Music Wednesday: Military in Motion

Due to exciting news that I cannot yet share – I have decided to dedicated this music Wednesday to our service members.

See, something is happening that I will soon expand more on, but until such time I have decided to give a sneak peak at what’s to come. (And for those who are thinking it – no I have decided to become a commissioned officer in the Navy…yet)

When it comes to the military, I have a number of favorite movies. Saving Private Ryan. Pearl Harbor. We Were Soldiers. American Sniper. The list goes on.

However, there is one movie that I feel goes above and beyond all the others. It’s a movie capable of hitting anyone in the gut. Maybe some would agree with me on this, maybe they wouldn’t. Either way, I am willing to argue this is the one of the, if not THE, best movie about the military out there.

This is a movie I’ve only seen twice. Once in January of 2013. Again at the end of July 2015. Twice. That’s it. And both times ended with me on the floor, in a ball, crying my eyes out.

I don’t mean this to sound bad or weird. There’s something about the military (not just movies based off the military), that will hit me every. single. time. I have a reverence for our troops that I struggle finding the words to explain. I believe it’s the highest aspiration anyone can achieve in life. It’s not only the big things but the small things that get to me as well. It’s just a long way to say that it doesn’t take much to have an impact on me when it comes to the military.

But this movie. This movie epitomizes every ounce of that reverence I have for the military into 110 minutes of raw action starring real Navy SEALs. This move is Act of Valor.

It’s my favorite movie on the military, hands down. It’s also a movie I almost never watch simply because of HOW upset it makes me. However, given the surprise I have coming soon, I believe this was the perfect choice for this music Wednesday.

Keith Urban recorded the song For You specifically for Act of Valor. I’m not really sure how to describe this song other than like the movie, it’s a song you will not find me listening to very often due to the impact it has on me. Again, given the surprise I have coming soon, it’s the perfect choice.

As with most music, it is the lyrics of For You that make the song so raw and so powerful. After all, the first verse quotes John 15:13 – “no greater gift has man than to lay down his life for love.” The feeling, the thought, there are those out there in the world who will take a bullet for my freedom, who wouldn’t think twice about going into the line of fire, who don’t think about right or wrong but do what they have to do to defend their own, it’s a reaction from me unlike anything you could ever see. This is why For You is my choice for this music Wednesday.

I challenge you to listen to the lyrics. You never know what you’ll experience.

The Power of THEY

I want to talk about THEY. Don’t look at me like I’m crazy – you know what I mean. THEY. Those people. The ones you surround yourself with on a daily basis. The ones you associate yourself with. Your THEY.

They are everywhere. From social media, to work, to school, personal life, we are surrounded by a THEY.

But are we really? When we really, and I mean really, start to think about who they are, are they really the people we want to be surrounded by?

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Let’s back up a little bit –

On Wednesday nights I go to a bible study in Grapevine called Flavour. Last night we talked about who we do our battles with, otherwise known as our THEY.

Think about it – you have your friends on social media, but then you have the group of people you’d be willing to invite to an event or something (and I mean like the extended-extended-of extended family/friends here), there’s the people you’d want at your birthday party or graduation or wedding, but then what about those people, the one’s you know who will go into battle with you no matter what. These are your THEY.

Now, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, or you just think I’m a weirdo who has a problem with caps lock, THEY is an acronym. There is so much more to the people who are your THEY than just those you would consider your “ride or die” style friends. And let me tell you, you may think there are some who could or should be your THEY, until you really start to analyze what this means, then you begin to realize your THEY isn’t as large or as strong as you thought it was.

Here’s what I mean:

T

The first letter we have is T. T stands for tough. These are the people who are solid and steady. The ones who give you a firm foundation when you feel like you don’t have one. More importantly, the ones who remind you of the foundation you stand on when you feel like you’re struggling to remember. They really are the epitome of ride or die.

H

H stands for honest. These are the people who will speak truth into your life even when you don’t want to hear it. This goes beyond just telling someone they’re being a brat. They are honest about living up to the life God created you to have. They provide honest perspective on your difficulties. They will tell you if your decision is rash, or if your words are harsh. They provide the level-headed perspective we all need in our lives.

