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That’s Not My Name, Dammit.

That’s Not My Name, Dammit.

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Lately I’ve been struggling to sort out in my head what is Truth and what is a Lie. It’s been a deep, debilitating struggle, actually, in which I feel like I’m going insane.

This is obviously putting stress on my family relationships. After all, if I assume you’re lying to me, then it stands to reason I should crush you with my anger.

I am thankful for a patient husband and friends who come to the rescue with chicken pot pie and conversation at 10:00pm.

This morning I interrupted a death spiral of lies and went for a walk to clear my head in the fresh air and bright sun. As I walked briskly with music in my ears, The Ting Tings shuffled into my mix.

They call me Elle
They call me Stacey
They call me her
They call me Jane

That’s not my name
That’s not my name
That’s not my name
That’s not my…name

I’m known around the office for getting lost in my music and accidentally singing out loud while co-workers are on a conference call, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that as I hiked through the Seattle Center I shouted, “THAT’S NOT MY NAME” over and over again.

It felt good to get it out: to shout THAT’S NOT MY NAME at Satan, or my brain, or my heart, or whatever it is that’s trying to separate me from reality.

My name is Daughter, and I belong to Jesus. Everything else is a lie.

It’s given us, to overcome.

It’s given us, to overcome.

The other day a friend called me. She was struggling to see light at the end of her tunnel of despair, and I hope I was able to encourage her.

We talked as I sat in my car in the Grocery Outlet parking lot because this is the reality of life in community: to go on a rescue mission between client calls and grocery shopping.

After we talked I went into the store. I don’t normally shut out the world in public. I like to smile and say hello to fellow pear squeezers. But on that day I needed to pray, to decompress, to go inward.

This song by Josh Garrels came into the mix as I rummaged through packs of chicken thighs, looking for the largest one. As I heard a particular lyric – I can’t remember which one – I gasped.

And I must have gasped out loud and not just in my head because the lady next to me turned quickly and looked concerned.

“Wow, these prices are great,” I said, and chuckled. Nothing to see here! All is well! Surely no one despairs in the meat department!

But when she turned away, I cried a little. And worshipped a little. And I can’t be sure, but I may have sung this out loud a little. I really hope I didn’t, though, because I’m no American Idol.

To be clear, my life is pretty great right now – I don’t have much to cry about. But Jesus wept with those who wept. And Job’s friends sat down and cried with him (before they turned into jerks, but we’ll ignore that part of the story for now). So if I want to cry and worship in the meat department on someone else’s behalf I think there’s plenty of Biblical argument in favor of that.

So, this song is for you, friend. And it’s for anyone who is struggling to see light at the end of despair. It’s not a battle cry that calls you to kick ass, but a meditation, a beckoning, an invitation to believe He will overcome.

It’s one of the reasons I follow Jesus. He’s a God who restores everything I lose, squander, or have taken from me.

p.s. Thank you, Bandcamp & Josh Garrels for letting me share your music with a file embed.

Rise

I hung my head, for the last time
In surrender and despair
Before I’m dead, I’ll take the last climb
Up the mountain, face my fears
The time has come, to make a choice
Use my voice for the love of every man
My minds made up, never again
Never again, will I turn round

Though they may surround me like lions
And crush me on all sides
I may fall, but I will rise
Not by my might, or my power, or by the strength of swords
Only through, your love, my lord
All we’ve lost, will be, restored

Take courage sons, for we must go under
The heart of darkness, and set them free
But don’t lose heart when you see the numbers
There’s no measure for, the faith we bring
It’s given us, to overcome
If we run, where the spirit calls us on
The greatest things, have yet to come
With the dawn, we will rise

Though they may surround us like lions
And crush us on all sides
we may fall, but we will rise
Not by my might, or my power, or by the strength of swords
Only through, your love, my lord
All we’ve lost, will be, restored

Soundtrack: Passover

Soundtrack: Passover

I’ve been around this song for more than 10 years. It was written by Luke Abrams, and I’m so happy my friend Joe Day recorded such a great studio version of it. I play this song loud and on repeat whenever I need a reminder that God is sovereign over both my ugliness and my pain.

