Please keep voting for my song!

I am in the top 3 for the sheet music competition right now, and I need your continued daily votes to stay there!  The top 2 pieces get awards.  Thanks to all who have voted and gotten me this far!  Could you vote again today and each day through Wednesday, March 6th?  Thanks so much!

Go to the link below, and look on the left side to vote.  Give it 5 stars (or however many you think it deserves), answer their anti-spam question, and click vote.  You can vote once per day.

http://freeldssheetmusic.org/s/Jesus-the-Very-Thought-of-Thee-Piano-Solo-by-Amy-J-van-Dyk

 

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Please vote for my song!

I have entered my first sheet music competition, and I would love your votes!  I have chosen to enter my piano solo “Jesus, the Very thought of Thee” because it is my most popular song on this page.

Please go here:  http://freeldssheetmusic.org/Competition

And look for my “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee” piano solo.  Click on it, and on the right hand side of the page, you’ll see where to vote.  Give it 5 stars (or however many you think it deserves), answer their anti-spam question, and click vote.  You can vote once a day per song.  Thanks in advance!

New Song: He Is There

Mormon LDS Beliefs

I was so excited to get a request from poet Deborah Finneran to collaborate on this piece. She wrote the lyrics first as a poem, and asked me to write the music.

I love the message of this piece: Just keep holding onto our Savior through everything you may go through in life–He will always be there for you.

“He Is There” Sheet Music

Listen to a Recording of “He Is There”

If you’d like to see more of Deborah’s poetry, visit her blog: It’s All About Him.

And, if you are interested in collaborating in this way with me on future work, please go to my Contact Me and write me a note about what you’re interested in doing. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can with my availability.

Allergen Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know this is not a food blog, but I HAD to share this recipe for all my allergy-free friends out there.  I finally found a chocolate chip cookie recipe that is Top-8 and Gluten-Free, and the whole family loves them. Incredible. A few questions you might ask answered up front: –Am I affiliated with any of these food brands? No. I just have found that I really like these particular ingredients, and they are what I used. –Did I take pictures? No. Because, um, it’s not a food blog 😉

I found this recipe, and tweaked it to make it allergen free.

**Disclaimer: I know that there is debate over coconuts for allergen-free eaters, so please keep that in mind–talk to your doctor first if there might be issues with it–and of course, please make sure all the ingredients you purchase are allergen-free**

Ingredients: 1 1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C coconut oil
3 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer
4 Tbs. Water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 3/4 C King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour
3 Tbsp. honey slightly warmed (used as a binder–if you use any other kind of flour, you may need to adjust this amount because it will bind differently)
10 oz. bag Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, coconut oil, egg replacer and water with an electric mixer until thoroughly mixed. Add remaining ingredients except honey.

At this point, the “dough” will really be crumbs with big chocolate chunks. If you used the King Arthur flour, add all 3 Tablespoons honey and mix until all crumbs are coated with honey. If you used a different flour, experiment with the amount of honey until you can make a ball by squishing the dough between your hands.

Make large balls of dough (about 2-3 Tablespoons of dough) by squishing dough between your hands and place on cookie sheet. These cookies don’t really change shape while they cook, so once they’re on the sheet, flatten them out into the shape you’d like.

Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Cool them for about 10-15 minutes, and eat for a super yummy-gooey treat. Or, they store well in an air-tight container for about 3 days.

Happy top-8 and GF eating!

Five Little Chefs

Finding Me Again

Bendito chupón / Blessed pacifier

Ever since I gave birth to my first child, my life has been different. In many ways, it has been more glorious and exciting and fulfilling than I could ever have imagined, but, in complete truth, it has also been the most difficult part of my life.

I struggled with big time “Baby Blues” after my first child was born. He had horrible reflux and milk allergy (although we were unaware of it for a long time). Because he was throwing up, and then getting hungry again, he (and my husband and I) hardly slept for longer than 30 minutes at a time until he was 8 months old when we figured out the problem.  I was worn out, and I felt trapped taking care of this baby.  I didn’t have a lot of friends in my neighborhood, and I felt terrible about myself because part of me actually resented this new life I had brought into the world. . .and I knew I wasn’t supposed to feel like that.

