Teach me to look for You.
Teach me to look for You.
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.
When I lean on my own understanding, I open a door for fear, and his many friends, to enter in. There is no room left for trust.
Trusting in God is a daily—moment by moment—decision. My hope is that as I continue to grow in the Lord, the lapses where I find myself leaning on my own understanding will become less and less. That I will be more inclined to wait for His leading, rather than rely on my own intuition, my current emotional state, my ever-changing feelings, and everything else apart from Him.
The biggest liars that we will ever encounter in our lives will most likely be our own feelings. Quite a few of the biggest decisions in my past were made based on how I was feeling at the time.
I would say no based off of fear or hurt.
I would say yes to avoid letting someone down, or simply because it seemed like the right thing to do.
I was trusting in myself.
I’ve learned that just because something looks good—or looks GOD—doesn’t mean it is actually from God. I’ve learned that if I had waited a moment, and asked for His input, before taking another step, I could have easily spared myself from many painful consequences.
Timing is also important. We need to stay on His timeline. There are moments when we jump so quickly, and prematurely, that we end up missing out on what He was trying to speak to us in the first place.
When you can’t take a decision and hand it fully over to God, saying, “Lord, if this is not of You, please close the door. No matter how much I may want this, I give even my desires to you”, that is usually a sign that you are not truly surrendered.
As I look back and think upon the poorly made decisions of my past, I see a common denominator:
I would let God know what I wanted, leaving very little room for Him to tell me no, and pray that it would all work together for good.
We are human.
We are far from all-knowing.
We see things at ground level, whereas He has a much higher perspective.
His ways are so unlike the ways of the world that we live in, yet still He is always willing to meet us right where we are at.
He is closer than a breath away. Closer than our own skin. He is here to cover our weakness in strength and to give us the courage to live the life we were created to live.
All we have to do is reach out and respond to His ever present invitation.
Lord, give me eyes to see things from Your perspective. I don’t want to go against the flow of Your Spirit. I don’t want to move unless I am being moved by You.
If there is anything that is hindering my ability to fully trust in You, I ask that You would shine truth in those areas and give me courage to completely surrender it all to You. Increase my awareness of Your plans and purposes.
I ask for Kingdom vision.
Lord, take me higher.
Ever since last fall, I have been gradually stepping away from my usual routine social media posts, and even my photography has been put on hold at times. My focus has narrowed down to working on an album that has been in the making since 2013. I wrote the last few songs in September and have been attempting to remain diligent about taking the steps to see this vision unfold.
I know I have mentioned the new album on quite a few occasions in the last year, but many of the details have either changed [like the title] or progressed since my last post. I hit the ground running in January and never looked back. My title track is already finished and at the mastering stage, and tonight I have plans to finish mixing a second. With nearly two out of the ten tracks completed, I am right on schedule.
I started recording music at age eleven. I can hardly believe that, as of this year, I am coming up on fifteen years of recording. Thank God I have come a long way since my four-track recording days. I would describe my initial setup as “ghetto”. It was the bare minimum and I tried my best to utilize the resources that were available to me. I am thankful that music is where I spent the majority of my free time growing up. I can’t even imagine trying to pick it all up as an adult.
I took the last several years to experiment with better equipment, find a setup that works well for me, and then research and research and research . . . etc.
For the most part, I’ve been mainly putting out acoustic projects. Due to limited resources, I have chosen to keep it simple. However, there has always remained a desire to delve deeper and expand in my overall sound. Acoustic music is not necessarily what I personally listen to or prefer. The vision has always been to create and compose music that I like to listen to and take it from there.
My approach to recording has dramatically changed this year. I am taking the advice of a few other recording artists by treating the time spent in my studio as a profession rather than a hobby. I am now blocking out slots for studio time in my calendar, as well as making deadlines and weekly goals. These are things that I used to consider a hinderance to natural creative flow, but now I am seeing that having this type of routine and structure is actually sparking more inspiration. My time recording has been much more productive and I have been taking humungous leaps and bounds into areas of recording that I have longed to go.
By scheduling out my recording, I am now creating more of a balance in my week. As many of you know, I work a full time job apart from my art. In the past, I have burned myself out. I would dive straight into a project after work, over do it, forget to rest, and then I wouldn’t touch the project for months . . . or ever. I now schedule days off, which creates a healthy and much needed boundary, causing me to be refreshed and mentally prepared for my next studio session.
I plan to have When A Soul Weeps finished mid-April. It’s official release will not be until sometime in the summer. I am working on a marketing plan and I am taking time to prayerfully consider my next steps. In the near future, I will begin to release more information, perhaps a promo video, and share album art. I am very excited.
What to call my genre is still up in the air. I have been calling it “alternative/indie/electronic/experimental”, which is way too long and needs to be shortened. “Alterna-die-electro-mental” is shorter, but it sounds like I have all sorts of problems. We will cross that bridge when we get there. 😉
My faithful, furry companion, Chad has been very supportive in my recent endeavors. We take many breaks together [As I am writing this, it is a huge struggle to see my computer screen. His nose is pressed firmly against mine.] and go on walks to make sure we both stay healthy and active. Taking breaks is another new thing for me. Again, I have decided to not burn myself out this time around. We love going out and sniffing every leaf in the forest . . . well, Chad does.
On that note, I have a walking date with my pup, and then a song to mix. Check back soon for more updates!
