Blog Tags, God's Providence, The Olden Days

The Reflections Tag ~ In Which 2020 is a Hero

2020 was a rough year for everyone. It had its fair share of ups and downs (and lefts and rights, too). However, we are not focusing on the lefts and rights today. This tag is all about the good things about 2020.

So, let’s be optimistic!!

Rules:

1. Thank the person who tagged you (Thanks Essie!)

2. Share 8 of the things God blessed you with or taught you in 2020

3. Tag 5+ bloggers

Questions:

Can I call this “Questions”, even if there are no questions? Yes, yes I can.

1. I Joined the Young Writers’ Workshop (aka YDubs)

It was 9:30 on a Thursday night. I was in my room doing who-knows-what (probably reading), when I heard Mom call my name. To be honest, I thought I was in trouble, but I wasn’t sure why. However, I was not in trouble! Mom handed me her phone, which was on a page called “The Young Writers’ Workshop“. Curious, I scrolled through the page, taking in all the information. The lessons looked exciting, the instructors seemed pretty cool, and the unity and community that the website offered was very appealing. After scrolling through twice, I said, “This looks awesome!”

And so began my time on YDubs! I have learned so much about how to improve my writing. After all, if it wasn’t for YDubs, this blog probably wouldn’t exist! I am now plotting a novel (something I wouldn’t have ever thought to do before YDubs), blogging consistently (which is also because of y’all!), and I’m in a better place spiritually and emotionally!

(If anyone is interested in joining YDubs, registration is open!)

2. My Friend Group Grew

This is technically an extension of the first one, but I made so many wonderful friends in just a couple of months after I joined YDubs! And they were all like me!! Crazy, weird, and sarcastic writers who were chock-full of ideas!

Of course, I’ve also made great friends from blogging, which has been awesome too!

3. I Met My Best Friend

And this one is an extension of the first two XD

I remember the first time I started chatting with Liesl. We were a little bit stiff at first, because, after all, we didn’t know each other very well. We talked about the stuff writers talk about, and told about our siblings and their crazy antics.

And suddenly, it happened. We just…..became best friends! I seriously don’t remember when or how it happened. We just went from stiff and slightly formal to literally SCREAMING at each other about various things.

And that’s the best kind of friendship there is.

4. Construction Finished on Our House

Back in 2019 (that ancient year of bliss and happiness 😅), we hired someone to add two bedrooms and a bathroom on to our house. They started in October, and finally finished in January, just a couple of months before the craziness happened.

Let me tell you, it was so much fun to watch the construction process. From the bare bones, to the unpainted walls, to the wooden floors and the finished product, we had such a good time looking around the rooms each evening after they finished for the day. (Our favorite thing to do was hide in the closets and go to Narnia.)

And we didn’t run into any problems, like they always do on HGTV!

Until after they were all finished and the floor started leaking. They came back and fixed it though, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.

5. I Got to See My Cousin More Than Once

Under normal circumstances, I usually just see my cousin, Lizi, once or twice a year. But, in 2020, I saw her four times!! And she got to sleep over at our house, which never happens! It was the best!

6. I Had the Best Birthday I’ve Ever Had

It didn’t matter that my Dad tested positive for COVID on my birthday, it was still the very best!

I got to have donuts, croissants, and pigs-in-a-blanket for breakfast, which are usually things that we only have on Christmas Day. The decorations were absolutely beautiful (which makes sense, because my mother and my sister went all-out for me), and the presents were all things that had been on my list!

After lunch, I went to town with my mom so I could get my learner’s license. I was absolutely terrified that I was going to fail the test, but I actually only missed one question! I wasn’t quite ready to drive yet, so I let Mom do all that fun stuff XD

We visited my Dad at his office and then got ice cream from the best (well, second best. Brewster’s is the best) ice cream shop in the world: Dairy Queen!

After we ate our ice cream, Mom let me go on a controlled shopping spree in Wal-Mart, which was fun! I love shopping in Wal-Mart! Because I’m basic.

And literally, when we got to our car after shopping, Mom got a text from Dad saying that his COVID test had come back positive, and we had to quarantine. So, we picked up some pizza for supper and went home, where I sorted through all my birthday wishes on YDubs, had a Zoom call with some friends, and played MarioKart with my siblings, and dominated as always. 😇

I haven’t had as wonderful of a birthday since.

I also haven’t had a birthday since, but that doesn’t matter.

