Tuesday, November 30


I said a few weeks ago that I try to avoid writing about my faith. I just feel like I'm not a preacher, so it makes me uncomfortable. Who am I to speak with authority? And somehow, since that post faith is pretty much all I've written about. Funny how God does stuff like that, huh? I'm working on a writing a blog that I've really been thinking about for a while now. Its some pretty heavy stuff... this is NOT that blog.

The following are a list of a few things I love: creativity, music, Elevation, musicians, Glee, spoofs, worshipping God through having fun, the ability to laugh at one's self, The Beatles.

The following bit of media goodness combines all these elements for your viewing enjoyment... all credit belongs to the immensely talented individuals on the creative team at Elevation. Ok. After I wrote that I couldn't get it to work properly... so go to the following address and check out the video! Its super funny!


Monday, November 29

Secular? Sacred?

As everyone who knows me at all is well aware, I'm a music nut. In fact outside my family, I'd say Jesus and music are the only two things in my life that can ALWAYS make a grim, sad day better for me. So of course when it comes to my faith, worship music is vital to my experience. I think its the best way for me to experience God and to express myself to him. Sometimes, I struggle to reconcile what is "Christian" music and what isn't... I want to honor God in everything I do, but I don't want to sacrifice the what I like for the sake of listening to the music labeled as overtly Christian. I was reading articles from Relevant magazine online, and I found this article about secular vs. christian music. I couldn't have said it better myself, so I am posting from Liz Riggs. Find the rest of the article here.

"I’ve passed my funnel cake off to a guy who has his own name tattooed on his fingers, and I’m sweating more than anyone has sweated—ever. And I have uncontrollable chills over my entire body because I’m being jostled between hundreds of people, all singing at the top of their lungs: “Awake, My Soul.” But I’m not at the Presbyterian Church I grew up in and loathed, and I’m not at Church Camp. I’m at a Mumford & Sons show at Bonnaroo. And I’m worshiping.

Let’s note that while worship music is never intended to be about us, but rather about God, it still connects to us in a profound way. So many songs seem to address lots of the bright and shiny emotions we feel about God, but sometimes, we can be left feeling detached when trying to worship. It’s that feeling you have in church when you’re almost too hurt to sing about God’s goodness and miracles because your stomach is somewhere closer to the concrete floor. So what about all of the other honest (and sometimes shameful) human emotions we have that we want to express, but can’t? Or what about the songs we hear outside of the church that channel an avenue of praise in us we didn’t know was possible? Can those songs be a means of worship?

It sometimes seems as though the notion of “Christian” music has become so pigeon-holed and cookie cutter, there isn’t much room left for worship music outside of what seeps its way through the church walls. Songs that doubt are conveniently left out of the worship canon, songs that question or confuse, songs that speak about God in a way we don’t always hear: these songs get sidelined. I’m not necessarily suggesting we begin throwing Brand New and Mumford & Sons into our quotidian worship experience; however, it’s interesting to take a look at how these songs can express such authentic feelings of spirituality.

Take these questions from Brand New’s song “Jesus Christ,” for example.

Well, Jesus Christ, I’m not scared to die/ I’m a little bit scared of what comes after/ Do I get the gold chariot?/ Do I float through the ceiling?/ Do I divide and fall apart?/ 'Cause my bright is too slight to hold back all my dark/ And the ship went down in sight of land/ And at the gates, does Thomas ask to see my hands?

There’s uncertainty here; there’s a distinct desire for truth, for answers. We’re all prone to question—and if we don’t, how will we grow? The more we search and grapple with what God has given us, the more we can discover. This is the most raw form of growth, except we often don’t see it in contemporary church worship. David’s expressions throughout Psalms, and several other places in Scripture, certainly express many of these emotions. Still, it is particularly intriguing to see them through a “secular” lens—a place where perhaps the writers are unknowingly experiencing a form of worship.

