Why?

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..." ~Romans 1:16

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

bitter

Today was a fight to peel off bitterness, layer by layer.

Some days it's really easy to be gracious. To think of others. To keep a healthy perspective.

Other days (like today for me), I gather every reason to be bitter, to feel superior, to feel justified in my anger and frustration, and sort of sit in it all for a while.

I didn't deserve to go through that.

That person doesn't deserve to be blessed.

Leave me alone.

I'm better than this.

I'm better than them.

And if I'm not careful, bitterness leads quickly to hatefulness and spite.

I hope everything goes wrong for that person.

I hope they get nothing they want.

I hope she realizes how wrong she is.

I hope he has to pay for that later.

It's a fight. Have you ever felt it? Those days when your pride is pricked and old wounds are opened up, and hour after hour it's just one big fight to reclaim your day and remember what is true.

I'm so thankful for a friend who sat and Facebook chatted with me today and let me sort of throw it all out there and be honest about what was bothering me. It was especially helpful and encouraging when she shared an example of bitterness she's wrestling with in her own life. It was such a soothing reminder that I'm not alone, that I'm not the only one dealing with hurt and anger and pride and just feeling bitter. And neither are you.

I'm not going to preach at you tonight, reader, and tell you all the reasons you and I shouldn't be bitter. We both know that ultimately there's something wrong in our hearts, something we've gotta get right - and that's between us and Jesus. For now, let me just soothe our anxious, bitter hearts with the reminder that God sees. And knows. And understands. And loves us, in spite of ourselves.

Let Him make it right tonight.
 
--------------------------

"If I got unforgiveness in my heart, then there really ain't no room for love,
Plus it's stupid cause, I've been so forgiven,
That if I hold a grudge, I don't show He's risen,
But I know my sin's removed since Jesus came,
With no reason to forgive me but He did so I do the same...

...Jesus forgave the ones that pinned him up on that cross as he was hanging from it,
Holy Spirit, teach me to be just like the Son,
Remove the roots of bitterness don't stop until your work is done"

Andy Mineo, Bitter

Thursday, September 25, 2014

late September

Why are you afraid?

It’s 3am and I’m not asleep, the Word document glaring bright white in the darkness of my room, filled with words that I hope will give me some sort of clarity as I spill them out.

Are you really afraid, or are you just remembering?

I see, feel, smell, remember something and bite my lip as the back of my throat reminds me that if I keep this up I will cry any second. I’m crying so easily these days, and in front of people! I never used to be able to do that. I guess a chord has been struck. I feel everything more deeply and genuinely than I did before. And I’ll admit that sometimes I kind of like it. To be able to connect with what I’m actually feeling so quickly. I couldn’t always do that. I’m especially thankful for the genuine part. I so admire genuine people, and I desperately want to be one. But sometimes it's really hard, because remembering’s hard.

The ways it was beautiful, mixed in with all the ways it wasn’t.

I know I found "a good thing” “there in the rubble of the heart that died.” I cried as God in His compassion showed me over and over again how beautiful and right things really are. I remember when I realized that He was heaping blessing on me even as I was running from Him. It's just that sometimes, I forget.

Are you really afraid, or have you just forgotten?

Isn't God so patient with us, even when we forget what He's done, and what He's doing? What is it that you need to remember today?  

And then there's the beauty – the beauty of what’s coming someday. My heart leaps, and I think to myself, I want it, I want it so badly, and I think I'm finally ready.

It's late September, and the air is crisp and clear, carrying pieces of the past and an expectancy for tomorrow, whispering nostalgia and shouting newness. And I’m just breathing it all in, remembering, and waiting.
 

 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

just trust me

"It's mine." I whisper, as I hold my dream behind my back for no one to see, and no one to take.

Oh, but He sees, and He could take it away in a second. In fact, He's the one that's really holding it anyway. I like to consider it to be in my hands, but that really isn't very true.

