Category Archives: music

music of all sorts

Stir It Up -Finding My Calling as I Go

As I was reading and having some quiet time yesterday afternoon, an image came to me, and I just had to stop and pray about it. I was led to pray for God to “stir up” my calling within me. I haven’t ever had a single moment in my life where I thought, This is it! This is the thing that I’m supposed to do forever! I’ve had many times where I’ve really been enjoying a job or a season or a ministry with which I’ve been involved. But I don’t know that any of those things ever resulted in a clear “Aha!” moment.

However, I do think that I’ve been easing into my calling for years. I love music. I love worship. I love Jesus. I love my husband and my kids. Just recently, I’ve been made aware (through His grace and a little bit of providence) that I love women’s ministry. I’m reading two books right now (Wild and Free by Hayley Morgan and Jess Connolly, which I’m almost done with, but I just can’t read more than a little bit at a time because I cry a lot, and Lioness Arising, by Lisa Bevere) that are focused on women, and focused on freedom in Jesus to be who He has called you to be. These books are changing my thoughts about women and ministry, and women’s ministry. I am learning that freedom and wildness is what Jesus wants for us, especially as women, where we can feel so bound by our roles (familial, cultural, etc) and the chains that come with them. The most beautiful thing about us, as women who follow Jesus, is that we are all different. We have things that we’re good at, and not so good at, things we love, and things we don’t like to do as much. We are fierce, whether loudly or quietly. We are called and equipped and FREE to do His will, and that’s an incredible (and overwhelming) feeling. These books, coupled with the Scriptural references within, are truly opening my eyes to a new way of thinking about myself and how Jesus sees me.

So when I felt like He was leading me to pray for a “stirring up” of my calling, I pictured it this way: there are lots of pieces of me – things that I’m good at, things I love, and spheres of influence that I have been welcomed into. There are all these ingredients for Him to work with, as He is crafting me into a woman of His own design and His own purpose. What will it all hold for me? I don’t know yet. But I am praying now more than ever that I will be cognizant of His call, sensitive to His voice, and willing to go wherever it is He would have me go. And isn’t it usually true that it’s going to be uncomfortable along the way? I’ve been praying about that, too.

You see, I have had this idea about what I should be doing with my church job, my blog, my family, my friends. I felt like I had found a good niche with all of these things. But I’m learning that it can grow stale if I don’t listen to what He is telling me. (Disclaimer: I’ve not been unhappy in any of these situations. I’m just learning to grow in them instead of stagnate.) I truly do want Him to stir up a calling. I want Him to take all the ingredients of which I am made, and have Him stir it up into something for His good.

So let it be, Lord. Stir it up within me. Make me into a wild, fierce woman for Your kingdom.

His Gentle, Firm Call

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus


Through most of the year, my Thursdays are hectic. They are involved. They are also worshipful, filled with women I love, and full of inspirational teaching, meaningful connections, encouragement to last me days. I pack my rambunctious preschoolers into the car at what feels like zero dark thirty. I bring breakfast and toys to keep them occupied until their school starts, 30 minutes after my work does. I plan all week, sending emails, choosing songs, communicating with leadership, and practicing my instrument. I am thoughtful and prayerful about Thursdays as often as I can be.
Each week, I lead musical worship and do behind-the-scenes tech work for a women’s ministry at my church. It’s a part of my job I didn’t realize I’d be doing until I jumped in. My scared, insecure, and unwilling self simply said “yes” to my pastors when I started my service to this ministry two years ago. I’ll be honest: when it began, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I didn’t know the people involved very well, and technology often makes me a nervous wreck (read: it doesn’t always work for me). I felt unenthusiastic and under-qualified for the ministry, being one of the youngest women involved, and not having led many services on my own yet. But y’all, the Lord knew what He was doing when He threw me into the fray anyway. His call to do the work, this very specific work, was gentle but firm.

Many mornings, there were (and still sometimes are) problems I couldn’t solve without help, and questions I deterred with a weary, “I don’t know.” But the Lord has been faithful, and grown not only my devotion to and love for the ministry, but also given me new friends and more confidence. He has softened my heart to the new duties. He has blessedly grown the worship team within the ministry. In short, I have seen Him SHOW UP. He is there each week, preparing the room, the team, and the atmosphere to change women’s hearts towards Him. He draws us to Himself through each detail of the morning, and we never leave discouraged.

