Can’t Stop the Beat

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Myself at 13

I’m not sure if you would consider today a “holiday” since there are so many national this and national that days. However, today is a holiday for me.

The 30th of July is National Dance Day, and that is a very revered day in my book.

I grew up in dance. Since I was a little girl, I have loved moving around and dancing to music. I was very active (as most children were) and was involved in dance, cheerleading, and gymnastics. As the years went on, I slowly let go of cheer and gymnastics and placed my heart in soul into ballet.

Dance became what I loved. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to become better. I made it a goal to have fouettés down by the time I was 10 or 11 (I made it. I didn’t have perfect technique, but I could do it).

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I can’t have a post about dance without Center Stage

As the years continued, dance became a passion. I channeled everything I had into dance. My routine was wake up, go to school, go to dance, come home, go to bed, repeat. There were nights I would spend five hours at the dance studio and I loved every minute of it. There were few things that could help me getting through life like walking into a studio blaring music and being able to leap my heart out (literally, I had a problem with not breathing while I danced).

Although I have not been able to be in dance for a quite a few years, it’s still a passion of mine. Plus, as every dancer does, I still have my moments where in times of stress or disappointment, I’ll turn on contemporary or classical music and dance.

I have thought about auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance so many times. I’m sorry to announce that will probably never happen. However, because it’s National Dance Day, I have decided to share one of my favorite routines ever performed on SYTYCD.

Here is Jeanine and Brandon performing a jazz routine to Battlefield. If you’re in awe, it’s understandable. Jeanine was the winner that season.

Happy National Dance Day, friends!

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

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CALLING ALL GILMORE GIRLS FANS (Or maybe just my sister and Haley…..)

If you can remember back to February, I know a lot has happened since then, I released a post about the definitive reasons Gilmore Girls is the best show ever. In the post, I spoke about the upcoming revival on Netflix. Eeeeekkkkkkkk.

Well, after months and months of waiting, wondering, and creeping on as many pictures as possible to try and get a grip of what is going on in this revival here’s what I gathered during that time:

  • All the love interests are definitely back – Hello Logan. Hello Dean. Um, bye Jess.
  • There is a picture of Luke’s truck outside Lorelai’s house…..?
  • Rory appears to teach at Chilton, so I’m going to guess her work on presidential campaign trails is over.
  • Melissa McCarthy is definitely returning as the one-and-only Sookie St.James.
  • The show will cover four seasons in the town of Stars Hollow – Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.
  • Hep Alien is still together.
  • We still have no idea what Kirk is doing with his life.
  • Lorelai and Rory are still the best duo to ever face television.

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With all these things being said, and lots of emotional trauma in process, yesterday the first official trailer for the show was released and the four-part event will air on November 25!

(I’ll hold while you catch your breath)

Things are still pretty much the same – Lorelai and Rory engaging in rapid-fire dialogue in their cozy, Connecticut home, the town gazebo remains intact, Doose’s is still open, and Luke still serves the best cup of coffee on the East Coast.

Plus…the theme song is still the same. I definitely got chills when I heard the “da…da…da…’s” and “la…la…la…’s.” (Sorry, it’s really hard to communicate sound over type). But then, you hear “where you lead…” and that’s where I pretty much lost it.

So definitely still the same show, still has the same affect it had on me when I was 10, and there is still definitely plenty of coffee to go around.

The only difference is this time Lorelai is having an existential crisis on whether she and Amy Schumer would be friends (Especially since her last crisis was deciding Pop-Tarts taste like freedom). Rory’s answer is water sports.

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But, there are still some things I want to know! Will we get to see Paris have another breakdown on C-Span? How will they address the death of Edward Hermann? Will Rory get hit by another deer? What have the Life and Death Brigade been up to since leaving Yale?

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So. Many. Questions.

And with that, who owns a time machine so we can fast-forward to November already?

Once a Gilmore, always a Gilmore.

