the greatest oxymoron.

I used to go to a church where we had communion every Sunday.  I didn’t understand why at first.  Then I worried that it would become rote, with a weekly occurrence robbing it of its sacredness.  But after a few months, my family and I embraced it.  It brought us closer as a family because there were always recent events that we needed to apologize to one another – instead of trying to wrack our brains once a month for stuff to say sorry for.

The same can be said for the Easter story – all of the events surrounding the crucifixion, the burial, and the resurrection.

If you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve heard this story.  A lot.  You’ve been to multiple services on Easter weekend, all touching on some aspect of the story, and maybe you’ve even been to Passion City Church’s Good Friday service with Louis Giglio (which, if you haven’t, is a must because it’s unparalleled).

Easter, in a sense, can also become rote – obvious and dull for all of us who have grown up listening to this story over and over since it’s so essential to the Gospel.  In the midst of meals with extended family members, egg hunts with small children, and making sure your outfit is finished by Easter morning, it can even be forgotten.  This same struggle happens around Christmastime, when the true meaning for all of the celebrations is pushed aside by the chaos and distractions.

This is true for me.  In the past, I’ve had to repent for focusing more on traveling to see family members than on Jesus’s precious gift to me.

That’s one thing I never want to lose sight of.  It’s the greatest oxymoron I’ve ever known – that by His wounds, He gave me healing.  I’ll never get over that.

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

This Easter, spend time with your family members and enjoy the egg hunt (it’s perfectly fine to be scared of the Easter bunny, though it’s too big why I don’t understand), but take the time to get alone with God.  Sit in your room or take a walk in the woods or drive on a random road in the mountains – whatever it takes to get rid of all of the distractions and outside chaos.  Think about what He did for you, and thank Him for it.  I know I’ll be doing it, because I’ve been awestruck by His grace and love – the love that saved my soul.

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happy, free, confused, & lonely in the best way.

22, baby.  it’s been a ride.  and i can literally say that everything in this song personally connects with me in one way or another.  figures.

here’s to another year of ditching the whole scene and ending up… okay, dreaming and sleeping.  and hoping everything will be alright.

{ps: i love taylor.  if you hate on taylor, i will hate on you and that’s just the way it’ll go.}

here comes the sun.

Christina Grimmie.  The Orlando shooting.  Anton Yelchin.

I don’t understand why bad things happen.  Sometimes I pretend to, just to make myself feel better.  And that’s wrong.

It’s not easy to function when all of these things hit us one after another.  Yesterday, after I heard about Anton, I cried for a while, and then wondered how I was supposed to “be on” today – school, work, everyday life – in the midst of all of this crushing sadness.

It’s not easy to trust God.  It’s not easy to think that His way is best.  This is why I fail most of the time.

Which is why it’s in those moments that I have to run to God and cling to Him.  Because it’s in those moments that He’s all I have left.

I’m learning to trust God through the pain.  It’s so incredibly hard and some days I don’t want to do it and some days I put my headphones on and listen to my screamo ukulele so I can have an excuse to scream and cry and blame it on twenty øne piløts.  But I always try to come back to God and go, “Listen, I don’t know why this is happening and I don’t know why You’re letting it happen, but I’m choosing to trust You despite it, so please help me through it and give me peace.”

I choose to hope.  I choose to trust.  I choose to have joy.  I choose to do this, because sometimes it’s all I can do.

(This is my favorite cover of Here Comes the Sun by one of my favorite people.  The song starts at 1:31.)

my favorite twenty øne piløts songs.

top frikkin punkI like a lot of different music – pop, slow rock, Christian contemporary, opera, musicals, even country (pretty much limited to Hunter Hayes and Taylor Swift, though).  I’ve never loved blues or jazz because the winds hurt my ears.  I’ve listened to rap my entire life, but didn’t really enjoy it up until about a year ago, when I was introduced to twenty øne piløts and Hamilton.  (I’ve been a fan of Hamilton since like last February, though.  #hipsterfan)  Since I’ve started liking rap, I’ve branched out to include Heath McNease (kind of hip-hop rap) and… well that’s it, but I’m getting there!

I’ve really fallen in love with tøp, though, and have become such trash that I’ve even started listening to Tyler’s pre-tøp solo album, since I’ve memorized all of the songs from their other albums, including the unreleased songs.  (‘Time to Say Goodbye’ included.  “And I’m standing on a tower trying my hardest to make it to You but I built this tower out of mortal bricks, so break it.  I truly will surrender my pretender, my disguise, and I’ll truly start to render to Your splendor so it’s time to say goodbye.”  Listen to it.  You know you want to.)  I’m so glad they’re getting recognized now, and basically everybody knows who they are because of ‘Stressed Out’ slowly emerging on the radio.  And now everybody’s in the sick-as-frick skeleton clique of ukulele screamo art.

I want to just list their entire discography for my favorite songs list, but if you only have a short amount of time (before getting totally obsessed and listening to all of their music), listen to these, my absolute favorites.  (They’re ranked by order of release, not by favorite.  Because you guys know I can’t do that.)

Drown || No Phun Intended (Tyler’s solo album)

Here I come again to You / Just to show that blood soaked through / Through my bones and all I own / Is there a way for me to grow? / I walk to You, rain falls from You / Can You wash me? Can You drown me? / Please?

This song actually has the beginning of a later tøp song (‘Fall Away‘) in it, starting from “Every time I feel selfish ambition is taking my vision,” which is probably why I love it so much.  It’s so beautiful – a heart-wrenching plea for God and the waves of His mercy and grace to drown us.  Another line really sums up where I am right now: “Back and forth between being me and who You call me to be.”

Addict with a Pen || twenty øne piløts

You specialize in dying / You hear me screaming Father / And I’m lying here just crying / So wash me with Your water

I discovered this album after I listened to all of Blurryface and Vessel (bless you, Amazon Prime Music), and this was the first song I fell in love with, partially because I’m a writer, but mostly because it’s just beautiful.

Air Catcher || twenty øne piløts

And I just don’t say what you want to hear / So I’ll write my fears / And I don’t believe in talking just to breathe / And falling selfishly // I won’t fall in love with falling / I will try to avoid those eyes / ‘Cause I’m not sure I want to give you tools that can destroy my heart

This song is kind of the antonym to ‘Tear in My Heart.’  I initially loved this song basically because of the words and the ending (that harmony – oh my gosh), but I really fell in love with it when I connected with it a few months ago.

Isle of Flightless Birds || twenty øne piløts

How frustrating and so degrading / His time, we’re wasting / As time will fly by and the sky will cry as light is fading / And He is waiting, oh so patiently / While we repeat the same routine as we will please comfortability / Please don’t think about why you can’t sleep in the evening / And please don’t be afraid of what your soul is really thinking / Your soul knows good and evil, your soul knows both sides / And it’s time you pick your battle, and I promise you this is mine

I’ve already talked to you guys about this song, but that’s why it’s on this list – I love it so much!  It’s so great (once you get past the different styles).  This one’s just amazing.  The meaning really hit me when I listened to it a few months ago and it’s been a favorite ever since.

Kitchen Sink || Regional at Best

Are you searching for purpose? / Then write something, yeah it might be worthless / Then paint something then, it might be wordless / Pointless curses, nonsense verses / You’ll see purpose start to surface / No one else is dealing with your demons / Meaning maybe defeating them / Could be the beginning of your meaning, friend.

This song doesn’t have many words, but when it does… they’re amazing.  The verse above really inspires me to write when I feel like nobody cares about what I write, and to write about the things that I’m personally struggling with.  (Plus, I’ve almost got Zack’s rap down.  *sunglasses emoji*)

Glowing Eyes || Regional at Best

I know there’s someone at the door / They called for help, of this I’m sure / But do I want to say goodbye to all the glowing eye / I’m holding on to what I know / And what I know, I must let go / But I would rather play a song for the eyes to sing along.

This one’s a contradiction because of how happy it sounds, but the lyrics are so down.”  This is the song I dance to at three in the afternoon when I’m the only one at home.  I had it stuck in my head a few weeks ago when I was taking a final, and I rewarded passing by going home and dancing to it again.  The part where Tyler sings, “Redemption’s not that far, and darkness is going down” always makes me so happy.  And the line that goes, “We all know somebody who know somebody who’s doing great; I know some people who know people who are flying straight” is SO ACCURATE.  And Josh sings part of it (listen at 1:34 for him in the background), so YAY.

Lovely || Regional at Best

Won’t you stay alive? / I’ll take you on a ride / I will make you believe you are lovely.

This is one of those songs I wish I could sing to certain people late at night, accompanied by some sick ukulele.  (And sometimes that person is myself.)

Clear || Regional at Best

I’m the son of all I’ve done / Impostor, been fostered, then my new father drained my dirty blood // I will tell you what I can / But your mind will take a stand / I sing of a greater love / Let me know when you’ve had enough.

This is the song I tell people to go listen to when they say that tøp isn’t Christian.  (I mean, we can get into that debate in the comments, but the way I see it, it’s a band by Christians with subliminal Christian messages – “cleverly masking [His] words,” if you will.  And that’s good enough for me.)  It’s about witnessing and sharing the Gospel with people.  I especially love the last chorus.

Holding Onto You || Vessel

Fight it / Take the pain, ignite it / Tie a noose around your mind / Loose enough to breathe fine and tie it to a tree / Tell it, “You belong to me / This ain’t a noose, this is a leash. / And I have news for you: you must obey me.”

This is the first tøp song that made me cry.  We’re talking ugly sobbing in the car while I’m driving to the preschool to pick up the kids I nanny.  It was not a pretty sight – but it changed me forever.  (Go watch the official music video, then the behind the scenes video and try not to cry.  And then come listen to the song again and let yourself cry because this is a beautiful song.)

Screen || Vessel

I do not know why I would go / In front of You and hide my soul / Cause You’re the only one who knows it.

This is the second song from Vessel that I fell in love with, and I think it’s pretty accurate.  It’s about coming to God, totally opened to Him, and letting Him take control.  The “we’re broken people” chorus in the end is Oceans-Spirit-lead-me levels of glory and wonder.  And the snarkiness behind the line, “While you’re doing fine, there’s some people and I who have a really tough time getting through this life, so excuse us while we sing to the sky” is just unreal.  This is why I love Tyler Joseph.

Polarize || Blurryface

Polarize is taking your disguises / Separating them, splitting them up from wrong and right / It’s deciding where to die and deciding where to fight / Deny, deny, denial.

I sang this song the other day as I was trying to keep myself from getting into a meaningless argument with a friend, and it was kind of crazy how much it helped.  Plus the screamo part totally lightened my mood.  (And I can’t sing this song without thinking of this Vine.  “Help me bowl o’ rice, help me bowl o’ rice…”)

Goner || Blurryface

Though I’m weak and beaten down / I’ll slip away into this sound / The ghost of you is close to me / I’m inside-out, you’re underneath // Don’t let me be gone // I’m a goner, somebody catch my breath / I wanna be known by You.

Yes, this is a cover, but it’s Dodie and I love her, so in the words of Anthony Mackie, “Deal with that.”  (Here’s the tøp version, complete with screaming.)  This is such a beautiful song, it deserves a beautiful piano-only cover, sung in the most pleading, heart-wrenching way possible.

Two more random favorites that don’t really count are Tyler’s cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (which may be my first dance song at my wedding) and “Twenty One Pilots Down on the Farm” (you know you want to watch it).  (Oh, and “The Judge,” which I just learned to play on the ukulele.  *sunglasses emoji*)

Again, I love all of their songs, but these are my absolute favorite.  So what about you guys?  See any you like?  What about ones you LOVE?!  Let’s talk!

i’m grateful for you.

once i was seven years old, my mama told me
“go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely”

The last year has been really stressful for me, for multiple reasons.  I’ve had to go through so many hard things, especially in the last few months, and it’s been crazy.  (Plus the added stress of school and my self-imposed deadline that I WILL STICK TO EVEN IF IT KILLS ME.)

A lot of the things I’ve gone through have had to do with relationships with friends and family members.  And it’s weird because I never really thought about boundaries in relationships, but I’ve recently had to.  I’m such a trusting person and always want to think the best of people – which sounds great, but I get hurt sometimes, and it doesn’t feel good.  In the last year, I’ve had to put boundaries on friendships that I thought I’d have for the rest of my life.  More than that, I’ve had to deal with people shutting me out and cutting me off.  And that hurts the most.

To say the least, I haven’t been a very pleasant person over the past year.  Especially since the beginning of this year, I’ve gone through a lot that’s made me cynical and stuff.  It’s hard because I’m usually insanely optimistic, but when things happen that I can’t stop or that hurt me, I end up hurting others because of my pain.  And, sadly, I’ve lost some friendships because of that.  (Or they’ve changed or whatever because of my actions.)

All that said, I’ve recently had my eyes open to how blessed I am.  Even though I haven’t been my best self for a while, people are still friends with me.  It kind of blows my mind, especially since some friendships totally ended last year after I didn’t really do anything wrong.  But to know that I still have friends and family members who love me even when I’m cynical and pessimistic and a super unpleasant person to be around?  It’s crazy.

Even though I’ve lost friends and relationships have changed over the past year, I’ve realized who my real friends are – the people who put up with my witty, hilarious self AND the people who put up with my crap.  And I love them even more.  I’m so blessed to know so many amazing people – people who encourage me and let me vent to them and email or text me just to ask how I’m doing, even when I forget to do the same for them.

I’ve been trying to write this post for the past few days, and I can’t really figure out what to say except… thank you.  Thank you to all of my friends who have stuck with me though the last year, and all of my wonderful followers who leave comments that make me smile and read my blog even when I’m not posting anything – you don’t know how much you mean to me.  You inspire me to be a better person and that “there’s still some good in this world … and it’s worth fighting for.”

I love each and every one of you and I’m so blessed to know you and grateful that you’re in my life.  ❤

music: isle of flightless birds by twenty one pilots.

Now is the climax to the story
That gives the demons and angels purpose
They fly around while we are walking
And mold our emotions just to please them

I am cold, can you hear?
I will fly with no hope, no fear
And the ground taunts my wings
Plummet as I sing, plummet as I sing

All we are is an isle of flightless birds
We find our worth in giving birth and stuff
We’re lining our homes against winding roads
And we think the going is tough
We pick songs to sing, remind us of things that nobody cares about
And honestly we’re probably more suicidal than ever now

If you decide to live by, what you think’s wrong and what’s right
Believe me you’ll begin to wish you were sleeping
Your weeping will creep in your head and you’ll cry
But if we wake up every morning and decide what we believe
We can take a part our very heart and the light will set us free

I am cold, can you hear?
I will fly with no hope, no fear
And the ground taunts my wings
Plummet as I sing, plummet as I…

I am cold, can you hear?
I will fly with no hope, no fear
And the ground taunts my wings
Plummet as I sing, plummet as I sing

How frustrating and so degrading
His time, we’re wasting
As time will fly by and the sky will cry as light is fading
And he is waiting, oh so patiently
While we repeat the same routine as we will please comfortability
Please don’t think about why you can’t sleep in the evening
And please don’t be afraid of what your soul is really thinking
Your soul knows good and evil, your soul knows both sides
And it’s time you pick your battle, and I promise you this is mine
(I promise you)

child, you’re forgiven and loved.

Tell me I’m forgiven and loved
‘Cause I hear it from the street corner priests
On how God is love and how man can be clean
But my joy has been on holiday
And my peace has almost passed away
Tell me I’m forgiven and free

O I tried and tried to rectify my hopeless situation
But I bought the lie I still have work to do
Now I’m working nine to five like I can earn my own salvation
But there is no condemnation in You

O whisper to me now that it’s for real
‘Cause in the silence of these walls righteousness lost its appeal
Dirty deeds have done me in
O but that can’t stop the faithful friend
Giving mercy once again as You heal
Here it is I’m feeling it

O I tried and tried to rectify my hopeless situation
But I bought the lie I still have work to do
Now I’m working nine to five like I can earn my own salvation
But there is no condemnation in You

O He died, He died to rectify my hopeless situation
And His blood commands my guilt to leave
Now on Calvary I stand
Empty pockets, open hands
O there is no condemnation for me

O I tried and tried to rectify my hopeless situation
But I bought the lie I still have work to do
Now I’m working nine to five like I can earn my own salvation
But there is no condemnation in You

Child, you’re forgiven and loved
Child, you’re forgiven and loved
Child, you’re forgiven
And child, you are loved
Child, you’re forgiven and loved