Monday, December 29, 2014

When in doubt... do something crazy!

When in doubt do something crazy.

Call that my current motto.....

Okay, actually that's true of me a lot of the time.

This started a few weeks ago... I felt I'd had my fill of scouring the internet for international piano competitions that were of high enough caliber, not taking place in some obscure eastern European country (Anyone up for a piano themed vacation in Abkhazia? Okay wait, where even is that!??!? ;)), and were feasible for me to do in terms of time input and repertoire requirements.  Andddd.... not gonna lie, I checked the cash prize for all these things too! ;)

So cut a long story short here: Google came to my rescue one more time at midnight on a random Friday evening, or Saturday morning, or whatever you want to call it.... To cut an even longer story even shorter, I finally came upon a competition that looked pretty good and got my excitement up enough to warrant me spending hours and hours of my life at the piano... not like that's something terribly new, but you get the picture.

And that's where the crazy comes in: See, this is a step up from the "easy-peasy" type of concerto competition.... like, I have four recital programs to prepare, and a concerto for the final round... all of which have to be in tip top shape.

"So like, great." I thought to myself. "Like how am I even supposed to do this thing?"
But how does one eat an elephant?  Yes... one bite at a time.

So that's where I am..... Hours and hours of Bach, Schumann, Beethoven and Prokofiev.  And hey, this is just preselection we're talking about here... So in other words: there's more... later! ;)

Oh yes.... and the actual reason of this post! Well, I figured (with the help of a good friend.. you know who you are! ;)) that I'd put out the pieces I'm playing for the first round so to speak.... Course, all things do come in their time, and this is no exception... I'm thinking to share some short vids with you all over the next few weeks to let you in on what I'm playing.

Now this all sounds incredibly boring and academic, right?  Well... we'll do what we can, and make classical music just as interesting as it should be, I assure you!

So buckle up!!!!! ;)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Only A Fraction...

My friends, what you will see inscribed herein is only a fraction of what I have done for the past few months...

Okay... you know what, forget the formality, and let's have a good time here!


Buckle up cause it's going to be fast, and it's going to be a lot!

So don't say I didn't warn you!

So first off... just a totally random side note here... I wear contacts now...which is literally awesome!
And this is my bro and I... totally living it in the end of summer... and refusing to believe that the summer was about to end!

End of September we celebrated the event we'd been planning and waiting to have an opening to do for a while... My highschool graduation.  Wow!  I used to think I wouldn't ever get through school... course that was a long time ago.... but still, you get what I mean!  I can't believe how fast the time went in actuality.  I'm excited for what God has planned for my future and what I'll be pursuing, and I'll keep right on sharing it here with all of you!

A special blessing for me was to have my pastor speak and give me a charge and a blessing... Even though I've only known him for a little less than a year, I have learned a whole lot!

Someone gave me the mic as well.... and being that I'm a talker, that could or couldn't be a good idea!
Well, they all survived my talk... and even laughed about the time I dropped the dumpster lid on my dad's head... Totally my fault, people!  Anddd... it was a really long time ago!

And this one was really late after a whole lot of dancing.... which was awesome!!!

Next thing that happened to me was pretty awesome... So back in July a friend casually mentioned a piano competition to me... I casually listened and then went home to check out google!  Anyway... long story short, I get to play the entire Schumann piano concerto with a local orchestra... I'm excited about the opportunity cause I love to perform with orchestras... I'm going to put some info up about that in a while!  But yeah, no pictures of that competition!
At some point a week and a half or so later, I found myself recording auditions.. but this time as a accompanist for Eden... Portland, Oregon has definitely made some adjustments to cope with these rather *ahem* hyper, displaced, SoCali people! JK
And I don't care what you say.... this evening was awesomeness!  If you don't recognize that guy (not me... the other one! JK) that is Marty Goetz.  He is a really fantastic Christian artist... I got to see him play many years ago at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (Once again, the Cali theme!) so it was really wonderful to get to see him perform once again, to spend some time visiting with him and his wife, and worship the Lord together!

So, many of you know that I work as a swim teacher..... well, this was this one evening after teaching where I found myself shirt shopping with some of my sisters...... I really couldn't find a better fit for myself than this one!

And soon after all this (Like a few days later) we all took off for Orlando, Florida 
(Literally took off! ;))
I spare you the plane pictures..... partially cause I didn't take any, and partially cause I spent a good portion of my flights talking to the people next to me, which was awesome in it's own regard!

But I digress!

First thing we actually did when we got there was.....
(Wait for it.....)

We ate.

I know, surprisingly uninspired but highly important!

