Count Your Blessings


Count Your BlessingsA week ago, Jenni and I learned that our baby, due March 2014, had miscarried. I can’t express in words the kinds of emotions I’ve been experiencing for this last week. The closest thing I can think to say is that our hearts are broken, but our faith is strong.

 

I’ve been trying to come up with the appropriate arrangement of Count Your Blessings for several weeks, and before last week, nothing I tried felt right. I attempted numerous times to come up with something that worked for me, but it just wouldn’t click. If I can’t get a spark in a piece, I can’t publish it. I just can’t bring myself to do it. If there’s no spark, the arrangement doesn’t leave my computer. That’s what was happening with this one.

 

Then we got the news.

 

The first day, I took the day off to be with my family. When things like this happen, the most precious things in life suddenly become even more dear to me. The next day wasn’t easy, but I knew I had to keep going. When I sat down to make another attempt at “Count Your Blessings,” it came so fast and effortlessly that I’m confident I had help. It was so different than all my previous attempts, but this time, it sparked immediately.

 

As I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve never struggled to record my voice as much I did with this piece. In order to even get through it, I had to force myself to not think about what I’d just been through. Have you ever tried to force yourself not to think about something? Let alone something this big?

 

Anyway, it got me thinking about the words a bit. How exactly does a cheerful, optimistic person (like I’m always striving to become) deal with tragedy? How do I see the upside, or silver lining, in the loss of a loved one? How do I find happiness in that?

 

Well, one way, at least, is simply this: to count my blessings. I have the most loving, beautiful wife in the world, and the sweetest, funnest kids in the world. I’ve been blessed with an absolute certainty of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the eternal nature of the family and life itself. I’m so blessed.

Sheet music and MP3 for this piece are available on my website.

50th Sheet Music Piece

Rock of AgesWhile I’ve been writing music for over 17 years, this week marks four years from the time I put out my first piece of sheet music. If I had known the incredible response the sheet music would have, I would have started putting it out much sooner!

I just wanted to offer my deepest thanks for all you have done to help bring about my dream to become a full-time musician. It’s your purchasing the sheet music that’s done it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every time you download another piece, it keeps food on my family’s table, and keeps me writing more music.

We’re still working to get above the poverty line (the cliche of the starving artist has become the story of my life), and the road isn’t easy, but your support is a much bigger encouragement than you can imagine. I love being able to bless the world with the gifts God has so generously given. It’s a calling that can be challenging, overwhelming, and so incredibly rewarding. I don’t perform in public very often. You’re the ones carrying the music out to the world. You’re the ones making a difference in the lives of those who hear you play. You’re touching hearts and blessing souls. What a beautiful thing!

Today also marks my 50th piece put to sheet music. If you haven’t been to my homepage lately, take scroll down and look and the fun mix of sheet music listed. I used to get teased at the MTC because I loved the hymns of zion so much. That was almost 15 years ago. I think the Lord was shaping my musical heart even back then.

So again, I just wanted to say thanks. Let’s keep making the world a better, more beautiful place.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou My VisionI don’t know about you, but I sometimes find myself frustrated in my efforts to become all that my Father in Heaven wants me to be. There are so many voices, so many messages, so many possible answers to the everyday questions I’m faced with. It’s not that I’m struggling to decide whether or not to do what’s right, but I’m always struggling to know which thing is most right.

Should I be playing with mykids, or studying my scriptures? Should I fix my house or call a neighbor to see how he’s doing? Should I clean myhouse, or spend time with myspouse? Should I do another hour of work to support my family, or help my wife make dinner?

The toughest choices are often between good and good, and though the questions may sound trivial from a distance, they can really be really challenging in the moment. I sometimes wish I could get a quick, straight, yes or no from God. But He doesn’t usually work that way. He’s not just trying to tell me what to do, He wants to help me become what He needs me to be. Because of that, he let’s me decide. He’ll let me know if there’s something important He needs me to do right now, but otherwise, He wants me to make the choices.

Still, I think it’s always good to seek His will, even if the answers don’t come, so that when He does have something specific for me to do, I’m ready to do it. And the more I heed the direction He gives, the more I’ll learn to see as He sees, do as He would do, and feel what He feels.

