Friday, March 27, 2009

Psalm 13, From Spurgeon's "The Treasury of David" - P. 2

'Verse 2. --"How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?" There is such a thing as to pore on our guilt and wretchedness, to the overlooking of our highest mercies. Though it be proper to know our own hearts, for the purposes of conviction, yet, if we expect consolation from this quarter, we shall find ourselves sadly disappointed. Such, for a time, appears to have been the case of David. He seems to have been in great distress; and as is common in such cases, his thoughts turned inward, casting in his mind what he should do, and what would be the end of things. While thus exercised, he had sorrow in his heart daily: but, betaking himself to God for relief, he succeeded, trusting in his mercy, his heart rejoiced in his salvation. There are many persons, who, when in trouble, imitate David in the former part of this experience: I wish we may imitate him in the latter.--Andrew Fuller.

From Psalm 13 in "The Treasury of David" by Spurgeon

Though this is a little long for a quote, it's worth the read.

'Verses 1, 5, 6.--Prayer helps towards the increase and growth of grace, by drawing the habits of grace into exercise. Now, as exercise brings benefit to the body, so does prayer to the soul. Exercise doth help to digest or breathe forth those humours that clog the spirits. One that stirs little we see grow pursy [fat/pudgy], and is soon choked up with phlegm, which exercise clears the body of. Prayer is the saint's exercise-field, where his graces are breathed; it is as the wind to the air, it brightens the soul; as bellows to the fire, which clears the coal of those ashes that smother them. The Christian, while in this world, lives in an unwholesome climate; one while, the delights of it deaden and and dull his love of Christ; another while, the trouble he meets in it damps his faith on the promise. How now should the Christian get out of these distempers, had he not a throne of grace to resort to, where if once his soul be in a melting frame, he (like one laid in a kindly sweat), soon breathes out the malignity of his disease, and comes into his right temper again? How often do we find the holy prophet, when he first kneels down to pray, full of fears and doubts, who, before he and the duty part, grows into a sweet familiarity with God, and repose in his own spirit! (Psalm xiii. 1) He begins his prayer as if he thought God would never give him a kind look more: "How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever?" But by that time he had exercised himself a little in duty, his distemper wears off, the mists scatter, and his faith breaks out as the sun in its strength, verses 5, 6: "I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord." Thus his faith lays the cloth, expecting a feast ere long to be set on: he that now questioned whether he should ever hear good news from heaven, is so strong in faith as to make himself merry with the hopes of that mercy which he is assured will come at last.' - William Gurnall

Monday, March 23, 2009


Ardmore Bay
Originally uploaded by Con Ryan
The walls are dark,
Tattered, bare,
Yet still I see
The sun's sweet flare.

I still have scars,
Doubts and fears,
But Jesus counts
All of my tears.

Something changed inside,
My life has been made new,
But only when heaven comes
Will final rest be won.

The walls that still encroach
Are only here for now,
I'm looking upward to
The glorious world made new.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ultimate Chocolate Cake

We have made this twice, so far, and really enjoyed it both times. :) I found the recipe in a group on livejournal.

Ultimate Chocolate Cake
1 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup strong coffee, boiling
1 cup milk, room temp.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups butter, room temp
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 TB vanilla
4 eggs, room temp.

Put rack in middle of oven. Preheat to 350. Butter three 8 inch cake pans. Line with parchment paper. Butter the paper, and dust with cocoa powder; tap out excess.
Sift cocoa; whisk in boiling coffee and milk. Let cool. Sift together flour, soda, and salt. Set aside.
With spatula, mix butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Mix until fully blended.
Add the sifted dry ingredients in the chocolate mix, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until done.
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Carefully run a small spatula around the edge of the cakes to loosen. Cool cakes completely on rack for at least 1 hour.

Ultimate Chocolate Frosting
(I cut this in half and it was fine, but here's the full amount.)
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups butter, room temp.
1/2 cup milk, room temp.
2 tsp. vanilla
Sift powdered sugar and cocoa. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.

