Monday, July 29, 2013

Healing

Imagine a church that you've grown up in. You've known the families since you were all of eight years old, you were all homeschooled, you saw each other several times a week. You all played together, did field trips together, swam together, got baptized together, there were like family.

Imagine you turn 14 and suddenly you find out about underlying tensions and fights that go on between the families at this church. Suddenly, the children are old enough to understand bits and pieces and their parents share their anger and judgmental opinions on the others because they aren't doing what they are doing or aren't as godly, who aren't "like them".

Imagine suddenly hearing all of these things about people you considered your siblings, your best friends, people who you looked up to. You've been taught to never question, to never think for yourself, only to follow, and so you pick up your parents prejudices and carry them like a yoke.

Imagine you suddenly can't play with, talk to or see your best friends. Imagine suddenly you lose two thirds of a trio of best friends. Imagine families ganging up against families.

Imagine church meetings that go round and round in circles, parents accuse other parents children of gossiping or being sinful. Imagine being pulled into sudden meetings at potlucks where you are confronted with something you apparently did but didn't know you did. Everyone's pointing fingers and you've never felt more alone or more hated.

Imagine endless tears, depression, emotional/physical disorders, family abuse, things that you didn't think you would experience at 15, 16, 17 years old.

Imagine trying to be the perfect little Christian model of virtue and purity your parents needed you to be to make them look good in front of everyone else. If you step one foot out of line you're yelled at for hours afterwards. You nearly break trying to be what they want but it's never good enough. All they care about is how they look and being the warped Christian family they were told they had to be.

Imagine every family save one in the church icing out your best friends family so much that they leave.

Years of love and supposed "friendship" all for naught.

Imagine questioning Christianity, God, the warped view of religion and Jesus that you were raised in, Imagine becoming disillusioned with it all and breaking away from it completely.

Imagine many of these children rebelling, because if this is what God is and what love in Christ is then they want no part of it. So they rebel, leave their homes, experience too much of the world too quickly, harden their hearts and want nothing to do with God, commit acts of sin they would regret forever.

Imagine some children who instead of rebelling become enslaved to their parents control and prejudices, they never learn to really know God, just to judge and condemn and live in emotional bondage. They become copies of their parents.


Imagine a church in ruins. A church that had once been a home.

Imagine leaving and going to college with a hardened heart and holes that you thought would never heal.

Imagine God touching the hearts of the children. Not all maybe but many of the children, they slowly break free from the old ways and search God out for themselves...they don't have it all figured out yet, but they're trying. They're happier, they don't condemn only love. Imagine them slowly reaching out to their old friends, rebuilding friendships, getting dinner occasionally, seeing a movie, inviting them to their grad parties, and weddings.

Imagine many of them forgiving one another even if their parents cannot forgive each other, and being able to meet in a random place like Buffalo Wild Wings and eat dinner and laugh and recount the happy days before the rift. Remembering our innocent childhood and days in the pool or at the farm. Laughing, being happy, and smiling because we know we have forgiven each other.

Imagine my heart slowly beginning to heal.


That is what I experienced today and it was beautiful. To God be the glory for it. It may have only been 6 of us, and there may only be a few others who have also forgiven and moved on, but it is better than none and I honestly never thought I'd see the day.

So thank you God, for being a God of healing.

At this moment I can truly say, It is well with my soul.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer Musings


I've spent most of my summer alone with the exception of my parents and about two or three friends...this has give me a lot of time to talk to God and to examine myself. I've learned some things and thought I'd share them with you. 
On Relationships: 
So I was on Tumblr tonight, and someone I follow wrote this very accurate post:"I see a lot of people complaining about being single.If y’all think that relationships are all about the “cutesy" and “feelsy" stuff you people are SADLY mistaken. Furthermore if feelings are the basis of your relationship it probably wouldn’t last.Feelings are the most fickle and fragile thing to base anything on, a solid relationship whether intimate or friendly stems from one thing, and that’s commitment. "


Let me tell you how true that is. A lot of it is fun, and you have your moments of pure bliss and no doubts, fights, arguments, annoyances, etc, but they do not come without effort, prayer, tears, and hard times. 

When I first began dating Deon I had never even been out on a date let alone a relationship. I was completely clueless and so far I've learned that I have a LOT to learn! I also thought I was pretty good at controlling my feelings and emotions....but when you fall in love with someone that can go all out the window!! :p I am discovering more and more how easy it is to give in to sudden irrational emotions at the drop of a hat, and then realize later they were just fleeting and you were being an immature pain in the butt. However there is hope! With prayer (which I don't do nearly enough,) and sheer effort, you can begin to not act out on those feelings. 

I think the most important thing I have learned thus far is to choose my battles. Know what's worth arguing about and what isn't. And be the first to forgive and move on. I don't have a hard time forgiving people usually...grudges is one sin I've never had a hard time with, but MAN being the first to apologize is...especially when I don't think it's my fault! At the end of the day though, it helps you both move on quicker, they begin to do the same to you, and you come to realize that fight wasn't worth taking any further anyway. It's really really a difficult lesson for me to learn. As a person, Deon is not easily angered. He gets frustrated and annoyed, but usually at situations more than people and it takes a lot to truly anger him. I however have a nasty temper and can fly off the handle easily. I'm having to learn to stop looking for ulterior motives, trust him more, and quit getting angry over every dumb little thing. Life is too short!

This can be especially hard in long distance relationships as mine currently is right now. It's easy to grow apart if you don't try to keep a close connection. You could both have different work schedules, be too tired to talk, argue whenever you do because of other problems, and as I realized about myself, I get so cranky because I miss Deon that when I do finally talk to him, I'm a jerk the whole time because I'm mad that I miss him and I'm mad he's not right there with me! Yes I know I'm messed up. ;P 

Now I don't want you to think we fight all the time because that's simply not true! In fact this summer has gone by a lot better than last summer did, but a lot of that has to do with our maturity as a couple and because God is slowly doing changes one by one in my heart and in Deon's too. I just thought maybe some of you could relate and maybe get some help out of what I'm learning! Long distance totally sucks, but there are many ways of making it work and lots of fun can still be had. Deon and I like to listen to new music together and do dumb dance moves and make faces, and last night he made cookies and explained the whole process and I helped him count how many cups of flour to put in...it might sound simple but it's a lot of fun. Eventually I usually almost always end up falling asleep on him while he plays Guild Wars and he sings songs he makes up about "Kitty Cat" among other things. We make time to talk to each other at least once a day even if it's only ten minutes no matter how late it is and always work through any issues we have quickly and once they are done they aren't brought up again. 

Ted Mosby from one of my favorite shows How I Met Your Mother gives some of the best relationship advice...here's this gem. It's so accurate and I have adopted it as one of my dating rules. ;) 



On Fitness: 

So yeah this has been the most difficult of all for me this summer. I go through periods of depression and self hate. I'll go a week exercising a ton (outside of riding horses at my job) and then I stop completely. I'll go several days eating better and drinking only water and tea, and then suddenly go nut s and devour everything at Taco Bell. I've only lost three pounds, but I keep having to remind myself I didn't gain 30 pounds quickly either. I'm trying to wean myself off soda completely and I am drinking more water than I have in years which is a bonus. I'm also developing less of a craving for junk food most of the time. My main issue is getting myself to work out. I'm hoping once I get to school and have the gym and friends to do it with that will get better too. I know I'm not obese or anything...but I'm all fat and flab. I'm trying to stop hating myself for it...there's lots of things to love about my body and everyone who loves me thinks I'm beautiful as I am. But this is something I need to do for me. I get so discouraged when I see how well others are doing or how they went down a whole two pants sizes..but then I remember this:



My chapter 1 is just beginning. :) 

On life and grad school:

I'm a junior now and even though I might be at Lee for an extra semester or year, I need to start looking at grad schools now. I don't know where to start, and after this disaster of a semester I'm so worried my grades will continue to backslide and no school will take me...and after that?? I have to be in the real world and find a job! The thought makes me sick to my stomach and scared as anything, but I have no reason to be because God has me in his hands and He has had my life planned for me before I was even conceived as this verse shows: 


My biggest prayers and hopes for this year are for the continuation of building relationships and my vocal abilities, grades that are great, and that I would grow to seek God more and love Him devotedly and entrust my life and abilities to Him because I know I won't get anywhere without it! 

I'm looking forward to seeing what He has in store. :) 

An amazing cover for you to enjoy!

Radioactive - Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix

Lindsey Stirling makes me wish I had never quit violin...I really was rubbish at it though. I am much more suited to singing. ;) And Pentatonix...well they are incredible. It would be so fun to do something like this. Imagine Dragons is one of my favorite bands!


Your ears will be in heaven.

