(Last Thursday I went to the Mumford & Sons concert. It was amazing and I'm still working through some of what it brought up. This is a bit of my processing here.) These days, the pain that I experienced stays buried, like a poisonous treasure, waiting to eat through the protective covering to bring sickness and death. It doesn't hurt like it did, when it was fresh and oozed into every crack and crevice of my life. In those days, it was impossible to ignore, impossible to avoid. So I scrubbed and cleaned and purged. I waded through the disease to find health. I didn't cure it, but I contained it. I covered it. And when I did, I buried other things. Value. Worth. Use. And then. A man with a guitar steps on a stage. He sings a song whose words I … [Read more...]

The Clash and Blend of Unity by Rich Chaffins


A few months ago, Rich posted, "Harmony is a gorgeous, needed thing, whether you're speaking of music, or people, or life." I thought that was fantastic and asked him if he'd like to expand on that with a few more words here on my blog. I'm thankful for the harmony that Rich adds to my life and I'm so honored to share his words with you here today. Also, be sure to click and listen to the sound files in the piece - they will help illustrate Rich's points more clearly. ++++++ Root. Perfect fifth. And….repeat. When I first got interested in playing guitar, I was 13. I had seen the hair metal bands on TV before, and loved it. But one day, something just clicked, and I knew I had to pick up a guitar. And this was what I played, because it’s what I could play: root/fifth. Commonly … [Read more...]

It Is Good

I had a truly amazing time at Story. I loved the people who I met and most of the messages that I heard. But (there's always a but, isn't there?), I left feeling a little bit conflicted. The thing I loved the most about the conference was seeing one presenter after another get up and share the excitement that they got from their craft. Watching Isaac Rentz bounce around the stage, sharing his videos, and telling us, "I love this. It's really good," awakened something in me that I didn't even know was asleep. Being proud of my work. When I went through The Bad Time, the phrase that stuck with me the most was that I had "a spirit of performance." This was because I wanted to music to sound good. I wanted the worship team to practice, to give our best efforts, to come prepared. I … [Read more...]

Here to Worship

...whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men... Colossians 3:23 (ERV) It's early on Easter morning, but we’ve already been awake for hours due to the sunrise service. We gather with our instruments - trumpets, saxophones, flutes, clarinets - in the balcony of the sanctuary. The sun streams through the stained glass windows, casting reds and yellows and greens across the hard wooden pews. We weave our way through the maze of metal folding chairs and spindly silver music stands holding our purple mimeographed sheet music. We haven’t had enough rehearsals for these services, but it is the same collection of hymns that we’ve sung every year for my whole life. Christ the Lord is risen today, ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-lay-ay-l00-oo-yah. The skill level is varied. Some who … [Read more...]

Pumpkin Cake

Piano Hands

  On Saturday night, I got a cake with icing pumpkins on it. In August. It made me tear up. You see, in February of 2007, I was wrecked. I stepped down from my position as the worship director at our church. I had been accused of things that were simply not true and no amount of adjustment on my part would make the pastors happy. I was told that I was not welcome to participate in music ministry in any way at this church. When this was happening, I swore I wasn't going to stop playing the piano. I wasn't going to let them take from me the thing that most connected me to God. But I didn't step behind a keyboard again until June of the following year. We had been going to CRC for just shy of a year. I was singing with the children, which I enjoyed, but singing wasn't … [Read more...]

Finding Church at 70 MPH

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 The temperature was still in the upper 80's at 11pm when Rich and I were driving from our gig on Saturday. We were soaked in sweat from the performance and neither of us smelled terribly pleasant. The air conditioning in the car blasted us as we sat there, spent from the exertion of playing for hours in record high temperatures. Half-drunk bottles of water dripped condensation into the cup holders. We began talking about the music for the next day's church service, and turned on the iPod to listen to the songs. We started sorting out who would play what part, how the form would go, what key the songs were played in: basic technicalities related to the performance. As two former music students and … [Read more...]

Don’t Manipulate Me

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, one of the primary reasons that I believe in God is because of music. There is something about the way that music moves me that connects me to that which is bigger than me. I have found this to be true, regardless of genre. Music does not have to be specifically Christian to touch me. In fact, some of my most spiritual moments have occurred while listening to music that is not Christian (every time I listen to this piece by Aaron Copland, I am assured of the divine). Because of this, I'm sometimes disappointed by faith music. Surely if I can connect with God through secular music, I should be able to find him during sacred music, right? One common complaint that I hear from those outside of the Church is that much modern Christian music is simply … [Read more...]

My Whole Heart

Last Tuesday, Ed Cyzewski wrote a post about the worst job in ministry, that of the worship leader. I mostly sat there crying while I read it. Because, yeah. The thing that made me most want to leave Christianity wasn't my husband coming out as an atheist. It wasn't wrestling through the issue of homosexuality. It was having my musical gifts rejected. As a music major in college, I was accustomed to dealing with critiques. You learn to accept constructive feedback on technique. You learn what pieces best show off your strengths while allowing you to learn more about the craft of performing. If you're lucky, you learn the difference between a juried piece and something that you're just playing for fun. You live and breathe music, and it pays off when that scary music theory … [Read more...]

Simple vs. Spectacle

On Sunday night, Jason and I watched the 54th Grammy Awards. I kind of have a crush on Adele, so I wanted to hear her come-back performance. And wow. She did not disappoint.Honestly, when I said above that we watched the Grammys, that's not really true. They were on and I also had my laptop beside me so I could follow the awards on Twitter. It was entertaining to watch various reactions to the performances (and performers) during the program.Tweets after Adele's powerhouse performance were all very complimentary. Statements about her voice, her hair, her dress - all pointed to people being impressed with her ability to come out and perform without any gimmicks, just her voice.You can add me to the list of people who loved how simple her performance was. There is something wonderful about … [Read more...]


Last night Jason and I went to Mountain Stage with some friends. At each Mountain Stage concert, there are five performers, with one or two who are a bit more well-known.Last night the headliner for the show was Johnny Winter, who is a blues guitar legend. The auditorium was packed, and the crowd was obviously excited to see a real, live performer from Woodstock.Like all Mountain Stage shows that I've been able to attend, I found a new performer that I really enjoyed (this time it was Ruthie Foster who just broke my heart with her stunning voice). I got to enjoy live music with some of my favorite people. I got to hear Bob Thompson kill it on the piano yet again.But for all of the excitement surrounding seeing Winter, I just couldn't get into him. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a … [Read more...]