If I’m Being Honest

•December 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It’s been 5 months and 10 days since I last blogged. It’s been so long I didn’t even remember my password when I logged in. That’s sad, folks. Just sad. Believe me when I say that I have not intentionally been avoiding blogging. Many days, it’s been that nagging voice at the back of my brain, begging me to write; a voice that I have had to ignore out of necessity, not desire. But I’m blogging today. And today, it’s time to get honest.

If I’m being honest, this semester has been nothing short of crazy. I took 23 hours, which is 1.) insane and 2.) not a wise decision if you wish to do anything else but schoolwork. The benefit to this is that I only have one more semester of this madness and then I graduate! And if I’m being honest, my hectic schedule has often been disallowing when it comes to creativity. Although I am constantly planning worship sets or playing music or recording or piecing together ideas for upcoming events, there have been days, weeks even, that I’ve felt completely uncreative. I realized the other day that I rarely play music just to play anymore. And it’s been ages since I wrote a full song. If I’m being honest, this fact has become not only a great frustration, but also a great injury to me as an artist. There are days when I’ve felt utterly defeated because I can’t seem to keep my artist spirit alive, most often because I’m obligated to do so many other things.

And what about the days when I felt like I just had nothing to say? If I’m being honest, these have been a common occurrence over the past several months as well. I am wrestling with the deep passions I know have been placed within me and the opportunities I know I must fulfill. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am more than blessed to be able to get an education. I know I am more than blessed to have an excellent (and flexible) job, working with tremendous people who allow me to be gone with SpiritWing two Sundays a month. I know I am more than blessed to  travel with a group of people that have become like family to me.  And more than all this, I am not so naive to that when I graduate, all my obligations will simply disappear. If anything, the older I get, the more obligations I will probably obtain. And I’m okay with that, excited even. I guess I’m just afraid of losing sight of the things I love and know I’ve been called to. I think I’m just afraid that in all the craziness each day brings, I’ll slowly begin to divert my attention to things of duty rather than desire.

At the same time, if I’m being honest, I know this is most likely not going to be the case. I know that if God has called me to something, He will continue to place dreams in my heart, never allowing me to wander too far off without feeling Him drawing me back again. If I’m being honest, I only pray that I am not one who makes excuses on account of my obligations or grows so busy that I neglect the things I wrote about in my last blog post (if you can even think back that far!). “Today, I pray I will be one who is restless for the lost and reckless for the Lord. I pray that God will stir  creativity and vision within me” I know that “the one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

In fact, if I’m being honest, I have seen his faithfulness displayed so clearly over the past year.

  • As mentioned before, I have been given the opportunity to graduate early. What a blessing for the girl who didn’t even want to go to college in the first place!
  • I have been given the opportunity to travel week after week with a  group of tremendous musicians. Four months ago, most of us were strangers, but today, they are my friends, my support system, my family. I cherish our times together and look forward to how our lives will all be intertwined in the future.
  • I have been given a great job at a church who truly loves the Lord and seeks His will above all things. What a blessing it has been to walk through the past several months with them, especially during this time of transition. I have grown so much as both a believer and a leader. I believe God is daily equipping me for His plans on account of my experience at Fellowship.
  • I have a wonderful family who continues to encourage me, even when most of my approaches to things are a bit unconventional. I have a mom who is my best friend, a dad who is always looking out for me, and a little sister who is turning out to be a pretty cool kid. Not to mention grandparents who would give me the world, if they could. My family is crazy — there’s no denying that — but I love them and do not take for granted that they continue to love me. 🙂
  • I have fantastic friends. In no particular order: Andrea, Katie, Amanda, Tarah, Kayla, Danielle, Liz, Kirstin, Alex, Harry, Nathaniel, Jonathan, Taylor, Kevin, all the other wingers, and many more….Thanks for letting me ramble about silly things. Thanks for dreaming with me, and walking alongside me in all things. I am blessed to have you in my life.
  • I have fallen in love with an amazing man of God. He loves me like Christ loves the Church. He is faithful and patient, never walking away when I’m stubborn or difficult. He is a phenomenal musician. He hears things I don’t, thinks of things I don’t, plays things I can’t. I love that He pushes me to be more creative, more original, or just more me. He’s not scared of my family. In fact, he loves them. The other day, he even said he missed them! (On the flip side, I think his family is just awesome! What a joy to be welcomed in with open and excited hearts!) And he’s not scared of all my quirks. He’s okay with my picky eating, thinks it’s cute that I’m afraid of vacuum cleaners, and puts up with my weird cat-lady tendencies, even though he’s allergic. But mostly, I am daily amazed by his heart for Christ and for the Church. He will work 22 hour days, believing that what he’s doing will have Kingdom impact. He has a heart for the lost, the broken, the unlovable, and he seeks to find ways to serve them. He pushes me to pursue Christ in new ways, to love others like Jesus did, and to serve, even when it’s hard. If I’m being honest, I am totally taken by this boy. 🙂
  • And to all of you, my readers, thanks for being patient during my sabbatical. I hope to be much better about this in the future. No promises, but I’m sure gonna try. Thanks for letting me vent, thanks for letting me ramble, and today, thanks for letting me be honest.

Community Among Friends and Strangers

•July 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Last night, I had the privilege to spend two powerful hours listening to a group of tremendous singer/songwriters share Truth through song. Square Peg Alliance is a group of friends who have come together to support each other through their music. They write together, travel together, play shows together, do life together. They are, in essence, the epitome of a community. The entire SPA consists of 13 artists; I was able to see 8 of them (Ben Shive, Andrew Peterson, Randall Goodgame, Jeremy Casella, Jill Phillips, Andy Gullahorn, Eric Peters, Andrew Osenga) In the words of my dear friend Harry, who also attended the concert, “That was the best 2 hours I had spent in awhile.” 

