Self Portrait: The Younger Me

Finally, I got around to doing a portrait of a little (ahem), I mean small girl. Or, more precisely, me when I was about five. I didn’t count the hours, but it probably took the longest of any picture I’ve drawn. I had great fun applying some new techniques to the hair, that I had learned through observation on Pinterest.

A Little Tip: A quite important thing I learned, is when drawing a child, you’ll want to make the skin lighter than in the original picture. Accent the dark areas, but let the highlights shine. Excess graphite will make the child look much more mature than he/she actually is, and can cause much aggravation that could easily be avoided.

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Valerie’s Banana Bread

When it comes to banana bread, there is one particular recipe that stands out from the rest. It is sooo delicious and you can’t go wrong. Moist and fluffy with a perfect dose of chocolate chips, it’s perfect for a snack, to go along with your supper, or even as a light dessert.

I got the recipe from my cousin, Valerie, after she made an amazing loaf of it for our family for Christmas. Yup! It makes a great gift too! Who doesn’t like banana bread?

When I made it, I was juggling making banana bread and baking Monster Cookies (another amazing recipe I should post). I was tired and just trying to get my scattered brain to focus and get things done in an orderly manner. Before I knew it, the bread was in the pans and in the oven, and I thought to myself with a jolt, “Why, how on earth did it go that fast?” While it takes a little longer than most breads to bake, the actual time spent putting it together is quite minimal.

Valerie’s Banana Bread

Ingredients for baking

(preheat oven to 325)

Cream together:

1 ¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup oil

Beat in:

3 cups (about 6) mashed bananas

4 large eggs

4  teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients and stir into the first mixture just until moistened:

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Fold in: (optional)

1 – 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

Pour batter into 2 or 3 greased and floured loaf pans (9x5x3). Cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 20-30 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted tests done. Do not over bake. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool banana bread completely.

It’s just that easy!

1-2-3 and it’s done! A promised delicious result!

 

The Inspiring Purpose of Music

So here’s the question: what is the purpose of music? First answer: to listen to! Obviously, if music was never listened to, there would be no use for it. But I think the question is more like, why does it benefit (or degrade) us spiritually, physically, and emotionally? That question, however, is quite broad, as music styles range from my personal favorite, choir and orchestra, to gospel, bluegrass, country, jazz, rock, and many others. The effects of these different styles can vary greatly, so I will focus in on Christian music; music that is dedicated to the glory and honor of our Heavenly Father. It’s not my purpose to rant about what styles I think that includes or excludes, but rather leave it to you to decide in your own heart what music you feel truly pleases God.Music:

When we create music, it should be for:

  1. The glory and honor of our Lord, Jesus Christ
  2. The furtherance of His Kingdom
  3. The edification of the Saints.

Performance should be secondary. Not because it’s wrong to perform well, but because when there is too strong an emphasis on performance, the music loses its message. In my post on The Greatest Audience, I describe further how the greatest audience truly is Jesus Christ because he is bigger than any other audience we could ever have. Yes, God loves music well done. But He loves even more, when it is done to Him.

If this is what creating music should look like, than shouldn’t that be the purpose of listening to it as well?

So why does music speak to us even if it is a piece with no words? Simply put, it’s because music is spiritual communication. It is the only language that all human beings can Music is the most amazing thing in the world. It's incredible the way it can make you feel. It's not just my hobbie, it's more than I could ever try to even explain. I want to produce music for people to enjoy,  to be able to metaphorically hold their hand when times are rough. I'll go with "Purpose" for this one, because this picture reminds me of my goal.: understand.

So let’s put all this into a condensed list.

The purpose of Godly music is:

  1. To honor and glorify God
  2. To edify the saints
  3. To convey a message that can’t be spoken
  4. To shine a brilliant light to those around us in the world.

Isn’t that cool?

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Colossians 3:23-24

 

How a Musician’s Brain is Different

There’s an awful lot that goes into being a skilled musician… practice, practice, and more practice. Plus, there are the lessons that have to be counted in as well. Sometimes we musicians come to that desperate point where we feel that we will either determinedly keep on practicing and become skilled with that instrument (or voice), or trash the whole idea right then and there. Sometimes for me, the trashcan seems terribly tempting. Sound familiar? But wait! Before you choose to give up, there’s a bonus to being a musician! Creating music (in general) is scientifically proven to have a lot of benefits. Here is a cool little diagram originally shared by Sheet Music Plus on Google +.

Sound too amazing? Well then, good. Keep it up and good luck! 😉

Seismic Audio Speakers - Timeline | Facebook

A Present For My Grandma

My Grandpa Yoder was a dwarf. When he was a child, he was an adorable little Amish boy, with a little grin that would warm any heart. I’m sure if I could have known him personally, I would have been so absolutely proud that he was my grandpa (and I am), but I didn’t; he passed on to be with Jesus after a battle with skin cancer before my parents had met.So this Christmas, I drew a picture of him as a little boy for my Grandma Yoder. It was lots of fun, although I was pushed for time.

