My Walk Mix

I LOVE music. Caveat: Since I am in my mid-40s and no longer “cool,” there is really a limited perspective here on music that may be lost on people who aren’t within 5-10 years of my age … Or maybe this happens to everyone, I don’t know. I’m OK with that, because this first part is more to provide context on MY music experience and how it influences me…

Have you ever noticed that there are different “music types” of people.  There are three distinct “types” that I’ve noticed over the years. First, there are the “passive types” who “like” music, and might even say they “love” music, but they can only name a few current artists. They listen to what is “now playing” on the radio and maybe download some tracks from iTunes hits by the likes of Lady-Rihanna-Bruno-Kanye-whatever … I think that this first type listens to music “because it’s there.”

The next types are the “stuck in high school” folks who just can’t get enough of Lynryd Skynard (FREEEEE BIRRRDDD) and the other classics of their generation. If you go to a party at the home of these music types and try to play anything current, eclectic, or not familiar, they will holler “What is that crap!” and then quickly circle their iPod wheel back around to the pre-made “70s” or “80s” playlists and hit shuffle to “mix it up a bit.” Oh, but they do like Kid Rock.

Then there are the “there is too much music and too little time to listen to it all” types of people. These are the people who close their eyes and play air piano (even though they don’t play piano) when they listen to Dave play “Blues” on Brubeck Meets Bach, who have THOUSANDS of songs on their iPods and create their own genres with sub-groups and categories, who actively seek new artists and could spend HOURS listening and discovering and marveling at the beauty of it all. Those who are not infrequently moved to tears by that beauty. This is me.

OK, so I’m in that last group. I love music, am very moved by music, jazz, blues, hip-hop, rock, classical, dance, electronic, ambient, world … actually my genres include “backamental” (classical, instrumental, and anything else that can be played in the thus-named “background”), “eclectica” (not quite rock, not quite pop, mostly mid-tempo interesting artists that aren’t mainstream)… but anyway… you get the picture.

Enter Religion. My very first religious music experience was at a Foursquare Church in Bothell, Washington in the mid 90s. A co-worker invited me. Ya wanna know what I remember most about my visit to the church that day? When the music started I had an uncontrollable bout of crying. I was embarrassed. I didn’t know the songs, I didn’t know the words, probably had never heard them before. What the heck? THAT was weird.

Jump ahead to my/our FIRST REAL church-going experience at Real Life Ministries many years ago. Really great contemporary Christian & Worship music. Again I was very moved by the music, and really enjoyed it. Cried sometimes. I can’t remember if I sang much. They put on a good show though. Still, it was kind of “blah.” Not the kind of stuff I’d throw in the CD player at home. Luckily I married a music type who is like me, who also has fairly eclectic/alternative tastes. So, early in our Christian journey we sought out artists who were a little more … shall we say… extreme? P.O.D., East West, and Thousand Foot Krutch were a few… and some more mainstream “alternative” Christian artists like Switchfoot, TobyMac, Grits, DC Talk, etc. It’s interesting as I look back because it’s pretty clear that it was all about the music and finding a “sound” that was familiar and comfortable for us, and not about the words and meaning of the songs. Sure there were some good lyrics in there, but if we didn’t like the music, why bother?

As we fell away from the church later, we still kept a lot of the CDs on hand, but I can’t remember INTENTIONALLY listening to a Christian artist during that time. Christian music basically fell by the wayside as we drifted away from Church and back into the world. Now, I still think (and I’m not in any position to have a theological discussion or argument about it) that a LOT of music is inspired by God. He made us, we make music. Sometimes I would hear a song and just close my eyes and be amazed at the wonder of it and think, “Yeah, that HAS to be from God.” (I know NOW that I need to think this through a little more, because I realize that music can also inspire us in the WRONG ways… but that’s a discussion for later.)

Jump ahead again to Heart of the City. I have to say it took me a little while to get used to the music here. After coming from the uber-production-show-stage-acoustics-and-even-fancy-lighting at Real Life, it was good … just … smaller? And I didn’t know the songs. The cool thing was, and I’ve written about this before, there were people ROCKING OUT for Jesus. (Real Life has NOTHING on HOCC in this department – WOOT!) One of the leaders (I now know is Pick) was doing this MOSH-like jumping and just getting down in the front row. I don’t think I saw Marcos on that first day, but I LOVE watching him “bring it.” I think the biggest difference, and I’m not sure if it’s HOCC, or ME or BOTH, but it feels way more like “Jesus is in the house” at HOCC. The Worship team and the church body are singing TO and FOR Jesus and not for themselves.

I don’t really sing that much at church yet. There are two reasons. One reason is that I still haven’t got my Jesus Freak on. MAN do I want to. I get frustrated with myself that I still hold back. I feel like I’m cheating Jesus by being shy-restrained-awkward about singing and praising Him. (Thankfully, He forgives me). The second reason is that when I open my mouth, I usually start to cry. Now, this doesn’t just happen at church. This also happens when I am alone in the bathroom putting on my makeup and nobody else is home. So clearly, the embarrassment factor isn’t at work there. I can’t explain it, but it’s like the Holy Spirit is bubbling and gurgling just beneath the surface, and when I open my mouth to sing it wants to get out. I literally start to sing a verse of a familiar song and it gets stuck in my throat. I choke back the tears and what results is a whisper of the words. My struggle right now is that I am not forcing it out. I WANT it to come out, and it will be a glorious day when it does. It will be significant. It will be surrender. And I will sing loud and I will cry really hard. And my life will never be the same.

It started to come out last week. I was in the car driving somewhere. I love the Newsboys song called “He Reigns.” Especially the verse:

And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they’ve just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word

And then I sang out, badly, loudly, with tears flowing, “When all God’s children sing out Glory, glory, hallelujah He reigns, He reigns…” until I pulled into the driveway and the song was over. It’s a start.

But… now I need to circle back. Music at church, music on the radio… for the last few months during difficult times, we started going to church and I started listening to Christian radio stations. It’s what I wake up to on my alarm clock. It’s what I listen to when I’m getting ready for work in the morning, it’s on in the car. I’ve got Slacker or Pandora going at work. See, I have this PROBLEM that if I am not reminded about every other minute to praise, love, thank, and TRUST God, I forget. I get distracted. Life happens. I start trying to do stuff by myself. BAD IDEA. So, I just started surrounding myself with praise and worship music about every idle moment. At first, I had kind of a hard time listening to it, because it just wasn’t “my kind of music.” It was a little boring, not really that edgy or interesting… But… I still listened. It’s funny … last summer Kevin started listening to country music. He was impressed and inspired by lyrics that described and actually promoted family, God, our country, being a man, loving your wife. Songs with VALUES. I didn’t absolutely hate it (even though I have never liked it), but Kevin described country music the same way he describes tortilla chips, bread, and crackers. Those things are DELIVERY DEVICES for the GOOD STUFF (respectively salsa, jam, and dip). Even if we didn’t love some of the music and the sounds, the lyrics were solid and redeeming. There was some hope there.

Well, of course it’s easy to use that analogy for Christian music too. I thought, well, I don’t LOVE this music, but the message is TRUE. This is where my head needs to be, I can deal. And, of course, the more I have listened, the more I have learned and been blessed.

Now, this will be obvious to a lot of people, but guess what? God has this thing about having His hand in all things, and that includes hearing the RIGHT song at the RIGHT time.

Exhibit 1: I was in the car. Things had gone down. I was feeling bad. I knew I needed to change. REALLY change. Yet I was lamenting the “death” of “what was.” The thrill? The attention? The external approval? The “fun.” Alas, what will I do? I remember exactly where I was when this came to my mind:

“But how glorious it will be when I am filled with Jesus.” (It comes to me verbatim when I’m not thinking about it, but of course now that I wanted to write it down it’s not coming to me… but this was the gist).

And THEN… as if to address something deeper that I wasn’t even actually thinking about at the time… this song by Tenth Avenue North played on the radio. I tried to just pick a few verses, but couldn’t. (But I did leave out a few repeated choruses).

You Are More

There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide

She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”

But don’t you know who you are,
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try

But don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You’ve been remade
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.

http://www.metrolyrics.com/you-are-more-lyrics-tenth-avenue-north.html#ixzz1llY1fBgW – Copied from MetroLyrics.com

I didn’t catch all the words on the radio, but I remembered enough to Google it when I got home.

I took my laptop downstairs and watched the video for this song. Twice. Ohhhh Myyyy. The band is playing in a classroom in front of a gigantic chalk board. The chalk board is covered with sins and emotions and afflictions. Jealosy. Ashamed. Pretender. OCD. I feel forgotten. My family is broken. My dad has cancer. Am I loved? Those writing on the board are young, old, men, women, black, white. Struggles, demons. Then the shot is on the board. A few drops of water at first, then a few streams like tears. Then more water, streaming, washing down the board. Erasing the sins and emotions and afflictions. Yeah, that’s why I watched it twice. Sobbing. We’ve been remade. It’s worth a view: http://youtu.be/IwtcwQwgdsA.

I could probably spend another dozen or so pages about songs that have touched me. Esterlyn’s “Freedom is Here” (a cover of a Hillsong United song that I actually haven’t heard yet) moved me first because of the sound and melody, then because of the video which is cool and moving, and then because of the Words:

The future comes alive
You speak your word and I
I’m running into your hope

Because I’ve seen your light
You bring my world to life
I’m coming after your love

Cuz I’m not shaken
I’m not not letting go

And everything comes alive
In my life as we lift You higher
Let Your freedom arise
In our lives as we lift You up
Sing it out Sing it out
Freedom is here

Freedom is here. I have another story rattling around in my brain about this concept, but … later…

And last (for now), Blessings by Laura Story. I was having a really tough week (OK, maybe more like THREE weeks). I was praying, I was praising, but things just weren’t going my way. And for some reason (Yeah, I know), THIS song kept COMING ON THE RADIO ALL THE TIME. Hint Hint:

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near

What if trials of this life
are Your mercies in disguise

Yep. And now, at church, AND on the radio, I sing (maybe quietly still, but finally, really, saying it to God):

Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsty.com/jesus-culture-one-thing-remains-lyrics.html ]
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains

His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me. So I will go and turn on the radio, if just for a few minutes while I’m brushing my teeth, so I don’t forget. Ever.

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