I audition for ASU in 8 days. Oh. My. Goodness.

I met today with the collaborative pianist who will be playing for me, and it was so reassuring. I realized I actually do know my pieces, I can sing them on pitch, and I am entirely and completely ready to go. I've been working on my two songs - and only these two songs - for the past three months (and I'm not even kidding), and I am so excited to finally get to show my stuff to the audition panel.

But on the other hand, I'm so extremely nervous that I will sing terribly, not get accepted, and will never be a singer after all. This is a huge lesson in trusting God, and I don't think I'm getting a very good grade! My whole family will be relieved when the audition is over - we're all on edge here in my house, and my brother's cold hasn't helped anything. (What will I DO if I get sick??? Why did he have to pick this week to get sick??) I'm officially quarantined from him, actually - my mom won't let us go near each other.

I'm working on some lieder to sing for Bill Reber and Eckart Sellheim (who are both involved with the Germany program), and it's so much fun! I love Schubert, and I love how German feels in my mouth - it's a very forward language, and it does good things for my vocal chords. I had to call them both today, and it was so intimidating! I'm such a greenhorn, and they are both such excellent professionals. But they seem so nice, and they really do just want to help students improve.

In my non-music thoughts... I am so ready for church on Sunday. This week at school was tough, and I am failing in a few areas I really wanted to excel in. I need some serious, focused Jesus time this weekend to get me back on track.


One week down!

I survived my first week of classes! And what a beautiful week it was - we've been having incredible weather here in the Valley, with absolutely torrential rains, tornado watches morphing into tornado warnings, huge puddles to splash in on the way to class, and gorgeously overcast skies to marvel at while driving from college to college.

I'm really liking my classes this semester - I'm taking Music Theory at community college #1, and my teacher in that class is my Sunday School teacher from church, who I've known for 13 years now. Then my German teacher at community college #2 is really hilarious, and strict in that good way that makes you work but gives you awesome results. Of course, jazz choir, regular choir, and the production of Pirates of Penzance I'm in at community college #1 are all going smashingly, especially because I have a wonderful group of friends there and it's basically like a third family, after my church family and biological family. Tuesdays and Thursdays are really tough for me, though, because I literally have 10 straight hours of classes, with my biggest break being when I'm driving from cc #1 to cc #2.

I have maddeningly fallen back into some patterns I had resolved over the break to rid myself of, and that's just frustrating. I'm working on self-discipline, both in my actions and thoughts, and it's so hard to be constantly on guard, especially when I come back home from school and don't want to be careful about anything. I bought a fantastic worship CD by Travis Cottrell called "Alive Forever," and having that playing in my car all the time is so helpful to center my thoughts on Christ (I find if my heart and mind are completely captivated in Him, my actions tend to follow, which is nice!).

Well, I'm off to lunch at my favorite pizzeria with the family, so bye for now!


When all you can see is Him

I did a little church hopping this weekend, first going to Mass with a Catholic friend on Saturday, then tonight (Sunday) going to a little service near ASU called Praxis. I love worshipping God with new faces, different brothers and sister in Christ, and in various settings with people who emphasize different parts of the gospel.

My friend's Catholic church has a beautifully passionate carving of Jesus nailed to the cross hung at the front of the church, and as a Protestant, that's not something I see all too often. As such, the image has lingered with me this weekend, and as I worship God, I am reminded in a visual and striking way of His pouring-out for us.

Tonight at Praxis, the pastor spoke about pressing into Christ - when we stumble or fear, to look toward Him and to make Him are all. It's like when you're looking through your camera, and some crazy little brother comes and sticks his nose right in the lens. Let Jesus fill up your lens, so that He is all that is consuming and enrapturing you.

So that's one of my prayers for this semester, that I would learn to look toward Jesus in everything, to allow Him to overcome my heart in incredible and lasting ways.


A Dream Come True!