To cut down on time, I didn't sift much of anything. I started out sifting the cocoa powder, but didn't think it necessary, and it wasn't. (Just make sure there aren't any big lumps of cocoa). I didn't use parchment paper for the pans, either, as we didn't have any. It may have been a helpful thing, as I had some trouble getting the cake out (I only sprayed the pans with vegetable spray).

We ate this with strawberries (as you see) and ice cream. It's also good with a little coconut on top.
...Yes, I could have been more of a perfectionist and cleaned the edges of the plate better. ;)


Another Giveaway (Book)

I haven't read this, so I can't exactly vouch for its content, but I'd like to read it.


There's a giveaway contest for a purity ring here:


Friday, March 13, 2009

The Lord Trieth The Righteous

From Spurgeon's book, again, on Psalm 11, verse 7.

' "The Lord trieth the righteous:" he doth not hate them, but only tries them. They are precious to him, and therefore he refines them with afflictions. None of the Lord's children may hope to escape from trial, nor, indeed, in our right minds, would any of us desire to do so, for trial is the channel of many blessings.

" 'Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross;
But the Saviour's power to know,
Sanctifying every loss.
* * * * *
Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to his feet--
Lay me low, and keep me there.

Did I meet not trials here--
No chastisement by the way--
Might I not, with reason, fear
I should prove a cast-away!

Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly vain delight;
But the true-born child of God
Must not--would not, if he might."
- William Cowper.
Is not this a very cogent reason why we should not distrustfully endeavour to shun a trial?--for in so doing we are seeking to avoid a blessing.'

Is there no trial we should seek to avoid? I think you could take this too far and say you want to have your family in jeopardy, you want to be kidnapped, and take no action to prevent this. If the Lord allows us to go through a trial, then we should trust the Lord and thank Him through it all, however. Any thoughts on this?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Please Sign!

I just heard that Obama wants to force pro-life doctors to perform abortions. There's a petition here to stop this--please sign it!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Has God Forgotten the Sin of the Unforgiven?

Quote from Spurgeon's book, The Treasury of David:
Psalm 10, verse 11.--"He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it." Because the Lord continues to spare them [the wicked], therefore they go on to provoke him. As he adds to their lives, so they add to their lusts. What is this, but as if a man should break all his bones because there is a surgeon who is able to set them again? . . . . . Because justice seems to wink, men suppose her blind; because she delays punishment, they imagine she denies to punish them; because she does not always reprove them for their sins, they suppose she always approves of their sins. But let such know, that the silent arrow can destroy as well as the roaring cannon. Though the patience of God be lasting, yet it is not everlasting." --William Secher.

Praise the Lord for forgiving, for blotting out my sin, though I am as depraved (wicked) as anyone! Yet I do not want to displease my Savior, though I often do. I need Thee every hour, oh Lord.

A House!

Thank the Lord...the application for a rental house in Texas has gone through! I'm only half excited about moving, but I am grateful that we could secure such a nice place. It's a decent size for us three, with three bedrooms, two stories, and a nice living-room with an arched window. It's in a nice neighborhood, close to where my sister, Grace, lives with her family. So, all in all, we're very pleased. :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Joel & Charity's Time Here

(All this was written on March 04.)

Days go by
They fly
They melt
Like gooey

Make time
To sing
And praise
And laugh
To look
At beauty
All around

For we
Can see
With eyes
Of faith
If we
Rely on
Jesus' strength


Yeah, that wasn't the best. I just strung it together. It's one of those slowly-moving "gooey" days, but I need to remember to be thankful for it, as every day. :) And we do have some good news. Though it's not entirely, 100% confirmed, yet, Mom did apply and send in money for our first month's rent for a house in TX this April! I'm happy, sad, all mixed up. *sigh* To move from here, where I've been for the last 18 years, to leave friends and family?...Yet, if Abraham moved to an unknown place, perhaps after living in one place for decades, then how can I be disquieted by a move toward more family and friends and to a nice house?
'Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.' - Psalm 42:11

I was more excited about it yesterday, or at least about seeing the boxes getting packed up.

I'll miss this place, the trees, the land, the people, the memories. I didn't know how much. But maybe once I get to TX I won't, ironically. Well, I think I'll always miss my friends and family here. I guess I'll still have the memories, but not quite in the same way.


I want to tell about the time we had with Joel & Charity here.

