Sunday, December 11th, 2011
Much like seasonal foods, Christmas music is made more special because it comes out for a little while each year. Some songs make me feel like my dad is about to start the video camera rolling and turn me loose into the living room on Christmas morning. New favorites provide a little boost of cheer as winter sets in. Then there are the special few that spur me to ponder the mysteries of Christmas.
What’s your “desert island” Christmas album? Mine would be this longtime family favorite from Julie Andrews. (Note: the last three songs are not exactly Christmasy, and I don’t know why they are on this album. But Julie can do no wrong.)
Saturday, October 29th, 2011
My husband and I attended a choral/orchestral concert last night, and I got tickets to see Switchfoot in December. I like a lot of different kinds of music, and I’m glad there is more than one kind.
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
I’m thankful for a band.
Once upon a time (11 years ago), a new friend handed me a CD and said, “Listen to this. I think you’ll like it.” It was Switchfoot’s album “New Way to Be Human.” I had never heard anything like it. The lyrics were personal; the songs had variety of sound; the rock rocked and the ballads were beautiful. And though their words were solidly Christian, they didn’t sound like a Christian band. (That could be another post for another day, but a lot of Christian-labeled bands have a certain similar sound.)
One of the reasons I like Switchfoot is that they have successfully broken out of the Christian label and boldly taken their theology to the world. They live and perform in the public sphere, not just at churches or Christian music festivals. This invites heightened scrutiny of their lives and their music from all sides. I believe this is what Bob Briner was talking about in “Roaring Lambs” – he had a vision of Christians working in all sectors and producing excellent products for general consumption, instead of producing art, music, or writing only for each other.
If you listen to their lyrics, they don’t sound like rock stars. They’re not cooler than you. They speak to downtrodden people – people outside the circle of coolness. People who are brokenhearted, down on themselves, questioning God, trying to hold on. They’re not just playing guitar riffs to distract us from our daily struggles; they are hitting our deepest issues head-on.
It was a beautiful letdown when I crashed and burned. When I found myself alone, unknown and hurt. It was a beautiful letdown the day I knew that all the riches this world had to offer me would never do. In a world full of bitter pain, bitter doubts, I was trying so hard to fit in until I found out I don’t belong here.
This approach is intentional. Lead singer and songwriter Jon Foreman explains that “Switchfoot is a surfing term. We all love to surf and have been surfing all our lives so to us, the name made sense. To switch your feet means to take a new stance facing the opposite direction. It’s about change and movement, a different way of approaching life and music.”
Since I was captivated by “New Way to Be Human,” the band has gained two members and released six more albums. I associate each album with the time in my life when it came out, and in many cases, certain songs spoke directly to my situation.
I was working an incredibly tough summer job when “Gone” hit my CD player and encouraged me that this too would pass – and soon.
“Golden” hit in another phase of life when I had recently uprooted. I was struggling with deep questions and needed to know the struggle would be worth it.
She’s alone tonight with a bitter cup… she’s been staring down the demons who’ve been screaming she’s just another so-and-so… You’re a lonely soul in a land of broken hearts – but far from home is the perfect place to start. You are golden. You are golden, child. Don’t let go.
Listening to the first chords of their newest album, which came out yesterday, I was nearly giddy. The lyrics, once again, are killer, and I love hearing the new twists on their sound.
But even after all these years and all the songs, my favorite is still from their very first album. It’s called “Home,” and they’ve never played it at any of the four concerts I’ve been to. It sums up faith so well with this one line that has brought me comfort enough to fall asleep many nights: “All that’s in my head is in Your hands.”
Sunday, August 7th, 2011
One of my favorite things to do in the D.C. area is visiting Wolf Trap. It has acres of gorgeous greenery and an outdoor theater. You can picnic on the lawn and see terrific performances. Since it’s set apart from the urban areas, you can actually see the stars there at night. Tonight I laid back on my blanket and took in some stars while listening to Alison Krauss and Union Station.
Saturday, July 16th, 2011
I don’t have a great sense of spatial reasoning. It’s not my strong suit. So anyone who can design things in 3-D gets great appreciation from me. I visited Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello today, and that is an impressive place. Jefferson designed basically every aspect of the house, including innovations ahead of his time. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the unique rooms inside, which featured tall ceilings with skylights and beds hidden away in alcoves. One of his guest rooms was an octagon. My favorite was the tea room, which had large windows on the multi-sided wall. I have a new appreciation for Jefferson.
Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
Jobs are so much like dating. You have to get to know different ones before you find your niche and figure out which qualities are most important to you. (And when you’re on the hunt, you have to strike a balance between showing interest and not looking desperate.)
I got to meet some summer interns this morning who are new to D.C. It was fun to share commuting tips and restaurant recommendations with them, and I also shared some things I have learned from working in different positions.
Or condense a life into a resume.
I know that’s all it was to them – a quick mention that yes, I’ve learned a lot since my first internship (11 years ago), and I’ve circled back to working on content from a stint in media relations. I’ve worked here, here, here, here and here. Blah, blah.
I remember coming out of school, looking at job postings and thinking, “What does someone with X years’ work experience have that I don’t have?” Ha.
The stressful late nights working on project deadlines. The mind-numbing meetings. Awkward office celebrations. Frustrating political realities. Building “Survivor”-esque alliances. Career milestones. Lack of funding for great ideas. Mentors. New skills. Game-changing announcements. Networking conferences. Utter failure.
There’s just no substitute for experience. And while the interns are justifiably excited by the blank canvas stretching in front of them… I’m actually thankful that my canvas is messy.
Monday, June 13th, 2011
The humidity is lower today, with a nice breeze, which prompts me to slow my walk and look around a bit more. Blue sky, bright green grass and trees – it’s a beautiful, colorful world.
Monday, June 6th, 2011
I’ve mentioned my husband several times on this blog, but today he gets his very own post, as it is his birthday.
I’ve been thinking today about that verse that says God can do more than we can even ask or think. People used to refer me to that verse when I was single, before I met this man. And I am here to tell you I didn’t really believe it.
There’s a line in a song from “The Music Man” where Marian the librarian is describing about her ideal “white knight”: “And if occasionally he’d ponder what made Shakespeare and Beethoven great… him I could love ’til I die.” I used to sing that song and sigh (overly dramatic musical romance? Yes please!).
Yes, wouldn’t that be loverly (ok, getting carried away with musical references ) – if I could meet a man who appreciated music and Shakespeare and had [insert list of other very important characteristics here].
Over the years, I kind of gave up on the Shakespeare and Beethoven thing, because let’s face it, there are far more important things. But something else started to happen: My list of other desired characteristics started to change. Some things I had thought I definitely wanted in a partner dropped off the list, and new ones emerged. This was just proof of God’s timing – I wasn’t ready to appreciate my husband’s unique combination of characteristics yet.
When he did come along, with him came that clarity that so many people had described to me – that this person was completely different from any I had met. His qualities were just right for me. The timing was just right.
And Shakespeare and Beethoven? He knows them better than I do.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
“Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?” — Joachim Neander
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Can you imagine a world without singing? I can’t. From silly made-up songs to rock bands and classical masterpieces, it’s fun to sing and listen to singers. If given the choice, I would rather be singing than listening. I have sung in choirs since I was a tiny tot at church.
Tonight our church did an Evensong service, which meant the choir was the majority of the program. It was a joyful time for those of us in the choir (and I hope for those listening!). It’s very cool to be able to share the meaning of the Lenten season through song.
Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
I finally decorated my new office. Over the years I’ve collected more than a goodly amount of office stuff, so I tend toward the overboard side of decorating. When you come and visit me, you’ll find a full candy jar, a red “Office Space”-esque stapler, the obligatory Dwight Schrute bobblehead, a multicolored Slinky for you to play with, and now, walls covered with meaningful objects.
I’ve got my new “Atlas Shrugged” movie poster (signed by the producers!), my disturbing wall calendar, and photos of me with members of Switchfoot (also with band autographs!). A friend gave me an “Alias” calendar years ago that featured a fabulous picture of the original cast (no latter-season shenanigans), and it has a place. I have my favorite “Far Side” cartoon framed. And there’s a panoramic view of Samford University, my undergrad alma mater. (In case you’re wondering, yes, I do have my family and friends represented as well…)
I love being surrounded by fun things that have meaning to me.