Sunday, August 30, 2009

a big city doll once again... :)

The past week has been pretty insane -- I moved into school on the 20th, and ever since it's been going, going, going... maybe it'll settle down soon?? :)

This semester is going to keep me pretty busy. I'm taking almost all music classes: music history, contemporary music theory, piano service playing, conducting, and church music philosophy. I'm also taking a course in church history/western civilization, plus piano lessons and ensembles. I'm pretty excited for most of my classes... it's just going to keep me quite busy. :) (When your textbooks are taller than you are, it gets a bit difficult.)

For those of you wondering about my job situation, God is continuing to provide in that area. I'm working a variety of "odd jobs" in the music department this year: I'm a TA for one of the professors, a music building deskworker, a student accompanist, and a teacher in the Community Music School. There's a couple other possibilities, too... we'll have to see how those pan out.

I'm loving being back in the city. I think I've missed the activity, the bustling streets, the city sights and smells. The other night one of my roommates and I went down to the water and enjoyed a picnic lunch. It was so much fun! I've realized I need to do that more often: get off campus and take in the world around me.

Well... that's all for now. I'll try to keep you updated a little more often. :)

With love from an absolute doll,
Erin Joy
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Simple Blessings

"Life is just a bowl of cherries..."

My summer has not been a perfect bowl of cherries. In fact, I was pretty discouraged in mid-July. I found myself wondering why my summer wasn't being perfect and simple like I wanted it to be. The cherries were staining my fabric, and I felt like I was biting down on the pits. What was I doing wrong, and how was I supposed to fix it?

But God never promised that life would be easy. God never promised that it would all go my way. He simply promised to love me and make me grow through it all. As I realized that once again, I became more aware of the need to look for the little things in life, the simple blessings.

Simple blessings are things like...

--Finding a huge mound of sweet corn sitting on the table for supper... and getting to eat it! Fresh, home-grown sweet corn, picked the right way, cooked the right way... mmmmm..... :)

--Playing a round of Scattergories with my sister at 10:00 at night... and winning!

--Driving to Bible camp on my day off

--Watching an episode of Hogan's Heroes with my family

--Calling my brother at nearly midnight on my way home from work because I had a rough day

--Fun voicemails from friends... and calling them back :)

--A gorgeous rural America sunset

--Getting a $20 tip at the restaurant... for a $30 ticket!

--Having a friend tell me she can see the joy of Christ in my eyes

--Knowing that Jesus loves me, no matter what! :)

When we look for these simple blessings, life takes a whole new perspective. Yes, there are still hard things in my summer, moments when I need nothing more than a good cry. Yes, there will continue to be times when I have to grapple with these difficulties and figure out if I need to change something. Sometimes, things will happen that I can't control and that will cause me great pain... and sometimes, life will be rough. But when the cherry stains get bigger, and when the bowl seems to be more pits than anything else, we need to look to the Savior and thank Him for giving us the bowl, trust Him to know best... and pick out whatever cherries we can.

With love from an absolute doll,
Erin Joy
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Waitressing Tales

Being a waitress is full of adventures! Whether it's getting a $5 tip just for serving someone a Sprite, or dealing with a coffee maker that I still haven't mastered, there's always something interesting every day. This post will be a collection of musings, stories and the like... all about my summer job.

The other day, I was delivering a room service order to the third floor. (I had to climb the cart to reach the elevator button... but I got there eventually.) A lady answered the door, looking like she'd had a long day. She was exhausted, a bit disheveled, and if memory serves me correctly, had probably been crying a bit. The TV was on in the other room. As I shimmied up to the top of the cart and started shoving the plates onto her table, she looked at me and said with a pitiful look, "That's so sad... about Michael Jackson." Ummm... wow. I realize many are mourning his death, and it is sad... but this seemed just a bit over the top.

I've discovered that I sell more desserts if I describe one or two, instead of just asking if they want to see the menu. More people look at the menu after I've suggested strawberry shortcake, and if they look at the menu, they're much more likely to buy something. I've even sold a strawberry shortcake or two without bringing a menu. It sounds good, so they take it!! :)

One lady tried to convince me that it was illegal to serve a hamburger cooked medium rare. We even had the chef out there, telling her that no, it wasn't against health codes. I don't think she ever believed us. (Just for the record, dear readers, you can serve beef cooked however you want... from raw to hockey puck.)

I cooked my first crème brulée the other night. Normally, we cook this with a torch in front of the customer. It was fun and made me nervous at the same time. I was careful not to get my fabric singed.

