Friday, December 20, 2013

An Instrument in the Lord's hands

Being an instrument in the Lord’s hands

    There is this awesome group called the Piano Guys.  Have you heard of them?  They are amazing musicians: masters, if you will.  They do amazing things with their instruments.  Even more amazing is how they take ordinary instruments and expand on their musical potential.  For example, for a couple of music videos they took the top off a grand piano and played it in a most unusual way.  Four or five men stood around this piano, plucking at its strings, winding horse hairs around the strings, using paper, and even hitting, pounding, and beating on different sides of this piano.  The piano is most definitely not played in the typical manner.  Yet, from this dismantling and beating, it produces an amazing sound

   I couldn’t help but think of how the instrument (or witnesses standing by) may have felt.  Perhaps there were questions or comments like: “Wait!  This is NOT the way it should be played.” Or “Why can’t you just play it the ‘right’ way, or the way it was intended?” or “It won’t sound good that way.  It just won’t work.” Or even, “Why would you ruin a perfectly good instrument that way? Why did you ruin it?”
   In fact, there may have been MANY questions of “Why?!”

  But you see, the thing is, The Piano Guys are the master musicians.  They know what they are doing.   As masters, they knew that they could allow the piano to be played like every other piano and it would have still produced beautiful music.  But they also knew of the piano’s potential.  They knew of the amazing things that would happen if the piano trusted in the musician and allowed itself to go down a path it didn’t envision.   By being taken down a “different path,” the piano was taken to a greater level.

    Aren’t we sometimes like this piano?   We are told to be “instruments in the Lord’s hands,” and I’ve been reminded more and more as of late, that this is no simple task.  There are times, we look at our instruments (ourselves), and know what we are capable of.  We know the kind of beautiful music that we could produce if the Master would simply follow our plan and play us as we wish.  We want to just produce the same kind of beautiful music that all the other instruments are producing:  Nothing more, nothing less.
BUT, it is not the instruments job to instruct.  We are NOT the master musicians here.  We are the instruments.  I have been left in awe of this lesson and reminded to take heed of the lesson to be learned.  I lose the potential of a greater power when I limit myself simply to what I already know.  Yet, to truly be an instrument in His hands, I need to trust in Him, and trust that he truly does know what he is doing.  When I want to scream, “WAIT!  NO!  This is NOT the way I was intended to be played!” I am left instead with the image of beautiful music that was created when the instrument was played in a most unusual manner.  When I want to just be like all the other instruments, and played in a simple manner, I am reminded that not all of us were intended to be played the same way.  When I want to say “Stop.  Please don’t break me down like this.  You’ll ruin me!”, I try to think of how this particular piano HAD to be broken down and beaten in order for the Masters to work their magic.

   As trials come and trials go, the most important thing for me to realize right now, is that even a broken down and beaten instrument can still be beautiful.  For it is by the Masters hand that great things are brought to pass. . . .and if the instrument needs to be broken down first, that’s okay (or at least it will be), for the Master is in charge of the instrument, and as we have faith in that, beautiful things WILL come.  

In case you were wondering, here's a link to a few of their videos:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Recent funnies

June 19, 2013
Last week, Breanna was away at Girls Camp. This week, I'm being reminded of all that she does to help out at home, and especially with baby sister. (She doesn't even need to be asked). So I told her today "I've decided, you can never leave home again, until Angela graduates from high school." Her response, "Kind of harsh. But OKAY.

May 17, 2013
My two year old today: "Oh no Mama. The milk is sad."
Me: "the milk is sad?"
2 yr old: "it's crying"
Then I look at the gallon of milk on the counter with moisture dripping down the side and realize what she is talking about. This little girl is so stinkin' cute. Gosh, I adore her!

Feb 27, 2013
String instruments being played in my home makes me feel so content! Loving that my twins just started playing the cello and double bass. Already, they sound fabulous. I like to think they got their musical talent from me The funny thing is, when I mentioned that to BK, she said "Well, duh! HOW could we get it from DAD?!" ha ha.