It reminds me to worship, instead of sulk.

When I feel taken advantage of or offended, it reminds me to crush my god of victimhood. When I’m depressed or angry, it reminds me to crush my god of selfishness and control. When I want to justify my bitterness, it reminds me to give God the first of my pain.

Whether I sin or am sinned against, this song pretty much covers all the bases.

Passover

passover me
let your wrath pass over me
may grace stay with me
let your mercy be

take all of me
let me glorify you
for your glory
let it be manifest to all

take the first of thoughts
take the first of my time
take the throne of my heart

paint my doorway
with the blood of the lamb
a sacrifice
for all who dwell within

you gave your word
and took it to the grave
for your glory
let it me manifest to all

take the first of thought
take the first of my time
take the throne of my heart

crush all other gods
you alone sit on the throne
take me, take my all
father take me, take me home
on my, on my way, on my way back home
on my, on my wy on my way back

p.s. I’ve embedded an audio file at the top of this post, which may not come through in a reader.

Surprise Date Night

Surprise Date Night

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It was Tuesday, and Bryan surprised me with tickets to Mike Doughty at Neumos.

mike doughty 10:15

I knew we’d be up late, but I got a little wide-eyed when I saw what time he’d be on stage. You see, on most nights around 10:15, I’ve already fallen asleep in the middle of a 30Rock episode.

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But thanks to a yummy drink (or two) at the Lobby Bar and a street vendor hot dog, I stayed awake.

AND we scored this awesome wide open vantage point from the side, because standing on my toes to see over the 6 foot tall guy blocking my view and elbowing the drunk chick out of my personal space is SO 10 years ago was never my thing.

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And THEN Bryan spotted Little Miss Sunshine – that chick in the front row who looks like she’s plotting twenty five ways to castrate her boyfriend.

Lighten up, honey. It’s a rock show, and you have the best seat in the house!

Shortly after I snapped this photo, she pulled her phone out and started texting. When Mike Doughty saw this, he reached down, grabbed her phone, and shoved it in his back pocket.

Reason #42 why that man is brilliant.

Friday Link Love: The Lonely Forest

Friday Link Love: The Lonely Forest

Photo by Steven Dewall

I discovered some new music this summer that I can’t stop listening to.

I’ve tried putting something different on because I think maybe I shouldn’t be so OCD, but it throws off my creative process, like trying to write with my left hand.

Don’t mock. We creative types are quirky about what keeps us in the zone.

The Lonely Forest is my top favorite right now (website).

They’re stellar musicians and song writers. Plus, they ROCK. Literally. Belting voices, vibrating walls, pounding base… this is how I like to write.

Here’s an acoustic version of one of their best songs:

And a live, in-studio version of another favorite:

Bryan says we saw them perform at a small music festival on Orcas Island a few years ago when they were still in high school, but I don’t remember.

Regardless, their album, Arrows, is incredible. It’s cohesive, deep, and layered, and I can’t stop listening.

This is just one of five new music loves – I’ll share more next week!

A Few Thoughts About My Day…

A Few Thoughts About My Day…

  • God created the law.
  • I cannot keep to the law in my own power.
  • “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
  • Jesus paid the debt for my sin.
  • He paid the entire debt.
  • I owe him nothing.
  • He expects nothing from me.
  • It was a free gift.
  • I don’t have the means to pay it back even if I wanted to.
  • This is why I follow Jesus.
  • Sometimes I do things for other people
  • like buy them a drink, or babysit their kids, or pay off their financial debt.
  • The smaller the act, the less I really think about it.
  • But sometimes, like for the really big things, I expect something in return,
  • when maybe I should just do that Thing and say, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.
Tragic endings into love stories

Tragic endings into love stories

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“Maybe we’re not meant to be together.”

“He said he never loved me.”

“He told me he wants a divorce.”

“I can’t keep letting him treat me that way.”

“I don’t see how reconciliation is possible.”

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

“I can’t stop crying.”

These are soundbites from some of the conversations I’ve been having lately. It’s a bit agonizing to know that I can’t fix the complex web of other people’s problems, that I can’t solve it and make it better with more talking and little wine.

Some things will simply remain broken.