I tried everything I could think of to get out of the depression I was in (except talking to people–which, I STRONGLY encourage you to do if you might be facing something like this–it’s really okay to need help, and sometimes, it gets bad enough that you really need professional help):

I kept a file of talks on motherhood and how important it was, and I read them daily.  I read my scriptures about all the great women who raised up a righteous posterity.  I tried to remember that I was in a partnership with Heavenly Father to raise children, and that I was blessed to be able to have children in the first place.  I tried to remember that sacrificing was a part of parenthood, and that, by sacrificing, I was learning how to become like my Heavenly Father.  I threw myself into motherhood 24/7, always trying to find ways be a better mom, and taking my baby with me wherever I went. I thought that somehow, by doing more of what I knew I was supposed to be doing, I would feel better, but I didn’t.

YQL invades Super Why!Over the next six years, I had three more children, and I learned a little about taking time for myself.  I organized “Mom’s Night’s Out,” went on mini-vacations with my husband, and watched TV that didn’t star Barney or Super Why.  Those breaks were SO IMPORTANT, and necessary for my well-being.  We really need breaks sometimes.

After these breaks, I felt I could see joy in my parenting again and really have a wonderful time with my children.  But, on really hard days–days with really non-obedient children, really big messes, or lots of throwing up, I would easily sink back into my sadness.

My husband brought it up several times and asked what he could do for me; I denied that I had any problem. I was the “good mom.”  “Good moms” love that they are moms and love every minute of it, right?  At least that’s how I felt.  Deep inside, I still had those same views of motherhood I had from the beginning–even if I needed to take breaks, I still should be able to come back to my kids ready-to-go and loving it all.

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The last baby shower I went to, a few months back, we were asked to give the new mom-to-be advice. My advice was the same it always was at these kinds of things: “Make sure you take time for yourself. You can’t feed and nurture another person when you are going on empty.” It’s great advice, right? So right.  But, the truth was, I needed to follow my own advice.

October 2012, I finished my coursework for my Bachelor’s degree,

Graduation Cap Cupcake

and I graduated from college in December. Now, that’s a story for a different post (and believe me, you’ll hear about it, because I’m SO PROUD OF MYSELF), but finishing my coursework was the jumping-off point for a huge realization of mine: Since I have had children, I have been missing taking a certain kind of time for myself.  Breaks, like I mentioned above, ARE SO IMPORTANT–I would even say necessary for parents.  But, something was still missing.

After I graduated from college, I decided I wanted to find whatever it was I was missing again.  Would you believe that before I had my first child, I sat and played the piano for hours on end, and ever since I had him, I would go weeks without even thinking about my piano?  Would you believe that I started writing music when I was 6-years-old, and didn’t stop until I had my first child–And after he came, I didn’t write a single new piece for 6 years?  I had thrown it away because I wanted to “sacrifice” for my children.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

It is true that sacrificing is an important part of motherhood; through sacrificing for our children, we learn, in a small way, how to become like our Heavenly Father.  However, did our Heavenly Father stop being innately who He was because He had children, or because He watches over His children?  No–He is the same today, yesterday, and forever.  He is a Creator, and He continues to create and will continue to create for eternity.  He is able to love us, watch over us, take care of us, teach us, guide us—AND be innately who He is.

I finally found what I was missing.  As a daughter of God, with a divine nature, I am born to be a creator as well; we all are.  I found that I needed that creativity to find the real beauty around me and what I was doing each day.

I found what I was missing by sitting down at the piano and playing

Bechstein Firmenschriftzug

whatever came to my mind. I found it by scratching down words and scriptures that might send a beautiful message when set to music. I found it by bearing my testimony through my music. I found it by creating this blog and sharing my music with you.

