Brave Songs for Brave Souls

Music is incredibly healing and can speak to us at just the right time. I’m sure there are many of you out there who have been deeply impacted by a song that either seemed to say exactly what you didn’t know how to say, or held exactly the words you needed to hear in that moment.

But something especially significant that music does for me, is that it helps me be BRAVE.

I actually have a Spotify playlist on my phone that I’ve specifically titled “BRAVE SONGS!!!” And whenever I’m heading into something that evokes some fear or anxiety in me, I play these songs, and listening to them helps me get my focus back on the right things. Through the words of these songs, God meets me in my anxiety. I’m reminded that God does not give us a spirit of fear, and that the anxious thoughts I’m experiencing are LIES that only He can counter with Truth.

Last week was a week that I really started needing these songs. I was getting ready to go into a brand new environment with people I’d never met, in a place I’ve never been to, and circumstances that were very much out of my comfort zone.  I was very nervous. My stomach was tied in knots, I could barely eat, my muscles were aching, and my thoughts of, “What if I make a fool out of myself? What if no one accepts me?” and the like were swirling around in my head. But I’d had bad anxiety like this before, and I knew I just had to wait it out. It would be okay.

While driving in the car, I listened to the songs on my BRAVE SONGS playlist, and they allowed me to process the anxious thoughts and bring them forward rather than stuff them down, which I have a tendency to do. That’s the helpful thing about music…it’s harder to avoid what you’re struggling with when you hear music that’s applicable to you. It allows you to deal with it in a healthy way.

So, I’m here to share with you my playlist of BRAVE SONGS. A lot of the songs have the word “brave” or something about being brave right there in its title. There are both Christian and Mainstream music alike on this list…a little something for everyone. Plenty of choices! Either way, these are songs that will give you encouragement, and lots and lots of hope! Plus I could never have a playlist without a song from The Greatest Showman included in it ;))

If you need a little bit of bravery in your life, this playlist is for YOU!

{I’ve also included a link to each song on YouTube so you can hear them if you’d like!}

In no particular order…

BRAVE SONGS for Brave Souls

Touch the Sky from the movie Brave

You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music & Amanda Cook

No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music & Jonathan David and Melissa Helser

Fearless by Jasmine Murray

Fear is a Liar by Zach Williams –> this music video is wonderful! Definitely worth watching!

Define Me by Jonny Diaz

Brave by Skillet

You’re Gonna Be OK by Brian & Jenn Johnson

The Comeback by Danny Gokey

WaveWalker by Citizen Way

Who You Say I Am by Hillsong Worship –> literally the theme song to my life!

Hall of Fame by The Script

Scars to Your Beautiful by Alessia Cara

The Champion by Carrie Underwood

Fight Song by Rachel Platten

Brave by Sara Bareilles –> Also a great music video! Very possibly the greatest motivational song out there!

This is Me from The Greatest Showman –> because…OF COURSE!!!

Let Faith Move You by Jonny Diaz

Peace Be Still by The Belonging Co (ft. Lauren Daigle)

Confidence by Sanctus Real

The Breakup Song by Francesca Battistelli –> not what you might think! It’s about breaking up with fear!

And as always, I want to hear from YOU! What songs make you brave? I’m ALWAYS looking to add new songs to the playlist!

 

Five Things I Learned During my Summer “Blogging Break”

Friends it feels so good to be back!

At the beginning of the summer, I was wrestling with whether or not I wanted to continue with this blog…with writing in general really. When I bought my own domain, I had decided that it was time for me to really take writing seriously. My first blog was just a free “Blogger” version, and I only let certain people read it. With this blog, I wanted to come out of hiding, fully publicizing and promoting. I was very apprehensive, but I felt that it was a calling, and I knew that the fear was a lie. But after awhile, and for many different reasons, nothing about it was feeling good, I felt like there was absolutely no purpose to what I was doing, and I was fairly certain that no one cared.

Now, I tend to question myself a lot, and often find myself in “down phases” with nearly everything that I do, wondering if I should still be doing it or not. Knowing this about myself, I sought out some wisdom, and opted to just step away for awhile to see if it was really something I wanted to keep pursuing.

The timing of this “blogging break” could not have been better! The summer was so wonderful in so many ways. I spent loads of time with people I love. I met NEW people I love. I practiced tons of music. I took a trip with my husband, and we celebrated one year of marriage. I made a huge shift in my career…which has also opened up the opportunity for more writing time. And here we are.

Most of all, I learned. I grew. I discovered things about myself that I didn’t recognize before.

So, for those of you who are still with me, here are some of the things I learned this summer…

The word “BRAVE” has been redefined for me.

I could write an entire post on this topic {and I probably will!}, but I’ll start with this…

I read through this devotional 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs, and it changed my entire perspective on what being brave actually is. Yes it can definitely be about taking the big plunges, the giant leaps into scary, unfamiliar territory…and I’ve done plenty of that over the last year, and it’s been great! But one major take-away I’ve gotten from this book, is that there is bravery in the smallest of things too. Making intentional decisions, even when they seem ordinary, are brave because these little things seem so unimportant in the moment…but in the grand scheme of things, matter greatly. Saying yes to the little things, ultimately helps us say yes to the grandest things!

Asking a friend to have coffee with you, cooking a meal, taking care of  a household chore that you were feeling to exhausted to do, joining a gym, choosing not press snooze again so you can get up and spend time with God…these are all brave choices! It may seem like it’s just stuff you should do anyway. But more often than not, these are things we don’t really WANT to do. And if you are anything like me, and you’ve always lived in expectation of messing up pretty much anything, then that just makes trying to do any of it, even the smallest things, a hundred thousand times harder. Therefore CHOOSING to do them, is BRAVE!

 

When a conviction from the Holy Spirit comes to you, followed by a call to action, LISTEN TO IT!

I’ve been reflecting on my college years. As well as the past few years since leaving college. I was a very guarded person. I can still be that way, but I’m working on it. Yes I was going through severe anxiety and depression…but the reality was that I was just isolating myself…and especially, allowing myself to avoid responsibilities, and blaming my issues. I felt a very direct call in my heart that I needed to reach out to the people that I had let down in some of the most extreme ways while I was being buried by my struggles. I wanted to ask for forgiveness for my sin-nature and make amends with the people that had been affected by my poor choices. And in my head, that list of people was VERY long! So I started with just a few. And it was one of the rejuvenating choices I’ve ever made. I was met with true grace and understanding. I fully know that those friendships are redeemed and restored. It was more than enough to make me see that a holy conviction is a GOOD THING, and can lead to the sweetest moments of heart and life change!  The list is still long, and I want to reconnect with ALL of the people on it, knowing that it’s something that I’m being spirit-lead through.

 

Practicing music has taught me the true value of discipline.

I spent a great deal of time in a practice room this summer, preparing for a voice recital, and learning an opera role. Another way I’ve been reflecting on my college years, I never had a very good work ethic when it came to practicing {or much of anything that required hard work really}. Now, practicing music is my absolute favorite thing too do! Even when I’m feeling too wiped out to do it, it’s all I want to do. And I realized that if I could apply this much work and dedication to one thing, I should be able to apply that to all other areas of my life. I’m still figuring out what that looks like in the every day, but that goes along with making small, brave, choices. Music requires bravery. Discipline requires bravery. Making healthy, responsible, “adult” choices requires bravery. And music has helped me find that.

 

The importance of NAMES!

I won’t go too far into this one…because I actually HAVE started writing a post on this topic, and I am so excited to share it with you very soon!

I’ll just say that I’ve come to understand how significant our names are. Names are our identity, and their meanings define who we are. That said, there was a time when I wanted to change mine…

That, and much more coming soon!

 

Yes. Writing is still a calling in my life.

The break was welcome. The break was necessary. The break allowed me to learn how to trust God with all the ideas floating around in my brain, submit them to Him first, and I discovered a lot of beautiful things. But now I know, that as I journey through the seasons of life, I’ll be taking writing with me.

I’d love to hear from my readers too! What are you learning in your life lately? Let’s grow together!

Linking up with one of my favorite writers, Emily P. Freeman, for “What We’ve Learned” today.

Genuinely Answering the “How’s Married Life?” Question

Anyone else agree that the question, “How’s married life?” needs to be eliminated from the repertoire of conversation? I really hate that question. And if you’ve asked it, don’t worry, I am not writing this to call certain people out or make anyone feel bad {I honestly don’t even remember specifically everyone who has said it to me and who hasn’t}.

But I was at an event recently…a very enjoyable event, and I loved every minute and every person I encountered while there…but throughout the course of the day, I counted 7 people who asked me that question…7…seven…just at that event alone. And in the 10 months I’ve been married, I can’t even count on both hands the number of times I’ve heard that.

“How’s married life?”

It’s a well-intended question. People are aware that we are newlyweds, and they are just making conversation. I absolutely get it. And I’m not at all upset or offended by anyone who has said it.

But people who ask are not expecting an in-depth response, are they?

They are expecting the auto-response of, “It’s good!” or “It’s going well!” But I’m not about that kind of superficial conversation. Not because it’s NOT going well {in fact I wouldn’t say that at all!}…but because I love real, authentic conversation. I love learning and growing WITH others. I love learning FROM them. I thrive off of, and crave soul-connection with people. And I LOATHE small talk. It’s so hard to fully connect with someone when all that is expected are the normal, run-of-the-mill “good” and “fine” chats. Our culture conditions us to live afraid…afraid to been seen…afraid to be open and transparent…afraid to share our hearts. I say, why not learn from one another? Why not listen to the life story of the person standing across from you, and discover that there is, in fact, someone in your world with whom you can really identify? Why not live BRAVE instead of hiding behind the mask of “I’m fine”?

So, “How’s married life?” you ask? Well…I’ll tell you…

Marriage is the most beautiful, challenging, stretching, humbling, complicated, life-changing, best thing in the world! Yep, all of those things! It’s all about learning. I can’t even count the ways God has been using my marriage to grow and change me. I’m not always receptive to that because it often feels too hard to accept, but I’m LEARNING.

It’s feeling like a failure, sometimes DAILY, but being met with grace and understanding.

It’s messing up again and again, followed by forgiveness.

It’s being encouraged by his working to grow as a man, on days when I’m too stubborn to grow as a woman.

It’s seeing the worst flaws in the other person, and yet choosing to STAY.

It’s mutual respect, even when there’s not mutual agreement.

It’s complete and total adjustment, and a complete and total commitment.

Choosing, not just to grow old together, but to GROW UP together.

And the best part of all…it’s the greatest example of choosing to love an imperfect person the way Christ loves us.

Yes, marriage is a learning process…and learning usually happens through the hardest things…but there’s truly no other way I would want it to be!

So when we newlyweds are asked the question, “How’s married life?” let us stop with the perfunctory answers like “fine,” and instead bravely open up to the person who asks. You may find there is someone just like you, who has experienced the same challenge that you are {and no matter how strong your marriage, there are ALWAYS challenges!}.

And to the person who asks the question, only expecting the mechanical, “It’s good,” response, have an open mind and open heart. Let the vulnerable newlywed be fully seen and heard by you…and then allow yourself that same vulnerability, to be fully seen and heard by them. Bravery in that way is BEAUTIFUL! And we can really grow through that too!

And now, I genuinely want to know, from all of you “well-seasoned” married people…what is your favorite piece of advice to give to newlyweds? Let’s learn from each other!

How to Care for a Friend Struggling with Anxiety & Depression: 8 Helpful Tips

 

Latest Learnings | Winter Edition {Dec.-Feb.}

I’ve really been enjoying this new practice of keeping track of what I am learning, seasonally. And I do mean literal seasons…Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Sometimes, you can go through a couple life seasons during a single calendar or weather season. But that’s why I love this idea of evaluating life, seeing where I’m at, what I’ve walked through and seen, and where I’m going next. And writing down what I’ve learned four times a year instead of just in December or mid-year reminds me to be fully present in life and to pay attention to what is happening…the sweet times, the hard times, the times of refinement, and even the smallest things that I didn’t know or recognize before {some even silly}…and it allows me to see how my perspective shifts and alters, and how I’m growing and changing as the months go. Not just the years.

Continue reading

Stop Saying These Things to Christian Singles

I got married about 7 months ago. I’m a newlywed.

Before I dated my husband, I had never dated anyone else.

When we first started dating, I was 24 years old.

Yeah, I was single for a long time. I went through high school and college without ever being in a relationship. Most of the time, I was okay with that. Most of the time, I didn’t have this huge desire to have a boyfriend. I had the desire to be a wife and mother, yes, but for the most part I was not in a huge hurry.

BUT…there were times when I DID feel very strongly about it. I don’t think it helped that I went to a very small, Christian college, surrounded by people in dating relationships that quickly turned into engagements and then marriages straight out of school. And while I’m certainly not blaming those people for how I sometimes felt, I would often look at couples I knew well, and wonder why I couldn’t have that…wonder if I would EVER have it. Continue reading

3 Things to do, when you can’t find JOY in the hard thing

I’ll never get tired of…

Sorry, not Sorry || Things we should all STOP apologizing for

Shame & Guilt.

It’s an epidemic in our world. All the time, I hear people {MYSELF INCLUDED} apologizing for things they should NOT be apologizing for.

Of course, it is always right to accept responsibility when we know we have wronged someone, and to ask forgiveness for our wrongs. THAT is an appropriate and necessary apology. But there are so many things that are just so silly that we feel so guilty for, and so compelled to apologize for!

What’s actually happening here?
You’re apologizing for *EXISTING*.

Whether you are aware of that or not. That’s what you’re doing.

Again, myself included. I find myself constantly apologizing about one thing or another. Even though I also spend a lot of time telling others around me, “That’s okay!” and “No need to apologize!” or “What in the world are you apologizing for?”

I’m so quick to see the good in everyone else, and so quick to pick out all the negative things about myself, and I forget that I don’t need to feel so guilty all the time either. I know a lot of others can relate to this.

We so often sabotage ourselves from good things, from success, because we are too busy apologizing for what we assume are weaknesses

I’ve spent some time thinking about all of the things that I apologize for on a regular basis.
All things I don’t really need to be sorry for because they are just…well…ME.

And I’ve made a list. Continue reading