Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Death, Lamentations & Hope

Disclaimer: this post is a little heavier than my usual ones... 

Oh death, where is your sting?
Oh hell, where is your victory?
(1 Corinthians 15:55)

It was almost two years ago to the day. I have never had my emotions swing in such an insane way in such way ever in my life, and I doubt that I will ever feel that way again.

I was with my favorite group of ladies – ones that I had had the opportunity to live with and learn with, laugh with and cry with over the past few months – and we had just won a competition that we had been working hard and strategizing for for over a week. It was a big deal. Like mega big for us. We walked into our common living space, expecting the next few hours to be full of excitement and celebration, and instead were met with the news of the death of a family member. It was quite literally like being punched in the gut and having the joy sucked out of me all at once… a feeling that I hope I never have to feel again, but that I felt regardless of the fact that I didn’t even know the person who had passed away. I can’t even imagine how I would have felt had I actually known the person.

The reality of death sometimes is that the hope gets sucked out of the lives that are left behind. We get so focused on Earthly things that death is sometimes a crushing blow. As I sat in my room crying for someone I had never met, his new wife and his family, all I could think about was “what if that had been my brother?” … “What if that had been my cousin?” They were sobering thoughts. It’s a moment in my life that I think will stay with me for the rest of my time here on Earth.  

Lamentations has become one of my favorite books (not something that people say often, but if I’m being honest my favorite of all the books of the Bible is Job, which is definitely not a usual favorite), not because of the dreariness that it can bring but because of the hope. Throughout the whole book the author is opening up his heart and kind of laying it all out on the table – it’s a depressing book, sure, but the hope that he finds is a bright star in the midst of a pitch black night. In chapter 3 he writes: “For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (3:31-33, NIV).

I guess what I’m trying to get at – and the place that I got too months later, a few weeks after one of my friends tried unsuccessfully to take their life – is that though death seems hopeless, we have the greatest hope. And when death seems to punch us in the gut and kick us while we’re down, that doesn’t have to be the end; we don’t have to stay down. God has not left us on this Earth without Him. He has not left us here with no love, with no hope and with no way out. He will show compassion because His unfailing love is so great.

David writes in Psalm 56:8 a promise that is very powerful and beautiful: “You [, God ha]ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book” (MSG).

God has conquered death but it’s still a part of our life while we live here on Earth. It’s normal but often earth-shattering. Don’t ever lose hope. He has conquered it and He is a comforter. He will not leave you to deal with it on your own.

P.S. As a self-diagnosed feeler, it’s easy for me to take on other peoples’ emotions and to have them sit heavily on my heart. I’ve learned (and continue to have to learn) that I can’t hold on to them for too long or they will weigh me down. God can take those. He is literally The Comforter. Don’t take that for granted.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

SOTW: What It Costs

From Tim Foreman's beautiful, raw vocals to the phenomenal way the instruments create a mournful mood that somehow fits with the thoughtful lyrics in a way that's so powerful, this song is definitely in my top 10 of all time. 

Song: What It Costs
Artist: Switchfoot

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall Beauty Buys

For me, fall is all about easy make-up and good moisturizers, because with busy post-summer life starting up again having go-to's for those two things help smooth out the rest of the transition into waking up a little bit earlier and moving a little bit quicker. Here are my four beauty favorites that I've found this year:

1. St Ives - Cranberry Seed & Grape Seed Oil body lotion
With just a hint of a sweet cranberry smell that's not too over-powering, and a formula that allows for quick absorption and no sticky residue (not to mention it's made of natural ingredients!), this lotion is perfect to slather on morning and night. Plus, it won't break the bank (I bought it for under $5).

2. Avon - Moisture Effective Eye Makeup Remover lotion
I think the thing that's the worst about actually taking the time to put makeup on is that it's pain to take off. This remover is super easy to use (rub it in using your finger tips and wipe off with a damp cotton ball) and takes seconds. Works for me!

3. Almay - Intense i-Colour Eyeshadow
I have this one in the shimmer-i kit for blue eyes and I tried it out for the first time today. It's wonderful! Three colours that blend together nicely and are already laid out for you in a way that makes it super easy to apply quickly and be out the door!

4. Nivea - Lip Butter in Vanilla & Macadamia
For me I don't like anything sticky on my lips, but a good, creamy lip balm is hard to find. This one goes on creamy and stays that way, with just a hint of a scent that reminds me of Hawaii. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

3 Must-have New Releases

It's been a while since I've posted here, so I thought I'd finally get back to it... even if this is going to be a quick post (and not a full CD review)

Here is my quick list of 3 CDs I think you definitely need to invest in that have just released:

1. The Edge of the Earth - Switchfoot
Ok, so technically this is an EP... but it's also new Switchfoot music, which to me translates into: must have! It's just indie enough, with the powerful/thoughtful lyrics that you expect from Switchfoot, and (an added bonus) we get to hear Tim Foreman on lead vocals for the first time! 
My favorites: What it Costs and Liberty

2. Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. - For King & Country
If I'm being honest I haven't even made it through the whole album yet... whoops! But seriously, can you ever go wrong with For King & Country? I don't think so. 
It's pop without being obnoxious, it's full of phenomenal lyrics, it has a fantastic mixture of upbeat, positive songs and thought-provoking, heart-wrenching songs (check out "Without You" a duet between Luke and his wife). These guys are consistently fantastic, and this one definitely didn't disappoint.
My favorites: Without You and It's Not Over Yet

3. How Can It Be - Lauren Daigle
New-ish on the Christian music stage, Lauren has vocal talent that is up there with the greats. Sure, this one is also considered an EP but each track is fantastic music, harmony, melodic and everything-else wise. Let's get the word out there about this fantastic new artist!! I've talked about her Christmas stuff before, and this EP is right up there with those fantastic songs!
My favorite: Dry Bones and Light of the World

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Way Back When

I listen to a lot of music. I feel like my life constantly has a soundtrack, especially when I'm studying or working on a project... background music is a must (even if it's classical music sometimes)!  Though my main source of melodies are usually new-ish songs, I have a few CDs that are my go-tos in certain situations.

Mainstay's Well Meaning Fiction is probably my top CD of all time, but I was recently reacquainted with an old friend... namely Relient K's Forget and Not Slow Down (2009). When I'm in a contemplative state, the songs Therapy and Over It from this CD never cease to amaze me with their depth and how easy they are to relate too. While not all the songs on the CD are my favorites, the sincerity of the lyrics and how thought provoking they are never ceases to draw me in. It's definitely one that I keep coming back to, even five years down the road.

"Therapy" {my top Relient K song of all time}

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Singleness is a Door

"Instead of seeing singleness as a wall, we need to see it as a door. A door that we can open if we want to, that will lead to opportunities that we can’t even imagine. Singleness doesn’t limit us, it expands our horizons. You might be single for four months, for four years or until the day you die, so why not take every day as it comes and do your best with the time that God has given you here. Our lack of relationship status doesn’t give us an excuse to slack off when it comes to following His Word, so don’t ever use it as an excuse. Use it as an encouragement to step out in faith and do things that you thought you would be brave enough to do."
- LN

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top Christian Singles of Summer 2014

 "Fix My Eyes" - For King & Country
"I'd love like I'm not scared, give when it's not fair"
 Bold melodies that will be stuck in your head all day (trust me on this one). It's got a solid message, even if it is a little different than their usual!

"It's Not Over Yet" - For King & Country
"To everyone who's hit their limit - it's not over yet"
Wow! Two killer singles off one album... in one summer! Only FK&C could pull that off! Hot (as in today) off the presses, this has some beautiful melodies and awesome lyrics. It's sure to be blasted out some car windows this summer!

"Lay It Down" - Sanctus Real
"Those problems you're worried about can't keep you from living now"
This one just popped up on my FB newsfeed. I love the simple truths that this band is consistently able to transfer into beautiful song lyrics.

"More of You" - Colton Dixon
"I've made my castle tall; I built up every wall; this is my kingdom and it has to fall"
This guy is a gem, and this song comes out of a heart that is truly committed to Christ - something that is cool to see coming off the stage of American Idol. Awesome truths and some great music... what more could you ask for?

"Hold You Up" - Shane Harper
"But the angels, they brought you, and they're gonna hold you up."  
 The main character in the hit movie "God's Not Dead," not only does this guy have some acting chops, but he's got some sweet song writing brains and vocals as well! 

"The Broken Beautiful" - Ellie Holcomb
"Your love can take broken things and make them beautiful"
I of course had to make sure there was some female representation in this list, and I think Ellie's song is the perfect addition to a summer playlist. It's light, playful and has some beautiful truths in the lyrics! If you haven't heard of her, do yourself a favor and check out her songs! 

"Hope In Front of Me" - Danny Gokey
"Even after all I've seen there's hope in front of me"
Another solid Christian that I first spotted on American Idol! This is full of insane truths, and paired with Danny's unique voice, this (in my opinion) is an amazing song! It's been on over and over for me so far this summer!   

Friday, May 9, 2014

Conflict // Song of the Week

What is life without conflict?

I'm an avid reader and I've often wondered why a book always have to have that 'get your heart racing and your palms sweating a little for the main character moment' - whether it's a physical problem (like in those classic Nancy Drew's - chloroform always got the best of that gal) or a spiritual problem. But what would a book be without it? Would there really be a story worth reading? I'm not so sure.

Conflict occurs on this Earth because we're at a time where the 'now' and the 'Kingdom to come' overlap. It won't be resolved until Jesus comes back one day. But I think that God can still use it for His glory, no doubt about it. One of my favorite verses, Lamentations 3:31-33, says: "But though He causes grief, yet will He be moved to compassion according to the multitude of His loving-kindness and tender mercy. For He does not willingly and from His heart afflict or grieve the children of men" (Amplified). 

In this life, there will be conflict. But what would life be without it? Like a book character without a purpose, without conflict we would never be pushed out of our comfort zone and never grow. God has a purpose for everything we go through and a climax that far surpasses anything we can imagine: Heaven.

To bring it all together, this song by one of my all-time favorite bands has been stuck in my head for the past two days. It's a call for all Christians to fix our eyes on the One True King; a reminder that He is above all. Plus, it's got a catchy beat!

Song: Fix My Eyes
Artist: For King & Country

Monday, April 21, 2014

Look of the Day: Grey Tee

I don't know what it is about grey t-shirts these days, but they seem to be what I have constantly been reaching for in my closet. Maybe it's the slightly-thicker-than-a-normal-tee fabric or the slightly faded graphic design advertising my favorite soccer team but ever since I got this bad boy for Christmas it's been my go-to for a lounging around day. And what do you know, I picked up another softer-than-air grey tee at a concert I was at this weekend. So now my challenge has become: what do I pair them with?

If you haven't noticed, grey is an unusual "colour". It's a neutral, but it's not as 'out there' as white or black or even brown. My grey tee outfits have constantly consisted of dark jeans and a blue zip sweater/black cardigan, and I'm ready for a change. Here are three different ways that I'm going to style my new wardrobe staples this spring - one for work, church and the weekend...

 A soft, casual gray tee gets a more polished look with a crisp white blazer, dark wash jeans (or dark blue dress pants if your work is more formal) and chunky gold jewelry.

Megan styles her grey shirt perfectly for a more formal/churchy outfit. Pair it with a flowy midi skirt and add a pop of pattern with a cute clutch or bag. I would not have thought to pair grey with this colour of peach, but it works beautifully.

 This outfit is a more put-together look than my usual grey tee outfit. Keeping the colours all in neutral, but mixing within neutrals with a bit of black and brown, with a bit of colour in the scarf, makes this one a go-to for sure. Perfect for a spring day out, even if you have to shed the outer layer as the sun warms up!

Can't Be Saved

Jessa Anderson is one of my all-time favorite Christian music artists.
She just released her new album - Whole - and this song is one of my absolute favorites.
It's beautifully melodic and has a message that struck a chord in my heart 
(read an explanation of the story behind the story here)

Youtube won't let me put a video up so click through here to watch!