Of the Ages and All Ages

My family attended a home church for several years when I was in middle school. I was a new believer, and very passionate. Our church did not have many musicians, so unless someone brought their guitar, most weeks we worshiped with printed out lyrics to a CD of worship music put together by one of the men in the group.

One week we were singing the song “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin. I enthusiastically sang with my eyes closed until I realized that no one else was still singing. I realized that everyone was watching me and laughing. While at the time, I was embarrassed, I realized later that they weren’t laughing because I was “doing it wrong;” they were laughing because they were happy to see me excited to worship.


Psalm 71 demonstrates the power of multi-generational worship. It says: “Oh God, you have taught me from my youth, and to this day I declare your wondrous works” (Psalm 19:17). Training in righteousness and praise does not begin when a worshiper reaches adulthood, but starts from youth.

The psalmist goes on to say that even when “I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare your strength to this generation, your power to everyone who is to come” (Psalm 19:18). This is witnessing, which Harold best describes as “overheard worship.”[1] Sharing the delights of worshiping God is a joy without age limits, but Scripture describes it as unique in old age, because it shows the longevity of God’s faithfulness.

Multigenerational is right and beautiful, but how do we encourage it? Multigenerational worship requires worshipers to become servants of each other, by using music that represents different generations, and not just the worship leader’s musical preference.   

When Paul and Timothy urge the Philippians to be like-minded, one characteristic is to “each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4). What is a better picture of this than when we sing to one another? When worship leaders select music, they should seek music not just from their own generation’s songbook, but some from that of the senior saints, and some from that of the youth.

If I am singing music that is not my favorite stylistically so someone else can worship authentically, I am submitting my interests to the interests of others. When I only choose music that is my favorite, I am making my preferences into my god.

So next time that you see a young child worshiping, let it be a reminder of the joy of growing in godliness. If you see a senior saint worshiping, remember that God’s faithfulness is not a passing fancy. When you see them worshiping together, remember the gift of unity we have in Christ Jesus.


[1] Harold Best, Music through the Eyes of Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), 203.

Music as Gift

When I’m having a bad day, I often listen to sad music and let myself feel sad for a while. Then I turn on a “bop” and try to use the music to give myself an emotional shot of happiness. When I’m walking through campus on the way from a long class to a longer class, I tend to turn on an upbeat song and dance my way there to get a burst of energy and enthusiasm.

In our culture, we often use music as a way to express our emotions (I am sad), and to shape our emotions (I am enthusiastic). This can be a blessing, but it can also be a danger to us. The danger of individual emotion-driven music is that it often excludes the idea that music is a gift we give.

If I only choose to listen to music that gives me an emotional experience, I miss the opportunity to listen to music that is special to someone else as a gift. I also lose a chance to give the gift of expression to a friend, because I’m not thinking about what would serve them.

This idea can leak into how we view corporate worship. When we attempt to evaluate a worship service by how it affects our emotions, we are treating it like we would a concert. Our goal should be serving others, not being served by music.

Individual music is not inherently bad. But we should evaluate how we treat music, and whether we let our individual preferences trump corporate growth. If I dislike a song that serves the Church because it doesn’t give me a certain emotional reaction, I am making music into my servant rather that being a servant of God and his Church.[1]

So what can we do about this? A good first step is to ask: whom can I serve by learning about their music? I can affirm a culture that is different than mine by affirming what is good about its music, especially if I need to work to enjoy it. This also includes how I sing songs in corporate worship that are not comfortable for me.

If I only listen to music that gives me the emotions that I want, my music will reflect and strengthen only my own emotions and thoughts.But when I sacrifice my own preferences to someone else’s heart music, I have a chance to serve them and express truth that is fuller and deeper than I could ever experience on my own.


[1]See also Harold Best, Music: Through the Eyes of Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), 175-6.

Satisfied

I started with good intentions for the semester. I set myself some hard goals to keep moving forward in the areas I love (see the unfortunately flopped Tea House Trials), but I had some unexpected harder commitments. This is when I started to have trouble getting everything done. But I wouldn’t stop saying yes. 

Several people tried to warn me about doing too much at once. My mom told me to cut out some commitments, but I wanted to stay in everything to be consistent. Some friends told me I wasn’t looking well (not harshly, but worried for my health). I ignored them. I had the choice to say no to more commitments, to stop working for a while, to rest rather than try to have the best grade. But I chose to say yes to more and more, rather than saving yes for the most important things.

This revealed a greater heart problem than being too busy.  I realized thatI wanted satisfaction from what I could do, rather than from Jesus.This theme was made clear to me in Hebrews.  The book shows how Jesus is above everyone from angels to Moses. It shows how Jesus is highly exalted above all things. Then, Hebrews 13:5 says: Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself [Jesus] has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” If the Lord of all was not enough for me, I was missing His character. When I chose to glorify work rather than God, I was putting my satisfaction in what I could do, rather than the Lord I served. I was worshiping work. 

