Monday, February 24, 2014

a word for the year

The room was quiet as she spoke gently into the microphone.  She had gathered us all together in a way that was different from past sessions, and we all felt that something important was about to happen.  She was sitting along the edge of the stage along with many of the kids.  Some were on the floor right beside it.

I sat on the floor by my team, my mind cluttered with thoughts of the show about to happen and a million other things. And then our kind leader spoke these words:

"What we do here is meant to reflect Christ. But how can we reflect Christ if we don't know Christ? And how can we know Him if we don't spend time with Him?  I just want us to take a few minutes together and think about who God is and what He's done.  I think most of us will know this song, and if not, do your best to listen and focus on the words of this song."

The familiar melody came gently from the speakers, the strums of a guitar leading to the first few words... The splendor of the King....

I closed my eyes and sang along, feeling this whoosh of peace and clarity rush over me.  Everyone was singing and some were harmonizing to the chorus... How great is our God! Sing with me! How great is our God! And all will see how great, how great, is our God!...

It was a beautiful, sweet time, and I felt so grateful to our wonderful AC for leading us that way - for helping us in the midst of the chaos to look up and see what was really important.  At that moment, nothing else mattered.  Our songs and dances and skits and choreography and costumes and performances weren't what was most important.  He was.  Oh how I needed that reminder.

It is so tempting to look back and see only failure, to look forward and see only unanswered questions, to look at the current situation and see only a mess of "almosts" and "not-quites" and "not-sure-yets."

It's time to start looking up.

So I know that it's February 24, almost two months late, but I've decided to join many others and choose my word for 2014: upward.

"How can we reflect Christ if we don't know Christ? And how can we know Him if we don't spend time with Him?"  This year, I want to spend so much more time looking up than anywhere else.  I want to spend time with my Jesus, my Savior, my King.  I want to become so well acquainted with Him that I don't have to think twice about whether or not everything is going to work out, because I know Him, The One who is holding it all together.  This year, I want to delve into the beauty, the wonder, the strong-hold that I have in Christ.  I want to shift my eyes time and time again - as much as it takes - until I can say that He is my treasure, the only thing I need.  And one day, I will be with Him in glory, and it will be better than anything I can imagine, and anything I can see or understand now.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." - Colossians 3:1-4

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And watch the word grow dim standing next to Him
In the light of His glory and grace
So look up! Look up!
This is a song about the morning, after a long night.
So look up! Look up!
This is a song about believing it's gonna be alright
When you turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
I wanna grow dim standing next to Him
In the light of His glory and grace

What about you?  Do you have a word for 2014?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Teach me what it means to begin again.

Hello there friends!

Since you all have eyes, I'm assuming you've noticed there have been some changes around here!  What compelled me to make such a change, you ask?

Well, first of all, today has been a sniffling, coughing, blowing-my-nose-every-two-seconds kind of day, and also, it's a blizzard outside.  Thus, I stayed home from school, and have been in bed for most of the day trying to recoup.

Secondly, if I had to pick one word to describe my life right now, I would probably choose "transition."  I have been in the middle of a lot of things for a long time, and slowly but surely am starting to emerge from what was into what is.

In light of this hunger for something fresh, as well as my new-found Kleenex-accompanied free time, an idea popped into my head, and something inside me said, It is time for a makeover!

So I edited and coordinated and finagled and finessed, and voila!  "These Songs I Sing" has a new look!

Now, if only the "my actual life" part was that easy.

Oh friends, it has been a considerably rough time for me for quite a while now here in my corner of the world, and I've felt it very deeply.  Never before have I felt so lost and unsure of myself and who I wanted to be.  I've spent a lot of time asking questions, searching my heart, and answering other people's questions, trying to explain the mess that lay before me.  But most every time I would come away with some new discovery, some new growth, some new hope for the future.  I mean, sure, there were definitely times when I needed to just cry and eat ice cream in my bed, but even then, even in the darkest moments, I felt something.  Something in the deepest part of me that I couldn't always grasp.  Something saying, "It's time to begin again, sweetheart."

Now, I'm going to be real with each and every one of you reading this: I hate change. Like, a lot. And I think part of why this whole transitional stage has been so hard is because I had this idea in my head of what I was supposed to have, supposed to want, supposed to be.  And I couldn't wrap my mind around that fact that I was wrong - that God had something different in store, and that it really was okay - perhaps even glorious?

I mean, it isn't easy to feel glorious when you're choking on your tears and snot and saliva and feeling certain the whole house can hear you bawling.

But even still, every time I wrestled with my situation, that idea, that hope of something new would press on my heart - and every time I would fight it.