So remember how right before Christmas, I thought my world was going to cave in on itself? I didn't get one long-cherished dream, and then the next week I found out I didn't get that particular scholarship... and now everything has righted itself and is so wonderful and beautiful!

I'm going to Germany this summer! I'm going to spend 7 weeks in Freiburg, singing in partnership with James Madison University, the Universität at Freiburg, and the opera house there. We'll be doing Die Zauberflöte and a musical theater show called Cabaret, plus a lieder course! I'm beyond-words thrilled.

I'll be living in a dorm-style apartment, with some roommates and a kitchenette, and I'm responsible for all my own shopping and cooking. *gulp* I've learned from my German 101 class that people go shopping very frequently, because most of the food is fresh and without preservatives. I'm going to be getting a little bicycle when I get there, so I can just picture myself biking around the open-air markets picking of veggies for dinner.

I can't so much picture myself actually cooking the veggies... help??

I'm so thankful for this opportunity, so happy to be going, and so excited I don't know how I'll wait till May!!

This does mean I'll be missing my own graduation, but what the heck? I'm homeschooled anyway, so a graduation ceremony is a bit of a joke anyway.


Some Inspiring Quotes

Here are some quotes I've stumbled across recently:

""Who are you?" Asked Shasta. "Myself," said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again "Myself," loud and clear and gay: and then the third time "Myself," whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it." ~ C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

My spirit quivers when I ponder who my God is. One Being, three Persons. The mysteries of the faith are so profound, so necessary, and so beyond what I can fathom. Kudos to Lewis to incorporating such a deep element of Christian theology so masterfully in a children's book!

"The thing that needs to be censored is not the length of the kisses but the egotistic, selfish, and self-flaunting here; not the relative proportion of undraped breast but the flippant, vacuous-minded, and also egotistic heroine. Let us not worry about the jokes of dubious propriety; let us rather object to the whole story, with its complacent assertion of the virtues of materialist society." ~ Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences

I love the attitude here. Our lifestyle should not be merely morally good, safely conforming to all the rules. No, no, we should be breathlessly pursuing Christ, doing everything we can to please Him more. That's convicting, but so challenging in a good way.


Once Upon a Dream

A few nights ago, I had a really interesting, and actually quite convicting, dream.

I was at a crowded party; the room was filled with my acquaintances and brimming with laughter and joy. Across the room, I saw my friend, who I'll call Danielle. She was alone, staring at me with a woebegone and helpless expression, holding out an empty paper cup.

"Can you get me a drink of water, Becca?" Her eyes burned into mine.

I hesitated. I didn't particularly enjoy Danielle's company, and I was anxious to join in the joking and witty conversation swirling around us. Danielle spoke slowly and thoughtfully, and could be rather clingy.

"I'm kinda busy, Dani," I said, edging toward the door, eyeing the water cooler across the room. "You can go get one."

"No, Becca," She pleaded softly, "You need to get it for me."

I shook my head. No, I had my own needs, my own friends, my own life to live.

Suddenly, a group of people surrounded her, handing her cups full of water, asking her questions, fulfilling her needs. She didn't even acknowledge them, but continued to stare at me with that haunting expression.

And so the dream ended.

It's a good reminder for me as I enter the next semester at school. Too often, I neglect the real-life Danielle, and those like her (those who don't know how to forge their own way in a group situation, and who need advocates to pull them into conversation, to be an ear, a support, a confidence-booster).

Too many people who don't function well in group social settings are just ignored, or worse yet, ridiculed, and I must not stand by and let them walk this life alone. God, let me be the friend to the friendless. Let me fill paper cups with Your love.


One of the few...

This is actually an essay I wrote for a scholarship application, but I ended up really liking it :) The prompt was basically just to discuss a favorite quote... so here goes:

In Elizabeth Elliot’s biography of Amy Carmichael, she writes, “The preoccupations of seventeen-year-old girls – their looks, their clothes, their social life – do not change very much from generation to generation. But in every generation there seem to be a few who make other choices.”

I want to be one of the few.

