Saturday, June 28, 2008

Foxes and Bears and Rabbits, Oh My!

I have heard that these things exist here in our immediate neck of the woods, and I've even seen a rabbit or two (dozen!) hopping around between here and the farm, but this past week has shown that they really ARE our neighbors. Literally.

Monday morning our neighbor two doors down called to let me know that he saw "it" again this morning. Saw what? A black bear in our woods that has been sighted by a few different folks around here for the past two weeks. A BIG black bear. Watch out for the kids and the small animals. We played inside on Monday and reviewed rules for what happens if we see a bear. Daddy was informed, when he got home that evening, that "you must get your gun and SHOOT that bear, Daddy!"

(Side note: we have no small animals, other than two children who occasional are not children but are horses or sheep or dogs or cats. The small animals in our neighborhood I really would not mind "playing" with a big black bear. Maybe then they'd stop deficating in our yard, coming over and growling at our children, and no longer jump out and chase our car in the middle of the night.)

We also have a very friendly rabbit that decided he (I HOPE it's not a she! One is enough!!!) really likes our yard. And all my pansies (most of which are headless now). I noticed two of my bean plants are being nibbled on. And you can go almost all the way up to him before he'll slooooowly hop away. Wouldn't provide a big enough meal for the bear. But he WOULD provide a really good main course for....

The fox I saw slowly walking and scouting our back yard yesterday when I got home. That rabbit sat under the tree, not moving a whisker, until after the fox trotted across the yard and started --- literally -- bounding through the tall grass going down to the river. Once he was gone, Susi and I shooed the rabbit away. And into the tall grass. Maybe we won't see him again!

Wanna come visit? See some wild life most people will never see outside of a zoo? Let us know when to expect you!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Letting Go

Okay, I'm not really letting go yet, but yesterday and today have been a test of sorts for this Mama. Yesterday, the kids spent the day at Aunt Lori's at the lake. I had some painting to do at the lake, and they were more than thrill to "play" with Aunt Lori. Still, I had some anxiety. Gone all day, them not at home or the farm and out of my a HUGE body of water. Will they be okay? We went over all the safety rules, do NOT go to the lake without Aunt Lori being with you! (and they're both very good about obeying rules if they pertain to potential danger). And Lori raised three lovely, well adjusted young adults and I trust her completely, so what was the problem?

Well, the kids had a great time. They even got to talk to Cousin Andrew in Iraq while they were at the cabin...he called to talk to his mom, and the kids also got the benefit of speaking with him. And best of all, she wore them out completely! Susanna didn't want to leave. She actually fought both Lori and me when we tried to put her in the van...I've never seen her actually go spread eagle to prevent herself from being put somewhere, but yesterday she did! She promptly fell asleep on the way home! When we got home, she immediately started crying, "I miss Aunt Lowi!" As soon as I told her we would call so she could talk to her, Susi was all giggles and smiles...and happy for the rest of the evening since she got to talk to Aunt "Lowi" on the telephone!

Today, Luke was invited to his first non-family birthday party. Simone is a little girl from Sunday School; her father grew up with Tony (a year older) and I've heard a number of stories from his growing up that would make any mother's hair turn white (in fact, go to Jane's blog, look at her "picture," and you can see just what raising a boy like that can do!). Seriously, though, we enjoy them and over the years had a couple of their kids working for us.

I hesitated at first...Tony and I are both working during the party, so neither of us would be there to supervise Luke, make sure he doesn't get out of control with excitement (which can and HAS happened!). But Simone's mom assured me it was no problem; in fact, she'd even pick him up for the party since I was going in to work at the Market. It should be okay...after all, Simone is the youngest of seven...she should be able to handle him (I make it sound like he's terrible...he really isn't! I'm just anticipating the worst.)

