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.


I Love Love. And Chocolate.

I love Valentine’s day. I really do. I love love in general. I love seeing people start dating, get engaged, get married, or have kiddos. It’s beautiful to watch people experience love. I adore how we met stories, first kiss stories, and proposal stories. I love remembering Valentine’s day as a kid. My mom would cover the house in pink paper hearts with notes on them, draw hearts on the mirrors in dry erase marker, and one time we ate dinner on big red heart shaped plates. I loved it. I love love.

Have you ever looked at a person and you feel like a balloon is expanding in your chest? That warmth that spreads out from your smile, to your ears, then down your spine? I’m sure there’s names for these, but really it’s love, isn’t it? Love feels like something. It’s different for some people, but I think there are some universal signs. Why else would there be an entire day delegated for the exchange of chocolate and flowers? For me love feels like a hand holding mine, or a gentle kiss on my forehead; letters or voice messages, a quick text to tell me good morning. What does it feel like for you?

It’s fun to think about, love. The small things that put a smile on your face or make you giggle in pure happiness. The way a person’s smile brightens the room and how their voice sounds when it says your name. It doesn’t even need to be one person. I adore when I go home to my family after being gone a while and I can hear my sisters giggle as they run to hug me. Sitting at the table, smiling and taking the teasing of my brother. My family feels like love to me. My friends feel like love, when they stop me in the hall just to squeeze my hand or insist that we get coffee that weekend. Love is my people.

Love is scary too. In a new place, with new people, love can be scary because there is so much unknown territory. I don’t know these people or how to make them laugh or if they like hugs, I don’t know how to love them. And I don’t know if they’ll love me. Love is vulnerable, it’s putting yourself out there for other people. Love is scary. But it’s worth it, isn’t it? The fear of putting yourself out there is worth the acceptance you receive in relationship with others. Because we need love too.

It’s quite the conundrum sometimes. Love is scary, but we need and crave it. So, there is a decision to be made here. Do you fear love more than you need it? We aren’t made to fear, so, really, the decision is already made. However, you need to make the choice yourself as well. You need to decide to love love more than you fear love. Because loving out of fear isn’t love. Perfect love casts out fear. But love, oh love does wonders. Love brings the dead to life, gives song it’s sound, and colors the world. Love is as necessary as air, my friends. Love is love. And love is yours. And love is mine. Love is vulnerable. It’s scary. It’s important. Love is necessary. Love is here, love is now. Love is fearless. Wow. I love love.


My Worst Critic and Biggest Fan

Predictably, I forgot I had a blog. To catch you up, I’m still in Nashville and I’m still writing songs at the CMC (Contemporary Music Center). I have started a couple recording projects and I have spent only two or three nights in the CMC working until the wee hours of the morning. I wrote a sweet song with words compiled from people helping me through my anxiety attacks and then I wrote an angry ex-boyfriend song. I have song ideas coming out of my ears and the fingers on my left hand are losing feeling in the tips because of guitar calluses. I am currently prepping to perform in a live show later this week. I’m only slightly terrified this time.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I love performing. Once I’m singing I’m having so much fun, but nerves are a thing too. I’m singing a song carefully pieced together in my hands and someone might not like it. Someone could dislike the lyrics, my voice, or the way I hold the microphone. Luckily, this isn’t American Idol and I don’t have to worry about hearing Simon Cowell saying “it’s a no from me” in that disapproving tone. The critic I worry about the most is me.

I will always end up being harder on myself than others. Not only do I hold the highest expectations of myself but I also have the best view of my weaknesses. I am with myself 24/7, which seem like a silly thought, but sometimes it is hard. There are days that I just can’t handle how my brain talks to me or how I behave in certain situations. I can hear if I sang one note of a run after the chorus a little off. I can feel if I was moving awkwardly when I swayed during the last line of the third verse. I am my own worst critic.