E

E stands for encouraging. These are the people speak constant encouragement into your life no matter what. They do not display signs of jealousy or a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mentality. You can come to them with good news, the best news, and they won’t try to break you down, or show you up, or throw a pity party for themselves. They’re just always happy to you and for you.

Y

The last letter is Y. It’s also the most important letter. It stands for yielded. Are they a whole-hearted, committed, commissioned, follower of Christ? I don’t think I can ever emphasize this enough. These are the people who both speak and live the word of God. They don’t just know God’s word, God’s word is written on their hearts. And they will take the word and transmit it to you during those times you need it. They are the one’s who shine for Christ in all that they do. You never have to ask them if they’re a Christian because you know they are. They walk with a different beat in their step because you know they live a life totally surrendered to Christ, and this type of surrender is displayed in everything they do. And let me tell you – this is absolutely the most important quality you want in your THEY. The other three letters are mediocre to this sense of yielding all that we have and all that we are to Christ.

So why is THEY important? Because it’s not about how many there are. It’s about who they are. THEY are the ones who display these qualities through and through, no matter the stages or seasons of life. THEY are the ones you can always turn to to be tough, honest, encouraging, and yielded. Without these qualities, well to be quiet frank, our THEY isn’t really a THEY worth having.

So who is my THEY? It’s a list I made last night as an exercise during bible study. Like most, some who I thought would make the list were quickly cut off. Then there were others who removed themselves from the list by removing themselves from my life. At the end (not counting my parents or my sister) the number of people I can turn to at any time of day for any reason, is three. Three people. Three people in my inner circle I would trust with my life. They are my THEY.

Emma Vance. Kaelan Blok. Haley Wolters. They are the ones who are both tough and make me tough. They are the ones who are honest with me even when I don’t want to hear it. They are the ones who encourage me. But most importantly, they are the ones who speak the truth of God into my life at all times. They are the ones who offer their prayers and support. They are the ones who bring treats to my house, text me at 4 am to make sure I’m okay, and tell me they’re buying a boat to get my mind off my mom’s wreck. This is my THEY.

Going even further, Haley is my ultimate THEY. She is the Godsend to my life who emulates all of these qualities to me, even if the seasons of life are difficult for her.

At bible study, they asked to share how we met our best friend/ultimate THEY. Haley and I have an interesting story. We worked the same internship. I walked in my first day with my Gilmore Girls coffee cup and it was basically an instant connection from there. We were inseparable that summer. And yes, we are the annoying girls in their 20s who run around Target shopping then lay on the floor laughing while she reads “All My Friends Are Dead” and I play with a giant green bouncy ball.

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I did buy the bouncy ball that day. Makes for good stress relief. 

But what really got Haley and I, where we really noticed God was working between the two of us for each other as best friends beyond all that we had in common, was the night we baked cookies at her house. We baked cookies and watched Gilmore Girls. But we also shared our stories with each other. I told her about how much I found my identity in someone else and as such allowed a breakup to destroy my life. She told me about the struggles she faced with her biological dad and reasons her family is the way it is as a result.

There is no denying we bonded – but this is where we realized it was God at work and not us. In that moment of sitting her on L-shape couch, stuffing our face with cookies, while her dog Ugg begged us for attention, Haley looked at me square in the eye and began talking about the very passage of scripture God had been using to speak into my life for many months leading up to that moment. The weird part? Not once did I ever say in the conversation that was the journey God and I were walking together. Haley just felt the words come on her heart and she spoke them. Except that wasn’t Haley, that was God. Everything was uphill from there.

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Now, obviously not everyone will have a story like Haley and I, but I do believe it reflects the importance of choosing the right THEY. Without the right THEY, we are marching into battle with people who do not understand our desire and need for God. They point us to each other instead of toward Him, and we need the people who will always point us toward Him.

I’ll end with this – they said this quote last night and I love it – “It’s not the people who will ride in the limo with you, it’s the ones who will be there when the limo breaks down.” Well, this is ALL to real for Haley and I since her car did break down and we (i.e. Micah and Erik, we sat in the car) had to push it to the gas station.

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Because who doesn’t want to run out of gas in July in Texas?

Your THEY is important so surround yourself with the right ones. And if you don’t have them, then pray for them. God will provide them. But remember, you have to be the right THEY as well as choosing the right THEY.

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One last ode to the bouncy ball. It’s always there for me. 

Music Wednesday: The Most Played Song on Spotify

So I’ve titled this blog “the most played song on Spotify,” for me at least. This definitely isn’t the most played song in all of Spotify. I don’t even know if this is the most played song on my personal Spotify. However, I do remember it made my “Year in Review” list for 2016 from Spotify so I must have played it enough for the song to hit the list.

Nonetheless, you won’t hear much Chris Young on my Spotify. In fact, you’ll hear almost no Chris Young on my Spotify. It’s not that I don’t like Chris Young because I do. In fact, I love him. But due to certain circumstances, I don’t keep his music on my Spotify. (The same goes for Die A Happy Man by Thomas Rhett. LOVE the song, but you’ll never actually see me listen to it. In fact, I often turn it off when it comes on the radio but I digress)

Still, beyond my connection with Chris Young and my reasons for keeping his music away from my Spotify there is a song by him that I will listen to every time it comes on shuffle and then some.

I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s one of those songs that just hits me. The crescendo into the beginning, followed by the steady beat of the drum and then finally Chris’ beautiful voice singing the first verse until he and the rest of the band hit it hard at the chorus. It’s perfection. It’s one of those songs that can instantly change my mood and I often find myself with it on repeat.

I cannot count the amount of times I’ve gone for drives on beautiful Texas days with the windows rolled down, blaring this song, watching my antler and turquoise necklace dangle from my review mirror with a soft smirk to the side of my face. I just love it that much.

These are the reasons why I would take a guess that’s it’s the most played song on my Spotify. I could be wrong, and that’s okay if I am. But we’re going to pretend it is. After all, music speaks to us for a reason and Chris definitely made a masterpiece when his voice was combined with these lyrics. Like I said, perfection.

Alright guys, I’m done babbling. Though if anyone knows if there’s a way to check your most played songs on Spotify, I’d really appreciate it!

Here’s Lonely Eyes by Chris Young! Enjoy!

Faith

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I used to have this verse hanging via decal on my living room wall. Then I moved from Waco and never replaced it. Still I find myself doodling it a lot

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gain approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible…and without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” –Hebrews 11

If I told you I took a spiritual gifts test on Sunday and faith came back as one of my strongest spiritual gifts would you believe me? Honestly, I was somewhat shocked. The knowledge and wisdom aspects didn’t surprise me as much. I am a learner. I love gaining knowledge about anything and everything. Scripture is no exception to this rule. Concerning wisdom, I understood how I ranked so highly on that. From my knowledge, I had experienced spiritual maturity and began to be able to practically apply that knowledge I had grown up with my entire life.

But faith…really…faith? Faith is for the crazy people that believe God is capable of everything right? Faith is for people like Abraham, Moses, and David. But me? God granted me the gift of faith? I was honestly taken aback. This simply cannot be so. Yet then again, I did mark a five out five on the line “I feel assured that a situation will change for the glory of God even when the situation seems impossible.” 

Then I read the text box for faith:

Faith trusts God to work beyond the human capabilities of the people. Believers with this gift encourage others to trust in God in the face of apparently insurmountable odds. (1 Corinthians 12:9)

If you want to talk about yelling at God for saying a situation is impossible, I am probably your poster child. Still, I realized this very reason is why it hit me so much.

Make no mistake, I am always the first person to say “don’t doubt God, you never know what He could be up to.” But saying it and believing it. Well, those are two completely different scenarios. Yet here I sit, faith tied for the highest score on my spiritual gifts.

The faith one is the one that hit me the most because it’s the one that has felt so real in my life for the past few years. I had to go beyond hearing it and knowing it to living it and believing it. Ultimately, it was this faith that God is in the midst of everything and is able to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds that my ex and I became so close.

