Backlog

Backlog of seasons. Life recap.

First I was good and lovely and life was wonderful because I was good and lovely.

Then I got mean and horrible and empty and I wondered what happened and what it all meant and why I was so helpless. See previous post.

After that I got caught up in some theological thunderstorm which made me question everything I ever knew and wonder some more about life and God and sovereignty and free will.

Now, I have been eased out of my own head and delivered from a week of serving twice in various capacities for worship in the most understated but loving way possible.

I know God is trying to say something here and I’m not quite sure what it is exactly yet, but let me try anyways.

It was something about faith and trust.

Yes, there is human agency to a point. Yes, God can sustain this relationship without us because He is completely complete in and of Himself and He never needed us in that sense. But yes, He still wants us and have this relationship with us fallen, failed people who do have an agency to an extent.

It was easier to see this abstract concept in the workings of serving for worship.

God gave me songs really early last week for school and it was a pretty good set based on feedback. He saw me through the session and blessed all my relationships and moved people and rested His presence in that place. God’s sovereignty. I still had to pray over it and transpose and print chords to make sure they were singable and do techy music things and write devos and do briefings and actually be there and lead. My part of the partnership.

It’s a two-way thing.

God helped me to do homework and prep for service this week. He gave me sounds for the songs and more music techy help from friends and encouragement and affirmation from experienced older people. God’s work. I had to do the homework and write/memorize/practice and be there at prac. My work.

It’s a line I’m still figuring out. Worship is. Life is. It’s so difficult to remember and to keep the balance.

I never know how to take the “you did good” comments because I’m like yeaaa noo I dunnoo it was me but it wasn’t all me and like I dunno I shouldn’t/can’t take all the credit and it’s iffy. And I kinda don’t wanna fall into the “my music competency = my identity/self-worth” and be too overly proud/happy about it.

I still screwed up here and there and I want to reach a point where even though I didn’t play play perfect, I still know and feel legit as part of the worship team to share my feels in confidence.

This recent worship experience was something else. He didn’t let me panic even though my head kind of ‘wanted’ to (you know how you feel that you’re more in control when you worry, that kind of thing). Like it was telling me I should and I was worried that I wasn’t as worried as I thought I should be. It felt weird. Because I felt it so strongly that He had put His foot down and He absolutely did not allow me to worry. Even though I wanted to and felt like I had to.

I found a kind of understated joy in serving this week. In doing homework. In being musically aware while not emphasizing on the music. It wasn’t all about music techy stuff. I don’t know how to say. Like it wasn’t the high euphoric kind of thing. It was just in the doing. And I wasn’t exactly in the best place spiritually either. Was still easing out of my confusions so in retrospect, I was just going into it really relying on God. And He did something amazing this week.

I’m still trying to understand and wrap my head around it. Cos it was an experience. And I’m a word person. I’m a “God pls speak to me through the Bible in black and white so that I can like remember this is the way to go/live.” I want to understand stuff. I want to understand God.

But I think there are limits to understanding someone as big as God, not w this lil brain of mine. And what’s more important is knowing God, knowing Him as a person, that friend who’s got your back.

Still, even though now I’m basking in how amazing God, I’m still like “God can you please do a debrief in words so that I know I’ve got you right and can no how to live/move on from here pls.” Haha.

No words. Thanks God.

Impervious

When you wish to leave where you are

and nothing moves you

the one time you wish to be tossed by waves

and you find that nothing can touch you

When even the softest strains of a song eludes you

and all that you are is found in silence

nothing can reach you where you are

But at the end of the day

you realise that there are no words

for that which does not need to be said

Borrow from the mouths of others

Sing them like they belong to you

Meet them where they were

Follow them where they went

Everyone has so much in common 

Strangers stop being strangers

They are merely passing reflections

of who you were, who you are, who you could be

Let it come from the heart

Only what is inside can break through that which is 

impervious

On Worship

I don’t even know how, where to begin.

Just a short one on worship again, so I don’t forget.