"I hate it when you open the fridge and can't find what you're looking for. . . .like happiness, . . .and perfect abs. . . .

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I really need to post these more. . .

My kids are hilarious.  They are constantly cracking me up, and they make me laugh.  This is a good thing.  I'm an easily amused person, as it is.  But, I'll admit it, having six kids can be draining sometimes, especially with a husband that is CONSTANTLY gone due to military commitments.  However, I do believe there is way more good in my large brood than bad, and I adore them so much.  SO here are some current gems.

**On Mothers Day this year, Paul was gone for training (for the 4th time in the last 5 years over Mothers Day), but my kids still wanted to make it special for me.  I awoke to smoke detectors going off in the house.  Sure enough, I go downstairs, and the kitchen is filled with smoke, and red-faced VERY apologetic kids that kept pleading "We're SOOO sorry" "We were trying to surprise you!"  "We didn't want to wake you".  I started laughing.  Yes, they had scorched two of my pans with oil, BUT they not only were trying to make me breakfast in bed, but had decided that crepes were the way to go.  ha ha.  Crepes are not known for being easy.  And even though, I like to think I have trained them pretty well in the kitchen, I do not think they are up to the complexity of crepes just yet.  So, I offered to make them.  But then they PLEADED with me to PLEASE go get back in bed so they could still bring me breakfast in bed.  Again, I laughed.  But I did what I was told.  However, there was a small crash, along with a disappointed sigh outside of my door as I heard "oh no.  Now we spilled milk all over the carpet."   Again, I laughed.  The truth is, I can't remember the last time anyone tried to bring me breakfast in bed, and I found it extremely sweet.  My 14 year old Adam ran the show, and was so red in the face with embarrassment.  I just hugged him tightly, continued to laugh, and told him that I like the story of what really happened WAY better than if it had all gone right.  A VERY memorable Mothers Day.  Love it!

**That evening, My little Miss Natalee brought me some homemade coupons for a Mothers Day gift.  It had little tasks like "I will fold the laundry for a week", or "I will wash the big dishes for a week."  When I read the "I will keep my room clean for two weeks," I became very excited and said "I'll cash in on that RIGHT now."  To which she replied with a very straight face "that will be a $5. surcharge.".  SO funny!  These kids crack me up.

**On another day, my baby girl, Miss Angela came waltzing into my room as I was getting ready for the day.  She took one look at me and exclaimed "MOM!  I Like your BODY!"  I laughed so hard, while adding in "well, I guess that makes one of us.".  A few minutes later as I continued to get ready, she sat looking at me and said, rather reflectively "Mom?  Your butt is beautiful."  Sure that I misheard her, I said "what did you say?"  To which she replied "Your butt.  It's beautiful."  Much more laughter ensued.  She could be VERY good for my self esteem!  If only all people thought like 2 year olds. . . . on second thought, that's probably NOT a good idea.  ha ha

**One Saturday night  I was out late, and a friend of mine gave me a manicure.  The next day, while sitting next to Adam, I showed him my nails and said "look!  They're pink!"  To which he replied with a twinkle in his eye,  "No, they're HOT pink. . . . just like my mom!"  Ha ha.  What a goofy schmoozer.  Made me laugh though.

**Then there's my Breanna.  A girl who bleeds confidence.  I honestly wish I would have had her kind of confidence growing up.  She is amazing.  She is very sure of who she is.  She knows of her talents and abilities, and even more admirable, she knows where she lacks and will laugh with us as we tease her about them (such as her lack of dancing abilities, and her cartwheels.  SO FUNNY!).  She loves to tell Paul and I exactly what she is thinking too.  So the other day, she was commenting about getting straight A's (which I don't think she has EVER gotten below an A), and said "You know mom, in my last school, I was KNOWN for my smartness."  The phrase made me laugh, and she caught it as she said it, but it was too late.  It had been said, and now she will be teased for years and years to come.  Thank goodness she laughs more than anyone else I know.