He was going through one of the, if not the, toughest time in his life up to that point at least. I could sense his anger. I could sense his hopelessness. I could sense there were moments he wanted to ask God why He would place such an egregious situation in his life.

As he went through these circumstances, I would sit with him and try to make him talk to me. I knew he didn’t want to, but I still encouraged him by letting him know that I was there 24/7 if he ever needed a support through everything he had to face. Although we weren’t yet dating at this point, let’s be honest I inherently knew I loved him (whether I was ready to admit it or not is a topic for later discussion), and all I wanted was assurance he would be okay no matter what happened.

I distinctly remember one night at our local city park. He and I and a few other friends all went down to the park to hang out, goof off, be kids, whatever. We were 16 year olds that wanted to stay out until curfew. Though while we were all joking around, he separated himself from the group. He climbed up to the top of one of the slides and just stood there analyzing his surroundings. I figured his mind had to be racing with thoughts so I climbed up there with him to see what was going on. Like I said, my goal in the entire situation was to always make sure he was okay.

He opened up to me that night. He told me how angry he was at everything. He told me how he felt alone, almost like his other siblings didn’t quite understand the feelings he was trying to work through. And most importantly he told me he just didn’t get it. I sat there and listened and then proceeded to talk him through his anger. I told him God had an end to this situation but it would require a lot of faith on his behalf. I told him God would use the hurtful and seemingly impossible circumstances in his life to not only grow him stronger as a person, but also bring glory to His name. I remember telling him it may seem weird now, but you’ll see how God will work this out.

I held his hand (literally and figuratively) as he moved forward with a battle he never thought he would have to face in his life. It’s coming up on seven years, and I pray he is able to see how God used and is still using this situation and how everything worked out because I know I can.

Little did I know, however, that years later God would use him to shatter my world, and in my heart-broken state I would have to begin uttering those same words of faith I gave him on the slide that night to myself. I could no longer look at him and tell him everything was going to be okay and move on with my life. I had to learn how to hear and believe the truths God was speaking into my life, even though I can recall pulling into the parking garage at Baylor one day and in my prayer simply saying “God…it’s impossible”, to which his response to me was “I am God all-sufficient. I will make it possible.”

My faith grew that day.

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El Shaddai in Hebrew

As I discussed this aspect of faith with those around me, I realized the journey God brought me down was one very much of faith-solidifying. God knew the faith was there, but I had to realize it. I had to dig deeper into myself than I ever had before and cling to God harder than I ever had before (which I am still doing). It was either that or fall WAY off the deep end. I would think my friends and family are happy I chose the former as opposed to the latter.

But faith-solidifying is really where I fell at. Once that was laid out before me, I could see the truth in my spiritual gifts test. I could tell God had given me this faith for a reason, even if I cannot yet see what that reason is.

I was brought to the edge of myself so I could reach something greater. It was an unknown. It’s still an unknown. But I have faith one day I’ll see that place, whether on earth or in Heaven. The important part was I didn’t step out in blind faith, but instead in all-consuming readiness to be used by God through what I viewed as insurmountable circumstances.

I have said it before but I want to reiterate it – my faith grew stronger because in seeking explanation from God, I found revelation instead, and through this revelation my mind was elevated. I know longer saw my circumstances for what they were but instead saw God for who He was and the things He is capable of (which is a lot).

While it was weird at first, faith was actually spot on. Faith is that God is who He says He is and will do what He has said He will do. Faith that in God I can experience immeasurably more.

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100 Things: A Follow Up

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Forever pondering 100 things…and being super basic in the process courtesy of snapchat

A year ago I read a Thought Catalog post on journaling/blogging ideas and I decided to give one a try – make yourself vulnerable and share 100 facts about yourself. So I did. If you never read that post, believe me, they. were. random.

Today my mom and I were talking about journaling (because she got me this adorable blue and red anchor journal) and she’s decided to take it up. She told me it’s one of those things she’s thought about before, but never really knew how to move forward with it. My response went something like “well mom, you just do it.” But on the flip side of that, I understand her argument. How do you journal? What do you write about? Where do you begin?

