August 28, 2022

The Joy of Music

 



For the past three weeks, I have basked in learning more about the Book of Psalms as part of my Old Testament Study. I have been uplifted, enraptured, and inspired as I have read passages from the scriptures. But even more, I have been filled with joy as I have listened to the weekly Follow Him podcast with Hank Smith and John Bytheway, along with their three fantastic guests: Shon D. Hopkin, Eric D. Huntsman, and Michael McLean.

 

I was not expecting the experience that I had over the course of the past three weeks. As I listened to these amazing scholars, teachers, and musicians, I began to feel such deep joy and gratitude as they shared their knowledge and love of the scriptures, and more significantly, their love of music. Each guest was able to share history, testimony, and their experiences with music in a unique way. I found myself in another realm, basking in the light of their testimonies. It was an extraordinary experience for me, one that I will always remember, and one which has touched me to the depths of my soul.

 

My life is filled to the brim with learning, teaching, and performing. It is also filled with meetings and paperwork. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. I love music to my very core. I love teaching. I love performing. I love sharing. But as of late, with so many challenges on every side, my musical and spiritual cup has been empty. And from that emptiness, it has been difficult to give to others.

 

For many years I was able to perform sacred music in a variety of settings, almost weekly. It was a treasured part of my life and career. In fact, other than my family and students, that sacred part of my career gave me sustenance. It filled my musical and spiritual cup to the brim and fed my soul in ways that nothing else ever has. 

 

As I sit here, reminiscing over the miraculous three weeks with the Book of Psalms, I am remembering that the Lord literally fed me manna in my musical and spiritual wilderness. I am remembering that I received a gift from others, of feeling once again the joy of music. And I am remembering the joy of music as I read the final verse of Psalms: “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.”

 

August 13, 2022

The Light in the Darkness


During our church services last week, the sound of the organ abruptly stopped during the opening hymn, and the lights in the chapel began flickering. Our wonderful organist went to the piano and continued to play the hymn. At some point during the hymn, all of the lights went out completely. We were in complete darkness for a moment. And we all kept singing....

I was amazed at the experience that unfolded during that hour of worship. There was a flurry of activity as our leaders were trying to figure out what was going on. And very quickly, many members turned on their smart phone flashlights. There, in the darkness, we witnessed little lights shining throughout the chapel. There was also a light at the pulpit, the piano, the music stand, and the sacrament table. Many of the deacons turned on their flashlights and put the phone in their pockets, which lighted their way as they offered the bread and the water to each of us. 





The symbolism of light was so profound to me during that hour. As I partook of the bread, and drank the water, I felt like God was speaking to me, and reminding me of the importance of light, of remembering that Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and that He is the light that we should seek, the light that we should hold up.

 

We had a very sweet testimony meeting, with many children, as well as other faithful members, bearing testimony. Even without a microphone, I was amazed to hear and feel the truths of the gospel during each testimony. I was also grateful to testify that Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and it is through Him and His light that we find our way back to our Heavenly Father.

 

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

 

“Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:5)

 

“Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.” (3 Nephi 18:24)

 

“Every time you turn your hearts to God in humble prayer, you experience His light. Every time you seek His word and will in the scriptures, the light grows in brightness. Every time you notice someone in need and sacrifice your own comfort to reach out in love, the light expands and swells.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

 

I remembered another experience with light that occurred many years ago. As a music student at Brigham Young University, I was very busy with classes, practicing, performances, and studying. I tend to wear my stress on my sleeve, and like most musicians, I am also a perfectionist.

 

One day, two wonderful friends contacted me, and told me they had an activity planned and it would take a bit more time than usual. At the appointed time (it was late in the evening), they picked me up from my apartment, and we got in their car. They also covered my eyes with a blindfold and told me to be patient as we would be driving for a while. I completely trusted them. We drove around Provo, and because of the blindfold, and as I also closed my eyes, I was in complete darkness. We talked and chatted, and I was curious about the purpose of our drive in the darkness. I wanted to know where we were going.