Luke was on cloud nine. Then, he had a bit of a hesitation. Since this is the first "friend" birthday party, I decided to start a precident right here and now. I told him to get his bank...we were going to take some money from the "store" part of his bank to buy Simone a present. What? Take HIS money? And spend it on someone ELSE? I explained that we would also give him some money for the present, but if he was going, HE was buying the present! I further explained that if Simone would come to his house for HIS birthday, wouldn't he want her to bring him a present? That got thru! (I think we're going to have to invite some friends to his next birthday party....) And off to Family Dollar we went! We had fun looking for something special for Simone within his budget ($6). And he was very thoughtful in what to get for her. In the end, Simone will be getting a beautiful bouquet of artificial purple flowers, a pink princess mirror in the shape of a crown, and a lovely black velvet purse with a sparkly Tinkerbell on it. He nixed the idea of hair do-dads, quite adament that what he picked out is what she would like. He topped everything off with a dinosaur birthday card. And when he laid everything on the counter, handed the cashier the money, and received the change from his purchase, I had alot of pride in my little man...and a little sadness as I watch him grow up and start doing things on his own.

But then I reminded myself...he's only four. I still get to do things for him. And let go in bits and pieces so that he can become the man God intends him to be.

Now if I can only deal with a little girl who is already insisting that she go back to Aunt Lowi's today.....she is dressed like a "fairy" in a very gauzy, see-through cloth she normally uses as a "bride's hat" with a crown on her head and pink and blue underwear! She cracked us up this morning when Tony asked her a question and she replied with the words, "It's complicated." Oh, are we ever in for a handful (and lots of laughs) as she continues to grow up!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Shadow

It took me awhile to figure it out, not sure exactly what she was doing, just being her usual, unique self. Susanna would make sure she put on winter gloves before going outside to play. She would pick dandilions and "plant" them in the soil after digging around. She would pick grass and throw it away. She would put on a mitt and start wiping at everything in the house. She'd lug her toy vacuum cleaner upstairs and push it around in front of me when I was trying to get things cleaned up. She'd get underfoot with her play mop and broom. She'd mess up her hair (and sometimes mine) dragging a brush through it backwards. I'd laugh at her when she'd put clippies all over her head, getting maybe a strand or two in them. It would annoy me when she'd take a cloth and push crumbs and other junk all over the table, on to the floor. I'd freak out when she'd take a long, semi-pointy toy and swipe it sideways along her eye...DON'T POKE YOUR EYE OUT!!! I'd look at her and wonder if she was crazy at times. I'd ask her what in the world she was doing. Then I realized something. She was just imitating whatever I was doing at the time. Okay, I wasn't wearing winter gloves, but I was wearing gardening gloves. I wasn't replanting dandilions, but I was taking plants out of containers then putting them in the ground. I was weeding along the edges of my flower beds. I was dusting the house. I was vaccuming, sweeping, and mopping. I was brushing my hair, putting on make up. I guess I was the crazy one, not realizing my daughter was imitating me in everything I did.

I laugh when Luke copies Tony to a "T" in everything he does, right next to him while he's pounding nails, out in the garden with him while he's trying to plant, weed, pick, whatever. There are times Luke cries and is inconsolable when Daddy goes to the farm to work without him.

It made me realize how much responsibility Tony and I have in everything we do, even when we don't realize what we're doing. There are two little people watching and copying our every move (well, most of the time!). It reminded me of a song that always brings tears to my eyes when listening to older song by a now-defunct Christian group called Halo. The song, from Heaven Calling and written by Scott Springer, is called "My Buddy."

Pointing in endless directions, looking lost as a pup,
Reaching out for my hand, falling, then getting up,
Tugging on my trousers, crying for his way
My little boy is growing, he looked like me today.
He looked like me today.

My buddy sees me living, my buddy sees me fall,
My buddy is a mirror, hanging on the wall.
My buddy sees me silent, my buddy hears me talk
And my buddy will see Jesus, if in His life I walk.

Mocking all my motions, he learns how to live,
Walking in my footsteps, hearing advice I give
Sometimes I sit and wonder, just where with him I stand,
A tear comes as I realize, his life is in my hands.
His life is in my hands.

My buddy sees me living, my buddy sees me fall,
My buddy is a mirror, hanging on the wall.
My buddy sees me silent, my buddy hears me talk
And my buddy will see Jesus, if in His life I walk.

Now he's getting older, as he kneels to pray,
He says, "God bless all your children," and then I hear him say,
He says, "Jesus, I love you, and for Your love I'm glad,
But there's just one thing I want to be, is just like my dad."

My buddy sees me living, my buddy sees me fall,
My buddy is a mirror, hanging on the wall.
My buddy sees me silent, my buddy hears me talk
And my buddy will see Jesus, if in His life I walk.


As parents, we have such a great responsibility, and I know that on my own I cannot do it. I passed a lady today at the grocery store who was clearly getting frustrated with her little boy who was pushing a mini-cart and trying to put everything he saw in it...and I commented in passing, "it's a good exercise in learning patience, isn't it?" And she smiled back, her mood lightened, as we realized we share a common bond of motherhood....and teaching our children to do things on their own, often (usually!) at the expense of falling behind in our schedules while our little ones struggle valiantly to do things "myself!" But I feel just as much pride, maybe even more, than they do when they finally accomplish the little things that add up to so much. So what if my kids go around town in clothes that are backwards, inside out, and occasionally (somehow!) upside down? They dress themselves and have the satisfaction of knowing they CAN do it!

But along with the day to day things, they are also learning spiritual things from the actions Tony and I do. I love when Susanna goes around the house making up songs and singing "My God is biggest! He is the best! He is greatest! and I love Him!" Or Luke launches in to one of his prayers thanking God for everything in eye sight and even things that are just imagined. They sometimes sit for up to half an hour just paging through their Bibles as they "read" to themselves from God's Word. And they often don't hesitate confront others when someone is not being kind (Be kind, that makes God happy!).

And yet I sometimes cringe at what comes from their mouth -- not filthy language, but things like, "not now, Susanna, I don't have time for you right now." Or "You're pushing my buttons!"

Raising children isn't easy. But with lots of patience and even more prayer, it is soooo rewarding!

Photo by Carla

Friday, June 20, 2008

What goes on in their little heads?

I am totally amazed and completely perplexed by what is being processed in my kids' heads. I mean, how do they come up with what they do?

Last night, we went to my sister-in-law's for supper. Susanna had made her a foam mosaic apple which Aunt Lori in turn hung on her refrigerator. As she was looking at the picture, all of a sudden, Susanna told Lori, "Aunt Lowi, Adam and Eve should not have disobeyed God. They ate the fwuit of knowledge but God told them not to. Then they hided from God but He still found them. And a BIG angel was put theaw so they couldn't get back to the gawden. They were VEWY naughty, Aunt Lowi."

Wow. My mind was blown. Yes, we've gone over the Adam and Eve several times, but it's been quite awhile. And yet, she is keeping God's Word in her heart. So cool!

Then, as Luke and I were snuggling this morning, I gave him a little tickle in the side only to have him shout out, "SQUIRT BOTTLE!"


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The sky over Nevis

We went to a favorite restaurant to celebrate my birthday Friday night and enjoyed seeing a double rainbow outside during our meal. While not a common sight, especially with one rainbow being a full, very luminous arch, what was even more stunning was comparing the sky to what it looked like 24 hours earlier. My friend Jill (owner of the restaurant with her husband Steve) had emailed a photo from during the storms the night before. What an amazing display of God's power!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Just what every busy mother needs at the start of summer. A few months back, our washer started acting funny. Couldn't pin point it, it just wasn't quite "right." I mentioned it to Tony. I'd smell kind of a greasy smell occasionally. Clothes were getting clean but had a slight smell, unlike how they had been looking and smelling wonderfully fresh and clean since I started using Watkins new laundry detergent months back.

