Monday, April 28, 2014

I Ruined Easter

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. My absolute all-time favorite holiday is Christmas, and Easter runs a close second. To me, Easter symbolizes, of course, Christ’s triumph over the grave. The fact that death no longer holds any power over the Christian, and the idea that we can truly rejoice—in all circumstances—always brings a spirit of joy to the whole day for me. But this year, Easter was different, and it was my own stupid fault.

Have I mentioned I love singing? Probably. I love singing. Music and words are my heart and soul, and, as I’m also a Christian, I think singing is one of the best ways I can worship God. And a cappella singing is my obsession. I am a fan of The Isaacs, a family bluegrass group often connected with the Gaither Homecomings.  In 2011, they released an a cappella arrangement of the hymn “I Will Praise Him.” (You can check out their version here.) My friends and I heard them perform this live last September, and were utterly enthralled. Then somebody got an idea.

See, every Christmas, the past few years, our girls’ group leader got us together to sing an a cappella song or two. The four of us have pretty well learned our harmony parts, and, at the risk of sounding prideful, we sound kind of good. So when we heard “I Will Praise Him”, we thought it’d be such a great idea to teach ourselves the arrangement, and sing it on Easter Sunday morning as a surprise for our leader.

Eheheheheheheh. You know how quickly 8 months goes by?? Because we decided to sing about 5 keys lower than the original, I transposed the notes on paper. (Which is a literal headache, by the way.) However, my friend’s voice teacher finally transposed the actual track, which saved our necks, because my way was taking too long.

Long story short…we didn’t start learning our parts until 2 months before Easter, and by 10 a.m. Easter Sunday morning, we had yet to practice as a group of four. My brain was alternating between small panic attacks and bursts of excited nerves. Then my friend casually mentioned that our girls’ group leader (also her mother) wasn’t coming because she had to work that morning

So our main “audience”—the only reason we were doing the song—wouldn’t be there to hear our surprise. (My friend says she told me before, but I don’t remember this at all.) Trying to refrain from screaming out loud, I calmly informed the other two girls, just arriving, that we would be singing in the evening.

To be honest, I didn’t care when we sang. It was that we had planned and worried and prepared, and now we had to stretch this out a little longer. So I sulked. Morning service held zero appeal for me, and I have no idea what my pastor was preaching on. Then I went home. After dinner, I did what any self-pitying girl would do: vented to my best friend, who lives 12 hours away. I bemoaned what a TERRIBLE day I was having, and how I could just CRY from frustration.

Her reply came a few minutes later. “I’m sorry. Nannie is no longer with us. Please pray for mom especially and Pawpaw.

Then I really did cry. I felt like someone had just slapped me upside the head, and with good reason. Here I was, whining like a 5 year old about something completely irrelevant to the rest of the universe, and my best friend was dealing with matters of life and death, literally.

I texted her back my love and prayers, and then I thought about what I was doing. I had worked so hard on something so temporal. I was so concerned about meeting man’s approval that I was completely missing the point of the song. “I Will Praise Him.” Isn’t that the point of Easter? Jesus made himself the lowest Person on the planet, and made Himself utterly detestable in His own Father’s eyes, and for what? So we ridiculous humans could have a fighting chance at eternal life. And not just to improve our eternal life, but our present life as well. What is the point of living on this earth, and living well here, if this is all there is?

Easter Sunday should be a joyous occasion for every Christian to remember, and to celebrate, and praise God for the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Easter is so much more than a new suit, or chocolate eggs, or lilies on the platform. It is a reminder of why we live and why we have life.

We sang our song Sunday night, and we sang it WELL, if you ask me. It turned out for the better, because we had the afternoon to practice together. But I couldn’t help feeling a little bummed that I had ruined pretty much my whole day, because I let my frustrations get the better of me. I had lost focus of the only reason I could sing the song in the first place.

Lord, let the lesson stick with me for the rest of my life.

Linking up today to these wonderful bloggers!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sunflower Blogger Award

I have been nominated by Hamlette, of the immensely charming Hamlette's Soliloquy, for a Sunflower Blogger Award. How kind!

Here are the rules:

1. Share 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the questions set by your Nomination Blogger
3. Nominate 11 bloggers.
4. Set questions for the nominated bloggers.

My 11 random facts:
1. I have never been to the ocean. The closest I've been was Chesapeake Bay.
2. I have no known allergies. Yet.
3. I am a firstborn daughter. So is my mother, both my grandmothers and one of my great-grandmothers.
4. I absolutely cannot stand Mt. Dew or The Princess Bride.
5. I've moved 4 times since I was born.
6. I taught myself to read when I was 4. I decided I wanted to read the Reader's Digest.
7. I started writing a book when I was 13. I wrote 5 chapters and then quit because the whole thing sounded dumb.
8. I've always wanted to marry a guy with dark hair because Disney's Prince Charming has dark hair.
9. I've been afraid of Peter Pan ever since I was 14.
10. I relax by washing the day's dishes and listening to my Michael Buble Pandora. Weird, I know.
11. I used to play clarinet, flute and piano, but then I started college, and quit practicing.