I have to say... My experience in Florida is sort of impossible to explain... I can't pinpoint a favorite thing, a favorite experience or anything like that... it was all so wonderful and I'm so thankful for all of it!  So... in the words of Inigo Montoya, (And what a great quotation it is!) "Let me 'splain...No, there is too much.  Let me sum up."

I was totally stoked to make it to the final day of the National Bible Bee... all you who've read this blog for a while probably know that I did that competition for the past few years, had a great time, met a lot of friends, memorized a lot of Scripture, and so on, and so on, and so one..... ;)

But getting to come back was amazing... first off, it was different, I was a watcher and not a competitor.  Secondly, I was so thankful to go... and even more thankful to get to make it to see this guy competing in the final round...

And yes.... any of you who have read this blog for a while probably have a pretty good idea of who that is! ;)
Right... it's my crazy, amazing, awesome, so thankful to God for, friend, Daniel... We got to compete in the semifinals of the competition together last year, and if it wasn't enough for me to get to see him compete in finals this year... well.....
Wait for it.... again! :)

He won!  

I really hope he appreciated (and wasn't totally killed by) the literal football tackle some friends and I gave him directly after he came off stage! JK

Unfortunately, I didn't really take very many pictures of Bible Bee nationals.... in fact, I think I only took a few of other people... It's cause I talk with people!!!  It destroys any incentive to take pictures!

But due to the fact that we never actually got a formal picture last year, Daniel and I did get one together....
And he looks good... and I look... well... never mind!

The next day, part of the family went to get food to supply us for the next week or so... this left some crazy people at the hotel.... and... well... I decided I like hanging in that position.  Gives a new dimension to what a bat goes through all the time! :P TOTALLY KIDDING!

And we also swam... because the Strang family really likes to swim!  This is what coordinating eight people to jump in a pool at the same time looks like... Hey!  I'm visible! 

Random selfie from some point or another!

I forget what time this was taken... but I'm pretty sure it was late! 

This one was late for sure.... As Bethany and my mom were putting schedules together, I really helped them out by making some fun jokes with them and eating coffee ice cream.... They were really appreciative of that!

And now comes the big stuff... Disneyworld! 

Next morning we were early to take Epcot center!  And take it we did.... we used kind of a Trojan Horse principle...  You know, just put way more people in a small car than should actually be in there.  Then get out when you get inside.... and the people keep coming and coming and... you get the picture.

Epcot center... where certain rides make you feel like you're literally going to go through the bottom of your seat cause of the G force... Know what I'm talking about, Eden??? ;)

Eden and I.... The only two people who braved the orange level space ride.... the one that spun like crazy and forced an "OH MY WORD!!!" out of Eden when she was sitting next to me!

 A decent (albeit somewhat casual) picture of all us seven kids... Look now, cause these are more rare than blue moons...or something like that!

The boat ride that everyone thought we were going to take but no one could figure out where it left from!  Oh, the things that happen when we travel together!  And the other guy... you all know who that is... Yep... another one of my awesome friends... Evan!  (I have a lot of awesome friends, you know! ;))

A beautifully cool picture of the sun on the water which I didn't take...
(How's that for a caption?!)

Because very fast thrill rides are awesome....

The next day was our day to conquer the magic kingdom... we did a pretty amazing job of it if you ask me... I think we did just about every single ride there!

In which we look like tourists... not that we can help it...
(Side note, but this is where you do the classic Disneyworld photobomb!)

Splash Mountain....  Where Eden and I vied for the front positions in the boat just to get wet!

And just because Space Mountain is totally epic......
...I did it four times!  Haha!!!

And the last "ride" of the evening... The tram....!

And the famous, "awka' face"... (inside joke)
This one could be a bit of a personality revealer..... :P

Next day we went to something I had looked forward to for a long time.... The totally epic, literally amazing waterpark!  The best thing ever was the free fall drop slide of 120'... That. Was. Thrilling.
And even though it's technically Google's picture... ;)
This is what it looked like.... Seriously the best thing ever! 

And yes... I plummeted over the edge of that thing... multiple times!
And we closed the evening off with an amazing fireworks show that pictures don't do justice to....

Next day we did the beach...
Feels like I'm all the way back where I belong!!!

After that.. we went north to Jacksonville, Florida to hear this artist play... His name is Paul Wilbur and he does a monthly service... it was some really wonderful worship!

 And even though we got back in way too late... and even though we only got about four hours of sleep... us four oldest kids and my dad headed out to the beach once more... 
...To go surfing!!!  This was as we said, "Our Cali, hang loose look"!
This was amazing!  Plus we had a really good coach... my dad!  He grew up surfing so we learned a whole lot from him!!!  I enjoyed myself so much in the water!  And at the end of the day, Eden and I declared ourselves surf fanatics!  This won't be the last time I surf.. I assure you on that one!