 

Finally, the car stopped, and they helped me get out. Then they uncovered my eyes. There we were, in the mountains above Provo. As my eyes began to adjust, I beheld the lights of the Provo Temple, with brilliant illumination, lighting the valley below. I will never forget the contrast between darkness and light, the beautiful light of the temple. Tears flooded my eyes, and inspiration poured into my soul. We shared a few thoughts with each other about the light, about the temple, and about heavenly perspective. 

 

And then as we drank in that heavenly temple light, we also stood silent.





1st photo: Stars - NASA

https://earthsky.org/space/ten-things-you-may-not-know-about-stars/


2nd photo: Starry, starry night - NASA

https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/starry-starry-night


3rd photo: Provo Temple in the Evening

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media-library/images/provo-temple-766489?lang=eng


 

November 28, 2020

The Wintry Day Descending to its Close




Several months ago, I had the music and text to "The Wintry Day, Descending to Its Close" going through my mind, and deep in my heart day after day. So, I pulled out my beloved old hymnbook and spent a bit of time with this wonderful hymn. It was as if I were immersed in the scriptures in my quiet sanctuary, listening to pure testimony. I love all the verses, but verse two is especially touching right now. I also love verse four. This hymn is one of the great a cappella hymns, but even without a choir, I did find great joy in playing the simple piano version.

Verse 2: I cannot go to rest, but linger still
In meditation at my windowsill,
While, like the twinkling stars in heaven’s dome, Come one by one sweet memories of home. And wouldst thou ask me where my fancy roves To reproduce the happy scenes it loves, Where hope and memory together dwell And paint the pictured beauties that I tell?




June 21, 2020

Father's Day

The Allred siblings at Spencer and Gentry's wedding - September 2015



On this Father's Day, I want to pay tribute to my four children, Spencer, Benjamin, Rebecca, and Preston, who took care of each other, and also took care of me all during their growing up years. Though they were so blessed to have amazing grandparents, and wonderful aunts and uncles that loved them and supported them, still it was on days like Father's Day, that the emotions could come to the surface, and were often very difficult.

September 30, 2018

The Call




A few times in my life, I have been in a sacred place, often in the privacy of my home, sometimes in the early morning hours, and at other times in the late hours of the evening, pondering, reflecting and feeling deeply the travails of life. In those sacred moments, I have providentially, at times, come upon a beautiful piece of music that immediately sinks deep in my soul, and somehow touches the profound feelings of the spirit. It has been in those moments that I have wept with deep emotion, searching for understanding and compassion, and seeking for love and forgiveness. In those moments, as my soul feels the beautiful music, I cry out for help and relief from my heavy burdens.

September 9, 2018

A Wounded Heart


Early in my journey of healing, I tried to study about the stages of grief in an effort to understand what I was feeling. But, honestly, my emotions were all over the place. I wasn’t sure where I was at any given moment or on any given day. Recently, having come full circle in my personal journey with the death of my former husband, not to mention other major challenges that were on the horizon, I hoped somehow that I would experience a little bit of respite from many of the thunderstorms of life. I hoped that I might find some tranquility, if for a small moment, instead of the constant tumultuous storms of adversity. 

September 3, 2018

Pay it Forward




In my early years of being a single parent, we had so many experiences that confirmed over and over to me that Heavenly Father was aware of my little family, that He loved us, and that somehow, we were going to make it. I held onto those days with all I had. Of course, I had just as many bad days as good days. There were days that discouraged me more than I ever thought possible. But as I held onto my testimony and my faith, I somehow believed that it would be all right.

August 19, 2018

Alone and Pregnant

December 1998 - getting ready to leave the hospital

As the weeks passed, and the reality of single parenting set in, I began looking toward the birth of my fourth child. I was in the final stages of my doctoral dissertation, with deadlines fast approaching, but with the events of the past many weeks, I knew that I would not finish on time. Thankfully, deadlines were extended because of my personal situation, and I was able to focus on my pregnancy. I began preparing myself to give birth yet a fourth time.