Monday, November 9, 2009

Do I have to scream?!

Does anybody know how I feel?
Sometimes I'm numb, sometimes I'm overcome
Does anybody care what's going on?
Do I have to wear my scars like a badge on my arm
For you to see me, I need release

Do I have to scream for you to hear me?
Do I have to bleed for you to see me?
'Cause I grieve, you're not listening to me
Do I need to scream?

Has anybody seen what's been done?
Where was my defense? No one heard my protest
The eyes of God were watching me
It's time to make my peace, let it go and be released
So I can breathe again
I'm on my knees

I've been marked, set apart
But I'm cut so deep and afraid of the dark
One drop of blood from the hole in Your hand
Is enough to heal me and make me stand

'Cause I'm clean, He is listening to me

I don't have to scream for Him to hear me
Don't have to bleed for Him to see me
'Cause I'm clean, He is listening to me
I don't have to scream
I don't have to bleed
'Cause I'm clean, He is listening
And I don't have to scream

-"scream" by zoe girl

This is how I feel. How I have felt for the last year... Jesus is faithful. That's what I keep telling myself. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Isaiah 61:1

Bind up the broken-hearted, Lord 

We can’t bind our own wounds

Pour forth your power on us, Lord

We can’t bind our own wounds

Sovereign God, how great Thou art

Healer of the sins of man

Fill us Lord, fill up our hearts

Reach down with your holy hand

Bind up the broken-hearted, Lord

We can’t bind our own wounds

Pour forth your power on us, Lord

We can’t bind our own wounds

Mighty God, your truth does reign

Your power firmly conquers fear

Healer, take away our pain

Wipe our stains and dry our tears

Bind up the broken-hearted, Lord

We can’t bind our own wounds

Pour forth your power on us, Lord

We can’t bind our own wounds

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...

Monday, October 12, 2009


I haven't written in awhile, mostly because the Eastman School of Music seems to think it is the Eastman School of Music Theory and I have essentially been too busy with random homework assignments to do anything else. Not that I am complaining, because I am learning an awful lot. Besides, there are much worse things in life than Schoenberg and Webern. 
I am going to write a book (no- not this entry, don't worry- it will not be terribly long). When I woke up this morning (40 minutes later than planned *ahem*) I decided that I really have no choice but to write a book someday. My book will be all about suffering and promises and pain and hope- because those things must go together. In life, you truly cannot have one of those things without the others. If you never experience pain or suffering, there is no need to hope. If promises did not exist, we would have no foundation on which to build up our hope. Let me tell you, were it not for God's promises and the hope I have in them, I would not be living this life right now. I would have run away- a supremely long time ago. 
Life is not good right now. I can say that, for the first time I can really say that my life is just not good. Aspects of it are wonderful- God's blessings still remain. But overall, my life is not good at this moment. Suffering and pain are so near to me that I am even conscious of them when I am asleep. Because I really do not get any relief, I am absolutely exhausted. All the time. If you know me well, you know I like to be active and that I never procrastinate. I'm the kid who has her paper turned in a week early. I practice my clarinet- I practice hard. I love to practice. In fact, right at this second, there is no place on earth I would rather be than in a steaming hot Eastman practice room working harder than I ever have before. If I could just waltz over to the annex like everyone else and spend several hours refining my skill- that would be heaven on earth to me right now. I long for the day when I say, "Geeze. I'm tired of practicing. I need a break." Oh my word- how I will smile when that every-day, conservatory student phrase escapes my lips once again. Then I will go straight back to my practice room and revel in the fact that I don't want to practice, and yet I can! And I am! 
This may seem silly, I mean, how can my inability to practice my instrument physically- especially when my mind works and I am able to practice mentally- make me say that my life is actually not good? Well, about the mental practicing thing, it is working. I am learning so much just by studying my parts intensely with scores and parts and recordings... however, since I am actually improving as a musician, this makes me long to play even more than I ever have. For me, the increase of skill becomes the increase of desire. 
One of the lessons I am learning right now- believe it or not- is that, as a raise my own standards for myself and the way I conduct myself, I must not hold others accountable to my own standards. See, when I walk through Eastman and hear anyone complain about anything I get angry. My pride and self-righteousness rear up inside and cause anger because "how can you be so selfish? You complain about having to practice more than you want to while I can't even hold my instrument." You don't want to practice? Fine, trade lives with me. I'll practice for you. You don't want to learn your music because you think it is stupid or you are above it? Trade lives with me. I'll learn it for you. You can spend your weekend alone in your room keeping your jaw still, not talking, chewing or practicing, so that when Monday comes you can play your instrument in rehearsal. Then you see how you feel if I don't know my part and the ensemble sounds crappy- even though you have sacrificed so much, just to be able to play in that ensemble. Add to those emotions a very heavy dosage of steroids and cortizone shots- all to try to target the inflammation in the afore-mentioned jaw - and see, just see how you feel. 
I know I sound bitter. I hate this because I am getting angry. I haven't struggled with anger like this before and I desperately want it to go away. As I type, I remember the sermon at church yesterday was actually entirely on the topic of anger. Anger, if used properly, is a Godly passion and I believe I do have the right to be angry right now. The pastor said, yesterday, that he thinks Paul must have sat in prison and- after a week was praising God for the opportunity to suffer for the cross. After 6 months, was begging God for the strength to face tomorrow. After 2 years? He was asking God how angry he was allowed to get before God smashed him... Yeah, I'm about at my two year mark. And I am angry at Satan. I am angry because Satan attacks me with fears and doubts and causes me to question my Lover and Saviour, Jesus. He whispers lies in my ear telling me that "Your God is mighty to save... and yet, He will not save you will he?" And I cry out again and again and again and again and again and again. Jesus- SAVE ME! I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE. And Jesus, my wonderful Jesus, says, "Darling. I will transform your Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope... so you can live unafraid in peace and safety... I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the LORD." (From Hosea 2 NLT)
So, my anger is justified. However, please pray that I do not turn that anger into bitterness towards those whom my Jesus loves- I am His servant and I desire to do His bidding. I want to love those around me, despite my anger at the devil and his lies and the pain that the sin of this world has subjected me to. The truth is, we all deserve to suffer. The other truth is, we don't have to nor does Jesus want us to. That's why I know he is going to heal me someday. 
Two nights ago, I stayed up late talking to Erin... we were sharing very deep- somewhat scary- parts of our spiritual lives. We went to bed around 2 so that we could get up for church the next morning. At 7:30 (an hour and a half before I needed to be up) I woke up suddenly and remember being really mad that God had let me wake up- sleep is so precious because it is the only time that my pain has any sort of "relief." He said, "Shhh... I know. I'm sorry. But I need you to pray for Erin and then you can go back to sleep." So I prayed for Erin and rolled over and went back to sleep. Halfway between asleep and awake, I had the sudden realization that there was not one bit- one tiny little bit of pain in my body. I think I smiled at that realization, but knew that the pain would come back in a few seconds. It did, but I fell asleep and slept very peacefully for an hourish. I woke up for church and remembered that moment and was filled with joy. For a few hours, I was joyful! Then, of course, the pain and the weight of my responsibilities crowded in and I had to fight depression and bitterness again... but that memory of a few seconds of no pain remained with me. As I lay in bed that night, getting ready to fall asleep and having a brief phone conversation with Ty (who is in Texas), I was telling him about the incident. I realized, in speaking about it, that more truth was made known to me. I know that Jesus was actually touching me and taking my pain during those few seconds. When he removed his hand, the pain came back, but peace and hope and belief remained. He touched me and I felt his healing power. I have felt it- therefore I must believe in it... not longer just on faith must I believe, but I now have the privilege of believing from experience. My Jesus can heal and with one simple touch, pain- all pain- completely disappears. 
Someday, he will touch me again. He will rid me of this thorn and the shackles which bind me to this pain. He will completely restore me.
I believe. 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Leaving home is really hard. Especially this time... Trusting God shouldn't be this hard, but for some reason- it is. 

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation- so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. The one thing I ask of the Lord- the thing I seek most- is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in his temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music. Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming." Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don't leave me now; don't abandon me, O God of my salvation! Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I've never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. Yet I am confident I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord, be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. 

Jeremiah 8:20+22
The harvest is finished, the summer is gone... yet we are not saved!
Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? 
Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Decisions are so strange... especially as you get older. I've been learning a lot about decisions, especially about making my own decisions. Something about me- I have always listened to my parents. The Bible is so emphatic about honoring and obeying our fathers and mothers- I take it very seriously! Well, really, my parents have helped me to take it seriously. They have always been fair and shown their wisdom by seeking God's council and helping me to do so as well. They have also taught me to seek council and advice from other authority figures- my clarinet teachers are people I listen to and trust explicitly!!! Last week, I had to consider taking a semester off from school. It was so strange, my parents and I seemed to be on a different page entirely. They thought I should absolutely not take the semester off. Because my teachers were in favor of the break, I was highly confused. After lot's of talking and praying- I really decided that I would have to make this decision myself- weigh all of the advice, but ultimately do what I thought would be best for me. I decided to go back to school.

At church last Sunday, I was struggling with what the right choice would be. I could not decide what to do. I so badly wanted to return to school, I didn't want to "put my life on hold." However, I also did not want to do something stupid and putting myself in an environment where my injury might not be properly treated could be very dangerous. I prayed, "Father, please speak to me in the sermon today. Tell me what to do." I didn't think he actually would- in my experience, God doesn't usually give an absolute yes or no right when I want it. But, he does love me and will always meet my needs...

The sermon that day was on a passage from Luke- dealing with the issue of sickness and sin- namely leprosy. As soon as the pastor (Dr. Kitchens) started speaking, my ears perked up. He said "sickness and sin" and I'm thinking "Hecks Yes!!" God is going to tell me what to do. Dr. Kitchens focused on the point that sickness- a result of our fallen state- is a symbol of sin. The consequence of leprosy was isolation. Isolation from the entire community. I started thinking about how the result of my injury could mean isolation from the environment I love. Only for a semester- not a huge deal. But then Dr. Kitchens spoke about how, because sickness is a result of sin, Satan will try to use the consequences of sickness to keep us from feeling fulfilled. I could definitely identify with that. Definitely. He hit the nail on the head when he said that spiritual sickness (the absence of faith in Christ) is waaaay more of a problem than physical sickness, we always want to be healed of physical sickness- it's harder to know when you're spiritually sick- and spiritual sickness isn't something people often just want to be healed of. That's when I thought- I need to go back. God has opened the door for me to be healed at home or at school and, honestly, I don't think there would be any problem with me choosing either direction. The truth is- I believe God opened the door for me to choose what I want to do- he works all things for the good of those who love him. Not every situation is like his- but when we earnestly and faithfully seek God, he promises to bless our efforts. Essentially, I believe God will heal me wherever I am in his own time. I am doing what I want to do- going back to my mission field to serve God. This is the hardest way, not going to lie. It would be easier to stay home for multiple reasons. Doctors, no classes, Ty is here, living at home. But, I love school and I love doing what God has called me to do. Eastman- here I come! Again.

As soon as that decision was made- and even harder one followed. By seeking God, I believe I was able to choose the best way to handle the situation. Building an altar to the Lord to remember the last two weeks seems appropriate...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Today I walked down to the levy from my house... it is a beautiful, albeit hot day in Fort Worth, Texas and I only have a few more days to enjoy "home" before heading back to my other "home." Isn't it funny how home is not ever just a place? I think it is the weirdest thing... every time I leave home for school, it is bittersweet. Every time I leave school for home, it is bittersweet. I'm amazed at how God has provided me with family in both locations. Two years ago, I never would have thought it was possible to love two places the way I love good ol' Fort Worth and Rochester. 

The levy was so beautiful, brilliant blue sky with a few fluffy clouds- all results of the massive thunder storm that woke me up last night. The river was relatively full for August and very still. Grasshoppers were just having a heyday and a few wildflowers were still surviving the heat. I'm thankful for my ability to appreciate the beauty of God's creation today. Isn't it strange and intriguing that there are days when our senses are heightened by God's love and also days when we cannot perceive the beauty around us for the heaviness of our hearts? Yesterday was a heavy heart day... today, I feel wrapped ever so tightly in God's grace. However, it is always going to be a constant battle. That's what life is, a consistently fiercer battle. 

A friend of mine once reminded me that God shows his love for us by constantly refining us- a refiner's fire is going to be hot... there is no way to avoid pain. But when we feel this pain, we are assured of our Father's deep love for us. It makes me think of the song, "Consuming fire, fan into flame a passion for your name! Spirit of God, fall in this place. Lord, have your way. Lord, have your way with us." 

So, I am going to continually try to dwell contentedly in the promise that pain is only a necessity of this life, preparing me for the future. We are aliens and strangers in this land- we should always long for something more. This longing should be characterized by the sweetness of peace in God... something he is always ready to provide if we just ask and allow his love to quiet our hearts. If you haven't ever, listen to Mercy Me's song, "Homesick." It's been stuck in my head a lot lately! 

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I always thought blogging was pretty much dumb. I already have a facebook... I am a conservatory student. I don't have enough time to blog. But seriously, I might as well write down my thoughts to keep them from buzzing around and distracting me while I practice, right? Let's begin with my blog title and address...

I believe in God the Father, Jesus his Son, and the Holy Spirit. Zephaniah 3:17 says, "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love." Heaven knows I need something to "quiet me." I think and think and think to a fault... people tell me I put thoughts into their heads that aren't there and them judge them based on my imagination. All I can say is, at least I have an imagination. ? No, but that's what I mean. I need my God to "quiet me with his love." To hold me while I sit and ponder and protect me from the thoughts that threaten to wash over me as I flail in the storm wondering how I will ever manage not to drown. Jesus calmed the storm with a few words... surely he will do this for me. 

The whole preoccupation with the words "mighty to save" happens to have a long story. At Eastman, where I am clarinet student, I am very active in our InterVarsity chapter. We sing Hillsong's praise song "Mighty to Save" quite often and I've always liked it. It wasn't until this year though that I really started to understand what it means- to me at least. I prayed that song over my dear friend the morning before she accepted Christ as her Saviour... she doesn't know it, but while we sang that song that morning, I was putting her name into it and praying for her with all of my heart. "Father, prove to us that you are mighty to save. Be true to your word and save her." That night she was captured by his "quieting love." We worshiped again soon after and that song found its way onto the list for that night... as we were singing it, I looked over and saw the light of Truth shining on her face- for the first time I knew. No, I really knew that "my God is mighty to save." See, I'm a clarinetist... if you're reading my blog, you probably will figure out that music is to me the most powerful force in creation... I believe it is a tool God created to demonstrate his majesty, therefore drawing all men to himself. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has called me to the mission field that is (duh duh duuuuuuh) "The Performing Arts." I believe that it is my purpose, the reason I am here, to reach those in my field who do not know our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 

So, I have a problem. I am injured. Not just sort of injured, as in oops, my arm hurts I think I might have tendinitis... sort of. But as in, I have problems with my spine and my jaw which have been progressively getting worse since I was about a sophomore in high school. That puts us at about five years. I just had a cat scan and found out that I have scoliosis and loss of lordosis in my neck and tendinitis in my jaw- causing tendinitis in my arms and hands. (You're probably think, why the heck is she typing?!) I am not writing this to complain- I'm past that point. I'm writing this because this is my life. I am an injured artist who wonders every day if she will ever have a career in this field- and if not- why am I sticking with this?? Well, that's where the "mighty to save" thing comes in. 

There is no reason why God would impress a purpose on my heart and then take away everything that makes me "me" without giving me peace. Well, he certainly has not given me peace about quitting! As my boyfriend, Ty, would say, "HECKS NO!" I'm not going to stray from this path while I feel that I am called to it. If I did, I would be being nothing less than a foolish, faithless hypocrite. Well... I've learned to believe that "my God is mighty to save." He has a purpose in this injury! And he will save me. His passionate love for me extends beyond all possible understanding and he will not let me fall without picking me up, dusting me off, and healing my wounds. Scars are always the result of a bravely fought battle. Scars should be considered blessings. 

So, when I'm home from school, I can often be found driving the streets of Fort Worth, Texas on my way to physical therapy with my windows down, blaring "Mighty to Save" and singing at the top of my lungs- reminding myself what it is I believe. At school, you'll find me with the InterVarsity small groups, using the passion God has given me for intimacy in friendship among believers to encourage those I care so strongly about. 

I head back to the northeast in a few days... transitioning yet again. May God be the strength of my life, and of your life, for he is "mighty to save."