So what about the struggle, the haunting bits of shame and frustration that often leave us feeling unworthy to sing along with the lyrics on the projection screen ...

When up-and-coming folksters Mumford & Sons sprinkle these thoughts throughout their lyrics, they do it without the listener noticing. “Can you kneel before The King and say, ‘I’m clean’?” they ask, when later they vow: “Lead me to the truth, and I’ll follow you with my whole life.” Suddenly, the listener realizes what he’s singing along with—and it’s not just a song on a mixtape anymore; it’s not just another notch on the set list. It’s a way of relating with God. And the chill that can overtake your soul when hundreds of unbeknownst worshipers shout this in unison is almost unsettling—because it’s usually happening in a place where you never expected to worship. Even when Conor Oberst painfully cries out in “I Don’t Know When, But a Day is Gonna Come”: Is it true what they say about the Son of God?/ Did he come to save; did he come at all?/ And if I dried his feet with my dirty hair, would he make me clean again?

The feeling of not being clean enough and asking for the truth is a notion that is often too close to home for some Christians—both new and old. But it exists, and is often ignored—particularly between the parallel lines of contemporary worship music. And if we ignore that which aches inside of us, where will we be with our God?

With all the doubt, the longing, the uncleanness—all the things we believe Christ can conquer—what do we do when we’re still frustrated? Keep humming along thoughtlessly with the CCM song of the week? Even though we might really be thinking about something we’ve done that’s gnawing apart our insides, or thinking about someone we’ve hurt who desperately needs an apology, some redemption or at least an affirmation of wrongdoing.

But what about when Mumford & Sons say something about f---ing up? A moment of accountability and admittance, coming from the very heart of conviction. Except they confess it using profanity one song and then later making, perhaps, their most profound statement of praise:

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die/ Where you invest your love, you invest your life/ Awake, my soul. You were made to meet your maker.

I’m not saying we bring profanity into the church, or that we all express our frustrations with faith using swear words. Rather, we can take a look at how a moment such as this can be so deeply rooted in a relationship with Christ. And isn’t that how our relationship with God works sometimes? One second we feel the need to curse, to shout out in frustration and confusion and plea for insight or answers, and the next second we praise, or maybe we glimpse a moment of understanding and truth. And yet, most of the songs we sing—out of the hymn book or the WOW worship mix—don’t address a lot of the feelings we inevitably come across in our relationship with God

So, at the end of it all, this is not to say that what we sing in church, or what we come across in the hymnals, isn’t powerful, praising or identifiable. It’s simply that worship music doesn’t end when the standard four-song medley ends. It’s everywhere—it’s interposed in moments of “secular” songs by “secular” bands. It’s written on the walls of bar bathrooms and shouted amongst audiences by people who may not even realize what they’re quoting—but that’s the thing. It connects with people in a vastly authentic way because it reaches a genuinely sincere feeling in the human soul. We need our God, and sometimes we try to exist without Him. And all these songs, whether written or not, are about just that."

Wednesday, November 24


I was at work the other day and the kids were working on making their Christmas lists. Interesting to me considering that it was still a week before Thanksgiving. Now, of course I made Christmas lists as a kid... and my mom always asks me to now, though I never get around to it.

The more I thought about it, the more it saddened me that we are all so quick to make lists of the stuff we're dying to get. We get up at the crack of dawn and fight crowds to save a few bucks on "black Friday." Shouldn't we instead be focusing on the things that we are thankful for? Shouldn't we be making lists of all the blessings that God has provided us with throughout our lives? We just mutter that we're thankful for our home, our family, our health at Thanksgiving dinner and then move on to scouting out deals for all the stuff we are going to push and shove to buy on sale the next morning. Well this year I'm doing things differently. I've been making a mental list of all the things I'm thankful for that I don't normally thank God for... the little things. the under the surface things. the things I don't usually think about:

- a large family to get together with for food, laughs, love... and not just on Thanksgiving.
- a family who doesn't judge me for being different than them.
- an older sister who I hope to be JUST like one day.
- a baby sister who is also my best friend/sounding board/companion/ and SO much more.
- a brother and a brother-in-law who always knows what to say to make me laugh.
- the cutest niece and nephew EVER!
- parents who are proud of me and always encourage me
- all the days that go by where pretty much everything goes the way its supposed to.
- all the times I DON'T get what I deserve.
- all the times I screw up and God pardons me from the consequences
- I woke up today... and every day before that for the last 25 years.
- a beautiful apartment with light, heat, a refrigerator full of food, a caring roommate
- the fact that I wonder WHAT I'm going to eat/drink/wear today, not WHETHER
- that God has brought me through every challenge life has presented me thus far
- that I have a job that allows me to help other people
- that I can blog, tweet, speak about my faith without fear of persecution
- that I belong to a church that loves Jesus and loves people and knows how to reach today's culture
- that I can enjoy being young and single with the assurance that God will bring the right man into my life at the right time
- that there isn't a second when God isn't right there beside me

There are tons and tons more... I am so blessed. =)
If you read my blog, then I'm thankful for you.

Saturday, November 20


Just got home from church.
Yes, its Saturday night.
Yes, my church has a Saturday afternoon service. (Some of us have to work in the morning, ya know.)
Yes, I went there instead of to a bar. (And had significantly more fun actually.)

Just thought I'd share some of what I heard tonight. It was WONDERFUL to hear something that didn't need to be chewed on or decoded... just principles that can be put into action. Right here. Right now. I'd feel bad for "stealing" but Pastor Steven TOLD us to talk about this stuff this week... so here goes... some straightforward, easy to apply advice, coupled with how I relate it to myself and how I plan to apply it.

Ephesians 3:20-21
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout ALL GENERATIONS, for ever and ever! Amen."

The basis of tonight's teaching was that there are certain things that every generation should pass to the next. There were 5 specific ideas, but we stopped after 3. I'm hoping for the other two next week. =)

This does NOT mean hearing only what you want... like when my mom would ask me to empty the dishwasher as a kid and I somehow never heard it. Strange phenomena. Instead I should be selective about the people who I listen to in regard to my choices and decisions. So many people my age are taking their decision making cues from places like Lil Wayne songs... HELLO?! He just got out of jail. That's not where I plan on ending up. So MAYBE I should be listening to people who have achieved the goals that I'm pursuing. people who have the integrity, character, personal strengths that I strive to have. Its such a simple thought that I want to say DUH!! Seriously though, I don't always do this. As Pastor said (after admitting that it was a cheesy line) "right voices lead to right choices." I'm blocking some people out. If you're negative, consider yourself disregarded. My next project? Making sure I'm ALWAYS one of the voices that you can listen to....

Needless to say I LOOOOVE this analogy. Music, more than anything else in my life speaks to my soul. I KNOW that sounds exceedingly lame, but its true. EVERYONE knows how I feel about music... specifically The Beatles (who happened to be covered in the worship set and referenced in the teaching... I LOVE MY CHURCH!) But as Pastor Steven pointed out, and as I WELL know, The Beatles were insanely popular because they were new, fresh, unique. They found their own special sound and they played it loud. Its the same for us. To quote tonight's teaching "The thing that makes you unique is the thing that makes you powerful." I'm so much different than anyone I know... even my best friends, my roommate, my sisters. And thats what makes me valuable and useful to God. There's no one else with my combination of experiences, personality traits, interests, strengths, weaknesses. Sometimes I think I stick out like a sore thumb. For example... at work I'm one of about two white girls. I'm the ONLY one who doesn't listen to 100% hip hop. I don't even know what my coworkers are talking about half the time. Outside work, I'm the only one of my friends who can't stand up in a pair of high heels. Everyone else is someone's girlfriend, focusing on getting married, and I'm daydreaming about finishing grad school and becoming a licensed therapist. I watch the news about 5 times a day. I have a hoop in my nose, and I wear geeky "Buddy Holly" glasses. I read constantly and I always have headphones in my ears. I drink too much coffee and I LOVE anything to do with psychology. And all this silly stuff that makes me ME is what makes me a tool that God can use. How? Where? When? I don't know, but I do know that my interests and personality strengths dictate where I'll go in life, and thats why God made me the way I am. So I'm gonna pursue my interests, follow the dreams God instilled in me, achieve my goals with His help, be as ME as I know how to be... and I'm gonna do all that in the most Christ-like way possible, in the hopes that God will use me in a way that is totally unique and special to my life.

