Change

What is change but another word for opportunity 

To see the world through a different lens

It’s not the end, but if it is

Let’s keep on living

A couple weeks ago(ish), I woke up at 2am and began to write out some thoughts (under my covers, on my phone, in order to not wake my sleeping husband).  The thoughts turned to song a couple days later, and thus became “Change”.

My recording studio was packed in boxes, as I sat on the floor with my laptop and keyboard.  I didn’t even have a mic stand accessible or my pop filter (which, for those who do not know what I’m talking about, is basically a shield that eliminates plosive “p” and “b” sounds, and any other little pops while I’m singing.).  So, I covered my mic with a piece of felt fabric and sang away. 😉

Change.  Life is full of change, of course.  Just a few months ago, I married my best friend.  I know that sounds cliché, but I mean it with all of my heart.  Marriage has been a wonderful change, even on the awkward and hard days of carefully navigating through brand new territory together.

I have learned a lot about myself during this time.  For example, it has been a great opportunity for me to open my eyes to more than myself (being in a relationship can really showcase your true colors and level of selfishness).  That is a gift, as long as I give in and allow God to continue to bring me higher.

    Look up, look past

Maybe it’s your last breath

Breathe it in

Breathe it in

Until then we’re just beginning

So, here we are.  It’s been a week since we moved into our second place of residence together (in our three-ish months of marriage).  When we first found out we had to switch houses, you can probably imagine that we weren’t exactly jumping off the walls with excitement.  We had to be purposeful in staying focused on the positive aspects of the sudden change.  At the end of the day, we were thankful not to be homeless and choosing to trust that God is looking out for us in every area of our lives.  Even when we are both exhausted from work and all of the other changes.

Just a few weeks before the wedding, we were seriously considering a rather big opportunity that had been offered to us in another state.  We were flown out and interviewed for positions that included amazing benefits for both of us.  As we got closer to the transition, we started to feel God move us in a different direction.

Many didn’t understand when we turned it down.  According to the world’s standards, we could have been quite comfortable in the long run.  But…we can’t live by the world’s standards.  We both knew where we needed to be, so we had to make a decision that lead to more unexpected change.

Less than an hour after making the call and turning down the opportunity, I was presented with devastating news.  If we were to go the direction that God was calling us, it would mean that I would not be able to keep my beloved pup.  The news shattered my world.  Michael could barely talk when he came to me and told me that when we got married we would not be allowed to have Chad with us.

One of the biggest joys of the last two years has been this wonderful black lab.  I adopted him after getting out of a very dangerous relationship.  He was a comfort to me during a time when I was having horrible night terrors and anxiety.  The little bundle of fur quickly grew into an amazing friend.

We have been blessed with housing at our place of employment.  I can’t go into all of the details, and I don’t need to.  All I know is that Michael tried everything, even offering to give up his dog so I could keep mine.  But his dog is a small breed and the company only has new policies regarding larger breeds.

I cried for two days.  And honestly, if someone asks me about the situation, I can barely talk about it without tears.

There’s no reason to wait for the days to get better

Even if the sun’s not shining

Breathe it in

Breathe it in

 Only family and a few friends have known about this change.  Because, frankly, it has been a difficult and painful adjustment.  When I first heard the news, I thought I was going to lose him forever, but a dear friend was willing to offer him a home during this season.

Every day I go to see Chad and take him for a walk.  I cannot begin to express how thankful I am that I get to still have him in my life.  Still, this change has been exhausting on many levels.  Waking up at 5am for an early shift and then going immediately across town to walk my dog has been tiring.  But it’s worth it…and I know God is taking care of me and him.  He waits for me at the door every day and greets me with his waggly tail and kisses.

I don’t understand any of this, but I have a choice to not give into anger and bitterness.  I have to choose to see this as the beginning and not the end.

I’m not saying

Pretend you’re okay

When you’re not better

Breathe it in

Breathe it in

Today’s a gift that we’ve been given

 

 

 

 

 

Now Available: Hurricane

It was a rainy day, much like today, when I wrote Hurricane.  I had gone down to the Waterfront in Portland to busk (street perform).  Rain is quite a common occurrence in Oregon, but this particular rainy day I found myself completely alone and wet.  So, I packed up, walked back to my car, and sat for awhile to see if the rain would subside.

I had bills to pay, so I was feeling rather discouraged with my empty tip jar.  I was also in a rough patch in a relationship, which meant that the loneliness I was feeling wasn’t simply from being out on the Waterfront (in the rain) all by myself.  I was empty and afraid.  Angry.  Confused.  Lost.

 

“He was a summer day, with the rage of a hurricane.”

Anger.  I don’t talk about it much, but it’s a huge piece of my story.  I was angry to my core.  There were times when I felt so hurt and out of control that I would drive through the night and scream until I would lose my voice.

When I wrote hurricane, I’d play it with my acoustic guitar.  It was a catchy, fun, folk-sounding song.  But now, the meaning of the words go much deeper.

I am no longer angry, so now I can hear the words.

“It’s strange how small the world becomes.  When the masks, when the masks fall . . .”