Then it happened. Thankfully, on my last load of clothes last Monday. I went to put the clothes in the dryer and noticed the floor was sopping wet. Tony looked it over, called the local appliance whiz, took the bottom apart, and discovered the belt had come off and something else didn't seem right. He strapped and cinched the washer to a dolly (not one of Susanna's), and lugged that big ole thing up ten steps and into the back of the van and took it in to town to be repaired. (side note -- my husband may not look like a body builder, but he is STRONG and MUSCULAR and GORGEOUS and FANTASTIC and INCREDIBLE!)

No news for several days. Finally, he called yesterday to find out what was going on. I mean, we were running out of clean overnight underwear...tragic! (for the kids, not us...ours are holding out quite well, thank you very much!) Transformer is completely blown. Belt area is completely shot. We were told it would probably be cheaper to buy a new machine than to pay for the repairs...that may or may not work.

Sigh. I love my washing machine. It has a huge drum in it and could handle very large loads of clothes. It had so many different selections for water temperature, load size, wash cycles. Well, in I went to town. We have a great appliance store in town that occasionally runs a bit more expensive than if we'd go to the nearest huge appliance discount store (Home Depot, Lowes, etc. -- both between one to two hours away), but they delivery free, haul away free, connect new appliances, give great price breaks when buying more than one appliance, and are always willing to walk one through a problem on the phone, so you won't have to have someone come out or haul in an appliance if it's something they can tell you how to do over the phone. So the price usually balances out or is a better bargain that those big stores. Plus, they're local, good, honest folk.

The closest comperable machine to what we had is $500. On sale. And doesn't have near the selection that mine does. Did. Well, does, but can't do any more. Then Burt showed me the HEs. Wow, for just a hundred more, an option is getting a machine that uses 1/3 of the water, 1/2 of the electricity, 1/4 of the detergent, wrings out 96% of the water in the clothes which in turn cuts drying time in at least half. Between the savings on electricity and detergent, the time saved by doing even less loads ("this thing can handle at least 16 pairs of Tony's jeans, no problem!"), it would pretty much pay for itself in a year or two. We don't have to worry too much about water or sewage -- we have a well (although water is always a concern) and a septic. Plus, the door is low and on the front...I could have the kids load the washer then transfer the clothes into the dryer! Tony kinda freaked out....that much money for a washing machine? Even the "cheap" one? Sigh. So I still don't have a washing machine. But I did my homework...did some internet "window shopping" yesterday afternoon, printed out several options to compare from several stores, had the info on the two machines from our appliance store, and Tony is looking them over to compare.

Yes, there are cheaper machines. He showed me the only used machine they have available... a 25-year GE for $125 that has less than half the capacity mine did. Does. Whatever. One water temperature. One washing cycle option. But while I'm not holding out for "the best," the two things I definitely need in a washer is something with a big capacity....I'm already doing between 7-10 loads of laundry every two weeks during the winter...that increases some in the summer...and something that is heavy duty, especially considering the jeans and things that Tony goes through with farming.

Some of the options he's thinking of....using the washing machine down at his sister's place (since she's in the Phillipines and not using it herself!)...and using his mother's machine. But do I have time to do that? I mean, realistically? Running back and forth between the Ponderosa and here or the farm and here. It would be different if I wasn't doing so many other things, but.... well, we'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, our clothes are piling up. This is one of those times I'm really thankful for all the garage saling my mom does in getting an abundance of clothes for the kids. Eventually we'll need some more clean underwear. And if you're near us and smell something funny, just be polite and ignore it. Okay. It isn't that bad.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

My birthday

What a wonderful birthday! The kids had great behavior all day. Came home and fell asleep quickly during nap time. For two hours, yippee! A beautiful card from my wonderful husband. Birthday greetings from friends and relatives, including a great conversation with my youngest brother (missed Ron's call, but got his message!).