"But this isn't the way it's supposed to be!"
"But I messed everything up!"
"But I don't deserve a brand new start."

Oh darling - yes you do.  And there is not one person who would tell you otherwise.  You are totally allowed to pick yourself up and move on.  You do not have to live here forever.  You do not need to bear this forever.  You are allowed to begin again.

I don't know what exactly it will look like, or what it will take.  But I'm finally starting to let myself believe that it's possible, that it's okay, that it's right, to move forward, to start fresh, to begin again.

Oh Lord, speak to my heart. Teach me what it means to begin again.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

12 songs I currently listen to on replay

No one has ever really asked me to blog about a certain thing before. That's mostly because,

1. My blog is still pretty under the radar.



So when a friend commented on my last post with a request for a future post topic I thought, "Hey! That's a great idea! And one I probably never would have thought up on my own! Yay for cool suggestions!"

So hey! All of you who read this blog! What would *you* like to read about?  It can literally be anything, be it something very specific to me and my life, or a question/thought you have about the world/life in general that you'd like me to talk about. Comment on this blog with your topic and in the words of Mr. Darcy, "I shall be happy to oblige, only tell me what you'd most like to hear."

Now, on to the requested topic: songs that I listen to on replay.

So glad you asked, Luke.  Here's my current top 12:

(P.S. - Yes, I tried to narrow it down to 10. No, I didn't succeed.)

12. "Love Is An Open Door," Disney's Frozen.

Now, before you close this tab in frustration at my supreme girly-ness and intense mainstreamity (Yes, I just made up a word), hear me out.  This song is funny, romantic, clever, and SHORT. (2:07!!) Like, I can listen to it probably 15 times in a row on my drive to work. (Not that I've actually done that or anything....)  Also, it's vocally super fun, and I geek out about Kristen Bell's masterful use of thin fold twang with thyroid tilt (aka, the Disney princess recipe), and Santino Fontana's exceptional tenor (those high notes sound like a breeze for him! I love that!!) and charm. I JUST FREAKIN' LOVE IT, OKAY??

11. "The Resistance," Josh Garrels

I have recently come to LOVE Josh Garrels' music, and this is my current stand-out favorite song of his.  The lyrics are strikingly good, and the melody haunting.  Not to mention that he is one of the only white guys I've ever heard successfully rap.  Definitely worth your time.  "How do good men become a part of a regime? They don't believe in resistance."

10. "Happy," Pharrell Williams

Discovered this super-catchy-fun tune in Despicable Me 2. It's a great "dance out all your feelings in your kitchen" kind of song. And the harmonies - UGH STOP IT. I love it.

9. "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Look Up)," Nichole Nordeman

My mom recently made me aware of this wonderful take on the classic hymn, and I'm ever-so grateful.  This song has gotten me through many-a tear-filled drive to work, church, or school, and I love everything about it - the lyrics, the instrumentation, Nichole's vocalisms, everything.  Sometimes takes on old hymns are weird - NOT THIS ONE.  Give it a listen.  I bet it will really encourage your heart.

8. "You Make Me Feel So Young," Frank Sinatra

I'm a big-ole fan of this rat-pack classic.  And it's largely due to that one scene in "Elf" when Buddy and Jovie are ice-skating and running around the city looking at Christmas trees. It just makes my heart so happy, and while there are many cases that I prefer Michael Buble to old Blue Eyes, I have to say that in this case I prefer the original.

7. "I've Got You Under My Skin," Michael Buble

Speaking of MB, this is my favorite song of his, and one of those cases where I really do prefer the cover over the original. Though I will say this, I think one of the reasons I like it so much is because Michael has a really good idea of what "If it's not broke, don't fix it" means.  He adds just the right amount of himself without losing the integrity of the song and I so appreciate that.  And COME ON - It just so gosh-darn romantic!

6. "Undone," FFH

This song hits you right in the feels. It is so gut-wrenchingly honest and very powerfully sung, and I am constantly belting this one out in my car. So good.

5. "The House You're Building," Audrey Assad

I happened upon this album one night on iTunes and after previewing all the tracks quickly bought it. It is honest, worshipful, and different from a lot of stuff out there.  It feels a lot like the Psalms, like the way David asks a lot of questions and doesn't always have the perfect thing to say, but still trusts the Lord.  I love the whole album, but am especially fond of the title track.  How many of us feel like vagabonds sometimes, homeless strangers wandering through this life, until we are reminded that God is calling us to a home He knows we're needing?  Oh Lord, lay me in the house You're building!

