Big Bands and Brisbane

Um… excuse me… but did you know Brisbane is beautiful? Seriously it is amazing… and that’s not just my frosted Melbourne heart talking. 23degrees in winter, beautiful buildings, incredible public spaces and it’s so clean. I love Melbourne, but Brisbane, it turns out is pretty great.

Dave, Isaac and I have just spent the long weekend up in Brisbane with the Salvo Big Band, Dave playing his Alto Sax (and a little bit of Clarinet) and me singing. We also had my Mum come up with us to help us take care of Isaac when both Dave and I were needed in the band… she was a total life saver. This trip not only crossed number 8 off Isaac’s list but it was also my first proper band tour. Previously I had travelled with the band to Sweden for the Salvation Army’s World Youth Convention in 2010 where the band performed but we also attended the convention. Since then we have missed a couple of trips due to our untimely trips into hospital, so in the lead up to this weekend I had been playing it very safe… determined not to end up missing out again.

The weekend was full on, with back to back gigs, but just like any camp or trip when you get to spend more time with people than you usually would it was also wonderful. There is something really nice about seeing people all day everyday, experiencing new places and events with them and getting to share your gifts and talents in combination with theirs and present them to people for the first time.

I find it really hard to write blogs like this without it quickly becoming my dreaded grade 5 journal piece… so in an attempt to avoid that I have summed it up into 5 little highlights… 5 might seem like a lot, but it was actually pretty hard to do.

1. Catch ups with family
I am lucky enough to be part of a big family… my mum is one of 6 kids and for as long as I can remember I have had at least one uncle/auntie living interstate or overseas. My Uncle Ken and Auntie Marg live in Brisbane, so it was the perfect opportunity to have a quick catch up between sets.

2. Singing in public 

Before our first performance on Saturday morning I hadn’t really given my role in the band a lot of thought. I had spent the week worrying about what I needed to take for myself and for Isaac. What the days would look like and what I needed to have ready for mum so that taking care of Isaac would be as easy as possible. I hadn’t thought about what I would be doing or where it would be happening from a personal performance perspective. I love to sing, really love to sing… and I love to sing with the Big Band, but I am often very quick to dismiss my contribution. I am not a trained singer as such, but have spent my life singing in church. Getting up in front of people I know and singing is usually more daunting that singing in front of those I don’t know… but when you put me out in the open… that’s another kettle of fish. Our first gig was in Queen Street Mall, right in the heart of Brisbane CBD. We performed after the Navy Band which made me a little more nervous than I would have liked, but I got up there and I sang, and more importantly I held my own. At the end of the weekend, after I had sung in the city, at a concert Fassifern, sung and lead worship at Carindale Salvation army and performed at both Westfield Garden City and Nudgee Secondary College, I was reminded that even just getting up to talk at many of these places is a huge deal for lots of people, for lots of reasons. Being able to sing, and sing well, is huge. I didn’t sing it all perfectly, and thankfully in jazz you can get away with some of that, but even just the fact that I had the courage to perform in such a public place is pretty amazing… and to my amazement, people seemed to enjoy it… I am pretty chuffed.

3. Isaac
 and his Nanna
Where do I start with this? A couple of months before we left my mum made a through away comment about coming to Brisbane with us to help with Isaac… Dave and I heard her and thought that actually that would be really helpful and rang her to find out if she was serious. Turns out she was… so up to QLD she came and my goodness me, was it great to have her there. One thing about having a baby that I haven’t quite adapted to yet is the fact that they need someone with them all the time… which means on a trip like this if Dave and I are both performing we need someone to look after him, or one of us doesn’t perform. Believe it or not, I can get very distracted by people, especially when I am in performance mode… which is not ideal when your husband is packing up his instruments and you are supposed to parenting. But having mum with us to fill the gaps, and more, was beyond amazing. Plus it was really nice to watch Isaac and her together… Isaac really loves his Nanna.

4. Nudgee College
NudgeeOn our final day of the trip the band spent some time at St Joseph’s Nudgee College. While we were we put on a concert and workshop for the grade 5 students. In the workshop the instrumental musicians from the band were dispersed through the schools grade 5 band to help them learn the new jazz techniques they were learning. It was so nice… actually I think pure joy is a better description to hear the difference in the band and watch the faces of the students as they achieved things they didn’t think they would be able to. Watching kids learn is one of my all time favourite things to do… wonder is an incredible gift.

5. Remembering why  

This weekend has also been a really good reminder as to why I am in the big band. The Salvo Big Band has a really unique opportunity to meet people in places that other salvo groups may not be able to go. To witness and bring the gift of music to people from all walks of life and to share in worship with corps and salvationists in places and in a style that is different from the everyday. The Band’s purpose is to shine light… and that’s what I think we have done this weekend… shone light, in both dark places and light places, but still light.