You may think you’re being called to something that isn’t a good fit. You might be confused, uncertain, or even refusing to go where He’s leading you. But I’m here to tell you, His plan is so much better than yours. He will equip you and help you grow into the role that He’s got for you (Hebrews 13:21). He is FOR YOU, and therefore no one can be against you (Romans 8:31). He would never lead you somewhere you shouldn’t go, even if it’s somewhere that’s hard. Submit to His plan – I promise it will be great.

6 Reasons I’m Excited for Fall

Last night, Hubby and I sat outside on the deck and played cards with friends. It was ever so pleasant outside, with the lights strung around us, the cicadas chirping and a slight breeze. I might’ve even had a chill by the time we went inside, hours after the sun had gone down. It just made me even more excited for the start of fall. It’s always been my favorite season, so I decided to share with you a few reasons why I’m so excited for it to get here.

School. This one is big, maybe even the biggest, for me. I’ve spent my entire life either as a student, a teacher, or now the parent of a student, and so my goal-making, fresh starting, and excitement of all things new happens in the fall. We begin a school year excited for new opportunities, anticipating fall and winter holidays, trips, and weather, throwing ourselves gladly into rigorous schedules, and making short- and long-term goals for ourselves and our families. As a worship leader, it’s the time that several more ministries and church-related things start back up. As the mom of young kids, it’s the time that I get a couple of mornings a week of free time (thanks, preschool!) to write, to read, and to be “me” instead of “mom”. Those things excite me almost more than anything else!

Boots. These are treasured items in my wardrobe, and yet something I just DO NOT wear when it’s warm outside. They’re the first thing I lose in the springtime, because I sweat just thinking about wearing them in the hot. But I sure do love pairing them with dresses, leggings, and skinny jeans. They are almost my only footwear during the cooler months.

Scarves. Just like boots, I’m not great at wearing them in the warm weather. I get a little claustrophobic with something around my neck if it’s hot. But I love scarves for their pops of color, multiple uses, and the way they can replace a statement necklace for outfit completion.

Candles. I love scented candles! I also love candlelight, and so when fall is here with the yummy cinnamon smells and even on to Advent for the Christmas tree scents, there’s usually a candle lit somewhere in my home.

Fires. Whether from a candle, a hearth, or a roaring bonfire outdoors, I love to be near a fire! I like bundling up, cuddling, drinking and dancing near a big fire. Hubby’s friends used to pick up discard trees from around their neighborhood after Christmas was over, and have a huge bonfire in early January. I think that’s a brilliant idea and will be reinstating it this year.

Leggings. I’ve recently started loving leggings even more than I did a few years ago, maybe because they’re so comfortable and practical to wear while pregnant. I have several funky patterns, bright colors, and tunics with which to pair them. And THEN, I toss on a pair of boots for the fall-style win.

Well, now you know what I’m looking forward to. What are your favorite things about fall?

Getting the Picture Perfect

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

Yesterday, I posted a picture (a collage, actually) on Instagram (@OnlyHsuman). It wasn’t your typical Easter post. There were no eggs or baskets, and the children weren’t lined up oldest to youngest on the church’s front steps. In fact, they weren’t even all smiling. Sundays for us aren’t a beautifully relaxing experience. Sometimes, I’d even call them stressful.  

For those of y’all that don’t know me that well, I’m a worship leader. That means I choose the music, sing the songs, and play a big part in executing the church service on Sunday mornings. I won’t say that I do those things by myself, or that I don’t have amazing people helping me and working with me. I do! But there’s a lot on my plate most Sundays.

In addition, I have three children under four years old, and a husband that’s also a musician. He plays with me lots of Sunday mornings, meaning our family of five is out the door and in the church by 8:45am. Some Sundays, he hasn’t gotten home until 2:00 or 3:00am, because he also plays many Saturday evenings/nights at other venues. I’m certainly not complaining – it is his passion and it helps pay our bills – but it doesn’t exactly make our mornings run more smoothly. But back to my Instagram post…

The collage above is comprised of each of my children, and my one attempt at getting them all in the same photo. (I know, you can’t even that tell my daughter is underneath my older son.) I had been up since 4:45am, because my first service had been a joyful celebration of a sunrise service at a sister church in our town. I yawned my way through the 6:00am rehearsal, and prayed that my voice would be warmed up by the time the service began at 7:00am. Our worship pastor had, earlier in the week, referred to this service as a “spiritual cup of coffee”, and indeed it was. It woke my brain, my voice and my spirit to the incredible elation that is Easter morning.

