she wouldn’t dance with another

After a recent visit to a local record store, I thought it was time to revisit some of the records I’ve obtained from my dad’s collection.  When I moved into my first (solo) apartment and bought my first record player, I made my brother go through our dad’s records over the phone with me and set aside a group of them.  Mostly Beatles, a James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Four Seasons, a B.B. King and others that were nostalgic for me.  He boxed them up and sent them to me.

Tonight I sorted through them, put them in order and pulled out a couple to listen to while I cooked dinner and got myself ready for the week.  First a Haim record I bought myself right after I moved to MN.  Then the Joni Mitchell because I was curious about it.  Then my favorite Beatles album – A Hard Day’s Night (the movie soundtrack version).  And lastly, Meet the Beatles! (US Version).

As I lay on the floor and listen to John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing over me, I’m instantly transported back to my childhood.  So many evenings and weekends listening to these records with my dad.  Playing air guitar or drums, harmonizing and dancing around the coffee table.  Songs that shaped my early concepts of love – “This Boy,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and of course, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” which I’m convinced began my obsession with holding hands.

Those late night jam sessions with my dad were everything to me.  I’m sure they drove my mom crazy, she was probably more concerned with getting my brother and I to bed at a decent hour.  But my dad would flip that album over, “just one more time.”  We’d get to that one rare song with George Harrison on lead vocals and sing out how we were “happy just to dance with you.”

Those early Beatles albums were full of hopeful love, romantic gestures promising “all my loving” and calling the girl “darling.”  Childhood Alicia only knew of that kind of love.  It was before my friends’ parents started getting divorced.  Before my own first heartbreak and all the ones that came after that.  Before my parents announced their separation and later divorce.

As we walked around that record store the other day, we talked about our top 10 albums.  What were the albums that lasted the test of time in our lives.  It’s hard to name any newer albums because who knows if they are going to continue to have that kind of impact on us.  Are they going to instantly transport me back to a season of life like these Beatles albums?  And what artists had a good few songs and which ones had albums you didn’t skip a single song?

So I listed off the first few that came to my mind.  Obviously A Hard Day’s Night by the Beatles (although I mistakingly called it Can’t Buy Me Love and am tempted to text my friend to correct myself).  Then Jimmy Eat World’s The Middle which instantly takes me to that grey Jeep I first drove around after I got my freedom (aka my driver’s license).  Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers self entitled album was next – few have heard of it but the song “Such a Way” will always by my college anthem and young love aspiration.  I struggled coming up with just one Sara Bareilles album.  Or John Mayer – his albums got me through that awful first year of college (Heavier Things),  my parents’ divorce (Continuum) and my dad’s death (Battle Studies).  Not to mention driving around in my youth pastors’ car to get Starbucks (Room for Squares).

Music just has that effect on some people.  It’s filled with nostalgia and promise.  It shapes the way we see the world, the way we interpret the people and things around us.  Music can help us to voice feelings and emotions that seem impossible to understand.  It can make us feel connected to a bigger story with other characters.  Music has been a home for me in spaces and places where home has felt disjointed or distant.

Someday we can talk about the ways music has led me astray or molded my opinions and outlooks in not so healthy ways, but for now, it’s time to flip the record and listen just one last time.

if it's not too late for coffee…

Over the years I’ve had a lot of musician friends.  As with any type of artistry, when a musician is sharing their passion with you, it’s a beautiful glimpse into their heart.  Tiny moments where they come alive through their music or as they talk about music.
But I’ve never had a friend who is classically trained or plays a classical instrument, like professionally.  One of my youth leaders plays and teaches people how to play the double bass.  She is also a recent transplant to Minnesota so we’ve become exploring friends.  On our adventures we often circle back to music and she explains to me how she feels when she plays music.  She often tells me about playing more contemporary and abstract pieces and hearing her talk about them is so fascinating.
Last night I got the distinct privilege of hearing her play live.  It was enthralling.  And afterwards, as we sat around drinking coffee and eating delicious home-baked goodies, she told us about how it feels to play for people.
She said that she loves getting to share the music with others because so much of her musician life is spent alone.  She plays in her apartment or in a small practice room.  But sharing it live in front of people is what makes her a musician – otherwise it would be a hobby.
She has been given this incredible gift, she’s worked hard to hone it over years of practice and development but it’s a gift from God.  Hearing her talk about what it feels like to share it reminds me that God has given us all gifts.  And when we don’t share those gifts, we’re robbing the world of displays of God’s greatness.  He gives us these great gifts and sometimes we only use them as hobbies.
How can we show off the great Creator through our giftedness in our lives?
*blog title from Copeland’s Coffee