7. I Started Driving

I didn’t actually start driving until a whole month after I’d gotten my permit, but I still started driving! And let me tell you, learning to drive a 12-passenger van is no easy task. I wasn’t brave enough to go any faster than 45 MPH (60 KPH, yes, Canadians, you are welcome), but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Driving is fun! Now, I’m literally driving everywhere. My mom isn’t allowed to drive unless she’s going somewhere without me XD

8. I Joined a Band Class

Okay, technically this didn’t officially happen until 2021, but I visited the class in October, so I’ll count it. The class was meeting on Zoom, so, even though they was based in Michigan, I was still able to join! And, the teacher allowed me to write a song for the class to play, which was pretty awesome. I cried. A lot.

9. We Got a Puppy!

Some of you might remember my post where I introduced our puppy, Cookie. He was such a sweet and cuddly ball of fur and love, and he was absolutely precious!! Now, he is ten times the size he was when we first got him, and bites everything XD He’s still so sweet though!

Okay, yeah, I went one over, but so many wonderful things happened, it was impossible to choose just eight!!

Taggees:

Liesl

Chloe

Bea

Emily

Laurel Jean

What are some awesome things that happened to you in 2020? I’d love to hear about them!

Thanks for reading!

God's Providence, The Olden Days

What God Can Do ~ In Which My Blog Takes a Sudden Serious Turn

(Content Warning: Alcohol and a really bad wreck)

Every night, my family tries to do family worship. It can be hard to corral eight kids around the dining room table to listen to my dad read the Bible, but we try our best, and a lot of great questions are asked. Tonight, we were talking about submission to authority, and what to do when you are being mistreated. After worship was over, my 12-year-old sister, Chloe, asked Dad about a verse. (I’m not sure what verse it was, but it was in the New Testament somewhere.) It talked about how wives should submit to their husbands, and sparked a conversation about abusive marriages and self-defense. My dad told a convicting story that I am going to share with you.

James Roscoe Harden was a good kid. He lived out in the country with his two sisters, two brothers, and two parents, and raised animals and crops to keep the family going. He was a hard worker, and he and his older brother, Willie, helped their father out with the chores. Unfortunately, when Roscoe was in 8th grade, his father passed away. Roscoe and Willie dropped out of school to keep the farm running, and worked hard to help their mother.

When Roscoe grew up, he joined the Navy, and served for four years. Have you ever heard the term “cuss like a sailor”? Well, it certainly applied to all the sailors Roscoe worked around. He was a good guy, but that didn’t stop him from picking up a word here and there. It was around this time he was also introduced to alcohol.

After serving in the Navy, Roscoe settled down with Betty, and they had a child, James Allan. It started out as a happy marriage, but Roscoe had a short temper, and more often than not, let loose a string of words in the heat of the moment. More than once, Betty was ready to take everything and leave, but by the grace of God, she stayed.

Six or seven years passed, and the couple had a daughter, Stephanie. Roscoe was still drinking, and, much to Betty’s chagrin, showed no sign of stopping.

Then, one day, he decided to go for a little drive.

Never mind that he’d been drinking before. He had stuff to do and places to go, and he wouldn’t let that slow him down.

Little did he know that his life was about to change drastically.

There was a crash. I’m sure you’ve all heard the stories of drunk drivers getting into or causing major wrecks that kill dozens. Something very similar happened. Roscoe crashed through a fence into a pecan orchard, and ran head-on into a pecan tree. The fender bent forward around the tree, throwing Roscoe into the floor of the car. (He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt since they weren’t a thing back then, and thank goodness, too.) The engine — yes, the ENGINE — came up through the dashboard, through the steering wheel shaft, and through the actual steering wheel into the driver’s seat, landing where Roscoe had been sitting just moments before.

That evening, he swore to never let alcohol touch his lips again. And he kept that vow to his dying day. He told my dad later that there was hardly a morning where he didn’t crave alcohol. In order to stay away, he had to change who he associated with, where he went, sometimes even what he did. The only way he was able to muster the will-power to do that was through God.

Thirty years later, in the year 2002, my dad and his mother, Betty, cleaned out the cabinet where the alcohol had sat all those years. My dad says that some of the bottles were never opened. They opened all those bottles and poured them down to drain. All in all, there were about 30 bottles, the same number as the years it had been since the crash. Roscoe died three years later, not too long before I was born.

