Saturday, August 27, 2011

I didn't plan on this

When I laid out the plan for my life five years ago, it looked a little different than it does today.

I planned to major in piano, go on for at least a master's degree and maybe a doctorate. I planned to perform, to teach, to travel. I wanted to live in a city, to enjoy having easy access to concerts and coffee. I planned to practice for hours on end, to be able to easily play whatever pieces I wanted to play, and to do everything my heart desired.

Chronic asthma wasn't in the plan.

This week, I experienced another setback as my lungs tried to adjust to the city, and ended up in a doctor's office getting another round of intensive medication.

Caring friends have asked questions as I've opened the year with another episode of sickness, and this year, I have to explain that this is normal now.

Normal. When I planned out "normal" five years ago, it didn't mean cutting pieces out of my senior recital program so I could physically handle it. It didn't mean traveling with a nebulizer machine, face masks, licorice tea, and a daily pile of prescription medications. It didn't mean rationing my energy and dropping everything for a doctor's appointment. It didn't mean learning to say, "I can't."

Normal was supposed to be different. This wasn't my plan.

And as I grope with the new definition of "normal," I ask why. I wrestle with God. I beg for an explanation. In my heart, I scream, "This isn't fair!"

Then, I'm reminded of a simple truth.

Life isn't fair.

Life isn't about my plans, it isn't about my dreams, it isn't about my desire for normal -- whatever "normal" is. It's about glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. I was created to serve Him, and He rejoices over me with singing. (Zeph. 3:17)

And as unfair as it seems to go through this for some purpose that I can't even see, I'm reminded of the greatest example of all...

It doesn't fit my definition of "fair" that Christ took the punishment for my sin. My Savior didn't lead a "normal" life, where He got to fulfill every dream and ambition without obstruction. The Creator of the universe dealt with pain and suffering as He lived and died on this earth, glorifying the Father and serving me.

And incredibly enough, we read in Scripture that this was all part of the plan.

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy

Sunday, August 21, 2011

lasts and firsts

I just returned to the city after my last women's choir retreat. This weekend, reality of a sort started to sink in, and I realized some of the bittersweet moments that accompany this year.

I'm going to treasure my last year with the beautiful ladies of WCC.

I'm going to enjoy my last year with several close friends who will not be here when I come back for my final semester next fall.

This year, I'll sing in Candlelight Carols and my school's Messiah concert for the last time.

In the spring, I'll go on my last tour, and attend my last (required) Founder's Week.

But in the midst of these bittersweet moments, I'm watching freshmen enjoy their firsts, and I'm looking at a few firsts of my own.

I can go on Senior Retreat... for the first time. :)

I'll enjoy my new roomies, one of whom is at this campus for the first time.

I'll build new friendships, with people I might not have met yet.

I'll do an internship at a wonderful church.

I'll be a part of our new choir director's first year, and will be the first TA our new composition professor has had.

It's all in how you look at it... but I'm beginning to get ready for this new year's lasts and firsts. Just don't remind me about my Monday morning classes. :)

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Small town journalist goes to Israel!

This summer, while working at my local newspaper, I was asked to write a series on the Israel trip I took at the beginning of the summer. Five articles in all, the series was a challenge to write and a huge help in processing the trip.

I've received permission to publish the articles here on my blog. Click the following links to find them... and I hope you enjoy! :)

R-D Reporter in Israel, Part 1
This article opens the series with an account of our concert ministry.

R-D Reporter in Israel, Part 2
This article takes the reader to Caesarea, Megiddo, Dan, and the Golan Heights.

R-D Reporter in Israel, Part 3
This article is an account of our time around the Sea of Galilee.

R-D Reporter in Israel, Part 4
This article centers on Bethlehem and Jerusalem, including the Wailing Wall and Yad Vashem.

R-D Reporter in Israel, Part 5
The desert, the Garden Tomb, and the Mount of Olives conclude the series.

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy (and Kirsten)

summer's end

School is just around the corner. Another week will have me driving into the Chicago suburbs. While I'm looking forward to the classes, friends, internship, and the city, I'm feeling a bit nostalgic about what may be my last summer at home.

