Wondering about Worth? (Virtually)

Dear Lindsey,
Being quarantined is HARD for someone who loves people!
Being quarantined is HARD for someone who hates to be in the same house with people!
It’s SUPER HARD when those people reside in the same body!

Being quarantined is difficult for someone who doesn’t like a governing body telling them what to do.  Being quarantined is frustrating for someone who can’t stand to have their hands tied when they need to be out working, supporting their family.  Of course, I haven’t named the sadness of not being able to meet my first grandchild (currently in NICU) or the confusion of nursing home residents who have no visitors or the unique seniors who are robbed of what might have been the best months of their school career. There are many unlisted singles for whom this is a miserable time of “alone” and “fear.”  I can’t even imagine  how difficult it is for the doctors, nurses, emergency crews and essentials that are on the front lines, risking their lives and their families’ to save others, when quarantining probably sounds pretty good to them!

Yep, it’s a tough time for many.

Yet, being the “non-essential” that I am, (😉), I have found blessings in the separation.  For example,

–      Without evening activities taking us from each other, we have had home-cooked family dinners every night.

–    The grandparents whose safety is the purpose of our quarantine are a blessing to have in our house!  This means my kids have learned toilet-flapper changing, trolling-motor fixing, masks-sewing, puzzle-assembling, and more from Grammy and Papa. They even made a step-stool from discarded wood scraps!  This down-time with grandparents will be remembered forever by my young teens. IMG_1385

–  Without our normal busyness, we have been able to escape to outdoor fun of fishing, campfires, tennis or just opening a long-awaited book outside while we soak in vitamin D! Oh… and naps.

But Life is Not About Alone Time

One of my favorite outcomes so far has been a music video project a couple weeks ago in which the kids and I got involved with church. The “virtual choir” came complete with a “virtual orchestra.” The people with whom I would normally rehearse at church every Wednesday and worship every Sunday got “together,” each in our own homes (or a couple using the church’s instruments), and recorded ourselves for the project.

The participants were frontline doctors, nurses, police and other “essentials,” as well as retired folks, elderly quarantined alone, young teens miserable without their friends, college students on forced furlough and the rest – all individually participating in this project in their free time.

As if learning the song to record alone wasn’t challenging enough for us amateur musicians, we actually had to get the entire house quiet for recording – even the dog! The struggle is real! AND they had to be silent long enough for several run-throughs of bloopers! (See my daughter’s blooper reel below; she was so gracious to allow me to share. We still laugh!) Eventually, we felt like our singing (or playing in my case) was “as good as it’s gonna get” and we submitted the recording to our music director team, who put all of the voices – instrumental and vocal – together for a song. Voila! “The Virtual Choir”.

Surprises of the project

–      I was surprised at how AWFUL I sound on my oboe alone on the recordings. The oboe is complete duck-quacking without massive control on my part – which only takes a portion of the duck away.  (Have you heard Peter and the Wolf? The oboe is the duck.) So when we add issues with the mic, surroundings and computer, it did NOT seem pretty!

–      I was surprised at how AWFUL I look on video. Playing the oboe is a kind of rigorous cardio exercise/abdominal workout, with limited oxygen depletions and simultaneous straining of overworked tendons. Sometimes my face looks like I’m painfully trying to blow a frozen banana through a milkshake straw, more than joyfully worshipping the Lord with “Disney eyes”! One of my favorite oboe solos is here if you want to watch – and see what strain in the face looks like, since I was too embarrassed to post my own. (haha!)

–      I was really surprised by how many others had the same worthless feeling when alone! I was amazed at the musicians’ group-chat of people who said, “I quit!” “I am never singing again!” “The church will never let me back in once they hear this recording!”

But what really surprised me about this project?  How AMAZING the final product of all of us together truly is. (attached below) The worship-full song brought tears to my eyes (and the tears were not because of how many times I had heard that same song that week!).

One of our church musicians, singer Jim Wetterau, summarized it well when he said:

“During this time of pandemic and required separation (euphemistically called “social distancing”) our lives as part of a group, both in church and in choir have been rather dramatically upended.
In that time, many found it interesting to see virtual … sessions of singers that were created to cheer us up. One of the most widespread perhaps was the group of Nashville musicians who created a [virtual] chorus of “It is Well with My Soul”.
Thus [our directors], Jon and Aaron presented the idea of our choir doing a [virtual] creation of “Is He Worthy?” And last week we got down to creating our individual parts and submitting them to create the Colonial Virtual Choir. It was complete with background track with click tones for timing and a very good set of instructions.
Then the fun began. I don’t know about you, but the first time I sang through the tenor part with my Nikon filming my contribution, it seemed somewhat unusual—and then when I watched it, it seemed worse. Aaron had advised us it would likely require more than one take, so I did it again.