This is how I want to grow. I want to honor the Lord by saying no to over commitment that harms my health and steals my time from everything else. I want to be satisfied in Jesus, not in what I can do. So moving forward, my prayer is to see Jesus as ever more valuable and satisfying. Work is a gift, but the Lord is the Giver (James 1:16-18). And He is far more satisfying. 

 

How to Read Books for College

In college, there tends to be a lot of required (or strongly recommended) reading. Whether there are regular reading quizzes, book reviews due, or information for finals, there is always something to read, and being able to do it as efficiently and effectively as possible is important. With that, here are my tips for reading through college-assigned books:

How to Plan for Reading:

Have a plan.

If you have a specific goal and a specific plan to go with it, your process will be far easier than trying to panic-read at the last minute. For example, if you have to read a 10 chapter book and write a 5 page response, and you have 6 weeks, until it’s due, you can break it up this way:

-Week 1. Read first 3 chapters, and make notes.
-Week 2. Read 3 more chapters, and make notes.
-Week 3. Finish book, and make notes on the last few chapters.
-Week 4. Compile your most important thoughts together.
-Week 5. Write your first draft, and get feedback from writing center and/or professor.
-Week 6. Edit and submit.

Compare the above plan to the no-plan version:
-Week 1. Read first chapter.
-Week 2. Do nothing.
-Week 3. Do nothing.
-Week 4. Do nothing.
-Week 5. Realize that the project is due. Do nothing.
-Week 6. Total panic and last minute cramming.

Set a timer.

One of the quickest ways to ruin your reading time is getting distracted. Decide how much time you need to spend on reading, and set a timer for that long. Keep reading until you’re finished, or your timer goes off. During this time, have your phone/social stuff turned off or silenced, and don’t let yourself do anything else. Your focus will be so much stronger, and you’ll find that you get through reading much faster.

Pick some background noise.

If I am in a seperate room from everyone, and just need to filter out weird sounds (say, the dishwasher, distant conversations, tea boiling), I like brown noise or rain sounds. If I’m in the room with other people, I like to do calming music with words to cover the sounds of conversations (typically something by Ella Fitzgerald). You might be different. This is a good time for experimenting. Try some soundtrack music one day, and white noise or something similar the next day. What works best for you? Don’t choose music that you want to start belting whenever you hear it; remember: the point is to be less distracted.

How to Read for Learning:

 

Read with the end in mind.

This will help with the first tip. If you’re writing a review, think about the main points, and whether or not you agree with them. If you’re writing for a test, think about what might me on said test. Also, pay extra attention to sections that relate to parts of lectures. If your professor talks about a specific composer, and your textbook has a section on that same composer, it may be worth a second read-through.

Take notes as you read.

I will use a pencil and underline important quotes, write in questions or one-sentence thoughts, and other pertinent thoughts (thanks to Amy Crider for getting me started on this one!). Then, when I’m looking back at the book later, I can easily find what I want to talk about.

Underline or circle information or points that line up with your goal (see tip one of this section). With books that have exams coming up, for example, underline or circle important names, dates, and ideas, so that you can find it for studying later. This method saves much pain in the future, even if it seems weird at first.

There you have it. Those are my top tips for reading effectively for college. What are your favorite ways to read more effectively? I would love to hear about them in the comments section!

2017: An Honest Evaluation

I put goals in two categories. Either they are passing successes (only achieved if I complete the goal exactly as I had it written) or they are a total failure. Since I seldom deem anything perfect, my goal evaluations are mostly negative and discouraging.

I don’t want this to happen this year. I want to look at 2017 honestly. I want to enjoy the success and learn from the downfalls. So that’s what I’m going to do today. Here’s how I did on my goals from 2017:

 

  1. The Reading Challenge. I ended up reading 33 books from the main list, plus 5 from the advanced list (I couldn’t help myself). I learned about some new genres, especially steampunk, found some new favorite authors, and had some laughs about terrible books that I read just for the challenge. I also read some books that didn’t fit on the list, just because I wanted to try them. Overall, the challenge helped me with what I wanted, which was consistent reading even when I was busy and an expanded reading repertoire.
  2. The Writing Challenge. I did not do this well. I think my biggest problem was finding a time to consistently write every day. If I try something like this again, I should figure out a better system before I begin.
  3. Anne’s Earworms. This was a fun way to find new things to write about. Although I only wrote 29 Earworms. I enjoyed trying to find new artists and songs, and finding interesting ways to talk about old ones. I want to keep doing these posts, so I can improve in consistency and in creativity.
  4. The Bible in a Year. I did it! I had to do some catch up days, but I completed the Bible in a year. With this I wanted to prove to myself that I could, to grow closer to God, and to learn more about the Bible. This upcoming year I think I’ll do a different Bible reading plan, but this one was awesome.
  5. Audible. This challenge was an unqualified success. I loved listening to audiobooks, and I found a few series that I listened through. Even now I’m still listening, currently swimming in a fantastic reading of Sherlock Holmes.

