More Than Music

Something that I think the modern Church gets wrong is worship. Most people think of worship as the music time in a church service. The leader gets up, you sing a few songs, a few people get emotional,  and then everyone sits down.

Worship is so much more than that. Worship is a lifestyle of servitude and gratitude to God. Yes, music is important, and I wholly believe that God loves it when we praise His name in song. It’s one way that many people, including me, connect to God and feel His Spirit.

My problem with the way we talk about music starts when friends tell me that they don’t think they are good Christians because they don’t connect with the music like the people around them during Church. They don’t feel comfortable or lead to praise Jesus by belting out notes or raising their hands. This is the kind of limited worship that I have a problem with.

Limiting worship to song is putting both God and His followers into boxes. It places God in a box and says that He can only speak to and connect with His children through song, and it places Christians into boxes and says that we can only commune with our Father through song. This ignores that God mad each of us a unique and interesting person,  and He therefore connects with each person uniquely, and each person will therefore worship Him in a different way.

If you are good with numbers,  be an honest business man. If you love building homes or furniture, let God guide your fingers to create the best work you possibly can. If you love talking with people,  minister to others in the name of the Lord. All of these things are worship if you do them with your heart in the right place: directed to God.

Worship is so much more than music. It is a lifestyle, and I believe that it can be a powerful one if we let it. Today, as you go about your seemingly mundane tasks, invite the Holy Spirit to show Himself to you. When He does, praise Him for his faithfulness and love.


Sifting Through History

I have always lived close to my grandparents.  They built a house on a hill when I was one. When I was two, my parents and I moved into that house while construction was underway on our own house at the bottom of that hill. Since we were so close, I spent a lot of time there as a kid.

Much has changed since then. My grandfather has passed away, and my grandmother has remarried. I now have three younger siblings, and the little house at the bottom of the hill has gotten crowded.

Back to the house on the top of the hill. For several reasons,  my grandparents have sold their home and are in the process of moving into a smaller house. Today I went up to help the sort through the boxes that have piled up in their attic: what should be kept, thrown away, or sold.

With people who have lived such rich lives, many memories were unearthed in the process.

Happy memories of grandchildren and children,  long hikes in the woods, companies owned, and travels documented. I saw the fabric that my grandfather printed by hand that was used to make the stage curtains for “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway. I saw pictures of my grandmother as a young missionary in New Mexico. She got to be a bridesmaid in a Mexican wedding. I saw pictures of both of them as children.

Sad memories of children and grandchildren that were taken to Heaven before they experienced this world. Sympathy cards and poems that bring to your eyes.

Although it’s hard for me to help my grandparents move out of a home that was so important to my childhood, I’m glad to help them and learn more about my family history.

My grandmother's grandmother. We found this picture in the eves of the house.

On Creativity

I like to think of myself as a creative person.  I’m not entirely sure if that us 100% true, but I find myself inspired by creative people and by creating things myself. This blog is a perfect example. Almost every time I write a blog post, I find myself with ideas for two more.

A few months ago, I created a Pintrest board called “On Creativity.” That has become a space where I collect things that I find on the web that encourage creativity. I thought I would share a few quotes I have found.

“Don’t be afraid of silly ideas.” ~ Paul Arden

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” ~Steve Jobs

“To live a creative life, we must lose the fear of being wrong.” ~Joseph Chilton Pierce

“And by the way, everything in life us writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt.” ~ Sylvia Plath

Road Trip Hacks

So over the past two weeks, I have gone on two rather extensive road trips. The first to Nashville, Tennessee with two of my closest friends.  The second to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with my family. 

While road trips are probably my favorite way to vacation,  they can be exhausting.  I, therefore, have compiled a list of ways to make any road trip better.

1. Celebrate the little things. Have a cheer for when you make it within 100 miles of your destination, or when you cross a state line. While this may sound a little childish,  it totally worked for me and my two friends.

2.  Excellent soundtracks are essential. This one is pretty obvious.  Make sure there is variety: love songs,  ballads, stupid songs that just make you laugh. Roll down the windows and sing out loud!

Something else that goes along with soundtracks is try out books on tape. My family discovered this a few years ago when we took a six week camping trip. This meant a ton of driving. Listening to books allows you to be transported out of the car you’re stuck in. It also adds another voice because if you’re on a road trip, you are with the few same people for a crazy long time. It’s good to get some variety.

3. Make other drivers smile. My one friend plays a game with herself. She sees how many other drivers she can get to wave at her. If she can get a trucker to honk at her, that’s a bonus! Not only did this make our trip better (we couldn’t help laughing at her antics), it made other drivers happy too.

4. Windows down! Obviously.


What makes your road trips better?

Happy trails!

Baby Rhinos

I didn’t post a blog yesterday.  I could say that it’s because I was in Africa saving baby rhinos, or that I was in Seattle building a tiny house to travel North America in, or that I was smuggling Bibles into China. But all of those scenarios would be lies.

In all honesty, I completely forgot to write one until 10:30 last night and I had to get up at 5:30 this morning to go to work. I decided to act like an adult and get enough sleep. (Act, mind you. Not be.)

Anyway, last night, as I started to fall asleep,  I kept coming up with great ideas for blog posts. It was frustrating for me because I wanted nothing more than to get up and write the darn post, but I knew that I needed sleep for my early morning.

I have discovered that my creative juices are most potent at night when I’m tired.  I’ve heard it explained that as one gets drowsier, the filters in the brain that often block creativity go down. This is why insomniacs go through intense periods of creativity.

My problem is that, as I get these great ideas, I also fall asleep and forget them. Great ideas down the toilet.