How often do we accuse others of the exact issues we ourselves are dealing with?  How often do we try to cope by becoming dependent on other imperfect people?

As the anger made way for clarity, I no longer saw myself as the lonely victim.  We were both victims to our own rage, our own painful baggage.  They were fallen just like me.  Wearing masks to cover up their true colors.  Smiling in the day, screaming and hiding under the cloak of night.

“Sometimes love becomes a blindfold.”

 

Now Available: Moments

I remember the day Moments began to take shape.   It started with the first line,

“Time waits for no one…”

And then came the piano melody, which caused the next few lines to flow automatically onto the page of my legal pad.

 

Several people I knew had passed over the course of a few months, including the remainder of both sides of grandparents and a dear friend.  I was living in Portland at the time and working crazy hours at a super market to make ends meet, too broke and busy to make it home for the memorials.  I felt raw and numb, as I came face to face with the reality of the fragility of life once again.

People are more important than things, more important than even my own dreams.  My vision changed, and my priorities were rearranged, as I made it my mission to make sure those in my life knew their value and how much their presence meant to me.  Life it too short not to take risks and speak out.  To do all that you were created to do and be all that you were created to be.

The present is all we have to seize the day and make the most of the brief moment in history we have to not only chase after our own dreams, but to help others see their dreams become reality.  I realized that to reach my dreams alone would be cold and shallow.  Life only matters if you share it with the people you love.

“I cut holes in my pockets, symbolically so, you know I see no treasure like you…”

Moments is now available to purchase on iTunes, Amazon and all of your favorite music stores online.  Enjoy!

In the Studio: When A Soul Weeps

My husband said it sounds like haunted, carnival arcade music.

I was like, “That’s great because that’s exactly what I was going for.”
 


 
When A Soul Weeps is this month’s release. I am in the studio finishing up mastering today and then I’ll be sending it out to be distributed across the internet.

Look for the full track on 4/17.

“Awakening” and More Stories to Come

It’s been four months since my last post, and I am so happy to finally be writing again.  Between planning a wedding and getting married, I have spent the last stretch of time crafting music and planning out future film projects.  I am excited about 2017 and ready to push and stretch myself beyond my artistic comfort zone.

In case you haven’t noticed, my name has changed.  In fact, last month I released my first single as Stephanie Baker.  God has blessed me with an adventure buddy and exceptionally wonderful husband.  I am proud of my new name and looking forward to seeing what God has in store for this season.  That said . . .

Awakening is now available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other music distribution sites across the internet.  I’m branching out into more of an electronic/rock/experimental sound, which has honestly been my desire for years.

The other day I happened upon a note from a very dear friend who passed away several years ago.  The note was simple, and said,

“Keep challenging yourself in Christ, after all He is without limits.”

I have written the quote down and it has become my inspiration.

HE IS without limits.  HE IS the definition of creativity and beauty and art.  What a crazy adventure we have been invited to share with Him.  This God who is not limited by our limits.

Over the course of the next year, I am going to begin to release more musical stories (as singles).  My goal is to have a new song out on a monthly(ish) basis.  After all, I have my studio set up for the first time since the end of summer and I am ready to go.

We are also in the process of getting internet at our house, so at this point I am kind of feeling Amish (apart from the fact that Amish people don’t tend to have iPhones).  Sometimes I can get enough service to post a picture on Instagram, but it usually takes about an hour of wishful thinking and pressing submit continually (while my phone sits on a particular window sill).

Once we get our internet up and rolling, I will be posting more consistently and keeping you updated on the stories and projects to come.  I hope you enjoy Awakening.

See you soon!

Do What Scares You

Tell me your greatest fear
and I will tell you of a love
that is far greater.

A love that will cover every doubt
in your mind
until you find
the fear no longer there.

One of my favorite quotes this year has been,

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

It has been a reminder that fear doesn’t always have to be a negative force in our lives.  Fear can be the very thing that propels us straight into freedom unimaginable.

I’m not talking about reckless behavior.  I’m talking about making decisions that will no longer enable us to live in a paralyzing complacency, and to stop allowing our emotions to dictate the course of our destiny.

For several months, I have been struggling back and forth on finishing up a project.  A spoken word written on the topic of body image.  It’s a large part of my testimony.

It all started one Sunday at church.  The idea came to me in an instant, but excitement was followed by fear.  I would be going into territory that was unknown and new,  while being completely vulnerable with my story.

Every once in awhile, I would pace around my room and begin to write phrase after phrase.  In between those times, I admit I tried to find as many other projects to attempt to start instead.  And then, I would have the same weighty feeling come over me.  Again and again.

I was afraid, but I knew it was something I needed to follow through with, because maybe there was one person in the universe who needed to hear my story.

And for that one person, it would be worth pushing through the fear.

I had a dream a  couple years ago that had a tremendous impact on how I see the world.  In the dream, I found myself speaking with a woman who had a dark past.  I took her hands and said, with great relief and joy,

“Had I been afraid, you would not be here.”

When I woke from the dream, I had a new perspective.  I began to think about how my decisions to choose love over fear, on a daily basis, affects not only my life course but the lives of people I may not even know yet.

