I am Enough

I’m an artist in multiple mediums and a perfectionist at heart. I wouldn’t say I am competitive but I would definitely say I am hard on myself. I have another post about being my worst critic and I meant each word. I want everything I do to be perfect, to be good enough for everyone as well as myself. I want each and everything I make, do, and say to be just what is needed. But rarely do I feel that way.

I rarely feel good enough. I can hammer myself down until I’m a nail stuck in a wooden plank, giving splinters to anyone who tries to tell me otherwise. I can listen to my songs, read my writing, and look at my paintings or drawings and see nothing of worth. Even worse, I can look at myself the same way. But we weren’t created to view ourselves as worthless sinners, trapped in sin and failure. We are so much more.

One of my favorite passages of the Bible is Romans chapter 8. Verse 37 says that we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. More than conquerors. We have endless possibility in our hands, our minds, our feet. If we can do more than conquer (which sounds difficult if you ask me), what else can we do? Can I get out of bed? I can do even more. Can I ace this test? Write this paper? Can I write this song? Perform the song? Can I really publish this blog post, acting like I know what I’m talking about? I can. Through Him who loves me.

I’m nothing without my Jesus. He is my backbone, my strength, and my glory. I am more than a conqueror, through him. Without him? Forget it. Without Jesus I wouldn’t be in Nashville, I wouldn’t be in music. I would not be who I am without the one who loves me. Is that beautiful? I don’t matter. He does. I am enough because He is enough. I am worthy because He is worthy. I love because He first loved me.

The weight of being enough was lifted off my shoulders when Jesus died and rose again. I am no longer in charge of my worth, I don’t have to earn it through perfection or hard work. I have it. I have worth in Jesus and the best part about that is that it never changes! Nothing changes how God feels about me. Nothing changes His unconditional love. Nothing. Not mediocre song lyrics, not word vomit blog posts. Nothing.

I am enough. Say it with me, I am enough. Out loud. I don’t care if it’s a whisper or a shout, say it. I am enough. You are enough. We are enough. Not because of anything I did, but because of what Christ Jesus has done on the cross and in my heart. I am enough.

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Glory Moments

I think about the future too much. Wait. Let me rephrase that. I worry about the future too much, far too much. I am a worrier in the first place, but mention the future and I can go for miles. The great unknown is scary and I want to plan it. I love planning ahead, though whether or not I follow that plan is often more of a “let’s wing it and see what happens” kind of situation. Yet, Jesus asks me if worrying will add even an hour to my life. He tells me to look at the lilies of the field and how they are clothed, to look at the birds and how they are fed. If Jesus cares for those parts of His creation, how much more will He care for me, a masterpiece of His hand?

There are times that thinking of the future is terrifying. Thinking about graduating college in a year or less, finding a job, not knowing what I am doing for the summer, those are scary unknown future thoughts. But there are also times that thinking of the future is exciting. Reading Mark 9 this morning while watching a live-stream message from my church helped me see that. You see, Mark 9 talks about the transfiguration and gives the disciples (and us as readers and believers) a peek into what life could and will be like with Jesus! This reminded me of all the many ways that God gives us glances of the glory to come.

I was at a concert, jumping around and singing along at the top of my lungs with the rest of the audience. I saw a glimpse of what worship could look like in heaven.

I was in Mexico on a missions trip, surrounded by the most joyful people I have ever seen and I saw what community will look like.

I was in my hammock on a mountain side as I breathed in the crisp fresh air I felt a peace that could only be from God. A peace that will be constant and everlasting in eternity.

These are precious moments that I keep close to my heart, moments I pull out to remember in times of chaos and doubt. These are moments that God revealed Himself to me. These are moments that I saw and felt the Holy Spirit, the moments I was closer to that Shiny Jesus moment of the transfiguration. I did not worry in these moments. I could not find the space in my heart for fear in these moments because perfect love casts out fear. I was filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s love in these moments, making it impossible to worry about anything.

These moments are some of the purest of my life, and if you have moments like these I would love to hear all about them. These stories are worth sharing. If you don’t have these kinds of moments yourself, take mine. Tell them to yourself in your times of need and believe them. You will have your own moments in your walk with Christ when He reveals himself in some of the strangest and most beautiful ways. Those stories are incredible. They are beautiful. And they are worth sharing, so please share them. Share the stories of your glimpses into a future full of God’s glory, because we need it. We need reminders of the glory to come.

How I Write Songs

So, the program here is all about the music industry and I am in the artist track, meaning I am learning how to write songs and then bring them to life in performances. It’s mildly terrifying. But also fun amid the difficulty. Turns out art rarely comes easily, so here is your once in a lifetime chance: I am going to take you through my process of writing a song.

Step One: Inspiration. Find something you want to write about. This could be just about anything, which is the hard part. Happy love songs, mad love songs, songs about dogs, songs about road trips, about how much you love cottage cheese, there are endless possibilities.

Step Two: Try not to get angry when nothing sounds quite right, keep trying until you find something you don’t hate quite as much as everything else.

Step Three: I suggest writing your chorus first, it helps you figure out where you want the song to go as a whole and often gives you a title. You’ll need a melodic and lyrical hook, something catchy that people will find themselves singing when they’re alone in the house on a Saturday night. Use more simple chords here, sticking to the 1, 4, and 5 chords like C, F, and G. It helps it sound familiar to the listener’s ear. It’s also easier to play on the guitar.

Step Four: Here is when I usually put it aside and forget how it goes when I want to work on it a day or two later, if you don’t want that to happen try recording it on your phone. Or, you could do what I do sometimes and just never go back to finish it.

Step Five: Once you have your chorus I suggest looking for some slightly different chords for your verses. Don’t go too crazy if you’re writing pop but maybe add some minor chords in there to make it interesting. Lyrically use the verses to playfully expound on the main idea you present in the chorus. Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you.

Step Six: This is when I usually realize I forgot to write a pre-chorus, so now you can look back at your chorus and write a shorter thing to lead into it. The pre will sort of lift from the verses into the chorus and remind the listener “hey the part I usually like to sing in the shower is coming up!”

Step Seven: Once you have verses, a pre-chorus, and chorus it’s time to mix it up a little! Here you have a choice, you can pitch the whole thing in the trash and start all over or you can write a bridge! The bridge is usually a left turn in the song so use this chance to use any funky chords you’ve been waiting to throw in. The bridge is also a left turn lyrically, so you can present the other side of whatever story you are trying to tell here.

Step Eight: You might think you’re done at this point, maybe leave it to sit in your brain and go back later. My friends, you’d be incorrect. You will come back later and you will either love the song and consider it done, or you will hate it and edit the poor thing until it is a nearly new song.

Step Nine: Cry a little because it’s not exactly what you wanted it to be. Edit it some more. Retune your guitar, because surely that’s the problem, right? Or maybe it needs to be raised a couple half steps, angrily get your capo out and attempt singing it in keys that sound all too similar yet worlds different.

Step Ten: Rejoice! You have potentially finished a song! Send it to your friends so they can all tell you how awesome it is! Remember to record it or practice it once in a while because if you don’t you will forget how it goes and have to write it all over again! Good luck!

Alright, so part of this is a joke, but honestly– songwriting is hard. It’s pouring your heart and soul into art and hoping that people will hear what you have to say. It’s editing each word mercilessly and angrily staring at the ceiling when your pitch reference starts to fail you. It’s crying when you can’t find the words and crying when you do. Songwriting is no walk in the park. However, in the end, when you’ve said what you wanted to say and sung your little heart out, music is worth it.

Freckles and Scars

A friend on Facebook brought it to my attention that today is March 1st, Self-Harm Awareness Day. She wrote a beautiful post telling her story and every single point hit home with me, especially after I spent last week writing and working a song reflecting on newer and happier moments in my own self-harm story.

It’s called Freckles and Scars, a title that came from a surreal moment in a well lit dance studio a couple weeks ago. I looked down at my arms and could see the faded scars dancing with my freckles, happily coexisting. My freckles are one of my favorite parts of my physical appearance. Yet, there they are fraternizing with the memories of my darkest moments, the faded scars from nights of ripping myself apart. The longer I thought about it the more beautiful it became, the mosaic I had become. All my broken parts coming together to make something new and graceful. The chorus goes like this:

“Rebuild myself out of freckles and scars, Refuse to tame my lion’s heart, Grace wins the day, I think I found my new start in my freckles and scars.”

As I rolled the idea around in my mind, I found myself in a rather tumultuous week. One day I was on top of the world, embodying my lyrics perfectly and finding that place of renewal. The next day I had to go on a run because I was so angry with myself I was afraid I would do something stupid. But the more I wrote and the more I sang the song the more I believed it; the more I was able to look at myself as a mosaic put together with grace.

It’s been two years and about three months since the last time I self-harmed and I praise God for that every day. It’s still hard. There are times that I remember the pain as cleansing and clarifying rather than seeing the harm it did to both myself and the people I love. There are days that my arms itch more than you can imagine. But friends, there are days where I can smile ear to ear knowing that I have survived. Days where I can look at myself in the mirror and genuinely love who I am becoming. I have not only survived but I am healing. I can look at my scars and see something of use, something beautiful. And I can write a song about it.

I can’t wait to sing this song for you, my friends. I can’t wait to show you the joy I feel when I sing it, the clean daylight that I can feel on my face when I sing the words I wrote that week. I want to share this with the world because I need you to know how it feels. You know how it feels to fall apart, the whole world knows that. But do you know how it feels to rebuild yourself out of all your little pieces? Do you know what it feels like to be a mosaic, to see the beauty next to the broken and bruised parts? I need you to know. I need you to know who you are, not as little pieces scattered around a room after you’ve fallen apart and exploded, but who you are when you are rebuilt and renewed.

I can show you how I feel, how it feels for me. But I can’t put you back together. And honestly, you can’t do it either. Not by yourself anyways. Grace wins the day. Jesus conquered the grave. Jesus died and rose again, for the broken and the bruised, for you. No one builds a mosaic quite like Christ.