I don’t have an answer

Along with this blog, I want to write a book about my worship struggle. If I get it out of my mind, into some organized form, all the pieces will fall into place. My heart will feel at ease. I’ll be able to offer answers to those who are struggling.

With these thoughts, I’ve been in hyperdrive the last few weeks, trying to get this project finished. The faster I get done, the faster I can get over this difficult hurdle and get back into glorious, happy worship.

It’s been hard. This is a really tender subject. It’s hard to write about your greatest struggle. I have felt stuck.

Writing this book isn’t going to be a magic fix. It helps put some of those tricky pieces into place, but it’s not going to make it all better.

This is a continual struggle. I will never have all the answers.

I don’t write to make it all better. I write to share my struggles that they may speak to someone who is in the same place, and bring peace that they’re not alone.

I’m not going through this struggle just to get through it, but to become a better person.

To those who are hoping to find answers here, I can’t offer that.

If you’d like to struggle along with me, stick around.

Worship is NOT about me

There’s one thing I have to continually remind myself of about worship.

It’s not about me.

Because worship used to give me warm fuzzies and made me feel close to God, I forget that this is not the point of worship. It’s not about what I get out of it. For the longest time, that is what I’ve subconsciously convinced myself it is all about. If I leave worship feeling filled up and energized, then it accomplished what it was supposed to do. If I walk out feeling like, “Well, that didn’t really do it for me,” then it failed miserably.

Where did that train of thinking embed itself into my brain?

Worship is what I can give to God, not what He’s going to give me.

It’s like I walk into church with arms crossed over my chest, looking at God and saying, “Alright, what are you going to give me today? This better be good. I got up early for this.”

Meanwhile, He sits on His throne, offering me the grace He always offers, and doesn’t smite me down like the spoiled little brat in me deserves. He patiently reminds me yet and yet again that He is the one who should be asking the question, “What are you going to give me today?”

So, I’m going to do my best to ask myself that question. What am I going to give Him today?

It doesn’t mean that I need to be on the front row at worship, jumping up and down and shouting His praise. I’ve already determined that that is not how I genuinely worship.

In my case, I think this will involve softening my heart and not being so judgmental during church. Choosing to see His beauty in everything that surrounds me, and being thankful that He is all around me.

What are you going to give Him today?

You Are a Writer book review

This post is not about worship. Consider it a bonus post. I had a chance to write a review for a book by an author I’ve quickly come to admire. I’ve been reading Jeff Goin’s writing blog for several months and love the way he challenges and pushes his readers to be better writers. When he put all of his great advice together into a book, I knew I had to read it.

For about a year now, I have been actively pursuing some dreams and goals in my life. One of these goals has involved writing. I never really considered myself a writer. It was simply something I did on the side. I journaled frantically in an effort to sort through thoughts in my mind, and blogged occasionally to put my thoughts out there for the few readers I had to see. But beyond that, I didn’t have anything to show that I was a writer.

Until I started to feel that I had something to say, and it needed to be said.

I started out clumsily on my writing journey, doing the best I could and struggling through. I still didn’t see myself as a writer and would normally call myself an “aspiring writer.” I mean, I had no published work, so what business do I have to call myself a real writer?

In the first few pages of You Are a Writer, I read:

We sabotage our work and subvert our genius… With words. Subtle but serious words that kill your passion before you can pursue it. Words like “aspiring” and “wannabe.”


A few pages later, Jeff urged me to pick up a pen and write down these words.

I am a writer.

Writing those words was, and is, freeing. It encouraged me to stop downplaying my work and be proud of what I was creating.

The thing I love most about the book is the balance that Jeff places on writing for the love of writing, and yet still pushing yourself by putting yourself out there. The first step to writing is to remember why you’re doing it. You’re doing it for the passion of writing, because as a writer, you can’t not write. The second step is to continually challenge and push yourself in your writing. Put it out there for people to see. Blog. Submit work for publication. Give yourself deadlines.

