personal website

My Songs on YouTube

May 12th, 2017 . by maria

Hey, If you’re bothering to check out my website, then you might be interested enough in this: I posted a few of my songs on YouTube. Check them out!

“Just Like Him” is about how any kind of church can be God’s people.

“It’s Time to Praise the Lord” is a fun praise song

“Said Job” is taken directly from Job 12 starting in verse 7

“What Do You Want” is a song about stages of life

The older videos on this YouTube belong to my dog, but she’s awesome, so you might like those too. 😉

Use What You’ve Got

April 26th, 2017 . by maria

So, I ended my last post with “Well, when God wants you to lead worship with a Ukulele, He will make it happen!” That couldn’t be more true. I played Ukulele on 1-2 songs each Sunday after that, including the Christmas Eve service. But around that time, I also was getting a message that God had plans for me away from TLC Church. (To be clear: I love TLC Church, and the people there, and the music team. I didn’t want to leave, and nobody did anything to make me want to leave.) But I’ve learned that when God is pushing you, it is best to follow before He has to get stern with you. So I let my leaders know, and laid out a timeline ending in March. I visited a lot of church websites, and then took a Sunday off here and there to visit a couple churches. They were OK, but not a good fit. March came along, and I still didn’t know where I was going, and I was like “um, God? Open door?” But while I was out one Sunday, the leaders told the team I was leaving, so…well…it was happening, and I trusted God had a plan.

March 5, 2017 I visited Ponce Church, liked what I saw and heard, and spoke with the worship leader (Buddy Reaves) briefly. I put my email in their offering to help with their feeding the homeless project. Wednesday I got an email from the pastor, Rick Tidwell. They had just done a church plant and lost their worship leader. Buddy is a fill-in, but can only do a couple days a month, and his other contacts are unavailable. Would I be interested in leading worship?  DOOR OPEN.

I made sure Pastor Rick knew that I play an electric Ukulele, and he was cool with that. (Hmm…I didn’t even have to tell him how that was God’s fault.) I arranged to visit one more Sunday, with my Dad in tow, because I respect his experience and judgement. And because he had been feeling a similar pull, and I was hoping we’d end up together. We did, for now at least. We started leading worship there March 19 (taking turns with Buddy). And it is working. God prepared it, and me, and it is beautiful to feel like you’re in the exact place doing the exact thing that you were built for. Make no mistake, my stubby little fingers weren’t built for playing anything but the Ukulele. But that’s OK, because I was also built to worship my God.

Practicing Ukulele Worship at my Aunt Nana’s house

Surprise! Ukulele Worship Service

November 13th, 2016 . by maria

God has some crazy plans, and He sure surprises us. You know He gave me the Ukulele at the end of July, and I have been wanting to play it in church ever since. I really feel like God is wanting me using the Ukulele for worship, even though it is kind of an odd duck instrument. I’m like “God, the guitar would’ve been nice…I don’t know anyone looking for a Ukulele player for their worship team!” So…

This week, Jackie (our worship leader/keyboardist) was going to have me try to play along with one of the songs, and I had practiced it all week. But Jackie came down with bronchitis, so we didn’t have rehearsal Wed. Well, come Sat she was still sick, so Pastor Ramona texted us  and said we are doing the set list from Oct 9 with the CD. This is Sat at 3:45! I am feeling like I should still play. So I look it over, and it has “Days of Elijah” and “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)” and the CD version was in a good key for me for both those, so I practiced them 3x last night AND once Sun morning before going to church.

Get to church. Pastor Ramona is fine with me playing along. But Jackie was going to do the special for offertory, and she isn’t here and we don’t have a CD for anyone else to sing.. So, I said I would do  “Your Love Oh Lord” with the Ukulele; I was practicing it for December anyway.

Scott was running the sound booth, Paul is out. We practice, it is good. Uke is fine on those 2 songs, and the special. Last song, Scott has gone to the bathroom so we practiced it acapella. This is important because…

Worship service. We start Days of Elijah, and halfway thru the first verse, the CD cuts out. Mics are OK, Uke is OK, but no CD. We continue the song with the Ukulele and we keep singing. They try 2 more times, and a different CD, but the CD is not working. We end up doing 2 songs Ukulele and 3 acapella, and I do the special, and it is all good, and The Spirit was there, and people loved it.