Music Wednesday: Hillsong United

I have been on a Hillsong kick lately, majorly. So much so, that even Spotify has emailed me on behalf on Hillsong thanking me for listening to them and suggesting I take the time to enjoy their new album.

I had another idea for a music Wednesday this week (and last week since I missed – oops), but I’ve been enjoying Hillsong so much, I decided I simply couldn’t pass this opportunity up.

Hillsong makes some of the best contemporary worship music, in my opinion. Lots of which was produced before “Oceans” became the tear-jerking hit that it is.

So I’m going to do a list (of course) of my top five Hillsong songs. Enjoy!

5. You Hold Me Now. In the months before I moved to Hillsboro, I would go to church with my friends at North Orange Baptist Church on Wednesday night. There the praise band would always sing this song. I’m not sure what there was about it, but it was a beautiful reminder that no matter what was going on in my life, God was with me and nothing took Him by surprise.

4. The Stand. I’m not really sure if there’s a reason I love this song so much other than the fact it’s amazing. I just feel like it really exemplifies what it means to fall before God and give everything to Him. There is beauty in singing about salvation throughout this song.

3. Oceans. Face it, you knew it was coming. This is undoubtedly one of the greatest songs Hillsong has ever written. I had it on replay a couple years ago, and still do. It’s one of those songs where the beginning music alone brings you chills, while the lyrics flat out bring you to tears. One of my first Sunday’s (if not my first Sunday) at Columbus Avenue Baptist, we sang this song. I was unbelievably emotional. Not only did God use the people of CABC to speak to me in so many different ways, but He used the music too. My faith has been pushed to its limits multiple times (how else would I grow), and even though God has led me through deep waters I never thought I would experience, I am thankful I have. This song perfectly shows the beauty of placing our trust in Christ, taking those leaps of faith where you don’t know what will happen or how things will turn out, but you know you’re not alone.

2. Lead Me to the Cross. Another one of those songs, like The Stand, that reminds us of the beauty of salvation. There are those times I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, I take a step back and remind myself to look at the bigger picture. That’s usually when I land on this song. I walk myself step-by-step through the lyrics that Christ went through the same temptations I did and still He was able to find peace in his Father. I come close to the heart of my Father, and remember my worth was decided on the cross. In those moments where I feel I have nothing, I remember to whom I belong.

1. Hosanna. This is my all-time favorite song by Hillsong. Ever. I once had someone tell me they would sing this song every Sunday at chapel in bootcamp and it just broke them down so much. I can definitely see why, considering this song breaks me down a normal day alone. But seriously, as the title states, this song is about glory of Christ and all the praise He deserves. But this song also inspires me. I think this song evokes such emotion because I use it to pray God would show me how to love like Christ, how He’s loved me. It makes me want to grow closer in my relationship my Father, to fall before His throne with everything I am, and to make Him famous, truly praising Hosanna in the highest. No matter how you slice it, it’s an amazing song.

So there you have it friends! Those are my top five favorite’s by Hillsong. If you have more, feel free to share! As I said, they are an awesome praise and worship band. Have a fantastic Wednesday and rest of the week!

One last thing, I ask that we would all simply take the time to pray for our world. The United States, France, Japan, Syria, and everywhere else. We are world that is hurting, but we have a healer. Prayer is not a last resort but instead direct communication with our Father and Creator, and we should use it continually.

HE > i

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Growing up Christian, you always hear about “life verses.” You know what I mean, the people who like to quote Psalm 23:4 and Jeremiah 29:11 when they’re in need of encouragement. Scripture is full of great passages to provide us comfort and the like when we need it.

Over the years, I have learned life verses become very symbolic of our journey (or at least mine). As a teenager, my favorite verse was Psalm 118:8.

It is better to trust in the Lord, than to have faith in man.” 