Jeff gives effective and sound writing advice. He sets achievable goals and offers creative ways to put yourself out there. He encourages the reader to build a community of support, and shows you tools that help you become a more effective writer. He gently encourages and yet gives that realistic wake-up call that writing is not easy. It takes hard work and discipline.

The book showed me the things I need to continue working on; building my platform and brand, and shipping my work and being ready for failure. Failure I am not ready for. But if I want to be a better writer, it’s time to thicken my skin a little and submit my work for criticism.

I recommend this book for anyone who has ever thought of writing but doesn’t know where to begin, for the amateur blogger that wants to do something more with his art, and for writers that have years of experience under their belt. I believe this book will encourage you to move forward and remind you that no matter how much you may not feel like it, you are a writer.

We are all hoping something we do in this world matters. That what we create will stay with people forever.

You can buy the book here, or get more information about it here.





Faith is like a marriage

When my husband and I were first dating, I was enraptured with him. I spent every possible minute I could with him and just relished being near him, holding his hand, and cuddling next to him. I got butterflies in my stomach every time he flashed that cute little grin my way.

I showed love to him with poetry, love notes left on his windshield, and dressing up cute.

Now, almost four years into our marriage, some of that has slightly changed.

I am still enraptured with him. I love him deeply and tell him that everyday (he usually tells me about ten times a day) and kiss him goodnight every night.

But I’ve found that now I show love to him in different ways. Although I occasionally write poetry and leave love notes for him, the more constant way I show love is to keep the house clean and try to have a decent dinner on the table. It may not be as glamorous as our dating days, but it’s still love.

My relationship with God is a lot like that.

When I first became intentional about my faith, I loved spending time with God. I ate up His Word and loved spending time in prayer. Worship music filled me up as I sang love songs to my Savior. It was like the courtship stage.

Now, I’m a little more settled in my faith and things have changed. I’m not always looking for that intense, dramatic, spiritual experience. Like so many moments in my marriage, I’m content chilling on the couch next to God while we watch a movie together. I know He’s with me, and sometimes that’s enough.

Now, I do tend to err on the side of lazy. Just like I could make more of an effort to still look cute for my husband (I know he’s grown tired of the yoga pants he always comes home to) I could make more of an effort to spend time with God and focus on Him. Just because I’m not a rookie Christian anymore doesn’t mean I can slack off.

Like marriage goes through stages, I believe faith does as well. Those flowery worship songs that once spoke to me are not necessarily going to speak to me in my new walk of faith.

It’s time to find new ways to love on my God.

How I wish the church would celebrate Easter

I was about twelve before I even knew that Easter was about Jesus. He got swallowed up in colored eggs and green plastic grass and black jellybeans that I would pawn off on my Dad. I remember sitting in church one day and for whatever reason I was actually listening to the pastor. I heard him speak of Jesus rising from the dead and he said, “This is why we celebrate Easter!”

I was shocked. It wasn’t about candy? I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t clued into it before.

Since then I’ve tried to focus more on Jesus and thank Him for what He did for me. I mean, you don’t rise from the dead everyday.

This year, Easter was a struggle for me. For many reasons, I’ve been battling exhaustion, and the thought of joyfully celebrating was more than I could take. It’s not that I don’t want to thank Jesus. I just don’t want to thank Him with loud music and deafening “Hallelujahs!”

I think I also struggled with the fact that Easter seems to have become no more than a chance to impress the unchurched. Let’s put on our Sunday finest (or not, since we want to impress the “come as you are” group), choose our best music, preach our best sermon, and see if we can’t get these darned C&E Christians to stay put for once.

Not that that’s not a valiant effort. Reaching out to the unchurched is important and one of the things we’re called to. But I long for something more, something real, something down-in-the-dirt, something Jesus would have done kind of thing.

I stumbled across this article last week and thought, “This is the kind of thing I want to take part in.”

Please read the article if you have time. It’s a sweet story pulled from a book, and reading it makes me want to be a part of that church. Doing what they did makes me sweaty and nervous just thinking about it, which means it’s probably something that needs to be done.