Matthew picked us up at the airport when we arrived late at night. When we got home, Annie & Mom were still waiting up, and we were greeted joyfully. Joel & Charity used Annie's & my room, and Annie & I slept on a mattress in the living-room the first night, then switched into Andy's room, while he slept in the living-room. We all stayed up and chatted a bit.

The next day, we had a pretty big breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns, muffins, juice and coffee. Then we got ready to go on our canoe trip. For lunch we went to Golden Corral, meeting Andy and Matthew there after their work. We were late getting to the canoe place ("Canoe Adventure," or something like that), but they had waited for us, much to our relief. We had to sign up and then get on the old school bus (my first time on one, I believe). They towed a trailer piled with canoes. Instructions as to where to go on the river and maps were given by the young man with sandy, shaggy hair. After arriving at the river, they instructed us on a couple different kinds of strokes with the paddles. Then we were free to go.

(Photo by Matthew, taken with his camera.)

Joel & Charity were in one canoe, Matthew and Annie in another, and Andy and I in another. Joel & Charity skipped the "scenic route" and headed off to the left, while the rest of us went right onto the "scenic route." We did see several alligators back there, but the rest of the river was just as scenic, though with fewer alligators. Thankfully, much of the river was shaded by trees, so it wasn't too hot. It was beautiful, too, so peaceful and green and with an occasional bird-call and splashing of the oars and plop of the turtles into the water as they slid off their logs. We occasionally scraped our canoes on logs or rocks or the sandy bottom of the river in shallow spots. Sometimes we had to back up and go around something, and a couple of times we had to duck under low-hanging limbs.

There were the occasional races, too. :) When we caught sight of Joel & Charity, Andy and I tried to catch up with them, and we would hold onto the back of their canoe and try to squeeze by them. We made a "river-block" (roadblock) for Annie & Matthew by putting our two canoes sideways, as we decided we all needed to slow down a bit. Annie had brought some strawberries in a Tupperware, so she got them out and passed a strawberry to me (yum!)....Then she floated the Tupperware on the water towards Charity & Joel's canoe, which was now behind them. Charity leaned out to try to get it, but slipped and fell backwards into her canoe. :D We all had a good laugh, as she wasn't hurt. Then sneaky Joel got the Tupperware and ate the last strawberry that was in it! :P

Matthew, of course, took many pictures on the river. I took a few, as well, as did Andy and Charity. Once in a while we brought out our bottled water and took sips of that.

Andy and I arrived at the end first, as the others had turned back, and as we still had 15 or so minutes left before the bus people would pick us up, we went beyond the ending point. We just went a little ways, but there was a nice little place back there, mostly shady but with a spot of sun shining on a long bank of gnarled roots.

We went back and met up with Joel & Charity, then told them about that place and went with them.

Back at the finishing point, finally, we waited. The bus people were late, perhaps expecting us to be late. And yes, there were still a couple people on the river. While we waited we took pictures. Lots of Joel & Charity on a bridge, and a few others. There was one crazy bug that we saw going around in circles. We concluded, after some testing, that it would probably go on that way until it died.

Finally we went back in the bus. The floppy-haired young man told some corny jokes as we went.

Back home, we had a candle-lit dinner of chicken, sweet potatoes, etc. Chocolate-dipped strawberries for dessert. :)

We had Bible reading that night, first singing a couple of (poetically revised) psalms. Then Joel read from an epistle and shared some thoughts and asked us a few questions.

The next day, we had lunch out on the patio, since it was nice out. We had a yummy homemade chocolate cake for dessert, one Annie & Mom had made before Char, Joel, and I had flown here. It had a bit of coffee in it, but you could hardly taste that except in the frosting. Still very good, and with strawberries on top.

That night we listened to a John Piper sermon and we sang a few nicely arranged songs, which were fun and like old times, even though they weren't polished. We went out for a walk. Joel, Charity, Andy, and I went out front, while the others went out back. It was rather like old times, too, when Joel & Charity were courting and we had to go along as chaperons. We weren't chaperons this time, of course, but it they let us tag along. :)

(Joel, Charity, and me out walking. Photo by Andy.)