This verse really spoke to me. I was young and trying to grow up fast at the time. The concept of “cultural Christianity” was becoming very prevalent around me. I felt the pressure and temptation to simply say I was a Christian because it was the right thing to do. But at the age of 13, God reminded me He had great things in store for my life. This required total surrender to Him.

So I began to let this verse become a basis for my life. I had it put on my high school letterman. You could find it written on my Facebook wall and bathroom mirror. I always used this verse to remind myself God is where my trust should remain.

Then disaster struck. At 19, the life I had changed overnight. For the first time, I didn’t know how to trust in the Lord. I also knew I couldn’t place my trust in man. Man had hurt me. Man told me it didn’t matter how perfect I tried to be, I could never be good enough. The pain and trauma of facing my biggest fears were realized and I fell apart.

In hindsight, it’s easy to look back and say “well if man caused all these problems, why didn’t I just place my trust in God?” After all, that’s what the verse says. I wanted to place my trust in God. I wanted SO badly to be able to say I trusted God, but in some of the darkest times I faced, I felt like I couldn’t find Him. I was walking in a desert I had never been in before. I turned to God to be my compass, yet I still felt lost. I struggled placing my trust in God when I felt as if couldn’t tell where He was, much less where He was sending me.

I kept telling God how I wanted him to intervene, fix things, and make them go back to normal. The problem with that entire statement though is I kept telling God what I wanted, but I never took the time to stop and ask God what He wanted from me. Instead of just assuming He would play with the world like we were all His little puppets, I needed to be asking Him what He wanted me to do, how He wanted me to respond, and who He wanted me to become.

I found both my comfort and answers in an unexpected place – a romance novel of some sorts. Except instead of it being the life of Fabio bound cover to cover, it was a fictional narrative set in the 1800’s about the love between a man of God and a prostitute. It was the retelling of the story of Hosea, called Redeeming Love, and it hit me like a truck.

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The main character, Angel, is sold into prostitution as a child. The other main character, Michael, is a man who prayed fervently God would show him who should be his wife. One day, God pointed Michael toward Angel. Naturally, Michael’s response was “uh, really God? You do know what she does for a living, right?” Michael and God did a little back and forth before he surrenders to his Father’s will and fights for Angel. He buys her freedom from a brothel and she becomes his wife. While resistant at first, Michael never stopped praying for his wife and eventually she falls in love with him. Sounds like a happy ending, right?

Well this is where things get messy. The problem with Angel falling in love with Michael is she falls in love with everything about him and who she perceived him to be. Michael tried to teach her how to love God, but she loved Michael instead. Then she leaves him and Michael has to let her go.

Heartbroken, angry, and mostly confused, Michael turned to God and asked why (a question we all know we have asked). God told Michael he had to trust Him. Then one day amidst his tears and clouded mind, Michael asks God why and He tells Michael she had to leave. Angel worshipped her husband like a god when she should have been worshipping God Himself. God needed her separated from her husband so He could work in her life. He needed Angel to love Him first.

This was the part of the book where I had to put it down to have a crying session (and I mean “ugly cry” session). The conviction was surreal. Suddenly, all the pain in my life made sense. God did not allow certain things to happen in my life just so He could say “haha” and watch me lay in bed and cry myself to sleep every night for months straight. He orchestrated things to happen in my life because I worshipped them when I needed to be worshipping Him. I was stripped of the very things I used to find my identity in so I would find my identity in Christ and nothing else.

As the book continues, Angel and Michael live three years apart. Michael accepts his life without his wife, while Angel spent the time falling more and more in love with her Creator rather than the created. They do eventually meet up after the three years to have the Disney “and they lived happily ever after” ending.

However, it’s not necessarily the love story of the book that made it one of my favorite books. I will not deny, while I read the book I certainly prayed for a guy like Michael (quite opposite for all the girls wishing for a Christian Grey at the time), but more importantly I prayed that God would simply speak to me. I was broken and I needed the Spirit to fall on me more than I had ever experienced before. I just wanted answers. Like Michael, I just wanted to know why.