Lord, be my eyes, words, thoughts, wisdom, home, strength, protection, armor, shelter, power, treasure, joy, and heart. Be exactly what you are: my everything.

You can listen to this music or get the sheet music by visiting mywebsite: http://chashathaway.com/music/sheetmusic/be-thou-my-vision-sheet-music

God Be With You Till We Meet Again


God Be With You Till We Meet AgainWere this the only state of existence—even life itself, filled with such vibrance as it is, would be a tragedy.

But our true selves, the essence of our nature, the spirit that invigorates our flesh, was born of eternal matter, to parents more lasting than the universe itself.

We live on.

We sometimes call death a passing. If death is a passing, it’s like passing a friend in the hallway. First he comes into view, and we acknowledge him, then he passes. He isn’t gone. He doesn’t cease to exist because he is no longer before us. He passes, walks on, lives on.

We sometimes call death a journey. If death is a journey, it’s like a journey from one room into the next. The friend isn’t far simply because she is in the next room. She is still close enough to hear and see, except for a thin wall; a wall that sometimes better resembles glass than concrete.

Some call death a separation. If death is a separation, it’s like stepping back from an embrace. Without physical contact, we may experience loneliness. But even eye contact, one of the most powerful connections, can be maintained at a short, if temporary distance.

Perhaps we’re uncomfortable with goodbyes because deep down, we know there is no such thing. Were it not for the Savior Jesus Christ, all goodbyes would be final. But because of Him, they no longer exist. And for those who choose His path, the reunions will be glorious.

Sheet music and MP3 available on my website.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

Sweet Hour of PrayerGod hears your prayers—every one of them. Just because you don’t always feel it doesn’t mean He’s not listening. He’s always listening. 

Usually the struggle comes with recognizing His answers. Sometimes He answers with thoughts or ideas, sometimes through dreams or direct communication. Occasionally He uses coincidences, and often He uses other people. But if you persist, the answers will come. Sometimes it may take an entire “hour of prayer,” but the hour will be sweet, and if you receive an answer, it’s worth it.

If you don’t have faith in your ability to hear and recognize answers to prayer, at least have faith in God’s ability to reach you anyway.

The sheet music for this piece is available at my website.

Nearer My God to Thee

Or if, on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I fly,
still all my song shall be,
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

I tried to give this version of Nearer My God to Thee a style that might lend to the ponderous nature of the lyrics. Have you ever read them through, and thought about what’s being said? When I first read them through, it seemed a story of praise, even through suffering, but when I read it again, I see I laying down in death, and rising in eternal glory. Whichever way you read it, read it again. The words are amazing!

Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
still all my song shall be,
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
yet in my dreams I’d be
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

There let the way appear, steps unto heaven;
all that thou sendest me, in mercy given;
angels to beckon me
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with thy praise,
out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
so by my woes to be
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

Or if, on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I fly,
still all my song shall be,
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

 

Date Ideas: Values-Identifying Dates

Most people’s values are easy to identify over a long dating period, but sometimes they can be harder to recognize in just one or two dates. Ultimately, it’s going to be hard to find out your date’s feelings on an issue if you don’t talk about it. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to go on dates that will promote talking about such sensitive and vital topics. If you’d like to learn more about your date’s values, try some of these ideas to find out her feelings about media, morality, modesty, unselfishness, worthiness, material possession, and family values.

Go to a Movie Theater and Rate Movies by Preference

If you’re already going to a movie anyway, while you’re waiting in line, or waiting to be let in the theater, get out a notepad and make two lists: one for your date, and one for you. Then, list all the movies playing in the theater in the order of which you would most likely watch. When you’re finished, talk about your lists. Which are at the top, and which are at the bottom. Discuss with your date why they put them in the order they did.

Go to a Fireside Together

This works especially well if the topic is standards, values, or integrity. After the fireside, talk about what was said.

$1,000,000

Ask your date what he would do if he was given a million dollars, and then talk about what you would do with it. Get as detailed as possible.

Kindness Contest

Challenge your date to a kindness contest. Whatever your activity, any time one of you does something kind for someone else (it can’t be to one of the two of you), that person gets a point. It can be a smile or wave, it can be opening the door for someone, it can be a compliment or show of gratitude. You can (and should) show kindness to each other as well, but those won’t count for the contest.