One of my favorite tables recently had several elderly people who had driven hours that day, heading to a nearby lake for a family reunion. They stopped in the town where the restaurant is to stay the night... and they were very cheery and chatty. As soon as they found out that I had vacationed a couple years ago in their home state, they were delighted to chat, and chat, and chat... :) (I mean, after all, not every doll is as well-traveled as I!)

Well... I've got a pile of things to do before I go and wait tables tonight. So I think I'll sign off for now!

With love from an absolute doll,
Erin Joy
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

"A prayer to the God of my life"

My devotions landed me in Psalm 42 this week. I hope and pray that this psalm can encourage you as it has me.

This beautiful psalm (which, by the way, I would encourage you to read!!) opens with the psalmist declaring that he longs for God the way a deer longs for water. But why is he longing for God? Because for whatever reason, men are surrounding him, demanding to know where his God is. The psalmist, in tears, doesn't have an easy answer. He remembers when he led triumphant people into the temple, worshiping God, but now, his soul is "cast down" and "in turmoil." Still, the psalmist forces himself to remember God's salvation in the past, and reminds himself to hope in God.

Sometimes, it isn't always easy to know where God is. I've certainly had moments in the past few weeks when I've wondered why God's doing what He's doing. I know He's sovereign. I've seen Him work in the past. But when life hits, and you feel like you're on a roller-coaster ride, and you can't see how God's working, it doesn't seem so easy anymore. You desire God, even pant after Him, but you don't know how to find Him.

For me, verse eight was the beautiful reminder that I needed, in the midst of confusing, conflicting emotions. "By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life." God's love is steadfast. It doesn't change. My circumstances and my reaction are what change. The God of my life is there, steadfast, giving me His song. (You knew I'd throw the song in there, didn't you??) The song He gives me becomes my prayer. With that song, prayer, and the knowledge of His steadfast love, I'm enabled to hope and trust in Him, no matter if life makes sense or not.

As I read this psalm, my definition of thirst for God was completely transformed. Desiring God isn't some ambiguous thing that only the super-spiritual can achieve. It's something that can manifest itself in long hours in the Word or in prayer, or sometimes simply in clinging to a single promise He has given us. Thirsting for God is longing for His steadfast love to wash over you like a waterfall, even in the midst of tears. It's choosing to sing His song when circumstances seem to defy His presence. It's letting that song become a prayer... a prayer to the God of your life.

With love from an absolute doll,
Erin Joy
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Monday, June 15, 2009

Spring Semester Snapshots

It has been far too long since my wise (or not so wise...) thoughts have entered into the wonderful world of the blogosphere. I've been busy, I've been distracted, and it's high time that I blog again.

I've posted here a couple snapshots of the rest of my semester in the big city. The top photo is of me and my dear roommates. :) While these lovely ladies and I will not be rooming together next year, we had a great year as a threesome! All three of us were women's choir members, bringing me to my next fond memory.

I loved being part of the WCC!! I was able to serve as one of the Women's Concert Choir accompanists, which was so much fun. I played the piano, turned pages, carried dress bags, and sang... sometimes. :P I have so many good memories from our tour! We were able to travel to the northeastern part of the country and sing for many people. We had the chance to stay in the homes of the congregations where we performed, which was an incredible experience. We also were priveleged to see several people trust Christ at one of our concerts. It was a blessing to be part of it.

The semester wore on, and God taught me heaps of lessons along the way. Lessons like managing my time and trusting Jehovah-Jireh to provide have been difficult, but much needed lessons to learn. God has been so good to me. It's hard to believe that I'm back in my tiny rural town, far away from the big city. I can't wait to see what the summer holds! I'm currently planning to work as a news reporter and as a waitress. (For a small doll, I've gotten some decent tips... I think some people are just impressed that I can reach the table!)

Well... as much as I know you'd love to hear all about my summer escapades, we'll have to save those for another post. Keep me in your prayers!!

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Midnight Ramblings: Thoughts About Almighty God

Before you read this post, sit and think for a couple minutes about the God you serve. I mean literally do it, not just think, "oh, I'll read this blog post and then maybe do it if I feel like it or if I have time." No... I want you to actually stop and dwell on almighty God for a couple minutes. Set a timer if you have to.

Fifty percent of you are probably still reading my blog post without stopping and thinking. Do it NOW.