The book helped me make sense of things in my life. God didn’t just do a quick fix to the problems in my life because the root of the situation wasn’t my problems. It was my heart. The life I had was on track to be practically void of a true relationship with my Father. I couldn’t be the person God needed me to be when I loved his creation more than I loved Him.

Things began to change for me. I was no longer the person that mattered, but my Father. If I wasn’t bringing glory to His name, I was doing something wrong. I realized everything I am, and everything I am meant to be, is to point toward God. I was created for the simple task of bringing glory to His name.

And the simple verse of scripture that describes this experience so eloquently is found in John 3:30.

“He must become greater; I must become less.”

An easy verse to pass over in a daily bible reading, I read it again and again until I felt I was not only realizing, but experiencing, the true meaning of it.

My favorite song by Jeff Johnson is called “Ruin Me.” The powerful words of the chorus state:

Ruin my life, the plans that I’ve made. Ruin desires for my own selfish gain. Destroy the idols that have taken your place till it’s you alone I live for.

I love these words. I’ve sang this song in worship so many times, but rarely focused on the meaning of them. Then God elevated my mind. Everything I had was gone. My life, my plans, my desires, and my idols, all of it, were ruined. Yet my Father did not destroy these things because He hates me, but because He loves me.

These things were in His place. These things ruled my life while I proclaimed Him to be the Lord. He began the transformation and soon the process became a spiritual transfiguration. My words became action.

God undoubtedly became greater in my life, and still I continually strive to make myself less.

P.S. Guy or girl, I highly recommend this book to anyone. It does an awesome job at using fiction to wreck your ideas of relationships while learning what it means to love like Christ in the process.

 

To See the Forest, You Have to Look Past the Trees

You know those times when life gets crazy? And I mean like REALLY crazy. Yeah, this is one of those times.

Guys, I started grad school. It’s kind of surreal to think back in December I was graduating from college and now I’m swamped with work for grad school (on top of work itself). To say I’m exhausted 200% of the time is an understatement. To quote Lorelai Gilmore – I NEED COFFEE IN AN IV.

So concerning grad school itself, overall it’s been good so far. Granted, I’m only a couple weeks in, but I’ve definitely enjoyed it. I’m taking two classes over the summer – Writing for Turabian (ugh) and Economics & Public Policy.

Turabian. Well…it’s a class on how to write papers. Now, please do not misunderstand, I will NEVER undermine the importance of knowing how to write a well-thoughtout, highly analytical argument, but, I had to take a class just like this in undergrad. It’s only slightly tedious to have to do it again for my masters. Alas, I have to do something to help me reach that Ph.D. level.

Then there’s Economics & Public Policy. For the sake of transparency, this was the class I was insanely worried about. The last time I took an Economics class was for dual-credit in high school. And I took it online because all but three of us dropped the class and therefore there weren’t enough students for Hill College to actually send the professor to the high school campus. I was completely overwhelmed and everything WAY over my head. I tried super hard, but I still finished with a C in the class (and I had the highest grade of the three of us).

That brings us up to this class now. I was really worried. But maybe it’s a maturity thing, or maybe I’m just studying harder, who knows, but this time seems to be going better. What I’ve realized is I can’t let my previous experiences dictate how this class because that’s when I get thrown off.

Think of it this way – you know those times when someone compliments you, and it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since the compliment, you’ll never forget it? Well, I had a really good friend of mine do that for me in undergrad. We started off freshman year together and basically stayed in all the same history courses throughout our time at Baylor. During our last history class together, we were studying one night and I got beyond stressed out. I was drinking coffee, eating pizza, and felt like I was on the verge of having an anxiety attack. Renie pulled me aside and basically told me to stop (you could also see a little bit of the Marine Corps officer coming out in him when he said this, so slightly intimidating). But then he told me to take a deep breath and just breathe.

