Friday, 11 May 2018

Why The Song "Defying Gravity" Means So Much To Me...

Hello dear friends!

I have been wanting to write this particular blog post for a while, but life kept getting in the way.

Anyway, by now, most of you who know me will know that "Defying Gravity" (originally from the Broadway musical "Wicked") is pretty much my favourite song ever.
But what most of you don't know is why this song holds so much significance for me. So I decided to use this blog post to really break it down for y'all :)

But first, here is the YouTube link to Idina Menzel's latest beautiful version of this song:

Anyway, on to the exegesis!

Something has changed within me, something is not the same

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come!"- 2 Corinthians 5:17

I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ"- Galatians 1:10

Too late for second guessing, too late to go back to sleep

"You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not sleep, but let us be awake and self-controlled" - 1 Thessalonians 5:5-7

It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap
When I think of this line, it makes me think about taking a leap of faith, and that leads me to remember Hebrews 11:1- "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for, and assurance in that which we do not see".

It's time to try defying gravity
I think I'll try defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye I'm defying gravity
And you won't bring me down

This whole chorus speaks to me about attempting to do the impossible: "defying gravity". And I am reminded that "All things are possible with God" - Matthew 19.26

I'm through accepting limits, coz someone says they're so

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"- Philippians 4:13

Some things I cannot change, but till I try I'll never know

This line reminds me of the Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference".

Too long I've been afraid of losing love I guess I've lost
Well if that's love, it comes at much too high a cost!

Funnily enough, this phrase reminds me of a Dr. Seuss quote that I love: "Be who you are, and say what you feel, coz those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind".

Unlimited, together we're unlimited,
Together we'll be the greatest team there's ever been
Dreams the way we planned 'em
If we work in tandem, there's no fight we cannot win

This verse speaks to me of the incredible, overcoming power of friendship. It reminds me of the verse "By yourself you're unprotected, with a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped". (Ecclesiastes 4:12, The Message)

Unlimited, my future is unlimited
And I just had a vision, almost like a prophecy

I know, it sounds truly crazy
And true, the vision's hazy
But I swear someday I'll be...
Flying so high, defying gravity

This verse speaks to me about having hope for the future, which of course leads me to Jeremiah 29:11: "'For I know the plans I have for you' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'."

It also brings to mind Proverbs 31:25- "She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come".

So if you care to find me, look to the Western sky
As someone told me lately, everyone deserves the chance to fly

I equate flying with a sense of freedom, so this phrase calls to mind the verse "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free" - Galatians 5:1.

And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free

This is a line that I really held on to after my last relationship broke up. It gave me the strength to recognise that the relationship was unhealthy, and that I was actually much better off single (single, NOT "alone"), than staying with him.

And since my heart has healed, this line has been a celebration of my singleness- enjoying this season of my life, and chasing all my little bucket-list dreams. For example: travelling to Austria, attending innumerable theatre shows, and meeting a few of my favourite YouTubers.

To those who'd ground me, take a message back from me...
Tell them how I am defying gravity.

And finally, this phrase speaks to me of the power of my testimony- the belief that my story will be an inspiration to others. And of course, the relevant Bible verse here would have to be "They have overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony"- Revelation 12:11.

So there you have it!
Thanks for reading, friends xx
Melanie Raye.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

All the Musicals I have seen live

Hi friends!
This blog post is going to be an active document, so that every time I see another musical, I will add it to this list.

So here are all the musicals that I have seen live, so far:

Mamma Mia (twice)
Sweet Charity
High Society
The King and I
The Sound of Music
The Secret Garden
Dirty Dancing
Mary Poppins
Beauty and the Beast (twice)
Peter Pan
My Fair Lady
West Side Story
Bonnie and Clyde
Les Miserables
High School Musical
The Little Mermaid
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Sister Act
The Wizard of Oz
Jesus Christ Superstar
The Phantom of the Opera
Into the Woods
Alice in Wonderland
Fiddler on the Roof
Miss Saigon
The Color Purple

Musicals are AWESOME, y'all :)
Melanie Raye.

Friday, 18 November 2016

I need to respond to this.

Hello, dear readers!

I saw this today, and I, I NEED to respond.

There is a story in the Bible, in Mark chapter 2, where Jesus was inside a house, preaching and healing people, and quite a crowd had gathered. 

There was a man in the neighborhood who could not walk, so 3 of his friends took him to see Jesus. But when they got there, they could not get through the door! So they literally broke a hole in the roof and lowered the man down through it, right at the feet of Jesus. 

And how did Jesus respond?
 Did he say "You twats, use the freaking door like a normal person"?
No, no He did not. Instead, He met the man's needs, and said " Your sins are forgiven, now pick up your mat and walk".

Philippians 2:5 tells us that our "attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus".

There is another Bible story, a parable that Jesus told (in Luke 10:25-37) that talks of a man who was attacked by robbers, and left to die.

A priest and a Levite both walked past, but ignored the man and crossed over on the other side. Now, from a purely legal standpoint, they had done nothing wrong by reacting this way. 