There is a part two to the story, and it’s also worth a read if you have time.

I hope you had a blessed Easter.

Why worship shouldn’t always take place in the walls of the church

A friend sent me this video this week.

I hope that you will watch the entire thing. I am so ashamed to admit that when I started the video and saw a homeless man walk up, my first thought was it was a desperate cry for attention or money. But when his sweet Jamaican accent started singing, “Hallelujah is the highest praise!” all the cynicism in my heart melted.

I read the summary below the video on youtube, and apparently Carlos Whittaker (a pastor, worship leader, artist, and creative thinker that has caught my attention at his blog) was trying to shoot the EPK for his record. While recording, Danny, a homeless man, walked up, bowed down, and started singing his own praise. Instead of shooing him away so they could continue their video, Carlos kept on playing and singing along. Danny jams along, making up his own words and singing at the top of his lungs to God.

At the end of the video, Carlos hugs him and there is some dialogue that is hard to hear. This is what they say.

Carlos: “Keep trying to make it man.”

Danny: “Trying to make it? No man. I ain’t trying to make it. I’m making it. Jah puts His soldiers everywhere. Jah says, Yea though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. So He places some of us in that valley.”

I think one of the things that gets me so frustrated about worship is always doing it within the walls of the church. We’re comfortable there and there’s no dirty homeless person to make us feel icky. We’re surrounded by people that are in our social and economic class and are all clean and well groomed. It’s safe.

I am totally guilty of this. My heart absolutely goes out to homeless people, but honestly, they scare me. Part of this is because I’m a skinny, scrawny white girl and I’m scared for my life. But I still long to help them.

I’d love to take worship outside the walls of the church and meet some people that make me uncomfortable. Not make it a big stage and light show but have it be about pure worship. Meet some people like Danny that amaze me, inspire me, and scare me.

Do you have any ideas how we could take worship outside the church?


I’ve shared a couple songs that I’ve written here, and hope to continue to do so. However, not all my songs are going to involve worship and therefore will not fit here.

I’ve created a youtube channel to post all my attempts at songwriting. For those interested in my continued efforts, please visit my channel and subscribe.

Also, I’m honored to be “featured” on Save the Artist‘s website. This is a great site that seeks to encourage and inspire artists of all sorts: musicians, writers, photographers, illustrators, graphic designers; you name it. If you have a creative side, I’d encourage you to check out their site. While you’re there, check out the sweet post they put up about my first song, You Are. I did a double take when I read “up-and-coming songwriter.” Sometimes I feel like I’m still not a real songwriter, so I was honored to read this. Many thanks to their support of my work. If you have creative work that you’d like to contribute to their community page, let them know.

Thanks for your support!

Serving in the shadows

Sometimes I resent being the one with the voice. If I’m with people who know I can sing, they always insist that I be the one to lead Happy Birthday. Like they’re not all going to drift into five different keys after I start. Or someone who finds out I’m a singer and then asks me to sing them something, on the spot. Like I should have a song and dance up my sleeve for just such an occasion. It makes me want to break into something like, “THIS IS THE SONG THAT DOESN’T END….”

When my husband and I decided to take a mission trip as newlyweds I was so excited I could barely stand it. I signed up for the Vacation Bible School portion of the trip while my husband chose the construction team (working with kids is not his forte and digging in the mud is not mine). We had other mission opportunities together later in the week, but for the first part we went our separate ways.

After spending three years with the African Children’s Choir, I envisioned teaching an amazing Bible lesson and converting hispanic children. Okay, maybe not. But I did think I’d be able to teach. I did spend three years coming up with kid-appropriate devotion lessons for African kiddos.

Did I teach? Nope.

I was assigned to singing. I got to be the opening act. In Spanish. I learned several obnoxious children’s worship songs in Spanish. And then stood up in front of about fifty Nicaraguan children and taught it to them. Yippee.

All together now! “Yo tengo gozo, gozo, gozo, gozo, en mi corazon….”

I can still hear it in my sleep sometimes.