"Dear One,"  He speaks softly, "I have something so much better for you. But you have to let go of that thing you're holding first."

 I bristle at the thought and take a few steps back. I consider running but I know I have no place left to go. At least not any place worth going.

"But,"  I start, barely speaking above a whisper, "if you take this, I'll have nothing left. I'll be alone."

"Will you?"  He kneels before me, gets right on my level. "Am I going somewhere?"

I don't have an answer. I just cling to my dream, heavy in my hands behind me.

"Am I not enough?"  He looks me straight in the face, and I can hardly keep His gaze.

"You are."  I stammer. "It's just that I... I want this. How am I supposed to let go? How can I know you won't forget me?"

"I promise you, Dear One. I will never forget you."

I slowly bring my dream out from behind me and hold it close to my chest. It feels lighter than it did before, now that it's in front of Him. I try to loosen my grip and whimper, "But I love it, God."

He reaches out his hand and speaks three words: "Just trust me."


 
 
 
 
 
 

comfort foods

I wrote this a few days ago. I haven't posted a piece like this in a while. Here's to beauty and honesty in the every day....

The thunder cracked outside my window, and I smiled. It was a comforting sound today. It felt good to know the weather was dreary and aching, just like me. I couldn't have handled a sunny day when everything inside me was the contrary.

Good questions via Facebook chat at 11pm last night. Good, hard questions. Is this really what you want? Is this really how you would want this to start out? Haven't you been through this before?

Work emails at 2pm. Something inside me shudders and shies away. Why? Don't I love this?

Apple pie goes in the oven. I bought it three weeks ago as a backup for something else, but never used it. Today it's the perfect fit, as it's no longer hot enough outside to cook eggs on the sidewalk, and the oven won't make the house painfully warm. I break every rule I know and listen to a favorite Christmas song. I'm longing for December.

I'm longing for comfort today, aching in the waiting and the wanting. I'd forgotten what it feels like, to make a hard decision, to be alone alone, not just pseudo alone.

To say no to the things that keep me from truly letting go. To jump.

Leaping into a season of walking by myself. I've done it before, but never like this. Never of my own will.

Chicken, rice, and pie on the stove. Comfort foods. Today, I'll take it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tweet-worthy Tuesday: Eat Carbs While You Can

Aaaaaaand here's a TWT to end the night. #justforyouElisa :)
















(Shout out to Fernando Ortega for having the most unexpectedly funny Twitter handle. Ever.)


Happy Tweeting, Y'all!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

a journey through the psalms: psalm 1

Early this morning, I made a decision.

I made a decision to stop doing things my way, and start doing things God's way.

Lately, I've been really struggling with trust. Trust in God and who He is, and what He's doing in my life, and His ability to provide me with everything I need. His ability to satisfy me.

And I'm going to be honest - this distrust? Yeah... it got ugly. Because I wasn't satisfied in my Jesus, I was turning to all kinds of other things to fill me up.

But let me tell you: None of it worked. None of it.

And this morning the Spirit moved in my heart for some real change.

I journaled and prayed and asked God to come empower me to make these changes. And I believe that He is here and moving in my heart, and helping me every step.

A few of these big changes include getting serious about being in my Bible, and praying about all things - I struggle with these two things more that I can tell you.

And I decided that based on where my heart is right now, it's time for a journey, a journey through the book of Psalms. I'm so excited!!

And I thought - why not blog through this journey? I mean, I have the time, and I think it will help keep me accountable, and hopefully encourage others. I don't know if this will look like daily blogs, or weekly, or semi-weekly, or what... I'm still figuring that part out. But for now, I'm just excited to start!

So, here we go! Let's journey through the Psalms together. And what better place to start than the beginning?



Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.


I love how the Psalms start, with a call to put God's Word first, and to get it rooted in your heart. I want to be blessed. I want to be like that tree, planted right by the water, yielding good fruit at just the right time, not withering, but prospering in all that I do - not in some prosperity gospel way, but in God's way. Because I think prospering doesn't always mean "physical success and material blessing," though I do believe God gives good gifts to His children in this form often. I think what prospering really means is thriving, in good seasons and bad, in the easier times and the more difficult times, because of Who you're rooted in.