I love hearing stories of restored marriages, of recovery from addictions and healing from serious illness. What a great time to be on Team Jesus! He’s so awesome to mend our broken lives!

But then sometimes sin and selfishness corrupt a marriage so deeply that we reject the mending; the idols of our desires are so strong we are not open to being rescued; the tragedy of Adam so final that our bodies do not heal.

It’s more difficult to see Jesus working in these situations. Sometimes I don’t want his comfort because I’d rather he fix it. I don’t want to mourn a loss but rejoice in the miracle of restoration!

We sing a song in our church community called We Have Overcome, and recently – the day after I first heard one of these soundbites from a friend – this particular lyric stood out to me, and I burst into tears:

“…a savior who turns tragic endings into love stories, this is the God I know…”

Some of the endings to our stories are tragic. They crash and burn or slowly smolder; they sometimes catch us by surprise. But thankfully we are not in our own story – we are a part of God’s story, and his stories always end lovely even if brought through a tragic climax.

This is the God I know.

Image of invisible God
Stretched across a tree
And all to take my place
Oh, the divine mystery

A savior who turns tragic endings
into love stories
This is the God I know

Chorus:
You have overcome, You have overcome deathʼs sting
Celebrate the rising of a king
You have overcome, You have overcome, letʼs sing
The power of an everlasting king

even if we lose it all

even if we lose it all

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Every once in awhile I put this song on repeat and turn it up to eleven. I can’t speak to why the song writers feel okay, but it reminds me of the peace I find in Jesus no matter what stresses me out.

Lately I’ve been inspired by a friend who’s had to make some very tough decisions and accept new life circumstances that are out of her control. But even though she spent many years fearing and resisting this situation, she’s walking through it with grace and peace.

In Jesus, she’s okay. Even if we lose it all, as the song says.

falling down in the dirt
we’re okay
we are tired we are hurt
we’re okay

crashing cars dying stars
I can love you like you are
hit the wall have to crawl
even if we lose it all
we’re okay

What Have I Done?

What Have I Done?

Sunrise through treestrees

Recently someone said to Bryan, “I heard the Jews killed Jesus. Is that true?”

Bryan leaned in and replied, “No. The humans killed Jesus.”

I forget this sometimes. And when I do, I act like Jesus is pretty lucky to have me on his team. And when I act like Jesus is pretty lucky to have me on his team, I’m more self-centered and less generous.

But Joe Day came into the shuffle the other day and reminded me that *I* killed Jesus.

oh my soul
oh my Jesus
Judas sold you for thirty
I’d have done it for less

oh my soul
oh my savior
Peter denied you three times
I’ve denied you more

exactly how this grace thing works

exactly how this grace thing works

The guideMap

I’ve noticed a repeated theme in Christian lingo – a metaphorical cliche. It’s the idea of a journey, or path, or roadmap. We follow a path to salvation, we’re on a journey as believers, the Bible offers a roadmap for how we are to live.

I don’t find this metaphor very interesting anymore. I think there’s a better, more compelling story to be told.

Mumford & Sons touches on this in one of their songs, and this lyric in particular stood out to me the other day:

It seems as if all my bridges have been burned,
You say that’s exactly how this grace thing works
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart,
But the welcome I receive at the restart

At the heart of the gospel is this idea that even if we blow everything up and burn down all our bridges, Jesus still says, “Please come home. I’m waiting for you. The BBQ is ready!”

Every minute of every day provides me with the opportunity for a new start.

As someone who struggles with losing her temper, this is amazing. No matter how quick I am to rage, I can always stop, repent to God and my kids, and start over.

As someone with a husband, two feisty children, and a heart open to community, this is sobering. The responsibility of receiving others at their restart is heavy. I like to wallow in my bitterness and stew in my justification, but Jesus calls me to welcome those who repent, and he calls me to shepherd my children into a lifestyle of repentance.

This is far more compelling to me than the journey itself. Anybody can get from Point A to Point B, and a lot of people do it without Jesus. But Jesus is the miracle behind a heart of repentance and forgiveness, the power behind our ability to give and receive a new start.

Oh yes she did.

Oh yes she did.

On Saturday I took a car full of Ruthie’s friends into the city for a special girly day, and we were rocking out to some Mumford and Sons while en route. Just as we were jamming to Little Lion Man, I suddenly realized what lay ahead in the chorus.

We don’t censor this song at the ZugHaus – we believe if you fuck something up it’s good to own it, confess it, and repent – but since I had other kids in the car I wanted to be sensitive.

Ruthie: “Hey why did you skip that song?”

Me: “It had a word in it that parents may not like their kids to hear.”

Ruthie (to all her friends): “Oh yeah, it has the word fuck in it.”

My apologies to all the moms. I tried. I really did.

All My Favorite People Are Broken

All My Favorite People Are Broken

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more at home in a song. It communicates a sentiment I’ve carried with me my whole life – even when I didn’t understand it.

The more I grow in maturity, the more I appreciate the brokenness in the people around me. I have my favorite favorites. You know who you are.

Recently I had the opportunity to encourage a friend who was struggling & making poor decisions. I think she was afraid to talk to me about what she’d done, afraid I’d somehow reject or condemn her.

But I saw the relief on her face when I confessed that my Hidden sin was no different than her Right There Out In the Open sin, that we’re all broken and need Jesus, even those of us who look like we’ve got our shit together.

I’m fairly certain that when I get to heaven I’ll be swaying arm in arm with all of my favorite broken people, eating from the dessert table and quoting lines from Steel Magnolias.

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me, my heart should know
Some prayers are better left unspoken
I just want to hold you and let the rest go

All my friends are part saint and part sinner
We lean on each other, try to rise above
We are not afraid to admit we are all still beginners
We are all late bloomers when it comes to love

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me, my heart should know
Awful believers, skeptical dreamers, step forward
You can stay right here, you don’t have to go

Is each wound you’ve received just a burdensome gift
It gets so hard to lift yourself up off the ground
But the poet says we must praise a mutilated world
We’re all working the graveyard shift
You might as well sing along

Cause all my favorite people are broken
Believe me, my heart should know
As for your tender heart, this world’s going to rip it wide open,
It aint gonna be pretty, but you’re not alone

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me, my heart should know
Awful believers, skeptical dreamers, you’re welcome
Yeah, you’re safe right here, you don’t have to go

Cause all my favorite people are broken
Believe me, I should know
Some prayers are better left unspoken
I just want to hold you and let the rest go

way back home

way back home

For more than ten years this song always seems to find me in my darkest hour.

Whether I am depressed, wallowing, full of rage, or drenched in the stench of my own selfishness, the Truth in these words sets my heart straight.

And it’s not just the words themselves, but the way in which I get to shout them out at the back end of the song – a full body submission to the true Owner of my heart.

I did this tonight in my kitchen. On repeat.

I’m struggling in particular with my selfishness these days. Sometimes I think I’d like to spend my days walking alone, writing the great memoir, drinking tequila, and listening to really loud music. I’d spend my nights similarly, only maybe without the walking & a little more tequila.

The fantasy never includes disobeying children, hard conversations with husbands, and poop-eating dogs.

I hear a lot of messages out in the wild. I hear that I deserve to be happy, that I need to do what’s right for myself, that I’m in control of my own destiny. These are very tempting messages for me because I think I would make a very good brooding & reclusive writer if I put my mind to it.

I also possess just enough sass and mystery to drive the men wild.

But when I find myself in this dark place where it’s me & Lisbeth Salander against the world, I am shaken by the fact that I am not the center of the universe, that it’s not my destiny to do what’s right for myself, and that happiness doesn’t come from getting whatever I want.

On the contrary, I am called to worship Him – to set aside everything I ever thought I wanted for myself and trust that He knows me better than I know myself.

Jesus calls me to unclench my fisted heart. In turn he fills it with joy no matter what circumstance I find myself in.

And so tonight I sang in my kitchen. I turned it up to eleven and I yelled into the window as I did the dishes:

take the first of my thought
take the first of my time
take the throne of my heart
crush all other gods
you alone sit on the throne

Ruthie finally came in and burst my little worship bubble and yelled at me that she couldn’t hear her movie on the Hallmark channel (there’s many things wrong with that, believe me). So I stepped back into the real world and practiced living according to my re-set heart.

I pray I never give into my fantasy. I pray the lies of that false happiness are destroyed. And I praise God for songwriters who point me back to His Truth.

Who needs an autograph when you can have a conversation?

Who needs an autograph when you can have a conversation?

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We flew into Salt Lake City tonight for the Sundance Film Festival where we’ll be live streaming and producing video at the Tweet House.

While standing in the baggage claim Bryan goes, “Hey, there’s Ted from How I Met Your Mother.”

FIVE FEET AWAY.

I watched a few people ask for his autograph, smile at him while he signed it, then walk away without really saying anything. What was I going to do with an autograph? Go home and show people my signed flight itinerary? #boring.

Besides. Fan Girl isn’t really my thing. I was MUCH more interested in his musical taste, anyway.

I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that I JUST heard Josh Radnor’s interview on KCRW’s Guest DJ Project in which he featured one of my favorite bands that no one’s ever heard of – Cloud Cult.

Coincidences don’t just happen like that – I think Jesus wanted me to talk to Josh Radnor.

So I did.

“I heard your guest DJ Project on KCRW,” I said. “Cloud Cult is one of my favorite bands.”

“IS IT REALLY?”

I don’t recall if he said IS IT REALLY? exactly, but that was his sentiment. He was excited – the kind of excited you get when you love something totally obscure and you find out someone else not only knows what you’re talking about, but GETS it.

THAT SOMEONE ELSE WAS ME.

We talked about how awesome they are, and how weird we thought it was that KCRW never heard of them, and how PHENOMENAL their live shows are.

“I put one of their songs in my movie, Happythankyoumoreplease!” he said.

I’ve been thinking about that all evening – how Josh Radnor made the movie he wanted to make, and put the music he loves into it, and now people are going to know about Cloud Cult (as they should).

Reminds me a little of Zack Braff and his Garden State – loved the movie, LOVED the soundtrack. In fact, Let Go by Frou Frou is one of my favorite songs, and I heard it first on Garden State.

(I used it here as a soundtrack to a significant day.)

At any rate, here’s what Josh Radnor had to say about Cloud Cult in his KCRW interview:

The lead singer is a guy named Craig Minowa and he and his wife lost their child, a baby, when the kid was about one or two and most of their records have been a response to this grief….when I listen to the Arcade Fire I feel like the world is ending and Cloud Cult makes me feel like the world’s already ended and, like, now where do we go? Everything’s in shards and pieces on the ground and they’re building something new. It’s really like this transformative experience listening to them.

Yes, like the world already ended – now what? I feel that way most of the time, which is probably why I love that band.

But I digress – back to happy topics:

I had a conversation with Josh Radnor today in baggage claim.

The live feed:

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the flood is too deep

the flood is too deep

Nobody warned me about the last two weeks of school. I think plenty of you had ample opportunity to wave your arms in the air, wild-eyed and frazzled, somehow communicating to me that I would be run ragged with year-end crap.

So, THANKS for that.

Also, who said I could be depressed? I didn’t order up any depression! It’s been sunny and hot for 28 days, for crying out loud – WHAT DO I HAVE TO BE DEPRESSED ABOUT? But no matter what I do, I just can’t stop crying. And no, it’s not that – how shall I say? time of the month – to be crying, either. And besides, that time of the month doesn’t last forEVER, and that’s how long I’ve been crying. IT’S JUST NOT NORMAL.

And then there’s all the Stuff that keeps happening and needs to be Figured Out. And the Money that needs to be Found. And the Stress that needs to be Waded Through.

So yeah, when I heard this song, I cried the Ugly Cry, because I’m spent and need a twenty year nap.

Ghost Ship: Speak (listen here)
The rain is pouring down
There’s water flowing out
of a puncture in your side
it soaks me to my bones

This flood is too deep
for me to catch a breath
and I feel I will sink
to a certain death

this flood is too deep
this flood is too deep
the blood is washing over me
your ___ that set me free

and you’ve washed me now I’m clean
you’ve washed me now I’m clean
you’ve washed me now I’m clean