellectual scientists from the most prestigious institutions who have studied every aspect of archaeology for decades and using the most expensive and advanced technology the 21st century has to offer in hopes of finding shards here and there of material that might just give evidence for this and that in ancient history. Meanwhile, probably the largest and most important historical finding in archaeological history, hundreds of documents, beautifully preserved and sealed from antiquity in tidy time-proof jars, comprising almost the entire Old Testament of His Word is discovered by--a shepherd kid throwing rocks at his goat in a cave.

This is the kind of God I love to worship--who not only answers prayers, points us to Him, and protects the knowledge about Him, but often does it in a completely unexpected and often--may I say it?--amusing way. We don't have to accomplish a lot for God to accomplish His will. And yes, He does have a sense of humor.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Screwtape letters

Here's a real life example of The Screwtape Letters.

Interesting to see how others think sometimes...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

You Are Scooter
Brainy and knowledgable, you are the perfect sidekick.You're always willing to lend a helping hand.In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going."15 seconds to showtime!"
a href="The Muppet Personality Test

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What's new, first edition

Although I am delighted to get back in touch with old friends that I haven't talked with for a while, sometimes I am baffled at the question, "so, what's new in your life?" Often these friends will contact me with news that they are getting married, graduated from law school, pregnant with their third child, took a trip on SpaceShipOne, etc. I feel like I don't have a lot of news to share from my end of things. But of course, that is not true! There is plenty of news to share! Why wait for a Christmas letter? Here's just a modest sampling:

1. I learned that if I plug my vacuum cleaner into the socket in the bathroom, I can reach all of my rugs--including my bedroom, studio room and the kitchen rug--without unplugging and moving.

2. Nowadays, some black birds have taken residence near my bedroom window and start chirping at about 5 AM. Especially in the half-dreamy state of waking, sometimes they seem to sound like staplers.

3. I listened to student recitals for 6 hours last Sunday. Contrary to how that may sound, it was actually fun to hear them play. My student C.S. accomplished playing the Bach minuet without forgetting the repeats. One student in our program even managed to play that spot in Corelli's La Folia with the high C's in tune (mostly)!

4. Nudge does not like the black cat that wanders around my yard. A couple of times he took off in a fierce rage after it from indoors, slamming into the screen door. Most of the time I'd assume Nudge was Danish for his phlegmatic nature, but I've never seen so much passion from that cat before. I don't know if he actually realized that there was a screen door between him and the persona non grata, but I'm sure Nudge will tell you that it was planned that way exactly. He sounds a lot like a dog rather than a cat when he growls. I told him that but he didn't seem to be very offended.

5. I think I can play through this entire Brahms piano quartet without getting too tired, which is great considering the performance is next Wednesday. Including our upcoming rehearsal scheduled for Sunday, God willing, we will have had a total of two rehearsals with all four of the same performers.

6. Speaking of performances, my friend and colleague Theresa is having her final doctoral recital Saturday. She's playing the same Stravinski Divertimento that I played for one of my masters' recitals. Great piece.

7. I decided that burritos made entirely of refried beans and veggie beef are too heavy for lunch, and sap my energy so I have to sit on the sofa and write blogs when I should be practicing.

8. I am 13 minutes older than I was when I started writing this blog entry.

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures from Steph Land to come!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Google Buster

I just Googled "How to lead a Bible study" and came up with 7,050 hits. Then I added "Adventist" and got 1 hit. I tried adding "SDA" and got 0 hits. Somebody ought to do something about that.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mark your calendars!

May 23--the big performance of the Brahms Piano Quartet in C Minor Op. 60. Does that sound impressive, or what? And by "big performance" I mean "hopefully more than twelve people in the audience." Nothing will be said about the amount of rehearsal time given to this piece, considering that the violist lives in Santa Barbara and the pianist lives in Sacramento. Scheduling is the bane of every musician's existence.... Well, I can only say that I savor any opportunity to play Brahms chamber music. For more information than that...well, you'll just have to come hear it!

Saturday, April 28, 2007


God speaks about Abraham: "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." Genesis 18:19, KJV.