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. 

oh how I need you

God speaks to me through music.  It’s not the only way he speaks to me, but it’s definitely a one of the main ways.  And even as I type this, it seems weird.  It’s always been hard to share what I mean, to put into words this feeling deep in my heart.  But here’s to taking a shot at it.
There are moments, when I’m driving, walking, hanging out – when a song seems to reach out and grab my heart and squeeze.  It’s a literally feeling in my chest that screams Listen to me.  It’s usually when I’m deep in my own thoughts, thinking about this thing, that situation or those decisions that happen in my life.  Staring off as music plays in the background, then suddenly it’s no longer in the background – it’s jumping up and down in front of my eyes telling me to pay attention.
It happened as I was driving home from Boulder one day towards the end of college.  I had been given a choice, move to MI with no guarantee of more than a summer job or start over and find something new.  The song was “Bold Son” by Aaron Espe.  It was a clear message from God – telling me to leap and that He would catch me.  So I leapt and what came after was an internship where I was given the space and the time to heal from my past and step into leadership in a safe place.  An invaluable experience that led to another invaluable experience.
It happened as I was driving to church before my call process, worried about making the right choice.  Praying to God that he would make it abundantly clear, like flashing sign pointing at a map clear.  The song was “I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons.  The message was to wait, to stay faithful in that time but to wait.  The position that I was dreaming of, the church that would be a right fit for me – it was out there, but I needed to wait.  That one took a full two and a half years to come into focus.  But it did eventually, and it was beautiful.  (And no, there was no flashing sign)
It happened last week.  As I was driving in a car with my friends through the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  This one is still not in focus.  All I can tell is that the music was Andrew Belle but I’ve been looking for the song and it’s not there.  The lyric I thought I heard is not on that album – which can only mean it was actually just Jesus telling me what to do. (Which is insanely humbling)  But I don’t know what it means.  I don’t know where it’s going to lead, but it gave me extreme comfort that he sees the situation, and he’s got it.
And it happened just now.  As I was staring off in space, attempting to write a sermon for Sunday.  The song was “Called Me Higher” by All Sons & Daughters.  Reminding me that while yes, I could just sit in the glory of knowing him – but that he has called me higher, he has called me to be a truth teller, a fighter, a communicator, a storyteller and a story listener.  He’s called me higher than I can imagine.  Not towards status in the world’s sense but towards grace in the Kingdom’s sense.
God can use the most unexpected moments, the most unexpected vessels to talk to us.  We see his goodness all around us in nature, in the bible, in others, but when we are seeking answers, seeking encouragement, seeking his direction sometimes we just need to listen to that tug.  To be attentive to the ways he is communicating with us when we least expect it.
So in what ways do you hear from God?  What are the vehicles he uses with you?

