Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Notebook of Songs

 {Written last night - excuse me - this morning.}
     It’s 1:15am as I sit here, writing this on a fresh Word document, and I am filled with a sense of accomplishment. It’s official: my song notebook is full. Just writing those words brought a thrill to me as I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact. 75 standard notebook size pages of rough drafts of my songs. It’s humbling and amazing at the same time.

 I vividly remember sitting in my bedroom in third grade and writing my first song and what an incredibly horrible song it was! It had an unoriginal melody and the words were as corny as corny could get. Yet my mom put it in our family Christmas letter that year and I was so incredibly proud of my work.

 I already know that many of the songs in the notebook that I’ve used since last fall aren’t very good. In fact, a dozen come to mind and make me frustrated at the thought, but then I think of some of the growth and it excites me. It’s not that even my good songs right now are really that good, but it’s the idea that I’m growing and it’s going to get better the more I work at it. You never know, with persistence and dedication, maybe someday I’ll have one amazing song.

 But more then amazing songs, songwriting is just a way for me to put a piece of my soul onto paper. Every song is a piece of me and it makes me scared to put it out for other people to critique because it’s like putting myself out there. My brother Sam, who is an amazing songwriter, reminded me this fall that it’s something that you “just have to get over” if you ever want to excel in the art. Songs aren’t meant to be kept to yourself, but they are meant to touch people in a special way.

 All gifts are from God, including songs that fill our heads and come out our lips. I for one don’t want to be an ungrateful servant who does nothing with what God has given me. My brother would say that he doesn’t try to write “Christian” music but rather he writes “whatever songs God gives me”. And they don’t do anything sitting in a computer or notebook except help yourself.

 So anyway, in honor of filling up a notebook and needing to buy a new one, I’ll share some of my songs on my blog. (EEEK! Did I seriously just say that???) Though the idea sort of freaks me out (okay, it really freaks me out), I’ll do it. Feel free to critique, but please… be kind!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Battle of Modesty

Ever since I can remember, my little sister has had a pretty decent amount of discretion about modesty for someone who is mildly mentally disabled. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “that’s not a-poa-pea-et” (appropriate) when she sees a woman scantily clad.
 As a girl, when you are young, modesty sounds just as simple as that. Up until we reach that fateful day when we move into the junior’s department, our biggest choice we make about modesty is to choose a one piece or tankini over the bikini. Then, we reach adolescences and everything changes and we slowly begin to see that modesty of dress gets so incredibly complicated.
 At first, all that’s dangled before us are tank tops and camisoles that are cut a little too low, and shorts that are a little too short. Then, slowly things begin to pile on. We start noticing women and teens that are oh so beautiful and what they’re wearing is oh so cute but covers less then desired. Our friends start to talk about cute undergarments and the clothes at every single clothing store get more immodest and more alluring.
 Then, the older we get, the worse it gets as we are attacked with pushup bras, plunging necklines, miniskirts, short shorts, thongs, low rise skinny jeans that cut off the circulation in your legs, tight t-shirts, and bikinis that are the only swimsuits that are cute. In addition, we are faced with a world of men that drool when Victoria's Secret commercials come on the TV, that fall head over heals into lust with the hot girls with the great bods, and that make fun of us and are downright cruel if we have any value of modesty or purity.

 We live in a world that tells us our value is in our sex appeal and without it we are worthless.

 I don’t think guys realize the war that Christian girls face when it comes to modesty. Every time we go into a store, see a magazine, turn on the TV, we are told that we are stupid. Every time we see a cute shirt that would look amazing on our body but know it would lead other men astray, we are fighting a never-ending battle. Shopping can seem like torture as we tear through the racks of clothing to find something that we wont feel half naked wearing but will still be cute.
      We as women want men to see us as desirable and beautiful and we want other women to desire to be us. Above all, we want to be loved. The desire that we have to be cherished, worthy of admiration, and loved runs deep within our veins. That’s why the romance genre of books and movies does so well. We want that. We want a guy to be so crazy about us that he can’t seem to get us out of his mind. We want a fairy tale with a man that will do anything for us.
 Yet we live in a world that tells us the only way to turn a man’s head, let alone his heart, is to be sexy. I wonder how many thousands of girls and women have cried themselves to sleep because they bought the lie and eventually they found out that the men whose heads are turned by flirting and miniskirts will only use them for sex, then dump them without a care. How many other girls have cried them selves to sleep because of mean and derogatory words from men when they didn’t look like they stepped off the cover of a fashion magazine?