In all the other versions, this text starts with something to the effect of "For I have known him, in order that he may command his children..." (NKJV) "I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons..." (NLT) "For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children..." (NIV) and so on. But I like the way KJV puts it, "I know him, that he will...." To me that sounds like God is saying, "I know this guy, I know that he's trustworthy and will command his children and his household...I know he'll keep My ways. I know him. That's why I'll reveal this thing to him." The other versions have a kind of predestination thing going on. Anybody know which is the most accurate translation?

(By the way, Patriarchs and Prophets p. 140-141 has some good commentary on this.)

I wonder also if this might be a clue to Paul's whole predestination thing. It's not so much that God has chosen us for such and such without our will, but rather that He knows us. He knows if we'll be trustworthy or not.

Of course, the logical question arises: What does God know about me?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Taking things literally

I made the mistake of listing our final violin group class rehearsal before the performance on the schedule as a "dress rehearsal." About ten students--and parents!-- have asked me within the last week if they are required to wear their concert dress clothes to the rehearsal. No, it is a figure of speech.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I have a crush on a new celebrity. Surprise?

Friday, April 13, 2007

A lesson in healthcare professionalism

Many of my friends who may be reading my blog are healthcare professionals or students. Here is a lesson in professional healthcare you may be interested in.

What the best nurse does:

1. Provide Sam Cambell nature books for the patient when she is in bed for 3 days with the flu. As soon as the patient's flu begins to show signs of bronchitis, make a house call immediately, and watch the silliest Fred Astaire song-and-dance movie you can find with the patient (preferably from 1950 or before). Wash all her dishes when she isn't looking.

2. If the patient develops a fever over 101 degrees, a resting pulse rate of 140 or higher, can only breathe with rapid, shallow, wheezing breaths and develops nausea and dizzyness from sitting up, call a doctor (preferably a radiologist) to listen to the patient's breathing with his stethoscope for diagnosis. Then pack the patient's belongings personally and immediately admit the patient to a hospital for overnight observation.

3. The nurse should choose the hospital carefully. Although there are a great many choices of excellent, world-class healthcare facilities in my area, the best of them all, a little-known secret--where I was admitted--is a small facility, in fact, a one-bed hospital with one doctor (the same radiologist) and nurse (the same nurse) on staff 24/7. This luxurious facility boasts a lovely hospital room (convenienly also serving as a bike storage room) queen-sized pillow-topped mattress bed with four huge pillows, silky sheets, a down comforter, windows opening to a garden, excellent food, and the best patient care around.

4. The next morning before the patient is discharged, sit in bed with her and read books and watch Wallace and Grommit cartoons on the laptop.

Lest anyone think this is an impossibility for a healthcare professional, I will testify that I personally received exactly this treatment from one such healthcare team this week! Thank you so much, Andrew and Monica!

Monday, April 09, 2007


Two Christians went for a walk in the mountains on a beautiful Sabbath day. One of the Christians was born and raised in the country, the other was from the city.

"Listen to the beautiful sound of the birds!" the country dweller said to his companion.

"It's a nice sound, but I don't understand what they are saying," replied the city dweller. "It would be much better if they sang with words, in English of course, so we could understand their songs of praise to God. As it is, I don't understand, so where's the spiritual meaning for me?"

"Just because they don't speak English doesn't mean their song is not a joyful hymn of praise to God!" the country man said. "But look here, see these beautiful rocks? Look at the way they sparkle as the water cascades over them, and listen to the delicate melody of the stream! See all the layers of design on each rock?"

"The sound of the water doesn't speak Bible texts, and the rocks say nothing either. See, wouldn't it be an improvement if we took a sandblaster and etched Bible verses on each of the rocks? Then we would get a real spiritual blessing from them! As it is, they're just lumps of hard stuff."

The country dweller scratched his head and looked around. He drew his companion's attention to the majestic trees all around. "Yes," the city man agreed. "Just think of how many Bibles and religious tracts could be made from all of these trees, if we made a plan to cut them all down!"

The country man grew more frustrated as he sat on a rock, listening to the sound of the water. "Let's sing some hymns!" yelled the city man as he whipped out a guitar and started strumming loudly away.

"Can't we just listen to the sound of God's nature for two minutes?" the country man tried to interject.

