27 November 2010

El Shaddai/I Will Heal Their Land

I'm closing this series about some of the music I listen to with my all-time favorite artist, Michael Card.
And now our God will dwell with them

The new Jerusalem
And He himself will walk with them
The new Jerusalem
And God Himself will wipe the tears
From every weeping eye
No death, no pain, no mourning cry
And every tear made dry
I'm not certain which should be the title for today's music. I know I heard El Shaddai many times, probably on the radio, years and years ago though I never knew the name of the musician or any of his other works. When I first heard of Michael Card recently, it was through lyrics from I Will Heal Their Land posted on a friend's status on Facebook. Now here's the shocking part, so brace yourselves. I looked up the song and I didn't like it at all. Yup, you read that right. Now after listening to quite a wide range of Michael Card, I realize that it was certainly not the best song to start by which to be introduced to Michael Card. So I wrote him off as in artist I didn't like (though thankfully my mind was changed later!). I can't clearly recall exactly what changed my mind, though I imagine it was probably back when I wrote on the names of God and a friend posted the lyrics to El Shaddai (Hey, at least it gives me someone to blame! ;) ). At least that is the clearest turning point in my mind that I recall. From there, I looked up more of his music and absolutely fell in love. His music simply can not be topped. He is one of the few artists with solid, biblical lyrics. The beauty of his lyrics overcomes anything lacking in the music. If you haven't heard of Michael Card, don't wait another second to listen to his music. Or if you're like me, and didn't enjoy his music previously, I encourage you to give him a second chance. You'll be glad you did.


***Due to "technical difficulties", something happened to the original "Conversations" post. Your mind has not been messed with, this is simply the replacement post***

Sara Groves is another one of those artists that I discovered through my friends. After hearing her mentioned several time through Facebook, I decided to check her out. Handy enough for me, one of my brothers owned her album "Conversations".
Remind me of this with every decision.

Generations will reap what I sow.
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
to those I will never know.
I was listening to Sara Groves before Michael Card, Andrew Peterson, Red Mountain Church. She was probably one of the first "Contemporary Christian" artists I listened to regularly.

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me.
I can't recall what originally drew me to continue listening to Sara Groves. What draws me back is the quiet, meditative lyrics and gentle acoustic background. Though I haven't listened to much outside of "Conversations", the album is just that - it feels like a conversation with Sara Groves, and often times she hits the nail right on the head as to how I feel.

17 November 2010

The Stairway

The flight of stairs climbs higher and higher, or at least so I think, since the exact height is only know by the maker of these stairs. The light in my hand directs my path, but the complete journey is hidden in a mist that sometimes swirls around my feet, and at other times it parts enough to allow me to see many steps ahead. Tightly I cling to the hand that gently leads me upwards. I know the destination, where these stairs will end won't come as a surprise. It is simply the path I will travel that is hidden.

As I step onto the stair that marks my twentieth birthday, I glance back to gaze at where I've been. I ponder these past years and whether they were spent wisely.

I am surprised to see high-school graduation already four years behind me. Four years sounds like a long time until I start looking back at what has happened during that time. Four years just about takes us back to the start of my family's adoption journey. Wow...four years. Sounds like a long time until I glance over at my almost-three-year-old sister and remember, just as if it were yesterday, walking into that room to see and hold her for the first time. I remember the tears as I was at last able to hold a little baby in my arms, knowing that she was my sister and no one could change that. I remember the heartache from different situations that fell through. The disappointments. The waiting. The trusting. It wasn't easy, but God was faithful and He continues to be.

I peer back even further to my early teens. I was a different person then. When I read my journal entries I laugh. Though I enjoyed being the age I was, I looked forward to being 18, 19, and 20 because surely I would be married by then and have my own children. I would be well on my way to visiting all the states. I would be travelling the world, taking trips to Great Britain, Australia, Africa, and who knows where else. I would be a budding actress, a well-known seamstress, or a famous basketball star. My dreams were big and nothing seemed impossible.

I draw my gaze back to the steps that now surround me. I look at the person God has changed me into and feel a wave of thankfulness for His strong hand constantly leading me higher and higher. I still want to travel the world, to get married and have children. But those things are no longer as important to me as they once were. More than anything else, I just want to serve Christ and work to spread the kingdom wherever He places me. I want to be willing to go to Africa or Asheville in order to spread the gospel and make disciples of all nations. I want to see Christ glorified.

I finally turn to gaze forward into the midst. I still can't see where this mighty Hand is leading me, but this I know - wherever I may go, whatever I may become, all the glory goes to Him. May His name be exalted in all the earth!

11 November 2010

An Alphabet of Thanksgiving

Adoption - Both physical and spiritual. I am grateful to God for choosing me to be a part of His family, and for the siblings He has choosen to be a part of my earthly family. Thank you God for adoption!

Brothers - I am thankful for the godly example my brothers set for me. There are always there to help me when I need manly strength. They are extremely generous and lavish gifts upon me and my siblings whatever the occasion. Thank you God for brothers!

Church - God has provided a means of gathering together as a community to worship Him. Thank you God for giving us church!

Daddies - Especially my daddy. He has such a servants heart. He spends much time taking us places we want to go, without murmuring one word of complaint. He'll take time to wash dishes just because. I love my daddy and am so grateful for him. Thank you God for daddies!

Evangelism - God uses us to spread His Kingdom. He gives us this opportunity to spread His love to others. What an immense gift and charge for us. Thank you God for using us for evangelism!

Family - both my amazing family and my family in Christ. My blood family is such a blessing to me, they are crazy and awesome. I love my family so much and am thankful God has given them to me. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you encourage me, cause me to think, and are simply fun to be around. I love you all! Thank you God for the gift of family.
Grace - where would I be without it? Thank you God for grace.

Hospitals - I've seen more of the hospital in the past year than I ever wanted to see. However, I am vastly thankful for the high quality care that my baby brother has received. Without good hospital care, he wouldn't be here. Thank you God for hospitals.

Investment - I have been given the opportunity to work in the lives of those around me, to invest in them and really make a difference in their lives. Thank you God for this gift of investment.

Joy - With the absence of joy, our lives would be very glum indeed. Thank you God for giving us reasons to be joyful.

Knowledge - most particularly, knowledge of God. He has given us His word so that we can know and learn about Him. Thank you God for this knowledge.

Laughter - I love laughter. Because of God's precious gifts to my family, my house is filled with laughter. Thank you God for laughter.

Mothers - in particular, my mother. She is the strongest, godliness woman I know. No one I know would do the things she has done. She is willing to do crazy things for God without worrying what others might think. Thank you God so much for my mother.

Night - without darkness, how could we be thankful for the light? Thank you God for darkness and that it is temporary.

Orchids - just one of the many flowers God has blessed us with. Thank you God for all flowers, including orchids.

Peace - God gives us the gift of peace that surpasses all understanding. Thank you God for giving us your peace in the midst of the fiercest storms.

Quips - because who doesn't like a good one? ;)

Reformation - the reformers risked their lives for the cause of Christ. Where would we be without them? Thank you God for the reformers and the Reformation.

Sisters - I am so thankful for my two sisters. Jen and I have our differences - a lot - but I wouldn't exchange it for anything. I love to see Janae grow from a tiny baby into a little lady. When she begs for her Bible story, it makes me smile and my heart glad. She loves to pray for her family and is careful not to leave herself out. I love my sisters so much. Thank you God for sisters.

TULIP - the easiest way to explain Calvinism. ;)

Unity - that even in the midst of our differences, we can unite together for Christ and the Kingdom.

Valiant - thank you God for valiant people fighting for your Kingdom.

Winter - as with night, if it wasn't for winter we wouldn't appreciate the new life and warmth of spring. Thank you God for winter.

Xmas - the celebration of the incarnation of God. Thank you God for sending us your son!

Yahweh - I am thankful that Yahweh choose me to be his child, that He is my God, and that He has given me the privilege to serve Him with my life, my all. Thank you, Yahweh, for making me your child.

Zoology - because I couldn't think of anything else... ;)

10 November 2010

If I Get Murdered in the City...

We're walkin' in to the fields.
We're walkin in to the forest.
The moon is before us.
Up above
We're holdin' hands in the rain
S-sayin' words like I love you
D-d-d'you love me? Yeah...

If you live in the Charlotte area, you've most likely heard of the Avett Brothers. Once again, I was familiar with the name due to seeing it mentioned on Facebook (see a pattern here?). How I actually started listening to them was through my oldest brother. I think it was the Second Gleam from which he played a few songs for me that he thought I'd enjoy. He was quite right!
So you want to be in love like the movies
But in the movies they're not in love at all
And with a twinkle in their eyes
They're just saying their lines
So we can't be in love like the movies
The Avett Brothers have an interesting mix of music that can be folksy or rock. I don't usually listen to genres like rock, but the Avett Brothers have a unique sound that I don't mind listening to. From Kick-Drum Heart to Love Like the Movies, I have to admit they have some great tunes. They are originally from Concord, so it's like supporting local talent. ;)

05 November 2010


"When hygienists leave on long vacations/That's when dentists scream and lose their patience"
Many people are probably surprised when they learn that I listen to Owl City. I'm pretty particular about the music I listen to, so you know there has to be a good reason why I would even consider listening to Owl City. Originally, I had no choice but to listen to it as my younger sister discovered him and started playing the music. (I won't even get into the music battles the two of us have...). The heavy background is not something that I usually enjoy, and if the lyrics were any different I wouldn't have given it a second listen.
"Golf and alcohol don't mix/And that's why I don't drink and drive"
The lyrics are the absolute best part about Owl City. I love to hear plays on words, so listening to this music always makes me smile. Like dessert eaten too often, or too large of quantities, so is this type of music. It's more of a fun, once-in-a-while 'treat'. If I listen to it, it's because I either need something to make me smile, or I'm tired and I need something to keep me awake while I work. Or my sister is blasting it...again. ;) It makes no sense at all, but is guaranteed to bring a smile to my face. So if you enjoy a good play on words and need something fun to listen to once in a while, try some Owl City.

04 November 2010

Dancing in the Minefields

I've decided to write about some of my favorite artist as a writing exercise. It'll be fun to put into word why I like the artists I listen to (at least that's what I'm hoping!). The title will be the first song I can remember listening to by the particular artist that I write about.
Well ‘I do’ are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
'Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found
To start out with, I introduce to you Andrew Peterson. I had a couple different friends post his song, Dancing in the Minefields, on Facebook. Soon afterwards I heard a couple different recommendations of his latest album, Counting Stars. I liked what I heard, so I bought Counting Stars. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I liked his music. I enjoy the quiet, acoustic sound and meaningful lyrics. Occasionally there is a "yeah" or what-not that could have been filled with much better lyrics, but that is a minor caveat for me. His music isn't just something that is fun to listen to, but has meaningful lyrics to accompany the lovely acoustic sound.
Like my fathers I am looking for a home
Looking for a home beyond the sea
So be my God and guide me
Till I lie beneath the hills
Then let the great God of my fathers
Be the great God of my children still
 The sad part is that he has been around for quite a while, so he has many, many, many albums out there. Sometime I will try to explore his other works, but for now I'm enjoying "Counting Stars". If you haven't heard his music, look him up and check him out. You'll be glad you did.

03 November 2010

Home...Where Is It?

We've all heard the saying, "Home is where the heart is". Is it simply a nice saying that makes us feel tingly inside, that we embroider on cushions and hang on the walls of our homes? If you think about it, where you heart, your passion is, that is where your energy is centered. It is what you are always working for, the reason for which you slave away in the mire. Why? So that you can return to that happy place you love and where those you love are. But as Christians, where is our true home? Not the structures made of brick and mortar or sticks and mud, but our eternal home.

Oftentimes we refer to ourselves as pilgrims in the land, strangers on a journey to another place. It's true, we pilgrims journeying here on earth for a short while, but if you think about it, you could say that about all humankind. The difference is our destination, the places our hearts lie, our eternal home.

When life knocks us down, when we are overcome with struggles, when the troubles of the world weigh down on us, Christians look forward to heaven, that place of no tears and no pain. But to be honest, sometimes I think we idolize it too much, focous too much on heaven and not enough on our work that God has given on earth. We think of heaven as a place where we will have to work no longer, where will sit around on clouds all day, playing harps and singing praises to God. Now, singing praises to God is not wrong, but I don't think that's all we'll be doing all eternity. Think about the garden before the fall. Adam worked in the garden - yes, worked! He wasn't sitting around all day doing nothing. The difference is that after the fall, sin entered the picture and made everything much, much harder. I imagine that heaven will be much like the pre-fall Garden of Eden. We'll be glorifying Yahweh through the works of our hands. I think it was C.S. Lewis who painted the picture of heaven as something similar (I only wish I could remember which book it was in!). Imagine praising Yahweh for all eternity, working for him without the added toil of sin!

My admonition is for you to seek to have a biblical view of heaven. Yet while looking forward to that life without the struggle of sin, don't neglect the work you have here and now to accomplish for Christ and His Kingdom. May God speed you on your way as you toil for Him!