Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Decade!

On the eve of New Years, 2009:

I was eight years old when the big 2000 came around. At the prompting of my parents, I can faintly remember what I was doing that night the ball dropped, and everyone held their breaths waiting for computers to fail.
Throughout the last 10 years, I've counted ahead to the year of my graduation.
"2010! Wow, how far away that is!"

The last 10 years have brought new friends, and birthed deeper friendships with those I've had since before I can remember. I've had killer birthday parties, bummer moments, and many great opportunities.
Thinking back (as far as I can remember) into the last decade, one thing sticks out in my head above the rest.
I've learned to love music.

Growing up, I never understood the point of music. Sure, I was that kid that knew all the oldie songs (thanks to my dad) and could sing "Yellow Submarine" or "Brown Eyed Girl" until something else, just as annoying or catchy, popped into my head.
I didn't get the core of music. Part of that probably was due to mere immaturity.

Regardless, I owe my love of music to Lee and Justin Gaupp. They showed me the heart of hardcore, the love behind lyrics, and the symbolism of symphony. Their ever-increasing taste for tunes inspired me to develop a music palette of my own, and it has since grown to include artists from nearly every genre.

Much has happened in my life since that realization. I've grown, and grieved. I've loved, and laughed.
Through everything, however, one band has remained close to my heart. Because of their lyrics? Partially. Because of their amazing performances? Incompletely. Because of their heart? Now we're talking.

From Wikipedia:

The band's name is an acronym for "Multi-sensory Aesthetic Experience,"
From their website:
Multi-Sensory Aesthetic Experience
is the study of sensation, perception,
emotion, and meaning in art and music.
Mae started in 2001, released their first album, Destination: Beautiful, in 2003 through Tooth and Nail Records, and have since released a total of six albums- with a seventh on the way, and have taken up the weight of a label all their own, called Cell Records. Their goal is to connect with people, and to do so through all of the senses. Their concerts are an amazing ensemble of music and video synced together to form not only an entertaining show, but an experience that will stick in your mind, make you think, and touch your heart. They are a concrete mix of lighter Alternative Rock to solid Rock.
To me, Mae is about more then music, they're about life. I've listened to them during the most depressing days, and during the brightest moments. When I hear a song, it's more than music. It's experiences, individual moments, and memories laced together with the needle and thread of harmony. I can see my past behind me, and I get a glimpse of the future before me. And, most important of all, it helps give me context for where I am now. This year, especially, their albums (m)orning and (a)fternoon have hit me right where I'm at. Life is a journey. I am in process. And Love is the most important thing to hold on to.

Perhaps one of their shirts says it best:

This decade has brought a smile to my face, and tears to my eyes, as has Mae. This decade has helped me realize that growing up is more then watching the years go by. Mae has given me a soundtrack for that realization.
I think that we've got what it takes, to get this heart start beating again.
So take it all the way.
Whoa, whoa.
And our hearts are on The Everglow.
So just let go and fall into it.

May this next decade be prosperous and incredibly real for you. May you grow, change, and draw near to Papa.


If it interests you,
check out what Mae is doing now. Give them a listen. Particularly, go buy The Everglow, followed by (m)orning.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas and a New Season

Merry Christmas!
Or day after Christmas, I suppose.

I really wanted to do some kind of Holiday post about good cheer, cookies, Santa, and presents. Every time I'd try to clear my thoughts and whip out my blogging device, however, I'd draw a blank. No accidents, I figured, and I let my dad hold down the blogging fort.

And now, Christmas has left the plate and New Years is up to bat.

I'm currently in the back of my parents Saturn Vue on the I-15 headed South to Salt Lake City, then on through Vegas. My dad and mom are talking in the front, and I've got my headphones, laptop, and Internet card in the back seat. Our ultimate destination is Palm Springs, California for some extended family visiting.
And I think I'm ready to write a bit about my mixed feelings this Holiday season.

This year has been painful, no doubt. I've written about it plenty before. Thanksgiving proved especially difficult, because, well, it's hard to to give thanks when there's not much to be thankful for. Then again, it really did put in perspective what I do have to be thankful for. You can read about that here.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, no doubt. I love everything that goes with it: decorating my family Christmas tree, setting up the little village on our chimney, putting up the lights with my dad, drinking my mom's delicious homemade egg nog, enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book by the fireplace, and most of all: Christmas morning. I love waking up to the presents, hugging my parents and whispering "Merry Christmas." The stockings are always opened first in my house: we each open our stocking at the same time, pausing every few gifts to look at each other's winnings. After stockings, my mom generally has some kind of small breakfast cooked up. This year it was cinnamon rolls, and man did they taste good with the coffee she brewed up. The presents came next, and because I'm the youngest, I got to hand them all out. This year my cousin Dannie came and opened presents with my family; she was an awesome addition. Every year I pass out a present to each person, and we take turns opening in some kind of orderly fashion. This particular year we did oldest to youngest. Every present is appreciated, and none are taken for granted. We hug each other and laugh plenty.

My family has traditions built around relationship and love.

And this year, one of the stockings remained hanging above the fireplace. Empty.

Papa, what are you doing?

My family made the decision this year, at the prompting of my sister, to remember my brother for who he was in his entirety. Now this may sound all fine and dandy to you, but you probably didn't know my brother. There is a lot of hurt in my family from things he said, things he did, and tension he caused. For my sister, the bad memories outweigh the good. For me, some of the earliest memories of my brother are of him lying, deceiving, and yelling at my parents. For my parents, they raised a fun-loving beautiful boy who turned into a drug-addict trouble producing man.
It's really easy to Saintify someone when they die. It's a lot harder to acknowledge who they were in their entirety.

But something that's hit home for me this year is that, in the grand scheme of things, what I DO really holds little worth. If I could DO my way into Heaven, there would have been no reason for Baby Jesus to make his manger appearance.
What I'm beginning to see now is that the coin has two sides.

How often do I find myself holding on to my actions as if they are what defines me? In reality, who I am in Christ is all that really holds weight.
For my brother, his actions would have sent him to Hell. Who he was in Christ made all the difference, eternally.

Looking over at that empty stocking on Christmas morning was not easy. Neither was sitting around the table saying a bad memory I had about my brother.
For all of his imperfections, and everything he DID that was awful, the person who he WAS, was amazing. And, as the case could certainly be made, the person he IS, is even more incredible.
Christmas was hard, but it was good.

And now, it's about time to celebrate the onset of 2010. For me, next year will hold all kinds of changes, not the least of which is the transition for High School to College. And something I've learned from this year is that no matter what I do, what happens to me, and what changes I go through, God is the same. Yesterday, today, and forever baby. He's where it's at: the Alpha and the Omega. He's Love, and He loves me. Insecurity and fear begone, Jesus dwells in my heart, life. Next year is going to be incredible not because of what I do, but who I am in Him.

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas, and that your New Year's Celebration is full of fun!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

The One Year Anniversary of Ground Shaking

This year has been
life changing
life halting

This blog has been one of the best outlets for me to process, share, grieve, be real, and have some fun.

And today marks the one year anniversary of Ground Shaking. One year! As I reflect on the many, many posts I've written, I can't help but reminisce. Reading posts from a different stage in my life really gives insight into how far I've come in this last year.

Thank you so much for reading. Thank you for participating in discussion, and for processing ideas and thoughts along side me. Some of you have been around from the very beginning, and some of you are reading this post as your very first. Either way, thank you for being a part of Ground Shaking.

And what of that name? Ground Shaking. A long time ago, I wrote:
'Ground Shaking' is a direct result of what I believe my purpose in life to be. Haha, I know right? That's a pretty intense statement. In all seriousness though, I've put a ton of thought and prayer into this aspect of my life. I've been challenged to think and re-think. Eventually, I was able to land on a one sentence phrase which I believe sums up my purpose. My purpose is to be an earthquake for Christ. I know that as time goes on, how I define my purpose will probably be sanded down and polished. It may even be broken in two and completely re-made. As I stand now, however, this is what I believe my purpose to be.
This year has proven to be both sand paper and polishing rag.

So, how has my definition of 'Ground Shaking' changed in the last year? In a few ways.
  • I no longer see it as an act necessarily. Being a Ground Shaker doesn't require an action on my part- it's who I am.
  • My effectiveness as being a Ground Shaker largely depends not on how I appear, or my surroundings. Rather, it depends on my being secure in who I am, and being 100% real in that environment.
  • Love is an integral part of being a Ground Shaker, and Papa is Love.
  • Ground Shaking doesn't necessarily mean speaking up because I feel I have to. Many times, it means listening and sincerely asking questions.
On this blog, I've shared my best times, and my worst times. Thank you for your discussion and thoughts as I've continued to develop what being a Ground Shaker means.

It's a process. Life, I mean. I'm in it, your in it, the President is in it, that guy on the corner holding a sign is in it. We're all in process. Just as this first year of my blog has held the best and worst of experiences, I anticipate this next year will hold amazing times, and frustrating periods. My life will, inevitably, change in the next year, and I will have things cross my path that are completely unexpected. What I'm beginning to realize is that all of that is simply a part of the process.

This I do know: Papa is especially fond of me. He loves me how I am, and is excited for who I am becoming. As much as He loves what I am interested in and what I do, He cares so much more for who I am. His love outweighs all the hate in the world, and his peace calms the most fearsome of storms.
He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is Love. He is.

The only reason I can have any impact on this world- ANY IMPACT- is because of Him. I am, because He is.

Fascinating how that works.

Am I a Ground Shaker? Yes.
And, I am only this because He has created me this way, and loves me how I am.

May this next year of blogging be even more terrific, profound, fun, ridiculous, and full of love.

Thanks for tagging along with me! Here's to a great start of year two!


Thursday, December 3, 2009