"Sounds mean nothing without words! Where's the spiritual meaning? I don't understand it. In the city, where I come from, we never lsiten to any music without spiritual meaning!"

"That's because you have so many sounds there masking the natural sounds God has given us that you've eventually forgotten how to listen," his friend replied. "Car horns, TV, rock music in stores, everywhere. Just sit with me for a minute and really listen to the music God has given us, the beauty He has created. The spiritual meaning is intrinsic, and you are free to assign any spiritual meaning to it that is in your heart, whether it's illustrative of a certain battle with sin in your life, the glory of Creation, thankfulness for the gift of life and friendship, or simply expressing something no poet could ever express in words--something we catch glimpses of in earthly beauty at times, something that we can chase all our lives but we will never truly experience fulfillment of until the Earth is made a new Creation."

But his city-dwelling companion, not interested in such sentiments, was already on his fourth verse of "Nearer, My God To Thee," still strumming loudly. Sighing, the country lover led his friend near a cozy little cabin at the edge of the woods. There was a beautiful rose garden filled with every variety of beautiful, sweet-smelling roses surrounding the cabin, well kept by an expert gardener.

"It's nice, but do we know that the gardener is a Christian?"

"Why does it matter? We are not talking about the gardener but the roses themselves! You might as well ask if the birds themselves are Christians!"

"Are they? If not, I don't want to listen to them!" he said as he put on his iPod and started listening to the Heritage Singers.

The country man threw up his hands with resignation and they walked back to his friend's Lexus SUV.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Spring evenings

Yesterday a couple of friends and I enjoyed our first evening eating out on my patio this year. It's only the middle of March, but the weather has been insanely warm, which leads to very pleasant, balmy evenings. As the sun set, we had supper by candelight under a profusion of highly scented jasmine flowers cascading over my little garden. The plum and apricot trees are beginning to blossom, and my poor pathetic tree in front is starting to sprout leaves, too. This is a beautiful time of year.

In other news, one of my students had a violin recital today (all by himself!) He did a great job and I'm proud, once again, of all my adorable, charming, bright children...all 40 of them.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


It's that time of year again, Restoration. (Restoration is the annual revival series we put on for the students and community, we being mostly LLU students, since I guess it's a LLU student organization, but people like me, a non-student from Advent Hope, get to help out, too.) Usually the series is two and a half weeks long, but this year it will be only five days, starting tomorrow. And as usual, I have my usual duty of arranging musicians for special music. And as usual, I have enforced my "no-karaoke" policy (i.e., no sountracks for vocalists).

Why am I such a stick-in-the-mud about this point? As a "classical" (read: snobby) musician who plays a 218-year-old instrument, do I just need to keep up with the times? There are several reasons why I can't bring myself to allow it. Partly because canned music is against union regulations. Partly because some (not all) soundtracks have drumbeats that nobody likes (and it's harder to censor what you get on a track), partly because I've heard too many badly handled soundtrack cues from the PA system ("Put on the track! What do you mean it doesn't work? No, track 12, not track 11! Not that CD, the other one! The one with the sheep on the front!" etc.). But all of that can be avoided in most cases, and certainly both the musicians and the PA operators I work with are people I know and trust, so that's not the main issue.

When someone asked me about it, all of a sudden it finally came to mind exactly why I have this strict policy. Worship is done by people, living, breathing people, who walk into a church after a week of problems, disappointments, fears, frustrations, and joys, and take all those emotions they've accumulated during the week and give them over to God. When you walk into a house of worship, whether it's a church, a meeting room or a PT lab, you can almost feel the questions, the frustrations, the prayers--not unlike the experience of smelling the fragrant incense which represented the prayers in the ancient tabernacle. And worship is those people, sometimes the ones with the biggest questions, getting up front and praising God. When you put on the disembodied band music, who are they? Would they want to be in this place?

Not that I have anything against recordings, at home or in the car, when you can't hear a live performance. But the reason why people pay money to go to the concert hall to hear a symphony they've heard a million times before on a CD is because of the living quality of the music that's made by living people. And that quality, combined with the spirit of praising God, is what worship is all about.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

I had completely forgotten that today was Valentine's Day until I saw Google's logo bedecked with, of all things, a chocolate-dipped strawberry. Thinking that "Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Day" was definitely a holiday to celebrate, I then noticed that it was a reference to Valentine's Day. So, in celebration of that holiday (although, I believe a much inferior reason to celebrate than my original idea), here is an essay about love that I wrote a while back.