So that was my long weekend… now I need some sleep… well at least I can hope for sleep… I still have to parent 🙂

Farewell Orders

Today has been a funny old day, a real mixture of emotions.  Today was our farewell meeting for our current officers, or ministers, at church.   In the salvos this is something that happens fairly regularly, although not always atmy church, my corps.  Somewhere each year this same experience happens, but this is the first time in 5 years that Box Hill has experienced this change, and if I am honest it’s the first time it’s happened since I have been adult enough to really understand what it means.

Last time our officers changed I was 21, but in terms of my church life I was just really getting started, I had been attending for 21 years and I knew my leaders well, but mostly because they were friends with my parents.  5 years ago, I was just about to take on the children’s ministry leadership role and before this, I had done little bits and pieces around the corps but nothing huge.   I was doing my own thing, worrying about how it impacted me, and not really considering the role it played in the bigger picture… or who else it really impacted.

Now 5 years later, I have had lots of different leadership roles and grown up a little.  I have realised that while my officers and leaders are important, I play a role with them, I am also invested, it’s not just their jobs and my jobs, in a church… its our church,

our community and our ministry.  So today was the first time I had to say goodbye to leaders I had worked with, side by side, people who had supported me and helped me to grow in my faith, and in using my skills and talents for the kingdom in way that I could understand and appreciate now as an adult.


The thing is, while this is a sad time, it is also the beginning of something new as we welcome new leaders to our church, to our team, our community and ministry.  And while it is hard to say goodbye, without goodbye there can be no new chapter, this season must come to an end so that the next one can start… and this is an exciting thing, new ideas, fresh vision and a change… but change is hard… and right now I am sitting in the middle… and it feels a little uncomfortable.  But regardless of how I feel, it is going to happen… so I wanted to take a minute to write it all out… share the impact Greg and Priya have had on my life and how much I have valued, their wisdom, support, friendship, love and sacrifice.  They have seen the best and worst of my life, from family rough patches to marrying my prince charming, from finishing my education to moving out of home and starting adult life.  They have been there for it all and I have appreciated their input more than I can express in a simple thank you blog.  I hope that their next chapter is an incredible one, and that God will bless them abundantly.

I am looking forward to the next chapter at Box Hill, I know God still has big things in store and as a wise principle from my high school days drilled into me… it’s not good, it’s not bad… it’s just different.

The Curse of the Timbrel

I have discovered something truly terrifying… My timbrel hands have crossed over to Zumba… don’t know what I am talking about? Well hold on your hats…

This is a timbrel:

Well a timbrel with a CD in it… you may recognise these from the Salvation Army… or the time those two old ladies played the timbrel on Britain’s got talent and argued with Simon about the difference between timbrels and tambourines… which if you happened to watch that, you will now know that timbrels have two rows of small cymbals and Tambourines have one… but I digress (but if you would like to continue this tangent here is the link…).

The timbrel is used kind of like rhythmic gymnastics… it’s a little weird and sometimes uncomfortable to watch, but if you do it right it can look very impressive.  As a younger girl in the Salvation Army I was in the timbrel brigade… that is the timbrel performance group, where we played rhythms on the timbrel with timed choreography to mostly brass band music, but occasionally something that was a little more out there… like worship music.

Now, even though I haven’t really given it much credit so far… I loved playing the timbrel, and I still do, although now I only really play at Christmas time to the Mariah Carey version of Joy to the world… again I digress… When learning to play the timbrel one of the most important things… as any timbrel leader (or sergeant, depends how army you want to be) will tell you (myself included) is that when playing the timbrel your must tuck the thumbs of your non-timbrel hand in otherwise it looks sloppy.  I will admit I learnt this the hard way, by having my uncontrollable thumbs bandaid’ed in place by my leader (who was also my aunty).  But since then as soon as I pick up a timbrel my left thumb automatically tucks.

I thought that this automatic tucking was specific to the timbrel but this is where I made my terrifying discovery.  At Zumba we did a dance… routine… fitness extravaganza… strange semi-co-ordinated movements, which required us to put our hands in the air and then back down… if I was a stick figure… I would look something like this:

It was during this that I made my terrifying discovery, unlike everyone else who just puts their open hand in the air… mine tucked…

And I looked like an idiot… the worst bit is I can’t do it the other way… with just an open hand it feels wrong… and it wasn’t just my non-timbrel hand that tucked… but both… yes both…

I am not really sure what I am going to do about this, but it appears for the time being I am stuck with timbrel hands… even at Zumba… no bandaids required anymore.

