Thursday, July 23, 2015


I am beginning to accept that I might be a good songwriter.  Saying that feels strange to me, because I have always felt like I have 1.) no formal training, 2.) no qualifying experience, and 3.) no legitimate affirmation.  But when I think about it, those beliefs about myself are stemming from feelings of inadequacy, not from truth.  They come from things I’ve collected from past experiences—everything from performance pressure to feeling like I was too different, too young, and too outspoken.  And at the root of all these things is a fear of rejection.

But as I look back, I realize how perfectly I have been prepared and trained.  I have been writing creatively and playing music since I could write letters and sit at a piano.  I ended up majoring in English and minoring in piano in college not just because I was decently skilled in those areas, but because I loved it.  I’ve been playing in bands since I was in elementary school.  I’ve even participated in various songwriting and creative writing classes and conferences.  One of my first songs I remember writing was at a summer camp before I was even in high school, and it was good enough they made a group of us perform it for the entire camp.  When I think about it, how could a lack of training and experience even enter my list of excuses for why I’m probably not good at this?

Which brings me to the affirmation problem.  Why do I feel inadequate?  Why do I fear rejection?

Ultimately it’s because I care about what other people think.  And this is difficult for any kind of artist, because being successful usually requires people liking what you create, especially if you are trying to make a living do it.  The only problem for me is that I’ve been too scared of rejection to share my artistry, or I haven’t had a legitimate place to get honest and qualified feedback.  So I’ve been sensitive about sharing songs with people.  And on top of that, I’m my own worst critic, so often a few months will go by and I’ll decide I no longer like something I’ve written, for whatever reason.

The one time I had a song critiqued by professionals a few years ago was really difficult.  I tried something different than what I normally do, challenging myself to write something deeply meaningful and out of my comfort zone, and what I remember the most about my feedback was being asked if I had ever written a song before.  That went straight into my heart like a dagger.  I wouldn’t say I’m a prolific songwriter by any means, but I’d probably written at least 40 finished songs in my lifetime at that point, not to mention poems, music compositions, and uncompleted ideas.  It felt like this personal thing I had worked so hard to create was being labeled as silly, amateur, and unworthy, and that my skills and abilities were being severely questioned.  Maybe I should just write and keep things to and for myself.  And it broke me.

The neat thing was that this experience of feeling rejected was very revealing.  Why did this affect me so much?  Why did I care what these people thought?  What validation was I looking for exactly?

Because isn’t the point of doing anything artistic is that it connects with someone…ANYONE…else?  Who cares about those who may not enjoy or value it!  Really, does the volume of people who like it or how important or professional they are determine whether or not I should be doing it or how I should feel about myself?  Even if I’m the only one that finds value in it, shouldn’t that be enough?

Here’s where the healing takes place and why I can content myself with the label of amateur, even when I do experience rejection.  The word “amateur” literally means “for the love of”.  And isn’t that the best reason to do anything?  What I’m trying to grasp in my heart is that amateur and worthiness have nothing to do with each other.

On top of that, I’m actually NOT the only one who finds value in what I create, because I was created by a perfect Creator who adores the imperfections that I create.  Try wrapping your head around that.  I’ve got a Divine #1 Fan who is obsessed with me.  Pretty sure that’s worth way more than what most people on the radio claim.  God is my ultimate affirmation, and I can rest in the knowledge that He ADORES me and my music.  And because of that, I don’t have to hide from what other people might think.  I don’t have to fear rejection.  I am perfectly loved already.

So, here we go, earthly fans.  I don’t care if you like my music or not.  HA!  Because if it’s not your style, find something else.  If it’s not a message you identify with, move on.  If you like it, that will make me happy because, at least until one of us changes our minds, it means we have something in common.  We can enjoy and experience something together, find meaning, and worship a great God in the process.

I have been sharing my music at church and opening up my songwriting to critique as I find people that are willing to give me feedback.  In this process, I’m finding that my creative processes are much clearer, I’m able to help and encourage others to write, and I’m writing so many more songs than ever before--and still liking most of them!  Of course, I’m sure all of this will slow a bit as mommyhood starts demanding more from me (my second child due any day now), but I’m enjoying riding this wave of creativity.  So the next step for now is to start sharing a bit more publicly.  If you are interested in giving me some specific feedback, I would welcome helpful thoughts and opinions. 

So here goes!  Time to reveal my amateur, erratic artistry to be enjoyed or rejected--either way is okay.  Because this is who I am.  I am a songwriter.  And I am AWESOME.  Here is the debut of one of my most recent and intentionally simple compositions, King of Glory (original).

Thursday, January 29, 2015


I have often felt like a wanderer, knowing I'm destined for something amazing and beautiful but not necessarily knowing where I am going.  Usually, I find my sojourns in the deserts and valleys to be brief, seeing as I prefer to reside near the streams and on the mountaintops most often.  However, I feel that most of my time in 2014 was spent gazing at mirages, realizing how very thirsty I am.

Not to say that I've been void of joy by any means.  What a delight it is to watch my daughter bloom magically before my eyes and have a truly loving husband by my side.  How I love to catch moments (however brief and few) to sit at the piano or listen to new music, snuggle with my toddler, or simply give myself the freedom to imagine art projects or daydream.

But despite all of these joys, I know I am missing part of who I am.  I know part of what I was created to be was a leader, and specifically, to enter into the presence of God and invite others to join in.  Don't get me wrong, I don't need a platform or a title.  But being involved in community worship is so very important for me.  In His presence is where I find my peace, my worth, my inspiration.  I don't need an audience for that to happen, but I can't even explain what a difference it makes to be joined by even just one fellow worshipper, who comes alongside musically in the pursuit of the Holy Spirit.  It's the difference between flying solo and having your best buddies come along.  I'd much rather make it a party.

So, in the absence of a church community, I am, at the moment, a desert dweller.  I will have to be content to wander until I stumble upon the next oasis.  I know there are lessons and purpose in the wandering, and I intend to make the most of them.  For me, there is no sitting and waiting around for something to happen. There is something out there, and it's only a matter of time.  I need to be ready and willing for whatever that is.  Does it mean finding a home church?  Maybe, maybe not.  That doesn't really matter.  All I know is that Jesus knows my desires and needs and has a perfect plan and fulfillment in mind.  I will go wherever He leads me, even if that means, for the time being, more desert around the next corner.

* * *

(This is my theme song lately and I felt that it was important for me to share.  The song is my cover of All Sons & Daughters, "Called Me Higher", and I hope it encourages you:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

for God so loved the world

I don’t often write about so-called “hot topics”, but this one has come up more than a few times recently and has been on my mind a lot.  You may disagree with me, and that’s okay.  I will still love you.  I will still listen to you and respect your opinions.  We can still be friends and enjoy coffee together.

I am saddened by how Christians have treated homosexuals.  We alienate and judge them, shaking our heads in disgust and shunning them with our superiority.  We welcome all kinds of sinners into our lives and into the church: active and practicing liars, adulterers, addicts, fornicators, gossips…but not gays.  We have earned titles of “homophobic” and “hatemongers” because often the message that is preached is that God hates homosexuals.

This is so very wrong and it breaks my heart.  God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to die for us, even while we were still sinners.  We are to love our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, and even our enemies.  (See John 3:16-17, Matthew 5:43-48, Romans 5:8, Matthew 7:1-5, Mark 2:13-17, Galatians 5:14, etc.)

But then there is the other side of the coin: Christians that take a neutral stance in the name of love, saying, “It’s none of our business anyway”, or claim nothing wrong with homosexuality, perhaps joining in the message, “They were born this way.”   We now have gay pastors and homosexual Christians, living lives and preaching messages contrary to the Word of God.

Scripture is clear that we have ALL been born this way: as slaves to sin, and it is only by His grace that we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:23-24).  The Bible is also very clear that homosexuality is one of many sins:

“Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NKJV.  (See also: Leviticus 20:13, Mark 10:6-9, Romans 1:20-32, 1 Timothy 1:9-11, Hebrews 13:4, Galatians 5:16-20, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, and Jude 1:7, to name a few.)

Just because the Bible is clear on homosexuality (as well as many other moral issues) doesn’t mean that it is a gospel of hate.  And in the same way, just because I believe that homosexuality is unnatural and sinful doesn’t mean I am allowed to treat a gay person any differently from anyone else or judge them for their behaviors and actions.  We are called to both unconditionally love others AND stand for the truth of God’s Word.  And in this I am saddened to find the church lacking.  How in the world would I ever be able to invite a gay friend or a gay couple into a Bible-believing church or even to an outreach ministry event?  Can you imagine what could happen?

However, I also don't think that because the church has treated homosexuals so poorly, we should instead compromise on what scripture says and welcome homosexuality with open arms to make up for it.  For me there is a very huge difference in welcoming homosexuals and in welcoming homosexuality.  ("Love the sinner; hate the sin," some would say.)  Instead, why don't we apologize to the gay community for our poor example of the gospel and instead show them compassion and friendship as Jesus did?  That doesn't mean we have to agree, but it does mean we love.  I don't have to approve of every decision you've made in life or agree with your every belief in order to care for you.

As far as gay marriage is concerned, I think it is clear that this is also not a part of God’s design (1 Corinthians 7:2, Matthew 19:4-6, Gen 2:24).  However, I do think that the church has handled this too very poorly.  If we believe what the Bible says, the church should stand for marriage as God intended it to be between one man and one woman.  Does that mean that it is also our duty to define it in our legal system for everyone, even those who don’t share our beliefs and morals?

Honestly, I really don’t have an answer for this question.  We should obviously stand for the truth in God’s Word without shame, but I’m not so sure trying to force our beliefs onto others is the right answer either.  For me, it is the difficulty that comes with legislating morality.  I find it to be not as simple as some people see it.
The whole point of me writing this is that it isn’t just a theoretical discussion.  Homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, and all humans are REAL people; people who have intelligence, skills, dreams, passions, and who have needs and are hurting just like anyone else.  And there are Bible-believing Christians who have friends and family struggling with this issue and are unsupported in how to genuinely love and minister to their loved ones.  I feel that this is a huge problem that the church is unable to address right now.  It seems we are so busy being political that we’re neglecting the people.  REAL, ACTUAL people.

For me, I can only follow what I know and believe: that Jesus loves us.  That He died for us while we were yet still sinners.  That when we trust and believe in Him as our Savior, He grants us unending forgiveness and unfailing love.  And that because of His grace we are forever changed by His love.

I want to see all people treated the way Jesus would have treated them, with love, respect, and compassion.  I want to see hurting people discover a life of freedom and wholeness through the truth of the gospel.  I want to see a church that truly loves the Lord and desires to share His heart for lost people.  I want to know His love and learn to love His way.  Shouldn’t this be our primary goal?

Matthew 22:36-40:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Sunday, September 7, 2014


If you have been reading my blog at all, you know that we have been through a lot this year.  But it’s really only been recently that I have started feeling it.  I tend to process things logically until at some unexpected moment, I begin to feel what happened.  But instead of feeling like depression, the impact of this dark time for me feels more like hunger.  I may even feel inspired by it.

Don’t get me wrong: I am completely thankful for it all.  I believe with all of my heart that every single moment of my existence is purposed by God Himself and that His ways are flawless.  I look around and am beyond grateful for the blessings in my life.  But somehow I find myself missing what I had.  I feel loss.
Even as I write those sentences, I am reminded that none of it is or has ever been mine.  Even my body and my children belong to the Lord.  He just lets me (attempt to) take care of them for a little while.  At the same time, I also believe that God desires to bring restoration, abundant life, and increased blessing.
I suppose the right word for what I’m hungry for is “renewal”.  Perhaps even “revival”.  I’m ready, and I’ll be praying for it.  So, let this be your warning… I know Someone is listening.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Around the time our church was closing a few months ago, one of our elders who is also a friend of mine called me up to tell me about a dream.   In her dream, she watched as I was chased and attacked by bees.  She rushed to bring Alexa safely inside and told Ryan to call 911 as I went into anaphylactic shock, struggling to breathe.

You may or may not place much value in dreams, but this one seemed pretty important.  It was significant enough for her to call me and tell me about it.  The most significant part to me was that Alexa was safe.  Whatever the attack was that might be coming, our daughter was safe, I knew Ryan was by my side, and Jesus was there to fight for me.
A month ago, everything started.

The first thing to happen was I needed a biopsy.  The results indicated “precancerous” cells, which is the medical way of saying it was nothing but may or may not stay that way.  This didn’t bother me too much.  I didn't care to give it a lot of attention.  Okay, fine, cut it out, let’s move on.
At the same time, I had a brief fever and my eyes were oddly puffy for about a week.  Then I developed a very minor sore throat.  Allergies?  Cold virus?  I didn’t think too much about it.  Then it flared up into an excruciatingly painful, ER-worthy problem.  I ended up with a tonsillar abscess measuring almost a square inch.  They were concerned that if the swelling continued, I wouldn’t be able to breathe.  I stayed overnight at the hospital, was given steroids and antibiotics, and the ENT incised and drained it the next day.  After a follow up visit and a second incision, I was good to go.  The theory was that the mono virus was to blame.  Painful, inconvenient, and dramatic, but that was over.
During this whole time, we knew I was pregnant.  After having a miscarriage around Easter earlier this year, we were intentionally waiting to share the news until we heard or saw a heartbeat.  And with all of this other stuff happening, we had put it on the back burner.  Finally, I decided it would be nice to schedule an OB appointment before my “pre-cancer” surgery.  I was ready to move on and get excited about our second baby.  But we were in for another disappointment.  The ultrasound showed an underdeveloped fetus and no heartbeat.  A follow up today confirmed I was miscarrying.
Unlike the earlier miscarriage where there was no fetal development, our baby was about six and a half weeks along this time.  We have been grieving our loss over the last few days, but at the same time, we know our child is in the arms of pure Holiness and Goodness.  God has been reminding me that He takes really good care of all of His kids and I have nothing to fear.  His plans are to prosper me, not to harm me, to give me hope and a future.  Oh how He loves us!  Our child is in His arms…what a blessing!

Yes, the bees came and they meant business.  But my God is greater.  Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him.  I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  He is Faithful and Good, and I am so grateful for His unending love for me.  As we walk along this crazy and sometimes painful journey He has us on, our experiences, both those of joy and pain, add value to this life He has given us and glory to His name.  He is the source of Abundant Life and He will bring us through.  All honor, all glory, and all praise be unto the name of Jesus!
Thank you all for your prayers and support.  Your words of encouragement have meant so much to me.  We love you all so very much.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

life, loss, and resurrection


Motherhood is the hardest, best job in the world.  What a joy it is to see my daughter learn, grow, and blissfully enjoy her world.  What a responsibility it is for me to somehow nurture, encourage, and protect this curious creature as she continues to make new discoveries each day.  It is my chief priority and delight every day, and it is utterly exhausting.  Yet I am madly in love.

I don’t want to do anything differently.  I don’t want the house to be any cleaner … I don’t want to have any more money … I don’t want to have more time for myself … if it meant missing out on watching her giggle, explore, and learn.   For me, it’s not worth the sacrifice, because she is my daily joy.  She is life.

Even as I write this, I am also going through the difficulty of miscarriage.  This is a hard thing for anyone to go through, and yet it is far more common than most people realize.  About 1 in 5 pregnancies result in miscarriage and, more than likely, you know a lot more people who have experienced this than you even realize.  It’s not something that usually comes up in everyday conversation or that people feel very comfortable talking about.  It is a loss that is at the very least disappointing and sad; at the most it can be heartbreaking.  In every case, it is life-changing.
A few weeks ago we closed our church, which has been home to us for over six years.  Our time at the Vineyard had a tremendous impact on how I view worship, living under grace, and freedom in Jesus.  Even though it was the right thing and the right time, it is still a loss to have to shut the doors and say goodbye.
I think there is significance in all of this is happening around Easter.  I don’t pretend to understand these themes of life, loss, and the promise of resurrection, but I at least know they are there.
I am so thankful that my Heavenly Father loves me and is in control in every moment.  Because He is good and perfect, so are His plans.  I couldn’t be more grateful for where He is leading us and how we are getting there, even if I don’t even know where that is yet.  His plans are to prosper us, not to harm us, and to give us hope and a future.  Even though our family won’t be growing this year and we don’t have a church to call home, I am so excited for the great unknown that lies ahead.  And meanwhile I live for today: to worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness; to experience His love in new ways and to be listening to and challenged by His Spirit at every moment; to enjoy my husband and my daughter and the friends and family we have around us; and to treasure every little blessing that is in every day.
Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I began to play worship music in church when I was twelve years old, and have continued to do so ever since.  I’ve always loved music.  I’ve always loved Jesus.  To me, praising Him with music is an amazing gift and is a sincere expression of my heart.  But something happened a few years ago that changed it all.

Worship music has always been about my love for God and my passion to praise Him in a creative way.  It was never about getting attention.  Being thanked for sharing my talents and receiving compliments always felt awkward, and I was never comfortable with doing a solo or “performing”.  But despite that, whether or not I sounded good (mostly based on my own opinion), still mattered a great deal.  I compared myself to others and analyzed my talents, needing my own silent pat on the back to reassure myself I was a worthy musician.  It was still about performance.

I have always believed in grace and known that God’s love is unconditional, but somehow along the way, I decided that at least some of my worth still depended on how good I was.  I can see now that I was deceived into thinking God’s approval was somehow not enough.  My opinion of myself and what other people thought about me still mattered deep down.  The result was that, whenever I played, my attention would be divided between worshipping God and the quality of my performance.  It also kept me from being free to share songs that the Holy Spirit had inspired me to write.  I was worried that none of it was good enough.

What draws us in and causes us to appreciate music is usually its artistic quality.  I don’t believe that’s fundamentally a bad thing.  God created and saw that it was good, and we praise Him for His artistry and goodness.  He created this world for His and our enjoyment.  And when He created us, He endowed us with His creativity as well, in His own image.  A part of our calling is to be Creators, to delight in creating good things, and by doing so, give honor to the One who created it all.

So after all God has done for us, don’t we long to give our very best offering to worship and honor Him?  In all that we do, doesn’t He deserve our best?

But here’s the thing: I don’t believe that doing our best for God is what He asks of us.

This doesn’t mean that quality is unimportant, but it does mean that when we are worried about what our acts of worship look or sound like, we are ultimately focused on pleasing ourselves or others, not God.  We end up with a distorted view: that we have to somehow deem our gift worthy before we can offer it.  But that’s not how His grace works.

The reality is that our God deserves so much more than the best we could ever offer.  And yet, as His beloved adopted sons and daughters, He already sees us and our offerings as worthy simply because of the cross.  Because of Jesus.  He loves us just as we are, completely and unconditionally, no matter if we fall into temptation or just sing out of key.  He doesn’t need us to perform well or do good works to demonstrate our love.  All that matters to Him is if our heart is in the right place.  We love Him by surrendering our lives--by giving up, not trying harder to do better.  Then His Spirit can work from within us, bringing freedom, healing, producing good fruit…the whole nine yards.  Look it up.

So what happened when I realized this?

I quit.

Perhaps not the most ideal or expected result, but this was my reality: I didn’t know what to do differently.  If I jumped back into it, I would either continue to do church music the only way I knew how, or worse, I would try to fix it somehow.  Either way, I’d be struggling.  And I know God wanted me to be free.

I never doubted my calling to be a worship leader, but I had no idea what leading worship without thinking about performance would look like.  It was a scary thought.  I didn’t like the idea of letting things out of my control.  I really didn’t like the idea of maybe playing crappy music or somehow screwing it up.  It took a couple years of processing and recovery before I knew God was calling me back to leading worship.  “If You want me to do this,” I remember telling Him, “YOU’VE got to do it, because I don’t know how.”

And no, He didn’t give me a list of things that would help or point me to a scripture that outlined all the details of leading worship “the right way”.  I never received a vision or went to a worship conference outlining what I was supposed to do differently.  I just had to say yes when the time was right and step into the unknown.

When I released control and opened my heart and my mind to what the Lord was going to do, guess what happened?  Haha, the Holy Spirit stepped in.

*  *  *

Believe it or not, I’m not the most talented human being on the planet and I screw up all the time, but it doesn’t matter because I’m immersed in His presence.  He kindly teaches me and refines me as I mosey along.  And I am so thankful to have a team of people who enjoy exploring together.  We are on a great worship adventure, and musically, it’s just a small reflection of the bigger picture.

The coolest things can happen when God is in control.  When I yield to Him, He frees me.  He uses my talents and skills in ways that I’m not courageous enough to do on my own.  The things He enables me to do I never thought would be possible.  All insecurities, worries, and self-doubts evaporate when He sings through me.  And let me tell you, His voice is the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.

The worries I had about making crappy music?  Turns out God loves crappy music.  The truth is, any sincere act of worship is the most beautiful thing in the world to Him.  We can judge it in the natural world using human standards all we want, but sorry guys, HE LOVES IT ALL.  It just doesn’t matter what you think.  And if God loves crappy music, well then, I guess none of it is crappy.

I love encouraging others to jump into the glorious presence of God.  To engage with His love and be forever transformed…there is nothing else like being with Him.  For me, music is my favorite pathway.  I can’t wait to see what He is going to do next.