and she was like: oh my (word), this is my song

There’s a question that I get asked a lot that I can almost never answer –
“Who’s your favorite artist?”
Part of the reason this is so hard is that I have a hard time picking a favorite of anything – movie, tv show, food, song.  I don’t like having a favorite.
But the other reason I can’t answer this question is that it’s almost impossible for me to pick one.  I think people who ask me that question probably think, she likes music-she could probably narrow it down to one.  Wrong.  I like music so this question is inviting me to either give you an “off the top of my head” list of current faves or my “standards.”  Either way the answer will always be incomplete, if only in my own eyes.
But recently I’ve been qualifying this question with things like – Top 5 Influential Artists to my taste.  Or Top 5 acoustic bands.  You get the hint.
So recently I decided to make a playlist with some of my Top Influential Artists.  Meaning artists who have inspired my own personal taste in music or inspired me personally.  I decided to share it on here so enjoy, maybe look a few of these artists up.
1. You May Be Right by Billy Joel
Billy Joel was a constant in my childhood.  My mom loves his music, plus he’s from New Jersey which is where I grew up for a period of my life.  So there’d be times where he’s singing about a place and I’d be like – I KNOW WHERE THAT IS!  Little pleasures for kids.  I remember singing the line “You may be right!? I may be Crazy!?” at the top of my lungs in the car with my family. Each of us pointing at another person.
2. I Want to Hold Your Hand by the Beatles
Another family favorite – the Beatles.  I recently inherited some of my Dad’s old albums, including all of his Beatles collection.  This band is the cornerstone that my music passion is built on.  And this song especially makes me smile.
3. Chasing the Sun by Sara Bareilles.
This is a current fav of this lady.  Sara B. is one of the first female artists that I fell in love with (you’ll notice she’s nearly alone on this list).  She has an amazing talent for song writing and for making me laugh, reflect and sing out in one album.  Every song of hers is golden but this one is particularly great (at the moment).
4. Love Soon by John Mayer
Yes, I’m that girl.  I love John Mayer.  He’s a great songwriter and I DO NOT apologize for loving his acoustic goodness.  This song was an early favorite and probably a reason that if you give me an acoustic guitar sound with a male voice, chances are I will love the song.
5. The Authority Song by Jimmy Eat World
The other dat the Kindergarten Teacher was over and opened my CD drawer and made the comment that there was a lot of Jimmy Eat World CDs.  That’s because I used to be obsessed with them. I had a more punky edge back in the day and Jimmy Eat World helped me process a lot of teenage angst.
6. Hey Ya by Obadiah Parker
My first ever acoustic cover.  Long before Boyce Avenue and Tyler Ward and other youtube obsessions there was this cover of the Outkast hit.  And I loved it (still do.)
7. Dark Blue by Jack’s Mannequin
Andrew McMahon is a writing genius.  And most often they release a CD that seems to help me process whatever big even is happening in my life at the time.  This song is the perfect late night, windows down song.  The lyrics “this night’s a perfect shade of Dark Blue” is almost always on my mind in the summer.
8. Something to Talk About by Bonnie Raitt
My dad loved some Bonnie Raitt.  And man, this song was on repeat in our house a lot.  I still know all the words and love to sing them out!
9. Melody by Aaron Espe
My friend The Bass Player and I used to say that there was no problem a little Aaron Espe couldn’t fix.  And it’s true.  The way he writes songs and interweaves his faith with the world around him is amazing.  Fast songs, slow songs, songs that hit you in the heart break and songs that make you happy to be alive.  He’s got a little of everything.
10. End and Beginning by Jason Stocker
Jason was one of the first people who showed me what it was like to worship God musically.  Like really worship.  It was with him that I learned to sing harmonies, I found the confidence to sing in front of people and I learned what it meant to sing songs that declared truths of who God was.  His worship music is amazing and I love each and every song.
11. See You Later, See You Soon by Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers
This band. Oh man.  I honestly don’t even remember how I discovered this band.  But I have two of their CDs.  This was the first band that I felt like I could call my own – as dumb as it sounds it was my first “grown up” band that I fell in love with.  It was hard just picking one song.  It’s seriously … seriously.
So that’s it, the tip of the iceberg, but 11 songs my some of my most influential artists.  They are the founders of the music I’m into now.  The ones I look back at fondly, remembering the early discoveries and branching out of my musical ruts that I tend to get into.
So who influences your musical tastes?

just a ghost that broke my heart before I met you

There’s a song by Laura Marling called Ghosts.  This posts’ title is a line from that song.  It’s a song about a boy going to a girl and divulging all of the “ghosts” that broke his heart before they had met.  He’s opening up to her in hopes for a chance at relationship and her response is, “Lover, please do not fall to your knees, it’s not like I believe in everlasting love.”
I’ve always like this song, mostly because her voice is so unique and haunting, but also just because musically it’s a phenomenal song.  It has all the things that make a song good for me: unexpected harmonies, a good drum track, piano, added touches that really drive it home.  But the lyrics are so sad that it’s always been conflicted.
But lately I’ve been talking a lot about community.  And last night when this song came through my car speakers I realized it was more true than I thought.
In all of the talking I’ve been doing about community I keep coming down to the same fact: friendship is hard.  Community is meant to be deep and lasting, but because it is deep, it’s a huge risk for pain.  And often, when (not if) that pain happens, it leaves a mark.
The thing I’ve recently realized about myself is that I have a lot of those marks.  Friendships that ended and couldn’t be fixed.  Because in a perfect world we would be able to get over our differences, both apologize and be able to reconcile.  But we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes our brokenness and immaturity can hinder the process of reconciliation.  So what we end up with is a ripped seam that never quite looks the same again.
And that was me, about a year ago.  I didn’t realize that I had become this hard person who didn’t really believe that I was meant to have deep, lasting friendships.  I thought I’d always be on the fringe, that the ghosts that had broken my heart in my past had caused me to no longer believe in the ability to have meaningful relationships.
But I was wrong.  Oh man I was wrong.  And the only reason I found out I was wrong was that I suddenly had three women who were deeply invested in me and I was (shockingly) deeply invested in them.  I realize that sounds like one day I woke up and they were there but that’s how it felt.  I recently received some good news and upon sharing it with them, their reactions made me realize that I suddenly had “my people.”
But I had to learn a lot of lessons about community along the way.  I realized that if I have a small number of people who really know me and love me on a deeper level, then I have more capacity for others outside of that “inner circle.”  Because I’ve been learning that we each have personalities and limitations when it comes to friendships, so we aren’t (and shouldn’t be) able to be on a deep level with a lot of people.  We have to have tiers, which again – sounds awful but I think it’s really healthy.  And I think that if we were honest about the reality that we aren’t all super deeply close, then we would have better friendships.
Community is a hard thing to pin down and really do well.  But it’s okay, we have time to figure it out.  But for now, I’m super thankful for the three women that have chosen to walk beside me and allow me to walk beside them.  I’m overwhelmingly blessed by their friendship and reciprocal love.  Thanks for helping me love others better.
To close, it’s okay to have a hard heart sometimes, but don’t let it stop you from finding everlasting (friend) love.