**Isaac is always up to no good.  He has a twinkle in his eye, and LOVES to tease.  He sits on the edge of his seat just waiting for any of us to mess up our words (which happens quite frequently), but especially his Mom and Dad.  Watch out for this one though, cause he's a charmer.  All he has to do is flash those dimples and there's no way you can be annoyed.

** And now, we are on to Timmy.  What a ham.  His expressions are the best.  My mind is blanking on any recent stories, but let's just say, that boy has a lot of energy.  And one of my favorite things is how every morning when I dropped him off at school, he would crawl over the seats to come give me a hug, JUMP out of the car, then twirl around so he could wave bye to me again.  Then he would literally bounce into the school.  Oh, I love my "sunshine".

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lazer Tag in Idaho

So we went and played lazer tag the other day, and my team was suddenly overrun by a group of young boys (7-10 yr olds).  So we planned an "attack" on their level, and all had retreated but one child. So I came around the corner, pointed my lazer gun at him and said "ALL your friends have deserted you. You're ALL alone. What are you going to do?!" . . . . He started crying. And then I felt really bad, and hugged him and said "I'm sorry, honey. I didn't mean to scare you. I'll protect you.". . . . So, basically, . . yeah. . . I laughed about it later. I made a kid cry. But BOY, would I make a crappy soldier. If the enemy cries, I go soft on 'em.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Finally. . . we have verification!

So, our PCS (permanent change of station) date from Germany has been Oct. 9th, for a little while.  Yet, some of the paperwork we needed so we could schedule movers and reserve plane tickets, etc. etc. has been held up because. . . . well, because we're in the army (wink, wink). 
  Anyhoo, we finally were able to get solid paperwork, which means that we were able to reserve and now it's starting to really feel real.
  In 8 days, the movers will show up to start packing up our main household goods.  In six days, we ship our suburban.  And on Sept 28th, we send our unaccompanied baggage (about 1000 lbs of the most needed smaller stuff = kitchen supplies, clothes, etc.)
  And in exactly six weeks from yesterday, on Oct. 9th, we will be flying from Germany to Idaho.  Because we are going from OCONUS duty station to OCONUS, the military pays for us to take a trip home.  We are so grateful for this (since travel from Alaska is not cheap).  So, we will spend a few weeks visiting family and then head north to Fairbanks, Alaska.
  We are really excited for the move.  Alaska seems beautiful and amazing.  Though it'll be quite the different environment from the current one we have grown accustomed to.
  We are so excited for our visit home to see family.  There are family members we haven't seen in three years (and some sadly, even longer).  Many have not met our baby Angela, and I'm so excited for them to see her and her spunky personality.  I'm excited for them to see how much my children have grown and matured. 
  I feel many times like a vagabond.  I get antsy after being anywhere for two years or so.  This is our 19th home, after all (and I think it's my 28th, personally - or something like that).  I just get restless.  So, moving is a good thing, because I'm ready for our next adventure and new place.
  That said, I'm really dreading this move as well.  I love Europe.  I love that almost EVERYTHING is within our reach.  There's beaches, historical significance, castles, beautiful cities, shopping, good food, international gems, etc. etc.  We have LOVED touring around Europe.  Our kids have all experienced at least 12 countries, and the older five have been to 14.  I personally, just went to my 20th country last month = Poland.
  I LOVE Europe.  Bavaria, Germany is such a beautiful place to live. 
  And I love love love the people here and the amazing friends I have gained.  I have never felt so accepted by large groups despite my crazy quirks and goofy humor.  In fact, so many here ALSO have warped senses of humor, which makes for wonderful wonderful times.  I love so many people here and feel so connected to them.  Maybe it's because we are sharing so many experiences together, or maybe it's just because we are all just "that awesome"  ha ha. 
  A week or two ago, I made the mistake of singing through "For Good" from "Wicked".  It has a line that says "It well may be, that we will never meet again in this lifetime.  So let me say before we part, so much of me is based on what I learned from you.  You'll be with me like a hand print on my heart."  Well, maybe I was just a little more emotional that day, but I couldn't make it through it.  I kept crying.  Even now, thinking about it chokes me up.  I HOPE with all that's in me, that there ARE reunions some day with my "Germany family".  I know the reality is that I may NOT get to see some.  And THAT hurts.  They really are my family here. 
   I could go on and on about how much I love each and every friend here, but will save that for another time. 
  I know when time does come for goodbyes that I will be crying my eyes out (The "ugly cry", if you will).  I've already had those cries for friends who have already left.  I hate goodbyes.  But am SOOO glad to share so much love with so many, that are the REASON the goodbyes are hard.  (If that makes sense).
  Anyhoo, on that note, I will sign off for today.  I have a house to get ready for movers :)  (And so glad that MOVERS get to do the brunt of it this time, and not me.  I've done, after all, 18 of the last 19 moves). 
  Life is good.