God Loves Us

Today I was reading 1 John 4. Some texts require lots of exegesis to study, such as the beginning point of the 2300 days or the identity of the king of the North in Daniel 11:36-39. But some questions in the Bible are answered pretty simply and directly.

Q: Who loves us? How do we know we are loved?
A: 1 John 4:9–
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

Q:Why should we love God?
A:1 John 4:18–
"We love him, because he first loved us."

It’s a pretty short study. There are probably 50 more points we can get out of the brief passage, each of them as important as eternity and just as comforting, too. But in this frantic, unloving world everyone needs to be presented with at least this information, right here; whether or not they choose to believe and embrace it or to rationalize it away and ignore it is their choice. But the simple statement–"He first loved us," means everything if you choose to believe it. Imagine, just imagine, being loved by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe! Looking outside at the world around us and knowing that it’s a gift to us from God, a token of His love. Everbody wants to be loved. And everybody knows that when a man is in love with a woman he will not give up easily but will do anything he can to try to win her love–cards, flowers, dates, sweet expressions of affection and assurance that he cares about her. Think how much farther God has gone to provide expression of His love for us–all the gifts of the natural world, and much more, the gift of Jesus to provide a way that He can be with us and us with Him, despite the gulf that exists now. That really is love.

Does your god love you?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Barton Road

I still recall with pride the one--and possibly only--occcasion when I was able to embarrass Monica. It happened on a Sabbath at exactly 12:30 PM, at the intersection of Barton and Anderson, where I kicked a pine cone all the way as we crossed Barton Road, looking like a crazy person as the entire membership of University Church waited at the stoplight.

I was humbled yesterday when I walked back home from my eye appointment near the intersection of Barton and Mountain View. I didn't know that the optometrist was going to dialate my eyes, and I had not taken sunglasses with me because it was not bright enough in the morning to think of it. He gave me a ridiculous piece of flimsy brown plastic to serve as disposable sunglasses, which of course did not stay on my face and looked absolutely silly. When he gave them to me, I thought, "I'm not wearing this walking down Barton Road in the middle of a busy weekday!" But the moment I stepped outside into the California sunshine, the pain of the light started to overshadow even the embarrassment of having to wear the silly contraption. So there I was, walking westbound on Barton, right across from the one and only grocery store in town, along the main thoroughfare of Loma Linda, wearing a floppy piece of brown plastic on my face. Hopefully nobody recognized me, wearing my shades.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Disney Hall

Lately I have had several chances to hear concerts at Disney Hall in LA. Sometimes I feel like I never get out of Loma Linda, so to be able to go to LA to hear concerts two weeks in a row was really unusual. The first one, two weeks ago, was a recital by Hilary Hahn, one of my favorite violinists (26 years old, how jealous am I). She played sonatas by Janacek, Mozart, Beethoven, and Tartini. I think I was most interested in the Janacek. I was not aquainted with that piece, only his Sinfonietta (orchestra with 12 trumpets, yeah!) and a couple of his string quartets, all of which I like, although they have kind of a sparse, lonely, Eastern European feel to them. The Tartini sonata ("Devil's Trill") was exciting, but had too many devilish trills. I love Hahn's tone--very silvery, shimmery vibrato, although by the same token there were times I wished she would use a bit more variation in tone color, since so many of the works on the program were from different periods. I went with my friend/colleague Jenn, and we sat in the "choir loft" section behind the stage. We agreed that these were pretty good seats, despite the unusual angle--the sound of solo violin and piano was very clear anyway, and we were very close to the stage. I also have to mention the pianist, Valentina Lisitsa, who I didn't know, but I loved her playing and the ensemble was amazing.