P.S  I just discovered that if you feel like you have missed the boat and you too really want timbrel hands… well you are in luck, there are some instructional videos… so you can learn in the comfort of your own home…just click here… seriously check them out… you know you want to.

Moments of Love

Day 13: A moment that filled you with love

On May 14th 2011 I married my prince charming… now even though it was 10months ago tomorrow, because I started my blog in July I have never really posted about the day itself… I have given a 6month update on ‘Being Mrs. George’ but never the wedding day itself, so I have decided it’s time and because I really wanted to I have found an opportunity to make it fit perfectly… what has more moments filled with love than a wedding….  so here it is….

I was going to try and write this blog without being too mushy and soap opera like, but then I decided that I didn’t care… so feel free to tune out if you don’t have the stomach for it, but the reality is we are a fairytale and my dreams have come true… I got to be a real princess for the day and Dave was every bit my prince charming and still is… So here is my Wedding Day broken down into moments filled with love…

Moment One – The Night Before
So this one isn’t technically on the wedding day, but it is just as important.  The night before we got married Dave and I had been down at the church setting up what we could for the big day to follow, once we were done we said goodnight and headed off in separate directions.  Being the stress head of a person that I am, by this stage I was beginning to get really nervous.  Getting married is a huge decision and I was worried I would back a bad choice (I know that i shouldn’t have been worried, because there is really no one quite like Dave, but I was), anyway as I drove home, I started getting sentimental about the fact that this was my last night at home, my last night under my parents roof and my last night as a Lewis, despite the fact that I had had over a year to get used to the idea… As I walked to the door I noticed a present on the door step.  It was from Dave, the accompanying letter told me that he was so excited about getting married and that what we had was a once in a life time love and that I shouldn’t be worried, I should just go inside and go to sleep, but before I do I was to watch a particular song on the ‘Keith Urban’ DVD that was the present.  I had to watch the song ‘Once in a life time’, which would feature in the wedding tomorrow, because the lyrics explained how he felt. The lyrics he was referring to were those of the first verse…

“I can see it in your eyes and feel it in your touch,
I know that your scared but you’ve never been this loved.”

It was exactly what I needed to hear and as I feel asleep listening, I rember feeling like I was ready to get married, that it would all be ok, because I really was loved more than I would ever understand.

Moment Two – Getting Ready
Nothing makes your feel more princess like than the way you get pampered on the morning of your wedding.  We were up nice and early and ate breakfast while we watched it pour down with rain outside.  Over night there had been huge storms, but it seemed that nothing could phase me, in fact it;s probably one of the few times that I have been completely unphased about the details of something.  I had planned everything down to the minute so I knew what to do and when to do it, anything outside of this didn’t matter or was a bonus.  In fact fact I was so care free that I forgot to go to my hair appointment… but it was all ok and at about 10:30 my little tiara went on and stayed on.  As I had my hair and make up done, I just soaked it up, as I got dressed and started having photos done I was so aware of how happy and excited everyone was, how much my parents loved me, how much my girls loved me and how much fun we were about to have. It was so special to spend that time with them, busy getting ready, but relaxed enough to enjoy, to laugh, smile and have fun.  As we arrived at the church Kirsten suggested that we prayed together before I started the process of becoming Mrs George.  This moment was so overwhellimg that I was crying before I even saw Dave, but I was just so conscious of being surrounded by people that loved me and wanted nothing bt the best for me.

Moment Three – The Ceremony
Dave and I got married at the Church that I grew up in which is where we both attend… this meant that people I had grown up with and in front of were able to come and witness this next step for us.  There were so many more people there than I ever thought there would be, all to cheer us one and be part of our special day.  The ceremony was fun, light, and romantic… well I thought so anyway.  I can’t even begin to explain how overwhelming it was to get to the church, all dressed up and to see the man of my dreams waiting for only me.  During the ceremony we reflected on the 6 years we had already spent together through photos and publicly declared our love for each other.  There were tears and laughter and music… perfect.

Moment Four – The Party
After the service we had a million pictures taken, and then headed to the Langham Hotel for our wedding reception which was even more magical then we could have ever hoped for… it was as Dave said when we chose it “where princesses should get married’.  The room looked beautiful and the evening was so much fun.  Everyone was so excited and happy for us, it was really special to have most of the people that had helped us get to where we were today, and become the people that we are in one room, celebrating with you.  It was so much fun that I didn’t really want to leave, I had to be pushed out.

Everything on our wedding day went super smoothly and we loved every minute of it… The story itself doesn’t really even do it justice, but they say that a picture is worth a thousand words so here are some of my favourite pictures taken by our amazing photographer Kelly, from Alexroad Photography.