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.
Last night was the conclusion of the Living Under the Open Heaven conference. It has been a delight to fellowship and experience God with such lovely people, and I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for Iceland. We are now in tourist mode and will be venturing out and about for the next week.
Due to the fact that my mind feels like mush, I plan to write a longer and more informative update after I relax and play a bit. This afternoon we will be heading into a nearby town to visit some shops, drink coffee and debrief.
At this point, I will be taking many more photos and collecting video footage for a new film piece that I plan to release after I return home. To view more of my photography, visit my photo gallery. I have also been posting more updates on my Facebook.
All is well in Iceland. Now if you will please excuse me, I have touristy things to do. 😉
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” – Matthew 5:6
It is impossible to comprehend the height and depth of God’s love for His people. The little glimpses that we have caught are so spectacular and wondrous, yet what we are capable of seeing isn’t even surface level.
Even so, He tells us that when we seek Him, we will find Him. He says that if we hunger and thirst, we will be satisfied. There is always another angle, another layer to this God who is never-ending. This God who makes Himself so accessible and available.
“Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” – Jeremiah 33:3
We have been in Iceland for four days [I think?], and so far I have rested more here than in well over a year. I am grateful to the Lord for bringing me back. Not only is He moving upon those who came to attend the conference, but He is moving upon our entire team. Bringing refreshing rest, new experiences in Him, and lets face it . . . this is pretty much the most epic of all vacations.
It has been wonderful to reconnect with many of the beautiful people who joined us last year. It is encouraging to see their hunger and excitement for more of God. We are staying in Eastern Iceland, in a more rural area. Most of the attendees have come quite the distance to be here.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7
During the first few sessions, we have been sharing a lot about what it is to walk in the glory. The idea that we were created to live in freedom. Right here, right now. To walk in the fullness that He has for us. On earth, as it is in Heaven. Not by our might, not by our power, but by His Spirit dwelling inside of us [Zechariah 4:6].
The gifts that He bought for us with His sacrifice are often the very gifts that we never fully receive. We tend to limit God to work within our own limitations. We tend to tell Him what our worth is rather than listening to what He says about who we are.
It is okay to dream big and crazy dreams. God desires to stretch us beyond our own abilities. When we are in a place where we are beyond our own abilities, He is able to step in and empower us to walk in the impossible.
It really wasn’t long ago when I would have been quite terrified to do some of the things I’ve been doing in the last few days. To get to this point I have had to walk directly into some very uncomfortable and awkward situations, and I am so glad I did. I am so glad because the adventures that I wound up on, through those moments of stretching, have brought me into places that used to seem impossible.
We need to trust that God is who He says He is. We will never be disappointed if we keep our focus on Him and not on the things that are happening around us. All of creation is waiting for us to rise up and start living the way we were born to live.
After our evening session of the conference concluded, all four of us crazy Americans bundled ourselves up, went out into the cold night, and climbed up a steep knoll. We were expectantly seeking out the Aurora Borealis, as Arron had heard that there was a great possibility that it would be visible tonight. [For those who are wondering, a knoll is a hill.]
We stayed out for awhile, but alas we could not see anything but stars, clouds and the moon. Still, the view of the stars was very satisfactory. After all, it was an opportunity, a rare moment in time. It is not every day that I find myself up on a knoll in Iceland with a terrific view of the stars!
I have been doing research on night photography specifically in preparation of capturing the Aurora Borealis. I came to the conclusion that we still have many days left before we leave, and I would continue to expect that God would provide me with the opportunity. Regardless of the fact that we couldn’t see what we were originally looking for, I always enjoy standing under a starry night sky.
It wasn’t until after I took the picture below that I noticed a faint streak of Aurora. I was floored. I was content, after staying out for awhile, to go back inside and go to bed.
However, I didn’t go to bed. I started to write a blog post. Not this blog post, but another one that I will eventually publish. You see, my post for tonight dramatically changed when I received a Facebook message from Sheryl, who is staying in the room next to mine.
Sheryl informed me that she could see the Aurora and that it was dancing across the sky. She proceeded to allow me to come over and see it from her window, as my window faces the opposite direction.
It’s crazy now to think that I almost didn’t go back outside because I was in my pajamas and didn’t want to be cold. I seriously considered staying in my bed, continuing to write, and then eventually going to sleep. Thankfully, I chose to step out. Did I mention it was nearly 2am?
Let me just tell you how crazy and amazing Sheryl was to offer to go out with me. We were both in our sleepwear, threw on some layers, our boots, and trekked back up the knoll together.
In the words of Sheryl,
“Never stop asking God for more. Whatever you need just ask. His storehouse never runs out.”
As we stood on the knoll once again, the only words that I could find were declarations of praise to God.
He never stops astounding me.
[And now I will go to bed . . .]
“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.
King of kings, Lord of lords, I am in awe of Your goodness. You are perfect in all of Your ways.
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.
I am currently sitting on the floor, waiting at our terminal in San Francisco International Airport. From here we fly to Seattle and then on to Reykjavík. Once we arrive in Reykjavík, we will take one more plane to our destination in Egilsstaðir.
I am choosing right now to let go of all of my expectations except for one. I am expecting that God is going to move powerfully during our time traveling, while we are sightseeing, and as we minister to those who attend the conference.
Holy Spirit, You are welcome to come and move freely in this adventure. Have Your way . . .