Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Essentials in Songwriting and The ongoing struggle of identity

For the Essentials In Songwriting Online Worship Values Course with Dan Wilt

Identity and significance are an ongoing struggle for me in this journey to find my place in the arts.

"What?" I can already hear some of you responding. "You? Struggle?"

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do. And one of the main reasons the struggle is ongoing is this insidious tendency I have to compare myself to others.

I know I've counseled many to not do that very thing, but I am as guilty as you. It's part of the internal voice that goes something like this:

"Look at that person. They can _______ better than you. You might not get an opportunity to _______. Who are you anyway? Where do you fit in? Are you even good enough? Why do you even bother to try?"

Stinks. And what stinks even more is that, sometimes, I start to believe that maybe this voice is asking valid questions and making valid points. The insecurities rise full-force to the surface and before I know it, I've just about thrown away the word of the Lord to me:

"Heather, you are an artist. You are My artist. Use your stick figures and paintings for My glory. Sing your songs. Play them on guitar. Play them on piano. Wave your flags and dance your dance for Me. Do it even when you feel insignificant. Do it even when you are afraid. Do it for My Kingdom in full display. Do it when there's no one watching to assess their merit. It is enough that you do it here for Me."

Staring over the precipe of the lie, I realize once again the importance of reviewing the things the Lord has said to me over the years, strengthening myself in Him, and grounding myself in His that I don't succumb to the tempation to believe a lie and enter into an agreement with the enemy of my soul who would like nothing more than to see me lose confidence in the One who sustains me and teaches me all things.

Michael Hanses says this in his article "The Measure of a Songwriter": "Buying into a lie of what success means is a costly mistake. You start to look at other songwriters as the competition...You forget that we are one Body with many parts, that our Father has just the right place for each one of us according to His design."

The Lord has a specific place in His Body for my feeble artistic offerings. No one else's fit just there. His design for me is unlike the design He has for any other, so to enter into the comparison/competition trap, is to desire something that I am not created for. I'm not designed to be anyone other than Heather. I can look and learn from others, of course. I can view their work and listen/watch for tools to incorporate into my offerings.

But I can't be them. To be them would be to be less me. And to be less me would not bring God glory.

And I want to give Him all I can.

So I commit again to struggle through, to not give up, to embrace my continue to offer up whatever artisic offering these hands or this voice or these feet of mine create.

I choose to believe, by faith, that God fulfills His plans and purposes for me. I choose to listen to His voice, to receive the sustenance of affirmation from His hand, and to stop listening to that deceiver.

I choose to create and, in the creating, to find my true significance, my unique identity in the One who created me and knows me better than I know myself.

I choose to continue on this journey to be
fully human,
fully Heather,
fully alive in Christ.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Without Wavering

I want to be like the ancients
Who held onto faith
Without wavering through unbelief
They believed what You said
Held onto promises
Through generations

Without wavering

I want to know how to
Hold onto promises
Hold onto Your truth
Hold onto Your word
Standing in faith
Though I never see You come
Though my circumstances never yield in my time

Let me believe
Help me stand strong
Your Word is true
To You I belong

Without wavering

Friday, May 21, 2010

Holy Boldness

Keeping in time
to Your heart
to Your voice
Walking in step with You

Always brings adventure
Stretching me
Honing me
Stirring me

To greater heights
Greater measures
Weightier glory

Though I cannot see
Though my mind cannot comprehend
Though emotions swirl
And I feel upside down and uncertain

You are strong
You are faithful
You I trust
You I hope in

For You do what You say You'll do
You are Who You say You are
You go beyond all I can hope or imagine
You are extravagant and holy and awesome

And You are bringing an
Unprecedented Holy Boldness
On Your people
to change the world
to bring Your Kingdom here on earth
as it is in Heaven

Blow, Spirit, blow
Open hearts
Ready to receive
Willing to do Your bidding

Shake us
Make us
Mold us
Fill us once again

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Songwriting and a "Blue-Sky Mind"

For the Essentials In Songwriting Online Worship Values Course with Dan Wilt
A few years ago, when I began my journey as an artist, I found that the biggest hindrance to creativity was internal dialog. I would start to create and then stop because it didn't look right, I wasn't talented/gifted/creative enough, who did I think I was anyway...

And I would stop before I had even started.

Somewhere along the way, God revealed to me that I needed to turn away from that voice, press through, and create. Anything. It didn't matter if it was a stick figure. Creating was the point. Not the product.

Dan Wilt calls it "having a blue-sky mind."

I love the image that brings me: a wide-open space, deep blue and beckoning me to enter its depths. It's the process of turning off the internal editor and allowing thoughts and feelings and ideas to flow uninhibited over the pages of my heart, not judging or condemning or assessing. Just being and flowing.

I haven't painted or created much of anything in a while. So as I pick up the songwriting craft in a more purposeful way, I'm going to cultivate a blue-sky mind, expecting creativity to come forth filling the wide open spaces with an abundance of thoughts and ideas to play with, to create from, to explore...

How about you? Join me! Turn off that internal editor. Pull up a blue sky.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'm back...

I've been AWOL for several weeks, and it's taken another Essentials Course (on Songwriting to be exact) to get be back on track with writing here. That, and a friend asked why I hadn't been blogging which made me think that maybe I should be.

After reading back in February about a week-long internet fast that Jennifer @ had done, I was finally pushed to do what I had suspected I needed to do for quite some time: spend less time online.

I took Lent as my starting point and committed to stay off of email and Facebook and severely limit internet access for 7 weeks, with breaks on Mondays and Thursdays to take care of online obligations. As Jennifer recommended, I set boundaries for those breaks: only after 9 p.m. when the kids were in bed and only for 30 minutes to 1 hour. I also allowed myself to briefly look up information during the day, but I tried to make a list of what I needed to do and then do it all at once during the "break days."

Let me just say...those weeks of Lent I found myself much more productive on the home front and much more in tune to the Lord without all of that distracting noise that the internet creates in my life. Instead of escaping to email/facebook/websurfing when things got intense around here, I would find a chore to do, read my Bible some, play guitar, worship, etc.

So, now I'm back online and struggling to find a reasonable rhythm for my internet activity while maintaining the perspective I gained during the fast. It's not easy, but I'm committed to figuring it out and breaking from the internet regularly.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll churn out some thoughts on songwriting and having a "blue sky mind."