Well, when God wants you to lead worship with a Ukulele, He will make it happen!

Prince of Peace : Sometimes God works through Songs

October 11th, 2016 . by maria

2016 (in the wake of Hurricane Matthew)

Last Sunday, those of us who were able to straggle into church had a very special time together. We thanked God for our safety, praised Him for his goodness, and prayed for those who weren’t here. We also shared stories of how we weathered the storm – and in those stories one theme started to emerge – Peace. (Sometimes God works through themes.) We had peace in the preparations, peace in our decision to stay, several of us even had peace to sleep through the storm.

I, too, experienced peace in the storm. But…I need to back up a little bit to tell you why. See, many years ago I bought this Ukulele on a whim. I was on vacation with my Mom in the Poconos, and we thought it seemed like a fun memento to have. (Sometimes God works through parents.) I had never played any stringed instrument, but it might be fun to try, and it was small and inexpensive…and SO CUTE! Well, I never got the hang of it, and it has hung on my wall for years. Every once in a while I get it down, open the book that came with it, and attempt to tune it. [TUNE IT] And play a few strums. That’s as far as I’d get before I got frustrated, or bored, and put it back on the wall. (No, seriously. [C] Strum strum …uhm….[F] strum?  Ugh…wall. That was IT.)

But something happened near the end of this July. It was my husband’s birthday…, and I wanted to do something special for him. (Sometimes God works through our spouses.) He had been watching America’s Got Talent, seeing adorable Grace Vanderwaal play her Ukulele. [I Don’t Know My Name] He really liked it. So, I thought I’d give mine another shot. I didn’t expect much, but I would try…for Alex. (Sometimes God works in mysterious ways…even through America’s Got Talent.) So, I tuned it, and I played a few chords. Then I looked up, and saw those same chords in our praise music for that week. [Good Good Father] So I tried playing that…and it worked! I turned through my notebook and found another song with those chords, and it worked too. [Days of Elijah] So every day that week, I worked through a couple songs. A week later, I posted a recording to Facebook – #ukuleleworship. [How Great Is Our God].

I started watching YouTube tutorials to learn new techniques [Lean On Me], and learning different songs. Like the night I played [Kokomo] right along with the Beach Boys… (Sometimes God works by giving you something Just For You) I grew up on Beach Boys music. I knew God was doing something and I couldn’t stop, so I even took my Ukulele on a business trip. Yep – September 11th, 2016… I was on a plane… with my Ukulele. In the hotel room at night, I practiced, and even sent my hubby a recording. [Gracious Tempest] When I returned, I signed up to play this Sunday. I didn’t know what song yet, but I knew God wanted me to play here.  In fact, ALL along, I knew that God was giving me a special gift that was meant to be shared…because (Sometimes God works through Special Gifts). I’m not saying “Gift” like “Gifted Virtuoso”..I’ve seen those videos – Jake Shimabukuro Bohemian Rhapsody on the Ukulele! I am NOT there …yet…  But I myself hadn’t been capable of learning anything on the Ukulele all these years. So, being able to play it, and sing along, and do it well enough that the song kept going and was recognizable?! It’s a gift – a “wow, Thank You Lord” kind of gift.

So when this hurricane was coming, I had Peace. Because I knew God had given this gift, and I was meant to share it. And I hadn’t played my Uke for you yet. So – I was going to be just fine. That may seem a little silly, but (Sometimes God works through the peace that passes understanding.) . Even last weekend, I STILL didn’t know what song yet, so Friday during the storm I practiced lots of songs…for hours…Ukulele is a good thing to do when there’s no power. Praising God is a good thing to do during a storm. [Your Love Oh Lord]  And Sunday came…and we each spoke about Peace In The Storm.  (Sometimes God works by giving ordinary words special meaning.) Pastor Howard used a particular phrase several times…”Prince of Peace”. He didn’t know it…but he was telling me which song to play. [Prince of Peace, Hillsong United]