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Hello All!

I know I haven’t updated my page in a while, just wanted to stop in and say hello and thank you to all the readers and listeners out there! If you have had the opportunity to listen to my album and want to write a review or your thoughts please feel free to go to iTunes and post your comments on it! If you haven’t listened to it, it’s available on iTunes! *inside news: my producer is working on a remix of the music on the whole album… We will release it as a 1 year anniversary edition! Can’t wait to hear how it sounds!

Always
T

Extreme Thinking

A few weeks ago, I was mindlessly scrolling through the multiple facebook status’ on my newsfeed and I came across one that one of my friends posted. It read, “Extremists never have the right answer”.  I totally agree with her on a practical level, but this phrase really stuck with me. I started applying this phrase to all different areas and situations, in relationships, in a moment on anger or emotion and even religion.
In relationships it is so easy to have this idea of what this other person should be or is. It has become so easy for people to find out so much information, draw conclusions, and form opinions about people without actually having a conversation or dare I say it…without even meeting them. With facebook, twitter and/or tumbler you have access to blogs, quotes, pictures, and status’ which allow you little glimpses into this person’s life. By the time you add all of these things together you feel like you know the person on a personal level; in a way you become an extremist. This could be in a positive or negative way, but both are not real. Let us take an example, say I meet a person and have a very brief introduction, I go back home and look them up and start drawing conclusions based on what I read. In this particular situation I form (what I think are) positive opinions. These opinions then turn into expectations for the next time I see this person. What happens when I see them again and they are nothing like I expected? Not only am I caught off guard, but I just put a box around that person that may not have been there if I had no preconceived expectations. What would have happened if I just focused on being myself and gave others the same freedom? I may have found that the little irritations would not have mattered at all. This is the same for new introductions all the way to long-term committed relationships. So often we go into a relationship with expectations of who that person is, should be, or will be. I know I look like I am young and that I have no idea what loss is but I do. It wasn’t until after I loved and lost, that I realized I was in love with the idea of who those people were rather than really seeing them. This sounds like they painted themselves to be something they weren’t; in a way they did, but it was more so my expectations of them and forming them into the position I wanted them to fill. I became an extremist.
My mom and dad have always taught me to not make particular decisions in moments of anger or high emotion. Why? In these moments we are huge extremists. When I get mad I immediately want to react in the way the moment calls for; however, I have found that taking time to wait for a response is more effective and less damaging to me, the situation, or relationship. I am not saying I never show emotion, I often vent in a safe place to clear my head but I choose to find different perspectives, which brings clarity and often peace. It’s so easy in those moments to take your initial reaction, the very thing your mind and feelings are screaming at you, and run with it, but where does that get you? In any relationship there are two sides (really more like 1000 sides) to everything. When you pick one of them and close the door to all other possibilities you instantly limit yourself, the other person involved, and the beautiful potential of that relationship. You inoculate all parties from fully experiencing the joy and realness of what you have in front of you.
I’m sure it’s fairly easy to see how in moments of anger or emotion, that the extremist role would not be the logical role, but what about in religion; particularly Christianity? Ah, this just took a turn for the uncomfortable. If something can be “true” in one area, how can it be false in another? In the past year I have been opened up to a new perspective of Christianity that I had never known before; the religion (working so hard to gain the approval of others and God) side of it. As I was pushed into this situation immediately I felt the glares and judgments from others, and I am not a “rebel child” or “problem causer”. For the most part, I was a good kid but that didn’t matter because there was something about the way I lived that was unfamiliar. I lived with a freedom and grace for myself and others that apparently made others who lived by rules uncomfortable because in their eyes I was “unpredictable”.  The relationships I made quickly began to change me. They formed me into a shadow of myself; limiting me with rules and regulations and making me regret and even at times hate my (wonderful and unhindered) upbringing because it was “wrong”. Were they right? Not at all. Did they know they were wrong? Not at all. They were extremists, they wanted control and their biggest fear was coming into contact with a free spirit who ran things based on love and respect rather than rules and “have-tos”. I let this continue for a while until I became so conflicted it made me physically ill. I was going through life on a daily basis fighting to silence my voice and the passion inside me all while trying to remember all the rules I needed to maintain in order to be accepted by a God that supposedly “loved me as I am”. I would sing songs about Him “taking me as I am” or His “never ending love” but I was constantly wondering when I would reach the point where that would apply to me—when I would make the cut. I was no longer permissioned to think or question, I was just expected to accept what I was told and try to explain the huge contradiction to others and get them to believe it… I didn’t even try. 
Why is it so easy for us to become extremists? It’s a form of control and an excuse to remain close minded.
I have grown up in a church that has taught me the law in the Old Testament but more than that they ALWAYS taught me the reasons behind the law being put into effect. They also taught me the abundance of grace and unconditional love in the New Testament—the heart of God and the reason we live out of a relationship rather than rules. How do you have a true relationship with God? Just like the relationships in your life, you have to be willing to tear down the expectations that you have of God or the false statements that others (maybe even unknowing extremists) have made in the past. When you are in a relationship with someone and you truly love and respect them, your actions show that. You want to spend time with them, get to know them, you want to discover the little things about them, and never…never do you want to hurt them. And as you discover them you discover more about yourself; you change…not because they asked you to but because you want to. Your actions are produced out of the love for that person; not the other way around. And the best part it, it’s individualized. Your relationship will be completely unique; you have total freedom to express it however you want! There is a balance, obviously. There was a lot of truth and validity in the actions of my friends wanting me to live a certain way, honestly they cared for me and my future. But I have come to a place in my life where I am not going to be run by my actions alone. I would rather my heart be right than just follow the rules. Why is this a mind-blowing concept to many religious extremists? Because no one can EVER judge my heart; therefore, no one can have control over me. I instantly become “unpredictable” and “uncontrollable”. I step into a place that requires others to trust me and practice loving me for who I am not for who they want me to be. I will be honest and say that I have lost relationships because of this. But I have also gained real and honest relationships because of this too. I now know what it is like to live under empty rules. It would have been easy to run the other way—to the opposite extreme and refuse to never attend church or enter into anything that had to do with God. But it took more strength to step out of my emotional state and choose to gain a new perspective. I had to open up my mind and more than that, I had to choose to forgive the people that hurt me. Through this, I was able to see them in a whole new light. I saw them as people on the same path of discovery and trying to figure out what is right for them. Talk about a new perspective… 😀