I served on keys again this Sunday. I usually only serve once a month, but I was covering somebody else this week. So.

I’m usually kinda flustered/frantic when my week comes around, depending on the set etc. I literally become a headless chicken. The last time I served, there were too many things going on. I just died at prac. But after feeling like crap on that Saturday, I just knew it’ll be ok on Sunday. I don’t know how. It didn’t stop me from feeling like a poop the rest of the day, but on Sunday, I was feeling like a million bucks, shiny and hopeful, because I just kind of knew God would see me through it. And He did. And I played loads better on Sunday, or at least, well enough to give me the headspace I needed to worship worship, not just play.

That week, on Saturday, I just felt really humbled. It had been something like six months since I played, and all the time in UK, at the church, I always thought that I played better than whoever it was that was serving. I kind of knew that nah, my playing wasn’t that worth talking about but, I dunno. I still gravitate to thinking I’m all there, maybe cos ego. But yeah. So after that prac, I was brought to my knees before God, and I felt Him prompt me to trust Him, not on my efforts or on my flesh (of which I had not much to offer anyway), but to trust Him, even if I crash and burn on Sunday like I did at prac.

If I win, I praise you. If I lose, I praise you.

I’ve always wanted to pray this prayer, but when it comes down to it, it was really hard to do. It came from the Christian film, Facing the Giants, I think, and this prayer always stuck with me. I wanted to have this mentality, this posture of worship, despite music and keys and stuff like that. I wanted to be strong enough to wholeheartedly believe that even if I screwed up on Sunday, I would still be able to praise Him for who He is. Cos it’s not about me. It never was. But I would still have liked to play a part for His work.

It was really hard to pray that. It still is. Thankfully, He met me where I was and just poured Himself out so abundantly on me. It wasn’t like I suddenly played amazingly excellently, but I just played enough, enough to know that it wasn’t just me or my efforts, enough to usher His people into His presence, which was the point of what I was doing anyway. To serve.

Maybe He thought I wasn’t ready to actually be tested in the if I lose I’ll praise you part. He is so gracious.

This week’s experience was different, kind of like, in a good way. The set was much more chill, my parts were mostly pads, strings, atmospheric stuff. I wasn’t too stressed up about it technic-wise, compared to the past time I served, where I had to learn specific riffs to play as closely to the recording as possible. So not that much stress.

We practiced on Saturday, and I thought it was a pretty good prac. I felt like I didn’t have to try so hard this week, that since I had the space, I could experiment and put a little thought in the different sounds I wanted to use, trying to fit the different ranges and riffs in the song, and overall just being more mindful of what I was doing, all the time keeping that space for pure worship. It was a good head space, and it was the most peaceful I’ve felt about worship for a while. It was one of those weeks. Still, I felt like I could have worshipped more. A bit caught up in technicalities. Sunday service worked out well. I kind of zoned out a bit, like I couldn’t go further, and I think it was because I didn’t like my sound and I couldn’t change it/get my head around it. Never had this problem on Saturday. But oh wells.

Because it was such a chill set, or less stressful anyhow than the last time, I wasn’t really like committing everything into His hands, like how I did. I thought I could handle it, and I think I did reasonably well. But once again, I was reminded that despite myself and everything I had to offer, I was to trust Him. Even when I think I got it all, I have to trust Him.

Both extremes are hard to do. Honestly. When you don’t have it all down, it’s hard to trust Him, and then when you think you do, it’s hard to rely Him above yourself.

It’s interesting, the way He teaches me every week.

Today, one of the worship ministry workers came to join our band debrief. He’s really such a wow. Like. The things he says. How he can practically apply God and His wisdom to the worship ministry. So wow. Always so blessed and encouraged by his insights and how he allows the Holy Spirit to move in him.