 

Overall, I did well on my goals. I have room to improve, and successes to celebrate, and I’m ready to move on to a few new goals. The biggest problem I had in 2017 was having too many goals to balance, so I’ve decided to cut back from so many year-long goals and try a few quarterly goals. Here are my three goals for January, February, and March of 2018:

 

  1. Find and complete a new Bible study. Since my school semester is starting up again in a couple weeks, I want to find something to keep me in the Bible even when I get busy.
  2. Read for 20 minutes. 6 days a week. This will help me continue to grow my mind and stay relaxed.
  3. Raise $8,000. I am currently saving money for a study abroad program to Salzburg in the summer, and I’m also saving to stay in college debt-free. Because of this, I’m trying to raise some money by teaching, hosting murder mystery parties, and the like.

 

What are your 2018 goals? I would love to hear about them in the comments!

 

On Making Cards

David had an awesome habit of writing me sweet notes. He would recruit my mom to help him actually write the words

This week is my first week off from school (yay!), so I decided to go through a large box of papers that has been growing for years. I expected to just get rid of old school papers and laugh at all of the things I thought I would still need in 10 years. I was completely surprised.

Since I was old enough to keep papers, I kept many cards that people gave me. Some are for Birthdays, some are get-well cards or thank-you cards, and some are just-thinking-about-you notes. At the time, I kept them because I wanted to have a lot of papers and be mature, but now I’m realize just how valuable these cards are to me.

Some of the cards are from people that I haven’t seen in several

A thank you card from my French teacher. Not surprisingly, this one is in French.

years; some are from people that I see every day. But even the ones from people I may never see again are encouraging to me. My teacher wrote me a thank-you card in French for a plant that I got her at the end of the year. I haven’t seen her since I stopped taking French (3 years ago), but the card reminded me that I could do crazy things, like learn French, and reminded me of my desire to travel to new places.

The cards from my family help me to appreciate them more. My brother David used to write me sweet notes all of the time just to be sweet, and reading them again reminds me to love my siblings every day, not just on special occasions or when I feel like it.

 

Finding these cards encouraged me to write cards intentionally. They don’t just represent days that people are obligated to write cards. They represent relationships, people who care enough to take time out of their lives to encourage someone else. They are wonderful on the day you receive them, but can also be treasured years down the road.

Our family did a “Regency Week.” We all tried to speak in authentic Regency era speech, and this was a note from my sister in that style.
An encouragement from a mentor on my 16th Birthday

If you’re a card-writer, be encouraged. You might have even more impact than you realize. If you’re not, now would be a good time to start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Fall Break List

This week is my fall break. I’m looking forward to enjoying some out of the ordinary activities, but I don’t want to let break fly by without accomplishing anything or getting proper rest. I often end up frustrated because I’m either not doing enough or I’m doing to much. So this break, I’m planning out what I’m going to do more than I have in the past. I’ve organized the things I want to do into three categories:

  1. Family time. This one is super important. Even though I live at home, it’s hard to balance time with family with school, teaching, homework, music, and church. For this category, I’m trying to have some one-on-one time with each of my family members this week.
  2. Odd jobs. This category includes things like larger school projects (I have three papers to write this week), home projects (like giving my room a thorough cleaning), and weird random tasks (like making up some shampoo or whatever I have on the “I don’t know where this goes” list).
  3. Just a break. It’s called a break, so I might as well take a break. If I don’t plan ahead for resting, rest time becomes a work-myself-into-an-frenzy time. A new thing that I want to do during my recreation time this break is spending some time worshiping through enjoying his creation. One of the ladies in my public speaking class gave an excellent speech on this topic, so I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.
This break, I want to spend time doing things that I enjoy, without freaking out because I’m not being productive enough for my myself. Whenever you have your next break, I hope this list helps you plan your break better, and enjoy it more.

Why I Chose Boyce

I wrote this essay as an entry for the academic excellence scholarship at Boyce. The topic assigned was “the importance of theological education,” but I didn’t have much to say on the formal education side. With the help of my mom and an amazing English teacher, this paper was born. I hope you enjoy it:

Why I chose Boyce, by Anne Russell

I do not think that Boyce is for everyone. I do not need to go to a college campus to learn theology. I grew up homeschooled, and my parents taught me how to study the Bible, and how to learn from books without supervision. For me, Boyce isn’t about the information and books. I can find good books online, or by looking at the library. I go to Boyce because of the professors.