Then Joel & Charity went (alone, this time) to eat supper at Chili's. They stayed out several hours. When they got back, I showed Charity & Joel all the pictures my siblings and I had taken over the couple of days previous and that same day.

The next day we piled in the van and went to church. Charlie went with Esther in his car, and then his mother and some other relatives came for the second hour, when Charlie was preaching.

Joel, Charity, Annie, and I stayed out for the first hour's class with Charlie. It was interesting, but I liked the second hour better. :) Charlie had a fever/cold, too, but he made it through and did a good job of preaching.

Charity & Joel seemed to enjoy talking with/meeting Charlie and Esther, and they got some pictures together. Charlie & Esther had to leave to go eat with Charlie's relatives.

Soon thereafter, Joel & Charity had to leave to go to the rental car place and to John & Alyse's house. We drove them to the rental place, and waited as they waited in line. It was really sad to see them go. I felt almost closer than ever to Charity, which is kind of surprising because I've been close for a while and didn't really know I could be any closer. ;)

Lord willing, we'll see them again soon. :)

TX Trip - Part 3

(Written on March 03.)

The last day of the Van Cliburn auditions was Tuesday, and Trinity (with her baby son) picked Char & me up. We (Char and I) saw two pianists, but Trinity couldn't come in because of having her son with her. We felt bad that Trinity couldn't come in to hear the music, so Char went in search of her between performers, and called Trinity's cell phone several times, to no avail. Charity came back in. The first pianist, a young Russian (?) lady, was quite good, but not the best I'd seen. She seemed a bit nervous, and I was a bit nervous for her, being so close up and noticing her slightly trembling hands. (Or was that my imagination?)Add Image
The second young lady to play, however, looked very confident. She was Asian (named Ti Xin). I was sitting next to an Asian lady, who had gone backstage or had tried to, so I asked her if she was related to the pianist. "I wish," she said. Ti Xin's playing was brilliant and dynamic, strong and easy-looking, yet with hard pieces like Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. She was probably my favorite out of everyone we had seen, and one of the best pianists, I think.

Trinity drove us home, and offered to drive us to the airport on Thursday (she's so sweet!).

Later that evening, Joel, Charity and I drove to where Esther Mcknight was nannying. Esther has been a friend of Charity's since their early days. The evening started out okay, with me helping Charity & Esther make salad. Then I misunderstood something Joel said to me and couldn't help crying and feeling awkward. Eventually, some time after Joel sweetly explained and apologized, I got over my emotions, thank the Lord (I was afraid for a while I wouldn't be able to stop). I was still not up to a lot of talking and was quite content to listen to Charity & Esther reminisce about old days and about growing old, etc. We four had gone out into the dark to swing on a wooden four-seated swing, so we talked and laughed and looked at the stars and joked about chickens. :) We finally went back in. Charity held the Mennonite woman's baby, and we shortly thereafter left for Joel & Char's place.

The next day, Charity and I started playing Big Boggle, then Literati online. We were in the same room on two different computers. It was fun. We didn't get to finish our game, though. Char asked Joel if he could drive home at lunch-time so we could have the car to go to C. again, this time to see Summer (Char's sister) and B.P. (Summer's son) and Melody (Char's sister) and Vanessa (friend). Joel came home, then we drove him back to work and went to eat (free) at Chick-fil-A. Then, following directions from Summer or Mel, we made our way to C. Seemed to take quite a while, but we made it just fine, first going to the birthing center (where Mel and Nes work), then over to Vanessa's new house, where Summer and B.P. were staying at the time. Surprisingly to me, B.P. took to me right away, holding up his arms to get picked up. He's only a year old, but fairly big for his age. He sat on my lap a while, too. Vanessa's two little dogs, Lola and Tilly, scrambled around rambunctiously. They're cute little black curly-haired dogs. We talked about baby names (etc.) after Melody and Vanessa came back from the birthing center. It was good to see them all. :)

Charity and I headed back and were actually quite early to pick Joel up from work (he was working later than usual). Char and I listened to music and talked on the way there and while waiting in the parking lot--fun times.

After Joel drove us back home, we had kale soup (a first for me--it was good) and cornbread for supper. They did some research for their trip to FL.