Okay... assuming (hoping!) that you have done that, what did you realize? Did it occur to you in those two minutes that this God we are privileged to serve created the world? Just by talking? I talk... a lot. :) But I never create anything that way. The fact that there is a God up there who created an entire universe just by telling it to come into existence should drive me to my knees -- even before I stop and acknowledge that on top of creating the world, this God is glorious, magnificent, and powerful.

As Christians, we throw around a lot of words about God. We talk quite often about how "holy" God is, or how "sovereign" He is. Stop and think about what those words mean for just a second. God is holy, set apart. He is completely untouchable by my sinful being. We talk a lot more about how loving God is than about how holy He is. God is sovereign, powerful, ruler of all. That means He's in charge, whether I like it or not. Over and over again I'm told to surrender everything to God, to "let" Him run my life. God doesn't need me to "let" Him run my life. He just offers me the opportunity to make it less painful by agreeing to His control.

I've heard a lot of people talk about God's love and grace. Honestly, I'd be on a road headed straight for hell if it weren't for His grace. I'm not trying to say here that God is an evil killjoy in the sky. He's not. He loves me, and He's going to do what's best for me. God may be holy and untouchable, but He chose to become touchable in the form of Jesus Christ. He chose to bridge the gap, so now I can communicate with a holy God. But still, God's love and grace only make sense and are only beautiful in the framework of His holiness and sovereignty.

This is a God that doesn't need me. (If this sounds like a harsh statement, read Acts 17:24-25.) This is a God that could have simply started over after the fall. Yet for some, unexplainable reason, He chose to love me and redeem me, even at the cost of His own life. Why? I don't have that figured out yet. For some reason, the almighty God Who created the universe just by talking decided to come and die for my sins so that I could go to heaven. It sounds ludicrous... but I know it's true.

So my response? To get down on my knees, and to ask God for help. Even though I have this almighty God living inside of me now, I still don't want to surrender. I still want to think blissfully that I'm in control, that I run the universe. But if God can make the universe just by talking, He can certainly control it. And considering that I know from His death on the cross that He loves me, I think I might just see the same love in the way He controls the rest of my life. It makes a lot of sense just to admit that He's in charge and stop trying to grab the reins.

Especially when I take a minute and think about Who He is.

With love from an absolute doll,
Erin Joy
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sundry Happenings

My last few posts have been deep and full of serious thoughts. Enough of that!! :) For once, I'm going to give you a portrait of the daily life of a doll in the big city. Don't get used to it, though... for a small doll, I have deep thoughts pretty often.

You'll see here a lovely picture of me at a... well... we'll explain the picture later. It'll give you an incentive to read the rest of my post! (Clever, aren't I? Thanks. I thought so, too.)

I've been keeping extremely busy with several things. First... the unending job search. Jobs in a big city are very hard to come by, especially with the economy the way it is (but I promised no deep thoughts, so we won't go there). I've been searching for jobs in a variety of areas... teaching piano, working at a publishing house, serving food in the dining hall... but so far, we haven't had an official yes. (I think they're practicing height discrimination -- but it's not my fault that I'm under a foot tall!) I've scheduled a few interviews, and will keep you all updated.

In the midst of the hunt for a regular job, I've taken a couple babysitting gigs. These aren't going to be an every week thing, necessarily, but it's nice as extra income, and a relaxing time to do homework off campus. Homework...

Homework hasn't been that insane this semester. While I'm taking 17 1/4 credits this semester, the assignments have been fairly simple thus far. Sometimes I have a huge project due (like the one I worked on last night!) but for the most part, it's not that difficult to complete. Unless I have to play catch up from being sick -- which happened last week.

Yes, I got the stomach flu. It was pretty miserable -- I stayed up with it all night last Sunday, and then spent the next day recuperating. (It's pretty terrifying when you are losing your lunch into a large plastic container that's big enough to swim in.) My stomach is finally back to normal, thankfully.

I've also been hanging out with friends. We celebrated a friend's birthday a few days ago, and that was a blast. I'm continually amazed at how many close, godly friends God has brought into my life. I am so blessed.

I think that's all for now -- oh, wait, you still want to hear about the picture, don't you? I thought you'd never ask... :)

We had a "Winter Protest Party" on my floor this evening. We dressed in our summer clothes, and enjoyed pizza and frozen fruit drinks on the floor. Kind of like a picnic... inside... in the middle of winter. :) It was fun! And now I'm ready for summer...

With love from an absolute doll,
Erin Joy
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Teacups and Treasured Friends

I have developed a taste for tea. To me, tea is more than just hot water and herbal leaves. The word "tea" carries connotations that go deeper. When I ask someone "Would you come over for tea?" I think of sipping from dainty teacups, laughing and giggling, sharing secrets and concerns, and closing our time in prayer.

