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.

Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

Jesus the Very Thought of TheeDownload “Jesus the Very Thought of Thee,” Sheet Music or Free MP3

Thoughts have power. They shape our character. They shape our existence. They shape the nature of our being. No wonder we’re encouraged to watch our thoughts, guard them, and direct them for good.

We sometimes picture our minds as being storage spaces, and that we’re constantly sifting through files, gathering, grouping, and organizing information into something that will benefit us in a practical way.

I don’t see thoughts that way at all. Thoughts have no boundaries. They’re not limited by space, time, or possibility. They are like an energy cloud of infinite space and potential. They can create, reform, and change the course of universes. They influence everything, because everything we see is from the paradigm of our thoughts. And we, in physical form, effect the things we see.

But, some may argue, you can’t effect someone on the other side of the world just by thinking about them.

I disagree. You most certainly can. Think about that person enough, with real depth, and you’ll reach a point where you can’t not act out physically on your thoughts. Those thoughts leak out in your actions, words, and eyes, and in your interactions with other people. You are the embodiment of your thoughts. You can change yourself by your thoughts. You can change the world with your thoughts. The more you think on a thing, the more that thing comes into being. Eventually, things happen to effect that one person on the other side of the world. That’s the power of thought. Thoughts determine choices, and choices change the world.
Given enough time and attention, a single thought can alter the course of the world.

How much more effective then, is your thought of the creator of everything you’ve ever seen.

Jesus Christ is a man—a perfect, resurrected, omnipotent, and powerful man, but He is a man. He has thoughts, and His thoughts govern the universe.

And if you, also a human being, think on that eternal being, and connect with Him, your influence over the universe expands beyond anything you might think on your own. The very thought of the Savior, who both created and bought the universe, empowers you to do so much more than you could otherwise do.

You may long for his presence. You may picture His face, the very embodiment of eternity. You may think of His life, His choices, His sacrifice. You may think of His perfection, atonement, and His eternal glory. You may think of your own experiences with Him. You may think of Him daily. But whatever you do, think of Him. The very thought of the Savior has power to shape the universe, for you, for your loved ones, and for the whole human race, now and forever.

Joseph Smith’s First Prayer

You can get the sheet music or free MP3 of this music on my website.

From Joseph’s 1832 account of the first vision:

“At about the age of twelve years my mind became seriously impressed with regard to the all-important concerns for the welfare of my immortal soul, which led me to searching the scriptures, believing, as I was taught, that they contained the word of God. Thus, applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations led me to marvel exceedingly, for I discovered that they did not adorn their profession by a holy walk and godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository.

“This was a grief to my soul. Thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the situation of the world of mankind, the contentions and divisions, the wickedness and abominations, and the darkness which pervaded the minds of mankind. My mind became exceedingly distressed, for I became convinced of my sins, and by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatized from the true and living faith. And there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. And I felt to mourn for my own sins and for the sins of the world, for I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday, today, and forever, that he was no respecter of persons, for he was God.

“For I looked upon the sun—the glorious luminary of the earth—and also the moon, rolling in their majesty through the heavens, and also the stars shining in their courses, and the earth also upon which I stood, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters, and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in majesty and in the strength of beauty. . . . And when I considered upon these things, my heart exclaimed, ‘Well hath the wise man said it is a fool that saith in his heart there is no God.’

“My heart exclaimed, ‘All these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipresent power, a being who maketh laws and decreeth and bindeth all things in their bounds, who filleth eternity, who was and is and will be from all eternity to eternity.’ And when I considered all these things and that that being seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth, therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy, for there was none else to whom I could go and obtain mercy.

And the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in the attitude of calling upon the Lord, in the [15th] year of my age, a pillar of firelight above the brightness of the sun at noon day came down from above and rested upon me, and I was filled with the spirit of God. And the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord.

