Friday, August 30, 2013

Five Favorites

So it's Friday and I'm procrastinating from reading my Psych book so I am sharing with you my five favorite things this week that I can't get enough of!

1. My conducting baton

This isn't my exact baton, but it's very similar. 12 inch, rosewood and fairly light. Deon and I are having a blast in our conducting class (which is you know, good considering it's going to be our lives), and we've so far learned to conduct the right hand in 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7! Gahhhh. Conducting with a baton legitimately does make you feel like a witch or wizard in Harry Potter. Deon and I wave ours around "dueling" all the time. I'm slowly beginning to actually envision me conducting a choir for real.


Cream Cheese ANYTHING. This has been an ongoing love affair since I was born however, but I'm trying out new recipes that involve that as a main ingredient. I think tonight, I am going to make this for Deon. I found it on Pinterest as usual.  I'm slowly trying to expand his food palate as well. He could eat fruit all day long whereas I don't touch it, but vegetables, salad and any unfamiliar sides? Forget it! He loves corn though being an Iowan, so we will see how this goes over. 

3. My new iPad! 

My Grandpa being the techie guru he is of course purchased one of the newer Ipads, but he decided it didn't thrill him. I know. He has way cooler stuff let me assure you. I had an ipad, but it's the first one ever made it is practically a fossil and I can't really use it for anything so he sent me this one! It's so nice and I downloaded Temple Run 2 for free and CANNOT STOP PLAYING. It's a fun way to unwind after classes. 

4. The Mortal Instruments. 

Deon and I went on a date last weekend and he took me to see this. He read the book series in high school and I am looking for them so I can enjoy them as well. The movie I've been told is different from the series, but I still enjoyed it greatly! Part of that might have had to do with Jamie Campbell Bower and his cool fighting moves and tattoos *cough* ;) 


My choir Chorale is performing this song composed by Dr. Rene Clausen called "Prayer" which uses the words of Mother Theresa. 

This piece right here is the reason I love and perform choral music and want to spend the rest of my life doing so. This piece is a staple for Chorale which they have performed numerous times and is usually considered our benediction. I've listened to this recording every day for ages and have been patiently waiting for the day when I joined Chorale that I would get to sing it. Today for the first time in rehearsal, we ran through it and it was incredible. I was moved to tears by the beauty of the words and the music. I am so so so blessed to be doing this with my life and be a soprano 1 in Chorale. 3:30 is one of my favorite parts because of the high soaring note I get to sing. 

Take a listen to it and I hope it blesses you and touches you like it has for me. 

Happy Friday!

Monday, August 26, 2013


I am back at my glorious home where my heart is. I am moved into my apartment, I started my first week of classes and had my first Chorale rehearsals, reunited with my wonderful boyfriend, and promptly got sick on the first day of classes. Go me.

But yet, I couldn't be any happier. 

Here are some pics of my first week back at Lee.
My first night back, I visited some of my girlfriends.

First day of school!! Deon has his mother make me this gorgeous dress!

Hiking at Benton Falls again. :) 

The weather was perfect!

My room. :) 

Living room. It's our haven we love it!

Old Hollywood was our inspiration. :) 

Dinner/movie night with the boy. 

Words can't express how happy I am to be with him again. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Operation Baby Lambs is Now Complete!

Two days ago I witnessed the wedding of Rachel Vestal and Japheth Rittenhouse. Their love story began when they met while my all women's choir Ladies of Lee had been on tour in PA for spring break the semester before I joined. The ongoing joke in Ladies was that you could never find your husband in the choir like you can in the other Lee ones because it's all female. While I did not get to witness the beginning of this story, I showed up in Ladies shortly after and have gotten to see them date, get engaged, and now be married!

We were wrong. Rachel and Japheth met at his church (which is also the home church of our accompanist Hannah,) when Ladies sang for a Mother-Daughter banquet there. Rachel immediately thought he was cute and since Rachel is not exactly shy, she set about trying to get him to talk to her. Japheth however is very shy and on the quieter side and while he was obviously bedazzled by her beauty and charm, he did not offer much on the conversation side of things. Rachel realized she had to try harder.

Now Japheth and his family just so happen to have a farm in PA that their family has owned for several generations. Rachel just so happens to LOVE farming and want to live on a farm. They also happened to raise sheep Rachel's FAVORITE animal. So all of us Ladies took to calling the wooing of Japeth "Operation Baby Lambs." Rachel managed to finagle so that she was one of the girls who got to stay at the Rittenhouses overnight as they were one of the host homes so she could see the baby lambs...and Japheth of course. They joined Ladies for a day in Philly and Japheth slowly began to open up to Rachel's questions and attempts at conversation. Rachel managed to leave the PA with plans for her and her brother to meet up with Japheth and his brothers to go camping in TN later on and they began a penpal friendship for fun.

