Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category


Playing at the library and helping with the Heartland Christian School Christmas program were not our only musical opportunities in December.  Last year we started a Prairie Family tradition of playing at some local nursing homes the week of Christmas, and we kept the tradition for year #2 in 2014!  In fact, this year we added another performance at an assisted living center, so we were full of holiday cheer!

Seriously, these are fun musical activities–some of our favorite!  It’s kind of a low-pressure, relaxed way to share our music, and we always leave with the goal to come back soon for another jam session with these great people.  I am really hoping to do something like this again in the early summer with some of the fiddle music that we are currently working on.

It’s not hard to put together a program like this.  By the time we played some quartet music, a few trio songs, a duet here and there, a little bit of piano, and some fun group singing, the time was more than filled.  We had fun, and I hope the residents did as well.

I also had a couple of Christmas Eve services to play for.  At our home church, we had the Sunday School kids dress up in Nativity costumes and sing a song from the program that we did at the Christian school.  That was really neat, and I think the kids were pretty cute, don’t you?!



The other Christmas Eve service was at a church here in town that is currently short a piano player. They wanted to have a carol-sing as part of their midnight service, and I was asked to fill in for that. I have some very dear friends that go there, so I was happy to do that–and it made for a special memory for 2014.

Yes, music has become a major part of our family’s Christmas holiday celebrations, and I wouldn’t change a thing (except maybe to add some more???!!!)

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Boxes  Collage

The first couple of weeks of December were ridiculously busy at the Prairie Family house!  In addition to the program at the library and the Heartland Christian School Christmas program, the annual Genesis Christmas Basket project landed at exactly the same time!  So, we were pretty much running our heads off–but we had lots of fun!

I will always remember the 2014 Genesis Christmas basket project as the year of abundance–overflowing abundance in more than one way!  It was my job to make sure that we had enough volunteers to complete each phase of distributing these food packages to the needy families in our community.  Even one week out from the beginning of the project, I just wasn’t sure how it was going to come together.  I did know one thing:  it would be all right.  God definitely takes care of Genesis year-around, and I knew He’d continue to do so.  Despite this, however, I just didn’t have the groups responding to help like they had in years past.  That all changed the Monday before the boxes were filled on Friday!  That day I had sports teams, businesses, churches, etc. all call saying they were coming to help–and come they did!  We had so much help moving the food to our filling location that we were finished in record time!  We had so many volunteers assembling and distributing boxes that we actually had to invent things for them all to do!  So, when God brought the needed help, He brought even more than we needed!

The other way that God provided overflowing abundance had to do with meat.  Several weeks before the filling of the boxes, Genesis received unbelievable donations of meat.  So much meat, in fact, that all of the food bank’s freezers were over-flowing!  We had so much meat that several board members had to store extras until space could be found to move it all.  It was really quite a strange problem to have!  As the baskets approached, we decided that distributing the extra meat to the families getting the baskets would be a good way to thin down our supply.  So that’s what we did!  We started handing out meat, and handing out meat, and handing out meat!  I got on the phone and had the meat that was stored around town brought in, and we just kept handing it out!  At one point, one of my kids asked, “Where is all of this meat coming from?”  I asked them if they remembered the Bible story of the lad with the loaves and fish that Jesus used to feed the multitude, and then I said, “Just watch!  I bet that we will have just enough to take care of all of these people–not too much, not too little.”  And that’s what happened!  As the last person left with their portion of meat, there was just enough meat left in the freezers at the food bank to open for the next regular distribution day.  Wow, isn’t God good?!  He had been preparing that supply through those donations well in advance to take care of the needs in our community.  It was truly amazing to be part of that process!

Yes, 2014 Christmas baskets will always be remembered as a time of seeing God’s powerful hand supplying abundantly.  I love being part of Genesis because I get the privilege of seeing His awesome power and gracious care meeting needs every day, all year around.  Blessed–truly blessed!



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My friend, Christine Quist, took videos of the Heartland Christian School 2014 Christmas program and graciously uploaded them to Youtube so I can post them on this blog.  She also has edited DVD’s available for purchase.  Please contact me if you are interested, and I will get you in touch with her.

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Hcs with text Collage

2014 had a special surprise for me that ended up being a wonderful blessing!  This past summer, the administrator of our town’s Christian school contacted me about helping out at the school with music.  I met with her, and told her that it is definitely my desire to do that in the future.  With my current homeschooling responsibilities, though, I wasn’t sure how well it would fit in with all of the other things I already have going.  We discussed several options, and settled on that I would help direct the school’s Christmas program.  I thought it would give me a chance to get to know the school and its students more, and it would just be a new adventure to try.

