Saturday, April 16, 2016

Ridiculously LONG Recap of the Weekend (with pictures)

It's going to feel like this is way too many thoughts to post all in one place, but if you wait till the end, they're all kind of connected...

Jenny Oaks Baker stuff:
I was up early Friday morning worrying about the details of pulling all of her last minute stuff together and also getting Emma from school, getting myself ready, and getting both of us to the church before Jenny's call time at 3:30.  My dress still needed to be ironed, and my hair needed to be curled or at least managed.  Flowers needed to be picked up.  Jenny's dinner needed to be picked up.  Emma and I needed separate packed lunches for between concerts.  And I had also signed up weeks earlier to help at the Will Call desk before the concert, so I had to be completely finished with everything and pretty by 4:00 when people started walking in the front doors!  
In the end, miracles happened, hours were somehow added to my day, we did everything we needed to do, and it all worked out just fine.  It always does.  I could probably add a lot of years to my life if I would just learn to operate on that principle instead of panicking and worrying so much.  
And thankfully, I recruited Emma as an assistant because without her, I definitely would not have been able to pull any of this off.  She was the BEST!  Calm and collected when I was not.  Hilarious and generous with compliments when I was obsessive and grumpy.  Happy to carry things, drive the car, and try out Jenny's flowers.  And she did my hair when I ran out of time!  Oh, I love it when my children become responsible, functional, organized people I can count on.  

The DMCO concert:
I'm not even sure how to describe this concert.  It's more than just music.  It's more than just listening to a choir or an orchestra.  It's a spiritual experience.   Really, everyone I've ever invited has left saying, "I had no idea it would be anything like this."  My neighbor, Karryn, who I've invited to every concert since we've been in DMCO, finally came to this one, and she came over this morning and said, "That concert last night was the most spectacular thing I've ever heard.  I was so proud of you and Emma singing up there and so sad that this is the last time I'll get to see you with this group.  Why did I wait so long to come to one of your concerts?"  And then she said the coolest she walked out of the church, she recognized a few of the choir members in the lobby and the parking lot with her because they were still in their blue dresses, and she thought it was so strange to think that all of these people who had just been part of this amazing spiritual experience she had just witnessed had turned back into ordinary people, collecting their children and heading back to their cars to drive home to their lives that probably looked just like hers.  She said she couldn't really fathom that all those people she had just seen on that stage were people she probably runs into at the grocery store.  Even Craig, who has participated in three seasons of DMCO and watched from the balcony this time said, "I had no idea it would be this good."  These concerts are elevating and uplifting because they are the product of gifted and inspired directors who use their talents to bring together children, vocalists, instrumentalists and audience members through their arrangements and compositions of familiar spiritual music.  
Oh, I have an idea!...the whole MCO group (all five locations) is going on tour in June and we're recording a CD.  If you would like to at least hear this music (which isn't quite the same as being there, but it's close...) you could look for that CD sometime in the fall.  I'm sure it'll be available on Amazon.  I'll post the details here when I have them.  At the very least, please download the Amazing Grace track.  There is nothing like that arrangement in existence.  I promise.     

OK, back to earth now...and more pictures... :)

That's my cute Emma right in the front and center of that beautiful blue clump of Concert Choir girls (just the HS girls are pictured, the HS boys are on the other side of the orchestra.)  And that's Jenny Oaks Baker in the stunning pink dress.  

And these two pictures are of the flowers being presented to Jenny by the directors.  I was so grateful Craig took these because I was standing right in the center of the front row of the choir with a perfect view of Jenny and the flowers, until the directors had the orchestra stand up.  And, my view was completely obstructed.  :(

The women I sing with:
This should probably be its own post (like every other mini post so far) but I have absolutely loved the women in my section this season.  I think I've tried harder to get to know them this time.  I've asked more questions during rehearsals and I've taken ore time to remember all their names!  Boy, what a difference that makes.  I was shocked when I came back and everyone knew mine, but I didn't have a clue what any of theirs were.  I also stopped worrying so much about who's a better singer than me this season and all that comparison stuff.  We're all there for the same reason.  Everyone just loves to sing.  I wish I had thought to take a picture of all of us in our dresses, but there was so much running around last night.  I'm super grateful for these two women who stood beside me in all of our line ups and remembered to get one quick selfie right before the second concert when the AC went out and we all started melting.  Love love love them so much!  

Mormon Prom:
Oh yes, Mormon Prom was also Friday night.  Poor Megan.  Her night was so overshadowed by all of the concert chaos.  Fortunately, she's the easy going one, and never complains about anything.  She came with Craig and McKay to the 5:00 DMCO concert which ran WAY too long, and then they left and flew like the wind home to meet her very sweet friend, Kevin, who was waiting at our house to take her to Mormon Prom in Carrollton.    He stepped in at the last minute and filled in for a few failed attempts at dates to this dance, so Megan was truly grateful for a really good friend last night.  They had a great time and their dance ended just after the second DMCO concert ended, so we all made it home at about the same time to compare notes and then fall into bed exhausted and happy.  