The first dual credit class I took at Boyce was with Dr. Crider. Dr. Crider taught me that a personal pursuit of holiness is one of the best gifts you can give to the people you serve. He also leads the chapel orchestra. By watching how he talked about the music and how he prayed for the group, I have learned that even instrumental parts can be acts of worship and to treat every part as important.

I took several classes with Dan DeWitt. From Dr. DeWitt, I learned that not everyone who disagrees with me is foolish, and that two intelligent people can look at the same evidence and have two different conclusions. Because of Dan DeWitt, I can love Alex Rosenburg’s book The Atheist’s Guide to Reality and think of it as a brilliant book, even while I disagree with it. I have lost the insecurity that demands that I belittle other points of view.

From Mrs. Crider, I didn’t only learn how to write a paper, I learned how to love words and to long to do my best at everything I did. I learned the value of asking for help because she was (and is) always willing to help me when I had writing problems.

From Dr. Lewis, I learned that growth requires intentional change. I learned to care more for other people: to take time to talk to them and learn about them, to rejoice when they did well, to invite them into my life. From him, I learned that it is more important to do my best than to be the best compared to everyone else. I learned to appreciate when other people did well, rather than feel jealous or sad.

From all of the professors who took time to invest in me, I learned the power of investing. I have grown so much in learning to be friendly because I saw how kindness and genuine interest in other people can transform their lives. My teachers have done much for me, and I long to do more for others.

I can find books on my own. I can find sermons online, and learn music theory from YouTube. I can learn theology by reading theology books. Theological education is important to me, but I do not love Boyce because of what I’m learning; I love it because of the people that teach me.

Will I Ever Learn? – July Goals

I’ve made it through another exciting month. I’m a little annoyed with myself right now, but I’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s focus on the positive:

 

To start, I read some great books this month. I read Audacious by Beth Moore, a fabulous book about God’s love for us and our response. It was mind-blowing. I also read Julia Child: A Life (I wrote a review of this one) and finished The Sea of Monsters. I also read some books that don’t fit on my reading challenge list including Red Queen, Manners and Mutiny, a couple more Percy Jackson books, and Prudence (which I wouldn’t recommend because of some inappropriate content.) It’s been a good month for reading.

 

I have continued reading on Audible, and have continued with my Bible reading plan. So why am I frustrated with myself? I am completely failing my writing challenge. For the past few months, I’ve been telling myself: “This is the month that will change everything. I will take down this writing challenge like a boss.” But do I do it? No. Also, I clearly have not posted any blog posts in the past two weeks. Ugh.

 

Not only am I annoyed with myself, I’m also exhausted from the emotional effort of getting re-inspired every month. So this is it. The month when I give up actually do something specific. To solve the problem, I’m going to see what I’ve been doing wrong the past few months, and do the opposite this month.

 

  1. I haven’t picked a set time to do this. When I wanted to start taking vitamins every day, I kept forgetting until I decided to do it every morning before I went down for breakfast. I’ve left writing out of a routine, and I’m suffering for it. Solution: I’m going to write after I finish my quiet time every day.
  2. I haven’t made a specific commitment. “I’m going to change everything” isn’t very helpful. “I’m going to write every morning for X days” can be much more helpful.

Ok, here’s my new and improved goal: I’m going to write every morning as part of my routine for 90 days in a row. It could be hard, especially since school is starting in less than two weeks, but I’m committed now. 90 days will help me make it into a habit, instead of a wish.

 

So here’s to second chances and new habits. Tomorrow is day one. And in the words of an unknown person: “One day or day one. You decide.”

Julia Child: A Life

At my mother’s recommendation, I just read the book Julia Child: A Life, by Laura Shapiro. This was a great book, and not just because I learned a few new facts. It showed me a real person. I read a book about Amelia Earhart near the beginning of this year and was disappointed. Even though Amelia Earhart was a fascinating person, I never connected with her through the book. The book gave a bunch of facts about her life, and completely neglected showing a bit of personality. Unlike that boring book, Julia Child gave me a real idea of who Julia Child was: a master chef, a passionate lover of her husband, a friend to millions of people. I wanted to hear more about Julia, not less.

 

Hearing about a woman who inspired so many, and did so much in her life inspired me. Julia was constantly learning, from learning basic

My croissants right before they went in the oventechniques to trying many different recipes for a dish to find the best one. I want to learn like that. I want to be open to new ideas, and to hard work. Julia was also daring, publishing Mastering the Art of French Cooking at age 49, refusing to accept anything less than the best from the book. This inspired me to make croissants, which wasn’t nearly as daunting as writing a book, was still a scary 12+ hour process.

 

 

 

Julia Child: A Life was a fantastic book which I would highly recommend. If you get the chance to read it, you will not be disappointed.