So Lord, I pray you would root me in You this morning. Thank You for Your Word and it's truth. There is so much goodness to be basked in, here in Your Word, and here in Your presence. I love what my friend Abby prayed often at camp: "Lord, we love Your nearness." Yes, Lord, we do! And we long for Your nearness. Come dwell near to us, and root us in Your Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Let's keep basking in the goodness of God's Word together, friends. Happy Wednesday!





Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tweet-worthy Tuesday: Surrounded by Stories

Hi friends! Are you enjoying this rainy August Tuesday as much as I am? If you're like me, you ran out and got some Chinese take-out and munched on egg rolls while watching Curious George and Arthur. Did you know Yo-yo Ma, Art Garfunkel, and Mr. Rogers attended their third grade musical to celebrate Elwood City? But I digress...

Here's a TWT for your reading pleasure!






































Now go enjoy the rest of this special day! I'm off to enjoy a Starbucks and TMNT date with my sister. Happy tweeting!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tweet-worthy Tuesday: I'm Not a Rabbit

It's a TWT! What?? Yuuuus.

(Note/Confession: I may have retweeted some "Common Black Girl" Tweets, because I may or may not think I'm a black girl sometimes.  Do what you want with that.)











(That's the cornfield behind my church. Andrew Peterson instagramed it. Andrew Peterson was at my church. Holy wow.)


(And it was GREAT :) )

















Keep tweeting creative, funny, and uplifting things, friends!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tweet-worthy Tuesday: Sweet Tea & Signs of Grace


Hi friends! I thought I'd change it up a bit and give you a TWT with a different focus. Enjoy!























Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All I Do Is Win? - Thoughts On Living In A "Even The Losers Get Trophies" Culture


Those of you who read my blog consistently (maybe like, 4 people --- Hi, Mom) probably know that I'm a summer camp counselor. And you also probably know that I LOVE it. It's my favorite job in the history of the world. (Not an exaggeration.) Every summer I am blown away by the talent and kind hearts these kids bring to camp, and I walk away from every week of camp with nuggets of wisdom (usually from the kiddos!) and my heart changed in some way. And also lots of pictures of me and my team covered head to toe in a particular color for team spirit day. All in all, camp is more often than not one positive experience after another, and I leave with my heart filled with joy.

But sometimes stuff happens at camp that makes me stop in my tracks and think, "Why is this happening? This isn't right." Recently I had an experience like this.

See, at camp, we award points throughout the week as an incentive to behave, practice their lines (it's a theater camp), respect and encourage one another, and just work hard overall. At the end of every day we tally up the points and declare a winning team, who then get popsicles. (You'd be surprised how easily satisfied kids can be, even by small things like freezy pops.) We counselors pay close attention and provide lots of opportunities for the campers to earn points and do our best to discourage unhealthy behavior when it comes to the idea of competition. We highly encourage good sportsmanship and are quick to reign things in when they get out of hand.

And usually, this system works great. The kids have fun, and we see positive results both in their performance on Friday and their character development throughout the week.

But sometimes we see flare ups. Occasionally we'll deal with parents who approach us and ask why *their* child didn't get a popsicle. We explain our point system to those who are new to camp, and usually they go, "Oh, okay, cool." (I should mention that while we keep this very hush-hush with the campers, we make sure that every team wins at least once throughout the week. We aren't trying to be mean tyrants here.)

But sometimes, we get angry parents, who walk up to us demanding to know why their child didn't get a popsicle, and sometimes they even ask us to give them one for their kid anyway. Sometimes their child will be at their side, bawling their eyes out because they didn't win. Sometimes, even after we kindly but firmly explain our system and rules, the parents are STILL mad.

And it makes me stop and wonder: What is wrong with this picture?

