Friday, July 24, 2015

"A Bit of My Heart" Ministry Update.....Keep Swimming!

So, we sit down at dinner the other night and my husband breaks out in this soliloquy by T.C. Hamlet:
Two frogs fell into a can of cream
Or so I've heard it told.
The sides of the can were shiny and steep,
The cream was deep and cold.
“Oh, what's the use!” croaked number one.
“Tis fate, no help's around.
Good-by, my friend!
Good-bye, sad world!”
And weeping still, he drowned.
But number two, of sterner stuff,
Dog-paddled in surprise.
The while he wiped his creamy face,
And dried his creamy eyes.
“I'll swim awhile at least,” he said,
Or so I've heard he said;
“It really wouldn't help the world,
If one more frog were dead.”
An hour or two he kicked and swam,
Not once he stopped to mutter,
But kicked and kicked and swam and kicked,
Then hopped out, via butter!
Perseverance. An elusive quality to me growing up. Did I tell you I hate to exercise? Really, exertion in any form. (Oh, and I really like donuts.) Not exactly the “sterner stuff” sort like Froggie #2.
Yet, a strange feeling of unwavering perseverance has welled up within me with the development of Forever Be Sure. This opportunity to “give expression” musically to the thoughts and feelings of a maturing, God-loving, Scripture-saturated believer is becoming one of my greatest joys. To be sure, there's been lots of “kicking and swimming.” Yet at each slump, God has sent timely encouragement that keeps confirming this ministry as one among other foreordained “good works” in God's good purpose (Ephesians 2:10). So we keep swimming! God's grace has abounded toward me as keeping this passion in check during this very busy season of motherhood often pushes me oh so close to Himself! 
May I share a few FBS highlights on the horizon?
First off, we are so eager to complete our new CD entitled, “Even There.” The line up is 5 re-vamped songs from our discontinued Anchor CD and 10 brand new ones! Why discontinue our first 2 CDs? Once we finally took full ownership of the CD recording & engineering process (after album #3), we felt our CDs made a significant leap in quality. With top-notch software, we are now able to record and edit in a way that produces the best sound for a group that doesn't travel full-time together and can't afford a live orchestra. Though we still have much to learn, we are very grateful for progress! So we keep swimming!
Another vital part of our growth as composers has been the education Heidi and I received last fall at the Composer Symposium in Austin, Texas. I can't tell you how much that has shaped our song writing going forward! We have registered again for this Fall and are eager to build upon the relationships we've made with very influential people in the publishing world.
Speaking of publishing, I am thrilled announce that my song, “Let My Heart Be Quiet” is scheduled to be published next Spring through Shawnee Press! For those who are unfamiliar, Shawnee Press is one of the largest publishers of choral and instrumental music in the world.  Every choir director who subscribes to the Shawnee Press's choral club should receive my printed song in their hands next Spring to be previewed for potential use. Great exposure for FBS!
No sooner is our music being published than our first opportunity to publish the work ofsomeone else drops into our lap. God has perfectly lined up our desires to produce an intermediate piano book this year while still keeping other FBS initiatives spinning. Plans are being set to print about 20 of Mr. Peter Wright's piano arrangements in a 2-book series entitled "With Spirit” – a very fitting description of his energetic style!  
This whole collaboration bug is definitely on the verge of biting me! The new found joy of working together with other like-minded musicians and lyricists is becoming a thing of intrigue and excitement.  I am very eager to watch how the Lord will use our Lyric Writing Contest to allow others to “give expression” to the ways in which God has been revealing Himself to them.
And marketing. Ah, the needful task of marketing. I am thankful to look back on a year of high-intensity marketing with progress in view! By God's good allowance and blessing, we've nearly tripled our Facebook following, more than quadrupled our subscriber list after the re-start last summer, seen steady monthly sales, and made connection with many more friends in the music world. Who knew a simple desire to write & share our music would entail so. much. more. than simply writing & sharing our music?
(Oh, and about that fund raiser we announced last week..... nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? We've decided to let it ride for now without making a big push. The need remains for a portable sound system and funds for orchestrations, yet we rest content to trust the Giver to provide in His timing. Keep swimming!!)
More exciting exposure/ministry prospects are on the horizon as we've been welcomed to present our music at larger conventions. We are currently scheduled for a 2-state Teacher's Convention this October and for the Christian Heritage Conference in Washington State next April. We are exploring a few other exciting potentials which we will share once plans have been confirmed.
Lastly, with the increase in shorter mini-tours we have needed to widen the pool of singers who share our love Christ, ministry, and music! Through research (confession time: My name is Heather Schopf and I am a Facebook Snooper) or natural connections, I am very pleased to have found two new gals eager to hop on the FBS Tour Bus this Fall! (Introductions soon to follow!)   
Wow. Just writing all this out confirms that a) I am long-winded and b) there's a LOT happening at FBS right now! No wonder it's been hard to keep the lid on my enthusiasm! Yet, as with all ventures confined to this life, I am reminded that FBS is not everything. If this email never makes it to your inbox before the Lord blows the trumpet – we'll meet in the sky, right believer? THIS is the event we await. In that moment, we will gladly leave everything behind....unfinished music scores, my Kawai piano, our collection of CDs and printed products......never to wish it back......only to marvel at Him Who gave us reason to sing!  Even so, Lord, come "Take us Away"!
Thanks for reading!  Until then, we plan to keep swimming here at Forever Be Sure!