By the time my dad finished telling this story, I was fighting back tears. For some people, God whispers ever so slightly in their lives, and they’ll listen. For other people, sometimes God has to shout to get their attention. If that wreck had killed my grandfather, I wouldn’t be here tonight, writing this blog post.

I hope this post convicted you in some way. Maybe it gave you the motivation to give up a bad habit, or it just brought tears to your eyes, or it just made your jaw drop. I pray that it helps you or someone in your life who might need it. Feel free to reblog, share, or save. I don’t care.

Thanks for reading!

Music, The Olden Days

Music And Me: My Music Story

As you might already know, music is a big deal in my family. We are constantly singing, humming, playing an instrument, etc. at all hours of the day. No one more so than me. I am singing, rapping, and playing my instruments whenever I get the chance.

One of my favorite things to ponder over is how music entered my life and the reason I love it so much. So, what better way to share it than in a blog post? This is the story of how music came into my life and shaped me for the better.

To begin, we have to travel back in time to before I was born, when my parents were in middle school. Both of them were in choirs and such when they were young, at their churches and schools. My dad played trumpet, my mom played flute, and they both played piano. Recitals and shows were common for them. (Actually, we still have some old programs from my moms piano recitals. They’re pretty cool!)

In college, my mom studied and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music education. (My dad, on the other hand, is a banker 😆) They got married, and Mom taught music in several middle and high schools, before she got pregnant with me. After that, she became a stay-at-home mom, and cared for me and my siblings, as they came along.

However, it wasn’t long before she started teaching a children’s choir at the church we were currently attending. She taught the middle choir, which was grades 1-3. There were other choirs at the church too. The choir for kindergarteners, the choir for grades 4-5, the youth choir (grades 6-12), and the Chancel choir, which was for adults. There are several pictures I’ve seen and stories I’ve heard where I was hanging out in the room with Mom while she taught.

Before long, I was old enough to go to the nursery, so that’s where I stayed. I was always singing, even though it was just babbling, and I loved to listen to music!

When I was old enough, I was put in the kindergarten choir. From what I remember, it was fun and simple. We had a snack time, and we sang songs with hand motions, which made it easier to remember the words. Whenever we performed in one of the church services, the audience smiled and cooed at us.

Then, I graduated to first grade, and moved up to my mom’s choir. There, I learned more and more about music, including the staff, clefs, and scales. Most of my friends were in the same choir as me, and we were constantly joking around.

Around third grade, I started playing the handbells in the children’s handbell group. I had a blast! To this day, I still play in the group, and can play up to five bells at a time.

After my mom’s choir, I moved up to the fourth and fifth grade choir, which I had dubbed “the big choir”. Around this time, the choirs were starting to thin out. Where there had been 30 kids in one choir, that number was sliced in half. In “the big choir”, there’d been 20 kids, but when I moved up, there were only ten kids. It was kind of saddening to see all these choirs slowly diminishing.

In “the big choir”, I learned about rhythm and breathing exercises. I was still in the handbell group, and was starting to get more and more advanced. Thanks to choir, I was starting to read sheet music, but it wasn’t a second nature to me. Thankfully, the handbell director circled where our notes were so we wouldn’t get lost and play at the wrong time.

It was around this time that I started to get interested in piano. I’d always loved the sound, and my dad would get on there every now and then and play one of his favorites (A common one was “As the Deer”. Look it up! It’s gorgeous!) My mom taught piano and voice lessons when I was little, so she had a couple of learning books. I took them out and began teaching myself piano. It was a long process. For years, I played out of the same books. Fortunately, this helped me get pretty good at reading music!

Then, I graduated up to Youth choir, which is where I am now. This is where I’ve gleaned the most information and experience. I love going to choir, because our director is funny and patient, and he’s very talented. From Youth choir, I’ve learned how to project my voice, breathe correctly, sing correctly (it makes me cringe when I sing the wrong way 😅), and play with my voice, which is something I do 24/7! Honestly, it feels more like a one-on-one lesson, than a group lesson.

When I first graduated to Youth choir, the director wasn’t the present director we have now. He was still talented, and I learned a lot under him. I also had a good time getting to know everyone in the choir. There were a lot of members at the time, and they were all talented. Then, the choir director was called to a different church several hours away, and our church had no director. The retired director, who was still attending our church, filled in for a while, but he eventually moved to Texas, and we had no one, yet again. So, my dad filled in! He did a great job (even though that’s probably me being biased), but unfortunately, several of the people in the group left, either for college or some other thing.