And... we updated the back of our van to prove it!  

The little kids.... going with the cool look down at the pool, while we surfed!

 And one of our last pictures down there... This was doing our five course Mexican meal inside the airport... talk about talented! jk

And lastly... once we go home, we put this video together... it sort of summarizes our trip in our own crazy way....Spontaneous dance is rather normal in our family, so we decided to have some fun with it!  Enjoy!

Wow... you read it all!  Congrats!
But seriously, it was a really incredible time to get together with friends, and to spend some wonderful time as a family making memories together... I have so much to be thankful for!

And... photo credits for some of the more random pictures on this post to Bethany... and Elanee! ;)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hello World.....

Yes I'm still here!  And guess what, I have a new post coming soon!  In the past few months I've been across the country and back, and had some amazing moments, memories and great times and I'm definitely going to post some of those here for your enjoyment!

My friends, the best is yet to come! ;)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11, 2001 - Never Forget

I was asleep.   It was early morning and the California sun was beginning to stream through the window into my room seemingly hiding the harsh reality that had taken place earlier on that fateful day.

My mom waking me up was the first thing I remembered.  I don’t recall much of what was said, but for some reason, it was urgent.  I pulled my five-year-old self out of bed and came out into our main room.  There, on the TV set, I remember watching the footage of two planes colliding with the twin towers in New York City.   I didn’t know the ramifications of what was going on, but I knew one thing for sure: It was bad.

2900 people died on our soil that day.  Of those 2900, 343 were Firefighters.  Fire Department New York originally numbered 752 employees.  In the disaster, almost half of them died.  The entire attack was simply awful, for everyone killed... everyone injured.

Growing up as the child of a Firefighter has a lot of perks, you could say.  You kind of know your way around all the stations, have met a lot of men who risk their lives to save others, get to eat the cookies, the ice cream, and the other frozen desserts out of the freezer with you dad when you visit him on duty, and ride in a rig as your second vehicle.  (Okay, so the last one is kind of exaggerated!  The dessert is a true story though... many times!)

But growing up in a Firefighter’s family also has its risks.  Firefighting is the most dangerous job out there.  If there’s one thing I remember being said that morning of September 11th, 2001, it was my dad walking out of the hallway and saying, “I’m going to be ordered in to work.”  Sure enough, minutes later the phone rang and the opposite voice called him in. 

I remember something else though, from the days following the attack on the World Trade Center.  A news clip showed a packed street of people running away from where the towers had stood... In the midst of that, there was one fireman, pushing his way against the crowd, toward the site of disaster.  My dad told me, “In the 9-11 attack, everyone was running away, except for one group of people.... the emergency workers ran toward it.”

Last night I pulled out a book that we’ve had for a long time, which commemorates the 343 Firefighters killed after the twin towers were attacked.  This 200 page book has a small line of never ending text that continues along the bottom of every single page, simply listing the names of those who gave all.  But it was this paragraph that struck me last night:

It’s the custom on many Fire Departments, at the funerals of fallen Firefighters, to have them played to their rest by bagpipers.  Sunday after the horror, beside a Hudson ruby-red in the setting sun, as near to the ruins as he could get, a lone piper was playing.  He had no connection to the New York Fire Department; he wasn’t even from New York.  He was a guy from Boston, a plumber by trade, who happened to be a bagpiper and had been moved to tears by the heroism and self-sacrifice of our firefighters.  So he’d come to pay his respects.  At that time the exact number of fallen was not yet known, but it was put around 300.  The piper was playing a minute or so for each man, trying to keep each tribute a little different; plangent riffs on old Scottish and Irish ballads, songs of lost love and the death of heroes and the longing for home.  He’d been playing for six and a half hours.  But each lament was sweeter and more haunting than the last.”

May the memories of those who died that day be a blessing.  May God bless America, protect her, convict her, and cause her to repent.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 13....

Today, August 13, happens to be a very important day....

Ya know why?!

Cause it's international left handers day!  

Important huh?

Yeah of course it is!!!

I mean, I'm a lefty, it's awesome to be a lefty, and we need our day!!!

And for some "lefthanderisms"...
The right half of the brain controls the left side of the body... That means that only left handers are in their "right mind"!

You know what... I really like this one! JK 
"Left-handers are more likely to be geniuses - 20% of all MENSA members report being left-handed."

 "Lefties are more likely than righties to really, really hate spiral notebooks."

4 of the 5 original designers of the Mac computer were left-handed.

