I've been trying to do it right

I’ve always had a secret dream to be the person who picks music for television or movies.  That person who finds obscure covers or indie bands whose songs will perfectly compliment the rise and falls of this or that character’s story line.  The perfect piano riff into the scratchy voice that will accompany the main character’s “aha moment.”  The fast violin line that will express the hurry of a man running to catch up to the love he’s about to lose.  I’m a sucker for that perfect song that accompanies a perfect cinematic moment. 

But because I do not get paid to discover music or orchestrate emotional moments in the lives of fictional characters – I am stuck doing it for myself and my own life.  I have (in my humble opinion) mastered the art of a perfect mix.  What started off as mix tapes and transitioned into mixed CDS and has now become playlists – I have spent an insane amount of time creating mixes to match a season of life. 

One genre of mix that I have become particularly good at has been the Relationship Mix.  A list of songs that sums up my relationships, more specifically, the romantic ones.  From first meeting to the bitter end, I end up stumbling upon the perfect song to describe each stage of each relationship I’ve ever been in.

I stock pile these mixes with descriptive names- The Demise of Alexander, The Patrick That Got Away, The Whatever Happened with Bill, and the “Darn” You Scuba Steve Mix.  (Names obviously changed because, well, this is the internet.)

Everyone once in a while, a song will play through the speakers and I am almost immediately transported back to that relationship.  I feel the feelings I had in that moment.  I see his face and I wonder if I made the right choices.  When I’m feeling extra vulnerable, I think about why it went the way it did.  Because I’m human – I’m a single female that sometimes gets lonely and wishes that I had someone – anyone – beside me at this event or that person’s birthday party.  I’m a normal thirty year old woman who sometimes hates being the third (or fifth) wheel. 

It’s in those moments when remembering the entirety of the mix is helpful.  Because I can mentally skip to the end of the playlist.  I can remind myself that there was a reason that it ended.  There was an incompatibility that existed.  The ever clear reminder that he wasn’t ready, or I wasn’t ready. 

It’s almost like therapy for me, mentally cataloging the ebbs and flows of these relationships. Because while I was still in the relationship or shortly afterwards, I’ve done the work of asking hard questions, of digging into what really happened.  I’ve created this mix in my mind that sums up my personal experiences so that later on, when I’m struggling, I can look back and remember.  I can learn from my mistakes and I can move forward instead of dwelling on the past. 

So here are a few tips to help you make you’re own lists:

Don’t force it: keep your ears open

Don’t go searching for the music to accompany your story.  Simply keep your ears open and your feelings honest.  When you hear a song that resonates – take note.  It’s the small subtle tug on your heart strings.  Especially when you least expect it and suddenly you are feeling all the feels.

Take artistic freedom

Sometimes you are the one singing but sometimes you are the one being sung to.  Once I was jamming to a Taylor Swift hit when I suddenly realized that no matter how badly I wanted to identify with the scorned Taylor, if I was being honest, I was the one who needed to be reminded it was time to let it go.  The songs don’t have to fit completely in they way they were intended, it’s okay to interpret a little for yourself.

An honest mix is a subjective mix

Once you finish your mix, don’t forget it’s only one side of the story.  Don’t try to share it – especially with your ex.  This is meant for you – to help you heal.  Others won’t fully understand the way you want them to.  You may be tempted because it may help them understand you better, but take it from someone who has had that go terribly wrong, just keep it to yourself.

I have faith that I won’t be alone forever.  That someday in the future I’ll have a mix that never ends, just keeps growing with new memories and experiences.  But for now, I have this list of mixes that help me to understand myself better.  That help me to see what has been good, what has been bad.  They help me remember what I want, what I’m looking for and help me to never settle for less than I deserve. It helps me to not feel alone in any particular moment.  In the ups and downs of all these relationships I have found someone who gets it – someone who has experienced that moment and has lived to write a song about it. 

as the days keep turning into night

This has been one crazy week of ministry.  It’s been up and down emotionally speaking but through it all, God has shown me some great moments of beauty, community and faithfulness.  I’ve been a bit busy to write, but I’ll try to catch up. #famouslastwords
This week’s #FridayFive topic is The Ways You are Nailing Motherhood – which doesn’t necessarily apply to me, so I thought instead I’d go back a week and write on last week’s prompt.  I still encourage you to go over to Mrs. Disciple and read some of the posts in this week’s link up!
So here’s last week’s #FridayFive:

Five Days I Would Live Again

April 24, 2016

IMG_4065I’ll start with the most recent.  This past Sunday was our Confirmation Sunday.  We confirmed 11 students and baptized one of them as well.  Part of the service was them each sharing their faith.  A few months ago I had given them a paper outlining some questions they could answer and I encouraged them to get creative.  My hope with this many confirmands was that they would each show our congregation a bit of who they are as individuals.  That God’s creativity in creation would shine through them.   And it sure did.  They each prepared their testimonies in their own way: we had videos, songs, slide shows of photography, drawings, some comedic relief.  They did an amazing job and I wish I could relive that service, that day of celebration again and really take it all in.  I’m so proud of each of them!