Upon finishing the earliest service, I drove back to my home church (by way of my favorite coffee spot, of course) to begin rehearsing and executing two more perfectly lovely worship services, where the Spirit moved, hearts were changed, love was experienced and joy abounded. Family, friends, acquaintances and strangers gathered together to hear the good news of a tomb found empty. My children played, sang and shared with their friends, and I hugged necks, shook hands, smiled till my cheeks hurt, and sang until I had no more voice. I couldn’t ask for a better church home and church family.

Just like most other Sundays, I got home to my family (who had left halfway through the second service to save everyone else from their meltdowns) who was nibbling on lunch and preparing for naps. Their Sunday best was wrinkled (and drooled upon, in the case of my youngest) and they were really exhausted. They had no interest in posing for a picture together (with our without me) or even looking at me as a waved my camera around, knowing I’d already missed their best moods of the day.

But instead of being frustrated because I’d not gotten an “official Easter Day picture”, I decided to let it rest. To let them rest. And to rest myself. Although Sunday is our day of early rising, quick breakfast, rushed departures and very little down time, Easter included, it’s my favorite morning of the week. I’m convinced I have the best job ever, at the best church ever, with the best bosses ever (hey, pastors!) and the best people surrounding me. On other days, I might struggle to arrive at preschool on time, and still be wearing half my pajamas while I’m working from home, figuring out dinner and wishing for bedtime. But on Sundays, if I do nothing else, I have donned my Sunday best, set my heart on the Creator, and let Him take care of the rest. The details might get lost, but the praises are sung. The Gospel is shared. Friends are encouraged. Lives are touched. Jesus’ death and resurrection have been celebrated, and his sacrifice is not wasted. He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3) and we are forever changed by His glory. Motherhood for me is a song of praise in itself, and I am grateful to share my worship leader life with my children, even if it makes for a messy Sunday. Because this Sunday, like every Sunday, He is risen. He is risen, indeed! 

 

Hear It Differently

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

Have you ever listened to a song you’ve heard a thousand times before (you know the ones: they’re on the radio, friends hum them while they work, and your kids even sing a phrase or two here and there), but one time when you’re listening, you think, “Wow! I’ve never paid attention to those words before! Has that always been the line?”

That happened to me this past Sunday. To be more specific, it happened to me several times. You see, I’m a worship leader. And the set that was planned for my service that morning was one full of trusty favorites. Several of them I’d been singing for years, one is a newer song I’ve sung at one service or another every week since Christmas, and the set also included one song I helped write (I wrote a bit about that here). But all of a sudden, these songs were falling on fresh ears. Thankfully, it wasn’t in a “forgot all the words” sort of way, but a “never thought about it that way before” sort of way.

For example, we sang Paul Baloche’s arrangement of the hymn “How Great Thou Art”. While it’s a hymn that I grew up singing, and I know almost every word by heart, for some reason, I heard the words anew. This verse: And when I think that God His Son not sparing/sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in/ that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing/He bled and died to take away my sin. I mean, that’s crazy! God sent His very Son to take our sins. Jesus gladly bore them for us on the cross, because he knew it would save us. Who wouldn’t sing about that?

Or in Hillsong’s “Oceans”, it was this part in the bridge: Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander/and my faith will be made stronger/in the presence of my Savior. Being in the presence of my Savior will be what strengthens my faith. I could have that reminder again and again, and it would convict me every time. Oh, you of little faith, enter into His presence, and that little faith will grow.

I have this same experience reading the Bible a lot. I’ll flip through pages, and read something I’ve read a hundred times before. But every time, I read it differently. Maybe it’s that my perspective has shifted, due to life circumstances. Maybe it’s that the Lord is showing me something new about a particular passage. Maybe it immediately leads me to think of a friend who needs to hear those exact words. Whatever it is, when I allow myself to be open to hearing something new, the Lord almost always gifts me that very thing: a new light shining through an old passage. Or through the music I think I know like the back of my hand: I notice a word or phrase that will change the entire song and how it speaks to my heart.

So here’s the hard part, the part it’s easy to talk about but not as easy to do. Get rid of those pre-conceived notions. Lose the filter through which you might be tempted to see. Open your eyes, your ears, your heart. Don’t be afraid of what you might hear; it might just be the thing that changes your mind.

A New Song

  
I am a musician. I sing, I play, I improvise, and I worship.