I've seen the letters and let me tell you they were long and full of stories! They started off as friends, and Japheth started to visit her and next thing you know they were dating! They still continued writing to each other for a while at first because they preferred letters, and then eventually they just stopped. Japheth was finally told about "Operation Baby Lambs" and he loved it! He came to visit Rachel a lot in TN and would always sit in on our Ladies rehearsals and faithfully attend concerts. We were the first to know about their engagement and hear the stories and while not all of us could make it out to PA for the wedding, some of us did! Victoria came to stay with me and was their photographer so I was able to sneak some shots as well!

Their love story is so beautiful and amazing! It's so clear God's hand was in it and I've never seen a happier bride! They are on their honeymoon in Canada now and will be coming back to Lee next week so Rachel can finish her final semester of college. I'm so excited to see what God has in store for them!

Victoria and I on our way!

Sneaking up behind him for his first look. 

I love this shot!

Rachel and I together. Her wedding dress might be one of my favorites ever. 

Once a lady, always a lady. Brianna, Hannah, Dr. Songer, Rachel, Cynthia, myself and Victoria. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

After The Storm

A week from tomorrow I leave to go back to Lee for my junior year of college.

I'm starting my first conducting class, my first time living in an apartment (even though it's on campus), first time living without a meal plan, and my first time in Chorale. I'm so ready and excited!

Today I went to the barn and I was walking a horse around the ring when I realized with a sudden pang to my heart how quiet the farm was. This past year, a lot of things happened at the barn that I grew up riding at, and it ended up with my riding instructor, a woman I had always looked up to and thought I knew leaving and taking with her some of our boarders, and my closest riding friend Emily. There were originally five of us girls. Ashley is the only one still at the barn although she's about to graduate college. The rest of us have either left or moved on in life, some of us don't ride anymore. It just hit me while I was walking a couple years ago I would have heard lively chatter and laughter, we would have been having sleepovers in the pony barn and playing man hunt around the countryside. Now all I hear is deafening silence and crickets. Lots of crickets.

It's an ending I never saw coming and one that is still not fully healed. I miss riding every day, I miss competing, I miss it all. I was an Equestrian long before I was Musician and at this point in my life, I can't really be both.

This is probably my last summer here in Pennsylvania for several reasons. Next summer I will be at Lee taking summer classes, a trip to Europe, and working, but even if that was not the case I'm not sure I would have a home to come home to next summer. My Dad has been offered a job that would double what he's getting paid now. We really need the money for my college and it's a higher position and something he would enjoy doing. The company is stationed in Virginia, St. Louis, and Denver. If he takes it, my parents would most likely move to Virginia. I love Virginia and at least I wouldn't be super far from PA and they would be a little closer to me at school.

I have to admit my heart would crack a little more if that happened though. I've already moved six times in my life, and this has been my home the longest and where I grew up..I love Bucks County and I love love love my house. And the horses at Fire would break my heart not to come home to Toby the pony I grew up riding on. I am terrified of change. I hate it. I only ever see the negative side of it, and there have been many negative changes the past few years.

I don't know if this will come to pass, but I feel in my bones that God is going to be doing some changes in my family and location. I know at this point in my life, I don't really live with my parents anymore, but their decisions still affect me.

I have been slowly realizing though that change can be good. When my friend group here basically died in high school and I felt my life had no purpose, I graduated and went to Lee terrified out of my mind, and there I have found the closest, best friends I ever had. If I hadn't chosen to embrace the change God wanted me to I would have never met Deon, never had so many amazing experiences and fallen in love with Tennessee, I would never have expanded my vocal ability. I would have never taken risks, put myself out there, and known what it was like to be truly happy.

I am a worrier and over analyzer. I always have been, and it exhausts me honestly. It's become worse since I started college and turned 20 and realized that no matter how much I dug my heels in and tried to run the other way, I am an ADULT and I will soon be completely on my own. It terrifies me. I am afraid I will never get a real job, or I will and won't be prepared and will bungle it. I am afraid of getting married too soon, married too late, will always be financially unstable, the list goes on and on and on and on. Deon isn't a worrier. He may be a perfectionist, but he doesn't worry about the future like I do which I really admire. He always tells me how useless it is and this summer God has been whispering to me: "My Child, have faith in me, put yourself in my hands, I am your past, present and future. I will not let you fall." Psalm 46:5 says "God is within her, she will not fall, God will help her at the break of day."