November 25, 2015

IMG_3123This one day could actually be a number of days – any days that I get to spend with my nieces are days to relive.  But this one was particularly fun.  I had just flown in that morning, these two greeted me at the airport with a hand made sign.  Once we got lunch and back home, I took them to the park – well two parks because they couldn’t decide between the two.  Then we went for ice cream.  I can count on one hand the amount of days I’ve spent with them when they haven’t fought but that day they were like best of friends.  It was a day filled with laughter, sunshine and plenty of “look at me Tia!” Not pictured is going to pick up the baby who came running into my arms the moment she saw me.

April, 2000

I don’t have a picture, or a specific date for this one – but it’s the day I first met my goddaughter.  Her mom had just adopted her and they made their first visit to see us, it was also the weekend she was baptized.  The weekend I first became a godmother.  The day they flew in we were waiting at their gate.  My aunt was carrying  all their bags from the plane so the Goddaughter was walking.  The minute she saw us she shrunk behind her mom.  She wasn’t quite ready for us but it was a busy airport so my aunt told me to pick her up to walk to baggage claim.  She stared at me like I was an alien.  She cried for her mom.  It wasn’t until we were in the car and I offered her a sip of my iced tea did she warm up to me.  The rest of the day she loved me.  It all started with some Arizona Iced Tea.

December 2ish, 2011

DSCN0712 Once upon a time two seminarians decided kind of last minute to fly to NYC for the weekend before finals.  We were burnt out for lots of good reasons that year and we needed a weekend of no homework and no drama.  Our friend who shares my name also came and joined us for one of the days.  I would relive that trip times a thousand and every trip to NYC since then.  Every time I go to NYC I learn something new about the city and about myself.   I love that city and I loved running around it with my favorite Roomsmate.

December 16, 2012

IMG_0762 This day. This was what I would consider the beginning of our real friendship.  I remember it so clearly, I had been having a rough couple days and the Kindergarten Teacher (who has since become the One that Moved to Seattle) called me after church and asked if I wanted to go get lunch.  Then we went to Target and wandered the aisles.  It was the first of many many lunches with her and her husband on Sunday afternoons.  Afternoons spent wandering through stores, going to movies, living life together.  Very few friendships have that starting moment – and this was ours.  Our first selfie and the beginning of a friendship that I miss dearly now that she lives on the West coast.
This was a really fun post to write – there are so many days I’d love to relive.  So many moments that are precious to me, captured through pictures that I keep dear to my heart.  But for now, we’ll stick to these five.

you didn't have to be perfect – not in my neighborhood

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been listening to a podcast called Lead Stories with Jo Saxton and Steph Williams.  Each episode they spend time talking about leadership and answering questions that pertain to leadership.  It’s been a great addition to my rotation and sparks a lot of interesting thoughts.
So in my desire to blog more, I’ve decided to try and do a weekly response to their podcasts that I’ll maybe call Tuesdays in Leadership … for lack of a better name.
Last week’s episode was all about defining leadership and then Jo and Steph asked each other about their earliest experiences with leadership.  It was really cool to hear both of them tell their stories about when and how they began realizing they were leaders – that they had influence over others.
A common thread for the two of them was they had people who pointed out their leadership skills from early on.  Whether it was parents or members of their faith community, they had voices telling them that they were leaders.
Looking back at my early years – it was obvious I was a leader.  I grew up on a street full of kids where I was on the older end.  In the grand scheme of being a kid, it’s only natural to look to the oldest (and loudest) kid as the leader of all the kids.  And I took that role willingly.  I got us all into varying amounts of trouble by pushing the boundaries our parents had set for us.
In those early years, I can see my parents trying to redirect my leadership skills – but as a rambunctious kid it felt more like they were squashing me.  I saw being a leader as a bad thing because I often got punished for it.  In my childhood mind I couldn’t see that they were trying to teach me to use my influence well.  That my punishment was more about my behavior than about my ability to get the support of the neighborhood behind me.
I didn’t really start getting it until I was in middle school.  I had just started dancing and doing theater when the owner of our Performing Arts Center started putting me in charge of little things.  It started with sweeping up or taking stock in the store and built up to helping run the younger kids’ rehearsals.  She invested in me, teaching me how to teach others.  How to be encouraging, how to be stern but not too strict.
Fast forward a few years and cross the country a bit, after I started attending church regularly, I got another chance to lead.  The children’s pastor at my church asked if I wanted to teach Sunday School.  To this day, it blows my mind that she picked me – this 17 year old from a dysfunctional family who had just found Jesus to teach a bunch of Kindergarteners.  I had a small class and it was all mine.  That year was so formative for me.  It started me on the path of ministry that would eventually lead me to here.  Pastor of Christian Formation, calling out leadership in my own students and trying to find ways for them to shine.
Fun fact – those Kindergarteners that I taught are graduating from high school this year.
The thing I love about this podcast is that they continuously go back to the idea that we are all leaders.  We all have influence over others in some realm.  As parents, as older siblings, as friends, as leaders in the church – in unconventional ways and formal ways.
So I encourage you all to think through your earliest memories of becoming a leader.  Who took a chance on you?  Who encouraged you and showed you how to lead?

