Archive for January, 2014


Hello again!
   I’ve referenced a “super-secret project” that I’ve been working on lately a couple of times. I’m finally ready to tell you what it is! Everybody ready? Here it is: I’m starting a Lutheran Asian musical group! Woohoo!
  Here’s some more information: The name of the group will be Zànměi, which is a Chinese word meaning either “praise” or “praise God,” depending on where you look it up. The purpose of Zànměi will be to “praise God and share His love.” The music could help add variety to any regular worship service, but I’d especially like to use it to encourage mission work and personal evangelism, and also to encourage international adoption by Christians. (I have written some adoption hymns that could be used in a worship service encouraging adoption or at a benefit for a Christian family that will be adopting.)
  When we play, some of us will be dressing in traditional clothing from various Asian countries. In the future, we may also incorporate artwork and/or Asian dance. For now, here are some of the instruments we’re planning to include:
dizi (Chinese flute)
sáo (Vietnamese flute)
húlúsī (Chinese gourd flute)
sênh tiền (Vietnamese percussion instrument)
cello
trumpet
guzheng (Chinese harp)
Japanese drum
janggu (Korean drum)
violin
pipa
modified yangqin (Chinese hammered dulcimer)
kimbala (Indonesian thumb piano)
  As you may know, my goal in life is to use the musical abilities God has given me to praise him and tell others about him. I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy helping other Christians—such as Mike Westendorf, Joey Schumann, and various church praise teams—carry out their music ministries, but I also would like to help get the gospel message out by starting an additional one. Toward that end I took a trip to Nashville this summer to meet with producers/consultants in the Christian music ministry and I also attended a camp to get more training in Christian songwriting from some wonderful artists heard frequently on Christian radio stations. I learned a lot and began taking many steps to follow their advice, but I kept wondering which direction to take: Christian contemporary? Christian folk? Etc.
  Then in early September I was playing Irish music at a church service with Joey Schumann’s Lutheran Ceili Orchestra (a group you should try to hear sometime, if you haven’t already). After the service my mom said to me, “We have so many Asian instruments in our home. What would you think of starting a Lutheran Asian orchestra?” I loved the idea. We asked Joey if he would mind if I did this, and not only was he supportive—he said he played an Asian instrument and would be happy to join!
  I became so excited about the idea that I’ve spent the past four months researching Asian music from various countries, writing music the group could play, writing a worship service using that music, preparing videos and power points for the service, and doing many other things to get ready. With the help of my musical siblings and parents, I’ve been trying out the arrangements and making revisions. Now that our group has gotten together and had an amazing first rehearsal, I think it’s time to unveil this group to the public.
  Here’s a link to a video from Zànměi’s first rehearsal:
  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3c_x-7YLzE
  I’ll keep you guys posted as our group continues to grow and share God’s love!
  God bless your day!
  Alicia Michelle
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Checklist

            Let’s see, what’ve I gotten done recently? It sure seems like a lot, but I must be missing something.
1. Finish first semester of college? Check.
2. Have fun playing at multiple gigs? Check.
3. Spend months writing, arranging, practicing, and recording tons and tons of music for the super-secret project that’s almost ready to get started into full swing? Check.
4. Write weekly blog? FAIL!
            I knew I was forgetting something…

            Hello there, everyone. I’m so close to getting this musical project done that I can hardly wait! Unfortunately, after switching my focus from photography to the music project, I totally left the rest of you guys in the dust. I figured I should write another blog so you folks wouldn’t forget about me or think that I’d given up on the whole music ministry thing (which I am absolutely NOT giving up on!).
            I’ve been thinking about how crazy-cold it’s been around here lately and sometimes wondering if it’s God’s way of telling us, “Slow down! Stay inside the house and take a break for once! Take time to smell the flowers!” (“Smell the flowers,” of course, being a figurative term. It’s much too cold outside for flowers.)
            But think about it: We are a society obsessed with work. Everyone is almost always busy. Just look afile8301245763269t the highway sometime and try to count how many cars pass by in a minute. I bet you’ll lose count. Schedules are crammed, people are stressed, and we really don’t feel responsible unless we’re constantly working on something–to say nothing of the Christmas season we’ve just whizzed through in what felt like thirty seconds, not thirty days.
            I’m definitely not saying that work itself is a bad thing. God gave Adam work as a blessing and a joy, even before the fall into sin (Genesis 2:15). But too much of anything is not good and can often turn dangerous. I believe that lately the devil’s been trying to use the time I’ve spent starting up a music ministry to turn me away from Bible study and time alone with God. I’m sure it’s happened to you many times: “Oh, I haven’t done Bible study yet today! But I’ve got this project I’ve got to finish before tomorrow, and so many other things that need doing…I’ll save Bible study for later.” And later turns into…almost never. (It seems kind of like what happened to me whenever I thought of writing this blog, too.)
            This is more than just procrastination. It’s exchanging one task for another, believing that there’s no time for both. It’s placing something else above Bible study. It’s breaking the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3, NIV). In other words, it’s saying that some other project you have to do is more important than God.
            I think that’s why he sent us into the wintery blast of unheard-of wind chills. I think he’s saying to us (me especially), “Look, you don’t have to go to school today. It’s too cold to run errands. Almost everything’s closed down. Why don’t you close down, too? Spend a little time with me once. I miss hearing from you.”
            I once heard our current connection status with God explained in this way: Suppose you say to your spouse, “I am super busy. I have a huge list of important stuff that needs to get done. So I’ll carve out some time for you for an hour on Sunday, for thirty seconds before each meal, and maybe a minute or so before bed. All of the rest of the time, I won’t be able to talk to you. But I think we’ll stay close enough, don’t you?” Your relationship with your spouse would not last long at all.
            Yes, work is important for our survival on this earth and for maintaining relationships with other family members and coworkers. But so is time with our Savior. Our connection with God is not just a religion, or a belief, or a commitment. It’s a relationship that needs to be fostered and cared for often, more than once a day.
            We make time for the things we want to make time for. Spending time with God is a choice, not something controlled by chance. How about we find the balance between work and our precious Savior? And let’s do it today, before later turns into almost never.
            God bless your day!
            Alicia Michelle
            “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him (Psalm 62:5, NIV).