Sunday, January 22, 2006

Worship, wedding, and wine.

Today has been long, but really, really great.

This morning, I returned to St. John's West Toronto to sing and lead the music. Since I'd been there before, I was a little less nervous than last time. But, of course, I was trying a few new things, so that sort of made up for any lost nervousness.

My main job was to lead the singing, so I really tried to keep that as my focus when I was preparing. I was fine with all the hymns they suggested - Here I am Lord, The Summons, Seek ye first - but the Sanctus didn't have chords, and it was a little beyond my scope to figure them out. So, I wrote a new one. (Oh, the Sanctus is that "holy, holy, holy" part of the communion liturgy.) I can never figure out how congregations sing along on the Sanctus. Most of them are pretty complicated and, in my humble opinion, quite uninteresting. I wrote one that was very singable with a little swing. I'd say it sounds a little Celtic (big shock). I played it in the prelude, and again early in the service. It was really new to people, but they still sang along, so that was cool.

The message today was about stewardship, so for my solo piece, I chose "Lord, when you came to the seashore". I learned this song years ago for a World Day of Prayer service, and I thought it would be a perfect fit. I'd lost the music, so I thought I'd maybe google it. Ends up it's a really popular piece in the Catholic church. It was even sung at some Papal event. It's originally written in Spanish, so I did the chorus in Spanish and the verses in English. I was a little nervous at this part of the service - solo singing, chorus in another language, still nervous on guitar - but God was definitely on my side. I thought, "I can mess up the words, the chords, and the tune. But the important thing is to tell this message". Sounds silly to say out loud, but it worked. The words, the chord, and the tune fell into place, and people really got the message.

But here was the best moment of them all. During communion, I started to sing "He Touched Me". (Such a great song!!!) A few people started to sing along. So I took a second to tell them where to find the words, and then started the piece over again. Well, then, everyone started to sing. And not just sing, but sing to God. Something powerful was moving in the room, and it had nothing to do with me. The spirit of the Lord came into the sanctuary, and it was awesome!

At the end of the service, they asked for a few upbeat songs to send everyone out on a high note, so I did "Standing in the need of prayer", "Down by the riverside", and "Down on my knees". Before leaving, I was asked back for a service in the spring. Yay!

This morning was yet another reminder that this is truly what I want to be doing. I am no longer satisfied to simply sing beautiful songs. I want to be a vessel that God can use to His purpose. I want to offer people something greater than just a song well sung. I want to tell them this great message of peace ... hope ... love.

This afternoon was a complete switch. Today, I participated in my first bridal shower. I really didn't want one, so I kept calling it the anti-shower. (Hello, have you met my Auntie Shower?) It was really pretty cool. I got to wear a tiara and eat chocolate-dipped strawberries, so no complaints there.

And, of course, I also got to sit on a comfy chair and open presents. I was a little worried about walking home with an armload of blenders and tea towels, but God bless my Mom. It was a wine shower! Everyone brought me a bottle of their favourite wine. Practical and decadent in one shot!

I predict that the next three weeks will be pretty full. Between developing a new career path and finalizing the details of the wedding, every day counts. But I'm looking forward to it. I'm definitely a happier person when I'm working towards a goal, and these days of full of great goals!

Friday, January 13, 2006

New Year's Catch-Up

I'm back in blog world! I can't believe it's been so long since I've written anything, but I really didn't know what to write. Who really wants to hear about weeks of sitting on the couch eating Christmas chocolates? Okay, maybe it's a little exaggerated, but only a little.

Christmas itself was quite wonderful. I attended two church services Christmas Eve. The first was at my church, and I was quite blessed by the choir singing two of my own songs: The Stable Bare and Joseph's Carol. For the midnight service, I attended Holy Trinity Anglican, a.k.a the church by the Eaton Centre. It was really wonderful and intimate.

Christmas Day was busy as we tried to fit two family celebrations into one day. But it was full of love and food and all things good, and no one can complain about that. New Year's celebrations were great. The weather was so mild that we cleared the deck of snow and had our champagne outside! Awesome way to start the new year!

The rest of the days were declared Lazy Week. Late nights drinking espresso and reading C.S. Lewis. Short days of sleeping in and watching Dr. Phil reruns. Seriously - who needed to read a blog about that?

However, I really should mention one important thing that happened over Christmas. December 20 and 21 marked four years since we lost Steve. (He passed on the 20th, but we didn't find out until the 21st.) The whole month of December has been awful for years, but this was definitely the easiest it has been. I enjoyed the holidays and all the celebrations more than I have. There were some rough moments, but the days of the 20th and 21st weren't too bad. I just wanted to enjoy the time with my family, and I think Steve would be really happy about that.

So now, what's happening in the New Year? Well, the big thing is WEDDING PLANS!!! Our wedding is four weeks tomorrow, so, as you can guess, we're all getting a little stressed right about now. Lots of stuff is falling into place, but every day a new "essential" makes itself known. I have no doubt that it will all come together and be fabulous, but to be completely honest, I have a new appreciation for people who choose to elope. This wedding planning stuff is huge! I've put together lots of shows, but this will be an opening night like no other.

Here's the truth of the wedding for me:

I have no latent desire to play princess for a day. I have no long lost fantasies of the perfect wedding. I sort of don't care what happens with the dj, the cake, the hall, or the limousine.

My family will be around me. We'll be spending time in the presence of God. And if, at the end of the day, I am married to the beautiful Gerald Flemming, then the whole thing will be a complete success.

For me, that's the fairy tale come true.