And yes, this is the fifth little boy that I’ve drawn in the past year with no little girls… say it’s about time I draw a girl? It’s next in line!

Grandpa Yoder (2).jpg

A little note: Don’t you dare tell me my grandpa was a “midget”, that feels like such a derogatory expression for the wonderful dwarfs that I’m privileged to be related to!

The Chance to Make an Amazing Masterpiece

We’re here folks! 2017 has finally rolled around, and the new year is laid before us like a blank canvas ready to be painted. Okay, yeah, so I’m artist… but I think it is a pretty good representation of the new year. Huh?

So what do you think your canvas will look like by the end of 2017? A smeared blob, an average level portrait, or a beautiful masterpiece?

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Actually, it’s a more important question to ask yourself than you might first think because the attitude with which we face this crazy thing called life makes a HUGE difference! Writing a list of goals is great, but how well has it worked for you? If you are a person like me, you make list and then proceed with a halfhearted attempt and fail only halfway through January. Why? Because you probably don’t have your heart in it.

Life is something we only go through once. When it’s over, we get no second chance. We can’t go back and change something, no matter how much we long to do so. So instead of allowing this to be another mediocre year, let’s all join force to make this year truly beautiful.

Starting small.

You don’t have to do huge things from the start. Remember that sometimes, a little goes a long way; in fact, sometimes farther than we could ever imagine ourselves. If the heart is in it, that is where great things start.

It’s not about you.

If you are living for your own benefit, your canvas will become more smeared and messy than ever before. Having an outward, heavenward focused mind and lifestyle, while sometimes crazy, is the most satisfying way you could ever live. Seriously. It is something I have been learning over the past while that has made such a huge difference on my life. Not only does this mean others before yourself, but an attitude of thankfulness, helpfulness, and really, when it comes down to the very core of it all, self-sacrifice. Ouch! A painful nerve I know! But this is what love towards others in its purest form looks like. It’s what Jesus demonstrated to us, when He came as a helpless babe, grew up, was tempted and outcast, and then literally bore all the grief, sorrows, and sins of the world on the cross so that we might be FREE. The biggest burden ever. And that is what a truly others-focused life looks like!

Ask God for help.

In the art world, you will never create a masterpiece without learning from a good teacher what the best tools and techniques are. Same way with life. We can’t make our canvas beautiful if we aren’t learning from the Greatest Teacher Himself. Learn from Him. Study the design of other pictures He has helped create (other godly people’s lives), and learn all you can from His Word. Talk to Him and listen to Him speak to you. I can’t stress these things enough, for they are the foundation on which a truly worthwhile life, is built.

So will you join the force?

I encourage you to focus your heart on the things that really matter the most. In the life of a Christian this means learning to live out and be the person that Christ wants you to be. Will you join me and hundreds of others in this crazy adventure? Strive for the best, and with God at your side, you won’t fall short of His plan!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my wonderful readers!

In my little corner of the world, there is much joy at the remembrance our dear Saviour’s birth so many years ago. I hope there is a spark of this peace and happiness in each of your homes and hearts wherever you are on this planet.

As you celebrate this great day of joy, remember why He came. Not to take over the world, or show off, but to show us what a godly life looks like, lived out, and then He died a horrible death to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins that any one who believes in Him is saved. With His Spirit in our hearts, we no longer need to fear death. Isn’t that incredible? And that is what all this feasting and merriment is all about! So I encourage you to live this day in celebration  of Him, remembering the true “reason for the season”!

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Christmas Eve

While some of us are busy in our kitchens preparing delicious food, others are traveling to spend the blessed holiday with family, and yet others, are prepared to spend the 'A time for remembering the Son of God': 26 Christmas quotes from LDS leaders | Deseret Newsday alone. No. Not alone! Please! If you have ever spent a single day alone, my heart is wrenched for you! I know how it feels, and this shouldn’t be for you. I am not talking here about being physically by yourself, but rather alone without God. You can be in a houseful of people, and be alone. By yourself, feeling hopeless.

Okay, I’m not going to preach, or “tell you a thing or two”, but I do want to give you a little inspiration. If you are feeling lonely, literally, emotionally alone, you don’t have to be that way! Remember Jesus who died on the cross as a sacrifice for your sins, and ask Him to be there with you in Spirit. He will be; it is His Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus   These are sizedas 8x10 and 12 x 12, I made them with a craft in mind, on...promise to you!

So whether you are spending the day with you and yourself, or a room full of people, it’s not at all about you. But about the Birth of Jesus Christ! I encourage you to lift your voice in song (even if your not a very great singer, God still loves listening to your attempts!). Sing praise to Him and worship Him within your heart. He is there, and he loves you more than you could ever imagine!