What was so powerful about this concert is that it was a glimpse into my own heart. For years now, I have wanted to initiate this type of community among artists. In fact, that was part of the reason I began this blog. Not necessarily to use it as a tool for community (though I believe the blogosphere is a unique community in and of itself), but rather to discuss and walk through the ramifications of being an artist with a huge heart for the  church within the artist community. When I say church, I’m sure many of you instantly picture the institution or the building, and rightfully so. This is the image that we, on the whole, have allowed ourselves to grow complacent with. Growing up in the church, I cannot tell you the number of times I heard the words, “The church is not the building, it’s the people.” Unfortunately, when those words are so rarely lived out, they begin to lose their significance. 

* * I should note here that during the latter years of my growing up,  I was more than blessed to be a part of church whose highest priority is missions. Second Baptist Church, Springfield has affirmed in me a deep calling to serve the Lord in capacities beyond the plaster and pews. And I am eternally grateful for the people within that church who have selflessly dedicated their lives to furthering the  Kingdom, and pushing others to do the same. 

When I speak of the church within a community of people-in this context, artists-I am referring to those who are living out the gospel through the gifts they have been given. I am a songwriter, a musician, a lead-worshipper, an artist. I firmly believe that God has gifted me with these things to fill a place in the Kingdom no one else can. And I believe that my place is significant.  In her book, “The Kiss of Heaven,” Darlene Zschech speaks about dreams and the Dream-Giver. She says (and I’m paraphrasing), that God places dreams within our hearts and He longs for us to follow them. Sadly, many of us walk away from our dreams because we’re too scared, too unprepared, not ready, _____ fill in the blank…And when we fail to pursue our dreams, we fail to pursue our God, our Dream-Giver. 

So what of my dreams? What of this deep yearning within me? What of my place in the Kingdom?

Today, I pray I will be one who is restless for the lost and reckless for the Lord. I pray that God will stir  creativity and vision within me. I pray I will not cower at the opportunity to initiate true community among both friends and strangers, but rather, that I would boldly take on the summons to stand as one who presents Truth with passion and creativity. And I encourage you to do the same. 

As a side note: Please take some time to check into the artists mentioned above. I promise they are all well worth it.

Willing to change?

•May 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I’m sitting at home (in Springfield), the tv on, my sister in her bedroom, our kitten asleep next to me. It’s such a different world here. So different from St. Louis. And not in a bad way, just different. Sometimes I feel like I live in alternate realities–two separate worlds that occasionally merge. I love it though. The Lord has blessed me with a great family, who supports me and encourages me, despite my continual commute. And He has given me tremendous friends and a wonderful boyfriend who hold me accountable, keep me honest, and push me to pursue my dreams.  

I came across a compelling blog post today by Shaun Groves. It is immensely convicting for artists and industry members alike. He speaks to the fact that we have  created an industry of  artists who are failing to initiate and maintain relationships with those who are not artists. He says, “If the music industry dies it won’t be because everything changed.  It will be because artists didn’t. (Read the rest of the article here. )

Hm. A profound thought. What am I doing to initiate these relationships outside of my art? How do I demonstrate Christ’s impact on my life in more than just song? More than words? How do I show my family? My friends? Complete strangers? And in turn, how am I letting them affect my music? Am I wiling to change in order to better serve my world?

What a Week!

•May 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

What have I been up to? Let’s see…I orchestrated a surprise party, lead worship, played my last SpiritWing concert for the the year, recorded a few extra scratch tracks, got my purse stolen out of my car, went to Bible Study, filed a police report, went to an Acts 29 church planting conference, ran a super-expensive switcher for graduation…and that was all by Tuesday!! Needless to say, I’ve been a horrible blogger. I’ll admit that. However, I hope to have a little bit more time now that the school year is over and such, so look out for new blogs– I promise I’ll get better! In the meantime, I hope you’re week has been far less stressful than mine! Wait in HIm today–let Him be your joy!

TOMS

•April 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I bought my first pair of TOMS shoes this past weekend! TOMS is a company that is committed to providing shoes to children who have none. Their campaign is called One for One–for every pair of shoes you purchase, they donate a pair of shoes to child in need.  You can read more about their story here. And you can get your own pair of TOMS here

Thoughts I’m wrestling with…

•March 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

These are just some thoughts I’ve been wrestling with lately, mostly on account of my Emerging Trends in Worship class taught by Brad Andrews. I feel like God is just really working a lot of things out in me concerning the church and my role in it. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but would love to hear your thoughts. Here are some of the most recent thoughts rolling around in my head…

-How much time would Jesus spend in an office planning a weekend worship gathering

-Do you think that God created the Church as a community of believers who care for each other and are devoted to Him with the intentions of it later becoming an entertaining, hour-long service?

-Jesus’ biggest request was not that the Church would elect the right president or tell people they’re sinning, but that they would be ONE.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”            Acts 2:42-47
-What sets a corporate worship gathering apart from our own personal devotions, and what is significant about each? 
-The Pareto Principle- 80% of our results flow from only 20% of our efforts. Why are we spending so much time in our offices, behind our closed church doors creating ways to get the unchurched to come to us instead of devoting more time going to them?
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'” Mark 16:15 

 

 

FBC Maryville

•March 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been talking to and interviewing with a few different churches. One of those churches was First Baptist Maryville in Maryville, IL. I was absolutely shocked and devastated to learn of the tragedy that occurred early this past Sunday morning. Three days out, it’s still a little surreal. If you haven’t heard the story, you can read more about it here. And please, please be praying for the Maryville congregation, the Winters’ family, as well as the assailant and his family in this immensely difficult situation.