The next day, the day to leave, we packed up. Trinity came over and watched Sarah, Plain and Tall with Charity & me. It was their first time seeing it. I had seen it a couple times before, but enjoyed it again quite well, except Sarah may be a little too strong-willed and not as respectful of orders/desires as she should be, at times. Still a good movie--I enjoy the kids and the lightheartedness, the quietly growing love and the drama and sorrow. Charity & Trinity seemed to enjoy it, as well.

Trinity drove us to the airport and we said our goodbyes.

As we waited, a friendly, smiling man started chatting with us (after taking a picture of the three of us for us). We conversed a bit about kids and work and school. We went and bought some Jolly Ranchers and white cheddar popcorn. The man continued to converse with us. He asked what book I was reading--it was The Treasury of David by Spurgeon. He said he was a Catholic and asked us what faith we practiced. That was about the end of the conversation--we were soon to board the plane.

On the plane, an older gentleman had to get up to let me in my row. I had a window-seat, he had the aisle, and there was a space in between us. After a bit, the man offered, "That's a good book you have there."

"Yes, it is," I agreed, smiling.

"Spurgeon's a great writer."

I nodded enthusiastically. What a nice person to have sitting next to me.

We kept conversing, and I learned he was the president of Trinity College, where I've gone for piano lessons before and where some of my friends currently attend.

So it was interesting talking with him, and he was sympathetic when he heard about my dad passing away from cancer.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Another good quote from Spurgeon's The Treasury of David....

P.B. Power, in 'I Wills' of the Psalms:
[Chapter 9] Verse 1 (second clause).--"When we have received any special good thing from the Lord, it is well, according as we have opportunities, to tell others of it. When the woman who had lost one of her ten pieces of silver, found the missing portion of her money, she gathered her neighbours and her friends together, saying, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost." We may do the same; we may tell friends and relations that we have received such-and-such a blessing and that we trace it directly to the hand of God. Why have we not already done this? Is there a lurking unbelief as to whether it really came from God; or are we ashamed to own it before those who are perhaps accustomed to laugh at such things? Who knows so much of the marvellous works of God as his own people; if they be silent, how can we expect the world to see what he has done? Let us not be ashamed to glorify God, by telling what we know and feel he has done; let us watch our opportunity to bring out distinctly the fact of his acting; let us feel delighted at having an opportunity, from our own experience, of telling what must turn to his praise; and them that honour God, God will honour in turn; if we be willing to talk of his deeds, he will give us enough to talk about."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Poetic Quotes

Spurgeon on Psalm 8, verse 1:
"Yet in all these how great soe'er they be,
We see not Him. The glass is all too dense
And dark, or else our earthborn eyes too dim.
Yon Alps, that lift their heads above the clouds
And hold familiar converse with the stars,
Are dust, at which the balance trembleth not,
Compared with His divine immensity.
The snow-crown'd summits fail to set Him forth,
Who dwelleth in Eternity, and bears
Alone, the name of High and Lofty One.
Depths unfathomed are too shallow to express
The wisdom and the knowledge of the Lord,
The mirror of the creatures has no space
To bear the image of the Infinite.
'Tis true the Lord hath fairly writ His name,
And set His seal upon creation's brow.
But as the skilful potter much excels
The vessel which he fashions on the wheel,
E'en so, but in proportion greater far,
Jehovah's self transcends His noblest works.
Earth's ponderous wheels would break, her axles snap,
If freighted with the load of Deity.
Space is too narrow for the Eternal's rest,
And time too short a footstool for His throne.
E'en avalanche and thunder lack a voice,
To utter the full volume of His praise.
How then can I declare Him! Where are words
With which my glowing tongue may speak His name!
Silent I bow, and humbly I adore."


Thomas Washbourne. D.D., 1654 on Psalm 8, verse 4:
"Lord, what is man that thou
So mindful art of him? Or what's the son
Of man, that thou the highest heaven didst bow,
And to his aide didst runne?

Man's but a piece of clay
That's animated by thy heavenly breath,
And when that breath thou tak'st away,
He's clay again by death.
He is not worthy of the least
Of all thy mercies at the best.