Current Cute Stories

So, on Sunday, Adam gave a talk in church.  He started out by saying "For those of you who don't know me, I'm Adam Beck.  For those of you who DO know me, it's now Bob.  Got it?  BOB!" 
 Paul and I just laughed, as did many in the congregation.  And so far, many people have been calling him Bob.  It so cracks me up.  A little funny add-on.  We had a visiting high council speaker that day.  He's German, and didn't quite understand the joke, because in his talk, he mentioned a "Robert Beck" that he used to know, and turned around to ask Paul (who was sitting on the stand), if we had named "Bob" (AKA=Adam) after a relative named Robert Beck who had lived in Germany.  Paul just smiled and said not that he knows of.  Too funny

Another cute moment:  The other day, Angela was watching "Elmo in Grouchland" and while sitting on the couch, suddenly started crying and became very upset.  Upon investigating, I discovered that she was upset because Elmo's blankey was flying away from him, and he couldn't catch it.  The idea of losing a blankey was just too much, ESPECIALLY when it was happening to Elmo (she LOVES Elmo). 

This morning, I was showing Isaac a picture of the girls and I.  He kind of just shrugged his shoulders, and I said "Don't you think it's a nice picture?"  To which he responded:  "Yeah, it's nice.  But I'm not in it, so it's not TOO nice" .  Ha ha.  Seriously, I so love these kids that make me laugh all the time.

Last week, I was talking to the kids about the different kinds of kisses.  It's kind of a joke I learned many many years ago about the "peach" "pear" "Plum" and "alfalfa".  Paul says, "Let ME try".  He puts his lips right in front of mine, and then, very loudly says "PEACH!"  I laughed so hard, I almost fell over.  He made the kids and I laugh even more, when he said right after "Yup.  I just don't get it."   There are so many reasons I love this man.  The fact that he makes me laugh so much, is one of the big ones.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Recap of our summer so far 2012

I just finished another semester last week, and start another condensed semester today. I'm down to 20 credits until my bachelors degree. I'm so close I can taste it, and it feels so good (It also feels like I have been at this FOREVER!)

Of course, this means I'll be in the middle of a semester during our move across the globe, (With family time thrown in there), but I'll make it work. The thought of taking a semester off at this point just drives me crazy. I'm SOOO close!

Okay, so moving on:

To start off our summer we feel so super blessed to have had Grandpa Curtis join us for our European adventure of the summer. It was awesome. When we picked him up at the airport in Nuremberg, we went straight to the WWII Documentation museum (I think it is one of the best historical museums we have been to in all our travels). Then we went and walked around at the old Nazi Party Rally Grounds (Zeppelin field). The next day, we set off for Munich and walked around the city. We also went to Dachau concentration camp. The kids have already been to two concentration camps (including Dachau) and asked if they could "please bypass" it this time. They were so cute about it. They said they totally think Grandpa should get to see it, and it was cool information, but would be happy to hang out in the car and just play card games.

So, Paul and Grandpa went in and the kids and I hung out, and they were awesome. We were entertained and they never complained.