I mean, while we could easily provide freezy pops for every camper every day, we'd be missing the point of the whole thing.

I'm going to suggest something that maybe will be uncomfortable to some people:

Everybody can't win all the time.

Maybe I lost a few readers there, but if you're still here, allow me to expound on this truth:

In life, there are going to be times when you win, and times when you lose. When you win, you have every right to feel good about what you accomplished, and to humbly (please notice that word) celebrate.  And rewards? Those are GOOD things. Imagine a world where we didn't reward winners. It wouldn't make winning very meaningful, would it?

Oh wait.... We DO live in a world like that.

I mean, you've seen it.  The softball tournaments where even the losing teams get trophies? The academic and arts competitions that have a winner, a runner up, a second runner up, a third runner up, and about 15 honorable mentions?

It gets to the point where it's like, "What are we even DOING here?"

I have a question: Why are we so scared of rewarding winners?

And I don't mean rewarding everyone. Because let me say again: Not everyone is a winner all the time.

But why can't we just let there be one winner - one winning team - one group of kids that get freezy pops?  What are we afraid is going to happen?

And also: Why are we terrified of losing?

Why do we struggle SO MUCH with winning and losing as a culture? Why do we have livid parents demanding popsicles at summer camp? It doesn't make sense.


SOME THOUGHTS ON WINNING

I think we need to gain a more healthy perspective about winning.

First of all - it's not the end all be all.

Winning is a really good thing, but it won't satisfy you.  The second you make winning at everything an idol, you lose sight of what winning is all about: working hard at something you're passionate about, and seeing excellent results.

Secondly, the whole "coming out on top" part isn't what's important. What really matters is how you played the game.  We say that a lot to people when they lose, but we don't often say it to people when they win. Think about that.

Also, your attitude post-win will almost always match your attitude pre-win. That is, if you're humble beforehand, you probably will be afterwards as well. It's all about where your heart is.


SOME THOUGHTS ON LOSING

It's time for us to stop giving trophies to the team that came in last and popsicles to the kids who didn't memorize their lines. Not just because it doesn't make sense - but also because it communicates a powerfully destructive idea about losing, and people in general: Losing is failure, and people who fail are worth nothing.

This is wrong thinking, of course, but we often aren't brave enough to suggest another alternative, so instead of dealing with losing for what it really is, we cover it up with trophies and popsicles and honorable mentions.  We do everything we can to cover the injury, instead of getting in there and fixing what's actually wrong.

But what is the right perspective on losing? What does it mean to have peace with it? CAN we have peace with it?

Well, first off, I think our fear of losing is aggravated by our culture's obsession with winning and being "the best." We live in a "bigger-better-louder-faster-funnier-give me what I want right now" culture. We photo-shop the men and women on our magazines into impossible shapes and create ridiculous standards for what is considered "the best." We support billion-dollar entertainment industries including sports teams, fiercely compete with our neighbors and friends during football season and the World Cup, and name-call quarterbacks who throw interceptions and center-forwards who miss goals. In many cases, we make it nearly impossible to be successful.

But more than that, when we DO succeed, we rub it in everybody's faces. And when people lose - we jump at the opportunity to make them feel lesser because of it.  And when it's US who lose?? We spend days kicking ourselves and laying on the negative self-talk.

We've forgotten how to be graceful winners, and we've also forgotten how to be confident losers. And it isn't made any easier when we're battered by such a culture as ours.

But secondly, and I think more-so, our fear of losing comes from the insecurities we hide deep inside of us - the fear that our culture makes worse, but didn't create. The fear that we are worthless.

But here's the thing: Losing doesn't equal worthless.

Let that sink in...

Losing or winning at something is NOT what determines our worth.

But that's what we believe. And it terrifies us. (So out come the miniature trophies...)

So here's the big question: If winning and losing doesn't determine our worth, what does?

 
WHO WE ARE: REDEEMED

Once upon a time, each and every one of us was a loser.

