Flint, meet Spark

So continuing on my great love for the words of Donald Miller, I was reminded yesterday of a concept in his book  “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”, where he discusses the concept of our lives being like stories that we get to write. The braver we are, and the more we live our lives with intention, the better those stories become.

Yesterday was a good and important day. I felt it the day before then that it would be, because I had the strangest day and things just felt awkward, like they were shifting and things weren’t fitting together the same way anymore.  A friend and I had our first gig. We’ve been hacking it out with our guitars and vocals for a few months and trying to find a sound for the things life has taught us and wanted to showcase little soundtracks to our lives so far.  We were playing at a strange arts festival where we got to paint the shacks of the‘poor’ community in our city. Originally we were praying that we would get an evening spot, because our songs are more mellow than the rest of the lineup for the day, and we weren’t sure what time they’d slotted us in due to the lack of a program.

Boy did we get our evening spot. When we got there they told us we were going to be on at around 8pm, to which we fistpumped and skipped and exclaimed “yesss”, since that had been our hope. By then it was freezing. Beyond freezing.  Our shelter was a half-closed, but really mostly open tent, with the wind blowing through, freezing us to the bone.  There were hippies. And pot (am I allowed to say that on the internet?) And African songs being played about pimples on backs on a saturday. My fingers were full of paint, and a lot of different, weird and wonderful sounds were being produced by the other musicians. We then got told that there had been a setback because they’d started so late, and more bands had arrived to play, so we would only be playing around 11pm. Did I mention that it was freezing?

So we sat around in the awkward in between, trying to figure out how to stay warm, stay encouraged, stay awake, and simply, stay. We (me, and the 5 amazing friends who braved the day with us)  sat in my car playing games, complaining about the weather, and laughing about a whole range of things that I can’t repeat. 12am came around and the crowd had dwindled due to the cold. We had so many technical glitches during our sound check that at some point I started wondering whether this was worth it and whether we shouldn’t just go home. I used a piece of upright wood which had 2 mics ducktaped to it as my amplifier. There was about 6 people in the room (all being people we know), and a drunk hippy or two in the room when we started our set. We played our hearts out. It was hilarious. Our fingers were frozen and I could see my breath coming out in puffs in front of me as I sang. I forgot the words to some songs (thanks for the save Josh), we were nervous and I was uncomfortable because I had the strangest amp set up to deal with. But it was beautiful.

And the lesson is this: good stories require a great deal of sacrifice. A great deal of discomfort. A great deal of determination. And a great deal of vulnerability. Yesterday alone, I experienced all those things. And most of those things are not easy to deal with one by one, nevermind having them all churning and throwing themselves at you together all at once. And sometime during the evening, while trying to fold myself into the blanket until it was warming up my insides, I remembered Donald miller’s book about stories. And about how I had vowed that I want to live a GOOD one. And I laughed, and thought- we may never get recognized musically, but at least I will have a damn good story to tell about our journey in trying.

By the time we finished our set, a lot more people had come in to watch and brave out the cold. We were the only band to be asked to do an encore for the day. Josh got a marriage proposal from a creepy hippy, and I was told I was a musical prodigy. I’d brave the cold to have days like this more often, I think.

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Awaaaaaaake my soul!


I got the awesome opportunity to sing this song for lots of people once. I was so excited, and so nervous, because I really enjoy mumford & sons and it felt like quite a privilege to be asked to lend my own voice to the song.  Since then, I’ve been uncomfortable about the song. I suppose I just got sick of it, and got sick of the expectation that came with the song for me at the time. I don’t know if that makes sense.

A year later, and I’ve found a renewed passion for the song. It’s come back to me, and I now understand more and more what the words mean to me. I love it when that happens: those moments when you sing about things you recognize, but are not quite sure how to articulate why or how you recognize it, and then some time and life experience later, you have a  light bulb moment and get what your soul had been trying to say. That song has been like that for me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my soul lately.

Yeh, I’m deep- I know. I realized recently that at some point in my life, I’d made the decision to shut down some areas of my soul, one of those being the emotional part of me. Probably because of hurt, and also because I’d seen one too many times the damage caused by people living just by their emotions.  And I decided I do not want to live like that.

Unfortunately, I realize now that I probably took it to the extreme. I stopped doing anything based on emotions, and became too clinical about my life.  I think a lot of things died in me then- bad things that NEEDED to die, and in the process I learned how to control my emotions and not to let them rule me. I’m thankful for that.  But good things died then too I think. Good things like passion (I stopped writing completely, because nothing could come out), and showing affection, and the ability to be vulnerable. My life became one dimensional; black and white. And I realize now that by my refusal to express my emotions, I’d robbed myself and others around me of an opportunity to grow. I’d also limited the ability of the people around me to love me, and I’d limited my ability to love them back.

Over the past 6 months though, something’s been tugging at my soul-strings. I’ve started writing and playing again, and I do believe God’s spoken into this part of my life and is awakening me again. I bought a lie, and God has come and offered something so much better. Emotions are a strength when we learn to control them, and channel them in the direction of something positive. I don’t mean that to sound airy fairy. I just mean, we all feel things and those feelings are important. What’s more important though is what we DO with those feelings. Sometimes we don’t need to DO anything at all, and this other side of the tension is a lie we’ve bought as well.  So, feeling itself is not the problem. It’s a good thing, a sign that I’m alive.

I’m still on this journey, and I’ve much to learn. Even in writing this, an old part of me felt a reluctancy in saying even just a little bit. But I’m learning to give a little slack, and be brave about the things I feel, and embrace them a little more because the beauty of my soul is important to the One who it’s made for.

All this being said, I suppose it’s quite appropriate then that my favourite line of the song is “ and now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know, my weakness I feel I must finally show….”.

I will give you this, my…

I will give you this, my love, and I will not bargain or barter any longer. I will love you, as sure as He has loved me. I will discover what I can discover and though you remain a mystery, save God’s own knowledge, what I disclose of you I will keep in the warmest chamber of my heart, the very chamber where God has stowed Himself in me. And I will do this to my death, and to death it may bring me.
I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again.
God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.
– Donald Miller (Polaroids)

From chapter 13 somewhere, in Blue Like Jazz. I wanted to marry this man’s brain once. I think it’s pretty evident why. Read this book, and especially read the rest of this piece.

Sitting, waiting, wishing.

 

So, I initially started blogging because I thought I was going away, and therefore thought a blog would be the best (laziest, really) way for the people I love (eh, most of you) to keep up with what I was doing on the other side of the world. This is all well and good,

except that i haven’t left (yet?).

For reasons unbeknown to me, I’m still here. And sometimes, admittedly, I’m a bit of a child about it.

This is kinda what it looks like in my head: aaaaaahhhh Maaaaaan I was soo ready to GOoooooo! I mean, really. I started a BLOG for crying out loud (avid bloggers please don’t eat me). I’d already had ideas of my ‘goodbye for now’ party (which would have been AWESOME, obviously); I’d started honing my chopstick skills (I’m trying to go to south korea to teach english to little cute asian kids); I’d already read up on korean food (a must, if you know how much I enjoy eating). And I’d told pretty much everyone I know. This is unusual in itself, because of my cautious…disposition i suppose. I like to hold things that I really want closely and quietly, and keep them until I KNOW for certain that they are a ‘done deal’. Then I’ll let it settle and savour it a little, and then let other people know. Not with Korea. Everyone knew before anything was settled that I really (no, REALLY) want to go. My parents were (and unfortunately still are, bless their souls) excitedly talking about what they’re going to do with my room when I’m gone.

Many of my close friends and people I value at church know about it, and have been faithfully praying for me (much appreciated). I am now experiencing the downside of this, however, because all these amazing people (annoying to me in the moment) keep asking me whether I’m going or not. It’s only annoying to me off course because I’m just as clueless as they are- and that SUCKS for me.

So I panic. and I lose sleep. and I constantly frown without knowing it and get paranoid about getting stomach ulcers. I worry. yes, that dreaded ‘w’ word that I know I’m not supposed to feel because I believe Jesus holds my future. And then I worry about the fact that I’m worrying, because I shouldn’t be worrying because Jesus holds my future (yes, it’s crazy in here).

So this goes on in my childish little head, until the grown up in me finally rolls her eyes, takes a stand and tells me:

1.) Calm. Down.

2.) You should probably be praying about this.

 So I don’t know if you’ve gathered yet, but I’ve gathered by my amazing intellect that I’m pretty sure God is using this in-between period to teach me lessons about myself. Prayer is not my first choice in times of uncertainty. Also, uncertainty apparently makes me anxious (wow, really?). In light of the rest of my (hopefully long) life, I think God’s got a point in wanting to sort this out now. I haven’t lived all that long, but I hear things don’t get any more certain the older we get. Fun.

Anyway, so when I do eventually click and hit the reset button in my head, and actually go to God, it’s AMAZING (and quite predictable by now), the difference that takes place. God, in His Almighty goodness, takes that little girl, puts her on His lap, and patiently recounts time and again all the times He’s proven faithful to her. He takes the grown up in me on His lap too- cos His lap is big like that- and He tells her to listen too, because she needs to hear this just as much, lest she forgets that she is just as reliant on Him as the kid in me is.  

and in those moments (yes, these happen often), the little kid in me is assured, that yes, life gets messier (probably), and things are always uncertain. But there is ONE Certainty. And He’s got little and grown up me on His big lap, and whether we’re going to korea or staying right where I am- I’ll be certain of Him.  I think that’s a pretty damn good place to start.

 

Oh,I’ve been sleeping pretty darn well since that conversation, and I’m not really sitting, wishing or waiting anymore.

 

Read all about it…

This song is so good it deserves its own post. There’s a lot of truth in her lyrics, which I particularly appreciate and can relate to. Co-incidentally, she and I share the same name, but she doesn’t use it cos there’s some other famous girl before her with the same name…Who’s that girl again?? 😉