I understand. It’s scary. Even when you are branded “a writer,” I have a whole folder full of writings that will never see the light of day.

I guess that’s when I was reminded of my 100 Things post. Thought Catalog inspired a post for me, there’s so many writing prompts on Pinterest, and amongst other things, I do what I can to draw inspiration from the world around me. The thing about the 100 Things post is how much it required me to dig into myself, to analyze myself, to become vulnerable and share my likes and dislikes with the world.

Being vulnerable is really the biggest part. It’s the hardest part. It’s the scariest part. But it’s also the most important part. And today, I decided to become even more vulnerable and do a follow up post to my 100 Things.

I decided to this because I’ve talked to my mom about writing a lot the past couple days. I realized my writings help display a lot of that growth, but also being able to go back to my 100 Things posts and show how things in general have changed also seemed like a lot of fun. And who knows, maybe by going back and revisiting some my older writings – including the ones never published – I’ll be able to find more inspirations for my writings. Just keep growing, right? (Which I almost spelled “write” because puns…okay I’m done)

I won’t cover ALL of the 100 items listed in the original post. That’s just way too much. But here is an overview of how things can change over a year (P.S. I will be using the original number from the list):

1.  “I have the most fun relaxing and watching Netflix.”
Still true. I have binged on House of Cards a lot lately. But I’ve also spent a lot of time reading. Trust me, a large book post is coming.

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9. “I’ve never broken a bone.”
While this is still true, I did twist my ankle pretty badly trail running the other day in Trinity Park. Let’s talk about how fun it was limping back to my car…

11. “I want to learn how to speak French.”
Well…Savoir, penser, rêver. Tout est la. A lovely phrase.

25. “I want a German Shepherd and his/her name will be Kona.”
While this is still true, I am a renter and German Shepherds are restricted breeds in most rental places. Because of this, if I do get a dog it’ll either be a Lab or a Catahoula named Huckleberry. Then everywhere we go I can say “he’s my Huckleberry.”

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30. “My favorite bible verses include Psalm 118:8, John 3:30, and Habakkuk 2:3.”
I also want to add Ephesians 3:20 to this list. A beautiful doxology by Paul that has been on my mind a lot lately. Even if it’s a temporary favorite verse, I’m glad it’s there.

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32. “I have my entire wedding planned on Pinterest.”
Scratch that. I do have a wedding planned on Pinterest, but it probably won’t be mine. Why? Because I don’t want a wedding ceremony with the bridesmaids, and the 300 guests, and the stress. Haley once told me I’ll have shotgun wedding and she’s right. I want a small ceremony (seriously like 10 people max) on a beach (preferably Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown, VA) probably on some random day of the week and that’s it. Think like Chuck and Blair Gossip Girl getting married in Central Park, minus the whole Bart’s dead plot twist.

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Part of Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown

35. “When it comes to European travel, my dream destinations are Paris, Venice, and Prague.”
I’m happy to report that my wanderlust has ventured beyond just Europe. (You thought I was going to say I got to go to Paris, didn’t you?) At the time I wrote this, I REALLY wanted to go to Europe, a couple of other places, and that’s it. Now, I also want to go to both Tokyo and Okinawa, Japan as while as go hike Patagonia in Argentina/Chile.

48. “As much as I love Texas, I have a longing to travel and live in different places.”
Look up and look back down. I guess travel was really on my mind a year ago (and still is). Though stateside I am currently planning a trip to Williamsburg/Yorktown. What up Hampton Roads! Trust me guys, the day my dream (and I mean legit I had a dream about this) of moving to Yorktown comes true, y’all will be some of the first to know.

50. “The marathon I hope to run one day is the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C.”
So I signed up for the MCM newsletter and I do plan on enrolling in the lottery for the 2017 marathon. If I don’t make it through the lottery, I’ll probably run it through a charity. I was thinking TAPS, but I’ll definitely keep y’all posted. Oh and we can also add the 2018 London Marathon to this list.