So, the first step was  choosing the programs.  For the preschool and kindergarten, we decided to work on a short, simple program written just for that age called My Best-est Friend by Bette Dale Moore.  (We changed the name to “My Best Friend.”)  For grades 1-6 we chose David’s Dynasty produced by Brentwood Kids Music.  I did a lot of editing/adapting on both of these shows before beginning to meet with the kids in October.  I just decided that it was good to fit the scripts specifically to this school, and it was worth all of the pre-work in the end.  I also worked on recording rehearsal cd’s since I figured it would be easier to run a cd player while I taught rather than try to play the piano and lead the class.

October arrived, and with it the real fun began!  I met all of the wonderful kids and had lots of fun getting acquainted with them and helping them get acquainted with the shows.  Figuring out casting and solos was quite a challenge because I wanted everyone who wanted a part to have a part.  We learned songs, ran lines, and, as we had time, we worked on some general music education type activities that the kids enjoyed.

Eventually, of course, there was staging, costuming, lights, sound, etc. to figure out–and I must admit, we kind of learned as we went.  I told the kids all along, though, that “we do the best we can, and that’s all we can do.  God takes care of the rest,” and that really proved to be true.  They did their best, I did my best, and God was faithful in pulling the people and details together to make the show a success.  There were ups and downs,  good moments and not-so-good, but through it all it was just amazing to see how God worked.  I kept saying that I wasn’t worried because God had started this thing and I knew He would see it through to the end– and that certainly was the case.

The week of the show had a big obstacle to overcome:  illness.  The kids in the school started passing around a nasty respiratory flu type bug, and there were days that many, many kids missed school.  I also got the illness, but I had no choice but to press on!  :)  Even the day of the show, I had kids call in sick, but I really wasn’t worried.  I knew God would take care of it.  Yes, we were missing key people in the performance.  Yes, Kara sang a solo and said lines that she had never done before for the actual performance.  But it all went very well, thanks to the blessing and support of our Lord.

For me personally, doing this program was a growing experience in many, many ways.  I think the thing that I will always remember about it is the wonderful kids.  I can honestly say that not once–not once–did they give me any trouble.  They were always enthusiastically doing their best.  Their happy faces brought me many joyful memories, and I love them all.  The faculty at the school was great as well.  It’s not easy to keep going with limited time and resources, but they were always right there to help out as they could.  Those are things that did not end when we finished the show.  I will forever hold Heartland Christian School close to my heart.

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Booked for Lunch Collage

Several months ago, the director of our public library approached me about doing a “Booked for Lunch” program.  These are really nice events that they hold on a monthly basis that include a light lunch and a variety of programs–usually book reviews or something similar.  I had told her that what we do best is play music, and she said that if she had an opportunity come available for that type of program, she’d let me know.

We were thrilled when she called and told us that she had the Christmas program open!  We had gone to these for a couple of years and had really enjoyed them, so we were honored to be able to do the 2014 program.  We chose a wide variety of carols, and played them with various groupings–some quartet, some trio, some duet, etc.  It ended up working out pretty nicely.  One piece in particular stretched us, but it has become an O’Brien Keys and Strings favorite.  It is a Spanish carol entitled Riu Riu Chiu.  When I first heard the quartet sample on Sheetmusicplus.com (click on the listen option of this page, and this song is Track 1), I really liked the rhythm and the way the theme jumped around between the parts.  I thought it sounded very modern and “cool.”  As I researched it for the Booked for Lunch, I found out that it was actually written in the 1500’s predating even the baroque era!  I guess that goes to show that music is truly timeless!

One thing that made this event extra special is that I invited the kids from Heartland Christian School to join us and perform a couple of pieces from the Christmas musical that I directed.  That was such a blessing!  I must admit that I was a little nervous about how this would go because the library show fell right after the school’s Thanksgiving Break, and, believe it or not, they came and sang without rehearsing for two weeks!  God blessed their performance, though, and their beautiful singing filled the library–it was truly amazing.  I had several people comment after the program how wonderful the kids were.  And I know that they are pretty wonderful all of the time!  I love those kids!

The Christmas Booked for Lunch was a special way to begin what was to be a very special Christmas season–one that will always be remembered!

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Fall Update

Well, here it is October, and I have not posted since August!  It is definitely not because there is nothing blog-worthy happening.  In fact, it is just the opposite:  things have been so crazy that I can barely keep my head above water!  And, to top it all off, I lost my old, faithful camera, and that put me out of the picture business for a few weeks.  But, there is one perk to losing a camera–I got a new one!  And it is a doosie, as you can see from the quality of the pictures for this entry!  I haven’t had a lot of time to play with it yet, but I sure have liked the few pictures that I have gotten with it so far!  So, I am now re-armed with my camera, and blog posts should be more forthcoming.