House Update (Texas):
We are UNDER CONTRACT on this house! FINALLY!  Like, we're past the critical point where they can change their minds (which is why I have even dared to post it publicly.) Their loan has been approved. They've done an inspection and we've agreed on the few minor repairs that need to be done.  And we have a closing date!  May 18th!  I'm sure I don't even have to tell you how relieved, happy,, RELIEVED we all are about that.  No more showings.  No more being banished from our house at a moment's notice.  No more perfecting.  No more rejection.  Finally an end in sight to this never-ending relocation road.  Hooray!

House Update (Birmingham):
We are also UNDER CONTRACT on a house in Birmingham.  Craig picked this one.  I have only seen pictures of it online, but he has a bigger list of needs/wants than I do and I hate getting on planes, so it just made more sense this way.  We close on this one May 27th.  

People are coming to pack our stuff for us on Monday before we close. The movers come that Tuesday and load it into the truck which will drive to Alabama and be stored somewhere until the 31st when the movers will then unload it into the new house.  Craig will have closed on the new house by then and he'll be there to receive the moving truck, direct all the furniture to its rightful location in the house, and spend the week unpacking boxes and putting sheets on the beds and towels in the bathrooms so that it's completely ready for us when we get there the following Friday...just kidding, I don't think he'll have time to do all that, but I can hope, right?  The kids and I will stay in a hotel in Allen for 17 days until school ends.  We're planning our annual End of the Year Celebration lunch with half of Allen our friends at In-n-Out, and then we'll drive 9 hours to Birmingham the next day!  It's a tiny bit complicated and the logistics are still in the process of coming together, but what thing worth doing is ever going to be easy?  

So here's the spiritual wrap up to this whole recap post and why it needed to all be one giant thought instead of a bunch of little ones.  Last night, when I got home from that DMCO concert, knowing that I had finally finished all the things I needed to do, and also knowing that we had secured contracts on both houses, I stood in my closet, still in my concert dress, every part of my body completely and totally exhausted, and I thought, "It all worked out."  And then I clarified that thought, "No, Heavenly Father worked it all out."  Because really, all of this stuff was His plan anyway.  It wasn't my idea to move to Birmingham, or to be stuck in Allen for awhile, or to be back in DMCO this season, or to have a bunch of callings, or to help with Jenny Oaks Baker, or to have all of those things converge within the same two week period.  But my desire in the midst of all of that stuff was to be WILLING and to CONTRIBUTE wherever and whenever possible.   (Yes, I know I was also complainy and faithless and impatient and grumpy...but I think I get credit for finishing even though the middle was less than stellar.)

The two things that ran through my fuzzy head in that dark closet were She hath wrought a good work. … She hath done what she could" (the quote that Savannah heard in the Women's broadcast of Conference and wrote about in her email two weeks ago.)  It's not often that I step away from a thing feeling like I've done enough and that it was good.

And I also heard Henry B Eyring's voice in my head (his voice is sort of always floating around in there somewhere.)  I recently read a talk for a Gospel Doctrine lesson I was over-preparing for and although I didn't use it in the lesson, I have thought of it several times over the past week or so since I read it.  
"You can have the utmost assurance that your power will be multiplied many times by the Lord. All He asks is that you give your best effort and your whole heart. Do it cheerfully and with the prayer of faith. The Father and His Beloved Son will send the Holy Ghost as your companion to guide you. Your efforts will be magnified in the lives of the people you serve. And when you look back on what may now seem trying times of service and sacrifice, the sacrifice will have become a blessing, and you will know that you have seen the arm of God lifting those you served for Him, and lifting you." - Henry B Eyring
I could only see small glimpses of that "arm of God lifting" me while I was in the middle of all the things I've had to do recently and I didn't have tons of success at doing them "cheerfully and with the prayer of faith."  But after everything was over on Friday night, I heard those two quick little thoughts and realized not just that what I had done was sufficient, but that I had also not done it alone.  

And if my less than perfect offerings over the past few weeks and all my insecurities and doubts, and battles with opposition, and my constant crying for help, and worrying and procrastinating, and getting up and doing it all anyway were sufficient this time...then what I have will be enough the next time, too.  

And if my unwavering desire to be where I'm supposed to be and to do what I'm supposed to do qualified me for heavenly assistance this time...then I'll have help the next time, too.  

And hopefully I'll be better at a few of those things I wasn't so great at this time, and maybe my offerings won't be so meager. 

But what I know for sure is that standing in that closet physically exhausted by the events of the day, with my head still ringing with the sounds of orchestra music, all I felt on the inside was complete and total gratitude that Heavenly Father had filled in all the details that I didn't have covered, that He provided help in ways that were personal and meaningful only to me,  that I had been given the ability to recognize that divine assistance, and that the power of the Atonement is enabling and confidence building in ways I hadn't even realized before.  

That's a pretty awesome way to end a long day...a long week...a long season.  I slept for nine hours last night!  I can't remember the last time I've slept so well.  

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