The Temptation to Give In

    Sometimes it seems like a hopeless battle to even try to fight. With the lies constantly, from every angle, shouting at us relentlessly to give in, we are so often tempted to just buy the stupid shirt that might finally give us some attention from men. It seems like we are doing it all for nothing when we look around and we don’t see many guys that aren’t staring at the chest of a cleavage-baring woman.
     We are told by the Christian world that modesty will pay off; that someday a man with cherish us for that modesty, but we take a look around our schools, our communities, even our churches, and we wonder where those guys are. I’ve been privileged to know guys that are like that, but so many other girls haven’t met a single man with the integrity to look away from the bra commercial as it blares across the TV screen. It doesn’t seem worth it.

 Fighting Together for Holiness

      Men and women need to ultimately work together on the issues of modesty and lust. Guys have their responsibility to fight off their lustful passions and women have a responsibility not to stir up those passions. And if guys feel that women need to be modest, and at the same time oogle over the bodies of immodest women, we view the guys as complete hypocrites and feel utterly betrayed. The more that men work the fight off lust, the easier it is to be modest and the more that women are modest, the easier it for men to have pure thoughts.
     Instead of slamming each other for failing, we need to be helping one another in this battle of sexuality and purity that rages around us. We need to point out when we see someone else doing well and if they are of the opposite gender and it’s appropriate to do so, to thank them. If you have siblings, the opportunities are plentiful. Guys, tell your sisters when they look cute and also when they are dressing immodestly because we don’t always realize it. And girls, let’s give our bros high fives every time they turn away from the Victoria's Secret commercial or the magazine in the checkout line.
     We really can’t do this on our own. Because if all guys are consumed with lust, many of us girls will just plain give up because it’s hard and doesn’t always seem worth the effort. And if all girls are immodest, then it makes it even harder for guys to not give into viewing women as a piece of meat. And above all we need God. There is no other way that we can refuse the natural and strive for the heavenly. 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

North Dakota

 The smell of nostalgia hangs heavily in the air and the wind whips around you as you try to keep two feet firmly planted on the ground. You look around to see three feet of snow piled up in yards with drifts that can go above your head or right down to your toes so you can faintly see the grass beneath the snow. When you look our onto the horizon, you see lots and lots of flat land, dotted with patches of trees, as far as the eye can see. It's a strange, twisted sort of beauty that tries to fill your mind with both peace and madness at the same time. When it comes right down to it, it's simply North Dakota.

  More to come soon...

Friday, January 8, 2010



 That's one word to describe the insanity that these last three weeks have been. The first two weeks of Christmas break were stuffed full of celebrating Christmas, church events, hanging with my big bro, and time with friends. Then this last week I've technically not been of a break from school but was on "vacation" visiting my grandma in North Dakota (pictures to come later) and all I got done for school was one chapter in my history book. Epic fail there.

 Part of the reason for the craziness is that as of January 1st, my dad/family are official church planters for the EFCA. The last two weeks of December were full of "lasts" and my dad tying up loose ends and doing his best to finish well. Now we are going to be visiting five churches in the next four weeks (all of them about an hour or more away... which means early wake up calls on Sunday mornings) as part of our support raising. We are already amazed at what God is doing and even though we aren't exactly sure when our next official pay check is coming, we have a God who will provide.

 It's a terrifying yet breathtakingly exciting journey stepping out into the unknown, but God is with us. My dad preached on the 27th at Chisholm Baptist, probably for the last time, and he preached on Hebrews 11:32-40. He talked about how we as a family don't know if we are going to be in the group of people that stepped out in faith and conquered, or the group that was sawed in two. We prefer the former, but even if we end up in the latter, God still is faithful and the ending is up to Him.

 So that's what's going on right now, or at least part of it. What's next? Only God knows. But I'm going along for this crazy ride and holding on tight to the fact that He knows what He's doing. And attempting to stay my wacky self through all of it. But I doubt that will be a challenge. It may just make me even more insane, but that's fine with me.

(The picture is from my photography walk in chilly North Dakota this week. A tiny old town provides a lot of good photo opportunities and I'll share them with you soon.)