Baser than clay is he,
For sin hath made him like the beasts that perish,
Though next the angels he was in degree;
Yet this beast thou dost cherish.
He is not worthy of the least,
Of all thy mercies, he's a beast.

Worse than a beast is man,
Who after thine own image made at first,
Became the divel's sonne by sin. And can
A thing be more accurst?
Yet thou thy greatest mercy hast
On this accursed creature cast.

Thou didst thyself abase,
And put off all thy robes of majesty,
Taking his nature to give him thy grace,
To save his life didst dye.
He is not worthy of the least
Of all thy mercies; one's a feast.

Lo! man is made now even
With the blest angels, yea, superior farre.
Since Christ sat down at God's right hand in heaven,
And God and man one are.
Thus all thy mercies man inherits
Though not the least of them he merits."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Trip to Texas

Written Feb. 22:

My trip so far has been excellent!

The night I arrived, we looked at some old (and not quite so old) photos of Joel & our family, which I'd brought for them on CD. We looked through quite a few of them. Then we had a little Bible study. Then we watched a TV show on the computer.

Yesterday we listened to and discussed a John Piper sermon. It was on the baptism/filling of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, like speaking in tongues. Quite interesting.

A little while after our pizza lunch, we started out for the college where the Van Cliburn auditions were being held. I had called my friend, Ginger, before we left, confirming with her we'd be going and when, etc. She wanted to meet us there and go out to eat with us (I invited her).

We found the building and hurried in. I noticed the back of the head of my friend, Ginger (she has a distinctive hairstyle :)) and said, "There she is!" I went around to greet her. She pretty much towered over me, since I'm quite short. :) We went into the auditorium and made our way to the front, where there were quite a few empty seats. That was after we almost sat in the jurors' seats, which were more toward the middle. ;) Ginger sat to my right, Joel and Charity on my left. A woman in a long purple dress came out. She was from Kazakhstan, and was 29 years old. She played very well, loud and complex. I couldn't see her hands on the keys from where I sat (probably the others couldn't either), so we moved to a seat farther back and to the left after the lady finished her four pieces, which took about 40 minutes.

I chatted a bit with Ginger during the 10-minute break between auditions.

The second man to play (from Ukraine, age 27) was also excellent, playing some even faster pieces than the lady had. He played Bach, Chopin, Liszt, etc.

The last man to play for the afternoon (from Columbia, age 29) was also very impressive--we couldn't decide who was the best.

We decided to go to Chick-Fil-A with Ginger and wait to eat. While we waited we played Huggermugger, a word game that was in Joel & Charity's car. It was fun. :) Around 6:15 we got some food to eat and chatted. I was more focused on eating, as usual, but I enjoyed listening to them. We went back to our game, and Ginger won. Charity had been in the lead for a long time. We talked about vintage clothing, since Ginger loves them and was wearing some. She's a very friendly and quite talkative person, and I really enjoyed meeting her and got along with her well. She and Charity even discovered they knew a few of the same people.

When Ginger got outside, she remembered the CDs in the car that I had wanted to buy from her. I followed behind her and paid for the CDs. They're a talented homeschool choir group called "Reflections," and they sing a lot of great Christian songs & hymns. Ginger's brother is in that choir. She had to leave, then.

Joel, Charity, and I went back to the auditions. We had missed one person, but that's okay. We ran into some people from Joel & Charity's church and talked for a little while before the auditions began.

The young man who played next (from USA, age 27) was extremely good, though I didn't really like his one or two modern pieces. The Rzewski ("Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues"), especially, was anti-melodic. But it was interesting and impressive, anyway. Some parts he used his fist to play the keys, and others with his elbow. One part of the piece did have a melody, so it was better. This was a huge contrast from the previous piece he had played by Haydn! We all agreed afterward that he might be the best out of all the people we had listened to, though.
Next was the one we had been anticipating with great interest. He was a blind (nearly--he can only see light) pianist! Tamas Erdi from Hungary, age 29. He wore sunglasses, and a lady led him onto the stage. At first, when he played Mozart and such, I could see how he could do it blindly, because it doesn't skip around a lot. But later he played Chopin and Liszt, which were fast and skipped around a lot....We were just amazed. He played extremely well, too, though probably not quite the same difficulty as some of the pieces others had played. But I was smiling all through the Chopin piece, because it's a favorite, so bright and lovely.