And he spake unto me saying, ‘Joseph, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee. Go thy way, walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments. Behold, I am the Lord of glory. I was crucified for the world that all those who believe on my name may have eternal life. Behold, the world lieth in sin at this time, and none doeth good, no not one. They have turned aside from the gospel and keep not my commandments. They draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me. And mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them according to this ungodliness and to bring to pass that which hath been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and apostles. Behold and lo, I come quickly, as is written of me, in the cloud, clothed in the glory of my Father.’

And my soul was filled with love, and for many days I could rejoice with great joy, and the Lord was with me, but could find none that would believe the heavenly vision.”

(Joseph Smith, “Kirtland Letter Book” [MS, LDS Historian’s Library], 1829–1835, 1–6; the original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar have been altered to conform to contemporary usage). Also cited in the Presidents of the Church Institute Student Manual, pages 5-6.

His Rain


His Rain Cover

by Chas Hathaway and Ria Spencer

I am standing in the rain

In the sparkling drops of rain
I seek the warmth of new light
Beneath the endless sky

I am walking in the rain
In the sparkling drops of rain
Through the clouds I see a new light
A tunnel to the sky

The rain is clean
The rain is pure
I feel it wash away the world
I am new
I am pure
I found His light

I am dancing in the rain
In the sparkling drops of rain
I have found the warmth of His light
Descending from on high

His rain is clean
His rain is pure
I feel it wash away the world
I am new
I am pure
I found His light

I am new
I am pure
(I found his light)
I found His love

Sheet music available on my website

His Rain Quote

Love at Home

Love at HomePresident David O. McKay said, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”

(quoted from Theodore Hesburgh, Reader’s Digest, Jan. 1963, 25; in Richard Evans’ Quote Book [1971], 11).

“Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”

-Bible Dictionary, “Temple”

“Arthur Gordon shared this story in a national magazine:”

“When I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say [into the phone], ‘No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.’

“When he came back to the table, Mother smiled. ‘The circus keeps coming back, you know.’

“ ‘I know,’ said Father. ‘But childhood doesn’t.’ ”

—Arthur Gordon, A Touch of Wonder (1974), 77–78

I would love to have a shirt that says, “Sorry, I can’t come. My kids are growing up that day, and I don’t want to miss it.”

A happy, loving home life involves living each day to the fullest. This is an account related by Thomas S. Monson:

“Elder Monte J. Brough, formerly of the Seventy, tells of a summer at his childhood home in Randolph, Utah, when he and his younger brother, Max, decided to build a tree house in a large tree in the backyard. They made plans for the most wonderful creation of their lives. They gathered building materials from all over the neighborhood and carried them up to a part of the tree where two branches provided an ideal location for the house. It was difficult, and they were anxious to complete their work. The vision of the finished tree house provided tremendous motivation for them to complete the project.

“They worked all summer, and finally in the fall just before school began, their house was completed. Elder Brough said he will never forget the feelings of joy and satisfaction which were theirs when they finally were able to enjoy the fruit of their work. They sat in the tree house, looked around for a few minutes, climbed down from the tree—and never returned. The completed project, as wonderful as it was, could not hold their interest for even one day. In other words, the process of planning, gathering, building, and working—not the completed project—provided the enduring satisfaction and pleasure they had experienced.

“Let us relish life as we live it and, as did Elder Brough and his brother, Max, find joy in the journey.”

Thomas S. Monson, “Treasure of Eternal Value,” Liahona, Apr 2008, 2–7

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

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Christ the Lord Has Risen TodayCan you imagine the celebration we must have had?

After centuries of watching, waiting, anticipating, sometimes with an almost agonizing hope, and other times with pain and sorrow as we watched our older Brother suffer in preparation for the event—to see Him willingly give His life must have been agonizing, but just like a mother’s joy when her baby arrives, we must have forgotten all the hurt, all the anxiety, and all the pain as He took on His new perfected life.

Can you imagine the party that must have taken place? We’re humans, we like to celebrate. Can you imagine the celebration Father must have had with us?