But then a Samaritan walked by- a man from another culture, potentially even an enemy of the injured man, with no legal or cultural obligations to the injured man at all. 
But the Samaritan stopped, tended the man's wounds, placed the man on his own donkey, and took the man to an inn where he could be taken care of, and the Samaritan even footed the bill himself.

Jesus finished his story, and asked his audience "Who acted more like a neighbour to the injured man?" 
To which someone replied "The one who had mercy on him".

I will leave you with Jesus' response:
"Now go and do likewise".

Melanie Raye.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

It's Time I Spoke Up.

Hello dearest readers <3

Before I begin, I want to say that I know a lot of you are currently feeling a lot of feelings about the presidential election. Please trust my heart when I say that I have no intention of adding to your pain and confusion by discussing my thoughts and feelings here.

With that said, I know that I need to make this post today, and I will tell you why.

Yesterday, I was in church, just like basically every Sunday morning. The preacher was nearing the end of his message, when he somehow randomly segwayed into talking about the presidential election. And then, he said it. "I think we could even call Donald Trump's election as president to be a miracle". A few people in the congregation cheered and clapped.

But me? I just made myself as small in my seat as I could, and all I could manage was a quiet, desperate whisper: "".

You see, I was not prepared in that moment to share my thoughts. Neither do I think it would have necessarily been the right moment or the right platform in which to voice my opinion. It's not my pulpit, after all.

But for the last 24 hours, I have felt sick to my stomach. I believe that the standard I walk past is the standard I accept, and I know that evil prevails when good men do nothing (Edmund Burke). 
Therefore, it is time that I spoke up. I cannot be silent anymore.

I hope you will believe that "my words come from an upright heart. My lips sincerely speak what I know" (Job 33:3).

I have unfortunately seen some people speaking in such a way that it appears that they believe that Donald Trump is a good voice to have in authority, from a Christian perspective. So, in response to this, I am going to make some comparisons between what the Bible says and what Trump says, since the Bible implores us to "test everything, and hold on to what is good" (1st Thessalonians 5:21).

Now, some of you are probably saying "But what about Hillary?" Trust me, if she were the one in power, I could easily complete this same exercise with her. (Psalm 139, anyone?) But she has not just been elected POTUS, so she is not my concern right now.

So here goes:

The Bible says: The love of money is the root of all evil. (1st Timothy 6:10).
Trump says: Money money money money, MONEY! (The Apprentice Theme Song).

The Bible says: Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is sufficient for building others up, according to their needs, so that it benefits everyone who is listening. (Ephesians 4:29).
Trump says: "It was just locker room talk".

The Bible says: The Lord detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him. (Proverbs 20:23).
Trump: brags about tax evasion. (And even though there is the question of whether his dealings were "legal" or not, that is a different issue from whether or not it was morally right).

The Bible says: I was a stranger, and you invited me in. (Matthew 25:35).
Trump says: Let's send all the illegal immigrants back to where they came from. Let's build a wall between us and Mexico. Oh, and they have to pay for it, too.

And for those of you who might get stuck on the train of "it's just the illegal immigrants he wants to get rid of", remember: Jesus was basically an illegal immigrant too, when he and his parents escaped to Egypt as a young child. Also, remember, "Whatever you do to the least of these, my children, you also do to me" (Matthew 25:40). Right now, I would say that the "least of these" is anyone that has felt threatened or marginalised by Trump and his supporters.

The Bible says: When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27).
This passage shows that Jesus respected women, and ensured that they would be cared for.

Trump says: I'll just let you look this one up yourselves...

The Bible says: The worker deserves his wages (1 Timothy 5:18).
Trump says: I want all the jobs to go to American workers.
(That doesn't really give workers of other nationalities a fair chance to earn their wages, does it?)

So there you have it.
In my eyes, Trump does not align with the same values that the Bible professes, so therefore I do not endorse him.
Now, can I get him kicked out of the White House? Probably not. Am I going to go and act violently towards his supporters? No, I am not.
But neither do I choose to condone his actions or look at him through rose-tinted lenses. 

Finally, I want to say, to all of you who are feeling marginalised by Trump and his followers right now: I see you. I stand with you. You DO matter. And there is a God in heaven who loves you.
Keep fighting, coz it can't rain forever. The sun has to come out sometime.

Melanie Raye.

Monday, 15 August 2016

These are a few of my favourite things...(or, you know, 30 of them...) :)

Hello friends! Thought it was time I did another one of these :) Enjoy!