59. “I would like to work somewhere like Wounded Warrior Project or USO.”
Still very true, though my dad wants me to be commissioned as an officer for the Navy. I won’t deny I consider it…all the time. I’m just trying to get through grad school first. Plus, the thought really scares me. I love the military, I just never thought I’d actually be apart of the military.

73. “Loreena McKinnett and Phillip Wesley are some of my favorite classical artists.”
Throw Tim Janis in there and we’re golden.

80. “My dream grad school is William & Mary.”
Obviously, W&M is not where I am getting my MA from, however, this does not mean I do not love the school. Grad school right after I graduated college ended up being a whim decision for me and my options were limited. (I had initially planned on deferring for a year) However, this doesn’t mean I regret my decision to not go to W&M either. Liberty has been good for me. If anything this is more of a “terminal” MA to just get my feet wet in the realm of International Affairs. W&M is still my dream school, I just want them to be the ones who hood me as a doctor.

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The Christopher Wren building on William & Mary’s campus

95. “I am a huge introvert.”
I used to think this was a bad thing, but lately I’ve learned to embrace it. I enjoy my own company. I guess some people think it’s depressing when you go do things on your own, but I’ve learned to love it. Whether it’s going to eat or going exploring (I still haven’t gone to the movies by myself), it’s still incredibly enjoyable and relaxing (plus people-watching). It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of others because I do. I guess it’s just overtime I’ve learned it’s okay to spend time alone and it’s okay to enjoy it. Being an introvert is nothing to be ashamed of.

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Taken the day I explored Grapevine, TX on my own

So there you have it friends…13 updates on my life. I did this because I wanted to see growth. Because from these 13 updates, I can use any one of them to fuel a fire in my writing or build future blog posts off of (which will definitely happen if I run the MCM).

As stated before on my conversation with my mom, I know it’s hard. There are many times I publish a post scared to death because of how vulnerable it will make me seem, and there are plenty of writings that will never be published because I’m not ready to be that vulnerable. But the simplest things in life can provide inspiration to the world around us. That’s why I love these lists of facts about ourselves and the world around us so much. I ultimately believe they can help all of us become better writers and thinkers altogether.

Whether you’re just starting out writing or you’ve been writing for a while, keep going guys! There is inspiration everywhere, I know you’ll find it!

 

 

A Moment of Impact

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My grandmother and I at her 79th birthday dinner

A little over a month ago I lost my grandmother. She was one of my closest friends, my rock, and my hero. I find myself tearing up as I sit to write this post. When she first passed, I knew I wanted to honor her memory, but no amount of words ever seemed as if they’d be enough.

Through the past month I have moved forward with life, still fighting the sting of the pain and the loss of a grandmother I so dearly loved. I knew her time would come eventually, but she was one of those people who was always there. Knowing the time would come and experiencing that time are two completely different aspects of life. I never wanted to think about the day I would have to lose her because I didn’t know how I would find the strength to face it. And as I sit here a month and a few days later, I’m still not sure if I do. It still seems surreal.

Even so, the words came.

From the inside looking out, I struggle finding the words to explain it. It was one of those rare moments – a moment of impact – one that not even the most eloquent of words could describe the allure of. The kind of moment that becomes immortalized in song and word, yet far more beautiful.

I sat at her bedside, my hand ever-so gently relaxed on her arm, as I sang my favorite verse from Messiah/You’re Beautiful to her – When we arrive at eternity’s shore, where death is just a memory and tears are no more. We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring, Your bride will come together and we’ll sing, You’re beautiful. 

The tears fell from my face onto the rocking chair. I saw the faint flutter in her eyes. While it felt unnatural praying for the very thing we spend our entire lives avoiding, it was the moment she and I both knew her time was arriving to come home.

She died of stage four breast cancer. It was a hard-fought battle, yet one that made her stronger as a person. Back in October when we learned the cancer had metastasized to the brain, we knew what it meant. There are days the most difficult decision we will make is when we decide what we want to eat. This was not one of those days. After a journey that felt both so short and so long, I sat by her bed that Friday night, and I knew the day I dreamed would never come had emerged.