And tonight we ate out at Steve & Jill's -- great meal! No preparing, no cleaning up, wonderful company. The kids decided they wanted to suck on the lemons from our shrimp dinner. Hence the photos! And while we were eating, God blessed us with a double rainbow outside (more on another blog)!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Friday, June 13


It's my birthday! And I share it with a wonderful lady, my Aunt Carole. It probably wasn't my mom's intention to give such a fantastic gift to her younger sister, but she got one of the best presents 41 years ago...a cute niece! Mom missed gifting her youngest sister, Kath, with a cute niece by just a day....hope you had a great birthday yesterday, Aunt Kath, I love you!

Aunt Carole, I love you and hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Birth day

Age 1

Age 2

Age 3

More Storms

Today was a beautiful, sunny, warm, lovely day. For most of it, at least. Shortly after arriving home from working all day at the market, we started getting more rain. Lots of it. Then hail. Tornado warnings were issued. We listened to the local radio station while they got really belted with marble- and golf-ball sized hail. Heavy winds. Heavy rain.

Thankfully, here at our house and at the farm, it appears as if we only got tiny hail and no damage. Not sure what things are like at the Market, as that's the area where things started to get pretty bad. And regardless of how things are here, it is so much worse in many other parts of the country.

I was just telling Tony this morning that I don't know if I'm just more cognizant of it now that I'm an adult, but I don't ever remember weather like we in the States have been getting lately. The tornadoes, flooding, heavy rains that have been occuring are just amazing.

I am also so very thankful that regardless of what happens, even though I may not understand why, nothing has happened without God first allowing it to happen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More Catching Up

Today it is raining. I mean really RAINING! Looking at the weather forecast earlier this week, Tony didn't plan on having any of the kids come to work at the farm today. He got to sleep in (well, except when the kids jumped in bed with us and were squirming all over the place) and is approaching hour three of a much needed long nap. The kids fell asleep pretty quick, too, which is great considering how grumpy they've been all morning.

I've been doing several blogs lately, but that will be changing in the very near future, I think. Things are about to get really BUSY! Tessa (Tony's niece from Washington) flies in on Saturday. My parents come for a visit and arrive on Wednesday. Tony's sister Carla and her girls fly into Canada next week and will be here the following Sunday or Monday for a few days, with Dwight coming later this month as well. Carrie and Lori (Tony's niece and our sister-in-law) also arrive early next week. Summer is just about here!

I was emailing my baby-sitter's mother today about when I think I'll be needing her this summer and I really cringed looking at my schedule. (oh, to clarify, the kids don't think Katie's a babysitter, she's just someone who plays with them at the market!) July 4, always a very busy time at the market, is on a Friday this year which is great because that should give us a very busy week at the market...good especially since the strawberries may or may not have started by then. The following week is our county fair, and I'll have a booth there Wednesday through Sunday. I still have to line up someone to help me out with it! The week after that, our full-time employee (our wonderful Diana!) will be gone for the weekend, so I'll be at the market almost every day straight for two weeks! But before she leaves, and after the fair, I have two Watkins parties scheduled back-to-back...what was I thinking????

Our local Chamber wants us to participate in a festival which will be the first week end in August, I think, and I still have to look at things to see if logistically it will work for us. Can we get stuff there to cook and sell corn on the cob to the several thousand people they're expecting over a two day period? And can we get two or three people to be there working during that time?

August doesn't let up; it's gonna be crazy through Labor Day! After that, it'll slow down some, but we'll be gearing up each week for the pumpkin parties each Saturday from late September through October.

I'm also planning with a friend an event for hunting season opening weekend -- for years, we've had an arts and crafts event in town that Saturday that drew hundreds, if not thousands, of wives and girlfriends shopping while their men helped reduce (or tried to reduce) the area of our deer population. The lady who was in charge of the event passed away earlier this year from brain cancer, and no one has stepped up to take over. So we've been thinking of having a big home sales event show that day featuring a dozen or so home businesses -- Watkins (of course!), Tupperware, Discovery Toys, Tastefully Simple, Cookie Lee Jewelry, Pampered Chef, Arbonne, and more. Jessica is out of town, but when she gets back next week, we'll have to sit down and figure out if it'll work or not. Our Chamber is fully behind us and hoping it'll be a go!

I'm tired just thinking about it. BUT! Family will be here. There will be times where we'll be taking breathers (I hope!) and just enjoying being with those who we love and don't see often.

So keep us in your prayers. Drop us a note sometimes. And I'll try and keep up when there's time!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Spring is in the Air

Okay, at least in Minnesota. In other parts of the country, you've been experiencing hot, summer weather, but here, we're just glad it's not freezing at night any more!
We had some nice warm days of steady temps in the 70s, but things took a cooler spell, and we've been in the 60s for awhile now. However, the weather today is gorgeous...perfect for doing weeding and other outdoors work!

Last week I planted flowers. Lots and lots of flowers, along with various herbs. Each year I try to plant several perenniels that are hearty enough to survive Minnesota winters without too much care. Of course, pansies are the favorite as they take no care at all and seed all over the place! I'm amazed where all I have pansies coming up each year!

Four years ago, I planted several dianthus. I was surprised the following Spring to see larger clumps of them where I'd planted the year before...surprised because they are classified as an annual. They are so pretty and delicate, so I make a point of adding at least one or two new packs a year...less work the following years! Different sizes, colors, all beautiful!

I was also surprised this year to see a mini rose that I'd planted last year start greening up...and today I saw that it had blossoms! Again, surprised because roses don't usually make it through the winter and especially not without being covered quite well...and this one definitely wasn't! It's my first rose to come back...with buds!...the following year!

I planted two types of celosia, lantana, marigolds (that Luke picked out because they are orange), three colors of nicotina, sunflowers, coleus, impatiens, double impatiens, new guinea impatiens, begonias, sweet peas, more pansies and dianthus, allysium (which smells GREAT!), but I still need to plant some snap dragons (a favorite of the kids). I also added to my perenniels a bleeding heart and a gorgeous columbine as well as a couple more hostas -- although the one I planted last year sent up 8 new shoots! There are also some things planted that, well, I'm not sure what they are, but they're pretty....

I planted a small garden here to have a few things on hand...we have four grape tomato plants and one yellow plum tomato planted as well as some green beans, sweet onions, and I'm trying my hand at potatoes, although I'm not sure if they'll come up or not! I still want to get some radishes and leaf lettuce in but can't until we have a fence around the area since we have lots of deer, at least one squirrel, and a very friendly bunny.
Today also, after getting home from town, I finished planting a few hens and chicks in the rocks outside by our fire bushes when Luke yelled out, "an eagle!" And sure enough, it was! There is an aerie some where near, because we see "our" eagle several times a week.

Yesterday, with the weather so cool and after more than a week of some rainfall each day, I mowed the forest we call a lawn. I'm not sure exactly how much of our 6.5 acres is grass (compared to woods), but the majority is grass and I had a blast zipping around on the mower. (Don't worry, Daddy, with the way the weather has been, it'll be ready for you to mow again when you're here next week!)

And with all the cleaning and cutting going on, I couldn't leave out the that out thoroughly today when the kids and I were in town. I also went a bit crazy with the clippers on Luke's head last week, after finding a wood tick attached to his scalp a few days earlier. The boy has so much hair on his head! Although it is much less, now. He took one look in the mirror afterwards and yelled out, 'NO!!!!!' But when you comment on his hair, he'll quickly reassure you (himself), "it's growing!" It really doesn't look bad!

Luke (but I WANT my face to look like this!)