The beautiful thing about this celebration is that it continues. We mourn at the loss of every loved one. But the Savior’s resurrection opened an eternal gate, guaranteeing every person ever to be born the gift of immortality. The celebration of the resurrection is the celebration of every person we have ever loved, because thanks to Jesus Christ, we will all return to life.

(Here’s the orchestrated version)

The sheet music for the piano solo version of this piece can be found on my website.

Resurrection Quote

Nearer My God to Thee Sheet Music

NearerThe sheet music for this piece is now available on my website.

The art on the cover is called, “In the Green Summer Meadow,” by Ria Spencer. You should check out her other stuff.

You can also Download the free MP3.

Enjoy the music!

Reaching Us

My African Dream

My African Dream CoverOn my mission to South Africa, I had many dreams about home. I mentioned this to a companion once, and he said since the beginning of his mission, he hadn’t once dreamed about home. This surprised me, because I hadn’t once dreamed about my mission or Africa – my dreams were always about home.

Later in my mission I dreamed a few dreams about my mission, but the vast majority took place at home.

There was one dream that recurred many times in my mission in different forms. I was home for a short time from my mission. I had little time, because for some reason I was about to go back. Knowing this, I told my family all the incredible things about Africa—about the culture, the people, the traditions, the art, the music—everything that fascinated me about this incredible land. In the dream, I’d be telling them as much as I could in the short time I had. Then I would wake from the dream and realize that I had indeed returned to Africa.

About halfway through my mission, I had a dream that I’d returned home. It was the end of my mission, and I was home for good. In my dream I came to a striking realization that my mission was over. No more teaching, no more tracting, no more missionary work. I also had another shock when I realized that Africa was gone forever. No more teaching the word of God by candlelight in a broken shanty. No more beautiful African people, with their easy laughs and contagious faith. No more rusty golden sunsets or palm-cactus forests. No more walks down dusty, poor, villages with distant voices singing in perfect harmony from some unknown house, with pulsing drums carried in the wind. No more African stars glowing like nebulae in the night sky. No more red sand. No more Africa.

In the dream, the realization of this loss hit me dramatically. I thought about the fact that there were no people in the world like Africans. No culture that was more unique and beautiful. I adored this people. Oh, how I loved them.

In the dream I told everyone at home about all the African ways and the incredible African people. I told them about the amazing children of God who had learned and accepted the gospel, about their commitment and love for the truth. In my dream, I suddenly felt terribly sad to have left Africa. I wanted to keep teaching these people. I wanted to go back. I wanted to be a missionary in Africa for as long as I could.

Because of these powerful feelings, waking up was a joyous relief. My mission wasn’t over. There wasn’t anything I wanted more at that time than to be a missionary in the Johannesburg South Africa Mission.

Of course I missed my family, but for now, that was all I wanted, and I decided I would make my remaining year the best possible mission I could.

And I did.

After writing the memoir of my mission, I wrote a piano piece called, My African Dream, to remind me of everything I loved about Africa, and the mixed emotions from the powerful dream of coming home and leaving it all behind.

Hieway to Kolob: New Age Music by Chas Hathaway

$.79 MP3 null

I absolutely love the tune to If You Could Hie to Kolob. When I came up with my piano solo arrangement, I was blown away by all of your kindness and support. To date, it’s my bestselling sheet music.

I got the idea to do another arrangement of the tune about a year ago, and have been working since to decide the best way to go about it. I’m sure the African influence on my music has nothing to do with the two years I spent in Africa (:

The words in the music are Swahili. You may recognize “Hakuna.” Disney inaccurately translated hakuna matata as “No worries.” But the real translation is “there is no problem,” which I guess is about the same thing. Anyway, “Hakuna Mwisho” means, “There is no end.”

So the translation of these words is basically

There is no end to matter

to spirit

There is no end to wisdom,

to light

There is no end to wisdom

There is no end to glory

There is no end to youth

There is no death above

The lyrics repeat sometimes and shuffle the order, but that’s basically it.