Music is a Heart Language

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When I was in high school, I heard a song called, “Clear the Stage.”

It was gorgeous. It was intense, poetic, and convicting, and I loved it. But I also misapplied it.

Instead of hearing “Christ is greater than,” I heard, “Lights, decorations, and great music are distractions.”

I began to feel guilty for loving a good stage set. I started to wonder if I really loved God or if I just loved music. I started to believe that appreciating graphic design and smooth stage transitions meant I was loving the experience over the Creator, and that I had to push those things aside in order to worship Jesus more purely.

Fear and shame caused me to twist a call to authenticity into a denouncement of anything that was beautiful besides Jesus. I was on track for a confusing, shame-filled, puritanical few years.

Mercifully, there was an artist that attended my church at the time. He had loved both Jesus and art for a lot of years, and one evening I heard him say: “Maybe the beauty isn’t a distraction from worship. Maybe God made it beautiful so that you could worship.”

Well, yes.

I believe that beauty is God’s signature. Or maybe more like His fingerprint - He leaves it on everything He touches.  I believe that beauty points to God, and that things are beautiful so that I can worship.

I love good music, good design, a good stage set, and logistics. I would even say that those things enhance my worship experience - and that there's nothing idolatrous about that.

I've recently begun to think of music like a language.

When you’re in a foreign country, even if you’ve been there for decades and you’re as fluent as fluent can be, when you hear somebody on the subway speaking your first language – your heart language – your ears perk up. You want to turn to them and say, “Me too!”

That’s why it’s so beautiful (and important) to see the Bible translated into the heart languages of people that don’t yet have access to it. Because you can hear the stories in a language that you know, but when you hear the gospel in YOUR language, your heart language, the words carry a little more weight. You feel them pressing in on you differently. Like they don’t have to filter through your mind first, they get fast-tracked to your heart. 

I think that music is similarly intimate. Music knits itself to our experiences and it can transport us back to places and people with the force of tidal waves. This has happened to you: you hear a song and it slams you.

We have a heart language and we have heart music.

When I was in a church that was different from the church I grew up in, I still loved Jesus. I still learned things, I still worshipped with sincerity, I still served. I still had lots of joy. But when I stepped back into a church like the church of my childhood, I couldn’t help from crying, because it was like hearing somebody speak my heart language.

It felt like the setting in which I learned to love Jesus. It was exactly like the first time I heard the gospel, and the first time I raised my hands in worship. Everything about that place reckoned back to the early, formative years of my faith. To be in that kind of building, in that kind of atmosphere, hearing those kinds of songs was like hearing my heart language after a long season in a foreign country.

I try not to be critical of other styles of church: different music, or seating, or orders of service, or communion protocol. I also try not to be critical of people that have a very strong preference about those things. I try to remember that they may just be clinging to their heart language.

Hear me: I believe that the gospel is paramount. I believe that it comes before heart-music (or style or language) every time, by a million miles. I believe that we must be willing to leave our country, to learn a new language. If you are clinging to your heart language at the cost of allowing others to hear the good news in THEIRS, you are choosing your comfort over their rescue, and you’ve got to let it go. Reaching people comes first.

But I am not a Puritan. Greater suffering and greater boredom does not necessarily mean greater holiness. I believe that God made things beautiful so that we could worship. Right now, I am a part of a church that is speaking my heart language, both linguistically and musically, and I love it.

What is your musical heart language - in church or otherwise? What album feels like hearing your native tongue for the first time in a long time? 

A Podcast, A Yogi, and a Concert Walk Into a Bar...

A podcast, a yogi, and a concert walk into a bar...

...and by a bar, I mean my life.  Not that my life is like a bar...nevermind.  What I'm saying is this is what is going on around here.

1. I recorded a podcast with Jamie Ivey, who is exactly as much fun as she seems. 

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We discuss:

  • Harry Potter (because to thine own self be true)
  • Netflix (because you are not above a Netflix bender)
  • Joining the national bone marrow registry (and selling our blood plasma for the free childcare #momlife)
  • Thoughts on turning 30
  • Books every millennial that grew up in church has read (shout out to Adventures in Odyssey!)
  • Our own evolving theology
  • Other things

If you've been imagining that I have a southern accent because I write things like "my children acted like they HAD NO RAISING," and "Holy May," you can hear what my actual voice sounds like.  Oh and I'm giving away 10 books to podcast listeners, so there's that.  What I'm saying is listen to it. (Here!)

2. I contributed 4 new meditations to Yoga Bird this month to be a part of a 28-day fitness calendar.  The calendar is great (meatless recipes every week, a variety of yoga sequences, and a week-long focus on each of: satisfaction, bravery, love, and balance), but what I really want to tell you is that these devotions are some of my favorite I've written.  I wrote them all in one evening, so there was no research or waiting or collecting ideas.  I just wrote what I knew to be true of God TODAY.  This batch is my thoughts and hopes of the last few weeks all poured out on paper.  If you have a subscription to Yoga Bird, you can listen to them here

3. Ben Rector is coming to Raleigh and I am going with my friend, Cindy, to hear all the music and feel all the feelings.  If you do not know Ben Rector, I am very sorry for you.  I first heard his Free Falling cover 5 years ago and then we feel in love.  (Okay I fell in love.  Details.)  His "Into The Morning" and "The Walking In Between" albums are two that I can listen to the whole way through without skipping or losing interest. Will any of you local dears be there too?  

If not, I'll throw you this bone.

What are you all up to this week?  If you've found something you love around the web, or created something you're really proud of, I'd love to see it in the comments!  Lay it on me. 


The Same Thing Happens Every Night

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The same thing happens every night:

At dinner time, I stare blankly into my refrigerator and hate my life. The baby, sensing my frustration, practices empathy. He toddles over, drapes his body over my feet, places his forehead to the ground as if in prayer, and screams for 35 minutes.  This perfectly reflects the posture of my soul at dinner time: despair and agony in sackcloth and ashes. Henry is an emotionally intelligent child.

I decide to make the kids something fast. Oatmeal.  I slice up some fruit and give each child a little pile of almonds to trick them into thinking that this is, in fact, A DINNER.  See?  There are sides.  It's a meal.  

Sam wants 2 ice cubes in his oatmeal because it is too hot. The ice cubes melt and he accuses me of giving him ice-cube-less oatmeal.  I put another ice cube in his bowl. Now it is too cold. And too runny. He needs it heated. With more brown sugar.  And two more ice cubes...

Madeline is pissed because three weeks ago I mentioned I MIGHT make shepherd’s pie again ONE DAY and how is she supposed to feel safe in the world when I keep breaking these kinds of SACRED PROMISES?

Henry wants to drink the oatmeal from his bowl, and accidentally empties the chunky, starchy, slime down his shirt, into his lap, onto his chair, and onto the floor.  Then he panics because THERE IS SOMETHING TOUCHING HIM!

Sam nibbles one bite of every almond and is full.

Madeline eats as fast as a snail on barbiturates, and cries when you leave her at the table.


I say, “No, we cannot paint/go to the park/watch a movie/ride bikes/plan your retirement.”

I get the children in bed.

I put the children BACK in their beds.

I deliver cups of water, band-aids, straighten sheets, take off socks, put socks back on, turn on the hall light, turn off the hall light, straighten the sheets again, more water, Sam has to pee, no he cannot have a chocolate chip as a reward, because it’s too late that’s why, and bid them goodnight.

I clean up Henry’s oatmeal waterfall.  

I realize that it is 10:00 at night and I have not eaten anything since that PB&J I had at 11:30am.  I tell myself, “No, self.  You absolutely cannot make little smoked sausages wrapped up in crescent rolls at 10:00 at night.”  

I eat a package of peanut butter crackers that I SWORE I would only use for school lunches.  This is no time for principles.  

And that is why you should send your mothers flowers on Mother’s Day.   Because your mother did THAT every night for years.  

Mom, I love you.  Thank you for loving me in spite of myself. 

Kids Day Giveaway! (LBH Creations and Aleks Handmade)

Welcome to the fifth and final day of Giveaway Week!  It's been the best of times.  I've showed you some of my favorite things made my some of my favorite people.  Best.  

We are wrapping it up with something for the little humans in your lives. I love kids day giveaways because it lets me daydream about filling Christmas stockings, and about who has a baby shower coming up that I could surprise with something not-from-Target.

Today's giveaway has 2 winners: 

The first will win three softies from Aleks Handmade: a penguin, a dino, and a giraffe!  Aleks's little softies are about the cutest things I've ever seen.  I want one to peep out of all of my kids' stockings, and I want them to perch on the shelves and snuggle in the cradles of all the babies I know.  Honestly, she had me at "dino."

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The winner gets to customize their fabrics, so you can create a matching set or match the softies to the rooms of three different kiddos.  (The penguins are new this season; they haven't even hit the shop yet. You lucky ducks get first dibbs!) 

The second winner will receive a $40 gift card to LBH Creations

Kerry is a bangin' seamstress.  She works with vintage and custom fabrics, and her little shoes are to die for.  I don't even know what to say about this fox doll.  All the heart emojis.

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$40 will get you about anything in her store. Boom.

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You'll be able to totally customize your order.  Sizes, fabrics, colors, hooray!  

To enter this giveaway, comment on this post with your favorite thing about fall! So easy. I gotchu. For an extra entry you can share this giveaway and tag the artists in your post.  

My favorite thing about fall is the air!  Crisp, clear, and smelling faintly of leaves and smoke.  DELICIOUS.  

Have an AMAZING weekend!  Good luck and happy Friday!

Here are the artists social media accounts for your extra entry tagging.

Aleks Handmade
Tag on Pinterest using #Alekshandmade

LBH Creations
Tag on Pinterest using #LBHCreations

Time Heals No Wounds

Originally published October 2012.

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I am thinking today about healing and growth.  Arguably two of the most beautiful things we can know in this world, and, not coincidentally, two of the most painful.

This morning I overheard somebody say "Time heals all wounds," and everything in my gut wrenched and shouted,

"That's not true!"

So I came here to tell you that if you've heard this and believed it, it is a lie.

Time does not heal all wounds. Time does not heal any wounds.

That's why people carry grudges to their graves.  Why people spend thousands of dollars on therapy every year.  Why bitterness and contempt kill marriages every day.  Because time doesn't do squat.

It can sometimes feel like time is the magical wound-eraser, but only because in time, the real healers can do their work.  Consider:

  • Time doesn't heal wounds; forgiveness heals wounds.  And forgiveness takes time.
  • Time doesn't heal wounds; perspective heals wounds.  And perspective takes time.
  • Time doesn't heal wounds; maturity and grace heal wounds. And maturity and grace take time.

Ultimately, time doesn't heal wounds; Jesus heals wounds.  And never in my experience has Jesus tapped me with a magic God wand and erased my hurt.  Jesus could grow us overnight, but He doesn't.  He could heal us over night, but more often than not, He doesn't.  The time is too valuable to our human experience. There is too much to be gained in the fire of affliction, where the dross is burned away and our gold emerges.  The desert years, the healing years, the growing years - they are too crucial in our understanding of who God is and how He relates to us.  He loves, sustains, endures and carries.  He heals and redeems and forgives.

God has never erased my hurt or immaturity overnight.  What He has done - is heal me.  He has worked forgiveness into my heart - into places so hurt and hardened that only He could do it.  And it took time.  He has carried me minute by minute, dispensing peace in the exact measure of my need, over time.

There is a great line from an early episode of House in which a patient named Eve tells Dr. House, "Time changes everything." House responds,

"That's what people say; it's not true. Doing things changes things. Not doing things leaves things exactly as they were."

If you need healing, get busy.  Get busy praying.  Get busy crying, feeling, growing, forgiving, begging for grace.

Healing and growth are not instantaneous - none of the best things are.  But neither are they guaranteed with time - none of the best things are.

Let's stop perpetuating this lie of a proverb.  Time doesn't heal wounds; it doesn't have that kind of power.  But God does.