Well, this is it. My last day as a twentysomething.
I really would like to have some sort of epic last journal entry but I just don’t have one.
My twenties have been hard. Sometimes they were downright horrible. Other times were the best of my life this far. I’ve traveled up and down the California coast, to the South, across the country to the Midwest, and across the world to Belfast, Northern Ireland.
I’ve made some amazing friends, fallen in love, gotten my heart broken, found God, lost my way and sorta found it again, and discovered that I have the strength to pull through difficult times with enough help from my friends, family, and God.
I’ve had a couple of okay jobs, a very horrible job, and finally have a job working for a company I love. They’ve all taught me something new. I’ve had a lot of money, a little money, and practically no money. Somehow, I usually have enough money to get by.
I’ve taken risks. I’ve had some wins. I’ve had some losses. I’ve wished and hoped and seen some come to be and others have remained a dream.
I’ve lost two of the most important people in my life – my grandpa first and my grandma second. I had the privilege of holding a newborn baby, hours after she was born. I’ve met some amazing little girls who aren’t my own nieces but whom I love just like they were. I see hope and a future in them. I can only imagine the life ahead for them and how they will grow and experience some of the same things I’ve experienced.
I’ve learned that, as alone as I feel sometimes, I’m really not that alone. There’s always going to be someone to reach out to. Things aren’t always going to be easy but they won’t always be tough either. I’m not a twentysomething anymore but I’m still me.
I don’t feel like I should be thirty but I am. Time to deal with it and face this new day tomorrow with a hope for a future that is fulfilling, meaningful, and full of love.
Last night I had a dream that we went to Disneyland, went on all the rides, and didn’t have to wait in line! (8)
I didn’t actually have a dream like that. Those are lyrics from an Ataris song I used to be obsessed with around the year 2003.
Any time I feel like reminiscing, I turn to the songs I listened to back around 2001-2004. Those were the years I started branching out from the status quo, stopped listening to the radio, and started listening mostly to indie rock, pop-punk, and emo. I loved it!!!
Those were the days I would stay up all night talking to people on an old school blogging site called Melodramatic.com and thought I was so rad because I had x’s and “emo” in my username before it was trendy. We would talk about all the angsty things going on in our lives, all the broken hearts we had, and the parties we went to. Oh the drama… How young and stupid and unaware we all were.
Then I grew up and the website starting breaking and being down more than it was up and there were these new sites called myspace and Facebook. They were different and encouraged you to actually know the people on the site instead of just making random friends with people across the inter webs. So that happened and the awesome music talk stopped and I started actually paying for music since it became illegal to download it…illegally.
But my love for music never waned. It grew as the number of candles on my birthday cakes did. I couldn’t get enough. I needed to explore more than what they were forced to play on the radio. I started going to more and more concerts and discovered new bands through that venue as well as finding new friends with new and interesting music to listen to.
As the years have passed, I’ve never stopped loving music and discovering new artists. My tastes have become much more eclectic and diversified. But no matter how much my musical tastes grow, the bands I listened to from 2001-2004 will always hold a special place in my heart!
Peace, love, and chocolate chai tea lattes,
PS Please leave me a comment and let me know of any bands you think are awesome!
At least, not in the way that most people think.
I just had a really good day with God. I discovered some awesome new worship music courtesy of my #StartSingle friends and Bethel Music. Bethel’s new album, Tides, is one of my favorite albums of the year! The song “I Can Feel You” pretty much speaks exactly how I feel. It really put me in touch with how wonderful God is and how in love I am with Him.
That love I was feeling all day totally shined through in my worship leading. The ladies at Acton Rehab were so amazing tonight! I played a new song and they loved it and were able to sing along! I was so worried they wouldn’t follow but they’re all so encouraging and eager to worship and praise God that they just blew me away! Before worship started I even got to share my testimony with two of them. I forgot how it even started but all of a sudden, there I was, telling them how I was totally lost and had hit rock bottom and God swooped into my life and saved me. I also explained how that first rock bottom wasn’t enough and it wasn’t until I hit my second rock bottom low that I finally surrendered all of myself, body, heart, soul, and future to God and how amazing it’s been since.
Yes, it’s been hard. It’s actually been extremely hard and lonely at times and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve cried over stupid things that I wanted even though I knew they were wrong. But there’s been a whole lot of good too! I mean, how many times can you say that you’ve been in love with someone you know for certain loves you back, absolutely unconditionally? I can’t say I know many people who do that. Just God. Today, all I felt was the overwhelming love of God and just how lucky I am.
I’ve felt love before…I was in love with a man who I almost married. But that love was tainted with his lies, manipulation, and abuse so it doesn’t feel real. It never really felt totally secure. I mostly felt like a prisoner.
God’s love feels different. I don’t have to second guess it. I don’t have to ask any “what if” questions. I don’t have to do absolutely anything but receive it. We love because He first loved us. God is pure, perfect love. And I’m in love.
Here’s the video link for the song by Bethel Music in case you want to listen to it. BEWARE!!! It might change your life.
To say that I’m scared would be an understatement. Here’s my reasons why I’m not looking forward to being 30:
1. I’m no longer going to be in my twenties and saying I’m “in my thirties” sounds really old to me. I don’t feel like a 30 year old.
2. I’m single. Like, really single! I don’t even have any prospects for a potential guy I could realistically be interested in or start a relationship with. There are literally no more single guys in my church! And forget online dating. That’s a complete bust when the only guys who seem interested in me are only interested in sex. Le Sigh…
3. I’m stuck. I feel as though I’m in a rut and I have been for a while. I feel as though I wasted a lot of my early twenties on stupid things and people who only hurt me. I try hard to live without regrets but, even though I learned some really good lessons, I have regrets. Regrets totally suck!
4. There’s a chance that I will never be able to have children with each passing year. I really want to be a mom but that takes having a husband. I know there are other options available but I really want to experience creating life. Does that make me selfish? Maybe it does. Or maybe I’m just human and it’s a natural thing to want?
5. I’m not doing what I’m passionate about and I can’t really fully decide what that passion is. There’s a lot of things that I love and a lot of things I really want to do. I really want to be a better worship leader and all around musician. I really want to be a missionary and serve God on a global capacity. And I really, really love reading. Is there any way I can combine all of those things into a job that allows me to survive? Because that would be just super fantastic!
I’m really trying to be optimistic though. As young as I feel and look, I guess the fact that I am thirty won’t mean all that much. Maybe I can get away without telling anyone my age and they can just assume that I’m in my early twenties? Yeah…it might get out anyway.
I am looking forward to a new decade of possibly not making the same mistakes I made in the past.
A) I now know what I don’t want and what I would like to have in a significant other.
B) I am stronger in my faith than I have been before and I have more knowledge of the character of who God is and who He isn’t.
C) I have better priorities and I actually do what I want to do and not only what others want me to do.
D) I have a good support system in place in the shape of a great online community (StartSingles) and a great real life, 3D community.
E) I have a church that I love and that loves me back.
F) I’m closer to my mom and have a better relationship with her than I’ve ever had before in my entire life! This is probably the best thing that’s happened in the past few years. I’m so lucky to have her and to have had a chance to be closer to her.
G) I have all these friends who live all around the world which opens the doors up to more possibilities than I’ve ever had before.
H) I’m learning how to punch fear in the face on a daily basis! Whether I’m afraid of looking stupid, being vulnerable, being a failure, or being successful. I guess this means people might one day be able to read a book I’m writing or listen to music I’m making?
I) The future is wide open…
Okay, that last one might be a little too optimistic, even for me, but I feel like I need to throw that in there for my own good. After talking with some friends recently, I have had some mini revelations about what’s to come in the next few months and what I need to do starting right now to reach the goals I want to reach. That’s pretty exciting to me!
So maybe when I turn thirty I won’t have a husband with a house of our own and children playing in the yard. Maybe I won’t have my dream job and maybe I won’t have everything all figured out. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll be one more day closer to doing all that and fulfilling whatever purpose there is for my life.
I love leading worship in Acton rehab. It’s not like anything else I’ve ever experienced. I guess the closest thing I can relate it to would be if I were a rock star on stage in front of a huge crowd and the crowd was singing louder than I was. It’s awesome. And it’s awesome not because they’re singing and then clapping for me, but because they’re singing with me and praising God together and, when they clap when we’re done, I know it’s because they feel the same joy that I’m feeling.
I used to be so afraid to sing in front of others. Well, that’s not entirely true. Back before I started dating the guy I thought I was going to marry, I would sing all the time around anyone and anywhere I wanted. Random people would tell me I had a good voice. In fact, I remember in 5th grade, this guy I had a huuuuge crush on was the first guy to ever tell me he loved my voice. I was flying higher than the moon with that compliment and I actually believed the strangers who told me they liked my voice.
Then I started dating my ex-fiancé. At first he was nice about my singing but he later turned really mean. He would tell me how horrible I sounded and would say that I should just be quiet. Or, if he was feeling nice-ish and passive aggressive, he would just turn the volume up high so he couldn’t hear me. Because of who he was to me – the supposed love of my life – and because of how persistent he was, I actually believed him and eventually stopped singing around people.
Fast forward 6 years and you’d find me single again and wanting to sing again but still insecure. But I had an awesome best friend who was really supportive and another friend who was really encouraging and together, they convinced me to audition for choir at another church. I made it into the choir, gained some confidence and heard clearly from God that I was meant to be on stage leading worship.
A year later, I bought my first guitar and, 8 months after that, I played a worship song in front of my favorite worship leader at church and she became my mentor. She is one of the most talented and amazing worship leaders I’ve ever met and I respected her opinion so, when she encouraged me to lead worship with her at Acton Rehab, I said I’d give it a shot.
It was sooooo scary!!!! I’d played in front of my friends at small group when I first started out but I know I wasn’t very good at playing. I’m still not amazing or great but I’m sufficient. Then, one day, she told me that I was ready to start leading worship in Acton all by myself. Man, that was scary!!! But I slowly started gaining more confidence and became more comfortable leading worship. Eventually I got to a level of comfortability where I could enjoy leading worship and not stress so much about playing the songs right. It was awesome!
I have been leading worship in Acton on an almost weekly basis for about a year and a half now and leading worship for the College Group for about a year as well and the two groups couldn’t be more different! The ladies in Acton Rehab have such a passion and desire to worship that almost all of them are on their feet during worship and usually singing so loud that I can’t even hear myself sing! It’s super personal; I stand in front of them in a small room and play my acoustic guitar without a mic or an amp. At College Group, I’m on a stage above everyone else and there’s all these lights on me and I’m plugged in and singing into a mic. The group reacts to worship differently too. Usually the majority of people at college group are sitting down and I can’t hear any of them singing with me. It’s not necessarily a bad experience; I love leading worship anywhere I can get the chance to worship, but it’s different.
Acton’s been the best thing ever because it’s where I learned how to lead worship while being surrounded by ladies who are supportive and loving and genuinely excited. It’s been the worst ever because it’s spoiled all other experiences for me. I’ll always want to hear a chorus of voices singing praise along with me because it makes it about God and not about me at all. Acton has taught me how to screw up royally while playing a song and still be able to laugh about it. It’s pushed me to be better and learn and grow and, most importantly, it’s where I learned how to trust that this leading worship thing is something that God truly wants me to do. And that’s a wonderful thing.
Tonight, after work, was worship night band practice. I feel like it went pretty well. We went through the majority of the songs, had some dinner, recorded a song, made up some funny songs, and did some dancing. Musicians really do make the best friends! They won’t laugh at you for making up a weird song or singing a song for no reason other than wanting to. They’re crazy, silly, artistic, and fun to be around.
Oh and my particular worship band is filled with amazing people who are some of the most encouraging people I know. They wouldn’t give up on me and they are convinced that I am amazing and need to say that I’m amazing. I don’t think I’m amazing. I try really hard though and put my heart into what I do so maybe they can see that and think that’s amazing? I’m not really sure. But I am in awe of them.
I’m proud of Kyle aka Prince Charming for learning an amazing solo on his harmonica and for being so kind and encouraging and offering his house up for practices. I’m so proud of Crystal for playing her guitar while leading worship and helping us with harmonies and just being a generally great person to be around. I’m proud of Lindy for always encouraging me and giving me gentle constructive criticism to help me learn and grow. Not to mention the fact that she has an amazing voice that I just love singing with. I’m super proud of Jason for jumping in and helping out with the band but also for offering up his home so generously and giving me rides to his house from work. He’s a totally understatedly awesome person. I’m proud of Roni for playing with us but I’m super proud of her for being willing to sing a song with us this coming Sunday!!!! She sounds great and I know she’s going to be great. And I’m super proud of Bruce for being willing to play rhythm on my acoustic guitar for a song and generously allowing me to play his awesome electric guitar. Next up, he’ll be singing and so will Jason! I can hope at least.
I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to practice with and grow with as a leader and as a worship band. It feels like we’re family. 🙂
There’s nothing else to really say at the moment. I’ve been getting way too few hours of sleep lately and it’s starting to effect me. I can’t wait to sleep in on Saturday. Only one day left of work!!! I’m hoping that Brandi, Bruce, Roni, and Lindy will all be able to get hired on at work. I want all my friends surrounding me! Hahaha and the Vineyard is slowly taking over my workplace. Work was okay today but not great. I was really tired and I was doing kind of boring work but, I did get to go to a meeting, and I get to work with great people so at least that makes up for not having an amazing day like I normally do. Still, my worst day at my current job is still better than my best day at some of my prior jobs. Gotta love that!
Time for bed now. Crystal, if you’re reading this, my vocal warmups wouldn’t download. I’m going to have to get them from you on a flash drive tomorrow. 😦
Peace, love, and listen to Cold War Kids,
This morning I saw the most beautiful red sunrise ever. It was like the sky was on fire! One of the best parts of living in the desert is the sunrises and sunsets we get to see. It’s romantic in the classical sense but also in the sense that we get to see God’s beauty in His creation and fall in love with Him a little more. And I really do. You can’t help but be in awe of the beauty of creation and when I think about how much more beautiful God is than the lost beautiful sunrise and how He sees me as that beautiful, how can I not fall in love with God more!?
But anyways, today was a good day at work. It was long but busy for most of the day so that was great! My boss is so funny sometimes! He found this conspiracy theory website that had us cracking up for a while. It made the afternoon just more awesome than it already was. Lunch was even great! I like getting to eat lunch with Jason. It’s nice to have a friend to sit and scarf food down as quickly as possibly because we only get 30 minutes to eat. Not to mention that he’s funny. Lol.
After work was so great! Joel, Bruce, Jason I., Kelli, Brandi, Crystal, and I went to get sushi. I had a baked chicken roll and, surprisingly, it still tasted like sushi. I also had 4 cups of Soju Cocktail – very potent stuff that doesn’t taste strong. I didn’t get drunk but I definitely felt the alcohol. It was good to get out and have a good time with my friends. Especially since Joel was able to come with us and we hardly ever get to spend time with him.
After dinner, Bruce, Crystal, Brandi, and I went to Brandi’s and ended up listening to music, playing guitar, painting, and talking. It was wonderful. I love getting to play guitar! It’s so fun now that I’m a little more confident. And I got to share with crystal some of the accomplishments I’ve had at Acton Rehab. I’m seriously so proud of her for being so brave. She inspires me to be brave and bold. I’m going to be so sad when she leaves. But hopefully I’ll get to go to Australia in the fall for my birthday.
The night was filled with great conversation and learning new things about friends. I love getting to know new people and finding out all the little things they enjoy. I like finding common ground and interests and hidden talents. I’m so proud of my friends for being bold and in awe of their talents! I’m blessed to have such amazingly talented friends who inspire me and encourage me and are such a joy to be around.
Life is just really good right now and I want to embrace it and acknowledge it. Even though there are some bad days, they’re mostly good and I give all the credit to God for that. I don’t deserve these blessings but I’m thankful for them and thankful for my friends. They’re pretty amazeballs. Until tomorrow…
Peace, love, and chai tea lattes,
Today was both amazeballs and horrible. All day long at work I was feeling really horrible; I mean sore throat, cough, sneezy, headache, stuffy nose/can’t breathe from the right nostril, etc. In addition to feeling like the poster child for horrible sinus problems, I stayed up way too late and was extremely tired all day aaaaand it didn’t seem like my boss was particularly talkative aaaaaand I was feeling like I was on the verge of delving into depression…again. Let me tell you, it’s really frustrating to be a perfectly (normal amount of) crazy, joyful, silly person one minute and feel like the saddest, most horrible and insane person ever!
So there I was, working and listening to worship music on Spotify when, all of a sudden, these thoughts just invade my brain. It’s like a sneak attack because I don’t even know where the heck they come from. I wasn’t even thinking anything remotely close to relationships and here come those thoughts, feeding on all my insecurities and making me feel like a monster. What’s interesting is that, this past Sunday, I was explaining to someone how I believe that Satan will use our thoughts to lie to us and get us to believe something contrary to God’s truth and then I get attacked like that out of left field.
So here I am at work, starting to feel worse and worse by the second and worrying that I might have to text Brandi to pray for me when God reminds me that I need to keep every thought captive and to meditate on the Truth. He also said that I don’t have time to be depressed with all the worship I lead so I need to pray and fight this. Know what I did? I prayed and praised Him and it helped! The thought’s didn’t completely leave until hours later in Acton when Rick prayed to open us before I led worship but I was a whole lot better while meditating on God’s truths. The truth is, no matter what man is or isn’t in my life, I am deeply loved by God. He loves me enough to be with me in my time of need in the middle of a work day. He loves me enough to put amazing people in my life who will pray for me and stand by me. He loves me soooo much that He gave me an amazing friend named Lindy to post something totally random on my Facebook that I would check and be reminded of an amazing time at a concert and the amazing blessings God has given to me. Then, on the way home from work, I get a very random text from a friend about my hair in his car. Random, yet funny. But anyways, God totally used a bunch of different ways to pull me out of a tailspin and back on the path to goodness.
The other amazeballs part of my day was when I was leading worship in Acton Rehab. I was still really really tired even though I was really looking forward to worshipping together so, on the car ride there, I prayed for myself and for Rick, the one teaching tonight, that we would both be energized and do a great job. It wasn’t until Rick had finished praying that I felt this huge surge of energy. It was like someone flipped the switched and I was super pumped and had all this energy and worship was fantastic! I was able to play 3 songs continuously, blending them all together to make this one amazing worship set! It wasn’t just me thinking it was amazing either! I heard from some others that they thought it was good. Regardless, I accomplished one of my goals tonight so that felt good and I felt really connected with the ladies and God while leading worship and that’s always a great experience.
Now, I’m home and wanting to send my worship set list with charts to my worship team, alas, the internet isn’t working. So, naturally, I decided writing a blog on my phone would be a better alternative to going to bed early. 😉 I know, I’m so brilliant!
Anyways, I’m going to try and get some sleep now. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Work is going to be grand due to it being payroll Wednesday and after work is going to be awesome because I’ll be meeting some friends for sushi and drinks. Yay!!!
Peace, love, and thousands of kit kat bars!
PS, I wish I could hire my friend Corrie to live here and be my personal stylist so I can have great hair like in this picture every day!
WARNING!!! This Blog Contains Some Foul Language and Some Truths! or I didn’t do anything church related today (259)
Today was one of the best days I’ve had in a quite some time. I seem to feel this way about a lot of days but today I especially felt this way. I got to hang out with some people I don’t get to see very often and who I don’t hang out with very often outside of church or a church related activity. It was great! To be honest, I was hanging out with people in the small group I used to attend before VLI started conflicting with when they met but tonight they weren’t doing any studying or discussing the bible, we were just hanging out, eating dinner together, playing a game together, and watching Anjelah Johnson’s comedy special on Netflix.
Now, if you know anything about me, you might be wondering why I am so excited to do something non-church related. It’s not that I don’t love my church or God or the ministries I’m involved in, it just felt really nice to relax with the people I serve with so often. I wouldn’t be so involved in the College Group or Worship at Acton or be a leader in the College Group book study if I didn’t have a passion to serve God in those capacities. It is extremely rewarding and also quite tiring. Tiring in the sense that, my free time is no longer spent watching TV or movies or getting coffee with friends or playing long board games/card games or even something as simple as getting enough sleep. My free time is spent reading books on the battle Christians face when they have homosexual desires or being a Gospel Centered Disciple or listening to new worship songs and putting together set lists/schedules/practicing worship, or studying for a sermon/teaching I’ll be giving soon. If I’m not doing that, I’m usually at my 7-4:30 job or at church itself or, occassionally, sleeping (which I should be doing right now).
I’m not trying to complain or boast like “Hey, look at the great things I’m doing!!!!” I wouldn’t do it if I thought that I wasn’t supposed to be, if I thought it was all about me and I was doing it for the wrong reasons, or if it was seriously impeding my health/sanity. I think serving God in the church body actually makes me, and probably anyone else, appreciate those moments you do have with your friends and family even more than you normally would. That’s probably why tonight, even though I see Lindy a lot for worship and small group and playing guitar, and I see David and Jason a lot because of work and college group, I still value getting to spend tonight with them not doing anything related to church. And I got to hang out with Adam and Andre, who I very rarely get to see, and Joel, a dear old friend who I also never get to see and miss hanging out with.
There was no drama, there was just genuine fun and comfortability being with them. Not that there’s ever really a lot of drama but it can happen, especially when you combine guys and girls of a similar age together. Throw in some hormones and add some new friendships to the mix and feelings can get hurt (mine) and people can be horribly misunderstood (me) and nicknames can be given that truly piss me off (me – oh wait, I already specified that). Seriously, it’s not okay, even if you find it funny, to nickname a friend “genital.” I laugh those things off because I know it’s not meant to be something mean but it can be hurtful, particularly when everyone starts calling you that. Someone please cue the bwah bwah bwah from the trumpet. That’s how I feel about it. (say that last sentence again but in an Eeyore voice). As much as I hate that nickname, please feel free to call me awesome, or wonderful, or funny, or Jenn. I respond really well to Jenn!
So, at the end of the day today, what nuggets of awesomeness am I left with? Even though I love my friends, I hate their nicknames for me. I love the nicknames God gives me though, such as beautiful daughter, beloved one, precious, etc. I love my friends even if I don’t get to see them that often. I’m so happy God has brought me into the ministries I’m involved in. Anjelah Johnson is one of the funniest gals around and I will never get tired of hearing “nail salon.” And I like turtles and T. Swift vs Carrie Underwood mashups and singing/playing guitar/goofing around with my friends.
Oh and in case you missed it, the foul language I was referring to starting with a “p.” 😉
Peace, love, and vanilla bean ice cream!
PS I got told by 3 different people at work today that I look 21. Hearing that always cushions the “getting old” blow a bit. Yes, I deal with vanity from time to time when it comes to my age. Seriously, prayers are appreciated. Sometimes I think God uses people like that to tell me that my age is literally just a number and I’m not limited by that number and I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
Today I was praying and I got a really weird but oddly sweet image. While praying, I saw a human heart that was like a sponge and it was soaking full of water. Then a man wrung all the water out of the heart and it was left dry and fluffy. I then saw myself as a little girl, hugging the heart close to my body and swaying side to side. I don’t know why this made me feel like I have hope that I will find love some day?
All day at work I felt a pretty strong sense of being loved. It was interesting. I’m pretty out of touch with my feelings when it comes to liking someone and I can almost never tell if someone else has feelings for me unless they’re really blunt about it so I’m not sure if my weird lovey dovey feelings have to do with me having a dumb crush on someone or if it’s something else. Regardless, I felt really in touch with God today and a really strong sense that He was with me. That was awesome!
Then, when I was leading worship tonight at Acton Rehab, I felt so overwhelmingly connected to God and head over heals in love with Him. It was as is He were a real person standing right in front of me and I was singing these songs of love and adoration directly to Him. It was beautiful and bittersweet. I really do love God but He knows that I need human connection too. I love feeling in love and I love God’s love because it is completely unconditional and absolutely perfect but I also want the experience of imperfect, messy human love and all that it entails. But, for at least a few hours, I felt like I was in a loving, romantic relationship.
True, authentic worship awakens your soul and sets your heart on fire with love for God and love for others. It makes the sky seem more blue, the flowers look prettier, you feel as if you’re floating on clouds, and you’re more patient with people and kinder towards others. God’s love is absolutely perfect, amazing, transforming, sustaining, life giving, and uplifting. I’m thankful that, while I don’t have any romantic love between me and a man, I at least have the perfect love that God can give me. It sustains me in ways that no human relationship alone can. In fact, I don’t see how any of my relationships would last without God’s love. I just hope that, some day soon, God will allow me to have the love of a man who I too will be in love with. For now, my heart beats for God alone!
(Photo Credit: Jarrid Wilson)