Every single day, I try to ask myself,

What if fear was no longer holding you back?

What would I do with my time?  How would I choose to speak and act?  How would it affect the lives of those in my sphere of influence?

By God’s grace, I finished writing the spoken word this week.  I plan to compose and record the audio shortly, as well as begin filming the visuals.  I’m glad I didn’t let myself stay afraid, and I trust that He will see me through the rest of the creative process.

What about you?

What is something that scares you, but you know in your heart it will set you free?

 

Praying by Faith, Not by Sight

Yesterday evening, a group of us gathered together on a ranch.  The purpose was to seek His face, with no agenda other than to experience His Glory.

As we worshipped, I felt the Lord impress upon me to make out a list of desires and present needs to surrender at His feet.  I also felt I was to revisit the list and write out the testimonies of what God did the following week.  As I wrote it out, I felt my faith increase, and I truly expected His hand to move upon each item listed.

Have you ever felt as if a situation became worse the moment you began to make it your focus in prayer?

I have.  In fact, I felt that way this morning.

When I awoke, it wasn’t long before I saw several of the items attacked, and for a moment my heart was discouraged.  Until . . .

I made the decision to not let what I saw affect my faith.

I prayed once more and surrendered it all at His feet, as I did yesterday evening.  I took a look from a new angle.

Instead of seeing my prayers as the reason for the attacks, I realized that perhaps . . .

God knew the attacks were going to come, so He gave me the strategies ahead of time to prepare my heart to stand firm and believe for victory.

We need God’s eyes.  We need to see things from His point of view.

So, before we ever make an assumption on what He is doing . . .

All we have to do is ask for His perspective.

 

Walking in the Spirit

When we walk in the natural, there is a certain level of control we feel over our lives, but that feeling of control is merely an illusion.  We fabricate our own plans and build a false sense of stability by trusting in our own abilities, all the while limiting God to whatever our flesh wants and desires.

Sometimes, without realizing, we create a God in our own image.  A God who accepts, even encourages, our behavior and justifies the choices we make.  With this frame of mind, we block out the voice of truth, and everything is filtered through what looks and feels right to us.

We may even find ourselves praying prayers that are rooted in manipulation.   Instead of surrendering to the Spirit, we already know what we want and choose to ignore His voice.

While saying,

“Your will be done”,

We are truly saying,

“Make this work out according to my will, Lord”

Walking in the natural may not involve a lifestyle of blatant sin.  It can be a life of settling for less than God’s best and staying in our comfort zones.  It trusts fear rather than love.

When we walk in the Spirit, we come face to face with the feeling of being out of control, as we hand all of our control over to God.   We put ourselves in the position of relying fully on Him to reveal His plans and choosing to not lean on our own understanding.  This goes against everything we are taught in the natural.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” —Galatians 5:16

All our lives, society tells us to put our trust in what will secure our future.  We are told to make decisions based off of what has worked for others, rather than being the unique individuals God created us to be.

To walk in the Spirit is freedom.  While the world focuses on what will be lost and what can no longer be done, the reality remains that there is much more to gain in the never-ending possibilities found in the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit removes all boundaries and allows God to have complete access to change and rearrange our lives . . . as He wills.

A scary thought at times.

Even so, the thought of being outside of His will is much scarier to me than the feeling of being out of control.

It is much scarier for me to think about holding even a single part of my heart back from Him.

One thought I had this afternoon was about how Christians often say things like,

“Don’t pray for patience, or God will give it to you.”

It’s said in a negative tone.  You know what I’m talking about, right?

I admit, I’ve said it in the past.  I’ve also have many people say it to me.   Often it appears to be said in a joking manner, but still there is quite a bit of honestly written between the lines.  Excuse me for stepping on some toes (including my own) . . .

Isn’t patience one of the Fruits of the Spirit? (Galatians 5:22-23)

I suppose what I am getting at is that we can’t truly experience the deeper things of God, if we attempt to live a life of picking and choosing what we want of Him based off our level of comfort and how easy it will be for us to walk it out.

Total surrender does not involve us holding back any part of ourselves from Him.  When we ask Him to have His will in our lives, except for one or two things . . . we are still trying to be in control.

It’s a journey, friends.  It involves taking one step at a time with Him.  Allowing Him to reveal His truth to our hearts.  To make decisions to obey Him even when it feels uncomfortable, even when it hurts.  Learning to trust that the pain of missing out on even one aspect of who He is, is far greater than the pain of dying to ourselves.

I believe it is His plan for us to constantly be moving from glory to glory.  It is His will for us not to stay where we are, but to be continually growing our roots deeper into Him.

Lord, teach me how to walk not according to my flesh, but to walk wholeheartedly according to Your Spirit.  To rely on You, to trust You, above my own instincts, desires, hopes and dreams.  To listen to Your voice before I receive a word from any other.  

To stay in Your presence.

Soften my heart to Yours, so that my desire will be to hold nothing back from You.  Let my life be aligned with Your plans and purposes.

 Not my will, but Your will be done.