The second Disney Hall concert I attended was the very next week was of the music of Steve Reich by the LA Master Chorale. If you are reading this because you know me, you may already know that I am a fan. Apparently I am the only person I know who likes Reich's music. (I went to the concert with my brother Karl, and I don't think he was very impressed.) So I was excited to hear the West Coast premiere of Daniel Variations, a piece for small choir (about 15 singers) and instrumental ensemble (amplified string quartet, 2 clarinets, 4 pianos, 4 mallet instruments and other percussion--fairly typical Reich instrumentation) based on a few texts from the book of Daniel and also quotes from Daniel Pearl. Also on the program was the "You Are" variations, which was written for LAMC and premiered by them last year. I liked both of those pieces, but they sound very much the same. In the past few years, it seems like Reich's music has grown more and more formulaic. His music has always been formulaic, but this particular formula reached its peak a few pieces ago. Reich's greatest masterpiece, in my opinion, is still Music for 18 Musicians, written in 1976.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Brilliant minds

I just read a fascinating news article which states that a new study shows that keeping your mind active may help ward off Alzheimer's disease. I'm sure nobody had ever thought of that before. (If they had, they might not have gotten Alzheimer's so quick, huh?)

This is why I'm trying to learn the last movement of the Barber concerto. Gotta get a head start. Although by the time I can actually play it, senility may have set in. Who will win--Barber or Alzheimer?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How A Disobedient Cat Can Save You A Useless Hour of Driving

This comes under the category of "worth blogging about?"

I usually teach at the academy all afternoon, from about 2:30 to 6:30 on Wednesdays. Tonight I had a rehearsal scheduled at 7:30 in Ontario, about 30 minutes away. With traffic, grabbing something from Del Taco, and wanting to arrive early, I wouldn't normally go home before heading off on the I-10 freeway. But today, a very unusual thing happened--Just before I was heading off to teach, I remembered that my cat may still have been outside, and I always want him inside after dark, for fear of coyotes. I called and called and got out his favorite treat, veal baby food, to bribe him in, but he never showed up. Finally it was literally 2 minutes before my first lesson was to start (good thing the school is 2 minutes away), and I really had to leave, so I left him. I was worried about the poor guy all afternoon, so before I left for rehearsal I squeezed in a trip home, just for a second, to check on him. There he was, safe and sound, on my bed; he had been inside the whole time. Since I was there anyway, I happened to check my new messages on my machine, and of all things--the orchestra manager had called at about 4:30 that afternoon and left a message that the rehearsal was cancelled! I would never have checked my messages if it weren't for my cat, and I would have been on my way to Ontario, an hour out of my way, only to find an empty rehearsal room.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jury duty

This past Tuesday I was called to jury duty. For the benefit of those who have never done this, I'll give a report of what happened.

I was a little concerned about having to do this, mostly because I am self-employed. Although I actually think it would be kind of interesting to participate in the process, I don't have an employer to pay me for jury time, as most employers do (I guess they're required by law). But if I had to be there all day or all week, I would have to call each individual student to cancel or reschedule, and unless I could reschedule (which is a hassle for 40 private students) I'd lose the money, also my poor students have not had lessons for two weeks over vacation anyway, and some of them are having to re-learn their bow holds as it is... It would be fine for a day or two, but not good for two weeks. I sent in the slip to be excused, but it was denied; they no longer excuse people for being self-employed.

I called the court the night before as they said, and yes, I still had to show up at 8:00 the next morning. So, into San Bernardino at 8 AM I went, not having a clue what would happen. I kept my 3:30 class scheduled for later that day, hoping that I would either be excused or I'd be able to call the school to cancel it before then.

I arrived early, in case I didn't know where to park, which of course was the case. I parked in a lot that had absolutely no signs or any indication of who was/wasn't supposed to park there, but it did have quite a few important-looking men in suits and briefcases coming out of their cars. I took my chances. I had to stand in a long line to get into the courthouse--they were just opening at about 7:45, and everyone had to go through airport-style security. I put my purse on the X-ray belt and was about to take off my shoes to go through the gate, but nobody else did. Guess nobody has tried to blow up a courthouse yet using a shoe-bomb.