Friday, July 19, 2013

So those are some of the concerts I have been to besides the amazing local concerts of all my friends and classical/faculty recitals.

My concert bucket list is:


  • Selena Gomez
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Civil Wars
  • Passion Pit
  • Katy Perry
  • John Mayer
  • Imagine Dragons
  • Taylor Swift
  • Beyonce
  • Celtic Woman
  • 30 Seconds to Mars
  • Adele
  • City and Colour
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Lights
  • The Fray
  • OneRepublic
  • Maroon 5
  • Owl City 

And I would also love to see Mumford, Darren Criss, and Nick Jonas along with Joe and Kevin again. 

What concerts have you been to and who would you like to see? 

Mumford and Sons

Now I've been to many amazing concerts and they are all special in different ways, but this one takes the cake.


Last summer, while I was at home from school moping around, Frank had found out they were playing in Hoboken so he got Jen and I tickets and we hopped on the train and went! The weather was lovely. Slightly overcast with a little bit of rain, but it was so cool and breezy out! Frank had recently proposed to his girlfriend too and I was getting ready go back to Lee so we were all in high spirits!


Mumford and Sons music moves me in a way I can't explain. They are so talented it's unreal. They played some new stuff from their album that hadn't released yet, including one song they've never recorded. I wish they had! The final closing song was The Cave and Frank, Jen and I were bouncing up and down fist bumping and screaming the lyrics along with the best of them! Then there were fireworks along the river as they left.


I can't describe how perfect that night was in words, but here's some pictures.



This is probably my favorite pic of Jen and I ever. I want it framed. 



New York.









The siblings. 


I adore this one. It captures us quite well. 




Phil Wickham and Gungor

Second semester freshman year I saw Gungor and Phil Wickham. I sadly don't have any pictures because my seats were too far back.


Phil Wickham I had never heard of, but his voice was so bEAUTIFUL. He has wonderful control over it and a wide range. Def check him out. This is one of his songs You're Beautiful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChX7g571658 - Beautiful


Gungor was so well received Lee asked them back a second time! They are sort of a hipster/indie/alternative Christian group. Their music is really different and I love their voices. The cellist player is fantastic. The first concert I went to they asked us all to start singing quietly Shalom together. We did and it gave me goosebumps. You could feel the Lord in that room.

One of their most popular songs Beautiful Things has become an anthem at my school and is very popular in chapel. It's here below. Please please please check them out they are incredible.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1spkhp41ig4 Beautiful Things

That one concert where I got punched in the face.

Yup. It really happened.


I hadn't even been a freshman at Lee for a week I think when they had UChurch. My school has chapel Tues/Thurs every week and then once a month on a Sunday night there's UChurch. They always have famous Christian artists come in for it. I've seen Phil Wickham (AMAZING though I don't have any pics :( ), The City Harmonic, and Gungor twice just to name a few.


This time however I was seeing Family Force 5.


Now I had never heard of FF5 till coming to Lee but apparently they are an extremely popular punk/rock Christian band. It's funny cuz they did their music video for "Wobble" a few months later on our campus and a ton of my friends are in it, and they can be seen around our campus a lot visiting for various things so I'm used to them by now. At that time though, I went to the concert mainly cuz my new friends were and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Also perks of being a Lee kid, all these are free and there's always free food at the mixer afterwards.

So I laced up my sneakers, put on my Lee tee shirt, put my lanyard around my neck, like the stereotypical freshman I was, and camped out with Deon, Chelsea and Morgan. Morgan was from my hall and was ECSTATIC about seeing FF5. She was a very quiet girl who had a deep obsession with all of them which shocked me. Chelsea, had seen them numerous times and had their tees, and had met them once or twice. So Deon and I were the two clueless ones. When they opened the doors we raced to the front and got seats.


I got really into the concert, but unfortunately, the guys got a little TOO into it. Morgan grabbed my hand and raced me into the mosh pit that had formed and we started bouncing with the songs. Chelsea was long gone somewhere else in the pit. Poor Deon was alone not willing to get in that mess. The guys started slam dancing (which I had never witnessed before), and this nice guy Deo (who looks like a REAL LIFE FLYNN RIDER PEOPLE I was so sad when he transferred), tried to keep the guys from running into Morgan and I since we were the only girls down there without boyfriends to protect them (I didn't start dating Deon till a year later).

The final song was happening and the crowd got more and more intense. One guy in particular got hurled towards me with his arms outstretched. Deo saw it before I did and tried to block it, but he wasn't quick enough and the guys fist made contact with my eye.


I've never been punched before and just froze in total shock. The song had ended and everyone was cheering and then leaving. Deo grabbed my face and began examing my eye asking if I was ok. Ngl, he's super gorgeous and I was more into looking into his face and was not complaining about the closeness of our faces OKAY OKAY I'M a girl I notice guys alright? Lol.

Once he was assured I had no damage other than a light bruise he escorted me towards my friends and Deon then freaked out and took my face in HIS hands demanding to know if I was alright. Should have known he liked me then but I was a little bit blind lol.


ANYWAYS, the story doesn't end there. Somehow, the guys of Medlin (the freshman male dorm that Deon was a part of), were throwing a mixer and begged FF5 to show up and party with us. They agreed and were there for a while. I got coffee with my friends and we made into Medlin's tiny lobby and we all partied and dancing with FF5!


Let's just say I was in love with college lol. Chelsea met and got pictures with some of them and I'm in some group dancing pics with them.

All in all it's a night I will never forget. They may not be a favorite group of mine, but they're really nice guys and I had a blast!


Chels and I waiting outside. We had glow in the dark glasses for the occasion!

Deon would absolutely KILL me if he knew I posted this hahaha. It's a terrible pic, but the first of us ever taken so of course I had to add it. 


Chapstique rocking out. 


Yup...there was crowd surfing. 

I was very proud of this shot. 

My excited baby Heather at the party. 

FF5 rocking out with us. 


Heather was so thrilled I got this shot bahahaha 

Chelsea spazzing after meeting Chapstique. 

We look horrific, but Deon and I worn out after the party. 



Lee's never had a concert quite that um....exciting again. The school was a little alarmed at the slam dancing and they've kept it pretty tame since then haha.

If you wanna see a ton of my friends in the music video for their most popular song "Wobble" it's here! The scenes in the dining hall I actually watched get filmed. I wasn't in it mainly because I never had the time, but so many of my friends are!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH5hUULu4Nk

The elevator they use is the one I take every day in the music building ha. I love my school.

P.S. The elevator has never been the same since. It stalls a lot and I've gotten stuck in twice. Pretty sure it's from all the wobbling.

Nick Jonas August 2011

Later that summer, another dream of mine came true.

I had graduated and about a week before I left for college I saw Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers live..and with VIP seating! I've been an avid Jonas Brothers fan for years and Nick is my favorite. Mom would never admit it, but with his southern charm, Christian outlook, and music she has a little crush on him too. She's told me multiple times she would not be opposed to me marrying him ha! I really want to see him, and his brothers live at some point.

This concert was epic because I got to sit in the VIP tent and eat really great catered food and had the best view. The weather went nuts though and it very quickly started to POUR rain and I mean POUR like a monsoon! They let the stage open up and a bunch of us ran to the front and stood in the pit. He was literally only a few feet away from me! My pics are AWESOME. It was pouring rain and we are all rocking out. He also covered Someone Like You by Adele which made me bawllllll like the emotional teenager I was ha. It was such a fun concert even with me getting soaked through and through.

Before I got soaked. 






I swear he was looking right AT ME. 

Darren Criss 2011

So my first ever official concert I went to the summer before I went to college. Darren Criss was performing at the Irving Plaza in NYC and more than anything I wanted to go see him with my best friend Jenna. Our mom's reluctantly agreed to take us and we found tickets for only 30 bucks. It was standing room only and hotter than hell, but oh so worth it! I have the HUGEST crush on Darren Criss ever. If Deon didn't exist and I somehow could manage it I would marry that man in a heartbeat. Seriously. GUH. I was so happy I was able to take Jen to that concert. She and I had been through a lot the last couple of years and Darren had become our inspiration in a lot of ways. One of my top ten songs of all time is his song "Not Alone" which Jenna and I particularly love because it helped us through heartbreaks, disorders, etc. He sang it at that concert and played piano and the fans had bubbles and they floated around. It was magical. The Warblers from Glee and Lauren Lopez from Starkid (DID SOMEONE SAY DRACO MALFOY??) came on for a few songs too. The Warblers sang Teenage Dream from Glee and Lauren and Darren did "Get Back to Hogwarts" from their musical A Very Potter Musical. I was an avid Starkid/Gleek at that time so that made it doubly awesome.


He also covered some oldies like "One Fine Day" which makes me SWOON. The man is perfect I tell you. Sadly, our moms made us leave before the concert was fully over so I missed him covering "Valerie" with Naya Rivera from Glee, and I really had wanted to meet him and thank him because his music helped me get through some things, but I never did. So I am determined to go to another concert of his one day and meet him. It's on my bucket list.

Some of these are obviously not mine. 


Jen and I look like total babies here at 18 years old and to think that was only 2 years ago!





 

Darren and The Warblers

Riker Lynch from the band R5 isn't he a cutie? They're getting pretty famous themselves.

Darren and Lauren Lopez

Jenna and I in line. *sigh* as always my hair needed serious help....








Stay tuned..

writing and posting pics from Demi's concert made me remember how many awesome ones I've been to and I think I'm going to do a mini series of posts of the concerts I've gone to just for fun. So be on the lookout!

Demi Lovato Concert

So one of my favorite things to do in the world is go to concerts. Seriously. There's nothing like it (except for performing in one yourself), can you tell I'm a musician? lol

My "little brother" Ethan's 18th birthday was this week. I can't believe how grown up he is. He just started his first job, got a license, graduated high school and is currently looking at colleges. In my head he's always going to be baby faced ten year old Ethan though. He's super talented at anything to do with computers (mainly apple products), photography, and he's obsessed with Demi. He won four tickets to a concert she was doing at Penn's Landing in Philly on the exact day of his birthday! He offered his sister Jen and I two of the other tickets so the three of us went together!

Demi Lovato is one of my favorite artists of the day and I have a tremendous respect for her. I grew up watching her on Sonny With A Chance (one of my favorite Disney shows), in the Camp Rock movies with the Jonas Brothers, and listened to all of her albums. However, when she checked herself in to rehab and told the public about her ongoing issues with bulimia, cutting, and a bipolar disorder I became even more interested by her. I listened to her album "Unbroken" constantly and watched every interview I could get my hands on of her discussing her struggles. It was such a brave thing for her to do to be that open with the press and with her fans and she is now one of the leading advocates for getting help to the so many people who struggle with these same things. While I have never cut or had eating disorders myself, many of my friends have and I have seen first hand how they can destroy your life if you let them and it's something I take very very seriously. I think she's a beautiful strong woman and her voice is simply stellar. To get a free ticket to a concert of her's was a dream come true!


We left for Philly around 3 and we stopped and I had my first Chipotle meal ever on the way. It was wonderful! Then we got into Philly around 5 and stood in line in 102 degree weather. Yeah it sucked. We've been having a heat wave here in PA. We stood in line for almost an hour and then they let us in. I loved the venue since it was right along the river and there were steps we were able to sit on. The opening group played and then Demi came! Ethan ran down to the front to get close to her and videod it. He said she was so close he could have touched her. Jenna and I were too exhausted by the heat to bother going down but when she started to sing we got our energy back and started singing along to the lyrics and dancing. She started with "Heart Attack" and her newest single "Made in the USA" which I love. She sang a lot of old stuff too like "Did You Forget," "Get Back," etc. When she sang "Did You Forget" I was suddenly transported back to being 15 again and all the heartache I was dealing with at that time. I remember listening to that song constantly. She is one of the few singers today who can sing live and be amazing. She has great breath support, control, tone, and her songs are so soulful and filled with raw emotion. It was thrilling to watch her. She looked so cute and beautiful!

She also covered "Titanium" by David Guetta and Sia, and "Stay" by Rihanna, both which made me tear up. They are perfect songs for her voice and some of my favorites. Then right before she sang her song "Skyscraper" about overcoming struggles in life she told us all that if we set our minds to it we can overcome anything whether it's depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating/mental disorders, and she encouraged us if we ever felt down to listen to her songs and be encouraged by them and to talk to people and get help. It's so obvious how she cares for her fans.


She sang a few more songs off her new album including "Really Don't Care" which is one of my favorite screw you songs, and ended the night with "Two Pieces" which happens to be a special song to me because it's Deon's favorite (he's obsessed with her latest album and was so mad he couldn't go lol) and he wrote some of the lyrics in a card for me. She performed it for us for the first time live!


I enclosed some pics of the concert. Almost all of them are Ethan's because his camera zoomed in way closer than mine did. It was an amazing concert and I'm so glad it worked out!


The birthday boy with Jenna and I.















And now start Ethan's clearly better ones!