When I was first starting out in worship ministry, even more unsure and insecure about my playing, especially in a band of older youths and very talented musicians, he was the one who put all my insecurities to rest. I was struggling with what it meant to serve in this ministry, things like how far/much of what I have is God’s gift, how much of it I can take responsibility for, whether it was even ‘a gift’ because I’m really not very good at it, or whether I’m just doing it because the ministry needs people and I just happen to know the instrument. How do I stay humble with it, how do I work with it. Was it really from God if I sucked at it. How far is it a gift or a talent. I always felt iffy with the words gift and talent, especially if the said gift/talent isn’t very outstanding. Like, I’m just not very good keyboarding, ok? Ok.

Then this guy gave me a word at one of the band debriefs. I couldn’t even remember what he said exactly but I remembered this word: anointing. He said something along the lines of how everyone there who had served, those who will continue to serve, how we all had such an anointing. I admittedly didn’t fully understand what ‘being anointed’ meant, and I don’t actually completely understand it even now. But ‘anointing’ just seems fit in where I was, and it was just right to describe this balance of serving in ministry, how much was me and how much was God ordained.

Anointing, as in chosen, consecrated, sanctified and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do His will.

It stops becoming about what I have or what I can do. It becomes more about what He can do despite me, what He has called me to do, and how I respond, what the posture of my heart is for Him to work in me. It’s not always the easiest to keep in mind when I serve, much less 24/7 when I live out my anointing as His child, not just solely in ministry.

This week, at the debrief, the same ministry worker also reminded us of something else. He was warning us about pursuing excellence, in this case, musical excellence, over God, worship and serving. He was talking about working with other musicians in other worship ministries and how when they had pracs and meetings and all that, the focus of their conversation was on God, on worship, not on the music. Music-wise, they were set, they knew what to do. Everyone did their homework, they knew their parts, they were tight. When they had pracs, it was just to worship, to allow the Spirit to flow through them etc. It stopped becoming technical and even if they did have to sort out things technically, the music wasn’t the point, it wasn’t the focus of why they were there. It was worship. The thing is, they had to do the work too, they had to practice in their own time and all that to achieve that kind of musicality so that they could worship while they played and still sound clean. Their hands and feet would all be ready on autopilot, they knew all their parts and what to do so that it doesn’t sound hard to do even though there were so many things going on. It wasn’t as though God would always spontaneously make them sound awesome, they did have to practice to get there. But they weren’t a competing thing, music and worship. You work hard at music to and for worship. And worship should always be the focus.

I never thought about it that way. I mean, I did struggle with worshipping meaningfully when I had to play because I had too many things to do. But I never realised that I had to practice to be good enough at what I was doing on the keyboard so that I could be on autopilot and then worship. Like, it seems pretty duh now when I write it out. But it never occurred to me that… I dunno, wow, that I could actually do both, play well and worship, at the same time.

I just thought it was something you had, playing well, being musical, in this context, at least. I don’t know where worship went. It was hard to worship and do so many things at the same time.

Lel what have I been doing with my life. Srsly.

Anyways, he prayed for us, that we will never pursue music over worship, and that music won’t be an idol for us. Which is good. So that I don’t put my value as a worshipper in music, or as a measure of how much I’m worshipping etc. Stuff.

I’m also trying to take responsibility to improve. Like I know a bunch of people who serve now and play really well, and they said that they hadn’t always played like that. It was a process, and it takes time and practice. Much encouraged by people who try. I want to try too.

Many ups and downs in this ministry. It’s been an interesting walk and I think it will always be.

Starstruck: Carol Burnett

Three days to flying and guess what I’ve been up to. Only binge watching Carol Burnett sketches for hours on end. Not the wisest way to spend my time but sure is one of the funniest hahaha.

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Carol Burnett approves

Wow, what a woman. I’d only lately picked up her biography of sorts called This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection published in 2010. It’s a lovely, lighthearted read which had me literally laughing out loud at every episode. This woman doesn’t act funny, she is funny. I can hear it from the pages, all that verve and personality and animation. She makes her life out to be just that funny. I love it. I love her attitude, her nerve, her wit, how she opens up to be completely star-struck and chickened out by the larger than life actors and actresses she meets. She keeps it real, she hopes, she works so hard and loves what she does. I feel like I almost know her from her book (if that’s even possible). She’s so friendlyyy. Do read it if ever you have the chance, it will absolutely brighten your day. She has that effect on people.

