Singing My Heart Out…

When we can’t see her in person and are 6 hours away my eyes light up when I see the little green light on my phone saying you’ve got a message. Our daughter-in-law is good at sending us photo updates of little Addy May. Thank you dear Jamie!

Our two girls from across the state staying warm in their icy cold conditions.

Here she is just chillin in the kitchen while mama gets something done. Dan and Jamie are going to have to make a more secure play area for her since just this week she’s learned to use her play toys to climb up onto the couch and be able to escape her cordoned off play area.

What does all of this have to do with singing?

I’ve been singing all my life and it’s an important part of my life. My love for singing started in church. In my father’s Molokan church growing up into my teens singing was acapella. There were no instruments in the church and the songs were mostly from the Psalms in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. My father was a “songleader” in this church. For Easter and Christmas we would visit my maternal grandmother’s Russian Baptist Church where we enjoyed singing with piano and organ. In junior high school choir was one of my classes and I was introduced to notes and music. After my father attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angles in 1963 he started a new life of following Christ as his Savior and we eventually left the Molokan Church. We started attending my maternal grandmother’s church. At the Baptist church my sisters and I were part of the youth choir which eventually worked on recording tapes of Russian hymns for Far East Broadcasting and Slavic Gospel Association to be broadcast into the Soviet Union over radio waves. During my high school years our youth choir went out every Christmas Eve to carol in Russian and English at old folks homes. We’d choose the homes where folks from the Russian churches were housed. There was one apartment building a couple doors down from Bethany Baptist Church in Los Angeles where several of our widowed grandmothers lived in separate apartments next door to each other. We’d always start our caroling there. I have to add that in my junior high and high school years I memorized and sang along with the Beatles and Leslie Gore and with whatever other group was popular. I was a “songleader” in high school. We were part of the cheer squad at sporting events and mostly yelled chants while performing routines with pom poms. “Push em back, push em back, waaaaay back. LOL!

In my college years our Los Angeles Russian Choir added some Russian voices from around the state of California and we recorded an album in a professional studio. During this time we met a studio musician who directed a Christian singing ensemble that toured the states and Great Britain. My best friend at the time auditioned for his group. She was added and toured England with them in the summer of 1972. I met the members of Tom Keene and the Contemporaries before they left for England and when they returned an alto left and I auditioned and joined the group in fall of 1972. Dear, his brother and sister in law were part of the Contemporaries. Dear and I started dating. We performed most every Sunday evening at a different church in the greater Los Angles area singing and giving our testimonies. We had weekly practices. Dear and my relationship grew and we got married after our second tour of Great Britain.

This was a newspaper article from a British paper about our group touring and singing in local schools.

Chalk church in Gravesend

All this talk about singing was inspired by the fact that today Laura bought tickets for me, my sister Lana and Katie to attend The Sound of Music sing along at the 5th Avenue in Seattle. The four of us are meeting for lunch and then popping into the theater for what I’m sure will be a fun time of singing our hearts out! Have you ever attended one of these sing along events?

Looking forward to spending a few hours with these girls. Wish our girls from across the mountains could be with us.

My semi professional singing days are well over and now my favorite times to sing are still in church and to little Addy May. I sing nursery rhymes and other songs to her. She doesn’t care that my voice cracks and I don’t stay on key or…if I make up the words! Looking forward to when she can sing along with me!

Till next time, The hills are alive…

It Is Well with My Soul


It Is Well with My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought—
My sin—not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.


But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so—it is well with my soul.

This was one of the songs my family sang in my mom’s hospital room the last couple days. We sang Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Trust and Obey, Bless Thou the Lord, He Lives and a couple songs in Russian, too. My mom had many ups and downs over the course of her time. The following photos show some of those ups and downs. Tonight she is home in her and my pop’s apartment on Hospice Care.

mom praisingThese photos were taken while singing It is Well with My Soul and praying over my mom.

mom watermelon

The next day my nephew Tim brought this cut up watermelon for us all to share in the hospital room and my mother really brightened up when she saw it.

mom episode

My father is always at my mom’s side. This was another down episode my mom had. She could go from alert and cheery to very difficult periods.

mom blessing

She rallied again and was so intent on my father praying a blessing on Caleb and Marie who will be getting married on August 10th. She wanted my Pop to bless them in Russian and then she spent quite a good chunk of time giving Caleb and Marie some advice and counsel. She told them that they have to forgive each other among other things.

After I left for the airport and my family was waiting for my mom to be discharged my sister shared the following:

Yesterday as we were waiting for mom’s release process we were singing hymns and people were stopping by to listen. We then received a request to sing for a patient. After we sang and prayed with one patient, a nurse asked if we could sing for yet another patient! It was such a wonderful experience to be able to minister to others in their time of need!

I am home again and thankful that I could make a quick trip to Southern California to see my mom and pop and be with them through these hard days. My siblings and I were able to talk through some decisions we have to make soon and talk with my parents about their wishes and resolving to honor those wishes. We had wonderful times of fellowship in my mom’s hospital room praying, singing, reading, laughing, sharing with family and friends. At one point we had 19 of us crammed into her small hospital room. After that the staff moved my mom to a much larger room so we could have more space. The staff at St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton were wonderful and they offered us some great hospitality even when we were clogging their halls!

Now we wait on God’s timing for my mom’s life.

Thank you for your prayers. I appreciate you all…

I Have a Song That Jesus Gave Me ~ Hymn

I Have a Song That Jesus Gave Me

I have a song that Jesus gave me,
It was sent from Heav’n above;
There never was a sweeter melody,
’Tis the melody of love.


In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody with Heaven’s harmony;
In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody of love.

I love the Christ who died on Calv’ry,
For He washed my sins away;
He put within my heart a melody,
And I know it’s there to stay.


’Twill be my endless theme in glory,
With the angels I will sing;
’Twill be a song with glorious harmony,
When the courts of Heaven ring.


Words: Elton M. Roth, 1924.

HT: Jeremy Leffel Photography