A big time, all-out, complete and total LOSER.

We turned away from a Sovereign God who made us and loves us, and we decided to do things *our* way.

And that Sovereign God? He came running after us.

He sent he son Jesus to die the death WE deserved for denying Him, and made a way back to Himself for everyone who will accept it.

And He didn't leave us to figure this out on our own.  He gave us His Word - The Bible - to teach us about Himself and The Way He provided, to encourage us by reminding us of His unfailing love, and to help us know how we can become more like Jesus.

Because you see, THAT is what a true winner is: Someone who has answered the call and is pursuing Jesus daily. Someone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, and is running after God's heart.

And losing? Losing stops being scary when we remember who we used to be, and who we are now: redeemed children of God, created in His image and bought by His blood. When we were at our ugliest? When we turned from Him? He came and FOUND us, and is making all things new. So we don't have to fear making mistakes or losing at things, because we serve a God who loves us and pursues us and fills us with purpose and worth - win or lose.


So while I can't possibly say all of this to the frustrated parent at camp, or the upset softball team at the championship game, I can do my best to sum it up quickly: Whether we're rewarding a job well done with a popsicle, or consoling the losing team after the big game, we can know this: All of us are known and loved by the same God, and He is the one who defines our worth, win or lose.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tweet-worthy Tuesday: I want to be a hobbit

It's almost Wednesday, but I'm eeking out a TWT!  (#camplife)  Enjoy!
































Happy TWT! Keep those positive tweets coming! :)


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tweet-worthy Tuesday: What if Your Blessings Come Through Pizza?

Hi everyone!

So.... I didn't do a TWT last week because I was at CAMP having the best week of my life and was going to bed at 3:45am every night, er, morning... etc. (More on THAT later.)

That being said, to brighten up this rainy July day, here is THIS week's TWT!!

















Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tweet-worthy Tuesday: "PBYASSS"

Hey everybody!

Look at me blogging two days in a row! It's like I'm not in school anymore or something... Oh wait...

So last night I told you all that I'd be starting a new weekly "fun-day" here on These Songs I Sing, and I'm so excited to announce what it is: Tweet-worthy Tuesday!

I got this idea from Kelli Taylor, one of the creators of Blimey Cow (aka, one of my favorite YouTube channels ever).  I thought it was so fun and cool, but didn't think I'd ever do it because, 1. at the time I didn't have a Twitter, and 2. my blog was mostly personal pieces. Which, by the way, for those of you that like those, never fear! I am most definitely still going to write them. I just like to keep things fresh and fun around here, hence the addition of a FUN DAY!

Every Tuesday I'm going to share my favorite tweets from the week. Because really, who doesn't love a good laugh brought on by a social media mash-up? It always made me smile on Kelli's blog - hopefully it will make you smile on mine! :)

So without further adieu, the first installment of Tweet-worthy Tuesday!






















Follow me on Twitter @sydneyrovik and I'll follow you! Who knows? Maybe you'll end up in a Tweet-worthy Tuesday!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Updates... Had me a blaa-aast....



Hello friends!

First, if you didn't get my song reference.... you should have.

Second, Wow, it's been about a million years since I've blogged. Okay... 2ish months. But in the blog world, that's pretty ridiculous. What have I been up to/what am I up to now, you ask? Well....

1. I graduated from college!!!


Definitely a selfie-worthy moment.
After 4 long years, I completed my degree in music theatre. It was a long run, but I'm proud of what I accomplished and so thankful to the many people along the way that kept me going when I was ready to give up.  There is definitely a much more detailed post with post-college thoughts coming soon. For now I simply say,   I GRADUATED, YO!