School is going pretty well.  We are already finished with our first nine-weeks grading period.  The kids have had lots of papers, projects, etc., and that isn’t going to change any time soon.  Brock and Cosette are in the early stages of this year’s science projects, so there is lots of fun just around the corner…..

John is having quite a busy senior year of high school.  He has applied to a few colleges, and has been accepted everywhere he has applied–and offered academic scholarships at each one as well.  He is getting this major decision narrowed down, and hopefully soon we’ll be able to start heading in a specific direction for next fall.  He also participated in a piano competition a couple of weeks ago, and got a 1 rating!  This qualifies him to go to a state-level competition in Topeka the first weekend of November.  Pretty cool stuff!

Like I said earlier, I have been running like a crazy person for the last several weeks.  Since school started, I have gained 4 more music lesson students, so that alone has kept me pretty busy.  But, on top of that, I have been going to the local Christian school to help the kids there put on a Christmas musical.  This has been a wonderful blessing!  I am working with kids from pre-school through 6th grade, and have 3 different classes with about 50 students total.  We are doing a brand new show called David’s Dynasty with grades 1-6, and a very cute preschool program called My Best Friend with the preschool and kindergarten.  I have rewritten quite a bit of the scripts for both shows, so they are definitely going to be a personalized program for this school.  The kids have been amazing–and they are very talented.  It has been very precious to see how God has led in this direction and is guiding each step.  I can’t wait to see the end results, and will do my best to get some pictures to post here along the way.

We’re also still working on the reader’s theater script for the library and the melodrama for the barbershop chorus, so for whatever reason, my days sure are filled with music and drama!

Oh, and speaking of music, on December 3, O’Brien Keys and Strings is going to provide Christmas music for the Booked for Lunch program at our local library!  That is very exciting!  It’s a pretty nice event that we have attended in the past, and we are delighted to get to perform for it this year!  So, we have been busy practicing all kinds of Christmas music, and our problem is definitely not going to be having enough music.  No, if anything we’ll have to cut out songs to keep within the time limit–which is always a hard decision to make!

So, welcome to the crazy house!  Our lives are very lively, and hopefully now that I am back in the picture business, I will be able to bring you all along on our adventures in the coming weeks!

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We have been back in the school routine for a couple of weeks, and it really is going very well.  In fact, if it can just keep going like it is now, we’ll have a fantastic year!

John has officially made it to his senior year.  He is very excited about graduating and beginning college next year.  Everyone asks what his plans are, and he’s still in the process of getting that narrowed down.  He has his options narrowed down to 2-3 schools and is interested in studying physics, math, music or a combination of those subjects.  He has a pretty good line-up of senior classes and is really enjoying A Beka Academy speech class.  I almost wish we hadn’t have waited until his senior year for this class because it is so full of good, practical information for life, but I don’t really know when else we could have fit it into his schedule either.  It is only a semester, so to fill the other semester he is going to take a family consumer science course–which we will all enjoy because there are lots of food labs!  :)

Brock is a sophomore and is really enjoying his Spanish class.  I am thankful for that–John didn’t enjoy it so much.  He is looking forward to being a junior next year when he will be old enough to participate in some of the college music classes like John has done.

Cosette is in 8th grade this year, and Luke is in 7th grade.  They just keep plugging away at the A Beka Academy curriculum–not much new to report there.  They are both enjoying their music lessons and are looking forward to participating in the college musical (hopefully) again.

Kara is in 5th grade, and she is very happy to have a “new” desk.  She had used one of our little desks for so long–she really needed something different last year, but we didn’t do anything about it.  This year, she is using the desk that I had when I was growing up, and she really enjoys having a bigger work area!  She is still working on the trumpet every day and enjoys playing the piano.

So, life keeps us busy!  And, there are several outside-of-school things going on for us this year as well.  John, Brock, and I (and maybe Cosette?) are going to write another library readers’ theater script, but this year we are going to start completely from scratch.  I know:  that’s kind of scarey!  I am also helping to rewrite and lead a melodrama play that will be part of this year’s barbershop concert in the early spring.  The barbershop director wants people not in the chorus to do the acting, so that cuts out John, Brock, Luke, and Dan.  I am planning parts for Cosette and Kara, so they will enjoy that.

A big new project for me this year will be helping with our local Christian School’s Christmas program.  This will be an exciting adventure, to say the least, but I am sure that it will be a good, rewarding experience.  As my own kids grow up and leave home, I’ve always considered helping with music at this school, so this will be a small way to get started with that.  Right now I am looking through scripts trying to find just the “right” one.  Once the program is selected, I’ll need to get back with the school to arrange practices.

My new saying is this:  Life sure is lively!  I am thankful for every opportunity, though.  It is a blessing to be busy in meaningful, purposeful pursuits!

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