Where’s the Line?” Game

If you are good friends with your date, or you have really good communication with your date, play the game, “Where’s the Line?”

Talk about different scenarios to see where you feel that a person has crossed the line. For example,

“You’re trying to fix your car, and your two-year-old nephew comes out and wants to help. He keeps getting into dangerous situations, so you ask him to go back inside the house. He doesn’t go, but continues to play in a way that could get him hurt. You swear at him and tell him if he doesn’t go back in, he’ll be in big trouble. He continues to ignore you until you finally take him inside, give him a spanking, and put him in his room. Did you cross the line? Where? What would be the better approach?”

or…

“You’re on a date and take a drive to see the sunset. After eating a packed dinner, you cuddle until it gets dark, and then make-out for an hour. You end up falling asleep and wake up around three in the morning. Did you cross the line? Where? What should you have done?”

This works best if you’re taking a walk, a drive, or doing something that encourages conversation (see Talking Dates)

Go Shopping Together

Sometimes shopping for clothes together (even if it’s only window shopping) can be a great way to find out your date’s attitude toward modesty. What kinds of things would she wear if they could afford it? What kinds of things does he suggest you try?

Do Baptisms for the Dead

Invite him to go with you to do baptisms for the dead, or any other temple ordinance. If your date has an active temple recommend, you already know quite a bit about him.

Swap Wards

One week, go together to your ward. See how comfortable she acts, and how well she participates. She may be shy, but you should be able to tell from her actions if she is comfortable being at church. The next week, go together to her ward. See how the people react to her. Do they know her? Is she as much a stranger as you are?

What Would You Do Different?

We all want to do some things different than our parents, and we all have things that we like about what our parents did. Do you want to react the same way your parents would? Talk about those things. Introduce the discussion this way, and then take turns picking topics. For example:

“When you came home with a bad grade: different, or the same?”

Then talk about how each of your parents reacted, and whether you hope to react the same.

“Child discipline: different, or the same?”

Then discuss how your parents disciplined you, and whether you want to use the same methods.

“Purchasing styles: different or the same?”

“How they celebrated birthdays: different or the same?”

“Their attitudes about pets: different or the same?”

Most Valuable Possession Discussion

Ask your date, “If you and your family suddenly had to permanently leave your home and take only one thing with you, what would you bring?”

Then talk about what your response would be.

Book Review: The Official Hero’s Guide, by Damon Throop

The Official Hero’s Guide is a must have for the youth of the church. Brother Damon Throop does a fantastic job laying out the dangers and pitfalls of the teenage years, and provides sound advice about maintaining high standards and a powerful testimony of the Savior.

He also shares a number of fun stories that both youth and adults can relate to, and his motivating style will help anyone want to be better, stronger, and more faithful to the Lord.

Those who follow Brother Throop’s advice will be heroes indeed.

Interview with Author Misty Moncur

Interview with Misty Moncur

Show Notes:

Misty Moncur is the author of the LDS novel, Daughter of Helaman. As her bio on her website, http://mistymoncur.blogspot.com/ states,

Misty fits in writing like other people fit in breathing. She writes in the Romance, Young Adult, and Religious genres.

Misty lives in Utah with her husband, her Wii-addicted son, and her curly-haired daughter. They spend a great deal of time laughing and the rest of it eating pizza

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Questions discussed in the Interview:

What gave you the idea of creating a young woman who is interested in joining Helaman’s army of 2000 young men?

I noticed that Keturah has a very strong view of gender roles. Was that difficult to write into the Nephite culture?

What kind of research did you have to do in order to write about day-to-day living in Nephite times?

There are probably many members of the church that would like to study more about what Nephite life may have been like. What sources or tools would you recommend?

Was there anything about the history or characters in the story that you didn’t include in the book (deleted scenes, unwritten backstory, etc)?

The book is obviously intended for an LDS audience. What do you hope members of the church get from Daughter of Helaman?

How did writing this book effect your testimony of the Book of Mormon?

What got you started in writing?

How did you get from an interest in writing to actually starting your first book? Was the task harder or easier than you expected?

What do you recommend to other writers who would like to write a book, but haven’t started yet?

What’s next? Sequel? Do you have another book underway?

Any advice or suggestions you would like to give new writers?

Thanks to Misty for allowing me to do the interview! Everyone go buy her book!