This is something I've been having to slowly learn how to rely on and I feel I am nowhere close to achieving. I'm not going to lie and say it's been a good year. Academically it was the worst I've ever done, emotionally one of the most draining, I had health scares with my Grandmother, my health wasn't the best, and I was in two car accidents the second which only happened yesterday (in a parking lot thank God and my truck is fine, but their car isn't), not to mention a whole lot of other things. Vocally I did great this year, and I have great friends who have surrounded me with love and joy which is honestly what kept me going....but I won't be sorry to see 2013 be over.

This summer after being able to get away from school and settle down and have a moment to breathe I started to see God's hand in the little things, like this summer, finding me a job at the barn that I genuinely enjoy and get paid more than minimum wage, a car from my employers to use throughout the summer. Sure the AC doesn't work, its ancient, and a gas guzzler; but it's safe, fun to drive, and this means I don't have to share a car with my mom and not be able to go anywhere besides work. He's provided enough side jobs at the barn and babysitting wise to enable me to pay for just about any of my needs so my parents don't have to until I go back to school, and even provided a free tv and bookcase for my apartment. Every time I've panicked or had a meltdown He has come alongside of me to say "I'm here, I have it all under control, surrender it to Me and you will be fine."

Sometimes I do and I am given a peace, and sometimes I don't. I'm distrustful, impatient, perfectionist,  and an OCD control freak, but I'm slowly learning little by little to cast all my cares on Jesus instead of just flipping out. I think it's a lesson I'll have to learn my whole life honestly, but at least I'm starting now!

I encourage you whenever you're in a stressful situation to stop whatever you're doing and just say a quick prayer. Ask God to help you, give you peace and wisdom, and then keep on trying your best, You'd be amazed how much that helps! I don't know why, but I felt led to write this post out. Changes are in the air, but that doesn't mean they have to be bad, God is in control of all of our lives and if we let Him, He can do things with us and our lives that we never dreamed were possible!

And praise Him that He doesn't allow us to do it all alone!

And after the storm I run and run as the rains come and I look up, 
and I look up on my knees and out of luck
I look up

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot 
Not this mind and not this heart
I won't rot 

And I took you by the hand 
and we stood tall
and remembered our own land
what we lived for

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears
and love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears
Get over your hill and see what you find there
with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair 

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more
That's why I hold with all I have
That's why I hold

And I won't die alone and be left there
Well I guess I'll just go home
Oh God knows where
Because death is just so full
and man so small
Well I'm scared of what's behind
and what's before

- After the Storm by Mumford and Sons 

Adventures in Philly

My friend Kelly lives in Virginia and we go to Lee together. She and two of her friends were road tripping to Philly for a day or two and asked to stay with me. Of course I said yes! I had extra room too since my family is out of town. They spent the night and then we got breakfast at a cute little place along the Delaware just five minutes from my house. I had chocolate chip pancakes they were wonderful!

Me and Kelly, Katie, and Sarah

Me modeling my hair wrap courtesy of Kelly. I'm rubbish at that sort of thing. :P 

Next we drove into Philly and visited the Museum of Art. I've been to the Franklin Institute and the Met in NYC, but never this one and I had no idea on the first Sunday of every month you "pay what you wish." In other words, you can come in and get a ticket and pay them a penny, a dollar, 5 bucks, whatever price you want to see the exhibits. It's awesome! We wandered around in there and there were so many beautiful paintings by Monet and Van Gogh and Degas that I enjoyed greatly. There was also a very cool armor collection. We couldn't stay as long as we liked because the girls had tickets to tour Independence Hall, but I'm glad we got to stop in!


The horse's armor creeped me out more than the knight's!

An old choir book. <3 

The girls did Independence Hall (they had run out of tickets and I have seen it a bunch of times anyways), while I walked around and enjoyed the weather. Then we took pics in front of Independence Hall and they dropped me back home and headed back to VA.

I stopped in one of the smaller museums and said hey to Ben Franklin one of my favorite patriots. 

I took a picture outside of this building in 2010 when I was 17 when I had was (again) showing a friend from TX the sights, here I am now at age 20. I look almost exactly the same. :P 

We are strong independent women in front of Independence Hall. Couldn't resist. 

I was so glad Kelly could come and her friends Katie and Sarah were so fun too! Katie's reactions to the Museum were priceless, I could only imagine how excited she'd get if she ever gets to go to the Met! I've really only visited Philly for the Franklin Institute, the annual Flower Show, Phillies baseball games, and then to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and go to Penn's Landing. I wish I had explored it more intimately growing up since I won't be here as much anymore, but it is amazing that I live right smack dab in the middle of a state that is full of so much rich history about the founding of our country. I LOVE IT!

Us on the ride home. :)