But I’ve never fashioned myself a songwriter. I’m not much into creating “something from nothing” in that respect. If you give me some bones, I can arrange them and add to them and make something. I can take a good hook and a topic, and do a little from there. But as for writing a great riff, or creating a chorus without any building blocks given to me, I just wouldn’t be able to do it. (Which is funny, right? Because I’m a musician, and I’m a writer.)

I got the opportunity recently to collaborate on an original tune with the worship pastor at my church. It was surprisingly fun for me, and I contributed more than I thought I would. I am surprised and pleased to say I helped with some phrasing and several word choices. But still, it was eye-opening for me to even think I could help in the process, much less actually write a song. I have now entered into the world of songwriting, whether I like it or not.

My only problem is this: songwriters have a certain something about them. And on the whole, I don’t really fit into that something very well. I’m just not hipster enough (no hate, I promise!), or introspective enough. Or maybe I’m too loud and crazy – because, let’s be honest, I am. But the Lord is breaking down walls of things I think I cannot do, and opening my eyes to His purpose, and aligning me with it. His way are not my ways; they are higher and better. So here I am, waiting for a riff, a melody, a perfect phrase to build a song around. I’m searching, reading my Bible, praying for revelation of what my song should be. It’s new territory for me. I’m uncomfortable here, feeling pressure to be creative in a different – and challenging – way. I’m hard-pressed to spend time on it, because I am afraid I will fail. But I’m just as afraid I’ll succeed, and someone will cram me into the “songwriter box” that I’ve built, all on my own.

You see, I identify with many different titles. For instance, the list can begin with woman, mother, daughter, wife, and friend. It can continue with Christian, worship leader, musician, writer, feminist, and foodie. But it’s never really included songwriter, composer, or anything of the like. But I’m feeling the push in that direction. Opportunities are arising for me to try my hand at it, to make it my own, and to redefine what “being a songwriter” means to me, now that I’m flirting with the line to becoming one. And that, my friends, scares me. So here I go, branching out into new territory, breaking the mold in which I’ve put myself. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Currently

Hey, y’all! I hope you had a great weekend – I know I did! My mom visited all week last week while Hubby worked in the studio (super long hours). Except for his birthday. We totally partied and saw Third Eye Blind on his birthday! Then this weekend was great: Dinner at our favorite restaurant on Friday, relaxing day hanging out and catching up on Saturday, and then our church’s centennial celebration on Sunday morning! We’ve been busy, but all with good things 🙂 Anyway, here’s a little more about what we’ve been up to currently…

currently button

Wearing || Piko shirts! They are SUPER comfortable, and I buy the tunic-length ones and wear them with leggings. It’s a great fall item for your closet. If you’re local to me, I get them at our Ivy & Leo (not sure if other Ivy & Leo stores stock them) or online at Simply Dixie Boutique. I’ve gotten them from both places, reasonably priced, as well!


Interesting picture for me to choose just to show you my shirt, I know, but it shows the flowy nature of the fabric! (Pardon the tech pack on my waist… Not a pretty growth to have on your butt, ha!)

Celebrating || 100 years of Reynolda Church! We have 4 different Sunday morning worship services, in three different rooms, on two different campuses every Sunday morning. So for our centennial celebration,  we chose the biggest campus and asked that on this one Sunday, everyone meet together there at the same time for a huge service. Former pastors and members from all over came bearing stories of how Reynolda has helped make them who they are, and worship leaders from all venues were on stage together. It was a really wonderful day.

Watching the sermon from the balcony (thanks to Elaine for this picture!)
EK asked to take a selfie during band practice and Hubby totally photobombed.

Going || out downtown for Hubby’s birthday! We celebrated in two nights… first on Wednesday (his actual birthday) and again on Friday. On Wednesday night we had dinner and drinks with some family and friends, and then went to see Third Eye Blind (they are old but totally still fun). Friday we went out with our friends/neighbors to Honey Pot – our favorite local restaurant, where Hubby just happens to be long-time buddies with the chef.
Out for dinner at Finnigan’s Wake on Wednesday…

Hubby and EK being fabulously photobombed by his brother!
Getting a little blurry love from J.
Lala getting some love from EK… who is constantly on the move.

After the show…IMG_3579

Dinner on Friday…IMG_3642

Loving || time spent with my mom this week. I really appreciate that she can just hop up here for a week whenever we need her! The kids love having her around, too!

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Two peas in a pod.
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Who doesn’t want to be in costume?

Well, that’s about all of my crazy week I can remember. What’s up with you currently?