She is one of a rare breed. One that once she has that moment of impact in your life, you will never be the same. She’s one of those people you can never forget, even if you wanted to try. Though in a sense of honesty amongst yourself, you know you never really want to forget.

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It was the last night I would spend with the woman who had such a profound impact on my dad’s life and later my entire family. I couldn’t quite find the words to say. Not even I love you felt like it could be enough. Still through my tearful eyes I could see the exhaustion of her body could not stop her from smiling. I know she told me she loved me too.

Words didn’t feel like enough, but music did. I became too emotional to sing, so I started playing music instead.

My grandmother had a funny thing about taking me to southern gospel singings growing up. I hated them. I thought they were boring and would never end. Yet in those moments I sat by her bedside holding her hand, the Precious Memories album by Alan Jackson felt right. I turned on “In The Garden” and just let it shuffle.

Indistinctly, I saw her facial expressions change with each song. In The Garden changed to Softly and Tenderly, which changed to I’ll Fly Away and then to The Old Rugged Cross. It was during this song I saw her eyes glance to me and felt the light flick in her hand. We shared that moment together. We knew her crown was coming. We knew she would soon stand in the presence of our Father.

What proceeded was the most memorable of the entire night. My parents joined me at her bedside and we started to sing to her. As How Great Thou Art came on, an atmosphere filled the room I’m not sure can ever be replicated in this lifetime.

With heavy hearts and tear-filled eyes, we looked at my beautiful grandmother with both joy and sorrow as we sang one of her favorite hymns. I choked back what I could as we finished singing. Goodbye really is the hardest part.

A moment of impact.

The quote from C.S. Lewis states “When I die, I pray all of hell rejoices that I am out of the fight.” At 2:30 am on the 10th of December 2016, I have no doubt that’s how the fallen world felt. She fought the good fight, she finished the race, she kept the faith.

Amidst the chaos and the pain I’ve felt for the last month, I’m forever comforted by the words of Paul – to live is Christ, and to die is gain. My grandmother, the most God-fearing, caring, tenacious woman I have ever met, has gained far more than this world could ever offer her. She no longer lives in an earthly body broken by age and cancer, but now walks those beautiful streets of gold in a lovely, heavenly body given to her by the Lord.

That night I thanked my grandmother for being a guiding light in my life. I thanked her sitting on my couch, holding me while I cried, and loving me at the moment in my life I felt most unloved. I thanked her for teaching me that no matter what you absolutely never give up on the ones you love, even if everyone else is begging you to. I thanked her for showing what an authentic love for Christ looks like. Most importantly, I thanked her for choosing to be my grandmother.

Even still, she inspires me to become a better person, as she often did to so many around her. She fought like a girl until the very end. I’ve never been more proud to call her my grandmother.

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My grandmother bought me this shirt shortly shortly after she finished chemo in 2013. From beginning to end, she fought like a girl

Music Wednesday: Something Different

As I sit here writing this music Wednesday post, I find myself thinking it’s crazy that 7 years ago was 2010. 7 years. SEVEN.

Seven years ago my life was turned upside in the most beautiful way possible. Seven years ago my dad accepted a new pastoral position and at 15 years old with only 2 years of high school left, I moved 5 hours away from the place I had known as home my entire life.

While some people, arguably most, would hate going through such transition in life, I embraced my new world with open arms. God was in the middle of all of it, and I could see it every step of the way.

Let me explain:

As I’ve gotten older, my dad has always been very open and honest with me about his life in ministry. When the church initially contacted my dad, he turned them down. We had so much happening at the time, and my parents wanted me to finish high school at Little Cypress-Mauriceville. Naturally, we moved on with our lives.

A few months later, the church calls again. They ask my dad to reconsider. As stated before, he’s always been open and honest with me. So he gives in to their consideration, while on the side thinking something has to be wrong with this church if they are circling back though resumes. What followed was a moment I’ll never forget. He called me out of room to tell me what had happened. I stood barely out of doorway from the hallway to the living room, just enough where I could see our TV in my peripheral. And the second my dad told me the church called again, I heard it in the back of my head – “we’re going to move.” 