I want to sing of hope everlasting

These last couple of days have found me on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Celebrating the last year of ministry with my fellow staff members.  We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve shared story and we’ve encountered God through his Word.
I’m realizing more and more how we all come to the Word differently, not only in how we process and interpret it, but in how we share it with others.  How we allow it to push into other aspects of our lives – of our passions.
I’ve had musician friends write music inspired by certain texts, or artists draw or paint a picture inspired by the text.  I’ve heard heart felt discussions and studies on various pieces of the bible.  What’s fascinating to me is to sit across from someone and hear their explanation of their process.
It’s amazing to listen as someone starts from the beginning.
“There’s this story in Ezekiel ….” 
They set the stage for those of us who know it well and those of us who may not know it at all.
“Where Ezekiel talks about prophesying over dry bones…”
And you can hear their imaginations start to work.
“I see all these bones and sinews and tendons which makes me think of the Lion King and a production of these bones coming to life…”
And from there, they continue on.  Describing colors or shapes, symbol crashes and the sounds of rattling.  It’s like they are tying to show you a picture that is in their mind, something they have imagined up over the years. 

Without fail, it ceases to amaze me when I hear people encountering scriptures in ways that I cannot.  Through graffiti, art, collages, sound production, dramas, feasts … The list can go on and on.  And when I sit across from them, with a cup of coffee in my hand, I listen intently as they describe the process.  As they do I can hear the Spirit speaking through them.  I can see that they have seen a side of God that I have not.  And I want to lean in closer, in hopes to see what they see.  I want to see the world through their eyes, if only for a moment.  To steal a glimpse of how they see these words of God come to life.
Then I realize.  This is my life. There are a lot of things about being a pastor that I’m really looking forward to doing, but this one just might take the cake.

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine

The lyrics to this song have been playing over in my head for a few weeks now.  These lines in particular:
It seems as if all my bridges have been burned
You say that’s exactly how this grace thing works
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive at the restart 
I’m not going to pretend that I am inside this song writer’s head at all, but I’ve been mulling over what exactly he may mean in these lyrics, and in this whole song.  I don’t wanna over spiritualize the song because it’s not a Christian band but at the same time, I know that the band members at one time or another were all followers of Christ, regardless of what their current beliefs are.  That being said, let’s talk about these lyrics for a few minutes.
There’s a part of me that thinks that this song is about grace within a community and maybe the way that people interact with each other.  That line that says, “You say that’s exactly how this grace thing works” in response to his saying that he feels like all his bridges are burned … that line has been etched into my mind these last couple weeks.  So last night, while listening to this band, I decided to feel out what my friends thought of this lyric.  So I found the exact lyrics and asked for thoughts.
“It kind of sounds a little Prodigal Son-y”
I thought about this some and came to the conclusion that she was right.  I’m not sure that it was the long walk of shame back to his father that helped to change the heart of the son, but rather the welcome he got when he admitted it was time for a new start.  That’s how this grace thing works.
Then I started thinking about it within community.  How do we play out this grace thing in community?  I mean our eternal life depends on our personal relationship with Jesus and the Lord but for some people, they need to see how this grace thing works on earth, with real people.  So then I begin to wonder about how grace plays out with those around us.
See grace is tricky.  I think it is something you learn to be good at.  I think it takes a lot of trial and error.  But I also don’t think we ever really master it.  I think it’s something best lived out in community, honest hard messy community.  Because I think for us to really be able to be a community, to show each other grace, it requires a vulnerability that is hard.  A vulnerability that puts us at risk of getting hurt.
The problem with that vulnerability is that we are just sheep, as Jesus calls us.  It’s not a compliment, it’s more of a scapegoat.  Sheep are dumb animals, they need a leader to show them where to go.  And sometimes, sheep bite each other.  They don’t really know they’re doing it or why they’re doing it but it happens.  And sometimes, we as people bite each other without meaning it, without trying or knowing why.  We are just sheep being sheep.
And that fact makes it hard to have grace with each other.  Because the bites are painful and they hurt.  And sometimes we tend to shut down after they happen, but that’s not how this grace thing works.  We have to learn to give grace unconditionally and continue to give ourselves.  Continue to walk alongside others in the midst of the crap that we do to each other.
But that’s hard.  and at times it feels like it’s not worth it.  It feels like we need to shut down when we get hurt.  It feels like we have to put that stone back so as to prevent that hurt from ever happening again.  But we have to fight that.  We have to try and continue to let people in enough to hurt us.
This is no easy task.  It’s hard.  And I have no answers as to how to do it well considering it’s something I struggle with.  But I think it’s worth thinking about at the very least.