4. "My Dear," Bethel Music feat. Hunter Thompson

I found this song via an adorable wedding video on Pinterest.  I've actually been finding a lot of really great music lately from artists I've never heard of before through wedding videography.  This is one of my particular favorites, and I hope to include it in my wedding someday. :)

3. "Carry My Soul," Phil Wickham

I heard this on a Christian radio station that plays more than just the top 40 (why don't more of those exist??) while driving home one night and was like, "WHAT IS THIS??? I LOVE THIS!!!"  So when I got home I googled the lyrics I had done my best to keep in my brain for the rest of my drive ("I will run, Lord, and I won't quit, chasing Your heart just like David did.") and found this beautiful song by Phil Wickham.  I ended up getting the whole album because it's just that good.  I love this song because it makes me think about where I'm really going, and spurs me on to keep running, and it also breaks my heart a little, which I've come to believe all truly worthy songs do.

2. "In The Light," Anthem Lights feat. Jamie Grace

Okay, just so we're clear, I'll always love the original, and props to DC Talk for being so cool and writing this crazy good song.  That being said, I'm currently digging this fantastic cover.  Shout out to my friend Elisa for being the one to introduce me to it!

1. "No More Faith," Andrew Peterson

While AP considers this album his underdog (you can't even get it on iTunes), I'm a huge fan, and have found so much comfort in this song - the first track on the album - as well as his amazing "Steady As She Goes," and "Mary Picked the Roses," which is the song that inspired my blog! (More about that in a another post, perhaps.) For now, I'll just let the lyrics of the bridge and final chorus speak for why I love this one so much:

So I will drive these roads in thunder and in rain
And I will sing your song at the top of my lungs
And I will praise you, Lord, in glory and in pain
And I will follow you till this race is won
And I will drive these roads till this motor won't run
And I will sing your song from sea to shining sea
And I will praise you Lord, till your kingdom comes
And I will follow where you lead

Till there's no more faith
And no more hope
I'll see your face and Lord, I'll know
When there's no more faith
And no more hope
I'll sing your praise and let them go
Cause only love
Only Your love remains

What about you?  What songs can you listen to over and over again? 

Don't forget to comment with what you'd like me to blog about! :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

5 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

Hi guys! Well, it's one of my last days of break before my LAST SEMESTER OF COLLEGE! (Holla at yo girl.) and I think just the right time to write another blog inspired by Avoiding Atrophy. So without further adieu:

5 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

1. I hate mashed potatoes.

You know that American classic? The thing everyone eats with their meat and vegetables, and drizzles buckets of gravy over every Thanksgiving?  Yeah, I can't stand 'em. I literally think they are super gross. The taste, smell, texture - everything. Blech!  And wouldn't you know it - my entire family LOVES them.  That made for some torturous meals in my childhood.  One of the happiest days of my life (no joke) was when my mother told me I didn't have to eat mashed potatoes anymore. I was like,

2. I don't want to be famous.

Yes, I'm majoring in Music Theatre. Yes, I do shows all the time.  No, I do not want to walk into Target for hair mousse and iTunes gift cards and be recognized by everyone. And I certainly don't want people to see me on the street and go,

3. I've never had chicken pox.

Now before I say anything else, PUH-LEASE pretty PLEASE don't comment on this post all, "You are going to get it when you're 40 and DIE." or "Why didn't your mother bring you over to your friends' houses when *they* had it??" Because, 1. No I'm not. Cool your jets. And 2. Because my mother isn't an evil woman intent on me catching a really unpleasant virus THAT'S WHY.  Also, when I was like 2, I had Hand Foot Mouth, which is very similar.  Also, some people never get it. And NO I wasn't ever vaccinated. Calm down. I'll be fine. .... Really!

4. I waited until I was 18 to piece my ears.

I don't know why I wai--- okayyy that's a lie. I waited because I was a big baby. That's why. I was worried it would hurt and I would cry in front of all the 13-year-olds in Claire's and it would be embarrassing.  It ended up not hurting in the slightest, I didn't cry, and I was accompanied by my sister and some dear friends who were very supportive and only laughed a little when I requested to have both ears done at the same time.

The day I got my ears pierced. Look at smiley 18-year-old me! I apparently really liked pink. Oh wait.. I still do. :)
5. One of my dreams is to sing with a live band for someone's wedding reception.

Essentially, all I want to do is cover this album with a kick-butt jazz pianist, and an even more kick-butt tenor to sing track 5 with me.

What about you? Any fun facts about yourself you'd like the world to finally know?

P.S. For your enjoyment, I just wanted you all to know that I searched "homeschoolers" on a gif website and this was the ONLY thing that came up. Not even kidding.

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