2. Summer. Camp. Glory.

When it comes to my favorite things ever... teaching summer camp for Spotlight Youth Theater is in my Top 5, no question. I just taught three straight weeks of camp, including a week at Judson for Project Dance camp (aka, the best week of my LIFE) and am gearing up for High School Overnight Camp next week. #goblueteam Everything about it is fun, and there is no better place to be silly and ridiculous while learning about Jesus, honing theatre skills, and creating beautiful things. If there is any place that I feel fully myself, it's at Spotlight camp. While I try to be genuinely myself wherever I am, there's just something about Spotlight camp that makes me come alive. So if you want to see the realest, most uninhibited me, come spend a day at camp with me.  You just might catch me doing an interpretive dance to "I See the Light" with a white garbage bag for a giant lantern.


What a fun week with these 9 crazies. We sure missed the other 5, but we truly had a blast.
Goodness I love them.

3. Summer Voice Studio!

After a season away so I could like, graduate and stuff, I'm finally back teaching voice. I forgot how much fun it is to work one on one with students and see awesome vocal progress. Tonight I had my first several students of the summer and will see more on Wednesday. Exciting!



(I promise I'm nicer than she is.)

That's it for now. Also, get excited, because tomorrow I'm going to announce/present the first installment of a new weekly fun-day on the blog!

Rock on, lovelies! Happy Summer!

Monday, April 21, 2014

10 Things Guaranteed to Make Me Laugh: A Monday Pick Me Up

Hi everybody! It's Monday! And if you're like me, you're probably still in some sort of food and/or candy coma from yesterday, so I figured we all needed a little pick me up. Here are 10 things guaranteed to make me laugh - hopefully you'll chuckle or maybe even guffaw at least once reading this.



1. This brilliant summation of Romeo and Juliet:


#accurate

2. A little movie called "She's the Man"




("Hello?")


(Winces in pain)

"I write songs, too, Olivia:








 
"High five - nice."


I could post a million more - but we'll continue.....


3. This show:




4. Come on, you guys knew this was coming.


5. This exchange:







6. This moment from "Elf." (Cue the happy-go-lucky instrumental version of Sleigh Ride):



7. BOY. MEETS. WORLD.








8. Rory and Lorelai Gilmore






10. Shawn and Gus





It wasn't until I was about halfway along that I realized this is all movies and TV shows. I hope you're laughing instead of judging my media consumption.

What about you? What makes you laugh no matter what?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

new

 
The song played as I laid in the dark and wept over the shame and fear swirling inside me, touching my soul in a way no song ever had before. The song played in the church at the concert that was standing room only, the room filled with eager, happy listeners. The song played every night for a year in a playlist full of its companions, as I fell asleep smiling about the beauty I had wanted for so long. The song played as I sat in my bed and wrote a paper at 4am and cried over what was lost.
 
The years, the seasons, they were all different – but the truth of the words never changed:
 
Rise up oh you sleeper awake
The light of the dawn is upon you
Rise up oh you sleeper awake
He makes all things new
He makes all things new
 
New.
 
It’s a beautiful word, isn’t it? New means change. New means not old. New means not what you had before. New means something has been born.
 
Maybe it was a dream fulfilled. Maybe it was love found. Maybe it was everything you longed for come true.
 
It can also be a scary word. New means change. New means not old. New means not what you had before. New means something had to die.
 
Maybe it was a dream unfulfilled. Maybe it was love lost. Maybe it was everything you wanted taken from you.
 
Or maybe - maybe it was some terrifying combination of the two.
 
Because isn’t that how God works? He strips you of everything you think you want, everything you think you need, and replaces it with something better. Maybe it's nothing like you would have ever imagined in your wildest dreams. Maybe it’s better. Maybe it doesn’t feel better at all. Maybe sometimes it feels like you’d like to go back to what you had before.
 
The world was good, the world is fallen, the world will be redeemed.
 
Wherever you are in the process of God’s work in your life, know this: He will not leave you in a broken place. This world is fallen, and we are here for a while – but not for forever. And even while we’re here, we are being redeemed. You are being redeemed. Your story, broken as it is – your heart, broken as it is – is being remade. New.
 
So hold on, dear one. The pain is deep and the suffering is long.  But it’s not the end.  It’s not the end.