I finally found it again.  

I can be Mom AND I can ME.  And the combination has brought true joy.

I no longer feel resentment.  Even on hard days.  Yes, they’re hard, and it’s okay that they’re hard.   I am not a super woman, and no woman is.  But, I feel a huge difference in how ready I am to take on those days.  My resentment has been replaced by excitement for my life and what I can do with it, and for what I can help my children become.

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Thank you for allowing me to share my music and my life with you. Thank you for sharing in the beauty I see in the world of music and the testimonies I am able to bear and the peace that I feel through it.

I know that everyone  is different. I know some who find themselves and beauty in being outdoors and experiencing nature; I know some who find themselves and beauty in creating art and literature; I know some who find it in decorating, scrap booking, or cooking.  My sincere desire is for you to find your beauty and your love of creation;  that you realize where you find that part of you that is really you.  And once you realize it, take part in that beauty whenever you can. I promise you, it is amazing to find again if you’ve lost it.

I imagine that many of you figured this all out a long time ago–so, I’d like to know: What do you do to be creative?  Where do you find your beauty? Where do you go when you need peace; when you need to be just who you are?

Oh, and thanks for listening 🙂

LDS Book Review: Band of Sisters

Books

I belong to a neighborhood book club, and we often read books by LDS authors (although we read plenty of others as well).   The book for this month is called, “Band of Sisters,” by Annette Lyon.   From the Deseret Book site, here is the description:

When the war on terror calls their husbands to duty, five LDS women are left behind to fight battles of their own: Kim, newlywed and pregnant, frightened of what the future might bring. Brenda, struggling to manage three unruly boys and a crippling bout of depression. Jessie, secretly grappling with mixed feelings about her emotionally abusive husband. Marianne, wrestling with a rebellious teenage daughter. And Nora, the seasoned Army wife with perfect hair, an immaculate home — and an ill-tempered mother dying of cancer.

Knowing the separation of deployment is extremely difficult, Nora gathers the wives every week to share lunches and burdens. In good company, they worry over safety in the field and stability at home and offer one another counsel and comfort. But as their personal crises build, each woman faces the risks of forming deep bonds of trust. And when tragedy strikes, they must confront the painful realities of war that pull families apart and bring friends together as sisters.

Overall review:  Read it if you are an LDS woman ready for a good cry.

Now for my more specific review  ***Spoiler alert both for anyone who hasn’t read the book, and for my insights I will probably share on book club night***

Very minor negatives: The book was a quick and easy read without a lot of elevated language-, and obviously (very obviously) written for a Utah LDS audience (all the way down to discussing city parks and restaurants only in Utah County).

Positives of the books and good messages:  You can contribute. 
The five women in the book start out each with their own insecurities and recognizing how different they are from the women that surround them.  They each feel like they either can’t really be themselves or they don’t have much to contribute to the other wives, but in the end, they see that they really are needed and important.  I love how that teaches us that we can be of service to others even if we feel different than they are.

Take of the masks.
Maybe it’s just because of my rant a little while ago on here “To All LDS Women,” but the point really was there:  Take off the “masks” that we use to hide who we really are.  If we’re pretending to be something we’re not, we need to stop, and by stopping, we can actually help others around us feel more comfortable with themselves.

Unless you have gone through it, you don’t know what it’s like.
I also enjoyed reading about what it is really like to be a wife of a deployed military member.  Through the book, the women talk about how nobody else really “gets it”–what it’s like to be going through what they are.  I admit that I am one of those who never even thought there was something to “get” before I read this.  It opened my eyes to how the trials faced by these women really are different than any others I may have faced.

Personal point of view.
Lastly, I think my favorite part of the book was how each chapter was written from a different woman’s point of view.  It was interesting to really see the life and trials of each woman through her own eyes.  And I LOVED that those with little children face the same things I go through each day–the messes, the craziness, all of it.  It made me feel a little bit more normal 🙂

Have you read this book?  Have you read any similar books?  What did you think?