Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I ended up with whatever "gunk" has been going around campus this week. Normally, I'd push through, maybe take a nap or two, and be fine. This time around, pushing ahead wasn't an option. Frankly, a bad cold, left alone, could give me a relapse. So I've taken care of it... and fought it within an inch of my life.

You see, I want to be better. And I was getting better!! I was right on my way back to "SuperDoll" mode -- I could stay up late, I could do my homework, I could practice my full amount, I could do it all... and I didn't want to admit that having a cold could take me down.

My roommate had to tell me that I should skip church to sleep. My piano teacher had to tell me that I should skip class to sleep. My mother had to tell me that I should miss my volunteer tutoring in the projects to go to bed early. And when I wasn't being told by people who care about me that I should take care of myself, everyone I saw was asking me if I felt okay. "You look white," a friend observed just today.

I hate this... SuperDoll is an undefeated power, with lungs of steel.

But in the midst of hating this, God communicated a beautiful truth to me.

I will do anything I can to get better. I willingly schedule time for my breathing treatments, getting up early, sneaking out a few minutes in the middle of my day, and leaving time before I go to bed. I know that if I don't, I'll pay for it. I won't be SuperDoll without my treatments.

But at the same time, I make excuses about not finding time for God's Word. You know that superhuman strength I need to live each moment in the Spirit? I can't get that on my own... but I've observed that I more willingly carve out time to be a physical SuperDoll than to be a spiritual one. That is a huge disconnect.

So, to give this dense, cotton-filled head a bit of a connector, I have decided to spend time in the Word while I do my treatments. It may be a small start, but I'll be associating the spiritual sustenance with the physical. When I'm fully recovered physically, I'm hoping the lesson will stick...

I'm also hoping I'll remember that my lungs are made of cotton, not steel. :)

With love from an absolute (but not so super) doll,

Erin Joy

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When life is beautiful

It was a simple day. We were in jeans and tennis shoes, with sweaters and sweatshirts for the fall weather. We met in the plaza and headed to the train station.We stopped for a brief moment at a coffee shop, saw people we knew, and chatted for a bit.

We got on the train and found ourselves laughing and talking, just like normal. Unsure which stop to choose for our destination, we struck up conversation with a middle-aged man on the train. He had a disability, so when we arrived at the stop, Chris helped him off.

We walked to the park and were immediately surrounded by masses of people. It took a while, but we finally found an empty spot to set our blankets and enjoy the evening. (You have no idea how hard it is to push through a crowd when you can't see over anyone's knees.)

Sprawled on blankets in the park, we waited for the rest of the group. It was one of those picturesque fall Sundays, meant for outings like this one. While we waited, I braided Linnea's hair, and Chris took pictures. Our other friends arrived, and we brought out the food -- popcorn, bananas, and granola bars. (I crawled inside the popcorn bag to get the last few kernels.)

Then the music began. The city's symphony orchestra played, celebrating its new conductor. Selections by Verdi, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, and Respighi came soaring from the stage. As the beautiful melodies floated through the air, I couldn't help but feel blessed.

Blessed to have such beautiful friendships. Blessed to hear music of that grandeur. Blessed to be in a part of the world where the seasons change, where September has its chilly moments. Blessed to be redeemed. Blessed to be alive.

Sometimes, life is beautiful. When God grants you a beautiful moment, take it, take pleasure in it, and praise Him...  for every good and perfect gift comes from above.

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Glory of God or the Magnifying of Me?

Well, duh. Of course we're going to choose the glory of God. It's kind of a no brainer, right??

While it should be, I'm sure all of us have areas in our lives where we let God's glory take second place to our wishes and desires. Recently, I've been convicted of this egotism in a very touchy area: church music.

What purposes does music in the church serve? That's not a rhetorical question; I'd welcome your comments. The two that come most readily to my mind are the praise of God (Psalm 33:2-3) and the edification of others (Ephesians 5:19).

I cannot think of a single passage in Scripture where it instructs us to sing praise to God to please ourselves. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying music cannot or should not be enjoyed. I'm a music major, so of course I love music! Corporate worship is not the only context for music given in Scripture by any means.

I'm just suggesting that, at least in the corporate worship setting, music always has an audience. The audience is God, other people, or, I think legitimately, both. We are instructed to "make melody to the Lord with all your heart" and to address "one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." (Ephesians 5:19)

Here comes the convicting part. When we quarrel, whine, or refuse to worship because of the style of a song, we are neither edifying our fellow believers nor praising God. If that is the case, then music in the church is pointless.

It must break God's heart to see the "worship wars" in our churches today. Honestly, whether we sing all hymns or all praise choruses or a mix, whether we use drums or an organ, we have missed the point if we are not edifying the rest of the body and praising God.

I think a lot of us honestly think we are getting the praising God point. I have heard people say, "Well, I can't praise God with that song because I hate it." I have been guilty of that same sentiment myself. When we express it, we think we're getting the worship thing -- we want to be able to praise God more effectively, right?

Wrong. I don't think putting praising God in a box like that is possibly glorifying to Him. While I'm all for praising God in a style we connect to (hey -- I'm surrounded by budding ethnomusicologists!), I think leaving out the other ingredient to music in corporate worship is dangerous.

When we refuse to praise God because we hate the music, we are refusing to put others' interests ahead of our own. Remember the other audience Ephesians gives? The church. We are to address each other with songs. Maybe the style that I hate is presenting a song someone else in the body needs to hear that morning. Maybe by choosing to put their interests first and praise God along with them, I can in turn be made more Christ-like.

I can guarantee you that He will not be glorified by our bickering, by our arrogance in promoting our style first, or by our childish attitudes. He commands us to be unified, to show love to each other. I think those commands include music.

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy