Its not the journey…its the moments before the journey begins

As I sit here in my bed at 3 a.m., listening to Kari Jobe teach about worship, I feel prompted to write. I feel like I need to write to remember. Remember the moment God ignited this passion within me. The defining and pivotal moment I decided I want to be a worship leader. There have been several moments. I recall several experiences.

The very first moment God lit the spark in me was when I was seven years old. Me and my parents were driving home from church (We were going to Lakewood at the time). It was in the 90s. And something spoke to me and said “Sing on your birthday.” Mind you, I was just a child. I didn’t take into consideration the number of people who went there. There were a few thousand, at least in attendance. I probably practiced my song for a week. My musical influences were Deniece Williams, Amy Grant, Kim Boyce, etc. The song I planned on singing was “King of Peace”. It was a more mature choice for someone of my age. But I was determined. I approached that stage without an ounce of fear. You know it’s the Holy Spirit when you have complete peace and no qualms whatsoever about being in front of live cameras and thousands of people.

After that experience, I knew there would be a lifetime comfort of being on a stage. I still feel to this day that when I am on stage, I am that much closer to reaching my Father in the heavens. It’s not how high I reach. It is the fact that I feel his presence so strong on stage, as well as off it. Real worship begins off stage, in my opinion. I sang a couple more times. Once with another popular singer. It was magical, being a kid and enjoying this. Singing became a part of me since then. Like a limb in my body. Without it, I am not fully myself. I am not defined as a singer. A worshipper first, singer second. I find my identity is shown in my worship. How I worship, the reason behind my worship and the object of my worship.

When I was in my teens, I cultivated myself in anything to do with singing. I was part of a group, consisting of 4 friends. (Our name was “Grains of Sand”) We would sing at our church during Christmas specials. I also was part of the worship team. One of the co-leaders at the age of about 13 years. After we left that church, I did a few solos. I even played keyboard and performed a song I wrote. Because we lived and were somewhat “church hoppers”, I have been to SEVERAL churches. I have been a part of their choirs, youth worship team. I served in other areas as well. My career goals have changed quite a bit. Actress, youth pastor, etc.

Something always drew me back to music. I stopped for awhile because I entered into a singing contest that Sparrow Records had sponsored. I didn’t get in and I was crushed. Because of that doubt, I pushed back from it. I pursued being a youth leader, thinking this was my new avenue. I went all in. I committed myself fully to trying to impact kids to know God and press into their calling. I tried to be an example and show them how fun it is to experience worship and the Bible. To see God the way I see him. I was able to worship off stage and press in harder. And their hearts became my priority. People looked at me funny the way I would worship. I was and will never be a folding hands kind of woman when it comes to praise and worshipping my God. But because these kids saw the way I was worshipping without caring about the opinion of others, they started to see that worship is not about them or anyone else.

Bringing closer to date, one of the last churches I was serving at, helped me realize my dream was mot dead. But resurrected. I was singing on the worship team at Calvary Christian. It was a great experience. The guy I was leading with taught me things that I needed to learn. That perfection is not key. I was fully committed. But then the enemy hit me on every side. My grandmother passed away. My brother was in jail. And I was slipping. I was at the same time, taking on a greater task. Which was the moment I began to fully get in touch with my calling. I wanted to help the children learn how to worship.

So I helped lead worship. A few Sundays singing along songs for the kids from preschool age to older. And some Sundays, I helped start a new thing. I  wanted to help them worship when they were even younger. I would go from classroom to classroom and help sing songs. I tried to bring them out of their comfort zone, bringing instruments and cds. They mostly looked at me like I was weird and crazy (That doesn’t even bother me anymore when people do. I don’t do it for their approval. Which is one the lessons I learned being there.) And yes when I start singing again, there will be people in the congregation that are hard hearted or new to it all. But what’s awesome is, just like in that toddler and preschool room, there is that one kid who starts getting it. There is that one person who could never feel what it means to be truly saved and have their chains broken as they lift their hands.

That is the person I want God to reach. Not through me. I am a mere vessel. But through Him. If I can usher in His presence by singing a song, whether old school or modern, that is the agenda I have. To reach the unreached. And to teach the unteached. To know God fully and experience His grace. And to live in His love. Pure unadulterated worship. From the heart. It doesn’t always have to be in the right beat or the right key. But the heart is the key. And the beat is in His heart.

 

 

Advertisements

Challenge accepted

The last few weeks, God has been teaching me things. As always. He’s been asking me if I’m willing to forfeit and sacrifice more than I already have. “Really, God? What I have left isn’t enough?” You want me to have even less? Sometimes less is more. But in God’s eyes, when we have less, he can DO more. I pray and pray that He will use me. But am I willing to lose to gain? He asked me something profound. For what I have for you, are you willing to leave everything behind? Everything you find comfort in. Everyone who is in your life. Your family. Your friends. Your career.

Uh…

For almost half a year, I have been unemployed. I have been fighting depression. I have been fighting loneliness. I have felt alone. Abandoned. Afraid. Attacked.

But…He is with me. I am not fighting these things alone. He is by my side. Yesterday was my breaking point. I sat in my bed and sobbed. Sobbed until I had no breath left. Pouring out my heart to my Father, who never lets me down. Nothing and no one can ever fill the void that only He can.

Facebook can’t fill it. Friends can’t fill it. Tv can’t fill it. A relationship can’t fill it. That is his job. I digress.

After I gave it up to him, I said God you’re going to have to live for me. I don’t see the reason in going on. And I meant that. I felt lifeless. Like I was just existing. But not living. Then, I just started talking to him. Like I would a person. And I asked him a plethora of questions. The ever so popular “Why”. And I challenged him. I said God if you don’t do something soon or something doesn’t change, I don’t know what I’ll do or what will happen. I wouldn’t ever  actually “do” anything. That was my past. But I reminded him in how I am trying to do all the right things. And seeing nothing different.

God is not moved by our tears. Anyone can cry in their pain. The definition of our character is what we do after we cry. In my experience, I ran to him. And I started singing. As some of you know, my passion is to be a worship leader. Well, I was singing my heart out in my bedroom. And my spirit felt stronger. I told God earlier that I felt shattered. Shattered so much that I didn’t feel I could be fixed. But that moment I started singing, God was giving me an inner strength. Not long after, I received an email saying that I have an audition to be on the worship team at Southland Christian.

(Yayyyyy!!)

The moment we lay down who we are before Christ in humility, the moment He opens His hands. God knows when we are sincere and where our hearts lie. He challenges us. And we challenge him. He respects us and bonds with us. I learn something new and great about him every day. And I grow deeper in love with him. Any time not spent in seeking Him or directed toward Him is wasting time. Empty space.

From this challenging time, I have written more songs, poetry and posts declaring my love for Him. I’m excited to see what He has in store for me!!

Selfie…or Self Approval??

It seems the more and more I get connected to social media and networking, the more disconnected I would rather be to it. I just want to separate my world with God from the world I live in. The world I live in is full of perversion, lasciviousness, and pure selfishness. The world I cohabitate in cares more about tricks into looking slim, young and ending up in someone’s bed than character development. Or the latest trend. And here is how we end up with selfies. It’s a way of saying look at me without actually saying it. Because that would be prideful. Gasp! Selfies are the new self esteem in my world. It is sad. That the way we project ourselves is through a picture. And the more likes and comments we get, the more we feel good about ourselves?? And then we worship ourselves and thrive on the next comment from someone we may or may not know. I am guilty of this. I am guilty of falling into this trap.

Not only selfies, but the entangled web of social media. Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. MySpace. Twitter. Pinterest ( double guilty)We are obsessed with finding someone or something to fill that void that only God can fill.

My world vs. My world with God. My world with God is full of peace and tranquility. It is full of joy and love. When I get alone with Him, I imagine myself laying in the fields full of flowers and trees as far as the eye can see. It involves no cameras. No waist cinches. No mirrors. The only way I see myself is through His eyes. Not someone else’s. There is no likes to click on. There is even no technology. Just me, my voice and His. I don’t have to always worry about how I look. I don’t have to worry about anything.

Recently, I took about 4 days off of Facebook and Twitter. I tried to stay off Pinterest. But that didn’t happen. (It’s like a shopping addiction except I never buy anything) Anyways, I felt free. I didn’t feel like I needed approval from anyone. Let’s admit it. We’ve all “liked” someone’s picture, quote, or Buzzfeed link in hopes they would like us back or be our friend. Or write a comment, thinking the favor would be returned. I’ll admit I’ve done it. But it doesn’t always happen that way. And it saddens me when I think of how I let someone else’s opinion instead of God control me. I will no longer do this. And unless there is a an actual transformation, no one needs to see.

I don’t want to make myself an object of someone’s worship. I want God to be the center of where all worship should be. That is why my ultimate passion is to lead others to that same God centered worship. He should be the center of the world, not ourselves. Whatever you objectify, you glorify. So next time any one of us take a “selfie”, ‘re-examine why. Are you doing this to seek attention from others? Self approval? You may find it temporarily. But the only one you should be seeking approval from is God. If you don’t know Him personally, get to know Him. When you find Him and live for Him, you will end up “mirroring” what He sees. Not what others see.

I have said this to myself recently and now I’m saying it to you. Not to lecture. But to learn what I am learning.

 

 

 

Note To Self: A Year From Now

Since I am thinking about this at the moment, I might as well write it down. I have a vision for this year. I want to go after my dreams. Instead of watching them wilter year after year. God gave me these dreams to use. So I think I will write a letter to myself. I’ll call it a year from now.

Dear Self, 

A year from now I want you to wake up in the morning and have that grateful heart that you are thankful to be alive. I hope you wake up with your hands raised to God. I hope you wake up smiling. I hope you wake up to a loving sound. The sound of freedom and peace. I hope you look in the mirror and realize the beautiful woman God made you into. I hope you don’t look at the way your body looks. I hope you focus on what is important. On the inside. I hope you stop tearing yourself apart, the way you do now. I hope you move past your fears. I hope you let courage take a hold of you. I want you to look in the mirror and look at your strengths, not your flaws. Take care of your temple, your body always. For it is a gift to God and a testament of what He has done for you. You are eating healthier now. You will be in the best shape of your life a year from now. You will not let laziness or discouragement stop you. You will not let the devil beat you down like he always does. You have made it t his far, and you will continue to fight the good fight. You have had dreams for a long time. Dreams you thought would never happen. Until you became one on God’s team and pursued it. I hope you will be on that stage for as long as God allows you to. I hope you allow love to come into your life. And not chase it away because you don’t think you deserve it. I hope you see yourself the way I see you. And I hope you find a guy that looks at you the way your heavenly Father looks at you. And I hope that you find happiness, no matter what you do. Right now, things are tough. But one year from now, you will look back on this day and laugh. Because you will remember how you felt at this very moment. Unsure, uncertain of yourself and your future. God has great plans in store for you. God has children in store for you. God has marriage in store for you. You just have to get past yourself and your fears. Your regrets. Your mistakes. It will all pass away in the end anyway. I want you to learn how to love yourself as you love God. The tears will not last all night. Joy will be restored. You will find your happy. Maybe sooner than one year from now. Until then…PURSUE YOUR PASSION. PURSUE GOD AS YOU PURSUE THIS PASSION. HE IS THE ROOT OF ALL PASSION. Do not stop writing. Do not stop believing that God is who He says he is. 

The closer you get to God…

It has been a crazy week so far. Last week, I went on a cleanse and just avoided social media for about 4 days. I needed to. After that, I started my lady time. Those 4 days last week must have been what I needed to get through my today. Those 4 days…just me and God. I didn’t have to worry about anything but spending quality time with him. I was in a constant state of worship. It was like a retreat in my own bedroom, spending time with Him. He spoke to me. He told me things, showed me things. It’s amazing what God reveals to you when you are willing to listen. I won’t reveal what He showed me and spoke to me. That is private. 

Something else I also discovered. The closer you get to God, the closer the devil gets too. I know this. Because after that week was over, I went to church Sunday. I was doing great. Then…the car bill came. Which they are trying to overcharge me for something they said they took care of. Then…last night. I was just minding my own business. My dog was in the room. He was eating something. I didn’t know what it was. I wanted to see. It was the mama in me. Part of whatever it was fell out. All I did was try to reach over to see what it was. I was hoping it was nothing dangerous. And this dog once again, turned into full on wolf. He attacked. He bit. He broke skin. And he would not let go. Thank God for sending his angels that very moment. Because if they weren’t present, it could have been a lot worse. I could’ve ended up in the hospital. He almost punctured a vein in my wrist. That is how deep this wound is. I put peroxide on my hand and wrist to avoid infection. And put cold compress on it. As well as aloe vera and coconut oil. I think that is what helped the healing process. 

Regardless of how bad it was, I was in a lot of pain. Crying. Feeling betrayed by this dog that I looked at like my little boy. I called him my baby. How could he hurt me in such a way? Physical and emotional pain. If you’ve never been attacked by a dog, you wouldn’t know how I feel. But it is somewhat traumatizing. You feel defenseless. Paralyzed. You don’t use your senses. And you feel like a victim. I am still processing this. My parents were going to get rid of him. But…they didn’t have the heart to leave him in one of those places. So he is in our yard. 

The whole point in sharing this is…be on guard. You don’t know when an attack will happen. It could be your dog. It could be someone you know. It’s not just bites and wounds that hurt. But emotional wounds. God can heal those wounds. My scars will heal. But my mind might take a little longer. What happened after my dog lunged at me was…I jumped up, ran into the bathroom to put water on my hand, which was bleeding. And I was in shock. I could barely breathe. I was hyperventilating. The last time I hyperventilated like this was when my brother tried to beat me up. He was in a drunken stupor and wanted to hit anything that moved. He had a lot of anger and wanted to hit me as hard as he could. I remember that night…I could remember his fist coming near my face. My mom and my friend had helped me out of the house. I was crying and hyperventilating at the same time. I thought I would pass out. The last time my dog went after me, I practically did. But…this was sort of a feeling parallel to that night with my brother. It was scary and left an impression on me. I was ready to fight him. But it didn’t come to that. It was just shoving. 

I don’t know if I have really truly been healed by that experience. But it’s possible I do need to seek a counselor. I never did actual “therapy” because well..I didn’t believe in it. Right now, I can’t afford it. But…I don’t know if this is something I need to seek. God is the healer. But he also gave people the gift of counseling. Just pray for me when you think about me. I will be ok. As far as trusting canines again, that is another story. 

This will not stop me from getting closer to my God. I know He will help me overcome. 

Love you, loves

<——————–+

Mare