I think the best bit about the day though, and something that still makes me have a moment filled with love whenever I think about it, is the fact that Dave and I left the wedding day stuck together for life.  Dave is more than I could have ever hoped for and I am very excited to be the most curious George, by name and nature.  And while I think of it, I need to and want to say thanks to all of you who have helped us get to where we are now… it has been an incredible journey so far but I know this is a journey that which we are really  just starting.

Nothing of so much importance

Day 10: Love doing nothing

It’s not that often that I get to do nothing… I am used to being busy, running around at 100km an hour just to get things done, but this year I have made an effort to make more time, mostly in preparation for heading back to study (which is still a couple of weeks away).  It has been hard giving up good things and saying no to things that I would love to do, but I know that I have made the right choice.

Anyway, through my new found power of saying no, and while I wait for the year to come at me in full swing… which I am pretty sure is not too far off, I have found that I have had time to just sit and do things that I enjoy, like read or watch a movie, or even cross things of my list.  And I have really enjoyed it.  So tonight when I was asked to ‘love doing nothing’ Dave and I did just that, we ordered fish and chips and spent time reading and watching movies on TV.  It was exactly what I needed after a particularly hectic day at work.  It made me realise just how important it is to stop… a little like at church last Sunday or at the young adults retreat a couple of weeks ago.  There is definitely a time for stopping and enjoying.  I know we can’t do it all the time, but I think it helps us to put things into perspective.  Gives us a chance to enjoy what we have rather than continuing to burn ourselves out trying to get more. It also gives me a chance to recharge and refresh so that I can do what I need to do with all I am, rather than the little bit that I still have left.  I think as my life starts to get busy again I am going to need to book in some time for myself to do nothing, to stop and focus and most importantly recharge.

Soak it up

Day 5: Do something you love

Tonight was the second night service for the year, and I am really glad that it was because it was most definitely my ‘do something you love’.  I love being there.  When there is no night service through January, while I enjoy the decrease in responsibility, there is a bit of a hole in my life.  I know that church isn’t the be all and end all of my faith, but I also know that it is a super important part, gathering together, sharing, learning and growing together.  It’s not perfect, but that’s because it made of imperfect people… but there is a lot of love and it’s good.

Tonight I was really encouraged by the honesty of the worship and in fact the whole service, it was real, not a show, or a routine, but passionate, honest and simple… it’s moments like that that I wish I could just stop time and soak it up.  I don’t think I stop often enough to just sit and be still in the presence of God.  But I know it’s something that I need to do more often… because it’s good… really really good.

This year our church, in particular this service and the youth and young adults bit, is going through yet another transition time but I am really excited about what’s about to happen, and hopefully the lives that will be changed with it and through it, including my own as I continue to grow and become closer and closer to the person that God wants me to be.  I am glad to be a part of the army, and to call this place my spiritual home, I know it is where I am meant to be and am glad that it will continue to be my ‘do something you love’ for a long long time to come.

Boundless Salvation

Commissioning is a massive Salvofest and being the salvo junkie I am, I love it… almost every minute of it.  Yesterday as part of this year’s commissioning service we sang my favourite army song.  It’s one that lots of people tolerate and often don’t enjoy, mainly because it has seven verses, seven long verses.  And the salvos that read this will probably already know what song I am talking about, but I really love it.  The song is called ‘O Boundless Salvation’ and is commonly referred to as the ‘founder’s song’ and I have loved it from the moment I first heard it a number of years ago… I think one of the reasons I love it so much is that the words reflect so much of my experience, in fact I would probably go so far as to say it’s my testimony written by someone else.

So I thought that today I would put up the verses that ring most true to me as an ongoing reminder of where I have come from and where I want to be going… so that perhaps when I look back at this in years to come I will be able to give myself either a pat on the back or a kick in the pants…  chances are though in years to come the words will still ring true…

Verse 4:
Now tossed with temptation,
then haunted with fears,
My life has been joyless and useless for years;
I feel something better most surely would be
If once thy pure waters,
if once thy pure waters,
If once thy pure waters would roll over me.

Verse 6:
The tide is now flowing,
I’m touching the wave,
I hear the loud call of the Mighty to Save;
My faith’s growing bolder, delivered I’ll be;
I plunge ’neath the waters, I plunge ’neath the waters,
I plunge ’neath the waters they roll over me.

Verse 7:
And now, hallelujah! the rest of my days
Shall gladly be spent in promoting His praise
Who opened His bosom to pour out this sea
Of boundless salvation, of boundless salvation,
Of boundless salvation for you and for me.