I first knew Carol from  Annie as Miss Hannigan. She was admittedly too overly intoxicated for me but still. I was more enamoured with Ann Reinking as Grace Farrell then (those legs please) who is a very accomplished dancer in her own right. Her dance in ‘We Got Annie’ makes me so happy, it’s so lovely to watch. Absolutely gorgeous. Love her dress.

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Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan in Annie.

Then I caught Carol on all those Carol and Julie (Andrews) stuff they used to put up every once in a while. (Julie Andrews is queen) Yes, my two favourite people happen to be really good friends and they rag about wonderfully together onstage. The chemistryyy.

I especially loved this sketch they did at the Lincoln Center. Haha the musical references. Classic. Wish the picture quality was better though.

Her book was so funny that I had to catch up with her work filmed about fifty years back. Been binge watching her TV series, The Carol Burnett Show, and getting nicely acquainted with all her co-stars and the people she wrote so highly about.

timeline-1967-cburnett
The Carol Burnett Show with all my favourite cast members. Top: Vicki Lawrence. Right: Lyle Waggoner. Bottom: Carol Burnett. Left: Harvey Korman

Her sketches are really brilliant. I don’t know how they come up with so many different scenarios and so many things to do that just comes off as funny. My favourites are the Carol and Sis ones because of the whole family dynamic, how the characters aren’t too over the top but are still hilarious anyway. It’s fantastic, everybody is so versatile in playing different people.

I love all her little ticks, the crazy way her right eye goes all bug-eyed sometimes, and her really swell all-American voice. Love itt.

Also loved her co-actor, Harvey Korman. He can be quite fetching. I don’t think he’s really that popular outside of her show but I wouldn’t know.

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Harvey Korman being glamorous
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Harvey Korman being not so glamorous

You can still tell he’s a funny guy. He’s got laughing features and a nice guy friendly face. I like the sketches where he and Carol act as a couple, it’s so adorbs. Haha I think that’s why I liked the Carol and Sis sketches. They both have really good chemistry and they’re both so good-looking and funny. You wouldn’t think of funny people as the good-looking ones but Carol and Harvey are such handsome people. Even when they’re making absolute fools of themselves they’re charming. There was this one sketch where the cast was doing different death scenes because ‘every actor wants to do a good death scene’ and I loved how when it was Carol’s turn, she was like “I’d like a little lights and some music… and Harvey.” And he just comes on to scoop her up in his arms when she goes ‘action’ to execute/rag the dying lover scene. Haha Harvey, as indispensable as lights and music. He cracked up a little bit in the scene because Carol was being Carol and he was just enjoying the whole thing, methinks. Hilarious. I need a Harvey Korman in my life to do dying lover scenes. Or pretty much any other bit of drama. Bff goals please.

There were a lot of good looking co-stars on the show too. Lyle Waggoner (oh so hot I cannot), Ken Berry and a few others whom I have yet to match names to their faces.

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Carol Burnett and Lyle Waggoner

Loved this one too with guest star Alan Alda. (How come she gets all the hot guest stars) He was an adorbs bumble here. Harvey and Vicki were also a scream in their cringeworthy exaggerations of the old black and whites hahaha.

And this Alan sketch was lovely. Practically a fairytale romance in modern times. Why are they both so cute, this is absolutely perfect. Hearts so much.

I just fell for Ken Berry last night. I only saw him on this one episode where he sang this one song and snap, I was a goner. Completely melted. Here, watch it, it starts at about 10.23. Just swooned. He’s so endearing. His voice and his expressions and everything. Smooth kid.

It was so happy and friendly and everything was set up in the typical romanticized costume and setting. The irony of it being a spoof is not lost on me.

Carol was the bomb in that one too. Her figure was completely on point please. And she has really lovely cheekbones. So Nicole Kidman from the Golden Compass in this sketch. Ugh, I have to watch her in a proper movie. Her sketches just give me glimpses into all that potential. Need to watch her in a running screen time of more than an hour at least.