This part is my FAVORITE! How many times do we beat ourselves up because we don't measure up to Christ's standard? I do it ALL THE TIME. I just wanna quit trying because I always fail. But the funny thing is that He knows that... if I was gonna succeed then I wouldn't have needed him in the first place. When I'm tempted to sin Satan makes me think Oh, this is no big deal... then BAM! As soon as I do it he makes me think this is SERIOUS, God's never gonna forgive you for this. And yet, somehow I continuously fall under the guilt of this little scenario. SO SILLY... when the point of being a Christian isn't to be perfect... its to fall... and then GET RIGHT BACK UP. Now, THAT I can definitely do. I'm fully capable of coming back, showing up again, and asking for forgiveness... and lucky for me that's all I have to do! Its not about following rules at all... which is good for me, 'cause I've never been the best at that. Its about knowing that you can't, and depending on the only one who can. I'm gonna keep failing on occasion (its inevitable), but I know that won't stop me from showing up!

As I said before, we never got to the last 2 things... I'm staying tuned 'til next week. I guess you will have to as well. =)

Thursday, November 18


So, as most of you (I say this as if I have a huge blog audience) know I grew up southern Baptist. Then once I came back to Charlotte after college I began attending Elevation church. I love Elevation so much because its a church I can actually relate to. My church is connected with pop culture, social media, fashion, and all the other things that make being a young person these days so much fun. And at the same time the message of Jesus is just as solid as any I ever heard in traditional churched as a kid. One of my favorite things about Elevation is that our pastor, worship leaders, etc are all on twitter, keeping blogs, and posting on iTunes. Its awesome to get a little bit of commentary during the week.

ok, I say all that because I was just reading Pastor Steven's blog (find a link on on my page under blog roll) and I LOVED his analogy about integrity, and thought i should share. The following are exerts from his post....

"What if your phone accidentally dialed when it was in your pocket?
Would we say the same things we say about people?
Would we have the same conversations?
Would we sound as spiritual as we did in small group or at the coffee shop?
We often talk about the need for the content of our lives to match the content of our speech.
When it happens, it’s called integrity.
But it’s just as necessary that the content of our public discourse match the content of our private discussions.
When it happens, it’s also called integrity.
What would it look like if we lived our lives as if our phone was dialing someone at all times?
In other words, what if the microphone was always on?
I wish I could leave it at those theoretical questions. But I can’t. Because they’re not theoretical.
The phone is always dialing. The microphone is always on."

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
Luke 12:2-3

I'm working on being the same at work, at Elevation, in my apartment, with my family, with my friends, all alone.... i hope you are are doing the same.

Saturday, November 13

more lyrics.

So, I randomly heard this old Shane and Shane song this week. It brought back memories from my high school youth group days. They lyrics still speak to me... just thought I'd share.

i've tried more of me
and i've come up dry
trading You for things
things that go away
my happiness is found in less
of me and more of You
my happiness is found in less
of me and more of You

i have found the answer is
to love You and be loved by You alone
alright! alright! alright!
You crucify me and the world to me
and i will only boast in You
alright! alright! alright!

i'm so satisfied
at the thought of You
growing up in me
covering everything
my happiness is found in less
of me and more of You
my happiness is found in less
of me and more of You

You are, You are (loved by me)
You are, You are (You're loved by me)
You are, You are (You're loved by me)
You are, You are, You are

Tuesday, November 9


I am indecisive. I readily admit that. So when it comes to making normal choices... [What should I wear to work today? Where would I like to go for dinner? Which redbox movie should we see tonight?] I tend to struggle more than your average person. In fact, this is so true that when I read Libras (my sign) are known for their indecisiveness I momentarily wondered if there might be some validity to this astrology thing... ok, I'm kidding about that but you get the idea...

So then, what do I do when faced with a choice that even those not plagued with my decision making issues would struggle to reconcile? GOOOOD question. My biggest struggle comes in when I have to decide between two things that I feel are both good. For whatever reason I get a little obsessive over figuring out which thing is BEST. Ever have one of those decisions where the options are both good but for very different reasons? Is it always better to make the more practical choice? When you have a MUCH more feasible option at your fingertips, is it ok to ask God to work out the long shot... just because thats the one you really want... the one you think is really right? Is it selfish to hold out?

Just something I've been thinking about today...

Monday, November 8


Sometimes I want to blog and I have nothing to say... but I feel the urge to write, to be creative. Today, I suppose is the opposite of that. I have approximately 47 million thoughts in my head. I'd like to put them all into one well executed blog, however I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that's not possible. I AM quite eloquent, but... anyway, I suppose I'll give it a go at talking about some of whats been going on...

I'll start off with the lighter stuff.

The vegetarian thing is going along swimmingly. As it turns out, I don't really miss meat at all. Also, I don't really like the 'meatless meat' all too much. I kinda feel like thats cheating. I'm getting along just fine with only the veggies. I feel a lot better day to day, and my pants are already looser, which I didn't aim for, but certainly won't complain about.

So... had a chat with a friend today. Talked about a past relationship that I'd been in with a mutual friend of ours. When it ended I talked with this same friend (who has always been amazingly supportive) and I remember bawling my eyes out and telling him how I couldn't imagine ever living without this guy... how I felt SO bad that things were ending, even though the relationship was making me miserable... how I just knew that if I stuck by him long enough I could change him into what I knew he had the potential to be. Long story short, it turns out that I jumped that ship not a moment too soon... sometimes you really have to thank God for not answering prayers. I am so so grateful that he knows whats best for me better than I do!

Speaking of God...

I don't really ever post thoughts about religion. There are tons of reasons why. Firstly, I'm certainly no theologian. Meaning there's a good chance that I'll say something that makes no sense to anyone but me. Secondly, I am by no means the best follower of Jesus out there... so who am I to say what's what, right??

That being said, I've been reading Pastor Steven's book. For those of you who don't attend Elevation (everyone who reads my blog, save April) that would be "Sun Stand Still" by Steven Furtick. So far every page of the book has provided inspiration, challenges, and encouragement. Its amazing that someone can write words that are so biblically sound, and yet so colloquial... sound so authoritative about the things of God and yet still be so conversational and casual. I'm not sure why I expected anything less, as this style of holiness and hospitality so to speak is what really drew me to Elevation in the first place. I really want to comment on what I've learned from the book. but I feel like I should wait until I am done and reflect on the work as a whole. I'll say this... I'm reflecting on my faith in a way that I've not done in a long time, and its a WONDERFUL feeling.

I'll leave you with some quotes from the book that have stuck with me thus far... (quoting Mr. Furtick here of course)

"God has to work IN us before he can work THROUGH us."
"Its not wrong to feel fear. Its wrong to let fear have the last word in your life."
"When you get down to it you're not the one holding onto him... he's holding onto you."
"But that stuff [miracles, influence, answered prayer] won't be genuine, and certainly can't be sustained if it isn't cultivated out of a heart that has been formed by the spirit of God."

more to come on this soon... I'm of to read the rest of that book. =)