Music Wednesday: Beauty in the Breaking

Don’t you just love it when inspiration hits? I mean, out of nowhere it’s just like “Wow! This was everything I needed and more!” This was me tonight.

See, Wednesday’s are awesome because Wednesday’s are the night I have my mid-week ladies bible study. If you want to talk about something that can turn your whole day around, for me, this is it. My morning (and last night) started terrible. One of my personal accounts got hacked so I was up at midnight last night on the phone with customer service to get it resolved. This resulted in my wanting to sleep in this morning. I downed a cup of coffee, tried to curl all of my hair, and ran out of the door only to get stuck in traffic for an hour and 26 minutes and end up late to work.

By the time I got to work, I was in such an ugh kind of mood. My mind was scrambling all over the place. I wanted to take some time to sit down and do my devotional, but I could barely even focus on that. It was terrible.

Fastforward to 7 pm tonight. I have my venti vanilla latte from Starbucks, and I’m sitting in bible study, hearing a lesson that’s all about change. Change in the ways God uses it, how we can embrace it, and why it is so necessary in our lives. In that moment, my entire perspective shifted. My terrible morning became an amazing evening.

As a small group leader for this bible study, I got to spend about another 20-30 minutes connecting with the ladies in my group about change in our lives. One of the things we discussed was how God used change in our lives for good, even if it was painful at the time. This was the moment where I was reminded of The Unmaking by Nicole Nordeman.

If I ever write a book, I can guarantee you I will cite this song as a main source of inspiration for me. I just feel it describes me and my journey with God perfectly. I used to be afraid to be blunt about the work God was doing in my life. I would be transparent on many, many levels. But then I would still hold back. I would be afraid to completely, and I mean completely, talk about the work God was doing in my life. This only something I have finally come to be brave enough to do within the past couple of months.

Perhaps I didn’t tell my full story because I was scared of what others would think. Perhaps I was too worried about how I would come across to others. Part of me even wondered if there were certain people in my life I would inadvertently push away if I was totally, completely, uncompromisingly candid about the work of God in my life. Then I realized, how selfish of me to not share what I know God is doing in my life because I’m scared of what other people might think of it. For someone who has a constant prayer for God to be glorified through her life and situations, I wasn’t doing a very good job at making sure God got the glory. The bottom line is I came to realize I can’t control other people’s thoughts. They were either going to see me and think what they wanted to think, or they were going to recognize the work of God in my life.

This is exactly what I did with my small group ladies tonight.

I told them my story. I told them about the dark demons I faced. I told them how I hit rock bottom, I was striped of everything I used to find my identity in. All of God was all that was left, and I still felt like it wasn’t enough. I found my identity in the world and when the world turned it’s back on me, I felt nothing. My world literally got grayer. Then, as time went on I felt like God had turned His back on me. I was already struggling with not feeling good enough for this world, but the pain of not feeling good enough for the God of the universe is incomprehensible. This is where I found grace.

From the demolition of my life, I was radically rescued. I was filled with an outrageous, contagious joy. I was (and still am) utterly broken in every way imaginable, and it ended up being the most beautiful thing God could have ever done for me.

The beauty in the breaking is that in losing myself, I found who God was.

This is why I love The Unmaking so much. This is why I loved tonight’s bible study so much. It hit close to home. I go back to where everything in my life came crashing down, and I’m able to praise God for it because what He rebuilt is beyond anything I could ever imagined.

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Music Wednesday: Your Promise Still Stands

I am back everyone! I apologize for my unexplained and unannounced hiatus. When I first started this blog, it was never my intention to go MIA any period of time, much less 6 weeks, however, I found the time separated was oddly what I needed.

Anyway, some crazy things have happened since I left and I am still trying to gather my thoughts on how to dive further into this in the future. Until such time, we need to kick it back off with more music Wednesday’s because well, let’s face it…it’s been a while.

If you remember back to the beginning of the year, I found myself saying I am filled with faith of the work God is going to do throughout 2017. I stand by that post with everything I have today because I have been seeing it happen again and again.

So as a bit of backstory, there are certain things in my life God and I go round and round about, and for a little bit, I felt like we were making good progress. Ephesians 3:20 had been on my mind so much and I remember analyzing my situations, talking with God about it, and thinking God this really does feel like immeasurably more.

I would drive down the road to work and ask God to direct me in the correct path. There was some pain and confusion, but not much. For the most part, I was praising God and thanking Him. I walked around thinking “this is it.” Then today, that door I was so thankful God gave me a glimpse of closed. Just right in my face, there was nothing I can do about it anymore.

While I expected and prepared myself for something like this to happen, it also didn’t take long for me to retract back on my words and instead of praising God for what He had blessed me with to go back to thoughts such as “God did I hear you correctly?” or “Well God, I see nothing has ACTUALLY changed.

Foolish, right? How much more flighty can you get?

Then we fast-forward to bible study tonight. I’m sitting there listening to the speaker tell the story of king David when he says God showed David his future as king, but then he had to face years of trials before the promise would come to fruition. A glimpse of the future, but no roadmap on how to get there, only God as a compass. It was one of those statements that made me take a step back and think.

THEN, during discussion, a lady at my table suggested I listen to Do It Again by Elevation Worship. I was shocked I’d never heard this song since I listen to Elevation SO much, but I was all for it. The first thing I did when I got in my car was turn this song on and wow is all I have to say.

Maybe God knew I needed to hear this? Possibly it’s just a coincidence? Either way, there is no denying this song spoke to me. I found myself relating to the lyrics in a way I haven’t in a while. The song speaking the word of God me found me right where I needed it.

I was reminded God has a plan. Even if this door really did close, it does not mean He and I cannot reach immeasurably more in some other way (He is God after all). Through it all, I believe He is able.

P.S. The bridge is the best part – “I’ve seen you move, you move the mountains, and I believe I’ll see you do it again. You made a way when there was no way, and I believe I’ll see you do it again.

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.

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!

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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Music Wednesday: The Song of 2017

Happy first Wednesday of the new year!

I hope each and every one of y’all had a fantastic new year no matter how celebrated. I know we’re only four days in, but I hope your 2017 has gone well thus far.

For me personally, I’m currently sitting on my couch, a cup of water to my right, a Christmas tree that’s still up to my left, curled up in my favorite Oxford University sweatshirt and american flag crew socks, watching the fire burn in my fireplace.

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If you’re thinking about how idyllic that sounds, it’s probably because it is. Winter is my favorite season. Being able to come home every night, cook dinner (or order curry for takeout), and curl up by a fire to watch Criminal Minds or House of Cards is a dream for me.

But enough about how much I love the fact it’s 20 degrees outside and I broke out the bowler hat today. As it’s the first music Wednesday of the new year, I thought long and hard about the song I wanted to kick of the year with. I mean, I’ve been on a Tim Janis kick lately so Sunrise Over the Ocean was definitely an option, though that’s more of a song to kick off spring or do yoga too. There’s always James Blake and I LOVE Falls Creek Boys Choir, but a song with a wolf barking in the background wasn’t exactly what I was looking for today. Band of Horses is always a good option, yet something didn’t feel right about “kicking off” 2017 with a song called The Funeral. (Awkkk)

I circled my Spotify again and again for the song I wanted. Weird as it may sound, I knew I didn’t want to do country, not that it limited my options by much, but some.

Then it hit me…I wanted a song that absolutely worshipped God. This doesn’t really narrow it down much either (I have 3 playlists on Spotify dedicated to this, all with different songs). Yet, there are the songs that speak to us more than others.

For me? It was God of Miracles by Chris McClarney. I first heard the song a few months ago. It was a Sunday and I was cleaning my room and I had my computer propped up on my dresser. It was a nice mental break from the paper I had just finished writing.

I was playing one of those random playlists on Spotify I had pulled from the genre section, just talking with God about everything that was on my mind. And I mean everything.

It became one of those weird moments, the song came on and the lyrics instantly hit me.

See, God and I talk a lot about a lot of different things, but the one thing we always come to is when. I can become so tunnel-visioned on certain things in the future, I worry about things that 1) I need-not worry about and 2) may never even happen, ESPECIALLY in the ways I play them out in my over-active imagination.

The thing is I don’t need to worry because faith in God includes faith in His promises AND His timing. Yeah, the timing part is hard. But as hard as it is, and trust me I really, really, really know how hard it is, the timing is perfect, and we shouldn’t worry about anything.

That’s what I love about the line in the song – “Let faith arise and see the kingdom come. I lift my eyes for the battle has been won. My God is faithful and every word He said is true.”

The battle has been won. While the timing part is difficult for our human minds bound to concepts of time and space to comprehend, it’s not something that affects our Father. He is faithful and every word He says is true.

2 Corinthians 1:20, right?

That’s why I think this is a perfect song to start 2017 off with. As a year of hope, it’s good to be reminded God is not bound by the same limitations we are. Our hope is not in vain, it’s in the Lord who has already won.

Just something to think about this Wednesday.

Have a great week!

Music Wednesday: Singin’ in the Rain

So…..it’s been a while guys. I’m sorry. WordPress went down on my computer for a while (not sure what happened there), my grandmother passed away and then I had to deal with the end of the semester. By the time it was all said and done, I just needed some personal time.

I didn’t mean to keep y’all hanging without any notice, but alas I’m back and ready to write my heart out and play catch up on life in the blogging world.

So with this somewhat inaugural, and last, music Wednesday of 2016, I had originally planned another song. However, 20 minutes ago I learned of the passing of Debbie Reynolds. To say I’m sad is an understatement.

Well, luckily Santa brought me Singin’ in the Rain on BluRay for Christmas (those midnight rants about movies missing from the Netflix classic section really pay off – seriously who doesn’t show Funny Face?!) and that’s what I’m currently watching.

Anyway, I guess you could say this music Wednesday is dedicated to Debbie Reynolds (and it is). BUT Singin’ in the Rain is also my all-time favorite movie so it’s an ode to that as well.

Guys, I love this movie so much. And Moses Supposes is my favorite song from the movie. Here you go friends! Enjoy Donald O’Connor’s facial expressions.

P.S. I also included the routine done by Jeanine and Phillip on So You Think You Can Dance. I highly suggest you watch it – Jeanine was the winner that year and Phillip jumps across a 6 ft couch.