To make the job easier for my dad, we learned the anthems that the adults were learning. Then, we sang with the adults on Sunday mornings, if we wanted. Out of the whole choir, it was just me and a couple of my friends that sang with the adults. I had such a good time! This went on for several weeks, and my friends stopped joining the adults. I was the only one singing with them, and I loved it. Even when we got a new director, he still allowed me to sing with the adults, to the point where I got my own music folder and robe! I was elated to be able to sing in the Christmas program, and, to this day I am thankful for our choir director allowing me, a 12-year-old, into the adult choir.

This was back in 2017, which was the same year I started taking piano lessons. We were lucky enough to find a tutor fifteen minutes from our house. She was kind and bubbly, and, on my first lesson, I liked her immediately. The first song she assigned me was an easy version of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”, which I learned in just a few weeks. After a few months had passed, I was reading music like it was my native language, and playing the original score from radio songs like it was nobody’s business.

However, when 2018 started, we left our church to go to a smaller church. I was heartbroken, because it meant I couldn’t sing with the adults and participate in all the musical activities. Fortunately, I was still allowed to play in the handbell group and sing with the Youth choir, which is more of an ensemble, now. Everything’s come to a standstill because of the coronavirus, but I’m still practicing my piano and singing constantly.

Recently, I started teaching myself the flute, which is fun. And, because of all the breathing exercises I did in choir, I’ve learned how to support the air that I need to play.

So, how has all of this influenced me for the better?

Well, thanks to my piano lessons, I’m writing songs and learning to fully appreciate the work that artists put into their albums. I’m learning how to properly convey my thoughts through song, and I’m learning how to teach people (and how not to teach people). I’ve been offered amazing opportunities because of my voice and playing abilities, and I’ve learned how to maturely make decisions, instead of relying on someone else to carry me.

In conclusion, music is special to me. I wouldn’t give it away for anything. Are music lessons worth the money? If you can find the right teacher, then yes, definitely. Learning an instrument can be very helpful to not only you, but other people. Have you ever watched a movie or a TV show and focused mostly on the background music? It helps set the mood for the scene, and convey the correct emotions.

One of my favorite shows to listen to the background music on is Curious George. I’m serious! I dare you to turn it on and listen. The piano is incredible.

This post ended up much longer than I expected! I hope you enjoyed the long read!

The Olden Days

Fifteen Fascinating Facts About Me

Since this is my very first post, I thought I would do a list of facts about me. Kind of a no-brainer. Then, I thought I’d do a list of fifteen facts since I’m fifteen years old (for now).

Makes sense, right?

Of course, I want to point out that I’m not bragging with any of these facts (or maybe I am, you’ll never know).

Anyways, without further ado, I give you fifteen facts about me, Mia Harden!

  1. I am a writer. Hence why this blog is so fabulous. (LOL, JK)
  2. I am also a musician. I play piano, flute, cajon, shaker, ukulele and I’m learning guitar.
  3. I love to sing, and have been in some form of choir since I was three or four.
  4. I write my own songs, and am currently working on a musical that I hope will one day be on Broadway.
  5. I’m a massive theater freak, and cannot stop making random musical references. It’s a bit of a problem.
  6. My favorite musical is definitely Hamilton but Dear Evan Hansen is a very close second.
  7. I love acting, and have been doing so since I was six years old.
  8. My first acting role was a church Christmas musical. I played the angel Gabriel, and miraculously didn’t forget any of my lines or anything. I also got to go barefoot for the whole show, and that was just a big deal for six-year-old me.
  9. Speaking of Christmas, it is my absolute favorite time of year. The food, the smells, the lights……I’m so ready for it to get here!
  10. I’m an artsy person, and I love drawing, painting, coloring, and scrapbooking.
  11. I’ve been writing since I was five and a half, and I illustrated all my stories.
  12. My favorite art supplies are COPIC markers and Sakura Micron pens. I use mine a lot.
  13. My favorite food is boiled peanuts. I can eat an entire bushel and not get sick, which is probably not a good thing, but…..
  14. 2020 has been the best year of my life. That’s not sarcasm, 2020 has actually been the best year of my life.
  15. And, for the final fact, I am the oldest of eight.

There we have it! Fifteen facts about yours truly! I do plan to go into depth on several of these topics, so don’t worry if this post was too vague.

Thank you so much for reading!