I'm looking for a mind at work

Oh hey friends, remember me?  The reluctant blogger who can’t seem to keep on a writing schedule?  I’m still here.  Glad you’re still here too… hopefully you’re still here too.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write here.  Mostly because I’m in a season of life that doesn’t allow for a lot of space to write – both physical time and the ability to publish what’s going on around me.  But alas, I’m popping in.
When I’m in seasons like this, where the things I write can’t be published, I like to fill my brain with good things – through my ears.   Which means that this week’s #FridayFive posed by Mrs. Disciple fits right in to where I’ve been setting up camp.

#FridayFive: Five Things I’m Listening To

1. Podcasts

I’ve become a little bit of a podcast junkie.  Is that a thing?  It all started with the Relevant Podcast.  About a year ago I was housesitting and stumbled upon this podcast which I listened to while I walked the dog.  I got hooked by their witty repartee and insightful interviews with people living cool lives.  Now it’s a year later and I’m hooked on podcasts of all kinds.  Most mornings and car rides find me listening to podcasts to fill the silent spaces with meaningful conversation.  It’s almost like I’m tricking my extrovert self into thinking I am constantly surrounded by friends – friends who have cool jobs are and changing the world.  But they also give me a glimpse into worlds that I don’t fully understand.  I try to broaden my horizons through podcasts – purposely listening intently to stories other that my own that will make me a better pastor and friend.
Here are some of my favorites: The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, The Popcast with Knox and Jamie,  The West Wing Weekly.  My friend Nathan just started one called The Why Behind the What that is really good. I also dabble in the Liturgists, and I’m just starting on Lead Stories Podcast.

2. Musicals

I’m on a musical kick right now – I’m not sure what it is about Broadway, but it calls to me.  This recent kick started off with Sara Bareilles’ new musical called Waitress.  She release an album of songs she had wrote for Waitress and they are magical.  Sara has always had the amazing ability to speak to me through her music (actually, let’s be honest – it’s God working through her).  This album is no different.  My favorite songs include: She Used to be Mine, You Matter to Me, and When He Sees Me.  She has been able to capture what it feels like to be single in today’s world.  It’s really magic in song – so very good.
This led me to discover the Hamilton soundtrack.  Also, very good.  Well-written music, innovative, great lyrics and some hip hop influence.  If you haven’t given it a listen, please do so.  And of course there’s all my old standards – Rent, Newsies, Wicked and Legally Blonde.
A subcategory of this one could be “Music that Makes Me Feel”.  It’s a category that I’ve discovered, music that have lyrics that make me think, make me feel, make me challenge myself.  I’m all for a good pop song but if you listen to those lyrics, like really listen, they aren’t provoking much deep thoughts or feelings.

3. Laughter and kind words

There’s this group that I hand out with on Thursday nights.  It’s a group of my youth group parents.  They hang out for one hour every Thursday nights while their daughters are in dance class.  Last year they invited me to join them and I’ve been going ever week since. We all say it’s the best hour of our week, an hour where we just sit around a table and hear life updates, tell stories and enjoy each other’s company.  I treasure this group for two reasons – their legacy of friendship and their willingness to let me in.  This group of parents have been friends for over ten years – when their daughters all met in preschool.  They have this friendship that runs deep and they love each other so tangibly.  It’s beautiful.  If I am ever fortunate enough to have kids, I hope that I find friends like this to walk through their childhood with me.  Secondly, they have let me in so lovingly.  I have learned so much from them in the last year.  About marriage, about raising kids, about friendship – because they have invited me in.
That’s just one group that I spend weekly time with, I’ve really noticed how many people I’m surrounded by constantly that make me laugh and say kind things to me or to others.  I am trying to focus on those moments rather than the ones that cause pain or confusion.

4. The meaning behind the words

Along the same lines, I’ve been trying to see past the surface level of conversations.  It might be a trick of the trade but I have the tendency to be able to pick up on the sentiments behind the words being said.  In a world full of technology, this is getting harder and harder.  We used to say that e-mail was a hard mode of communication because you couldn’t read the emotion behind the words.  Now I’m beginning to think that we no long expect emotions to be behind words.  We’ve lost the ability to read between the lines and really see each other.  Context is subjective, but are we losing the ability to parse conversations?  We take everything at face value.  I’m not sure that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I’m seeing more and more that when I take something at face value, I’m taking it at my face value – what I would mean if I said that sentence.  This means I’m not taking the other’s story into account, I’m assuming everyone thinks and acts like me.
So recently I’m trying to see things through the eyes of others – including my own words.  When I say this – what are they hearing? What am I actually meaning?  This could be the topic of a whole other post (and it just might be) but it’s been an eye opening experience.

5. Myself

My last audible would be my own thoughts.  I’ve been in my head a lot lately and it’s caused me to discover a lot about myself that I didn’t really see before.  I’m sure eventually that will lead to some more posts but I’m starting to see myself more clearly than I had before.  I’ve always had a fairly high level of self awareness, but it seems to be higher these days.  I’m connecting pieces of my story that have created tendencies in myself.  Good, bad and just plain interesting.

What are you listening to?  What’s taking up space between your ears lately?