It's interesting, because I truly believe places like Dachau are important reminders. It is sobering to realize just the extent of brutality that can occur when hatred is allowed to exist. The memorial is very well done, and it explains so much with well placed picture and reader board displays. However,once through is enough for me. I'm glad that we were able to experience it. As I was talking to Dad about it, we commented about it seems odd to say "I enjoyed" the experience of it. There is a solemn presence that exists, and great respect is shown, with hushed voices everywhere. Yet, how else do you express that you're glad you went somewhere but not disresepect the atrocities that took place? It's a complete conundrum.

Well, on to brighter and happier things. That same evening, we continued on to one of our favorite places, Edeleweiss (an army lodge in the alps that border Germany and Austria = Garmisch). We swam and enjoyed the beautiful scenery there. The next day we headed over to Croatia. We stopped in Austria outside of Salzburg, at the place where Silent Night was written. It was only supposed to take us 2 1/2 hours. Yet 4 1/2 hours later we finally arrived. It wasn't what we expected, but we thought it would be a cool thing to be there. (I LOVE musical history).

Later on our trip, we realized that we had not gone to the actual "silent night chapel" (where it was first performed) but instead, only the place where it was written. DOH! And the actual chapel was less than 2 miles from where we stopped. So we COULD have gone to both. ha ha. Oh well, you live you learn.

So, we continued on through Slovenia (absolutely beautiful country), and arrived in the Istria provence of Croatia. The little resort we stayed at was actually on a peninsula, so we felt surrounded by water. It was pretty cool. Croatia is known for non-sandy beaches. They are mostly pebbles and rocks. Luckily, we were prepared and had water shoes for everyone. There were a few different beaches available within walking distance of our apartments, so we had fun exploring the different ones and moving around. The snorkling was so fun. SO many differenet kinds of fishes. One of of our highlights was getting to see a squid while diving. Man, it was UGLY! ha ha.

Paul was even able to get in one scuba dive with Grandpa while we were there. I was so happy for him to get back out there (one of these days I need to find my scuba card and get out there myself ;-)

Another highlight of our beach time was our very own version of "Wipeout". I SO wish we would have had a video camera! There was an inflatable playground in the water that the kids went on with Paul (as I hung back with tiny girl). They would try and run across inflatable logs, and climb up inflatable mountains, and jump on trampolines in the water. They biffed it so many times, and Grandpa and I just laughed and laughed.

I absolutely love seeing all of my kids loving the water. They are excellent snorkelers and it was so wonderful to take one of them out with me as "a swim buddy" as I swam out to the buoys and other areas to explore. They are such a fun age!

One of the days we were in Croatia was spent in the town of Pula. What amazing history! They had one of the most in tact Roman amphitheatres there. It was HUGE! And dated back to around 6 A.D.! Can you even imagine?! And as if I wasn't blown away enough by that, we were later shown an archway that was built in 46 B.C!!!!! Isn't it amazing to thinking of a man made structure that has survived over 2000 years?! I really enjoyed our time in Pula. I love walking around these European cities.

We stayed in Croatia for 5 days and then were off again. Our next day was spent going to Vienna, Austria. We walked around the Schonbrunn palace which was absolutely beautiful! It was much larger than I anticipated and very well kept.

A fun little fact: The next day we were watching "Three Musketeers" (the 90's version with Charlie Sheen) which is my favorite movie. Well, as we were watching we totally recognized the balcony of the palace and confirmed at the end of the movie that it was indeed the Schonbrunn palace that was used! We were JUST THERE! I thought that was so fun. I really enjoyed Vienna.

The next day we drove to Prague, and took a walking tour of the city. Paul and I have been there a few times already, but it is such an enjoyable city to walk around. It was so fun to have Grandpa along for it. It is seriously one of the prettiest cities we have been in.

That night, we drove home (Thank goodness Prague is only 2 1/2 hours away :). THe next day was spent going to church and then a town called Bayreuth. It is another european gem of a city. We toured the castle there, and the opera house which is amazingly ornate and beautifully lit. We also walked around the Ermitage which is a conservatory/ outdoor sculpture garden area. It is another one of my favorite spots around here. The problem: It was pouring down raining. Paul wasn't completely thrilled with the idea of getting soaked, but I thought it was a blast (and so did the kids). AND Grandpa was able to get the FULL Bavaria experience that way, since Bavaria is ALL about rain, and he needed to be rained on at least once. ha ha

Grandpas last day here was spent going to Flossenburg castle which dates back to the 1500's (I think). The kids and Paul LOVE it, because you can climb in and out and explore to your hearts content (of course, I have to look away and take deep breaths a lot. My family is full of crazy monkeys!).

