A Turkish Poem, Inspired by an American Girl

 

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Rylee

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
– John 1:5

Riding the ferry home in the dark
the rush of cool air forces me to breathe.

The lights on the shore depart from me
and though the bustling of busy streets still reaches my ears
the steady.
rhythm.
of the waves,
quiets my heart and mind.

Nearby I see the glow of a twin ferry
bursting with life
lighting the waters’ surface.
But my eyes are drawn away
to the lonely light of a cargo steamer.
The darkness seems to edge in around it, the water opening it’s ceaseless chasm to swallow the ship’s
one. tiny. light.
I stare so long that I forget where I am,
until I feel the warmth of a friend beside me and
turn
drawing her out of her own
wandering
thoughts
and she smiles back at me.
We look out together now, and find the ship’s light not
swallowed, but
brighter
fighting against the darkness
as it realizes, like I have,
that she is not alone.

OVERseas and INsecure

Istanbul

Istanbul

Last summer I traveled overseas for the first time (w/o my family), on a journey with college students to learn the basics of a new language, to explore, make new friends and play music.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

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This is the view from my dorm window of the campus where we lived and took classes

I wish I could say that being in Turkey was one of the best times of my life, but it wasn’t. Being overseas brought up so many insecurities in me that I didn’t even know existed. If I’m honest with myself, most of my insecurities were with body image. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m fat or ugly, but when you’re in a foreign country where every one is size 6 or under and you’re traveling with 14 young and beautiful college students, it gets harder and harder to convince yourself that that’s true.
On top of that, my identity is in Christ so body image shouldn’t even matter, I mean after all, I’m not defined or loved based on the way that I look but instead I’m defined by Christ’s love for me as displayed when he gave his very life for me on the cross. So throw in some guilt for focusing on myself and essentially focusing on things that don’t matter, i.e. my appearance.

Our very good-looking team ;)

Our very good-looking team 😉

Did I mention that I’m supposed to be a leader on this trip?!?!?! How am I supposed to lead students when I don’t even feel confident in who I am, and when I feel like my faith is weak because I’m insecure?!? And how exactly am I supposed to be confident when beauty beyond my own is staring me in the face daily?

Well, I did it, because I wasn’t alone. I had the truth of God’s word, His Spirit living inside of me and a big group of friends to remind me of His truth.

One of the first reminders I needed was that we have an enemy.
That’s right, the Bible tells us that we have an enemy, and he is the father of lies (John 8:44), and he comes to steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10).
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that every day that I was in Turkey I had to remind myself that the voice in my head, telling me that I’m not pretty, that I’m not worthy to lead students, and that ultimately, that I have nothing to offer, was a liar.

The reason this lie is so easy to believe is because it’s partially true.

Rylee and I found a starfish by the sahil, it's not perfect but isn't it beautiful?

Rylee and I found a starfish by the sahil, it’s not perfect but isn’t it beautiful?

I’m absolutely not perfect. My beauty is tarnished by a long history of mistakes. I am not pretty. And because I’m not perfect I’m not worthy to lead students anywhere. I don’t know everything, I don’t always have the capacity to recognize right and wrong and sometimes I just don’t know all the answers. That’s what makes the enemy so believable, he twists little bits of truth.

But here is what’s really true:
I am beautiful because He created me, because I am his masterpiece, not because of the way I look.  (Ephesians 2:10)
I am worthy because He lives in me, because He has made me new, not because I’ve never made any mistakes. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I have something to offer because God doesn’t ask for my perfection, He just asks for me. (Romans 12:1)

You see, I am lovely because He loves me.
(before you get too excited about the cleverness of that line, know that I borrowed it from the Jesus Storybook Bible, it’s amazing, you should check it out, it’s absolutely a work of art!)

A selfie in the Hagia Sophia

A selfie in the Hagia Sophia

For me, what it really boils down to is this, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

My weaknesses are a direct testimony to the power and strength of Jesus Christ. What a gift my weaknesses are and what a liar the enemy is!

So even though it wasn’t the best summer of my life, I’m so thankful for the way the Lord grew me. I have so many great stories from playing music on the sahil (shore) with my friends, from helping some very special women grow in their faith, and from the great joy and privilege of playing a part in introducing some Turkish people to Jesus!

the sahil at sunset

the sahil at sunset

And so, I leave you with this truth:
James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Thank you God for the joy of trials, for great friends, and the truth that, with you, I lack nothing.

Playing music by the sahil, I messed up so we were laughing :)

Playing music by the sahil, I messed up so we were laughing 🙂

Some of our Turkish friends at a picnic!

Some of our Turkish friends at a picnic!

The ladies :)

The ladies 🙂

Staff Women!

Staff Women!

Music Just Is

There was a distinct car ride from my childhood that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It’s not that I remember where we were going or who was in the car, but I remember a conversation that changed my perception of myself and music. I was young, too young to drive so my mom was in the car and I think we must have had a friend with us or something. We had the radio on as usual, and I remember someone said,

“who’s this by?”
Me: “what? Who’s what by?”
(I’m looking around the car and outside to try to figure out what this person could possibly be asking about)
“This song, who plays it?”

I’d never thought about that before. I thought music was just music, I didn’t even realize that it came from someone, that there were specific people singing and playing instruments, that it was created by people.

I’ve never really talked about that with anyone because honestly, I was kind of embarrassed. Let’s be honest, as a musician now, that’s REALLY EMBARRASSING to admit. I mean, OBVIOUSLY there are people singing and there are different voices and artists and songwriters, who wouldn’t just know that?!?!
Especially now –  as an adult, a musician and an ARTIST I value so much the individual creativity of writing, singing and playing music. It’s so personal and beautiful and a lot of work! There’s no way it could come out of nowhere!

But a thought occurred to me the other day as I was watching The Voice on Hulu (which is why I’m writing and confessing this embarrassing encounter from a car ride I took in junior high) music just is.

Music just makes sense to me.

It’s like, music has always existed. I realize now that I didn’t consider where music came from because it made so much sense to me that it was there, like it was a part of the creation story.

Now, when I listen to music and think about all of the instruments working together and all the people playing those instruments, how they’re working together to create this beautiful thing, I fall in love with it all over again.

So, I guess I’m not so embarrassed about it now.

MICHAEL GUNGOR On The Problem With The Christian Music Industry

This is the kind of thing you can expect to see from me. I love music. I love the art AND heart behind it, and I love how this article – and the retraction – exposes Christians for what we are, broken.

AWAKEN GENERATION

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SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT !!!!

READ MICHAEL GUNGOR’S FOLLOW UP BLOG TO HIS POST ‘THE PROBLEM WITH THE CHRISTIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY !!!

 

Date: Monday, December 9, 2013

Hey Everyone,

As promised earlier, after the incredible buzz around his blog post below in the past week (there have been more than 360,000 views of this blog post in the past 7 days) Michael Gungor expressed to me a desire to write a follow-up blog post to this original post he wrote almost 2 years ago.

I am excited to announce that Michael emailed me his follow-up blog post that he just finished two days ago, and you can read it immediately, by clicking on the link below.

Michael Gungor: A Follow-Up To My Blog Post On The Problem With The Christian Music Industry

 

Regards,

Hervict

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When you are in a touring band, there is a lot of time that is…

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Why I’m Afraid to Blog

Here’s a few reasons why I’m terrified to start my own blog and why so far I’ve only made short posts about pinterest and photos.

  • so many people blog and they’re great at it.
  • I’m a perfectionist, especially with my writing. Which sort of doesn’t work for me since I’ll never actually be perfect.
  • I’m still not satisfied with the aesthetic of my tumblr page yet.
  • I’m afraid to be vulnerable with the people I know that will probably read it because some of them are great writers or they know people that are great writers.

Fear is a funny thing. A crippling thing. When I think about fear I remember what a very talented and wise friend once told me about fear.

She said something along the lines of this: fear is really a form of pride, a form of self-protection because we are protecting our image instead of taking a risk.

Whoa. I never thought of it that way before.

And then I think of this line from a Copeland song.
In the endless fight of grace and pride, I don’t wanna win this time

(you can listen to the song here , It’s great!)

And then I think of my band’s theme verse from 2010, 2 Timothy 1:7 which says “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

So I have all these things telling me that fear is stupid!

And then I remember the most important piece of truth, I have a purpose.

That’s right, I have a purpose that only I can fulfill, no one else can ever do it for me. So it doesn’t matter if there is a whole world of people that are already blogging and doing a stellar job at it, I’m the only one who can do it just like me.

Also, everyone had to start somewhere. No one was awesome at blogging right away (okay maybe some people were), they had to work at it. So I’m going to work at it and I’m not going to be afraid.

I heard this song come on my spotify radio last night by a guy who isn’t afraid to say it like it is, to confess his weaknesses, or to be afraid, and it gave me some extra courage. I hope it will give you some as well.

Kevin Devine – Ballgame