1. My favourite animal is kittens.
2. My favourite restaurant is Spice Traders.
3. My favourite food is sushi.
4. My favourite drink is blackcurrant juice.
5. My favourite movie of all time is The Sound of Music.
6. My favourite book is Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.
7. My favourite colour is pale blue.
8. My favourite composer is Ludovico Einaudi.
9. My favourite song is Beautiful by Bethany Dillon.
10. My favourite flower is the vanilla flower.
11. My favourite scent is vanilla.
12. My favourite perfume is Wonderstruck Enchanted by Taylor Swift.
 13. My favourite item of clothing is my “Disney Princess in Training” sweatshirt.
14. My favourite dessert is pineapple gelato (dairy free! Yay!)
15. My favourite singer is Francesca Battistelli.
16. My favourite season is autumn.
17. My favourite TV show currently is Once Upon A Time.
18. My favourite TV show of all time is Full House.
19. My favourite actor is Hugh Laurie.
20. My favourite actress is Meryl Streep.
21. My favourite Disney princess is Belle.
22. My favourite fruit is plums.
23. My favourite vegetable is corn.
24. My favourite board game is Articulate.
25. My favourite pastime is doing karaoke.
26. My favourite form of exercise is doing ballet.
27. My favourite number is four.
28. My favourite cookie is good old chocolate chip.
29. My favourite nickname that people call me is “Mellie-bean”.
30. My favourite cellphone ringtone is the Knightrider theme.

Melanie Raye.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Creativity Unleashed

Hello readers!
Part of my centre's philosophy relates to encouraging creativity in the children and providing a stimulating environment for them, so today I would like to share with you about a few of the great creative experiences that I have been doing with the two year olds in my classroom.

I love inspiring children to use everyday objects in interesting ways to create art. This innovative approach to using resources relates to the Tataiako competency of Wananga (Communication, Problem Solving, and Innovation).

It also links to one of the Te Whaariki learning outcomes in Communication Goal 4, which says "Children develop skill and confidence with the processes of art and craft".

The first experience we did was cotton reel painting. I selected several different shaped cotton reels that produced different patterns. As the children stamped the cotton reels onto the paper, some of them recognised the different patterns, and could also distinguish which cotton reels produced the same pattern. This kind of visual discrimination will actually help the children when they learn to recognise letters and numerals later on.

After the success of the cotton reel painting, I decided to share with the children another everyday object that we could use to make art- this time it was fly swats. For this experience, I got large pieces of paper and invited the children to do the painting in groups of three or four. This encouraged collaboration, a sense of group ownership over the experience, and spatial awareness as they worked together to cover the whole sheet of paper with fly swat patterns, without going over the top of their friends' fly swat prints too much. This links to the Te Whaariki Exploration Goal 4 learning outcome "Children develop an understanding of how two-dimensional objects can be fitted together in space".
It also relates to Te Whaariki Contribution Goal 3: "Children experience an environment where they are encouraged to learn with and alongside others".

Finally, we did "car track" painting. One of the children's current interests in our room right now is transport, so I took that as inspiration for this experience, and we dipped toy cars into paint and rolled them across the paper. Since doing the fly swat painting as a group had been such a success, I decided to do the car track painting in a group with a large piece of paper, too. My ability to consider the children's interests and create experiences based on these relates to my competence in knowing about my learners and their learning, and this relates to the Pou of Matauranga in He Pou Tataki.

Where to from here?
I believe that children are naturally creative beings, and as such it is likely that creativity will continue to be an interest for the children in my room on an ongoing basis. I am undertaking a self-review at the moment about how I can provide a better variety of resources and experiences for children to be creative with, so if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them! In the meantime, I am enjoying sharing my learning with other teachers, just like I am doing with all of you whom are reading this blog :)

Links to Practising Teacher Criteria:
Key link: #5i: actively contribute to the professional learning community.
Other links: 6, 8, 9, 12.

Melanie Raye.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

I contain multitudes.

Hello friends!

My good friend Corrigan Vaughan posted this story on twitter today:

I have got feelings about this, and I need to share them.

Here's the thing, guys. Rihanna can like Star Trek if she wants to. And even if she didn't, and just chose to make her "Sledgehammer" video tie in to Star Trek because that was her best option at the time, that still wouldn't give anyone the right to jump all over her about it like some silly people have done. Rihanna is quite capable of steering her own rudder on the ship of her life.

My two favourite podcasters, Corrigan Vaughan and Kristin Latourelle of the Electric Fancave introduced me to the saying "Women contain multitudes". And it's true. You will be hard pressed to ever find two women who are made up exactly the same way, with the same sets of hobbies and interests, the same dress sense, and the same beliefs and values. And that's a beautiful thing. It's what makes us unique. So when people start losing their lids over Rihanna being a Star Trek fan, I get a little concerned.

See, I'm a mish-mash of different, seemingly incompatible likes and dislikes myself.

I love wearing pretty dresses, BUT I am most comfortable in sweatshirts and jeans.
I love classical music, AND I love 90's boy bands.
I love romantic comedies AND action-packed spy movies.
I hate wearing make-up, BUT I am never seen without my favourite lip gloss.
I can't play video games myself (because I have zero coordination), BUT I think that "Portal" has a great storyline.

I contain multitudes. And so do you. And so does Rihanna.
So can we please, PLEASE stop chewing each other out every time someone breaks away from our preconceived narratives of how another person should act, think, or feel? Muchas gracias.

As always, I love you all. Go forth and embrace YOUR "multitudes", whatever they may be.

Melanie Raye.