Thursday, November 17

of babies and rejuvenation

ah, i know. it's been quite the long time. but i feel somewhat refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to once again lay bear my heart and my journey with Jesus, hoping that some little blessing finds its way to your own heart, dear reader.

so much has changed since june. so. much.

if you were traipsing along with me back then, you know my family suffered a terrible loss in march, and i am so grateful for all the love and support during my miscarriage.

God was so faithful to our family though, and blessed us with another pregnancy shortly afterwards. i'm now 30 weeks pregnant (!!!!) with another little boy. our little daniel is due february 2nd (though this mama's hoping and praying that maybe he'll be enticed into an early appearance in january). regardless, i'm so grateful. it's an unbelievable experience, carrying life in your womb. for those that cannot share in this joy, my heart breaks for you. it's such a tremendous cross to bear. for those that have not yet tasted of motherhood, hold on to your seats, because life is never predictable again.

sometimes, my heart trembles a little at the thought of two. two boys. oh my goodness. what's a mama to do, outnumbered in such a fashion? but my matthew is such a lover, so enthusiastic about life, so ready to taste of all life's joys, how could i not be excited to give him a brother to wrestle and explore and live with. clearly, God knows what he is doing. so i will brace myself and enjoy the ride.

my music is continuing to flourish in his time. i have expanded my ministry to several new churches, both in fort myers and naples. i have also been asked to reprise my role as "baby speaker" for the women of faith, women of action conference next march. i say "baby" because i shared the spotlight with such awesome speakers as colleen carroll campbell and brenda sharman this past february, and will join johnette benkovic and mary jo anderson this coming march. email me ( if you'd like more info on this fabulous conference as it progresses. we women need this occasional refreshment. i know i'm so looking forward to it already.

i'm re-learning too, how to balance life as mother and musician. that's been such a theme for this blog, and i seriously thought i had it all under control. all my balls were nicely rotating in midair, and i felt in control and on top of things. then God threw another baby into the mix, and all of a sudden, i felt somewhat precarious in my comfort zone. my hubby has been both my strength and sometimes my voice of reason, helping me through the occasional meltdown when i fear i can't do it all perfectly. and we sure know how gabi loves to do things perfectly.

but God doesn't demand perfection, as we know so well in our heads but grapple so much with in our hearts. at least i do. amazing how much he has taught me about that in this year. i have a lot to share, especially in regards to healing from my loss and moving forward from emptiness into the fullness of his love. i think that might be what i speak about at the conference in march, so i'll use this blog as a sort of dry run to collect and organize my thoughts. (you all should definitely still come though. johnette benkovic + mary jo anderson will be phenomenal!).

thanks for your patience. thanks for your prayers. i am where i am today because of the love and support of so many of you, who held my hand during a difficult time.

At dusk weeping comes for the night;

but at dawn there is rejoicing. (psalm 30:6b)

come along for the ride. the dawn has been marvelous, and it's looking to be a beautiful, beautiful day. 

ps: a taste of pregnant me :)

photo credit:

Friday, June 10

when a man loves a woman

i was going through my facebook groups and deleting ones that were fad decisions or have now become irrelevant, and i discovered that i was a member of a group titled there are some things guys should always do for girls. period. 

i had completely forgotten about this group, as has inevitably happened with most of my groups on facebook, and was pleasantly surprised to re-read the manifesto there listed.

our culture has unfortunately ceased to value the gentleman and lady. i obviously don't mean in the nobility sense, but in the noble sense, in the gentle and cultured and dignified sense.

now, i don't by any means pretend to be a perfect lady. i have my bad habits to kick and manners to polish as much as the next gal. but i am trying to remain ladylike in a culture that lauds movies such as bridesmaids as "groundbreaking" and "revolutionary" for featuring women exhibiting grotesque behavior that before now has been limited to the male arena.

i would love to see a return to a more graceful interaction between the sexes, where women know their true worth and beauty, and men truly earn respect and know what it means to be masculine.

the group has the following listed as their manifesto. i will follow up this post with one enumerating the manner in which ladies ought treat their men. my personal favorites are in bold.

men, we ladies want you to be gentlemen. and we know that this means that we have to be ladies, to encourage you. we know there are things we too must change. let us all propose to be better versions of ourselves, to clean up our acts and begin to set a new example, one of grace and care and respect for one another. i for one would relish it.

The following is not a list of rules. They're suggestions to encourage guys to be gentlemen.

1. Open doors when possible - whether it be to a building or the passenger car door. the classic example that's stood the test of time.

2. When in a place of worship (or other places that have aisles and pews), if a man is at the end of the pew, when exiting he should stand in the aisle and let all the females go before him.

3. A man should tolerate the occasional chick flick, musical, opera, or ballet - whatever her preference is - *without* complaining about it.

4. Play one of the songs that would make any woman weep like the little girl she once was (but in a good way). A brief list includes, but certainly isn't limited, to:
"You & Me" by Lifehouse
"Collide" by Howie Day
"Out Of My League" by Steven Speaks
And MOST IMPORTANTLY "Question" by the Old 97's (if you propose to a girl with this song, she is putty in your hands).
("Putty in your hands" is not meant to promote "using women" in any way. This group does not encourage guys to be polite in order to get her into bed.)

5. Talk! The strong & silent bit goes from intriguing to boring quite fast.

6. Find out what her favorite flower is and buy them for her randomly (regardless of the situation you might be in). A simple yet profound truth: a single rose says more than dozens of anything else. (I encourage the women to not allow a guy to "prove himself worthy" through gifts and flowers and such. Trust is a precious thing and it should take a good chunk of time before he gains it back in your heart.)

7. If you miss her, or love her, TELL HER! Even your friends like to hear it every now & again.

8. Remember: the best gifts you can give are usually free of cost.

9. Leave a note (or send a message) just to say "hi".

10. Ask her questions about herself.

11. Dress nice every once & a while. Any girl likes to see her brother/friend/boyfriend/etc. in a well-ironed button-up with some nice slacks.

12. PRIDE & PREJUDICE ...that's all I have to say about that (I mean, that should speak for itself). (It's even more impressive if he has read the book.)

13. Tolerate small children as best you can. Meaning, put up with the things that can get annoying. They're children, after all. Show them love and care, teach them how to become a better man than you.

14. Learn to dance! There is nothing sexier than a man who can dance really well. If God did not bless you with the grace of Fred Astaire, at least put forth the effort, it will be greatly appreciated. Always slow dance (even if it's just like you danced in middle school). Also, men, sing to a lady. Even if you're terrible, suck it up! They love to listen to it and will not care what you sound like. It's the thought that counts on this one.

15. Kiss her on the forehead.

16. When she's sick, stay up with her. If you can cook (which is *always* a plus), make her some soup. If you can't cook, there's Campbell's soup at hand for you.

17. Hold her hand while you talk, drive, or just for the heck of it (it's the small things that win you big points).

18. Call her beautiful, because that's what she is (or gorgeous or stunning or captivating or...)

19. Offer her your jacket/sweatshirt. (Note: you may not see that particular item of clothing for a while, if ever again).

20. Don't be too proud to apologize.

21. It's not stalking to watch her sleep if you fall asleep watching a movie. It is stalking to watch her sleep if you're standing outside her window with night vision goggles.

22. When she feels at her worst, tell her she looks her best.

23. If you're trying to get more than friendship out of the relationship, take it slow and never rush her.

24. Guys - always offer to pay for the date. No matter how expensive it gets, especially if YOU asked HER on the date. [if she is willing to pay now and again, don't let your "man pride" get in the way of her wanting to give back to you. she should understand money can be tight - especially when you're always buying]

25. Always do everything in your power to keep her as happy as you can. And cheer her up in any way possible. [if she isn't always happy - and i've never met a girl who is - don't be afraid of her and don't be stupid and always, unquestioningly, blame it on PMS. be there WITH her when times are tough and she wants you there.]

26. When walking on the sidewalk, always walk on the outside near traffic.

27. At least do everything in your power to keep cursing to a minimum while around her. If you can, cut it out period while around her, or cut it out of your vocabulary. Women don't want to hear it, guys don't care about it, adults don't want to hear it, it doesn't impress employers, and you sure won't want your children or someone else's to hear it!

28. Sometimes you have to take the initiative. Don't always wait for her to come to you, because if that's how it always is, you're going to lose her.

29. If any lady is walking alone to her car in a dark parking lot/garage, or is carrying a heavy load, always offer to help walk her to her destination and carry things, if not the entire load.

30. If a woman says no, let that be her final answer with maybe one question of confirmation after her first answer. Do not pressure or force her in any way after that. Don't make her give in to something she doesn't want to do.

31. Always be honest with her. No woman wants or likes a dishonest man. If you can't be honest with her, she can't trust you, and shows you don't trust her enough to be honest. Trust, honesty and integrity are just as an integral part of a relationship and just as important as love.

32. A man should always genuinely listen to women; no matter how bored or busy the man is. Actively listening to the woman will keep him from pain (and bring the man and woman closer together). This works best, of course, when both the man and the woman actively and equally engage in conversation (this includes listening). For the ladies reading this, please talk - always talk - especially if you are having problems with the relationship and to also avoid making bigger problems.

photo credit:

Wednesday, June 8

empty hands raised

for the past few months, the idea of being empty before the lord has been very present in my mind and heart.

honestly, i had thought it to be a bad thing - how could i come empty before him? how could that state of having nothing to offer come even close to being worthy of his presence? 

and then the lord gave me a lovely gift in the form of a one minute segment on our local catholic radio station, which focused on the need for us as christians to have empty hands.

i was so touched that in the few minutes that i happened to be in the car, matthew was well-behaved and not demanding that i play his music cd, that i happened to turn on my favorite catholic station, and that this segment just happened to be playing then.

there are no coincidences in life, just evidences of God watching over his little ones.

this segment concentrated on the following reasons we need to have empty hands as followers of Christ:

firstly, empty hands are best suited to being raised in gratitude and praise of the lord. we are not able to concentrate on being grateful for the things we have if we are clutching them so tightly, or gazing longingly at the things we don't have. also, hands raised in praise are not limited or weighed down by the burden of possessions. they are free and weightless, always giving glory to the one who is most worthy.

secondly, hands that are empty are hands that are free to go wherever the lord calls, to do whatever work he requires. we cannot honestly say, "send me, lord" if we are clinging to our current way of life, our current stuff. if we desire to set our hands to the plow the lord has in store, we must be willing to let go fully of all that we have now. it is just stuff after all--it is replaceable and does not bring happiness in the long haul.

thirdly, hands that are empty are best able to share in the cross and sufferings of the lord, especially in our fellow brothers and sisters. in being empty, we can minister freely to those around us who are not themselves free. there are so many in our world that are heavy-laden and broken. our open, welcoming hands not only encourage others to come to us and find the rest that comes from Jesus, but give us the strength to be there for others in their times of need.

and finally, empty hands are the only ones that will at last clutch the extended hand of Jesus, who will then guide us into heaven, into eternal joy and fulfillment. it won't matter in the end what possessions we have accumulated on earth, what our hands hold here. we take nothing but our hearts with us. if we have lived our lives with empty hands, we will discover that in the end, our hearts are unbelievably full. and we will be satisfied so much more than with earthly treasures.

so i no longer am ashamed to be empty. i no longer see it as a weakness or as something to be fixed or overcome. i just need to orient my emptiness properly, with my eyes fixed on Jesus.

i need to be empty in order that he may fill me with his love, so that i can then shower it on the world.
i need to be empty in order to receive his peace, which will carry me through every circumstance.
i need to be empty to be consumed by his light, which will shine radiant in a world of darkness.

fill me, Jesus. i desire only you.

this photo comes from the blog, Julie Loves English. i just did a random google search for "empty hands" and this image came up, which led me to this blog, which just happened to feature a poem about having empty hands. you should definitely read it: 

One by one He took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glittering toy was lost.
And I walked earth's highways, grieving.
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
"Lift your empty hands to Me!"
So I held my hands toward heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches,
Till they could contain no more.
And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God COULD not pour His riches
Into hands already full!

-Martha Snell Nicholson

Wednesday, June 1

things to be desired

this poem composed by max ehrmann was read at a funeral i recently sang at. 
it is called Desiderata, which means "things to be desired" in latin.
it leaves the heart feeling inspired and challenged. 
i have put in bold those parts that most touched me. 
enjoy and be moved.  

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

that is my hope and prayer for you this day: strive to be happy.
may the Lord bless you and keep you,
make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
may he lift up his countenance toward you
and give you his peace.

photo credit:

Monday, May 30

marriage is what brings us together today

we drove 30 minutes to mass yesterday at a parish that we normally do not attend, to hear a priest who proclaims the truth with utter boldness and faith.

needless to say, i was quite disappointed when we got to mass late, missed the readings, and on top of it all, the priest i was so looking forward to hearing speak was not celebrating mass.

(an aside: this is one of my favorite parts of being catholic - despite my disappointment at not having a homily by one of my favorite priests, i still received the true body and blood of Jesus at this mass, which made it an awesome mass. i am grateful and consider this fact to be truly glorious - i am not dependent on having heard a terrific homily in order to have a sublime encounter with Christ at church. that experience lies one hundred percent in my receiving of the Eucharist. but, i have to admit, a great homily does accentuate the rest of the liturgy and can leave me quite motivated to become more holy).

that segues nicely into my main point: i was pleasantly surprised, in spite of my former disappointment, that this new priest himself preached a good homily that, in spite of my wrangling with my son thoughout its entirely, managed to hit home several lovely and thought-provoking points.

my favorite was this: he spoke a little about marriage and how it is one of the greatest examples on earth of how the Lord loves us. now, no marriage is perfect, and our lord can only love us perfectly. nonetheless, a marriage striving to mirror the love of the trinity can truly grant the couple an experience of heavenly love on earth.

every spouse experiences the frequent need to sacrifice for the good of their beloved. sometimes, it's easy, because you can either see the purpose for that sacrifice or you are able to draw some satisfaction or pleasure out of it. other times, the sacrifice can seem pointless - why on earth is my beloved asking this of me? i see no reason that i should do or not do this, just so that my spouse can be happy.

but that is love - letting go of your needs or expectations, so that your spouse can be happy or satisfied. it is forever putting someone else's best good before your own. this is what we enter into when we say, "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, i will honor and love you all the days of my life."
 this is how Jesus loves us: "greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. we may not be asked in our marriages to lay down our lives, but we do die to ourselves every day, sometimes every moment.

and the love becomes ever more fruitful, ever more faithful, ever more reflective of God's love, the more we imitate his agape in our marriages.

he blesses our unions and makes them holy. his sacramental grace floods husband and wife, and makes each willing sacrifice easier and more beneficial than the last. he transforms our hearts to resemble his.

only thus, can we truly love each other, when we love with Jesus' heart, a heart broken and poured out for us in the ultimate show of agape.

we should show this type of unconditional love towards every brother and sister in Christ. but he knows that we need to begin small, so he gave us our family, our husbands, our wives, our children. here, in the family, we learn to love. and then that love can flow out into the world and change it forever.

it begins with i do and ends in eternity.

Friday, May 27

my soul proclaims the greatness of the lord...

my spirit rejoices in God my savior, 
for he has shown mercy to his little one. 
he has showered a thirsty heart with living water. 
he has shepherded a lost soul back into the fold. 

his mercy is without end,
his love is everlasting and abundant.
his faithfulness extends beyond infinity, 
his mercy endures forever. 

my humble voice cannot do justice to his glory.
my simple praise is insufficient to capture his majesty.

and yet, it is a sweet sound in his ear, for his acceptance makes it so. 
he embraces my praise, and thus it becomes worthy.
he takes in my love, and returns it back a thousand fold.

in him, i am satisfied beyond measure,
i am filled with every good thing, 
i am rich beyond imaging. 

i am at peace in his arms at last. 

Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance,and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.
+romans 5:3-5+ 

photo credit:

Wednesday, May 25

50 questions

this is taken from a great blog/online magazine i recently stumbled upon, the violet. the maiden issue rocked my socks, with little articles on everything from self-help to fashion to food to staying sane in a crazy world. one of the older posts featured this list of 50 questions which are intended to help you know and understand yourself. this was truly a fascinating exercise. i challenge you to go through this list. it takes a half hour or so, especially if you don't write the answers down. but i would recommend writing the list down and returning to it in the future. answer the questions honestly and without overly thinking them through. you are not tied to your answers and you could change tomorrow. the point is how you feel today. enjoy.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

Which is worse, failing or never trying?

if i'm truly being honest, failing is worse. and that's definitely something i know i'd like to change about myself, the way i view the world, and the manner in which i attempt to conquer it. 
If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
we do things we don't like out of a feeling of necessity or obligation -- i have to pay these bills, i have to make my family proud, i have to impress my my boss... we like the things we don't do because of a sense of fantastical excitement -- we have an idealistic dream in mind that perhaps might not be so romantic in reality, but so long as it stays in our head/heart, we can keep it as whimsical as we want. 

When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
i have actually accomplished many things that i have dreamed i would do. there are still many life goals that i would like to achieve, but overall, i'm quite content with my life experience. 
What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
i would like to re-imprint on the heart of humanity the radical truth of God's love for all.

If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
without a doubt, singing, playing the piano, performing for others and bringing them joy. 
Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
i am blessed and fortunate to have the best career in the world - i do what i love for the One i love. 
If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
i would love more, travel more, eat more, write more, sing more, perform more, experience more. 
To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
again, if i'm being honest, to some extent my life's course and choices have been determined by the supposed expectations of others of me. i feel as though this certain action or decision is expected of me, and whether or not that is true, i change my life because of it. this has affected me both in positive and negative ways. 

Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things? 
a little of both; i'm shamefaced to admit perhaps a teensy bit more the former than the latter. ah, harsh self-reflection is key to self-improvement. 
You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?
i would tactfully challenge their criticism, bringing up contrary evidences of my friend's character and contradicting facts i know to be untrue. 

If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be? 
take responsibility for your life -- discover what you love and who you want to be, and then do the things you must in order to achieve your dreams. be not afraid to live life to the fullest, and don't let anyone tell you that you cannot. 

Would you break the law to save a loved one? 
without question. 
Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity? 
modern art. 
What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
 i often put others before myself to my own detriment. 
How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
because we are all unique human beings, with our own interests and desires. but i earnestly believe that at the core of all beauty, all joy, all delight is a tugging towards God, who calls us all to himself as the true source of happiness.
What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?
skydiving. i simply haven't gone yet. and get a tattoo. because i feel i'll be judged.
Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
without a doubt; hundreds of things, most assuredly. 
If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
state: north carolina, because i adore the four seasons, the purple mountain ranges, the quality of life, and the crisp mountain air. 
country: italy; because my heart feels at home there. 

Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
no, but i hope that it makes the doors close faster, so that no one else will get on, so i can avoid that awkward sharing of space that is the elevator ride, and also then i won't make additional stops so ultimately, yes it does make the ride faster in fact... 

Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton? 
a worried genius, because i could grow in becoming more at peace, and at least i would hopefully leave the world a better place than when i found it.
Why are you, you?
because the world is in need of me, because i am beautiful and bring beauty to those around me, because i have a heart full of love ready to flow over to those in my life.

Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
when a good friend moves away -- you always have the ability to reconnect no matter where a friend is, but it is infinitely more difficult once they live elsewhere and meet new people.

What are you most grateful for? 

my faith, the fact that i know i am loved and worthwhile, my husband and son, my family, my musical ability, the fact that i was born a free american with the world before me.  

Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
at this point in my life, i'd rather lose all my old memories and be able to more forward with my loved ones and create new and exciting memories, so long as i remembered who the people are in my life. 

Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
yes, but refinement and understanding come through challenge. 

Has your greatest fear ever come true?

no -- i have never felt utterly alone and unwanted. 

Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?
that was actually a crucial point in my relationship with my now-husband. it was wretched to endure at the time, but it made us a stronger, more open and honest, and more real couple. 

 What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?
 i was blessed to have a childhood that was mostly happy and special. but the one that comes to mind is eating a banana split for the first time with my father while at an out-of-town swim meet, just the two of us. i knew he loved me so much and always stood by me. i'm so grateful. 

 At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
during a recent singing performance. i relished being on stage in front of 600 people, connecting with them via song and touching them on a deep spiritual level.

If not now, then when?
when i am more brave. 

If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
my pride. 

Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?

 yes, my husband. 
Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?

 because when you believe something passionately and would do anything to spread that faith to others, sometimes you have to fight for what you know to be true and good and right. 

Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil? 

yes, if you are a person of faith, morality, and good conscience. 

If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job? 

not necessarily -- i would expand it and change it. 

Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing? 

more work i enjoy doing, like recording, writing music, performing. 

Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before? 

oh my goodness, yes. such is life with a small child in tow. 

When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

 a year ago, when i decided to compose a full mass setting without any idea how to begin or what to do with it or whether it would be well-received or utilized. 

If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

 my family.

Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
when you know in your gut that it's true and good. you may still be nervous and afraid, but your heart knows what to do and will guide you. 

If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
we fear judgment, condemnation, and ridicule.

What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
ask all the questions i think to myself. and sing more loudly and frequently.

When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
this morning while out on my morning jog, in between songs. 

What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
music -- my entire life expresses that love. 

In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?
i will remember doing my best to make my home a happy place for my son and husband. i will remember exerting myself to ensure that people's funerals and weddings are memorable and beautiful. i will remember taking pregnancy tests and feeling hopeful.
Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
i am learning slowly to make them for myself without fear of judgment or making mistakes or letting people down. i am learning who i am and how to be me more fully and perfectly, please God. 

photo credits:
1) justCRONO via flikr Creative Commons

Monday, May 23

some music for your monday

no, not my original music...  but pretty awesome none-the-less.

today is my "day off." since i work a lot of weekends doing the music thing (SO happy i get to have a career doing something i adore that blesses people too), i find that weekends tend not to be relaxing for me. and then i have a full time job watching the kiddo.

so mondays have become my official day to relax and unwind. i spend matthew's naptime lounging and bath-tubbing and reading... sometimes... other times, even though i know this is supposed to be my day off, i sneak in some work before i catch myself and force myself to sit down and drink a cup of tea with a good book.

so today, i wanted to share two songs with you by some terrific musicians. i discovered these songs in our choose christ hymnal, the one we use for the teen mass at my church. i lead the music, so i often discover golden nugget songs that really hit my heart in all the right and needed places.

these are two such musical treats.

this first one is by tom booth, and it's called you stand knocking. per his introduction, it's a meditation on the divine mercy (ah, SO good). it's truly a powerful song.

You Stand Knocking

this second one is by charlie hall, performed by chris tomlins. we actually just sang this for the final teen mass of the year. if you went to mass this sunday, you heard the second reading from i peter which proclaimed:
You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people of his own,
so that you may announce the praises” of him
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

this song echoes that last line. it's called marvelous light. enjoy. 
marvelous light 

photo credit to fotolia -

Thursday, May 19

literature of my soul

every few years, i re-read the joy of full surrender by father jean-pierre de caussade.

i cannot adequately express how essential this book is to my spiritual life.

it--or rather the lessons and truths contained within-- has carried me through darkness into the lord's marvelous light. it has encouraged me to let go, to let God. it has opened my eyes to a better way of life, a richer, more fulfilled, more peaceful one.

i have started it anew, as i always do when the clouds of anxiety and self-doubt and stress begin to descend around me, threatening to wrench away the peace in my heart.

i work very hard for the peace. it does not come easily for me, nor does maintaining absolute trust in God, in his plan for my life, in his perfect timing and divine care.

this book helps so much, coupled with the daily meditations of God calling.

take today's word for example:
rest knowing all is so safe in My hands. rest is trust. ceaseless activity is distrust. ...
 how foolish are your attempts to save yourself, one hand on the rope, and one making efforts to swim ashore. you may relinquish your hold of the rope and hinder the rescuer...  
the final stage [is] when the saved soul trusts Me so entirely it seeks no more its own way, but leaves all future plans to Me its rescuer. 

i earnestly desire that level of peace, of surrender, of trust. i long for the day that i can wake up and say with all my heart, today is yours, Lord. guide me through it as You will.

i say it now, but half-heartedly. i offer my day to Him, then go about my ceaseless activity, bouncing from one project to the next at breakneck speed, without giving Him the chance to break through the noise.

so in this moment, Lord, i stop. i breathe. i quiet myself.

i look for You. because all it takes is one glance, and my heart is captivated.

help me to be still and know that You are God, in control and in perfect awareness of my needs, desires, and capacities.

the first chapter of the joy of full surrender is titled: holiness is faithfulness to God's will.

Lord, you do not demand success, but ask for effort.

today, i will try to listen, to be faithful, and to surrender more perfectly to Your will.

photo credit: taken from

Wednesday, May 18

1 corinthians 9:24-27

last week, i started running for the first time in two years.

for me, this was a tremendous accomplishment.

pre-2005, i was a hardcore exerciser, both as a means to stay in shape and fit, but also as a method of releasing stress and tension. i enjoyed the victory over my body that a good run provided. i relished having that control over myself.

then in 2005, i injured my knee and since then, exercise has been a tricky and inconstant obstacle course for me. i was no longer able to run consistently, and my knee would begin to moan and groan at the mere thought of the gym. it pained my heart in no small way, both because i longed for those sweet endorphins to course through my veins, but also because of my struggle with food and with my appearance. i hated having that power to burn my calories taken away from me. (this is a story for another time. today is about victories).

but last week, after much encouragement from my husband, I decided to give running another try.

here's another thing about me - i find it extremely difficult to start slow. i have many times re-injured myself because i have to go just a little faster than i should, i have to go a little longer than is wise, just because i'm a stubborn perfectionist who can't stand to start at the beginning. sometimes i'd rather just not do something than risk doing it poorly or waste time doing it slowly.

but the lord somehow got through this time and gave me the grace to go slow, to ease into it again, to be humble and take care of my body.

i am now at a week-and-a-half of getting up at the break of dawn (read 6:45am) -- which is its own miraculous occasion. i think my husband is more astounded that i drag myself out of bed at that extreme hour than the fact that i then put on my sneakers and run outside for 20 minutes. i love to sleep. i might adore sleep, on the same level as ice cream. i'm not kidding - my sleep is extremely precious to me. after all, i run around after a two year old all day. i can't afford to lose any energy.

but i'm doing it. i'm sacrificing a few minutes of precious sleep so to kick myself back into shape. i feel so much better, more healthy, more awake in the morning. by mid-afternoon, i'm raring for a nap, but i'm sure that will get better.

but the point is that i started. even though it's a mere 20 minutes (if even). even if i trod along at the pace of a tortoise. even if my knee every so often moans and groans, just to remind me he's there and not happy about this. i'm doing it. i stopped saying, "i should..." and instead i got up and did.

and boy does it feel good.

what are you not doing that you wish you were? GO GET STARTED! life is too short to wait or doubt. 

Sunday, May 15

from the desk of jim carrey

something to ponder as we begin a new week: 

"i hope everybody could get rich and famous and will have everything they ever dreamed of, 
so they will know that it's not the answer."
+ jim carrey

to know Jesus and experience his love is the only answer. 
nothing else matters.

Friday, May 13

heart prayer

i give you the best of me,
i give you the worst of me,
my self, in my entirely;
my strengths and my faults,
holding nothing back. 
your self in me makes up all that i lack. 
give the strength, lord, and the grace 
in everything only to seek your face.
my single ambition - lord, help me be true-
to be less of me
and more of you.

Tuesday, May 10

gonna be alright

i was going to write about something deep and profound. then i by chance encountered these quotes by bob marley. i'm gonna let him do some talking. enjoy this beautiful wisdom. 


"Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. 
Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. 
Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. 
You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life." 


 "He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break.
Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you."


"Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're living?"


"Don't worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright"  

Monday, May 9


sometimes, you just need to get away from life, from normalcy, from the usual.

thank God for my wonderful mother, who gave me the opportunity to escape.

thank God for my loving husband, who gave me a reason to escape.

thank God for my awesome kiddo, who gave me a reason to come back.

i got to get away from my usual routine of busyness and chaos for 2 blissful days. it was wonderful.

confession time: i have a very difficult time relaxing (i chronicled my sometimes self-destructive perfectionism here and here). it's incredibly challenging for me to just sit and do nothing, think about nothing, just letting go of the urge to do.

frankly, it's exhausting and i'm tired of it, but i don't know how to change.

i described it to a friend in the following manner: i feel as though i live my life with a vast ocean inside my being. whenever that ocean is calm and peaceful, i feel calm and peaceful. even if i'm tremendously busy and active, if my ocean is at rest, i can find peace in the midst of the chaos.

if, however, that inner ocean is chaotic itself, then even if i try to sit and be still, i cannot, because my inner place is tumbling and roaring and swirling and twirling. i can't just relax because i feel agitated inside, ergo my ability to be at peace is already compromised.

i spend the majority of my days, i find, with a turbulent ocean in my heart. thought after thought tumbles through my head, idea after idea takes hold of my creativity. it's not entirely bad, but i never feel as though my day is done. i feel i power full throttle from one project to the next, never feeling as though my work is done. there is never quite enough time to do everything i want to do.

it's actually in the moments that i try to sit and be still that i really feel that ocean tossing and turning in my spirit. at times it's quite tangible, the storm in my heart, motivating me, spurring me on to the next thing to be accomplished. i feel driven by a compulsion inside me, and i hold on for dear life as i move from one thing to the next.

i'm exhausted just reading this. it's just not a healthy way to live life.

so i decided to slow down for a weekend. i pressed the gigantic pause button and declared, "world, you must take care of yourself for a few days. i'm going off duty, and i trust you'll still be here when i return."

it sounds melodramatic, but occasionally i honestly believe that if i don't take charge of something and complete it on my own (because clearly asking for help is weakness and if i let someone help me i run the risk of the project not being done well so i should just do it myself...), the world will not be as good as it should be.

and that's not only a lie, but it's self-destructive, because no one can just keep going.

no one can bear the weight of the world alone. no one can be responsible for it all.

except of course for Jesus. but He's on His own level entirely.

so i forced myself to relax and get away for a while, leaving the cares and worries behind, focusing on my husband and our relationship and having fun together.

and you know what, the world was still here. my problems and stresses and responsibilities and jobs were still here. but i was able to forget about them for a while and be refreshed, invigorated for a fresh round.

it was wonderful and i can't wait to escape again. after a few times away, maybe i'll bring back a bit of the peaceful ocean with me. little by little, i'll integrate relaxation and quiet and rest into my normalcy.

what a wonderful world it would be...

Friday, May 6

for my next trick, i will open my heart even more.

i have written in the past about my parents' wonderful prayer group that they have weekly in their home (see here and here). they have been hosting these meetings for the past 24 years, nearly the totality of my existence. it is such a sacrifice of love on their part. i know they benefit tremendously from it, but i know too that it is countless hours of work and preparation. i can only pray that i too will be so hospitable, so open to the lord's call to service and ministry.

last night, i was at prayer group. of late, it's been challenging for me to be there, i don't exactly know why. i have my suspicions, but i haven't been able to pinpoint the exact reason i've not felt 100% engaged.

last night, the message resounded deep in my heart, and surprisingly stirred up feelings of frustration and anger towards the lord. it was unexpected and unpleasant, and afterwards, i went home and cried on my husband's shoulder for half an hour.

the message itself was not cause for agony. in fact the message was poignant and beautiful. the lord whispered to my heart, and i proclaimed the message to all, saying,

do not be afraid to come empty. 
do not be afraid to come weak, ashamed, or guilty. 
do not be afraid to come with nothing to offer me. 
your "yes" is all I ever wanted. 

i felt called to expand a bit on the message from the lord with some of my own meditations. it is incredible to think that the lord in his infinite majesty chose to create the loveliness of the universe, the expanse of the skies and the oceans, and then in his wisdom, he created man and gave him free will. he created us with the capacity to say yes or no to him. when we say no, it causes the lord intense suffering, because all that he has done has been out of greatest love for us. but when we say yes freely, it gives the greatest glory and joy to the lord. it is a moment of incredible victory over satan, every time we say yes to God. because sometimes, it's just hard. but we make that choice anyways.

this is where the message got really difficult for me to hear and process.

in my weakness, i sometimes get really angry with God.

i find myself surrounded with beautiful women who are enjoying their pregnancies, and in my weak moments, i find myself frustrated with the lord, that he chose me to lose mine. that he allowed me to suffer this loss.

i get angry with him. after all, i've been a good and faithful servant. i have loved him well. why then did i have to suffer, lord?

and then i remember Jesus carrying his cross to calvary. i remember how he embraced his cross of ultimate suffering. i echo the sentiment of st. teresa of avila: "lord, if this is how you treat your friends, it's no wonder you have so few."

and i realize why the lord chose me. it's because he trusted that i would continue to give him glory in the midst of this pain. he trusted me, that i would not allow satan to have victory and bring me to despair. he believed in me, that i would continue to testify to his great goodness and mercy.

sometimes, i wish he didn't trust me so much. but he was right.

every day, it is a choice i must make - to embrace this cross the lord has allowed me to carry. it is the choice to rejoice with my friends in their pregnancies. it is the choice to proclaim blessed be the name of the lord when everything in me feels the opposite. it is the choice to speak of the lord's tremendous love and mercy, when i feel so empty inside.

but i know it is his love and mercy that carries me. i trust that his strength sustains me, even though i feel nothing. he is the ground beneath my feet. he is the peace that steadies my heart. he is the rock i cling to in the storm. he is the quiet that comes after the tears.

he is the new dawn after the dark night. he is love.

and so, my lord, i come empty. i come weak. i come with nothing.

i say yes, because i know there's nothing else i can say that will bring peace.
i come, because there's nowhere else i can turn for grace and strength.

i don't understand. but i trust, i embrace, i believe.

fill my emptiness.

Wednesday, May 4

we all scream for ice cream

i adore ice cream.

to me, there's no better way to complete a meal perfectly.

it's cool. it's refreshing. it's creamy and oh-so-delicious - simply the perfect end to a day.

i was talking to my friend viktorija the other day, singing the praises of ice cream, and she remarked that she had never heard anyone speak of ice cream with such enthusiasm and fervor, and that i would probably write on here about it. so viktorija, this is for you.

as i'm sure many women have, i spent the better part of my life thus far stressing about food and counting calories and robbing myself of any genuine enjoyment of my food. i hated every second of it, and i never, ever want to feel that again.

i spent a large chunk of high school hating how i looked, hating parts of myself, hating every bite i took.

i never want to feel that again.

i want to embrace the me that the lord saw fit to create. i want to embrace all of me, even the parts that bridget jones so aptly titled, "the jiggly bits." i want to love myself and see myself as the lord does.

and i want to eat my ice cream decadently out of a brandy snifter, simply for the joy of it.

and i want to love every second of it.

because for too long, i didn't. for too long i didn't allow myself to take any pleasure in it.

so every bite i now take of ice cream is a reminder that i am fearfully and wonderfully made, just the way i am. it is a reminder that God made me beautiful and i ought be grateful for my flaws and my perfections. it is a reminder that food ought be relished and embraced as a joy in life.

and boy, do i relish it.

thank you, lord, for bringing me out of the darkness into your most marvelous light.
thank you that i no longer walk through the valley of the shadow of self-hatred.
thank you that in you, i am free.

photo credit:

Tuesday, May 3

one of the great things about having a kid...

is having a ready-made excuse for a vast assortment of situations.

need to get out of going to party you don't really want to attend? can't find a sitter for the kiddo. 

need to leave a party early? the kiddo needs his nap. 

you forgot that you left your kiddo's sippie cup in a bag with all the library books? whoops. 

i went to the library all set to blame this error in judgment on matthew. i know it's terrible, but i have a tough time accepting that i have made a mistake, and it's just easier to place the blame on the kiddo, knowing that the consequences will be vastly less once the offended party knows that he's just a little one.

but as i arrived, i searched my heart and discovered i was incapable of placing the blame on matthew, even though he would have blissfully and obliviously endured the stigma of being the one who wet the books.

i have come to the realization that even though you may consider yourself to be all grown up and adult-ish, the looming event of having to fess up and admit you did something wrong or caused something awful to occur is really hard.

i hate having to admit i made a mistake. i hate having to take responsibility for an error, and would much rather pretend it never happened, or hope no one noticed.

as a parent, this is actually one of my big goals: i want to teach my children to take responsibility. i want them to be independent and make their own decisions, and then deal with the consequences, whether good or bad.

i grew up in a sheltered home. my parents were generous and took excellent care of my siblings and i, and always made sure we had everything we needed. but i feel that because i was so sheltered, my parents were much more willing to share in the consequences of my actions, to step in and save me when i floundered.

i was tremendously grateful at the time, but i now feel a little less able to embrace life, make important decisions with confidence, and accept that good or bad consequences may follow. i am a little more reliant on the opinions and advice of others, and i know this contributes to my need to please and to meet expection (for more on this, read this blog post).

so my goal as a parent is to empower my children: hopefully give them wisdom to make proper decisions, and courage to face the consequences like a man (or a woman).

but that still leaves me, sometimes wanting to run and hide from bad consequences (or hide behind my own child). not very grown up or courageous, really.

i was talking to my dear friend viktorija today about an earlier blog post, and she asked to what conclusion had i arrived at the end of the post. i realized that sometimes you don't have the answer yet. i often get the answer when i least expect it and most need it.

so i don't know what the answer to this is yet, either. but i have an idea what my husband jonathan would say: he would say that i just need to do it. i need to make decisions with confidence and then deal with consequences as they arise. practice makes perfect.

ah, but can't i just be perfect from the get-go? no? darn it.

alright, i accept that flawed decisions will probably be made tomorrow. i will do my best to avoid them, but will put on my grown up face as best i can and deal with the circumstances. i will try not to blame my kid for everything.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, courage to change the things i can, and wisdom to know the difference. 

Monday, May 2

ever feel empty inside?

i was pondering what to write for my blog post today, and nothing leapt to mind, no words jumped to my fingers to be put down on my screen.

not a good feeling. i hate feeling empty, feeling i have nothing to accomplish, nothing to contribute.

the majority of my life has been spent accomplishing, achieving, all at the supposed expectation of "someone." i was talking to my husband jonathan the other day, and he asked me, "just who are you afraid of disappointing? who expects so much from you?" and all i could say was, "i don't know... they!" that ever-elusive they will be disappointed in me if i fail.

i've always felt someone expected something great of me. i always thought i would be known someday for achieving something extraordinary and new. i've based a great deal of my own self-worth and identity on the premise that i am what i do.

i don't know if you read the lyrics i posted a few days back, but i'm currently working on a song titled empty. and in writing it, i came to this realization, that what i do is not who i am. what is expected of me does not define me. my success is not my identity.

even writing the words feels like a lie sometimes. i have for so long desired to please, to impress, that i have a difficult time defining myself apart from my accomplishment: i am a singer. i am a pianist. i get straight a's. i...

but that's not who i am, and of late, i've craved being known. i want someone to understand me, the inner workings of my being, the reason why i am how i am. it goes being looking at my resume, and moves into a real understanding of me. i think this is where real love begins: it moves past the obvious, the facade of accomplishment, into the depth of a soul.

it requires an unveiling of my heart. it requires an honest revelation of my self, my weakness, my fear, my insecurity, but also my passion, my interest, my joie de vivre. just me, bare and open for revelation.

i tend to guard my heart, veil my emotions, and shield my thoughts. especially in going through my miscarriage, in trying to shield others from my pain, from having to endure the awkward consolations, i instead constructed a huge tower of strength and took up residence inside. i showed to the world a face that was strong, brave, doing well, trusting and moving on. i let a few people see the me that was hurting, that was broken, that struggled to understand why.

but i'm realizing more and more that behaving the way people expect of me is in fact keeping the real me locked up in that tower. if i don't show the real me vulnerably and humbly, no one can know me.

and anyways, it's okay to cry and be broken, so long as you embrace the reality that tomorrow the sun will shine again, and healing will come. it's okay to be vulnerable, so long as you don't dwell unhealthily on your weakness. it's okay not to be perfect, to realize that there is so much more to you that what you are capable of doing.

it's okay to just be. and sometimes, it's okay to be empty.

because the lord doesn't care so much about what we bring or about what we do. he wants us to come as we are, even if it's with empty hands. empty hands raised up high and spread wide to glorify his name.

and he'll take us further, deeper into holiness, into his perfection. he sees the real you and me anyways, so we may as well let him in to start refining and purifying.

and it's incredible to know that he thinks i'm special.


in spite of my weakness. in spite of my imperfection. in spite of my failings.

yeah, me.

so whenever i feel empty inside, i remember that he emptied himself of life so that i could be in this moment. i remember that he rose from the dead so that i would never die. you and i are worth everything to the lord.

that makes us special, makes us lovable, makes us worthy.

nothing i can do could ever come close. all i can do, and all he expects, is that i embrace it, that i say yes.

yes, lord. fill my emptiness. make me whole. i love you.

photo by bora (

Friday, April 29

composer for hire.

i wanted to throw something out there: for all you poets, creatives, and all around imaginative types, if you have poems or writings that you always thought would make a most excellent song, but you just don't know how quite to put a melody to them, send them my way.

i've been working on a bunch of different people's lyrics of late, and i find it comes easily to me to make beautiful music from other people's words. you never know what might be born from a collaborative effort.

much love.

Thursday, April 28

new song lyrics - empty

It never ceases to amaze me, the stack of work-in-progress songs I have just sitting around. Some I feel could be excellent songs, some are meh-okay, and some definitely need a lot of work. But I decided to work on one today, and it's starting to come together. I want to start using this blog as a platform to get your thoughts on songs as part of my creative process. Feel free to comment if you like. I always appreciate the input, especially at this early stage. I hope to have a rough draft of the audio soon. 

much love. 


It’s been a long day.
I look in the mirror, surprised by what I see:
I’m so tired, I’m so empty.
Lord, I’ve got nothing left,
Nothing to give You
But my weakness and my failings.
I’m so tired, I’m so empty.

But I hear You call out my name.
You want me, not what I bring.

Empty I come, empty I stand,
Empty I raise my hands to You.
All that I am, all that I have is Yours.
Please take it all.
I give it to You, humble and small as it may be.
I long to be wholly free, I long to be wholly Yours.

I’m crushed by the pressure
To perform, to excel, to be number one.
I’m so tired, I’m so empty.
The world tells me that this, this is the way
To be happy, to be fulfilled
This can’t be all there is.
I’m so tired, I’m so empty.

But I hear You, tugging my heart
Saying, “Child, you are searching for Me.”

This world demands perfection
How I look, how I act, it demands I conform
To this idea of what is perfect, what is beautiful.
But it leaves me empty inside. I long for something more.

I long to hear You say, “Beautiful, you are beautiful just as you are.”
I long to hear You say, “Beautiful, you are beautiful just as you are.”

So Lord, if you’ll have me,
I will come and be yours,
And You will fill my heart.

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