I've always told people that sometime over the last few years, God had to teach me to just be where I am and enjoy it. So... for this last week, I'm going to enjoy a few things.

Practicing in a church. A nearby church has graciously given me permission over the years to practice on their baby grand Yamaha. While I enjoy my practice hours on the Kawai at school, there is something about the the church sanctuary that makes practicing that much more beautiful. I don't know if it's the big room, the stained glass windows, the pews filled with an imaginary audience, or the reminder that I practice in the presence of God.

Farm fresh food. I love sweet corn, and homemade potato salad, and real pork. (If you were wondering, they don't sell real pork in stores. They sell overly processed pork cut in thin slices... and those of us with awesome daddies who raise pork get the real stuff.) I am not looking forward to cafeteria food. Just saying.

My church family. I have loved being on staff at my home church this summer. It's been a great experience, and I'm going to miss it... but in this case, I'm going straight into an internship at my church in the city, so this goodbye is bittersweet. This is my last Sunday at Bethel.

Doing homework. In conjunction with the Israel trip, I decided to take a class on the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the next few days, I'll "enjoy" finishing up the reading and writing book reports so I can write a paper as soon as I get back to school.... it's actually been a fascinating class. Am I crazy?? :P

Avoiding the dog. This is one thing I will not enjoy. At all. The beloved family dog had to be put down last fall, and they replaced it this spring with a puppy -- a puppy who has a fascination with pigs and hanging out in the pigpen. So... think a perpetual smell of wet dog, combined with mud, combined with the odor of pig -- all of that rubbing up against your thigh as you attempt to walk out to the car. City life, how I love you...

Time with my family. The littlest brother and sister are growing up too fast. My younger sister Bethany and I have barely seen each other this summer... but we're going to make up for that with a back to school shopping day with Mom. Mom is always here when I get home from work and have a bad day, goes with me to doctor appointments, and is one of my best friends. My daddy is pretty awesome (that's us in the picture above). He managed to rescue a special necklace from Israel from my bathroom drain the other day... and we've had lots of good talks this summer.

I'm sure I'll enjoy a lot of other things... like sleeping in, having a full refrigerator, being able to eat breakfast in my pajamas, watching NCIS episodes every evening, and... oh, yes.

Home. :)

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why Monopoly is an annoying game

There. I've admitted it to the world. Let me say it again.

I hate Monopoly.

It's not that it's immoral, although certainly some people play it in an inconsiderate, bloodthirsty, cruel fashion. It's not that it's unsafe, although certainly playing it with some people raises my blood pressure to a high degree and makes my lungs close up in panic. It's not that that I always lose, although I have certainly played for hours on end only to be bankrupted and then forced to play for another hour so I could be thoroughly indebted to my opponent.

It's just that I hate it.

Monopoly has always seemed to me to be cutthroat -- mine. Even as an adult, all of a sudden, niceness and sweetness get suspended, and you find yourself playing a game with someone who you thought liked you, but now seems to keep playing with the single goal of making you miserable. And then this game, that you're losing, goes on for hours on end. Long after the rules say the game is supposed to end, you're still playing...

I hate Monopoly.

Playing Monopoly is long and boring and torturous. I'm not sure if everyone rigs the deck, or if I just have bad luck. But once -- just once -- I'd like to land on Boardwalk, when there isn't someone else's hotel on it. (I mean, really? Raising the rent on Boardwalk for a stupid little plastic building that even I couldn't fit into?) I'd like to pass "Go" and get $200, not land on the "Go to Jail" square every time I go around the board. I'd like to buy up the railroads before someone else does, and actually get a "Monopoly."

I hate Monopoly. In fact, I think I'll stick with games like Scattergories, Apples to Apples, and cards, where you have fun even if you are losing. These are games that do not take four hours to play, that do not not have a jail cell on the board small enough to squish even the squishiest cotton, and that increase brain power, not bloodthirsty greed.

If you choose to play Monopoly, very well, but don't ask me to bail you out of jail.

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy