Man oh man do I have the travel bug right now! I blame the #STARTexp and #SS peeps. They all live all around the world and that makes me want to visit all of them! People say a lot of stuff about how horrible facebook can be but, honestly, I’ve found more community in that group than I have in some other areas of my life. They’re a great group of super supportive people who only wan to be uplifting, encouraging, compassionate, silly, and sarcastic with one another. It’s loads of fun!
But I’m soooo bummed that I can’t travel to see them all. I already have a friend who lives in Atlanta who I want to visit so there’s the whole “I want to go to Atlanta” bit. Then, there’s the allure of the white sand beaches and the crystal clear water of Florida that makes me wanna fly there and visit real bad! Seriously, I would go to Florida tomorrow if I had $700 for my plane ticket and transportation money and money to stay in a hostel. Hint hint…my birthday is coming up soon after all. Want to fund a trip to Florida for me?
And then there’s Nashville, TN!!!! Oh to be in the land of soooo much amazing music and talented musicians and rich culture. Not to mention the whole Start Conference going on this weekend. But I wouldn’t even care if I couldn’t go…I just want to be in that city!!! Granted, my musical talent is no where near the caliber of all those musicians but I would love to try and hang with them and catch some concerts.
And Colorado…oh how you tempt me with all your beauty. Portland, OR is always going to be my go-to city to visit because I love oh so much!!!! And hello…I would get to meet Genevieve West there and see Xavier and get some more tattoos! Dude…Portland is me just without the beach (which I would miss like I miss now but obviously I got used to being so far away).
And, as boring as it may seem, I really want to visit the midwest. I’d like to go back to Dayton, OH and see where I lived for a year. That year held so much pain and so many trials but I really want to see the good in it and not just remember all the pain.
I want to go to Texas so I can visit my original #STARTexp partner, Sarah! She’s awesome and I want to get to know her in real life.
There’s a million other places I would like to visit (Thailand, Belfast, Italy, France, Spain, Greece, South Africa, etc) but I’ll have to be content with just going to San Francisco in less than a month. I am really looking forward to going. I can’t wait to see my BFF Bethany and, hopefully getting to meet a few STARTers.
If you don’t know what the #STARTexp is, you should google it and look into how to get in on this awesome ride! And read #allthebooks by Jon Acuff too! It’s really changed my life and I can see a little bit more of what God has in store for me in the future. I’ve gotten bolder and stronger in my faith and I feel God’s presence more than ever before.
I love it and I love all of the my #SS friends! Hopefully we will get to be 3D friends sometime soon!
PS Here’s a link for the song I put on YouTube. There isn’t a picture, it’s just black with audio because all I’m working with is an iPhone. 😉
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.
You know how it is when you want something so bad that you know you’re just trying to hard and that’s why it’s not happening?
That’s happening to me now.
At least I had fun taking selfies after I played guitar for an hour and a half! The dogs are not impressed though. I don’t think they’re big fans of guitar playing. The big one (who’s ironically named Chico) tends to start barking at me when I play songs open and in the Key of D or G. Go figure!
Photo bomb time!!!!
So my bestie forwarded me an email about punching fear in the face and joining a revolution of people who are setting a goal and working towards achieving that goal, no matter how scary it might be or how crazy it may seem.
So naturally, I decided to face my biggest fear and challenge myself to write songs. Only three songs though since three doesn’t seem super intimidating to me. I can’t decide whether or not to just make them all worship songs or what kind of music I actually want to write. I know I want it to be of the indie folk-rock kinda scene-ish persuasion but we’ll see how it comes out.
Here’s the scariest part…once I’m done writing the songs, I’m going to play them for people! Eeeeeek!!! At least I have some poetry to kinda fall back on and work into songs. The hardest part so far seems to be coming up with strumming patterns that don’t sound like other songs I know. Maybe that’s why so many worship songs sound similar? We worship leaders get used to playing other people’s music and then write stuff that sounds the same-ish?
Idunno. But anyways I’ve now publicly announced to my partner and to everyone who reads my blog that this is my goal. So you might be able to expect some non professional sorta crummy demos to be posted in about a month and a half or so.
Now it’s time for bed. I feel like an old person. I got home after work and was so tired, I feel asleep before 9pm! Oops. Now I’m up and I need to try to sleep instead of staying up reading and watching Back to the Future.
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.
So there’s really no excuse for me letting myself down. I made a commitment to this blog and then gave up when life got super busy. There’s really no guarantees that it won’t happen again and again but I can’t try to resurrect this poor old blog.
In short, what happened was I got super busy being a leader of an actual worship team and then found out some rather depressing news about my ex-fiancé that had to do with the fact that he couldn’t keep it in his pants when I wasn’t around 24/7. There’s not enough time right now to go into all the things I’d like to say to him or about the situation so I just won’t.
Then dropped off the face of the earth and have now decided it is time for this to become a reality again. After all, there’s so much that has happened since I stopped writing and so much left to happen in these short last months.
So stay tuned. I hope I won’t disappoint you.
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,
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.