I never admitted it to my parents initially, but I knew God was in it. My family looked for roadblock after roadblock. Every single one of them was torn down. The interim youth minister? The nephew of my dad’s best friend from college. Head of the music minister search committee? The grandfather of my best friend, Meghan.

God’s trajectory was laid out for us and it was only a matter of moments before He deemed the timing perfect and it came colliding into our lives. As simple as it is to say, when God’s in it, He’s in it. 

If there was one thing I learned throughout the entire process – no matter how hard you may try, you can’t outrun God.

Needless-to-say, this entire process had me on FIRE for God. It doesn’t mean moments were hard. Oh trust me, moments were hard, and there were plenty of moments I wanted to run away from it all, and others where I just wanted to run away to my new life and forget Orange, TX ever existed. But I didn’t. And I still remained on fire for the work God was ever-so clearly mapping out in my life.

Which brings me to this music Wednesday. Correlating with being on fire for God was the music which aided in fueling that fire. Let’s get one thing straight up front. I don’t really listen to a lot of rap music. However, I grew up in the youth age where Lecrae was it, and admittedly, I gave in to some of the songs.

All the songs reminded me of the power of God. Of the example we’re supposed to be for Christ. Of the glory we’re supposed to bring to God. And as I reflected on this journey these past few days, these songs just resonated with my sophomore year of high school and all the change I embraced.

Side note: only one of these songs is actually by Lecrae.

3. 2nd Coming: Flame

You remember when people used to wear those Free Hugs shirts? I had a friend pass away in a car accident my sophomore year, and he loved those shirts. Well one night a group of us decided to adapt from James’ example, but instead of doing free hugs, we did free prayers. We drove up and down 16th St. in Orange, ventured to the local Wal-Mart, and tried to find people we could pray for. It was a really, really fun night, and one I will never forget. While out that night, we kept listening to this song. As the title suggests, it talks about the second coming of Christ. It just helped fuel the fire in us. We were reminded we DON’T know when Christ is coming back, and wanted to embrace the opportunity to bring Him as much glory as possible.

2. Make War: Tedashii

If you ever want to see this classy girl who dresses like she just stepped out of a J. Crew catalog rap, this would be the song. (Actually that only happened when Eminem came on during the kickboxing days. True story) Anyway, before the start of our sophomore year, Meghan and I went to a mini revival in Bridge City, TX. Here we took a class on apologetics where the instructor had us listen to this song and it kind of became our anthem for quite a few months. As two 15-year-old girls, it hit us hard. We read the lyrics and both realized how easy it is to become complacent in sin rather than raging a war against it. We became each other’s accountability partners. We went through each other’s rooms looking at CD’s, Facebook accounts, and anything we felt like could draw us away from God. We even broke a couple CD’s and threw them on the ground at the revival as a very symbolic way of the ways we were going to wage war. It was pretty radical moment for the both us.

1. Send Me: Lecrae

Someone once told me they don’t understand why I like this song so much. I ignored them because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. The same way I listen to Krystal Meyers or Breaking Benjamin to get ready for a long run, I listen to this song before mission trips. It’s like the Til I Collapse of missional music. The entire song is focused on the Great Commission. Lecrae talks about the need to be missional, locally and globally. He says we need more people with the martyrs of faith attitude, and as I listen to the lyrics, I find myself agreeing with him. As Christians, we are called to be ambassadors, and we should act as such. (And speaking as someone who REALLY wanted to a go a certain Middle Eastern country when I was 18, I also resonate with the line about sharing faith in a place where they will kill you for it). But beyond that, there is one line in the entire song that always hits me no matter how many times I listen to it – there’s more to life than work, church, and football, what if you were dead in sins and Christians overlooked y’all? Fire. Lines such as that help fuel the fire within me. Plus, I love how much it relates to one my favorite verses, Isaiah 6:8.

For those who know me well, they are very different than most of the music you will find me listening to. Seven years ago my life changed, but these songs helped me embrace that change whole-heartedly.

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