If you want to … I am game

The other day I went to a closing Borders to see what I could find for $4.99 or less.  I walked out after having spent $18 with three new CDs and a sweet coffee table book.  It was overall a successful outing.
One of the CDs I bought was Lisa Hannigan’s Sea Saw.  It caught my eye because, well it’s Lisa Hannigan.  The second reason I purchased it was because it was the album that “I Don’t Know” is on, which is a song I was given by Ben during one of my KC visits.  I was obsessed with this song all summer about two years ago.  Now that I have this album, the obsession has been resurrected.
So during my time at the library today I’ve been listening to my new music whilst translating my Revelation passage and “I Don’t Know” came on my itunes.  I decided to look it up and see if I could find any cool videos.  And of course, I did.  So enjoy this one video while I begin to formulate more deep reflections on life…

and I will find you there and I will mend your heart

This title comes from the song “Mend Your Heart” by William Fitzsimmons.  It is one of the songs that I have added to my epicly amazing playlist on Grooveshark that is entitled “paper writing excellence.”  (See my facebook status for more info)
So I’m sitting in the library just now and I’m writing a paper on Matthew 6:9-15 which is more commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer.  Now this paper has been weeks in the making.  We wrote it in three parts, the first was just our interaction with the text.  We had to read it and reply with no other books used than our bibles.  The second stage was our research stage.  We were to use 5 commentaries and do a words study with a theological dictionary.  Finally we are on the third stage where we put together our thoughts and the thoughts of the scholars in order to write a comprehensive paper which we will be able to look back on if we ever need to preach on this topic.
So here I sit on the third floor of my beloved library (or cursed library, either way) typing away and sipping coffee when this line of this song slips through my thoughts and screams, “LISTEN TO ME.”  So I pause, rewind the song and listen a little more intently to see what the song has for me.  The song itself is about a girl and it’s a sad song (shockingly enough, a sad song by William Fitszsimmons – that’s sarcasm by the way, if you are unfamiliar with his library, it’s pretty much all depressingly sad.)  The song isn’t necessarily applicable to every day life unless you are in a weird twisted relationship.
But there are a couple of lines in it that I found most intriguing.  But mostly this line from the chorus, or should I say this line that IS the chorus.  These two meager sentences repeated over and over make up the very simple chorus.
Before I go on to say the significance, let me share one more thing and then we’ll put it together.  In my Theology and Film class this week we were talking about happiness and joy and the difference between the two.  My professor was talking about the advent season.  He pointed out that sometimes we are rejoicing vicariously for other people in our lives that are not in a place to rejoice.  And sometimes we are rejoicing out of sheer obedience rather than actually feeling it, and that’s okay.
It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I realized that last year I was going through the motions of Christmas, obviously it was a bitter sweet moment of unbearable pain of losing my dad and the joy of the birth of my Savior.  I love Christmas, we all know this.  But last season I was going through the motions and looking back on it I realized how guilty I felt for doing it so half-heartedly.  But that’s okay.  It’s okay because in those places of immense pain, God finds us and mends our hearts.
Last weekend was the one year anniversary of losing my dad, and as awful as the weekend was, it gave me the chance to tangibly look at the places where God has entered into my life and begun mending.  He has blessed me in ways I never thought possible, he has provided a place for me, far away from home and the familiar to let my guard down and be me.  And to be loved for who I am.
The thing is, I know that I never fully asked God to come in and mend my heart, he found me here.  He is a faithful God and knew what I needed when all I could do was sit at his feet with no words.  No clue what my heart needed and what I needed from him.  I did nothing extraordinary, no clear seeking out answers for my pain, I just prayed for God to be real in this place.  And he is.  He found me, in this place and he began the work in me until I was ready to join in the effort.
un-believable.  and yet so real I can’t help but believe.