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Archive for December, 2012

Dec 16 2012

The Christmas elves

Posted by Dale @ 10:41 pm in Church

I’m not sure how to describe this video taken at our church Christmas banquet:

Dec 14 2012

Standing Before the Judge

Posted by Mugs @ 12:45 pm in Family

One year and five days have passed since I stood before the judge with Josiah for his drivers licensing ceremony. This morning, I stood before the same judge in the same place with Abby. She is a good and cautious driver.

The crowd representing Stafford County’s newest drivers spanned many races: white, black, latino, asian, indian, islanders, etc.

A man in front of us wore a suit with his long black hair pulled up in a knot on the back of his head, and his daughter had her hair piled up in a mini beehive with a strand of pearls. A multi-generation family (mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins) of immigrants were there to support their teen driver. A marine dad was there with his long haired son. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters – families of all types.

The court notice informed everyone that children would not be allowed in the courtroom, but several teen moms showed up with babies in tow. The state troopers allowed the babies into the courtroom. It was cold in the hallway. One baby decided to blow raspberries throughout the judges speech. I suspect, most of the teens probably wished they could join in.

The judge implored the crowd of teen drivers to drive cautiously and defensively. He, once again, informed the parents that they had the right, as well as the court and the DMV to take away their child’s license.

He also told the teens that if they are charged with underage possession of alcohol or drugs, even if they are not in a car, they will have their license suspended for six months, no exceptions.

The judge’s description of the number of accidents created from a moments inattention has played out over the course of this last year in the lives of Josiah and his friends. His group of twelve friends has experienced six accidents (two of which totaled a car). Thankfully, throughout their first year of driving, no one has been seriously injured.

Since his car accident last May, Josiah attended a defensive driver’s course, performed community service, and paid his fine. His ticket has now been cleared by the court.

Towards the end of the ceremony, the judge gave the statistic that strikes fear into the heart.

He told us that one teen driver sitting in the room with us would be dead a year from now because of an automobile accident.

As with the last time I listened to those words, I prayed to God for my children’s safety and pleaded with my children to be attentive when they drive.

I thought of Hebrews 9:27. “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement,”

We will all stand before the judge.

I highly recommend you have an advocate.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2


Dec 11 2012

Lutherans and a Bag of Nuts

Posted by Mugs @ 12:50 pm in Church,Family,Music

This fall, Mr Matthews (Josiah’s piano teacher) gave Josiah the challenge of learning the overture to the Messiah for his Christmas piece. Josiah played the piece as a prelude for the High School Christmas concert. Because Mr Matthews wanted Josiah to get a better understanding of the piece, he told me to look in the paper for the list of “Messiah sing-a-longs” in the area.

I knew there were performances of the Messiah to go and see, but had no idea there were Messiah sing-a-longs to attend. Sure enough, just after Thanksgiving, the paper listed 20 opportunities in the Washington DC area to listen to or sing the Messiah. There were high end events: the Kennedy Center, the National Philharmonic, and the National Cathedral. There were university events: George Mason and the Naval Academy. There were community events: Fort Washington, Reston, NOVA. There were church events: Catholic, Mormon, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran.

Josiah and I went to the Reston Chorale sing-a-long last night at the Lutheran church. It cost $10 for admittance. Thankfully, we did not have to buy or rent a score. Mr. Matthews gave us his score to use. It belonged to his father and was printed in 1912.

I had expected to see a choir in a choir loft. I figured they would sing and we would join in from our seats in the audience whenever we desired to help out.

I was quite surprised to enter a room of chairs sectioned with the following signs: bass, tenor, soprano, alto.

We were the choir.

This created a problem. Josiah and I had one score between us. Furthermore, Josiah is most likely a bass although he sings so quietly no one would ever know. I am an alto.

“What to do?”

Not wanting to split up, I came up with the following plan. I would sing lower than usual and be a tenor and Josiah would sing higher than usual and be a tenor. Therefore, we could stay together. Besides, the tenors sat in the back, and we wanted a quick escape in case things went bad.

I sat down next to the guy who unlocks the church and makes the coffee. No matter the denomination, there is always a guy who unlocks the church and makes the coffee. It’s a universal role in Christianity. He soon began to tell me about his busy month of advent. Besides unlocking the church and making the coffee, he lit the unity candle, sang in the choir, and gave out the communion. He also showed me the bag of special Christmas nuts that could be purchased on the way out.

Nearly everyone in the room was white, of Scandinavian or German descent, and older than me. For a moment, I thought I had been transported back to Minnesota and looked around fearfully for lutefisk.

The tenor section started to fill up and we hoped the man sitting next to Josiah would sing the tenor part loud enough for us to follow along. Unfortunately, he had terrible allergies and spent the majority of the performance blowing his nose. Sometimes he sang the correct part, and sometimes not. He so frustrated his neighbor on the other side, the neighbor got up during the performance and stood in the back behind us. We tried to listen to him also.

The only accompaniment was the organ (the choir director played the organ and brought in a guest conductor for the night). I’ve never liked organs, but after listening to Josiah play the overture on the piano for the last month, I could hear how the organ was able to bring out the big chords more effectively. The organist was great and for Josiah, it turned out to be a better learning experience for him to listen without an orchestra. He just followed the musical score and picked up some ideas.

Throughout the sing-a-long, the bass section was good, the sopranos a bit too much, and the tenors were weak (Josiah and I weren’t much help). The altos sounded terrific, and I was sad to not be sitting with my sisters and soaking up the “we’re sounding good” vibe.

Other than “For unto us a child is born,” “Glory to God,” and the “Hallelujah” chorus, my singing was a disaster. I was especially lamentable any time I had to sing a two syllable word such as revealed using 11 different notes.

Handel loved that trick.

For the sing-a-long, there were guest soloists. They were easy to spot since they were wearing tuxedos and formal gowns. Josiah remarked on how he is always tricked by who is the tenor and who is the bass. It just doesn’t seem right that the big tall round guy should be the tenor and the small thin guy should be the bass, but that’s how it is. The tenor was pretty good, the bass was good, and the mezzo soprano had trouble staying with the organ. Of the soloists, the soprano sang last. I must admit that I have no love for sopranos other than my sister Marie. They usually sound shrill to me. I gritted my teeth before she started to sing.

She opened her mouth and my jaw dropped. Wow! She was fabulous. For the first time that night, I looked up from following the score and just watched her sing. Her name is Lindsay Russell. She graduated from JMU and the Manhattan School of Music. Her voice sounded like it had a sustain pedal. She would be holding one note and start singing the next and it sounding like she was singing two notes at once. (The acoustics in the church were great.) She was much younger than most people in the room. I can’t imagine how they got someone so talented to sing for this local chorus and humble event.

Being Lutheran, I suspect they simply said, “If it’s not too much trouble then.”

Dec 04 2012

He Just Can’t Be Fancy

Posted by Mugs @ 1:22 pm in Family,school

Holiday party time started early for the Manrys. Gabe’s middle school Christmas party was on Friday night and the high school Christmas party was on Saturday. All three children decided to sport new looks for the grand galas. Josiah wore a new pair of glasses with his goatee and Abby had her hair swept up and a glamorous dress courtesy of the ever faithful AMJOROB salon.

What’s a mother to do when she has no style?

Find stylish friends.

Following through with his idea that “Maybe he’d be fancy,” Gabe wore a sport coat and tie to his party.

Although he looked fancy on the outside, Gabe can’t help but be Gabe.

At the party, there was a white elephant gift exchange and somehow Gabe managed to win a toilet bank that makes a flushing sound when you add coins.

So much for fancy.