Makeup-less Monday with HIS OWN: The Trap of Time

The Trap of Time

When I was recently in Nashville recording for my new project, I got to sit in with some of my favorite girls! HIS OWN is a band and women's ministry based out of Nashville and I'm thankful to call these beauties friends.  We were grabbing dinner the other night and this topic came up about how time can be used against us and discourage us in our walk with Jesus.  If our life doesn't seem to line up with what we had in mind or if we aren't in a place in life we had expected to be by a certain birthday, it's easy to start believing the lie that God has forgotten about us with the intention of leaving our broken hearts unsatisfied. <--Yeah, that lie.  And what a lie that is.  In this episode, we share about our own struggles with time and how that's helped us grow closer in our relationship with God. <3

Posted on June 19, 2017 .

The Lap of The Father in the Heart of The Desert

When asked about our summer, James and I simultaneously sigh and respond, "Well, we've been in the Desert."  

The Desert.  That sacred place where God leads His child into a deeper relationship with Him by stripping him bare of comfort, status quo and selfishness.  Leaving everything she knows and submitting to the process of death to self, greater submission of her will to God and being a willing, sacrificial participant.  The Israelites don't give a lot of encouragement here on this topic, except for maybe what not to do.  But as we followed Our Lord into the Desert, little by little, a picture started to emerge.

The Need For God

This one shouldn't be hard, but for those who pride themselves on being self-sufficient, (present company included), it's easy to get caught up in doing the work of God instead of loving Him.  I found this a startling realization this summer.  I kept asking God, "Ok, simply give me your vision for what's next and I'll be on way!"  But the vision never came.  Up until this point, the Lord had been unusually clear and precise about what I'm to do and then I begin the work.  "No matter," I told myself, "The vision will come."  Days and weeks passed and the vision never came.  I began to get worried. Then restless.  Then angry.  Then depressed.

Real Trust

At this point in the Desert, I had resided myself that we were at the mercy of something bigger and I should simply let go of ever receiving another vision for my life ever again.  (Perhaps a tad dramatic.)  I'd say to those around me, half-joking, half-desperate, "We're in a sail boat with no sail, no oar and no wind.  Just at the mercy of the sea."  Drifting.  My word, if I could have given a dollar to a charity every time I tossed out the word "pointless" this summer, I may have been able to end world hunger.  No, but seriously.  This first half of the Desert was so hard to let go of trusting in my understanding.  That blissful feeling that you get when you understand where you're going and why you're going there.  Just so we're clear: I LOVE that feeling.  I had no idea how much I loved and rested in the peace that comes from knowing my purpose. I had (and still do) have some serious attachment to my understanding. Whoops.  I used to judge the Israelites pretty harshly in Exodus for their ungratefulness, but the more time I spend in the Desert, the more I can relate to our mutual brokenness.  They didn't know what the Desert meant to them.  They were just happy to be freed from slavery--until it got hard and they got hungry.  They were pushed out of their comfort zone, forgot all the miracles of how God mercifully restored their freedom and started longing for the comforts slavery had offered them. 

Find Your Manna

In the midst of my lamenting, I remembered some really sound spiritual advice I heard once about the desert.  "If you find yourself in the desert, remember to go out and find your manna."  But the key is going out and finding it every day.  Every. Day.  You don't get to store it up and skip a day, nope, every day.  James and I found great solace and humility in asking God every day for His joy.  To discipline ourselves to daily prayer in connecting with God, not just phoning it in, but attempting to be truly present.  To submit our wills to Him every moment in every day.  In the words of Heidi Baker, "low and slow."  God was having us come down low and slow and meet Him there.  Every day.  Regardless of how we felt or if we believed we needed it.  So humbling to only look at today.  Only look at this hour, this minute that we exist in and see the eternity in it.  To see God here, present, in this moment. And then the next.  And the next.  Right here. One second at a time.  To be reminded that God is near, not far away, at all times.  If you ever wonder if it's perhaps possible to live in a suspension of time, I really, truly believe you can.  We were living it.  Sweet Jesus, Lord have mercy on the poor souls in Purgatory!

That is the Purpose

I found a turning point in the Desert through a text conversation, of all things, that I was having with my sister.  Up until this point, the days would go all right if I went and got my manna and simply waited on the Lord.  The days when I would lose my patience and press my will on the Lord demanding the vision, I was crushed into dust.  I was below existence.  I was humbled into submission and in somewhat, spiritual despair.  Not the sinful kind of despair, but the deep knowledge in knowing you cannot and will not ever win.  And in that sadness, nothingness, and lowness, I expressed my sorrows to my sister and found myself saying, "I feel like I'm wrestling with God."  And that's when the sweetest message of Grace came from God the Father, my Daddy-God, through my sister.  "Teresa, this is the point.  This is the purpose.  This moment, this Desert is the vision. The purpose this summer is your transformation."  Mic drop.

Behind the Veil

When I received that text, I have to tell you the vision the Lord gave to me in that moment at the same time my sister sent it.  Immediately, in my minds-eye, I was in a garden, a beautiful garden, and the Lord appeared and spoke to me gently, lovingly, and knowingly said, "Teresa, this is the vision."  And I immediately understood what my dull mind refused to see before.  What a grace!  I can't begin to describe my utter joy and also, my embarrassment at my stubborn, willful self in the eyes of my Daddy-God.  My Father.  My Dad, The Almighty.  One parents out of love and so does our Father-God.  If this was only the half-way point, what other incredible moments are coming in this magical land we call The Desert?

Restoration

This year we've had great triumphs, exhilarating joys and tremendous sorrow.  It's also been couched with confusion, isolation and no clear discernment in very big life decisions.  By the time The Desert rolled around, we were beyond spent.  But little by little, as we became more open, more fully submitted to the Lord and His timing, we let go of all that plagued our tired, type-A minds and simply lived one day at a time, in step with Jesus.  Refusing to worry when and where to step and where we were being led.  That feeling when you were little and you simply had to hold the hand of your mother or your father and you followed.  And as we followed, we found little by little the Lord began to restore all that had seemed to have been lost.

The Lap of the Father

Life is still very much open-ended, but things are starting to take shape a little piece at a time.  I still find myself being stressed since unknowns are stressful, but I have a weird new peace about everything.  No matter what anxious thought crosses my mind, I find myself saying, "My Dad will have to take care of it."  And when I wake up at night and am unable to fall asleep because my mind is racing, instead of demanding answers, I go right to the throne of Heaven, crawl up into the lap of my Father and simply press into His heart.  I share with my Daddy-God how crazy it is down here and that He'll simply have to fix it.  And I fall asleep in His arms.

I don't know who that girl is, but I can imagine He saw her all along and couldn't wait to meet her in August. <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on August 9, 2016 .

Why I Should Probably Never Write A Book on Music Business

Having an achiever personality, I LOVE To-Do lists.  Feeling productive is on par to the most superb cup of coffee.  It is one of my favorite things.  Every checked-off item states to the world and myself that "I was here and did things" and can't wait to wake up and do it all again tomorrow.  It makes me a great student and an excellent employee.  But one of the hardest and most confounding things that I've ventured to do is tackling the world of Entrepreneurship: subcategory: Professional Musician.

There are no rules.  Actually, there are a million of them.  There are hundreds of books and models, courses and advice blogs.  It's overwhelming and terrifying on one side of the spectrum and completely glorious and exhilarating on the other.  Other than pulling up your big girl pants and stumbling through it, there's really no other way to tackle the beast.  You ready yourself for the reality that you'll probably do it badly, even if giving it your best.  I've found myself saying out loud to other artists that I should never write a book on music business.  My model is terrible--on paper.

Why?  Because the art won't let me control it.  Every time (and I mean EVERY time) I try and put plans in place to become more "successful" (read: strategies, 5 year plans, monetary stability, spread sheets) I become incoherently miserable.  Not that organization and vision aren't necessary in business--they desperately are.  But when the focus becomes success through money, instead of what the art is supposed to be used for, it slaps me across the face, stops talking to me and waits for me to apologize.  Every. Time.

So then it's back to the drawing board of "How do you define success, Teresa?"  Ugh.  My American Dream upbringing combined with the 80's social experiment of "You can be anything you want to be!" starts arguing with my favorite Mother Teresa quote about God calling us to be faithful, not successful, so much so that I get lost in all the shouting.  It's then that I have to go back to basics.   Where does inspiration come from?  What about music brings life?  What am I doing this for?

In the 2 years where I felt music died, I was completely surprised by the accidental avenues happiness came from.  Out of nowhere, I found myself incredibly happy when planting and tending my flowers.  I was thrilled beyond belief that yes, I could lose 20lbs if given a plan and a map.  I never knew I would love cooking for myself and my husband to the point where it's one of my favorite things to do every day.  I never thought I could ever love running, let alone experience the exhilaration from running farther than I ever thought possible.  I was blown away by the  grace, joy and insight that came from spending an hour with Jesus in adoration a couple times a week.  During that time-off, I experienced the profound joy of a simple life.  I wasn't pursuing anything other than what God had put in front of me and I was, dare I say, blissfully happy.

During that time, I learned so much about where real love of life comes from that when music was dramatically resurrected, the only thing I cared about was not losing the peace, joy and perspective I had gained during the time off.

For me and my journey, Art has always imitated Life.  When my life is full, my art is full.  When my life is a mess, so is my art.  So when I reach for career advice, ultimately, I reach for the Saints.  Their focus was on their soul's relationship with God, following the Lord's call in their lives to the fullest expression and holding everything lightly, especially the outcome.

As a dear friend of mine put it, "As artists, we are asked to serve the world with our art, not conquer it."  When I remember this and run fully toward the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the inspiration comes back, the To-Do list writes itself and I am reminded that I, too, am only being asked to be faithful.

 

Posted on June 12, 2015 .

Hope Is Dangerous

As I christen this new blog with it's first post, I find it only fitting that I wrote this almost a year ago to the day.  What a difference a year can make. 

-Teresa

 

You will be happy again.

You will be happy.  Again.

You, will be happy again.

We all dream.  We all remember an existence where anything was possible.  Dreams without fear.  But somewhere in there where you test your dream, disappointment and pain were somehow allowed to overrule.  And then, dreaming = risking, risking = pain, pain = misery.  And somewhere in your heart, dreaming = misery, therefore, do not dream. 

"Hope is dangerous." You say out loud.  Startled.

So with that knowledge, do you fear to dream, again?  Were you completely eviscerated after giving the eulogy at the funeral of your heart's desire that you never stopped wearing black?  Did the period of mourning never cease?  Out of protection, instead of looking up and moving ahead, did you arise, adorn yourself in mourning and continue to stare at the barren hole in the ground?   Somehow it is easier to continue in the misery than it is to step out of it.  If we never leave the cemetery, we will never be surprised to show up there again.  And so we will live by surviving.  We exist in shadow.  We cease to know what it feels like to be alive.  We shut out hope. 

"Hope is dangerous." You say as you console yourself, crying.

And for a time, you learn how to live without dreaming.  Life becomes mostly real.  It's better with coffee and wine; with good friends and a hearty laugh.  But it doesn't reach the hardness, the darkness that we nurse when no one is looking.  We may smile, but shut down any real joy.  It's the incessant scab we pick at once it starts to heal.  If we let go of the misery, what could possibly come next? 

"Hope is dangerous."  You say again, morose, as you stare at yourself in the mirror.

We resign ourselves that our destiny was pain and we are its keeper.  To share in a small, lonely existence in a prison we made ourselves.  It is comfortable because it is known.  And even though it is cold and dark, we convince ourselves that it is safe, and in this dark land, safety is the only rule.

And soon the mantra that we clung to has shriveled our once vibrant life.  We remember that we used to be happy.  We remember that we used to live freely.  We remember that we used to dream.

But that reality seems as far away as it ever was and you only get glimpses of it when moments catch you off-guard.  When you fell asleep at your station, keeping careful watch of your misery, a tiny, winged messenger sings a melody of a song you once knew.  Opening your eyes, you stare at this little creature, delighted and confused, and smile as your heart is pricked with hope.  Startled by this, you're brought to full attention remembering your duty and you wave it off.  It cocks it's yellow head in the friendliest way that only birds can, looks right through you and flies off without offense.

"Hope is dangerous."  You grumble as you cling to your staff and look down at your muddy boots.

Is this really your station in life?  Do you truly think you were created for only this?  Only this misery?  Partial living?  "A future full of hope," (Jer. 29:11) except for you   It is fear that makes us feel that this is our identity. That misery is our identity, but that is false.  It is utter lies.  The only unfortunate thing is that it FEELS so true.  Especially now.  And if not stared down with a courageous heart, it takes over and tries to smite the very dangerous existence of hope.

Hope is dangerous, but in the best possible way.  The amazingly wonderful thing about Christ, about God and all existence is that He is Hope, He is Love, He is Light.  But it takes courage to choose it.  We must choose it while we are shaking in our boots.  We must cling to it during the storms and at the funerals of life.  We must look at the Crucifix and see that yes, there is a Resurrection.  There is Life and you were meant to be apart of it!  To live it!

To really live, we must dare to hope.  But we first must cling to Him that is Hope.  There is no hope, no light, no love, without Christ.  We see that in our sad prison that we keep.  But the first step out in hope, in faith, is the stepping.  Christ is a gentlemen and will not drag you out of your prison.  He will freely let you stay in your own misery, mourning with you and mourning the life He wants for you.  The vibrant life he wants for YOU.  Thankfully, He is patient and is perseverant.  He will never give up on you.  He will come every day to visit.  In hope of you.  In hope of you!  In HOPE of YOU!

And in the many prayers, the silence, by God's grace you can say yes to hope again.  To dreaming again.  But perhaps you may have forgotten the way. 

"But isn't hope dangerous?"  You ask the Lord.  He replies, "Only to fear." 

Only to fear is hope dangerous. But to us, hope is life.  It is vibrant.  It is for you.  To ponder on your heart's desire without fear, what bubbles up?  What was written on your heart at the very instant of your conception?   To pursue that which is truly you, is what you are meant to be.  There was a purpose behind it. 

Now, you may not ever be famous or have a lot of money, but you will have hope. And hope is eternal. 

Hope is everything. 

Posted on January 13, 2015 and filed under Hope.