:D

I fully believe in the power of prayer and these last couple of weeks have been pretty challenging, especially with realtionships. However, when I am faced with a moment that I have no answer for; I pray. So if you have been experiencing something similar too; this is for you too.

God I thank you for today and for everyday that you have given me. I thank you for the opportunities to live out what you have put inside me. Come be in the middle of all my relationships, let me know that you are there and you are the one changing and shifting the outcomes. In my realtionships that are stressed; I call on you to reveal true identities of all who are involved, may we have the strength to really see who we are made to be and act on it! God, break down the lies and the fears of being who we were designed to be! Strip us of our false expressions of our self. I pray strength and courage and a willingness to be real to ourselves and in our relationships. I pray against fear and miscommunication. Give us the strength to confront that of which we do not understand. So that we may tear down the lies and break apart the enemy’s ability to hold us back! Let us not me scared of what the outcomes will be. Give us a knowledge to know that we need to change and give us a peace to be able to walk that out. This year is the year of opportunities but it is also the year of intentionality! No more living with the haphazard mindset of “it will happen if it’s supposed to happen” but restore our passions and puropse! Give us eyes to see the opportunities through the inconvenient moments. Help us to live everyday with a purpose and make choices that are alongside our deepest desires! We give you our lives, all our lives. We give you our relationships and release control to you and you alone. In Jesus name, Amen!

Your REFUGE is in your DESTINY

 (My thought from a teaching by: Perrianne Brownback of The Abbey Church)

Each and every person was created with a destiny inside of them of insurmountable worth. To think that the dreams that well up inside our hearts were actually placed there by God is an incredible thought on its own, but let’s take it a step further. What if your safety and refuge was actually IN the pursuit those dreams and your destiny? It is so easy on one hand to stay in the manmade “cave” of security and protection but is it really the safest place to be? Our mentality is to take a few steps out in the open towards our dreams to “test the waters”, never fully giving our whole selves to the purpose, and then running back to our cave of familiarity when we start to see new things happening. This process often repeats itself several times and we justify it by telling God “I am running back for refuge so I can fall apart and reevaluate” but He is saying, “Yeah, but your refuge is out there. Your refuge is in the scary part, because that’s where I am.”

The perfect biblical example of this is the story of Jonah. God gave Jonah a specific task to go preach to the city of Nineveh, but Jonah fled. In his efforts to find security he runs into the hands of danger and gets thrown into the ocean and still God sends a fish to swallow him up and save him. While he was in the belly of the fish he decides to reconsider his original task and sees that his true refuge is IN his calling.

Why did it take the belly of a fish to make the change? Well, what is in the belly of a fish? Jonah was alone, in the dark, surrounded by other dead fish, hopelessness and frustration. When we seek our own refuge we end up in a refuge that was never intended for us. We end up in the belly of a fish or our caves; alone, in the dark, surrounded by the remains of dreams and visions that once held life. We are hopeless and frustrated that the potential and vision is gone, rather than falling into the Father’s arms taking the challenge he has called us to.

In what areas of our hearts have we ran back to our cave? I challenge myself and you to ask God to reveal these places that we have tried to protect and only found frustration. Reveal the places that he is calling you to and then reveal the way out of your cave. Ask Him to give you a taste of that freedom and joy so that that becomes the very thing you crave! “We always think that God’s plan is to wait but what if His plan is to go…NOW!”, said my friend, Nicole Cooper when discussing challenges. I would rather live in the middle of the danger protected and walking in His peace than alone in the depths of my own fear. Now is the time!!

End or the Beginning???

With only two days left in the year 2011 I find myself recalling on all of the memorable moments that I have been in, as many people do this time of year. I could get out a piece of paper and write down a bunch of resolutions of things that I want to change in the coming years but I decided to do things different this year. For the last few weeks I have been captured by an idea, Content verses Context. It’s the idea that the hopes and dreams inside us “content” really do have validity as well as a right time or place “context” to be released.
Content:
The things that are held or included in something.
Context:
The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
-this could be friends, family, advisors.

If what we are carrying inside us is our content or our DNA; who we are, what we dream, and what we will be… You would think that our content would be so real to us that nothing could alter our belief in it, or even who provided it. However, we often overlook the context of that which we reveal our content.
When the environment we are in rejects the dreams, feelings, and identity inside us we are quick to write off all of the above, rather than question the validity or safety of the environment.
Why is that?
It amazes me how often we can play the part of the dreaming child or realistic adult in our relationships. Either we share our dreams and desires or our heart (our content) and it’s in the wrong context and it’s rejected. Instantly we devalue all that we have held close and start to search for what we “should” desire. As I write this I am flooded with memories of when I have shared my content and it wasn’t accepted or even times that I have not rejoiced in others desires and gifting because I did not understand it. What would happen if we became aware of our ability to provide a safe context for the content in others? We could rely on a “peace beyond our understanding” rather than placing a legalistic grid on ourselves and others. Don’t be so quick to undermine what is inside of you. As well as underestimate the security of the context you’re in.

So as the year draws to a close think about the hopes and dreams that God has placed in you, go back to the moments where those were either encouraged or discouraged and ask God to restore their value. Also, ask God to reveal those moments where others have revealed their visions and the context may have been less than accommodating. Some may discover new dreams and some may find that the time has now arrived!

So this is what I am focused on for this year: 1. For God to reveal and revamp my content so that I may be more secure in what He has placed inside me, 2.For Him to give me peace and discernment for the right context to release in, and 3. For eyes to see others content and provide encouragement for their gifts. I know that once we permission the freedom for Him to release us and others that a lot more miracles, joy, and life would start to flow from the Body of Christ…. We would start to see the change that we have desired for so long. Welcome 2012! Happy New Year!!!

Trip Blog Day 9 – Last Day Recording

Today was amazing… I woke up with a refined peace and confidence. We got to the studio and did our last devotional and then mom and I spent time prophesying over Hannah and Aydee.mensclub24

I felt such a strong bond solidifying in that moment. We started going through all the songs and we had time to go through and listen to each part to make sure we had what we wanted. It really gave me a peace about leaving. We ended up choosing to redo a few parts on some of the songs and as we did each take got stronger and stronger. My voice and energy level and attitude had never been that strong or willing to stretch. The few songs that we redid ended up being the exact freedom filled and passionate style that I wanted implemented. God really is good!

Looking back on the whole week it was ridiculous! But it was sort of a picture of my life as a worshiper… All I was called to do is live with arms open my heart connected to him through relationship and be willing to step where I feel he is calling. Maybe I’ll get it right; maybe I will take a few times to get it but I never want to lose this love of experiencing Him and His plan! My life is forever changed and will never be the same.

Trip Blog Day 7 – Church

Today is Sunday and we went to Aydee and Hannah’s church. It reminded me of a mix between The Abbey and The Bridge.Напыляемый пенополиуретан экотермикс: в поисках оптимального решения

The speaker was named Sara. She spoke on purity and sexuality and the differences in running towards God as opposed to running away from the “don’ts” of life. It was a really good service! We went to the studio afterwards and there we decided that I wasn’t able to sing. When we were warming up I could hit some notes but when we were going over a song all I hit was my breaking point! I became very frustrated and started to cry. I wasn’t crying so much for the song as I was for the whole week.

All emotions for and from the week before hit me at once and I broke. I went to the restroom to try and clean up but I just began to cry more. I felt God give me a peace about the CD but I also felt a peace to process in my own way. As I exited the bathroom mom asked me to go outside with her for fresh air. She talked to me and reminded me that it’s all in God’s hands. There is nothing we can do or not do to make it work and we have to trust that He knows what He is doing for the bigger purpose that we cannot yet see.

We finished that day by listening and editing a song. We went home and had dinner and watched a movie as Hannah went to a Paul Simon concert she was personally invited to. Aydee and Hannah’s friend Richard came over for the evening and I really liked getting to talk with him. He prayed for me before I went to bed for healing and peace, which was much needed, and then we slept.

Trip Blog Day 6 – Lake District

We are going to the lake district today! Mom is feeling much better but my throat is sore and raspy. This day off came at a great time, I plan to rest my voice and enjoy the day.Гиена

We are on our way home from visiting the English country side and it was scene after scene of beautiful breathtaking landscape and lakes. We had lunch at this tiny shop on the riverside and then took a nap outside on a hill next to one of the lakes. It was beautiful! What a wonderful imagination of God to create such beauty and yet he called us “the crown of creation”. It’s amazing. We took the car ferry back to the other side of the lake and headed home.

Trip Blog Day 5 – Studio

Today when we woke up mom told me that God was saying to enjoy the time I had left in the studio. Because there will never be another first CD and to really rest in his presence in the recording room. The day before, I was really starting to miss friends and family at home and I was focusing on home more than I was here, however I didn’t tell anyone that.Журавли

So when mom shared that with me it really sparked an awareness of how I was spending my mental time. When we went to the studio there was a more relaxed feel, I knew the presence of God was hovering over waiting for me to say the word to permission its release.

We were able to get “I’ve Found a Love” and “I Will Not Let Go” done. As I sang “I Will Not Let Go” the spirit really moved, not just in me but through me. We didn’t record this song in pieces like we had done for the other songs. We did the whole song several times. Aydee kept redoing recordings and each one were different but each one was filled with the presence of God. I turned off the lights again and Aydee put the music on a loop and let me sing. When I opened my eyes at one point I saw Aydee with his head down and arms over his head and mom standing in the corner of the room with her hands out crying. I was singing in the recording room in the dark totally abandoned to God. It was amazing. After a while we decided to stop and take a break for lunch. After lunch we started the recording of “You Reign” Aydee and I decided to rewrite the structure and some lyrics. We recorded about half of it and then I felt my voice get really tired so we called it a day.

We all had plans to go to Hannah’s friend’s party, Hannah Jackson. Mom started to feel really sick and ended up not being able to go. The party was a lot of fun. I met a beautiful couple, Mike and Carol, and they became my party buddies for the evening. I met a lot of people, mostly musicians, some that were going to play on my CD. Towards the end people started singing and playing music as entertainment. I started to get tired and feel the amount of long hours I have been spending. We came home and went to bed and I was looking forward to my day off the next day!

Trip Blog Day 4 – Studio

We slept in today, until 8 am. I woke up very tired and my throat was a little sore. I woke up with a sense of heaviness this morning, almost like a weight of insecurity and doubt.Наливной бетонный пол

We started with “You are the One” and the feeling kept getting worse. It became difficult to connect with the song and with the correct notes. Hannah suggested we take a lunch adventure. She took mom and I to a little tea shop and we had lunch, I was able to talk about what I was feeling with mom and Hannah and it brought light to the lies of insecurities. After lunch we ventured out to this beautiful colorful garden that was behind the restaurant that Hannah use to go to as a student.

It totally gave me a perspective change of God’s power in creating beauty.  Even though I have times where I don’t “feel it” He still has the power to create beauty from the nothing. We went back to the studio and switched songs to “Heavens Invading” and we were able to get both finished that day. I don’t think it was an accident that we worked on that song next, that song did in that moment the very thing it was meant to do, it invaded the lies and insecurities and brought truth. We went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant (Mexican food in England, lol) that took 2 hours and then we went back for another hour and a half recording session.

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