It wasn’t all bad, and when I just rolled my eyes and threw everything I had into it, I actually had a little fun. The kids really enjoyed it too.

I love singing, but sometimes I like to serve my God in other ways. I actually enjoy some time out of the spotlight. Serving in the shadows often feels more worshipful than being on stage.

I enjoy being in the sound booth helping with the graphics and powerpoint. (I gained a whole new respect for sound and graphic peeps after that.) I also enjoy helping in the kitchen. Cooking for a couple hundred people is a great way to worship, fellowship, and serve. I spent a few hours one afternoon elbow deep in subs, scrubbing a few hundred potatoes. I loved it.

Is there a place you like to serve or worship in the shadows?

Birthday prayer

This past weekend, I celebrated my thirty-third birthday. I am starting to get old. I can tell because I’m having to stop and think exactly how old I am. That never happened in my twenties. I always knew. Now, I have to stop and subtract in my head.

My current day job is an activities assistant in a retirement community. (For those wondering what I do, I play games and help plan parties. That pretty much sums it up.) A retirement facility is a great place for anyone who is starting to feel old but is still under 65. In my residents’ eyes, I am a baby. They tell me that every chance they get.

The day after my birthday, one of my residents stopped me to wish me a happy birthday. She grabbed my hands and held them tight as her beautiful face wrinkled up even more into a big smile. She asked me, “May I say a birthday prayer for you?’

I smiled and told her I’d love that. Without skipping a beat, she started right into the prayer.

“Watch over thy child, O Lord, as her days increase; bless and guide her wherever she may be. Strengthen her when she stands; comfort her when discouraged or sorrowful; raise her up if she fall; and in her heart may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of her life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

This sweet 89 year old is actually a twin, and her identical twin sister lives with her. They go everywhere together and are simply referred to as “The Twins.” They wear mismatched clothes (I might too when I’m 89), and always have a kind word to say to anyone they meet. Every morning, they drive themselves to church. They’ve been faithful Episcopalians for their entire life, I’m sure, and will often share one of the Episcopalian prayers with someone who needs encouragement or uplifting.

Their faith encourages me. They know and believe in their God and His promises. They trust Him, and they love life. Their faith flows effortlessly out of them.

This is what I long for in my faith. I’m tired of struggling and feeling frustrated. I want to just rest in God’s truth and let that be enough. I want what she prayed over me.

But perhaps those sweet ladies struggled too when they were thirty-three and it just took them some fifty-plus years to get to the depth that their faith has reached.


Heaven doesn’t always sound so wonderful

Christians get a glossy look in their eyes when they talk about heaven.

“We’re going to be worshiping God… forever!” as they let out a contented sigh.

I feign excitement. “Yay!” In my head, I’m thinking, “An eternity of mediocre worship songs? Oh joy…”

We’re going to get to heaven and worship God forever. If that involves the raising of hands and the singing of Chris Tomlin songs, I gotta be honest. It doesn’t sound so appealing.

I’m excited to get to heaven. I know it’s going to be way cooler than anything I can even fathom. I know it’s not going to be an eternal church service (thank God) and that my mind will not be able to comprehend what it will be like. But sometimes it seems we’ve turned into one big worship party.

I love singing and hope to do a lot of it in heaven. But an eternity of it? An eternity of what my mind is currently comprehending worship to be? Hmmm, not so much. I think there will be plenty of other things going on in heaven. How about jamming with Jesus? I’d love to hear Him play guitar. That could be fun.

I remember hearing a quote on the radio one day. My friend Emily reminded me that it was Keith Green. The image it created in my head stuck out to me. Here’s the gist of what it said:

“God spent seven days creating and preparing earth. He has spent thousands and thousands of years preparing the new earth. When I look at the beauty He created in seven days, I can’t wait to see what amazing things He has waiting for us.”

That does give me tingles. Sure, there’s the argument that God is outside of space and time, but I still believe He’s taking His time making our next home something amazing.

Question: What things would you like to see in heaven? Have you ever felt unexcited about the typical heaven picture that’s been painted?