My answers to Hamlette's questions:
1. If you had to spend the rest of your life in a different century of Earth's past, where would you spend it?
I would like to spend the rest of my life in the 1900s. I would want to start at 1900 and go from there. I think it would be interesting to experience all the new inventions coming about, and I love the progression of the fashions.

2. What's your favorite salad dressing?
It was Thousand Island for the longest time. As I've gotten older though, I'm growing really fond of Italian.

3. What's the worst movie (that you liked least) you saw in 2013?

I have no idea what movie. I only watch movies I like. :-)

4. Do you paint your toenails?

I have in the past, but not regularly. It's against house rules, which aren't bad enough to make me want to move out. :-)

5. What are your three favorite TV shows?
It changes depending on the time of year. Right now, it's Castle, Bones and The Voice. However, I nearly cried when ABC canceled Body of Proof. I LOVED that one. Oh, and I have a love/hate relationship with The Blacklist. Reddington messes with my mind, but James Spader is a stinkin' genius.

6. Are there any books or movies you own more than one copy of?  If so, what are they?
The Bible, obviously. Other than that, I don't know what my answer would be for this either. I don't like having duplicate books. Movies? I think we have the DVDs and VHSs for the whole Ma and Pa Kettle series. Great movies.

And I nominate these fabulous bloggers...

My other mother, Niki, at For Journey's Sake
Hannah, from One of Ten and Lovin' It
Ashley, from Keepin' Up With Ashley and Cody
Randi, from A Modern Day Fairy Tale
Malinda, from A Gift Worth the Wait
Jeremy and Monica, from A Walk in the Parks with 65 Roses
My dear friend, Maria, from Attitude Check
Maria, or Angie, from Afterglow
Miss Raquel, from God's Daughter
Jennifer, from Missions Mama
Andrew and Stephanie, from Who Can Stand answer these fabulous questions!

1. What's the most painful accident you've ever had?
2. Mustard or Ketchup?
3. Who is your favorite superhero?
4. Dogs or Cats?
5. What's your least favorite color?
6. What was your favorite childhood toy?
7. What Bible story or character is most relevant to you right now?

Play along, or feel free to smile like Lady Catherine de Bourgh and drive along in your little phaeton and ponies. ;-)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ultimate Blog Party 2014!

I have been trying out several new things with my blog this year. Since I graduated in December, I've had more time to play around with design and formatting, and I'm finally getting some of my scrambled thoughts converted to text. One new thing I'm trying is getting involved with blog link-ups. My blogging mentor has suggested this to me many times, and I just have never gotten around to it. :-) The Ultimate Blog Party, hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom, is just one of these blog parties I am getting into.

So...allow me to introduce myself, the squirrel in heretofore-stated diary.

Hi! I'm Joanna, or, depending on well the kid speaks, Jee-anna, Jo-janna, Jo-nanna...yeah, you get it. 
I am a Christian, first and foremost, and Jesus is the only--and I do mean only--Reason I have for living.

I am the second-child, only-daughter from a very loud, but quite happy family of six. 7, if you count my sister-in-law, 8, if you count the three-legged dog, or 9, if you count the one-eyed cat.

My age--well, that depends on how much coffee I've had. Legally, I'm supposed to be 21. ;-)

My passions consist of words (written or spoken), music (especially a cappella), and yarn (can anybody say CLEARANCE?!).

I pride myself on the fact that I read all of Jane Austen's books in 5 months and Gone with the Wind in 11 days. I'm not sure that I don't sing in my sleep, because I sing all of the rest of the time I breathe. And a month ago, I crocheted an elephant. Really, I did. 

I work for a children's publishing company, but I just finished my Bachelor's, and my end goal is compassion ministries in the dental field. Yes, I am single and, for the most part, content. (Again, this depends on the level of caffeine in my bloodstream and/or the number of engagement announcements I have seen on Facebook that particular day.)

I started this blog in 2012 to recount my adventures as a graduating 4-H member cavorting around the East Coast. I keep the blog because the older I get, the more often I am struck by something that makes me think for 5 seconds longer than my usual attention span. Then I get the irresistible urge to share that with my peers, my role models, the neighbor's Pekingese--whoever will listen. :-)

Thank you, Janice and Susan, for hosting this, and thank you for reading. Hope y'all enjoy!!