Your Present is Bright

It’s easy, isn’t it?  To get so caught up in what is not yet here.  To so quickly be willing to trade in the moment for the promise of what is to come.

It’s in our nature, in all reality, to seek out the greener pasture.  In those times when all hope seems to be lost, we reassure ourselves . . .

“Things will get better.”

That’s advice I’ve been quick to give in the past.  It’s a string of words that honestly have become empty of all power to me.

I don’t know that it will get better.  Perhaps the only thing that will make things get better is a change of heart and attitude, but I cannot even begin to assume anything beyond my own self.  Only God can see the heart.

One thing I’m learning on a personal level is that many of the disappointments in my life have been caused by my own expectations.  If my outlook is distorted, how would I be able to see anything as it truly is?

How would I even recognize what better is?

There is so much of an emphasis placed on things getting better and of the wonders waiting for us on the other side.

From experience, I know that I am never happy or content when I put my hope in tomorrow.  When I cope with my surroundings by telling myself that “if I can just make it through this” the new things coming are going to change everything.

As someone who, in the past, has coped by jumping from one new thing to the other.  New isn’t always better.

In fact, new will never give you the lasting satisfaction you are longing for.  It isn’t until we embrace the mundane, old and ordinary, that we will ever be satisfied.  It doesn’t matter how bleak our past or spectacular our future.  I’ll be bold and say that we will quite possibly miss the better when it arrives, unless a change within takes place.

It gets better today.

It gets better as we begin to allow God to change the way we think, the way we see, the way we live our lives.

It gets better when we give up on chasing our dreams and meet with God right here, right now.

It doesn’t mean life will be perfect.  You know that, I’m sure you do.  Things will not be perfect until we are at home with Him.  Terrible things happen every day.  I get that.  I understand it well.  You do too.  But . . .

I am learning that we don’t have to carry the weight of this world that we face.  I am learning that there is always light to be found.

Don’t give up, there is hope found in the now.

Look up.

Your present is bright

because His light

is all around you.

Interrupt My Day

 

Lord, as I go about my usual routine . . .
I invite You to interrupt my day
and change the way
I see the world.

 

 

Let me not be so consumed . . .
In the things I have to do
that I forget You
are beside me.

 

 

Lord, steady my heart in Yours . . .
Remind me of Your presence
and of heaven
that surrounds me.

 

 

Teach me to look for You.

When You Ask God to Take You Higher and He Does

I wanted to share a testimony with you of what happened yesterday after I wrote my latest post, Take Me Higher.

For the past month, I’ve been struggling with the album I have been working on.  It started off great, and then I got lost inside my head.  I began to overthink everything.  So I prayed, and I asked God if it was a spiritual attack on my mind or if I needed to step back for a moment.  I had to completely remove myself from the project for a couple weeks because the stress became so great that I could barely focus.

You see, the track list of this album is full of symbolism.  The lyrics are deep with emotion and honesty.  Though they are laced with hope and light, most of them were written on days when I was in so much pain that I could barely speak.  I am proud of the songs and I’ve been complimented on the writing.  Many opportunities opened up for me when I first started to play them in coffee shops and out on the streets.  In 2014, I was determined to start recording the album.

Right before I moved back to California, a little over a year ago, I played a concert in LA.  I had intended on playing these particular songs, but when I arrived I decided to simply worship in the way that I would in my own private time with the Lord.  The outcome was life changing.  I was able to share my testimony and I had several people come up to me afterward asking more about God.  As I left the venue, I felt completely alive and I told the Lord,

“If this is what You desire for me to do for the rest of my life, I would be happy to simply be a carrier of Your presence and create an atmosphere of worship wherever You send me.”

Months passed, I put the album on hold and produced a worship EP instead.  As many of you know, 2015 was a very difficult year for me.  God rescued me out of a very dangerous situation that would have impacted the rest of my life.  It has been a journey of great healing and a time of God showing me, once again, who I am.

To be honest, for quite a few years, I have been walking around feeling like a shell of myself.  Last night, when I gave up, I knew exactly what I needed to do.  It was as if a ginormous burden rolled off of me.  I woke up feeling as if something I lost a long time ago had finally returned.

Yes, I am completely dropping the album I thought I was going to release.  There were parts of me that felt I needed to prove something to myself, as well as to those who had hurt me tremendously during the time when I wrote the songs.  I don’t want that to be the reason I produce music.

I am letting go because I can no longer carry the words and images that live between the lines.  I need to start fresh or I know I will not be able to heal.

Don’t get me wrong, God used those songs to reach people in my previous season.  He also used them to heal me in many areas of my heart.  Perhaps He will one day use them again, but for now I am completely letting go . . .

and I’ve never felt so alive and confident in the Lord.

Thoughts on Seasons in Life and Why Our Perspectives Matter

The other day, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in several years at a local market. It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. We chatted for a brief moment, simply answering a few questions back and forth. It was surface level. We didn’t go very deep or share our life stories from where we last left off.

Ever since that encounter, I have been replaying one of my answers over and over again in my head. When asked how I was doing, my immediate response was,

“I’m in the best season I’ve had thus far.”

As I got back into my car and headed home, I was slightly confused,

“The best season?” I thought.

This year was completely terrifying and exhausting. I laughed at my response, but I laughed out of joy. The kind of joy that clearly displays the major work God has done in my heart in the recent months. To be able to look someone in the eye and give that answer so automatically, and sincerely, was a very big deal for me. I was completely floored, quite honestly.

You see, it’s not that everything is perfect in my life right now. I am in the best season of my life only because God has touched me in a way that has changed my perspective. It has been awful, I have cried a lot, and I may even cry again after I post this. There I said it.

The difference is that I am continuing on. I am continuing on and not using anything unhealthy to cope or self-medicate this time. That alone is HUGE for me. My sense of self worth has been reestablished in a way that I have never experienced. I am learning how to say yes to what is truly beneficial, and to say no in the face of conflict.

God truly saved my life this year, and though there is still much to walk through, I am not the person I was. I want to live every year in this way. To see each season of life through the eyes of eternity and as opportunities for growth.

There will be more hardships and tears down this road, but this isn’t the end. Though there are going to be many painful moments in the future, I know one thing for sure:

The road is rich and full of His love and companionship. Though all others may fail me, I will never actually be alone.

Holy

“Who is this King of glory?  The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.” – Psalm 24:10

We ended our first night in Iceland in worship and prayer.  As my fingers hit the keys, there was only one word that echoed over and over in my heart and mind.  

Holy.

King of kings, Lord of lords, I am in awe of Your goodness.  You are perfect in all of Your ways. 

Holy.  

Sometimes this word is the only word that my lips are able to form.

It is who He is.

I have spoken this word, I have sung this word for years.  Throughout my journey with the Lord, there have been layers of understanding His holiness, but this is a whole new level.  It is changing my heart in ways that nothing else could.

There is no one like Him.

All it takes is a whisper and I come undone again.  So much joy.  So much awe.

I want more of Him.  He promises to respond when we earnestly seek Him.  I don’t care how long I’ve been seeking Him, or how amazing the journey has been so far.  There is always more of Him.  He goes on and on.  His love is unending.  His mercy is new every morning.

He is a big God and we so often limit Him.  We so often make Him out to be common, when there is nothing common about Him.

“I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne;and the train of His robe filled the temple.  Above Him were seraphim, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of His glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” – Isaiah 6:1-4

Lord, show me Your glory.  

For the next two weeks, I will be in Iceland.  We will be ministering at a week-long conference starting tomorrow evening.  I know He is going to touch the hearts of those who attend.  I know that He is going to show up in powerful ways and meet us as we seek His face.  So I cry out again,

Lord, show us Your glory.  Reveal to us more of who You are.  

The more I worship Him, the more I get to know His heart, the more I realize how little I can do without Him.  And that . . . is amazing.  There is no greater joy than to move with Him.  I don’t want to play a single note, or speak even one word, that isn’t breathed upon by Him.  I need all of Him, not bits and pieces.  I’d rather feel awkward for a moment and wait for His lead, than resort to the comfort of my own methods and routines.  After all . . .

One word breathed upon by God has the power to change a nation.

Moving with God and Allowing Him to Become Everything

In eleven days I will be adventuring back to Iceland.  Once again, I will be traveling with His Glory to the Nations to minister at a conference.  Our team consists of four members, and we are all thrilled to see what God has planned for our two week visit.  I intend on keeping you all updated with blog posts, photos, and videos.

Leading up to the day of our departure, as with any other trip, I have quite the list of things to get done before we leave on the 20th.  It’s been a combination of getting my house in order, starting to throw things into my suitcase, and buying those last minute items that I know I will need while I am away.  At the same time, I am making sure that I focus primarily on Spiritual preparation.

My heart is earnestly seeking the Lord for vision and insight into what is burning in His heart.  For the people we will be crossing paths with in Iceland, in the airports, as well as everywhere else I find myself in the next eleven days [it is good to stay in the present, regardless of how much excitement resides in the future].

What a good God He is.

How wonderful it is that He allows us to partner with Him.  This God who never changes.  This God who is always moving.  He doesn’t stop moving when we do.  He continually invites us to come along side Him and move to the rhythm of His heart.

I hear so many people say that it’s been a long time since God has moved in the way that they used to experience Him.  I hear so many who are weighed down because they don’t feel Him and He seems so far away.