This is a wide, wild world that we live in, with despair and agony ironically juxtaposed with hope and ecstasy. And yet, it is so easy for the majority of American young people to turn away, to choose to ignore the great injustices of the world, to instead care solely about the relational conflicts within their comparatively small circles of acquaintances. Their often sub-conscious decision is understandable – why should we choose to dirty our hands in the affairs of a violent and menacing world when we can so readily tune out financial, political, and spiritual dilemmas with our iPods and PSPs?

My generation, perhaps more so than others, has been placated by material comforts and physical wellbeing. We – and I am no more innocent than the rest – are too used to having everything handed to us on a gilded tray. Why should we risk anything, why should we embark on any dangerous adventure? We are not acquainted with the reality that some beauty, some truth, and some goals are worth potential disaster, are worth staking everything for.

A child’s murder, a family’s emaciation, a woman’s ravishment – these things are inherently evil and must not be tolerated. My relatively wealthy peers and I have the potential to enact so much reform in the world. We have money, we have educated intellects, we have political freedom, and we have a rich history of entrepreneurship and true leadership. What is holding us back besides our own self-imposed ignorance and apathy?

My heart’s desire is that my life will mean something. Perhaps I won’t recreate the political arena abroad, but perhaps I will help to bring healing to a battered woman’s heart. Maybe global poverty isn’t something I will solve, but maybe I will organize a food drive to keep those in my community well fed.

This desire cannot be accomplished, however, if I sit on my couch and read, or go on the computer and check my Facebook page. This desire, if it is to mean anything, must be equated with a series of practical, real-life choices. I must choose to give up certain endeavors and instead focus my time on others. I must choose to educate myself as best I can, to read extensively and to be informed. I must choose to act in a mature and responsible way, to help solve problems and to not create them.

In short, I want to be one of the few that re-ignite this world with wonder, beauty, and hope.


Who knew dreams came with paperwork?

So college stuff has been pretty consuming lately, just trying to figure out scholarship apps and FAFSA forms, and all that jazz. It feels kinda surreal - I don't think I've realized yet that one season of my life is having a sunset, and that a brand new sunrise is about to peak out. I wonder when the aha moment will come - graduation? My first day of classes?

I've been walking about lately with fuzzies in my brain. Am I really about to major in music? Me?? Becca?? Am I really good enough/dedicated enough/driven enough for that? What in the world do I think I'm doing? What in the world do I really want, anyway?

All the question marks in this post aren't even close to representing the giant question mark that has been following me around lately, dancing on my shoulders and jumping up and down on my head.

I sat down today and made a list of goals, purpose statements, and dreams - it helps me to kind of re-orient myself and put things into perspective.

But I'm so enjoying this season of life - so many ideas, so many opportunities. As much as I can't wait to see how it all turns out, I'm thrilled to just stand here in the flow of it all, taking it in.

Hello, life.


It makes Allah love me...

I suppose we all know what it feels like to long to be loved. We all want to be cherished, to be protected, to be enjoyed. There's a wistful ache some of us know too well, the ache of a soul that cries out to be completed by love.

I read a news article today that quoted an Egyptian elementary teacher named Rokaya Mohamed, who refuses to remove her face veil because it "makes Allah and his Prophet love me."

Her spirit made my heart cry - this is a woman who has made a very hard choice, to wear constricting and ridiculed clothing because she covets the love of Allah more than she covets the approval of mankind. But even in her sincerity, even in her self-discipline and her moral rigidity, she has missed by so much the truth God so wants for her to know; the truth that God loves us with unspeakable passion no matter what we do. Even while we live in complete rebellion, spitting in His face, he loves us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Oh, how sad a thing this is. Her heart will never be satiated, for Allah's "love" can never satisfy, can never fill the void in her heart. She will keep feeling that desire for love, no matter what she dresses like or how she behaves. I pray that you, dear reader, will know Christ's love in a way that conquers all your wistful pangs and longing glances.