When you enter the courthouse, the first thing you see is a hot dog stand, which I thought was kind of strange. All sorts of seedy characters were hanging out there, eating pretzles at 7:45 in the morning. Were all these people jurors? Soon I noticed that they started heading upstairs to traffic court. Now I get it. But where do I go? There were no signs for jurors. Finally I followed another juror, who was as lost as I was, but we managed to go down several halls and an elevator to the basement juror assembly room.

I knew that there are 12 jurors on a criminal trial. I assumed that they pick several extras to dismiss if their uncles are the lawers or the defendants or whatnot. I even thought that there may be more than one trial going on that day. But I didn't expect to see about 300 prospective jurors in one huge room! I stood in a long line to get checked in, which grew longer until everyone had arrived, by about 8:45. With all these people, I figured I had a pretty good chance of going home early. As I watched the line grow, I thought, "All these people, in the San Bernardino area alone, and a new batch every day, and I don't know a one of them. There are a lot of people in this world!" I did, however, end up knowing one of them, a trombone player named Brett who is on the church vespers committee with me. He came and sat by me and we chatted to pass the time. He told me that last time he was called he did have to serve on the jury--it took them 2 days to select the jury, and 2 days for the trial. All day long.

After another half hour or so, they posted everyone's names in groups A-E on bulletin boards. I was in group C, along with about 75 others. Brett was in group A. After another half hour, his group was called up to the courtroom. I just waited; they never said anything about my group. (Bring a book.) After another half hour or so, he came back, he was excused--conveniently enough, his wife is due to have a baby in a few weeks, so he could use that. Groups D and E were also excused. Finally, at about 10:45, the judge came into the room for Group C. He said they had settled the case, so we were not needed. Thankfully, I got in line to receive my pink slip which said I was free to go and wouldn't be called for another year. I'll continue this story next year, when I'm sure to be called again.

Friday, January 05, 2007

David Asscherick groupies

Back to normal life now...I had a lovely visit with my parents at their home near Dayton, Ohio (hi dad) over Christmas. It was wonderful to have some time to relax, talk with them, visit a few old friends, and generally do little else besides curl up by the fireplace. Too bad there was no white Christmas. In fact, it was pretty much in the 50s the whole time...the entire eastern U.S. has been having an extremely mild winter, unfortunately for the ice-fishing competitions in Minnesota, but fortunately for the golfers in Chicago. Must be global warming. (Oh, wait, there's a gazillion feet of snow over the Rockies...)

(See, Dad, I didn't really complain about the gloomy weather!)

After a much-needed rest and visit at home, I went to the General Youth Conference in Baltimore. As always, it was filled with nonstop challenging seminars and messages from the A-list of truly dedicated, Scripture-based teachers and evangelists. Wow. Some of my favorite parts were the seminars I went to by Samuel Pippin (excellent series on the authority of the Bible and how to deal with some of its difficulties which are often attacked), and sermons by Michael Hasel and David Asscherick.

Speaking of David Asscherick, here's a little description of the kind of young people you can find even in America today.

First of all, it must be said that pretty much every teenage girl has had some "idol" at some point. (Before you get offended at the accusation of "idol worship," let's define this as the kind of crush a girl gets on someone that she really admires, at the point in her life when she is working on maturing emotionally.) If you're a female, admit it, you've had one. Most average girls have crushes on either actors or rock stars. (Mine was Joshua Bell, of course.) If you're a male, I can't speak for you; I don't know what was going through your mind when you were 14.

My friend Jenn put together a chamber orchestra for special music Friday night, and there were a couple violinists sitting near me who were high school girls. As we were onstage preparing for the service, one of the organizers came out and told us that we would be staying onstage for the entire sermon. At that, a few of the girls started piping up, "What!! David Asscherick is speaking, right?? You mean, we actually get to sit right here the whole time while DAVID ASSCHERICK IS SPEAKING!!!??" After the service was over, we exited to offstage, and a couple of the girls just surrounded him, chattering to him with that all-familiar kind of nervous girlish talk, which goes something like, "Yeah, I'm a sophomore and I go to an all-girls private school in Chattanooga but next year I think I'm going to Collegedale Academy and our volleyball team always plays them and my sister goes to..." and so on.

The point is: isn't it refreshing that, if girls will be girls anyway, that there really are girls of the caliber that would idolize...a conservative, Bible-preaching Adventist evangelist?