We skipped the last person to play, as it was getting kind of late.

It was cold outside, and none of us had very thick jackets, so we walked along in a "hug sandwich," with the three of us in a row with our arms around each other, laughing as we crossed the road this way.

At home (Joel & Charity's, but it's my home away from home, lol), we looked through a bunch of old school papers that Joel had written. There were a few drawings in there, too, which were good. We all were laughing hard over some of the things Joel had written, little stories with birds mentioned in most of them, and things put very logically and obviously. Though some of it wouldn't have been very funny to me by myself, it seemed quite funny with them, and I laughed until I cried. :)

Today we went to church, which was another great experience. I enjoyed the music (the trumpet adds a lot, but the words to the songs were great) and the preaching. The preaching was very thought-provoking and straight to the point. I saw anew my pride and sin, at first somewhat doubting, but then realizing I did have a sorrow for that sin and want to follow God, and that it is indeed an awesome salvation.

I was introduced to a few people, and Charity and I talked with Trinity for a while. Then Joel, in great surprise, spotted a friend of his (Mark Stubblefield) from back in his days in San Antonio. He went over to say Hi, and Charity and I followed after a while.

We ate out at La Playa Maya's with Trinity and her husband and son. It was nice, and the food was really good.

(R-L: Trinity, Charity, and me, at La Playa Maya's)

So...that's about it. This evening we plan to go to a seminar on finances, and then to play games with Trinity and Zane. Tomorrow we may be going to some more of the auditions. Charity's been inviting her family, but I don't know if any of them will come.


Written today (March 1):

To continue where I left off...the seminar was really just a little group of Christians meeting and watching a DVD by Dave Ramsey on finances. Some of the DVD was funny and some informative, but some of it went over my head. He talked fast and I had a headache, so that was part of the problem, but still...I have so much to learn on the subject of finances. After the DVD, we split into two groups to talk about it. A young man led our group--maybe his wife led the other one, but I'm not sure. He asked questions and was generally encouraging. Most in the room (besides us) were older people. There were two cute older couples who talked about the olden days and smiled a lot. :)

Joel explained to Charity and I in the car afterward what one of those finance term means. Took a while for us to understand, but it was interesting. :)

After going home and staying there a while, we headed off to Zane and Trinity's house. I liked their cat, Midnight. They treated us to coffee. We talked a bit, then started playing Acquire, a business-type game sort of like a mix between Monopoly and Scrabble. I had played it once before and was basically clueless throughout the whole game, so I didn't enjoy it. But this time I got the concept quite well, though I still didn't get the hang of the strategy (some of it is "chance"). I came in last, of course. But it was quite fun. :)

The next day (Monday), Charity took Joel to work so she could have the car. I believe that's the day we watched part of Rose Hill, a movie I had brought, and then hurried to get to the Van Cliburn auditions at 2:00. We were just on time, so we parked where we weren't really supposed to, and later realized I had left the car door unlocked. We were a bit worried about this at first. The music was not to our taste (one or two more modern, strange pieces). Then we went shopping at Central Market, a nice large store with all sorts of things. Charity bought some Indian sauce for our chicken and rice dinner, and I bought some chocolate to share.

That night, after supper, we went to the auditions again around 8:20. Charity spotted her sister, Melody, and brother-in-law, Michael, in the audience and walked up near the front to greet them and sit near them (we sat in the row right in front of them).

A young man played several pieces, one by Rachmaninoff, one of Michael's very favorite composers.

Melody was craving ice cream afterwards, specifically Banana Nut ice cream, but we invited them over, since Joel & Charity had several kinds of ice cream and some bananas.

We ate ice cream and some of the yummy Belgian chocolate/coffee truffles and talked about church, etc., then they left. We had a Bible study from Ephesians about working out your salvation with fear and trembling, which Joel thinks matches up with John Gill's view about going about your work with reverence, not fear of eternal judgment or doubting your salvation. I think that makes sense, too. We got onto my doubting of salvation, some of which was encouraging, some of which was not. In the end I was mostly encouraged, though.

Part 3 is still to come.