We were sad to have to give Grandpa back at the end of his visit. But it was awesome knowing that it will only be a few months til we can see him again.

Moving on, that same week we went hiking in a place referred to as the Rock Labyrinth. It is a pretty moss covered, boulder infested mountain. There were so many giant boulders and rocks to climb over, under, and through. THere were rock staircases chiseled away in some places, and very tiny tunnels to crawl through in others.

Adam even managed to terrify his mother. Keep in mind, I have gotten very used to his (and the other kids) crazy climbing. Not to mention their DAD! He so can't control himself when climbing possibilities are anywhere nearby. Well, the kids had all run ahead when we were headed down the mountain. I came around a corner and there is my Adam up on a steep sloping boulder about 15-20 feet high. I tell him it is time to come down, and he shouts okay, and starts sliding. He sat down with his legs bent in front of him sliding on his bum at a very fast pace. TOO fast. He then gets almost to the bottom and launches himself over to another group of rocks about six feet away and it looks to me that he was missing the rocks and jumping into an open drop off. I squealed just as he landed on a rock that I hadn't seen right by the other big ones I could see. He then fell on his back because he was laughing so hard at his Mom. (as was Paul who was standing behind me). I cursed EVERY Beck boy at that moment. (Yes, ALL of you! It's all your fault! ha ha.). Like I have said before, there is NO DOUBT that my kids take after the Crazy climbing Becks!

Anyhoo, it was still a fun hike. A few days later I got to go with a friend to Poland for the night. It's one of the trips I have wanted to do since we got here, and it was so much fun. I bought a lot of fun polish pottery, and for an added bonus, I'm now able to say that I have been to TWENTY countries! Pretty Cool, huh?

The day after we got home, Paul and I were given another awesome opportunity.

One of my good friends here was able to get tickets to a very elite classical concert in Prague. It was a harpist and flutist, and her cousin was the flute player. It was held in a Palace with less than 100 people there, and the U.S. ambassador for the Czech Republic was there! Now, granted, Paul and I thought he was a conceited dork. BUT< he was still there. ha ha. This was a very expensive fancy event though. We were in a group of seven and had so much fun laughing about our lack of knowledge pertaining to social decorum at an event like this. AND, I even got to try caviar! (Another item checked off my bucket list :)

They served amazing sushi, and mini creme brulees (one of my favorite desserts here in Europe), and all sorts of other amazing delicacies that I so don't even know the names of.

The eveing was really magical, and I was so glad that Paul got to experience it with me.

Paul and I were also able to spend a night away the next weekend and go to the Frieberg temple. The session was held in Hungarian with german and english translations available. I LOVE all the languages and cultures that are nearby here.

This week, Adam is at scout camp in Garmisch (Austrian border). We join him there on Friday for a family retreat at the resort for the weekend (It's paid for by our unit. I love perks like that). So we will be celebrating Timmy and Paul's birthdays in the Alps. We're really hoping to finally make it up to the top of the Zugspitze while there. It is the highest peak in Germany. We'll see if we can work it out.

Next week, Adam and Isaac head to youth camp for boys, and Breanna heads to girls camp (through our stake). I can't believe my twins are old enough to go to things like that! It's going to freak me out to only have three kids at home for a week. I'm so glad they get to experience things like that though.

Adam also has a robotics camp coming up, and possibly we will be able to get a few more day trips in here and there

We really are excited to get back to the U.S, and move on to our next chapter. We're happy to be leaving this current post. But there are definitely a lot of things we are going to miss about Germany and Europe. We're trying to get in all we can before we move on.

I know this is horrendously long, but hope it wasn't all boring.
I can't wait for what lies ahead.