And lastly....
We were all born right handed... but only the best of us overcame it! JK


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Camp Dwight 2014

Well hello my fine friends!  No, I didn't fall off the earth, land on the moon or something else equally crazy.... just been really busy!  Story of my life, right?

I can say this, I returned last week from probably one of my favorite weekends of the year!  not sure how that works, seeing the year still has 4 months to run? Well, any time spent with so many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ is my favorite part of the year!

So we went to Camp Dwight (Which is an awesome family camp) for the first time this year... We actually met the coordinators of the camp and their son's family almost 10 years ago... that was right before we moved out of California.  So yes, we were originally invited way back then.  But... due to scheduling, water problems in our well and about another 100 things, we never went... till finally some good friends convinced us!  And that's where we begin!

And yes... credit for about 95% of these awesome photos goes to my great friends and really great photographers, Evan Smythe and Paul Leavitt.

Just for the extra fun, we took along a couple of great friends from church!  It was a total riot riding out there!!! 

Road tripping... Strang style!  That basically means a whole lot of talking, laughing, joking and building awesome friendships!!!

Hitting the rest stop where we all hung out and got a nice full group shot!

Oh... and this is the part where we don't camp.... Yeah that's right!  We just don't camp!  So we settled for a great rental house.  

I never waste time getting involved in a great game of volleyball!  In all seriousness though, I played somewhere around 8-10 hours of volleyball over the weekend!  It was awesome!

Me!  (But you already knew that, right? ;))

Mr. Burnell Johnson.  The camp was hosted on his property.  He's one of the original Johnsons we met almost 10 years ago.

Dr. Jerry Benjamin spoke several times throughout the weekend.  He had some wonderful things to say and really focused on how Christ should have the preeminence in our lives... And how true that is! 

Friday evening ended at around 1:00 am for me when I finally rolled into bed... Problem is, I had to be up at 5 am the next morning the run the 5k.

 Yes... I photobomed here.... Well, what else are you supposed to do?!

So... the 5k was awesome!!! Absolutely awesome!  I didn't actually train that much for it... being so busy.  But I ended up placing somewhere between sixth and ninth with a time of 21.49.  That was over a minute better than any of my practice times!  I was excited about it!  The funny thing was the altitude... I ran at 3600 feet and boy did it hurt!

Hitting the homestretch!  
A somewhat hideous picture of the finish line!  Okay.. so it's not that bad!!!

And I know you're all dying to know if I beat my nemesis +Kyle Bowes..... Well.. much to his satisfaction, he beat me... By about one or two places!  I know, right... impossible!  I'm still trying to figure out where he cut across the field of hay!  JKJK  Actually, well done Kyle!  Wonderful running with you, and you deserve your shirt!!!

After the 5k, some guys and I jumped in the pond to cool off, and then played a few games of volleyball before the morning meeting... 

Phil and I... possible plotting something... that had to do with.... Oh never mind!!!

My problematic yet awesome friend, Kyle who spent the morning in his tent..... LOL JK

Aren't these guys to awesome!!!
Judah bumped his head a few days before we left.... Which is somewhat obvious!

Saturday afternoon was a ton of fun!  They set up a long slip and slide which we all had way to much fun on! 

Us guys doing something crazy and awesome!

Us guys doing something else crazy and awesome!

Evan, Matt and I got a bit adventurous!  Boy was it fun!

In lieu of a shower, right?!  JK

Saturday evening was a wonderful time of about 15 different performers...
This shot gives some perspective to how many people were there.

This family could SING!!!

We got up to do a few pieces...

Caption: "In case you couldn't tell, I'm single... yeah.. unmarried!"
JKJK I didn't say that!

Eden sang "The Holy City" which was followed by the first ever standing ovation at camp Dwight!

And yes... me at my "always" position while Eden sings... deep concentration....... :P
Seriously though, we've performed quite a bit now, and we have quite a bond!

It was great to see the Boohers again!  We hadn't seen them play since 2004... After that, we had met several of them over the years, so camp Dwight was a wonderful place to reconnect and catch up with them!
And Saturday evening... well we stayed around for quite a while, singing with piano and guitars and having a grand old time!  And somewhere in the middle of all that, Kyle got pranked!  But that's his story! :P

Oh yes.... this is what we did Sunday morning! :P Call us crazy... well.. yes we are!  

Sunday Morning meeting....

And unfortunately, I don't have anymore pictures from our day Sunday... but I can assure you it was filled with a whole lot of awesome conversations, meeting new friends, dancing, singing and having a wonderful time fellow-shipping with other believers.

Yes... these events are the types of things that almost give us a glimpse of what we will be doing for eternity... Exalting Jesus Christ with our brothers and sister in Him... Forever and ever!

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" -Psalm 133:1