Thursday, July 03, 2008

Soul Arpeggiation

I can’t remember the last time I sat down at the piano with my books in front of me and played my little heart out. I’ve dabbled with memorized portions of songs I used to know….but when was the last time I banged out my every emotion on the ivories?

I can’t remember.

I’m not very good on piano….in fact, I don’t even really like reading music…but there is something about the sounds that echo from an old upright that are healing. I was having a conversation with a friend last night about this very thing. I can’t stop thinking about what he said about it all, though. He said that love and ability to create beautiful music is something that is engraved in his innermost being. Its innate. So, if its innate in me….at least the love for it….why haven’t I played?

I love music so much. God speaks to me through songs. I’ve always known that. That is the clearest way I can truly experience God. Maybe that’s why I dance. I have so much in me that wants to come out when I hear something so moving. Its how I worship. But, the same thing happens when I play the piano. Maybe its not the dancing. Maybe “dancing” in itself isn’t how I worship, but experiencing the music is. Hm.

A few weeks ago, I stood in a crowded living room at a house show. I didn’t know most of the music. I’d never heard of half of the bands. In fact, I couldn’t even understand most of the time what they were singing about. That didn’t matter. Something inside of me came alive as I stood next to strangers and tapped my foot to the beautiful acoustics. I didn’t want it to stop. I love it that music does that to me.

So what is it thats stopping me from experiencing that all the time?

I know exactly where my books are. I can’t wait to sit in front of a piano and let my senses celebrate. I can’t wait to fill that void.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Fresh brew.

There's something about the tantalizing sensation when coffee is brewing. Maybe it invokes an inner peace. Maybe its nostalgia inducing. Whatever it is, its appealing at the most personal level.

I sat at a coffee shop for hours on Saturday. I curled up in the corner chair with a book and an iced green tea. Mmmm. Now, I could have been reading anywhere. I could have been on an old quilt basking in the sun at the park. I could have been sitting by the pool, holding my book at an angle that shields my eyes from the sun. I could have been sitting in the recliner positioned in the corner of my living room, under the ceiling fan. But no. It wouldn't have been the same. No scent of fresh brew.

There are a couple of things I noticed while I flipped the pages of Creasey.

1: Coffee is the universal love language. Seriously. Even if you don't love the taste of probably enjoy the smell of coffee beans. Or, at the very least, you enjoy the sedated atmosphere. I saw an older couple ride up on a scooter, get coffee, then sit outside laughing together. I saw a young man muddling over his computer with an iced joe in hand and a big smile whenever someone walked in. I even saw a young father and his baby prancing around with a Krispie treat in hand. So many different lives. So many different genres. Still, coming together over one common beverage says something, right?

2: The music is always better in a coffee shop. Maybe its how it sounds in a coffee shops that makes it better, but I can't remember the last time I was disappointed in the musical stimulation. Maybe its the dancer in me that enjoys melodic crooning. Maybe my soul is so open by the scent that the tunes are more freely spoken. Who knows. At any rate, even now....sitting in my office sipping some Starbucks has got me listening to a smooth mix of lyrical enjoyment. Somebody get me a piano. Or at least get me to my dance studio.

Maybe this is why church enjoys the coffee station atmosphere. Souls are laid bare over a cup of coffee with some great jazz. I believe its the ability to be lost in a sensation so strong and enduring. Coffee awakens the soul. It brings energy and life and charisma. Who wouldn't open up to something so steadfast?

So why can't the church be like that without the coffee? What would it take for a human being to enter into a platonic relationship with another human and feel the same revivification? Why can't we be the hands and feet of Christ by re-energizing someone? What is it about coffee that helps the soul be laid bare around an otherwise closed soul?

Maybe coffee is the key to saving lives.

All I know is that I like that feeling. I like being in the corner, reading and sipping a caffeinated beverage....completely open and undefiled.....ready for someone to join me. Ready to be stimulated by coversation and relationship. I know I'm ready.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I'm referring to the chocolate variety.

I love to tear off the fragile foil surrounding the small candy and grab the skinny stem, popping the entire piece in my mouth. The silky chocolate melts against the roof of my mouth, and for that 30 seconds, all of my senses are celebrating. Even if its been months without any indulgence of the Hershey variety, I still can remember how it tastes. Mmmm.

One of the things I love to do is to have a pen on hand when I curl up with God's Word each night. I circle, I make little asterisks, and I write key words at the top of the page. I love going through and reading scripture and realizing how it impacts me each time.

At the top of my blog, I have a quote. {"No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather, we who read it are no longer the same interpreters..." -George Eliot} Once in a while, a verse really speaks to me at that moment and I simply write the date beside the scripture. Tonight I was reading and saw this:

"[I remember the days of long ago, I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.]" Aug. 1, 04

Hm. Now, I don't know what exact thing prompted me to write the date down, but I can sure remember what hardship I was enduring at that time. I had just finished up a summer with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer camps, interning and creating videos for all of the camps. It was the last couple of days at the campground before I trudged back to college life to begin my senior year. It was very much a pivotal summer in my Christian walk. I had emerged a stronger believer.

Now, I read that scripture as an entirely different person. I'm at a different crosswalk. But through it all, I still can remember that it did impact me. It was the Word of God spoken for me at that moment. And like those Hershey kisses, I can always remember the way it feels when God speaks.

So now, I'll savor one last Kiss for the evening and write a new date by Psalm 143:5. I look forward to the next time I dive into the Psalms and discover another reason to flag those four lines...

...and another excuse to have a few bites of chocolatey goodness.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Big brothers

Well, I should make that singular. My big brother is quite amazing, I must say, so maybe he's good enough to fill the role of two big brothers. Thats justifiable.

When we were little, I was forced to play with Steven and my two other boy cousins. Being around those boys really tested my patience. I had to learn to ramp and wreck bikes, ride a go-kart (not very successfully, I might add), climb the trees, be a ninja-turtle (the purple one of course....nobody else wanted to be purple), and try and make sense of the fun they had racing matchbox cars down the hallway...and then pretend I enjoyed it, too. When I got older, my older cousin and Steven decided that they weren't up for playing with us 2 younger ones, so Jason was subject to my wrath. I no longer let him wreck his bike, but he had to decide what kind of car his bike was, how many kids he had, and where he was going. And he wasn't allowed to wreck into me in my "teal mini-van." He also played Barbies, though he may not admit it.

Steven, being 5 years older than I am, quickly realized how un-cool it was to hang out with his little sister, and we'd fight over everything from how loud his music was, to who ate the last pop-tart. He always won, unless mom was there....then I won :) I remember the first time I truly appreciated my brother, though. I was 16 and he was 21. He'd moved home from school already and he wasn't too happy to be sharing a bathroom with a teenage girl. I was working at the gas station in Fountain City and this boy kept coming in trying to get me to go places with him. He would sit in the booth at the station for hours, waiting for me to get off work so he could walk with me out to my car and try to convince me to go hang out with him and his loser friends. Luckily, I had a good head on my shoulders and never gave in. But, my brother knew him, and found out about it. He was not happy. I remember him coming home one night saying that he almost got in a fight with this guy. When my parents and I asked why....he said that he didn't want this jerk bugging his little sister and that he threatened him not to bug me about it again. Well, it worked. My big brother successfully stood up for me and for the first time, I loved him like I never thought I could. He was my hero.

Looking back, 7 years later, I see how much closer we became after that. Maybe he realized that I wasn't so bad afterall....or maybe he liked sticking up for someone. Whatever it was, it was so great.

As I type this, Steven is boarding a plane to head to Bogota, Columbia with a missions team. I called him last night and he was a little nervous. He's never flown before and he's never experienced anything quite like he's going to experience. I know that when he is down there, he's going to see God move in his life and the lives of others in ways he can't even begin to imagine. I know that God is calling him to do great things, but I'm so nervous. Its going to be a long week of prayer, thats for sure. I know God will take care of him, but I know this is new territory for him and he's nervous. I just want him to be at ease and really experience the power in serving others in God's name. I'm so proud of him. I tear up at the thought of how great he is. God really blessed me with an amazing family and I can't praise Him enough for the great big brother I have.

and I just don't know if you could ask for a better hero.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

the Queen of England

A couple of years ago, I had a pretty intense spiritual discussion with my dad concerning worship. Him and I have very similar views when it comes to spiritual matters, so its nice to be able to discuss things. He'd noted that our church had started singing lots of worship songs containing the word "me."

"Draw me close to You..." "Take all of me....Lord I'm laying down my life at your feet..." "All I need is You" "This is the air I breathe....your Holy presence living in me" and the list could go on and on...

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy singing these songs....but how is that worshipping God? It feels more like exalting myself to God.

Wait. Hold up. You're probably stammering a "but Stephanie" about right lets look to the Bible.

The word worship in the old testament means "To bow before." Its practicing humility. The perfect picture of us flat on our faces realizing that we are not worthy to be in the presence of the almighty Creator. Its recognizing His superiority. Well, isn't that where we belong?

So picture this: You are in England. Suddenly, you are arrested for stealing an apple from a street vendor (like in Aladdin, ha). You're handcuffed and shamefully prodded until you get to Buckingham Palace. There, you journey down the dimly lit hallway until you reach a beautifully candlelit room, with pillars and gold and velvet draperies. Then you see her, the Queen of England, Elizabeth herself. They put you right at her feet so you can plead your case. Now, what do you do? Well, you surely aren't going to stand up and look her in the eye and say "Oh, hey girl! I wrote about you in my diary last night. I really wanted to meet you. I've had a great time in your country. Nice work!" Um not so much.... Personally, I'd be on my knees, afraid to look her in the eye because I'm obviously not on the same level as a Queen. I'd exalt her as much as I could....tell her she is beautiful and a great ruler and I don't deserve to be in her presence.

If you'd do that for the Queen, why not for God? We have this buddy-buddy mentality with God. Sure, He is our friend... but we are created for the sole purpose of worshipping Him. God is so much bigger than any human. James MacDonald says that "God is ineffable glory. He dwells in unapproachable light." God is so much bigger than ourselves. He's the utmost highest and holiest. In fact, He says of Himself in Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Once we can achieve worship as it was fully intended, God will do great things. "Though I can’t explain it exactly, when the God of the universe is rightly worshipped, powerful things happen. When Jesus is passionately adored without shame or pretense, without entertainment or needless comedy, God shows up." (James MacDonald)

So stop singing about "me" and "my." Start focusing on God...maybe then you'll experience a moment truly in awe of Your creator.

Friday, May 11, 2007 which I stand

"In Christ alone will I glory
Though I could pride myself in battles won
For I’ve been blessed beyond measure
And by His strength alone I’ll overcome
Oh, I could stop and count successes like diamonds in my hands
But those trophies could not equal to the grace by which I stand..."

This may sound strange, but I really wish I could wear a sign on my forehead that said "its not by my own doing." Lately I've realized that I lack humility. I find that when people tell me I'm doing a good job or that they appreciate something nice I've done, I take the credit. Somehow I end up mentioning personal "successes" in most conversations. Why can't I stop?! Its like a sick disease. I've realized the fact that I enjoy being the center of attention. That could be my biggest obstacle.

When I got my new cell phone, I made sure to get a cell phone ringer that would mean something to me. I always have my phone with me. It rings other people hear it. I remember listening to different songs thinking, "would I want this to represent me?" So, I chose this song, by Brian Littrell. It has been such a blessing in my life. If I start getting ahead of myself, my phone rings and my stomach sinks. If I'm around someone and my phone rings and they hear "In Christ Alone" start playing, I know that I have to live that out or else I'll be seen as a hypocrite. Its been a challenge, but one I need.

I look back on these things I deem as "successes." Not a single one of them was by my own doing. God was so obviously in every thing. What makes me think I could take credit? For the most part, I've been able to use these blessings as a testimony to God's goodness, but how many more opportunities have I missed by taking the credit myself?

My prayer is that someday, the things I do will be truly done for the Glory of Christ and that His will be the only attention I need.

"...In Christ alone I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory, Let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope

Is Christ alone."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Speedbumps are an understatement

"People doin' better, people needin more.
People writtin' letters, people get ignored.
People savin' money and people saving face.
People going hungry, people waste away."

Those words are echoing in my headphones right now. It's interesting. God seems to work in the most unusual ways in my life. I can look at my life from the outside and wonder why things are the way they are. But, being in my skin, I don't question those things at all. They are simply because God made them that way. Its an incredible feeling to be at peace with the path you are taking...

I wrote in my journal quite a while back about how much I desire to follow the will of God. I felt like I kept wanting to be walking that "path" and I didn't even realize that I shouldn't be watching from the outside desiring to be doing exactly what the Lord wants me to be doing...I should already be doing that in God's will. I want to do an experiment. I want to interview so called "followers of Christ" and see how many of them really think they are "in" God's will. I want to compare the answers of those who are going through loss or hardship versus those who just got married, just got a new job or are experiencing the miracle of a newborn. I can make my predictions already: Those who are happy and full of excitement will be sure that they are in God's will. That is the only explanation for their happiness! Those suffering, those experiencing a hurt like they've never experienced-a lost job, lost direction, battling with loneliness-they probably won't see themselves as living in the direct will of God. Of course, we all know that the only way to be living in the will of God is to be happy and have everything handed to us... Surely God wouldn't will suffering on His children!!!

"Well people wearing nothing, people wear it all.
People scared of something, people live in dark.
People goin' places, and people running home,
and those that know what grace is,
People disown"

I can't count the number of times in my life I've suffered. I've lost many family members to illness and old age. I've lost almost as many friends and classmates to automobile accidents and suicides. I've been in broken relationships, I've been betrayed by friends, and I've been lost and alone. Does that automatically mean that I've been living outside the will of God?

I remember a time about 8 months ago that I was absolutely devastated. I was hurting in a way I hadn't quite experienced before. I had to deliberately pray for joy every morning in order to avoid dwelling on my pain the entire day. Coincidentally, that is probably the point in my life where I've felt most like I've been in God's will. If God only willed for us to be happy, how would we grow?! Being in God's will means doing everything for the Lord. Suffering, yet praising God for the pain. Crying, yet rejoicing in the joy of the Lord. Falling, but letting God catch you before you hit rock bottom. And through it all, growing closer and closer to the one thing that sustains your life.

That's following God's will.

Be okay with being a "people", maybe that is what will grow you the most.