He proceeded to remind me how he’d known me since freshman year and that I was very smart and highly intelligent. He told me to trust him when he said I knew the material better than majority of the class because he had heard me mummer answers and arguments under my breath in class (we sat next to each other). Whether I wanted to hear it or not, Renie told me I lacked confidence in myself and mostly my intelligence. He said if I just let my mind flow, the solutions would come and I would be okay. He was right.

I will never forget that conversation with Renie because it was true. I feel so often I try to control everything, I lose sight of the bigger picture. I think of it like the idea of focusing on each individual tree when I really need to be focusing on the entire forest. Everything he said was right. It didn’t really hit me like a truck at the time because I was so tired, but it does now. I can’t control everything, and when I let my mind process and simply do it’s thing, that’s when the answers/solutions/arguments/whatever I’m looking for will come.

One: I think it’s important Renie told me that. We should never underestimate the power of our words to someone, especially a compliment they likely don’t hear very happen. The bottom line is I push myself to be book smart because I desire to be good enough, almost like I have something to prove if not to anyone but myself. Having a peer tell me that I didn’t need to try so hard because I was already on a level higher than where I needed to be is what made this conversation so special.

Two: Whenever I begin to feel down and discouraged in grad school, I think back to this conversation with Renie to just have confidence. So what if I got a C in Macroeconomics in high school when I was 17. I’m almost 22 and in my first year of grad school studying a different form of economics. I never should have shut the class down before I even gave it a chance. Especially since (as I’ve since learned) when I just go with what I know and let things happen, the outcome is generally positive.

I mean, I have a topic proposal due for my research paper soon. I’m still struggling figuring out what to write my paper on since I don’t really understand all the ins and outs of economics. However, what I do have are 12 copies of The Economist from September to November. And per Renie, I am confident that as I sift through those I will surely find a topic to peak my interest for my research paper. I just have to let my mind do it’s thing.

Life may be crazy lately. We can all agree life tends to get crazy, a lot. In years past when things like this would happen I had a tendency to curl up, stress out, and shut down, but this time I’m fighting forward. I wouldn’t be in grad school if my parents, the university, and most importantly myself, didn’t think I could do it.

I still have a huge chunk of the summer semester ahead of me, but I remain so excited to see where this goes. I’ve already learned so much in the past few weeks and it’s been fun. Give me a little bit of coffee and whole lot of Jesus and I’ll be conquering the world in no time!

Music Wednesday: Indie Rock

Most people know the type of music I love and prefer to listen to. I’m sure by now you do too. While it is evident my music interests are widely varied, what a lot of people don’t know is that on top of listening to some weird (and I mean weird) music I love to listen to Indie/Folk rock style music.

I’m not necessarily sure why I love it so much, but I’m pretty sure it’s because it’s a genre of music that’s fun and easy to choreograph a dance too (which is what I do a lot).

Anyway, I’ve been on a Greg Laswell kick lately, like intense it’s all I’ve been listening to. But there’s one Greg song that I just can’t seem to get out of my head. I’m not sure what it is, but I love it so much. All I can say is it’s a really good song and that’s why I wanted to share it with you!

Therefore I present to y’all Comes and Goes (In Waves). Enjoy!

Music Wednesday: Cover Songs

Cover songs are a hit and miss. Sometimes they’re awesome and sometimes…not so much.

I’m not sure if it’s just that we get so used to hearing the original song from the artist or if the cover songs are just THAT bad. I guess it just depends. However, if the right twist is done on a song, the cover can be incredible.

That is exactly how I feel about this week’s song. It is a classic. It’s a Johnny Cash. Now before you make the face I’m sure you’re making, hear me out – I would have never thought a cover of a Johnny Cash song could be good, and I’m definitely not saying it’s better than the original, however, the artist put such a good spin on the song, I think it’s definitely worth recognizing.

Therefore, I present to you this week’s song – Ring of Fire by Lera Lynn. (Listen to it, give it a chance, I promise it is a really good cover!)