Teacups make our time together extra special. There's something about a little teacup that invites intimate conversations. (I know it's almost as big as I am... but you should see me next to a ceramic mug!!) A teacup signals the need to pause and reflect, to listen to each other and enjoy quiet company. No matter how hard I try, I can't quite gulp out of a teacup. Whether we drink hot chocolate, coffee, or tea, the imporant thing is taking the time to slow down and enjoy ourselves.

That's exactly what my friends and I have begun doing. A couple close friends and I meet weekly for an evening teatime. It's so refreshing to sit, relax, and enjoy their company. We laugh and giggle, having some of the crazy conversations that college girls and dolls have. We share our hopes, our dreams, our worries. We talk about life and relationships, asking for counsel in specific situations from each other. Sometimes, tea means an exciting story... other times, it means a chance to join in prayer over a concern.

The best part is at the end. We've neglected this at some of our past tea parties, but I'm so glad that we brought it back last night. We like to end our tea in prayer. Holding hands, we come together before the throne of grace with quiet hearts. We lift the dreams, praises, and worries that we'd discussed earlier to the Lord. We end our tea feeling rested and peaceful in the knowledge of God.

It's amazing how refreshing a cup of tea can be.

With love from an absolute doll,
Erin Joy
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Friday, January 9, 2009


I am writing to you from the midst of Purgatory.

No... this is not going to be a post full of deep theological thoughts. "Purgatory" is what some of us here in the big city have nicknamed the two days right after break. (This does not mean that I affirm the doctrine of Purgatory... quite the contrary.)

Right after arriving back in the city, I went straight into intensive music rehearsals. This morning, I got up, ate breakfast, rehearsed, ate lunch, had an hour break, rehearsed, ate supper, and then rehearsed again. Tomorrow's schedule looks eerily similar. It was the craziness and ultimate exhaustion these days afford that earned them their nickname.

It feels good to be moved back into my little apartment and to have my suitcases unpacked. The skyscrapers are familiar this time around, and they don't seem quite so tall. Still, there's a twinge of sadness, part of me missing the big open skies of my small town. I guess you can't have both... :(

That's part of life, thought, isn't it? Learning to be peaceful and content no matter what. Whether in the big city or the small town, all a doll has to do is put the focus on Jesus. The rest will come. It's nice to know that He's in both places, isn't it?

Even in Purgatory. (Wait a second. Not quite sure about the doctrinal implications of that one... hmm...)

With love from an absolute doll,
Erin Joy

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Welcome to 2009!! Have you all enjoyed celebrating, making resolutions, reflecting on the past year, and watching football? Maybe, when looking back on the past year, you celebrated by making a resolution to watch football! Whatever the case, I hope you're enjoying your year. :)

Usually, I love celebrating, but I didn't do too much of it this year (or was it last year??). I stayed up late on New Year's Eve, said "Happy New Year" when my clock switched from 11:59 to 12:00, and then went to bed. (You don't look like a doll without getting your beauty sleep, you know!) There was no wearing of big hats, no blowing of loud things, no yelling... just a quiet recognition that it was the start of a new year. I liked it this way, I think. It was peaceful. I like peace. :)

I don't think I've ever really made lots of New Year resolutions. When I was a little doll... er... well... younger, at least -- I don't think I've changed size much over the years. If anything, I've shrunk from all those rounds through the dryer!! Anyway, when I was a younger doll, I would resolve to keep a diary every year. It never happened. Typically, it lasted a solid week, and then tapered off. Isn't that what happens with most New Year's resolutions? Regardless, I've made another one (of sorts!). I decided to start going through "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, this book is a devotional, with one reading for each day of the year. I'm looking forward to using a more structured Bible study method. Look for future posts on this! :) I've also resolved to blog more often... some people have told me I need to.

As I reflect on the past year, I've seen God's handiwork. The biggest change for me this past year was my move to the big city. For a small town doll, this was a big deal! I felt so lost at first, but I'm adjusting, and I actually like it there. (A lot!!) God has been so gracious as I've made the adjustment... sending friends into my life, providing income, and giving me His peace. Remember... I like peace. :)

Now, for confession time. I hate football. Okay... maybe "hate" is too strong a word. I find football to be tolerable only when accompanied by a good book. So my New Year's Day hasn't been spent in that traditional manner. Regardless, I found it to be a pleasurable one, and I can only hope the same is true of you.

With love from an absolute doll,
Erin Joy
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