To combat this, I have a great note-taking app on my phone. I use it write down the spectacular ideas for blogs I have throughout the day and at night while I’m laying in bed.

Although not all of these become blogs, several have. And they may be ideas that I can come back to later and develop into bigger and stronger ideas and subsequent blog posts.

Seeing is Understanding


The saying goes that seeing is believing.  While I think that is a very true statement,  the words could use a little modification. For the case of this argument, let’s say that seeing is understanding better.

Let me explain myself.  We, as humans,  believe in all sorts of things we can’t see with our own eyes. We believe in wind, Mars, and love. I was talking to my sister about this idea, and she said, “I mean, I believe in Africa.”

However, when we see something (and I don’t mean see it on the internet, I mean see it in person) we come to a better understanding it. Once we see that thing that we believe, we can process it and come to a fuller understanding of it.

What got me thinking about this was a good friend of mine and her boyfriend. The two of them have been in a long-distance relationship for almost three years now. Due to the distance in their relationship,  I don’t know him very well. It’s very weird for me, as a friend,  to see them together because here’s this guy I don’t know holding hands and cuddling with my friend of ten years.

That really irritated me for the longest time. It made me mad that I was having a hard time being happy for my friend.  But then I came to the realization that seeing is understanding. I believe that they love each other, but seeing it can be weird and different. Every time I see them together,  I will add a layer of understanding to it. That doesn’t mean that being around them will be any less weird or awkward, but it might mean that I’ll be more okay with it.

Maybe next time I see them together, I’ll keep this idea in mind, and it’ll be a little easier to process.


Fires in the Night

One of my favorite things about summer is seeing the fireflies light up the night sky. I’ll start looking as early as May to see if they’re out yet. I always get a little giddy when I see one or two light up for the first time.

Tonight, I went out onto the deck and looked over my back yard: a hill covered in tall grasses and overgrown weeds slopes down to the creek shaded by trees where my siblings and I have spent many a long afternoon splashing and laughing. As I gazed over this place, filled to the brim with memories, my breath was sucked away by the little bugs, dancing and lighting up the sky like fires in the night, sometimes lighting up together.

I’m not sure why I love fireflies so much. Maybe it’s because they remind me of a child-like whimsy that still believes in dragons ans magic. Maybe they bring back memories of my childhood.

Like I said, I’m not sure why I love them so much. All I know is they give me a great sense of awe at the creation God allows us to live in, to experience and be refreshed by. But most of all, I’m in awe of a God who decided to make some bugs glow and blink.

When We Were Kids

I love swimming. To me, it’s like yoga: concentrating on my breathing, the repetitive combination of foot and arm movement, the water flowing over my skin and through my hair. It clears my mind, forcing me to focus in on the minute details: how my fingers a spread, how far my shoulder rotates, how to keep breathing. It’s an exhilarating feeling when I notice how much a tiny shift in my form (what little form I have) affects how the water moves around my body.

My family and I would go swimming nearly every week at the YMCA when I was in middle and high school, and they still do, most Tuesday evenings. My youngest sister was in the pool, splashing and playing, before she could walk. My brother, sister, and I would drop diving toys in the deep end and see who could retrieve the most the fastest. Needless to say, going to the pool is one of my family’s favorite activities.

Up until tonight, I hadn’t gone swimming in nearly a year. Life got busy, papers piled up, and I didn’t really feel like getting covered in chlorine water, especially in the winter. And where I go to school in Northern Pennsylvania, you avoid going outside at all costs anyway, wet hair or not. I had other priorities.

However, tonight I was free, and with nothing to do tomorrow morning, I went with my siblings to the local YMCA, the pool that taught me to love the water. I was reminded of why I love it so much. Besides how relaxing I find it, the pool is a great equalizer, especially among siblings. The four of us have had several squabbles over the last few days, so going to the pool, where we could dunk and splash and race each other, was therapeutic on several levels. It took us all back to a time when things were simpler, when we were kids.

What activity do you find most relaxing? How do you feel most united with your family? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. I have convinced my good friend and fellow blogger, Karen, to participate in the July Blog-A-Thon with me. You can check out her blog The Shadows Prove the Sunshine here. She’s a great writer and hysterical soul, so go give her blog some love.

July Blog-A-Thon

I have been blogging on and off for almost three years now. It started when, after a rather epic white water rafting trip, several people encouraged me to create it so i could share my story and pursue my goal of being a writer.

I had dreams of becoming the next big internet personality, with thousands of followers. I guess I thought it would be something that happened overnight, like I would wake up with millions of reads and an invite to the Ellen show.

Sadly (and more realistically) none of these things have happened.

I have tried (unsuccessfully) to create a steady blogging schedule for myself several times.  I would make it a few days in, writing little blogs that looking back now really we’re that great. I would tell myself that this time would be different,  that this time I would actually stick to my schedule.  It would fizzle out in just a few days. And by a few days, I mean 2.

So to cure this, I am going to go for the easiest schedule: every day. For the month of July, I am going to write a blog every single day. Intimidating, yes. Exciting, absolutely. These blogs may be small; an essay, a photo gallery, or even just a few thoughts I had about something that day. They may be larger, like me giving a few thoughts on a current event.

Although I am doing this for several reasons, building an audience being one of them, I’m mainly doing this so I don’t forget how to write. As a writing major, I am constantly writing while I’m at school.  Over the summer, I don’t have that constant stream of writing. While it is nice to have a break from the always-looming deadlines of academia, I don’t want to get out of practice.

So here’s to 31 blogs in the next 31 days. I can’t wait to see what happens this coming month.

Here we go! I hope you come along for the adventure.