Tony's getting more and more things planted as well as weeding, hoeing, and everything else involved with a garden. We have asparagus coming out our ears now, and it is yummy! The rhubarb is great, and the cucumbers are slowly getting ready to be picked. Everything is coming up late this year, but we hope to have an extended season and not an early winter.

So, that's the report from here! For now, at least!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gospel Night

The original Golden Street Quartet
Russ Carter

Last night was a treat for those who chose to go to Faith Baptist. We had a gospel sing night with several different "groups" performing, and with the Golden Street Quartet featured twice. The Golden Street Quartet first started in 1974 and traveled around many placed. I am not positive, but I believe the four original men were those that performed at the start of the night last father-in-law, Russell Carter, Frank Schaap, John Parks, and Bill Lundsten.

Frank John Bill

Listening to these gentlemen sing and joke, I could only imagine what it was like back in their heyday. The singing was wonderful as was the banter back and forth between them. But best of all was the praise for Christ. "Old fashioned" songs, wonderful four-part harmony, songs that were new to me as well as some treasured favorites.

There was a ladies' duet by Jan Lundsten (her husband sang bass in the quartet) and Jan Henderson, our church secretary -- beautiful! Actually, as Frank (the emcee) found out, they had two numbers, not just the one.

Bill and Jan also sang a couple songs as a duet. One song, I don't remember the exact title, was something like "My Hand in Yours" and I loved how they held hands the entire song!

Jeff Menten, our local string virtuoso, did a great number on the violin (that was later sung by the "current" Golden Street Quartet).

Craig and Ann Clark did a finger-twisting number on the clarinet and flute. I was in awe and wondered how their fingers didn't get tangled!

My friend Jane was one of three pianists that night...she also played the organ on the congregational singing. Such great talent! I was also enjoying the piano talent of Anna Campbell, she can really play!

Wrapping up the evening was the current Golden Street Quartet. Bill is still part of the group, but there are three "new" members, including our neighbor Harold Evink (he looks quite different driving a baler!) and Julie Henderson.

There are so many different ways to worship God in music. And it's such a form of contention in so many churches with so many believers. I'm not a huge fan of most southern gospel, although I enjoyed it on the few songs it was featured on last night. I appreciate so much the "old fashioned" hymns, and I really enjoy "modern" praise and worship, especially when singing God's words right from His Book. I don't understand some of the styles that are so popular, although I do enjoy a few alternative bands (some who aren't even together any more like Audio Adrenaline) and the styles of Michael W. Smith, Wayne Watson, Petra, even some White Heart, and more. Country just out and out makes me shudder! But when worship comes from the heart as an offering to God, wow! What a wonderful thing it is! Even when I don't particularly like the style :)

I read in our weekly church handout (Power for Living) a few months back an article about worship. Not specifically about music, although that was touched on. But something that was written about worship music really hit home with me. When we start complaining about worship music, when we put our personal likes and dislikes first, when we refuse to participate in a corporate form of worship music because we don't "like" the style (be it hymns, praise music, gospel, etc.), we are putting our self higher than God. We are taking the glory from Him and putting the focus on us. Wow! That really resounded within me! And in a recent Family in Focus article on why people leave their church, one of the main reasons listed was music -- and again, something really struck me. The author wrote that if you attend a 400-person church and your favorite music is played at least one Sunday every six years -- hey, you've had your special day. Let everyone else enjoy their favorite music style at least once, too.
Now, I do think that there are certain types of musical styles that aren't appropriate for every church -- I cannot see alternative or rap music being played in many denominations including mine, for instance! -- but if the intent in the hearts of those leading worship is truly to praise and worship God, then I need to focus on praising and worshipping God, not how good the music does or doesn't sound to me. There was one song last night that was so off key, I know I couldn't keep my face from reflecting the displeasure that was showered on my ears! But...I also know the group really was singing for God's glory...and God hears the heart.
Last night was about fun...but it was even more about worshipping God. And we did!