Happy Father’s Day!

This morning, the men of my church gave us such a beautiful gift. Several months ago, one of the men had the vision for a men’s choir. So at their last fellowship dinner (this past Tuesday) they rehearsed and this morning lead us in worship with How Great Thou Art! It was so incredible to see probably 75+ men singing with all their hearts, no matter their musical skill. What a witness to us of what it is to be a faithful, godly man! A role model to our boys, and an example to our girls (including this one) of what a husband should be. To God be the glory!

This evening I was painting tiles for Right Focus. One of the designs had III John 4 on it: “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” Y’all know, of course, that today is Father’s Day. As carefully painted the verse several times, I reflected that is such a blessing to be the daughter of a father (and mother!) for whom this is their greatest joy. All I have to do is follow my Lord and I will bring my parents’ joy. It doesn’t matter what job I have, or achievements I gain… if I walk in the truth, I know their hearts are full of joy. It’s not the reason to pick up my cross and follow the Lord, but it is a sweet benefit.

How do I know this is my parents’ greatest joy? They have shown me, in their attitude, teaching, and words to me, but also in the example of their own lives. I don’t have a perfect family; but walking in the truth has always been our family’s primary focus. From Sunday evening family devotions when I was little to daily Bible study before school, my parents have brought me up in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.” Our faith has always come before anything else. Before school (literally!), before material blessings, before entertainment. I have watched both my dad and my mom spend countless hours preparing and planning Bible studies, VBS programs, Sunday School projects, and youth group lessons, all for the purpose of sharing with others how to walk in the truth. Theology has always been as common a dinnertime conversation topic as the day’s activities or current events. My parents’ example has impressed their joy in my own faith as much as the times they have directly expressed that.

I am so richly blessed to have parents who have taught me and shown me how to follow Christ! It grieves me that many children, perhaps even you, have not had this jumpstart to walking in the truth. Even if you don’t have a godly father to celebrate today, you have a heavenly Father Who is the Truth, the one, perfect example. My own dad, as amazing as he is, is still but a dim reflection of God the Father. He loves you more than any earthly possibly could! Ask Him to give you earthly models… hey, if you’re in Memphis, come over to Advent. We’ve got a lot of men who can be as a father in the family of God!

xoxoxoxo,
Alanna

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Handbells

Image via Schulmerich Handbells

I’m in the handbell choir at my church and our “season” just started with a technique clinic on Saturday. I realized that probably a lot of people have never heard handbell music and don’t know what it’s all about! I’ve literally grown up with handbells… my mom took me to practice with her when I was an infant. I think I was pretty much destined to play when I was older.

As you can see from the picture above, handbells come in all sizes. Each bell corresponds to a note. The higher the note, the smaller the bell. They’re typically made of brass, but the really big bass bells – which we don’t have – are made of aluminum because they’re so big you couldn’t lift them if they were made of brass. We have a five octave choir, which is on the larger end for a church choir. I play the very highest treble bells – the itty-bitty ones! My whole hand fits around the brass part, whereas I can barely pick up our largest bass bells.

You may think that bells can just be rung. Wrong! There are so many crazy techniques to produce different types of sounds, and even some fun ways to ring the high-bells. I play with a technique called four-in-hand. I have two bells in each hand – four different notes. Because handbells clappers can only swing one direction the bells are turned in opposite directions. I turn my hand a different way to ring each note. Some people play six-in-hand but I’m not sure how. I’d really love to learn!

At the bell clinic on Saturday, we learned a new technique we’ll be using this year. It is incredible. It’s called the singing bell technique and the sound it makes is so ethereal. I’m sure it’s easier explained by seeing and hearing it, so watch:

Oh my goodness, it is so cool! We actually don’t hit it to start the sound. You can just begin circling the bell rim with the dowel and it “sings” on its own. It doesn’t really work with the highest bells, so I won’t get to do it in any of our pieces but I got to try it out. If you have never heard bell music – or even if you have – please watch this video. It’s such a cool piece!

Handbell music is so beautiful. It’s just such a lovely experience for me. It’s really a great expression of the body of Christ. We each have charge of different bells… I play 4-in-hand with the high bells and my other treble-bell comrades often shelley ring (two in each hand – the same notes, octave apart – facing the same direction, played together). The bass bells are huge and heavy, quite a cool feat to watch and require strength and lots of coordination (my mom is awesome; our bass lady actually can’t lift them so she uses a mallet). The middle bells are neither small enough to play 4-in-hand nor huge, but they are the bulk of the melody and often have crazy handwork, switching sharps and flats. And all together, following our director, we can make a beautiful song of praise. Even without one person, it’s evident that there is something missing. If we don’t keep our eyes on the director, we do not play completely together. If one person picks up the wrong bell on a chord, you can tell. Isn’t it that way with the body of Christ?

You Can’t Hold It

Through my dear friend Brenda, I’m privileged to know singer/songwriter Myla Smith. Besides been ridiculously talented, she’s a bubbly, sweet person who’s great fun to be around. She just released her latest music video, which is awesome. She had asked if I would be an extra in it, but sadly I couldn’t the day they were filming. I’m bummed because it’s totally awesome. Check it out: