Imagine little six-year-old Anne Mary starting piano lessons. One of the first things she learned was shaping her hands like “a waterfall” or “a rainbow.” She learned how to “sit tall,” but also to relax.

Now imagine ten-year-old Anne Mary’s lesson. She learned about relaxing her arms, and moving her fingers.

Now imagine Anne Mary, now sixteen, practicing Bach. What is she working on this week? Relaxing her shoulders, moving her fingers, relaxing her wrist. The same lesson that she has learned again and again for almost ten years. Does this mean that she hasn’t gotten any better at piano? No, she is just learning how to relax more and more, how to move her fingers more smoothly.

It is the same in my walk with God. When I first had a relationship with Jesus, I learned simple lessons. I knew that I had sinned against God, but that Jesus had paid the cost for my sins. Because I was thankful to God, I wanted to be good like He wanted me to be.

A little later, I had my heart broken by a friend. I knew that I should forgive my friend, but I couldn’t until I remembered what God had done for me.

Now, I am trying to be self-disciplined, but I keep failing until I remember that obedience comes from God’s power, and from gratefulness for what he had done. I’m not learning a new gospel, I’m not “past the baby truths,” I am just learning how to apply them to new areas of my life.

What lessons are you relearning?

Confessions of a Family Photo Shoot

Today my family and I went to the park and smiled a lot. I had a good time. We got some great pictures. There were lots of laughs. There were also a lot of tears. Here is the behind-the-scenes of trying to coordinate eleven people for a photo shoot:

  • We somehow got our entire family out of the house, color-coordinated, and fed (or with a packed snack for the kid who “wasn’t hungry) by eight in the morning.
  • About an hour into the picture taking process, it was about ninety degrees. In the woods. In nice warm clothes.
  • My younger sibling who tried not to panic during the photos wasn’t nearly as freaked out as me last year over photos. I need serious help.
  • The best photo was of the “big kids” posing while the younger kids fought.

Autumn and Becca

Basically, we have issues. We fight. We cry over smiling (mostly younger Anne Mary). We get annoyed at one another for touching each other when we’re tired. Despite our issues, however, we love each other. My parents and siblings are awesome. They are patient with me. They are all unique, and funny, and they are my favorite people in the world. I’m glad that when we have stress, we can work together and deal with each others’ faults. And also, we can laugh at each other, and with each other. It helps us be a little less high-strung, and  I need to be less high strung.Everyone Waiting Around

Ok, here’s my cover of Photograph by Ed Sheeren. Yeah, I know it’s clever. Enjoy!


Accidental Anorexic

Please don’t read this post wrong. I do not think that I am fat and need to eat less. I do not refuse to eat because I can or because I want to punish myself. With that in mind, onto the note.

I was sick. One morning as I was getting out of bed, I collapsed on the floor. I started shaking frequently, and had headaches and sleepiness constantly. We had no idea what was wrong with me. I didn’t have blood sugar or pressure issues, I was eating normally (I thought), and was sleeping normally. After a few weeks of investigating, my parents decided to look at the number of calories I was eating in a day. The average healthy number of calories for a girl of my age and weight was 1500. I was eating a little over 500.

Flashback a few months. I was in braces. I got something installed in my mouth called a MARA device. It basically forced my jaw to correct my severe underbite. Because it’s so painful and awkward to eat with your jaw in an abnormal position, the average person who gets this loses 10-15 lbs. I was already at the minimum weight for my height, so we tried to keep me eating as much as possible. Despite our efforts, I got used to eating a lot less than normal.

Back to the main part of the story. After we discovered the source of my problems, I tried to eat more, but my habits of unintentionally starving myself were not dying well. I got more and more frustrated with food and myself. It wasn’t my fault that I wasn’t hungry. One week at church we sang the song I Bless Your Name. It’s based on the passage in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas praised God in jail. Some of the lyrics are:

Some midnight hour, if you should find
You’re in a prison of your mind,
Sing out in praise, defy those chains,
And they will fall in Jesus’ name.

While we were singing this, I realized that I had been trying to fix my eating problem with my own will power, not by God’s power. I prayed for release and for resolve that came from Him. That day, I enjoyed lunch.

Here’s my two takeaways:

  1. Take care of your body. Romans 12:1 says: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” We cannot give our bodies as a sacrifice if we are abusing them, intentionally or unintentionally.
  2. Turn your problems over to God. After the day I decided to surrender my eating issues to God, my problem didn’t completely disappear. I still have to force myself to eat sometimes. But fighting the problem became easier, because I was using His infinite power, not my sad excuse for will power.

I was an accidental anorexic,  but by the grace of God, I am recovering. I am learning to enjoy eating, and maybe my whole life, a little more.

Hillsong United Concert in Louisville, KY


Hillsong United is having a concert in Louisville this month to play songs from their albums and from the upcoming movie Hillsong –  Let Hope Rise. Here are the live concert details:
Louisville, KY – Freedom Hall/KFC Yum! Center
Thursday, July 28
7:00 PM

I hope to see you there!

Also, here’s a sneak peek at the official trailer for Hillsong – Let Hope Rise:

Hating Americans

In 2012, I went with a small team to Kenya for three weeks. We spent time in some local churches, teaching pastors, teachers, and students. I loved my time with these brothers and sisters in Christ. They seemed unburdened by possessions, friendly and open and humble. When I returned home, however, I wasn’t encouraged by their faith, I was busy hating Americans.

I saw that America (or what I saw of America) wasn’t full of poverty, so I assumed that Americans were greedy and materialistic. I saw that many Americans, saved or not, were “worse than” the limited view of Kenyan believers that I had, so I assumed that Americans were all evil people, especially compared to Kenyans. I took a little information and made American into “hell” and anywhere else into paradise. I lived in my world of hate for months until God slowly began working on my heart.

First, I began to actually look at Americans. I read the book The Kingdom of Heaven is Not About Eating or Drinking, a true story of a family who moved from America to Kenya live as missionaries. They weren’t living as greedy, horrible people; they were living as godly, humble people. I met people in my church who were living on mission in America, and not just living for themselves. I began to see that Americans are not all self-centered. By the grace of God, Americans can be sanctified, just like Kenyans can.

Then I began to think, maybe Kenyans can sin, just like Americans can. The Kenyan idol was crumbling. I realized that people sin regardless of geography. I sought to love American sinners more, but I still hung on to my anger at American Christians. How dare they claim to love Jesus and live in such wealth, I thought, while Kenyans live in poverty? I knew that this wasn’t godly, true thinking, but my hatred needed an object.

Finally, the hate began to die. I heard this message all at once from several lectures and sermons, from friends and mentors, and from the Bible: “You cannot serve the Lord if you hate His Church.” I realized that my sinful attitude was taking people that God called valuable, and calling them evil. I was not being grateful for Kenya believers, I was jealous of where they were born. Over the past year and a half, I began to stop hating Americans, and instead started loving them as God’s creatures. I am not perfect at this, but I am learning more and more that “he who loves his brother abides in the light,” and that this includes my American brothers. And hate is exhausting.

I Don’t Know Who I Am

Two weeks ago, I was anxious. I realized that I didn’t know how to act around people. When I watched others, each one seemed to have a personality: one was clever; another was friendly; another, mysterious. My most comfortable friends were just themselves. I decided to do the same. I saw one barrier: I didn’t know myself. Was I exciting? Funny? Dark? I started trying different behaviors and analyzing which ones “felt natural” or made people like me. None of my forced personalities fit. I didn’t make people like me more. My close friends were mostly confused or annoyed by my weird mood swings.
When I couldn’t find myself, I started praying: “God, please help me discover who I am.” I didn’t stop to hear the Lord’s answer, I tried more personalities. I confused myself more; I confused my friends more; I prayed more. I was anxious when I was around people, depressed when I was alone, and tired of trying.
This Saturday, I stopped trying and started listening. I sat in silence for a while, listening for the Lord. Here is what He said to me: “Stop trying to find yourself. You are mine, so find Me, and follow My commands.” I suddenly realized my foolishness. I had been self-centered instead of God-centered. Now my social life is transformed. I don’t need to ask “what would Anne Mary do?”, but rather, “what would God have me do?”

I know who I am. And now, I can stop caring.