We have songs, we have prayers, books, classes, movements, that promise an end result of some type of supernatural change.  How to get closer to God, how to hear His voice, how to know His will.  All of those things can truly enrich our walk and cause us to grow deeper in our relationship with God.  But . . . have we spent too much time and energy in our methods that we burn out before we ever make it to the actual Source [God]?

There is so much disappointment.

There is so much complacency.

I have seen these things in myself, which is why I am feeling the need to write these words.

It is easy to fall into the rut of when God moves, I will move rather than face the fact that we don’t control God’s movements.  He is always performing miracles, always rescuing people out of their pain, always moving, always loving,

always

being

Himself.

If something changes, we can know for certain we are the ones who have changed.  It is up to us to move with Him.

I am challenging myself to intentionally seek Him, as each new day begins,

“Lord, have Your way in me today.  I want to move with You.  I don’t care where I am or who I am with, I invite You to influence and impact every single second of this day.  Remind me of Your presence.  Let Your face always be before me.  Let Your words always be on my lips.  Open my eyes to see Your glory.”

I am not talking about walking away from God.  I am not talking about living a life of blatant disobedience.  I am talking about losing our wonder.  I am talking about getting sidetracked.  I am talking about those moments when we get so busy doing the things of God that we find ourselves falling asleep praying at the end of the day.

It is easy to get so busy and involved in our methods that we hardly interact with God.  In a world with so many voices, He needs to be the first voice that we listen for.

Someone once told me,

     “Don’t be hard on yourself, I bet it touched God’s heart that you fell asleep talking to Him.”

I’m not being hard on myself.

I’m saying that the end of the day shouldn’t be the first time we interact with Him.

Years ago, someone I loved treated me with an “I’m saving the best for last” mentality.  Often times, they would go about their day without taking the time to talk with me.  It would be very normal for me not to hear back from them until I was in bed and asleep.  I didn’t feel that I was “the best saved for last”.  I felt like I was one last item to check off the list.  When carefully confronting them on the matter, and expressing my feelings, I only received more excuses.

Excuses are easy.

I don’t want easy.

When I think about that scenario and apply it to my walk with God, it makes me want to throw my cellphone, my camera, my computer, and everything else, into the pond located near my house.

     Nothing else matters if I don’t have Him. 

I tell Him that often, but do my actions tell it to Him as well?

He is my first and last.

He is my beginning and  end.

He cannot even be a priority.  Priorities are ranked and numbered.  Priorities can be switched around, sometimes without us even realizing it at first.  He cannot be a priority.  He cannot be the best saved for last.

He needs to be all.

He needs to be it.

Everything.

The only way He can be our everything is if we know Him.  When we truly approach Him, and invest time into knowing Him, nothing will be able to keep us from seeking Him out more and more.  It is natural.  It is not a method.  It is not legalistic.  It is not fear-based.

It is totally

and completely

founded

upon

love.

Update: 2015 Thus Far

     I am writing this update to you from my very own home . . . yes, this is happening!  As of the last month, I am now working full-time as an Exec Admin at a Christian camp.  So far it has proven to be an excellent fit and I absolutely love my job.  I am very privileged to work in a positive environment with amazing management and coworkers.  My position also includes a rent-free, three-bedroom house—utilities included!  It is literally a dream come true.  I had no idea this job existed and the way that God brought it about was nothing short of supernatural.

     I am so glad that God doesn’t leave us where we are at.  Up until transitioning into the new job, I had spent the last few months back with my parents.  I was hanging out in the unknown, trusting that I was supposed to be back in California, living on just enough finances to barely survive, and swallowing my pride in the moments where I needed to ask my father to help me cover my car payment.  It was honestly a struggle at times.  It was a very humbling experience.  I didn’t realize how much security I had in my own independence and my ability to provide for myself.

     The moment I learned to be content with living off of next to nothing, I found out that I truly had everything.  We have a choice in those situations to choose panic or to choose peace.  It’s easy to choose peace when everything is running smoothly.  It’s another thing to choose peace when, in the natural, there is none.

     The mind is a battlefield.  You can probably relate to much of what I’m talking about.  The ups and downs of emotions.  The highs and the lows.  We all have them in one extreme or another.  But somewhere in the midst of our fluctuating, often untrustworthy, responses to life there is a balance.  The balance that turns our striving and surviving into thriving.  This is a balance that we can only obtain through the renewing of our minds and reconstruction of unhealthy thought processes.  It is as simple as admitting that, “God, I can’t . . but You can.”  That is the safest place to live in.  I am not saying that I have fully mastered this way of living, but thank God I am a lot further along than I used to be.

