Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Psalm 100:1 (NRSV)



Yesterday morning, I climbed the stairs to the choir loft to rehearse a duet with the first flutist and the church organist. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we were playing “Lord of the Dance” during first service offertory. I hadn’t performed in public for nearly forty years and was a little nervous.

The sanctuary hadn’t warmed up yet and neither had our flutes, creating tuning challenges. We did our best to match pitch with the organ then started at the top. Within the first few phrases, I made a mistake, articulating two notes instead of slurring them. I shrugged and kept going.

Later, I told the organist, “I used to beat myself up for making mistakes. It’s different now…”

She nodded and said, “I don’t worry about imperfection. I know I’m going to make at least one mistake every service. I just concentrate on making joyful noises.”



MountainPierisMarch2019Last week, I noticed the Mountain Pieris shrubs, on the slope at the foot our driveway, were in full bloom. I’d seen blossoms through winter but nothing like this show. Mountain Pieris are evergreens, though the leaves of this variety’s new-growth are bright red.

Walking Heathcliff late yesterday afternoon, I stopped to climb the slope and take a closer look at the blossoms. The pendulous flower clusters were also red, with small white blooms shaped like lily-of-the-valley. The shrubs all had flaws—gangly branches, spotted leaves, uneven flower clusters. But with heads bowed, the tiny white blossoms looked like glad worshippers, making joyful, imperfect noises.



This weekend, after nearly three months off, I returned to manuscript revisions. Two weeks had passed since I wrote in my blog, “My editor/coach recommended that I identify the tension points, look at the chapters and sections that were working, then borrow ‘the recipe’ to revise, craft, and shape the manuscript. Welcomed marching orders.” Or so I thought.

I was stuck. And coming down with a nasty cold didn’t help.

Last week I sat down at my desk and gave myself a good talking to. You play your flute For Thy Glory, I reminded myself, and the Mountain Pieris blossom For Thy Glory. Your story is not for you, it’s for others. Make a joyful, imperfect noise to the Lord.

Welcomed marching orders. Then I wrote a new prologue. For Thy Glory.


  1. ekurie

    Is that this year’s mountain laurel in your banner photo? It’s beautiful

    • Carole Duff

      Good question. I think they are cousins, all in the rhododendron family. Quite lovely, and a mild winter and early spring bloomer. Mountain laurels bloom quite a bit later here in the Blue Ridge.

  2. Gary Fultz

    A great thread Carole. So true to life and nature. I once saw a little kid sing at the county fair, he unabashedly belted out a country song making all kinds of mistakes. He brought the place down. A shy teen stepped up and made one mistake and winced for awhile. we all winced with her. Yep, love those joyful noises!

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m still learning to be that little kid at the county fair, the one that belted out the country song regardless of mistakes. -C.D.

  3. Laurie

    Your story about making a joyful noise reminded me about when we used to go to the Saturday night church service when our 3 boys were younger. There were not many attendees at that service so you could hear every individual singing the hymns. What my boys lacked in vocal talent, they made up for in volume! Thanks for bringing back that sweet memory for me! 🙂

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for sharing your sweet memory, Laurie. More joyful noises.

  4. bigskybuckeye

    Carole, I like your tagline. Making joyful, imperfect noises is a wonderful way to keep life in the right perspective.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m glad the post spoke to you.

  5. wrestlingwordblog

    I am sitting here listening to the rooster screeching out his joyful celebration of the dawn. It makes me smile. I think the imperfect noises are the best and make God smile. At least I hope so, as a lot of my joyful noises are screechy! Thank you!

    • Carole Duff

      Agreed, and ditto. Thank you for your comment and for your thought-provoking blog posts. -C.D.



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