But I am also my biggest fan. I can look into the mirror some days and absolutely adore what I see. I can dress how I know I feel most confident, I can spend the day in power stances and thinking positively. I have the ability to change how I’m feeling and thinking, though when I was younger I firmly insisted I couldn’t. It’s true, you can change how you feel. I have found that the key is giving validity to yourself and your feelings.

I can address my feeling of self doubt, let it exist for a minute or so, and then look at it more critically. Why am I doubting myself? Is it because I missed a note in that rehearsal of a song? Okay, I got it wrong once but I can do better next time. I won’t lie, it is so hard. There are days that giving the feelings validity is dangerous and I come too close to giving it control. But I am the human being with a brain and God-given gifts and free will, I am the one making the calls here. I am in control.

I may be my own worst critic, but I have the ability to conquer myself as well. I can prove myself wrong just as easily as I can prove others wrong. I can tear myself down or build myself up, it is all up to me. I can make decisions I know I will be proud of later or I can make choices I know I will regret later. It’s all up to me. It’s scary. But it’s worth it. I can fail at convincing myself to get out of bed on time, I can give myself the best pep talks before a performance. I can make or break my mind, because I am my worst critic and biggest fan.

What Did You Do Today?

Is what you’re doing now getting you closer to where you want to be?

Honestly, is it? Look at what you did today. You woke up, got out of bed, then what? Maybe it’s easier to think of where you want to be first. Look at your life and think about what you wish it was. Would you rather be living somewhere else? Working somewhere else? What do you want to get out of this funny thing we call a lifetime?

I’ll tell you what I want. I want to glorify God through my music and my relationships with others. Practically, I hope that looks like writing and releasing my own music, leading worship, and loving each person I meet as Jesus does. Okay. Now, today I woke up, went to classes at a music center, had lunch, spent some time on Pinterest, went back to class, then analyzed a song I wrote to figure out what key it was in and what the chords were in the nashville number system. Then I talked to one of my best friends on the phone for an hour or so, did some dishes, then finished typing up the chord sheet for the song. Now I’m writing this blog post and thinking about the things I have left to do tonight, like cleaning the bathroom, putting in laundry, and restringing my guitar. Has this gotten me any closer to my dreams? Yes.

I hesitantly dedicated the school year of 2016-2017 to my music in the spring semester of 2016 when I got accepted into the music program here in Tennessee. It was hard. I had a lot of trouble making my own music a priority, balancing it with my classical music studies, work, friends, sleep, etc. I don’t want to talk about the free time crisis that many young adults find themselves in, I want to talk about the purpose of your time. This semester I could ration my time, giving a few hours to songwriting and producing, a few hours to Netflix, a couple hours to time exploring with friends. That’s what time management is, after all. It’s always been a struggle for me.

But lately I have realized that even time with friends or even an episode of Netflix can still help me get to where I want to go. I just need to make sure that is why I’m investing my time into it. Take today for example. I went to my classes to invest in my knowledge of the music industry and my own learning experience. I had lunch and time on Pinterest to take care of myself, feeding my stomach as well as giving my brain some time to think about things not connected to music. I went back to class. Then I invested in my songwriting. Then I invested in one of my best friends, a relationship that is incredibly important to me. Now, I’m processing to keep my mind healthy and focused. I’ll clean the bathroom and my clothes to take care of myself. Without taking care of myself I will have no reason to pursue my dreams, in fact, I will have no mind to pursue my dreams with.

Will time spent on Netflix or Pinterest or Facebook get me closer to my dreams of pursuing a place in the music industry? Well, if it is giving me a brain break, lulling me to sleep, or helping me network, maybe it is! But if it’s just taking up valuable time, then it’s not worth it. Today is a day that we will never get back. This is an hour we won’t be able to redo. Every minute that passes is a minute closer to the end. The end of the day, the week, the semester, the year. Each moment is valuable. Each moment is a possibility to further yourself, to bring yourself closer to your goals and your God.

Is what you’re doing now getting you closer to where you want to be?

Grocery Lists (Am I An Adult Now?)

Milk. Eggs. Bread. Lettuce. Apples. Avocados.

So apparently I’m an adult now. I’ve lived apart from my parents for about two and a half years now, on and off a college campus (now even hundreds of miles away). I even make my own grocery lists, including anything from ice cream to dish soap. I don’t run them by my mom every time anymore either! I can make at least three different meals without calling my dad for help and 9/10 times I won’t burn anything. But does that mean I’m an adult? What is the grocery list for that? Rent. Making my bed. Cooking. Setting my own bed time.

I like to use cats as a bad analogy for this stage of my life as a “young adult” millennial. We’re like cats in that we can go about most of the day by ourselves, making decisions and such but sometimes we need someone to make sure we’re eating and clean up the messes we inevitably make. I know, it’s bad, but it’s almost close. It reminds me of those internet posts that say “I’m an adult but I need adultier adult, an adult who is better at adulting than I am.” I’m not really sure what marks you as an adult versus a young adult, everyone seems to have different opinions on it.

Can I take care of myself? Yes. Do I have to? No! Thank goodness! I could probably be okay if I was cut off from my parents, but I’m not so I don’t have to worry about it! They are incredible and support me on all kinds of levels! There is a lot that I wouldn’t have without them. They pay for things, text me pep talks, and insist on driving me down to Nash so I don’t have to go by myself. They tell me hard truths, encourage me in my dreams, and point me towards Christ. I am so glad I can lean on my parents, they amaze me and are a couple of my best friends.

However, that doesn’t make me less of an adult. I am an adult, even though I don’t always want to admit it. I was always an independent kid, and I still am. I am an independent woman and I can take care of myself, but I am finding that it is not only okay but necessary to ask for help sometimes. And it’s not shameful at all. Maybe, in fact, asking for help is on that grocery list for adulthood.


Oh Deer

I honestly don’t know how I have avoided hitting a deer with my car. Many people have told me I’m a horrible driver, yet I somehow retain the cleanest driving record in my family. I love the idea of deer in the headlights though, I think it is a very accurate way of describing that feeling. You know it, right? When you have no idea what you’re doing or you are thrown into a new situation by surprise? When your wide eyes are full of the sight of a truck hurtling towards you? Confession time: I’ve felt that a few times this past week here in Nash.

I have never been to Tennessee and I’ve never attended a music school. I’ve never had access to this kind of gear or these opportunities. I’ve never played my music for people this often or when it’s this raw and newly written. I’ve never had a steady requirement of performing my stuff every couple weeks. So, here I am, deer in the headlights in Nashville as I begin a program that very well could change my life and music career.

Now, deer in the headlights can be viewed as a type of fear. It very well may be for some people, there is a bit of fear in the realization of what is coming. But is the unknown really any scarier? Would it be scarier to cross a road in the dark, not knowing when the next car could crest the hill and blast you into oblivion or standing in the street with destruction staring you down with it’s headlights? I don’t have the answer for you, fear is a very personal thing. Truthfully, I am not sure they are all that different. There is fear either way, does it matter where it’s coming from? Maybe.

I have this thing about fear. I am very acquainted with fear and my own personal tendencies to return to it again and again. It’s my vice, if you will. I’ll probably talk about it quite a bit on this blog, but that is because I think it is important. Confronting fear is the best thing I have ever done in my life. Choosing Jesus over fear is the best decision I have ever and will ever make. And believe me, it is a decision I continue to make each and every day. Each time is the new best decision I’ve ever made.

When I was a child I struggled with my imagination each night, staring at shadows and seeing monsters, scaring myself enough that I must not have been sleeping. One particularly rough night my dad pointed me to 2 Timothy 1:7-“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” It’s so clear! We were not made to be afraid, fear is not from God. The verse quickly became my mantra and life verse, leading to a tattoo on my lower right calf. I remind myself of it constantly.

Faith over fear. Faith is stronger. Faith is perseverant. Faith is reliable and true. Faith is based in my God. My God who is the mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe. And He loves me. He formed me to be of love and power and self-control, not of fear. Faith over fear.

Word Vomit

I’ve always had a fascination with words. I was the child on the playground who sat on the swings during recess, perfectly content with a book in my hands. I was the middle schooler who got very very excited for that language arts project where you wrote and illustrated an entire book yourself. I am drawn to libraries and office bookshelves, finding myself distracted by book titles. Maybe that’s why I tilt my head so often. Anyways, I love words. I love reading them, writing them, saying them, singing them. Love them.

I suppose you could consider me a writer, especially now that I have a blog (woo!). I am an external processor, so my brain simply functions better when all these words are outside my head, rather than circling inside. It usually ends up being much more beneficial for me than anyone else involved. I do this thing that I call “word vomiting”. Now, word vomiting is when I am asked a simple question or presented with an idea and I just talk. In these situations I usually offer much more thought or words than expected (or necessary, for that matter). I do it a lot when I’m nervous (cue awkward memories of confessing romantic feelings to boys) or when I’m tired (cue fun memories of late night conversations). I even do it when my brain isn’t altered by hormones or exhaustion.

Now that we have that explained, know that a lot of this blog will be word vomit. I will post ramblings and rants that will have nearly no basis other than the fact that someone said “the past is the past” in a certain tone of voice that day. Yet, here you are reading it. Sometimes the word vomit makes sense, so hopefully that is what will end up on here. I’ve heard that the word vomit can be beautiful sometimes, practically poetry. I’ll confess, I’ve found song lyrics in my paragraph text messages or random rants written in the notes app in my phone. I’ve based stories and songs off of word vomit before. Maybe I’ll put some of that up here on the inter web. I hope that if you are reading my blog posts that you get something from my words. If it’s the fact that I’m insane, then at least you learned something. But I think I secretly hope you’ll learn that you’re not alone, you are loved, and there is beauty in the world. Even if that beauty is found in someone’s word vomit.

Fearless Pursuit: an idea, a blog.

So, just like every other student who has gone to study off campus, I started a blog. In case you didn’t know, I am studying at a small music school in Nashville, TN for this spring semester! Rad, right? Anyways, here I am, starting the typical off campus study blog. However, rather than using it to record all the incredible things I do I want to use it as a creative outlet. I might mention some of my escapades and adventures here in Nashville, but for the most part I want to be able to write about whatever is on my heart and mind. Quite honestly, posts could be about anything from writing music to God experiences to a joke I thought of. Mostly, I want to talk about being fearless.

As a teenager I quickly became aware of my own fearsome tendencies. I latched onto the Bible verse 2 Timothy 1:7 as a child and I still cling to it today. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” There are days that I have to whisper this verse under my breath constantly. There are days when I only think of it once or twice. But I still think of it every day. Every day. This is so important to me that I have it tattooed on my body. We are not meant to live in fear.

So, what did I do with this knowledge, this inherent nagging that fear is not a part of me? I have begun, day by day, to tell fear that it has no place in my life. Some days are harder than others, but some days are full of victory. One victory is this semester. I was terrified to even apply and audition for the CMC program. What if I didn’t get in? What if I did? Was I good enough? Could I even do this?

My dad has this question, a saying, if you will. What would you do if you were not afraid? What would you do if you were not afraid? I ask myself that question multiple times a day, chanting it like a mantra. Sometimes it makes decisions easier, sometimes it makes them harder. So, when I was looking into the CMC I decided to choose my dreams over my fear. I made a fearless choice. And I got accepted, drove down to Nashville, and here I am. I am in Nashville, living in music full time for the semester. I am in fearless pursuit of what sets my soul on fire.