     Being fearful and walking in anxiety is not trusting in God.  Neither is allowing yourself to linger in the pit of woe-is-me and everything-is-awful.  I feel I can say these things because these are places I have personally been,  places I have decided to choose not to be in.  It is a choice, and it is necessary to make this choice on a daily basis.  It is choosing to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit and not controlled by your flesh.  Granted, these mindsets are deadly, have most likely grown deep into your identity, and take consistent work to overcome them.  These are hard battles to fight, but they are not impossible.  The best things in life are often the hardest to obtain.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve reached the point where I want the best that God has to offer.  “Easy” isn’t always His best—a difficult thing to grasp in a society that thrives on receiving instant gratification with little or no effort.

     God is faithful.  I say that phrase a lot, I know.  But . . . it is the truth.  It is who He is and it is a truth on which you can stand.  When everything else seems uncertain and unfamiliar, it is the one thing that I know is true.  This reality is the “everything” that I referred to.  The reality that you can have everything that you need, even when it appears to be the opposite in the natural.  Peace is more valuable than any earthly treasure.  If it does not have God in it, I don’t want it . . . plain and simple.

      Oh, and guess what?  My album is currently in the process of global distribution. It will soon be available on iTunes, Amazon and beyond!  I will make an announcement as soon as I have the links.

      And yikes, #worshipwednesday.  I realize that in my first-of-the-year post I promised weekly videos and audio files.  Rather than stress out over it, I decided to focus on my Vine channel for the time being.  If you have Vine, you should connect with me.  I post worship clips multiple times a week, if not on a daily basis.  I’ve been breaking out all of the instruments.  Piano, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, and my recent addition . . . banjo!  [click on the photo for the link!]

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     Also, check out my Instagram for more photos and videos documenting my current antics.  [click on the photo for the link!]

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     There are more NEW things coming, so check back again soon!  I’m currently in the editing stage of some new videos, and I am also working on a new single to be released before summer.  There is a lot in motion currently.  So much excitement.  I can hardly contain myself.

New Chapters

     Oh, hello.  I’ve been back from Iceland for a few weeks now—in case you were wondering, I did come back to the US!  I’m sorry it took me so long to write an update.  I realize that I left you hanging for almost a month, but I have honestly been having trouble finding the words.  There were multiple occasions where I would sit down and try to force a new post into existence, until I came to the conclusion that I would give myself some time to breathe.

     My time in Iceland was life-changing.  I know that is something most people say when they return from a ministry trip, but this trip was unlike any of the others I have taken.  Since I graduated high school, I’ve had the honor of visiting over half a dozen different countries.  Each trip was significant, in its own way, and has had a huge impact on how I see the world around me, and how I live out my faith.

     When I say that going to Iceland changed my life, I mean that it literally changed my life.  I mean that there were areas in my heart that God healed in dramatic ways.  He gave me a new perspective of His heart for me and began to take me back to situations in my past and bring closure.

     Closure.  That seems to be my word at the moment.  And as He has been bringing healing and closure into the deepest places of my heart, He continues to take me close in His arms, and whisper gently,

      “Your heart has been hurt and I see that.  I want to make you whole.”

     I’m letting go of things, I now realize, I had been holding onto for too long.  (Lord, I release my grasp.  I was never in control of those areas anyway.)

     Old chapters end.  New ones begin.

     I’m learning to let Him treat my wounds immediately, rather than wait until they fester and grow.  And it hurts.  It hurts unlike anything I’ve felt at times, but the pain will only increase if left untreated.

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     The deeper I let Him work, the clearer my vision becomes.  The things that were once cloudy come into focus, and some of it, perhaps, begins to make sense.

     The life that is found in death.

     The beauty that is found in the broken.

     The “more” that God promises

     that He has for those who take the risk

     to love Him and to trust Him with everything.

     I’ve written more songs in the recent weeks than I have in the last year.  It has almost been as if I cannot breathe without releasing a new lyric.  They come from the area where deep calls unto deep.  They are my dialogues with the Lord.  They are the desires of my heart put into melodies.  That said, the album that I was planning on recording is going to be put on the shelf for now, but I believe I’ll still have something out by January . . .

     This is where I am.

     I write this with a smile, and with tears streaming down my face.  Even though certain changes of late have turned my world upside down, the goodness of God fills my heart with joy.  A joy that strengthens.

     So, my friends, I am continuing to walk this path with my Father.  We’re taking it one day at a time.  I don’t have any agendas, big plans or itineraries planned out for the next couple months, or even beyond that.  My first priority is to seek His face and to hear His heart.  I don’t want to walk a single step ahead of Him.  To those of my friends who live in California, feel free to hit me up.  Many of you have expressed the desire to hear more about Iceland, and I’d love to catch up with you over a cup of coffee or something.

     I’d also like to say thank you to those who have been loving on me through encouraging phone calls and messages.  You know who you are.  I’m blessed to have friends and family like you in my life.  So blessed.  I love you all very much.