At that same time, Terri Brady sent in part of her daughter Christine, fitfully breaking into giggles as she tried to sing “We do!”. Now perhaps I felt more like crying than giggling, but I appreciated exactly how Christine felt. I finally finished my take on the tenor part and uploaded it, thinking, that when someone watched it they would surely feel like deleting it and never seeing or using it again.
Then last Wednesday, Aaron played a small part of the vocal from the chorus and I thought, “Wow that sounds great.”
And I realized, we are more than the sum of our parts and we are meant to be stronger together. While an individual effort can seem weak or unworthy, when we band together as believers.. and a church, or a choir, the Holy Spirit is with us and strengthens us and makes us able to do the things that God wants us to do. WE NEED EACH OTHER! The mistake we sometimes make is to think we have to be like soloists. But it is often soloists who do not make good choir members because their voices do not blend. So rejoice in the unity and fellowship we have as a choir, even though temporarily a virtual one, and enjoy and appreciate the gift God has given us to raise our voices together in imperfect but joyous harmony.
Soli Deo Gloria”

When we feel unworthy, worthless and like never trying again in life, what might God be orchestrating with all of our “good, bad and ugly”? We can’t see THAT in our sole recording studio! I have heard the question from young and old alike. In their fit of despair, their feeling of making awful sounds in front of a “camera” – the lens of life – they say, “What good am I?” “What could I possibly have to offer?” or in the words of the elderly, “Why am I left here to be a burden to all of you anyway?” Yet in each one I see God’s creating His message in an overall symphony He calls life.

As a public speaker and as a church musician, I have often prayed before going on stage – not that I would have a perfect performance – but that God would change whatever reaches the ears of the listener for His perfect purposes (no matter the imperfect way it left me).

The song chosen for our first virtual project was ideal. It was not:

“Are we Perfect?”

nor “Am I worthy?”

But “Is He Worthy?”

“Do you feel the world is broken? …
Do you feel the shadows deepen? …
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through? …”

The Orchestrator (this is my favorite paragraph)

This makes me think of my favorite lesson from this “virtual togetherness”:  God is not quarantined. As the song says, “All the dark won’t stop the [Light] from getting through.”  He can reach where He wants to reach in spite of laws, sicknesses and distance. He is not wringing his hands wondering what He could possibly do with this mess. His work can even go within the self-made walls of insecure people and pull out all of the yuck. He can work past our human limits of every little, stinking, ugly, very bad, flawed, mistaken, defective, imperfect part to show that yes! – He is able to build using even our scraps and make a masterpiece out of it all.  Is He worthy of all blessing and honor and glory? He is! Now, our job is learning to enJOY and give thanks in every day – the good, the bad and the ugly  – and trust He can use it in His beautiful overture. He is worthy of our all.

Andrew Peterson’s “Is He Worthy” by Colonial’s “Virtual Choir and Orchestra”

Is He Worthy? – Colonial Virtual Choir & Orchestra from Colonial Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Blessings,

Terri

1 Corinthians 12:14-18 For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

P.S. A second project was completed! “Behold Our God” by Colonial’s Virtual Choir and Orchestra:

Behold Our God Virtual Choir (Final) from Peter Scheibner on Vimeo.

14 thoughts on “Wondering about Worth? (Virtually)

  1. Terri,
    How beautiful! Thank you for sharing it!
    And many thanks to Christine for being willing to share the blooper reel. That was a much needed laugh, in a very trying week.
    It was also fun to see the glimpses of you on it in your “at home casual look” you’ve so often described while dressed up on stages, yet so seldom shared. (If it’s any comfort, my work at home looks are even worse! My poor family barely gets me with my hair combed!)

  2. I was so excited to see you had another writing to share. I laughed and giggled along with you two but in the end it was BEAUTIFUL!! And to answer the question, is He worthy YES are we worthy No. BUT thanks to an EMPTY TOMB He is alive and there is GRACE. It is amazing how so many imperfections put together make a gorgeous sound. Thank you Terri for sharing this. Can’t wait for the next “Letter To Lindsey “
    Cherrye McCuller. Aztec NM.

  3. Terri, Christine is a miniature Terri and equally as beautiful! What a pleasure to see her and to hear the choir!

    • I am so glad you enjoyed the video!
      As for playing it in your church’s streaming- what a great idea! Our church’s copyright permission can’t grant another church permission to livestream- i think that would be needed by your church’s copyright permissions. But you are welcome to the vimeo link here: https://vimeo.com/407271582.
      I hope that helps! Andrew Peterson wrote a worship-full song there!
      God bless, Terri

  4. That, was beautiful!! Everyone’s effort, came together. To make something that touched my heart. Thank you, choir.

  5. Wow, it took me a few weeks to read through this, but thank you for sharing. Those songs were just what I needed today. We live in Michigan and this has been a hard time for me, home more than normal, pregnant with two toddlers keeping me busy. I miss the normalcy of the park and church and play dates. Thank you for the reminder that God is worthy and He is the one ultimately in control. I’m slowly learning that again.

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