She had Rock Hudson on the show too but he wasn’t that hot for me. This sketch was great though. The burns. Genius. Gotta give them credit for it.

Reading and watching her makes me a little nostalgic for something I didn’t even experience first hand. Does that make sense? I mean, I technically didn’t grow up watching her episodes on TV and I definitely didn’t grow up in her time, the 60s and all that. But still, I like everything about the show that screams how dated it is. The hairdos, the fashion, the lack of handphones, how guys have to really pluck up their courage to hit up the girls at the bar (no such swiping and Tinder nonsense, just the good ol’ fashion getting to know you and pick up lines. Haha all their pick me up bar skits are hilarious. Just watch them struggle).

I think I know why I like the Carol and Sis sketches now. They reflect a little a bit of a life I might never know. I don’t know how accurate it is in depicting a life before the 21st century but I like the interactions the characters have with each other, the dialogue and everything, regardless of the slapstick sitcom it’s structured around. Not to say I don’t like my current time and age but I feel like I’m missing something else, another culture of another time that was somehow more honest, more sincere, where people were smart enough to be funny and talent was valued.

I don’t know. I’ve pretty much stopped watching TV. Maybe I’ve just become a snob at my own generation at the ripe old age of twenty. Oh no I have turned into my snobby professor who doesn’t read books written past, what, 1965?

Noooo what have I becomee

Musical of the Moment: Jekyll and Hyde

I am in love and this is the object of my affection~~~~~~~~~~~

Jekyll and Hyde is an old story, one of the prescribed readings this semester but I read it last semester to do a comparison with Frankenstein. Lately, I Youtubed J&H because the lecturer was showing us the various transformations of Jekyll to Hyde and they were all the same: choking, gasping, the final transformation into this ape-looking grinning person with the big crooked teeth. And I was like “I’m sure there has to be a version where Hyde doesn’t look that bad.” I didn’t expect to find this version because while there were versions where Caliban was the hot one in plays like Tempest, the idea of appearance and inner character was the theme in J&H.

What Youtube threw up was even better than discovering a hot Hyde. I discovered J&H the musical ❤ ❤ ❤

I had to skim through it because I was supposed to be writing an essay on it and then I got…sidetracked… and stuff… but I liked what I skimmed. And that says a lot. Because I read that by a certain age, people’s musical influences kind of just cement and they aren’t as open to new influences anymore. But I was so into this, the music, it’s amazing. To find something new that I like so strongly. Perhaps it was because the music sounded very much like the music I already liked, typical Les Mis, Phantom stuff, but still.

Well, I have to admit that I’m a softie for anything with the large Victorian dresses and sets and speech. They adapted the story for the stage though, and I completely understand. You couldn’t possibly do a direct word-for-word from book to stage. Too much inner psyche. Can you imagine the soliloquies Jekyll would have had to do?

So while the focus of the story was still on appearances and characters, reputations and facades, there was a new element in the story: the love element. Don’t call me sappy just yet. At first, I was skeptical. I thought that love elements would weaken this story. After all, the fact that there was no prominent woman figure in the book was one of those glaring factors that might fuel literary essays. But it worked out very well, I think. For one thing, some of my favourite songs came from the love duets and the ballads. Having the love interests added this emotional, sentimental element into the story and songs that couldn’t otherwise have been achieved. It made Jekyll seem like he had a social life, that he cared for people besides himself.

Continue reading “Musical of the Moment: Jekyll and Hyde”

Thoughts on Kuch Kuch Hota Hai/Something Happens

I watched this Indian movie in film class this week called Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) directed by Karan Johar starring Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukerji. It’s basically what my lecturer calls “the Indian version of Grease” and I absolutely agree with what little knowledge I have about Grease.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is about a college stud, Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan), falling in love with the new student, Tina (Rani Mukerji) and inadvertently hurting his best friend, Anjali (Kajol) in the process because they’ve been best buds for years and Anjali has just realised that she is in love with him. When she sees that Rahul loves Tina, she moves away and Rahul and Tina live happily ever after for a while until Tina dies during childbirth. She gives birth to a daughter whom she names Anjali and writes her daughter letters so that little Anjali might grow up and reunite Rahul with Anjali. So that’s what little Anjali does 8 years later when Anjali is just about to get married to a long-time suitor, Aman (Salman Khan).

Shah Rukh Khan as Rahul, the college stud…
…falls in love with Tina, the new girl, played by Rani Mukerji…

…breaking his BFF Anjali’s heart played by Kajol
They were such BFFS. I could see the love cliche coming miles away although Tina as Rahul’s love interest was never a doubt. To be honest, I doubted the Rahul/Anjali idea more.
So little Anjali, played by Sana Saeed, comes to the rescue!
At last at last, Rahul sees Anjali in a new light (long hair does wonders)…
…and they finally fall in love and live happily ever after.

I liked how it was a realistic love triangle. By that I mean, Rahul picked one girl, Tina, and Tina loved him right back and allowed Anjali to leave even though she knew Anjali liked him. And she did it in a not-mean way. She wanted to back out of their friendship but she didn’t, for herself. And I liked how Anjali didn’t go all “you ‘other woman’!” because she saw that Rahul didn’t think of her romantically then.

And I loved the ‘oh no, someone’s going to get hurt’ overhanging feeling of dread during the theme song which really means “something, something has happened (in my heart)” even though it’s so happy and everyone’s spinning in their own world of bliss. (Here, watch this. I INSIST YOU WATCH THIS THEME SONG OF BLISS) Besides, Rani is so pretty here ❤

I liked Anjali the tomboy in the first part of the movie. It’s a character I can relate to and it’s so sad when she tried to dress up like Tina and failed miserably. She got more lady-like later on which allowed Rahul to see her in a new light (it must be the long hair) but I liked her tomboyed. I also liked Rahul more in the first half. He kind of got wimpy towards the end. I mean, he didn’t even stop Anjali’s wedding! It had to be Aman to see the love and tears in Anjali and Rahul’s eyes (although they weren’t saying anything) and be the big one to let Anjali out of their marriage. And all this happened not because Rahul stopped the wedding and confessed his feelings for Anjali. It happened because Aman did it based on his insightful interpretation of tears. Kudos, Aman.

Continue reading “Thoughts on Kuch Kuch Hota Hai/Something Happens”

My Dreams are on the Moon

(Takes deep breath. Ok here we go~)

My Dreams are on the Moon,

And with the stars above.

She holds all I hold dear,

My memories, my loves.

Drifting bodies of clouds pass by,

As does time, as does space.

They waft by and mist and blur

Her cold and gentle face.

Her light is missed in day,

When I labor in the sun.

Yet that makes her soft light keen,

When the night falls, when dreams come.

Only then do I dare to fly, to reach,

Through the dark night to orbit,

To wine and dine and waltz with her,

To live in our would-be ever after.

She makes me laugh with child-like wonder.

With her, the world was but an oyster.

But my soul, it mourns her fading smile

Oh, what I’d give, just for a while-

A little while longer, yes, just a little while more,

‘fore I kiss her pale hand, ‘fore I leave the floor.

Alas, her too-soft glow, it cannot hide

The harsh light of life and all that it bides.

I leave her a while, and don’t leave her at all.

Shall I ever pluck her from her lofty skies?

Can I bring her down and make her mine?

How many lifetimes will I get to try?

She waxes and wanes,

in her all-knowing glow,

As does age, as does life,

She won’t be brought low.

My Dreams are on the Moon,

Too high above to catch, to ride.

I formed her, made her glow and spin,

And there command her to reside.

To spread her radiant grace afar,

O, her elusive, delicate beauty!

And if she find it possible,

To hide her pity, mockery of me.

As long as she lives with my dreams,

I content to admire her in mine.

Continue reading “My Dreams are on the Moon”