Sunday, November 13, 2011

Owl City @ The Crocodile Rock - November 12, 2011

Towards the end of the show, someone threw a moose hat on stage. Adam promptly put it on and played the rest of the show like that. I have a video of this awesomeness, but it's too big to upload here. I'm wary of putting things up on YouTube because my understanding is that then Google owns the content. I could be wrong about that, though--not sure.

Anyway, in this video, Adam makes a really humble speech. He doesn't do a lot of talking during concerts, but when he does, he is very gracious. It's really nice to see someone in mainstream music living for Jesus and representing that in their work and their performances. Seems like a cool dude.

Well, I just wanted to share this little tidbit with the interwebs. That's all for now.


Friday, November 4, 2011

More Than Words

“Oh, Jesus, give me more than words.” – Jimmy Needham, “Come Around”

            I like words. I like words and I am good at using them. I know a lot of words and I like learning new ones. I love language.
            I like words. I like dictionaries and thesauri; I like obscure words; I like studying classes and categories of words; I like letters and punctuation and languages and alphabets and fonts and typography. I’m intrigued by orthography (which is a nifty word that means “spelling”) and etymology (which is a nifty word that means “the origin of words and phrases”). I’ve studied a couple of languages and I have a list of about a dozen or so other ones that I’d like to learn. I like sentences and paragraphs and stories and poems and books. I like words.
            God has given me a gift with words and language, but sometimes I don’t use it the way I should. Sometimes I try too hard. Sometimes I try to be clever with my words—sometimes I use words to try to seem clever to others, so that others will like me. Sometimes I take the gift that God has given me, and instead of using it to glorify him, I get hung up on myself, and I try to use it in a way that makes it all about me.
            I’m just being honest.

            The truth is that words can be powerful, but not all words are powerful—that is, not everything that’s said is powerful. And even of everything said that is powerful, not all of it is good or worth listening to. Not all of it is worth your attention.
            And if all you have is words, then words are not enough. At least, my words are not enough. There is Someone else whose words are enough, but that is not what I’m talking about here. Here I am talking about my words and your words. My words are not enough. Your words are not enough. And people will only be impressed with your words if you back them up with something more—if they are a reflection of the something more that you have to give them.
            If you really want to give people something wonderful, something that will change them, then give them what they need. And the something that they need more than all the words that could ever pour from your mouth or your pen…is love. It does not matter how impressive you think your words are. Even if your words are true, if you offer them in a manner devoid of love, no one will want them. Certainly no one will thank you for them, although being thanked shouldn’t be your object. But no one will want them, no one will use them, they will not change anyone, if you words are delivered without love. And truly, is a gift really a gift if it is not given in love?
            There is enough self-centered noise in this world. What the world needs is not mere words, but words and music and art and wisdom and all good things, delivered with love.

1 Corinthians 13:1
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


And I saw the sky as a great expanse, dizzying in its immensity. The stars punctuated the darkness, and some were brighter than others. I saw Vega, and the North Star, and even a couple of planets. And I saw you in all of it.
            There you were, in every cubic inch of it; you permeated the darkness and the light. Over space and time you were and you conquered, through and through. Past forgotten planets and ancient moons, your hand swept across lightyears, and all in an instant. You traveled across unknown worlds and infathomable depths—a distance between us that I had foolishly chosen—to mend what I had torn apart, and you called me by name.
            You had breathed out the galaxies and all the spaces between them. And with just as much deliberation and care, you stitched back together what I had rent asunder: the binding between us. I cried out and you folded me back into yourself, into what I was made to be. You brought me back—you bought me back. At great cost to yourself, you rescued me. You spared nothing. You gave up your own life, and you’re willing to give up my comfort; and you teach me to see that this is beautiful and good. You teach me to see clearly.
            And through it all I see how you love me and how you always loved me, more than the beautiful stars that point to your brightness, more than the wild seas that echo your power, more than the birds of the air that display your grace. You have clothed the flowers of the field in beauty; how much more have you taken care of me.
            You bridged the gap, you conquered the great divide, and now there is no distance between us. You call me by name. You call me “Daughter.”
            I rub my eyes, and then I open them a little wider. What I see takes my breath away. I see your love as the great expanse, dizzying in its immensity.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Let's Get Out of Here

I see you standing there in the corner, alone. This party is too big and busy for you and I know how you feel. I always feel uncomfortable in places/situations like this. I don’t know how to have fun with 30 of my closest friends because I don’t have 30 friends, and my anti-social teenage years have left me ill-prepared for such large gatherings. I stand in the middle of the room, looking around for a conversation to join with people I actually know. But as I scan the room, all I see are acquaintances, and it’s at times like these that the loneliness of crowds pierces me to the core.
            I watch as you shift uncomfortably from foot to foot, pulling at imaginary loose threads on your sweater vest. I want to escape from here and you can come with me, if you like. You look about as awkward as I feel, and I want to rescue you. I’m trying to think of some way to approach you, but I’m no good at small talk and, really, does anybody actually like small talk? I want to come up to you and say “hello” and maybe find out your name, but you kind of remind me of a deer—shy and beautiful, breath-taking but easily scared away—and I don’t want to inadvertently shine headlights in your face.
            I am momentarily mesmerized by you, and the thought that you might be a kindred soul leaves me inwardly smiling. But then someone accidentally bumps my arm as they walk by, and I’m jolted back to reality. The only reason why I even came here in the first place was because I didn’t want to make the hostess feel bad by telling her I couldn’t come. She’s my friend and I really do like spending time with her, but I never feel comfortable at parties where most of the guests are people I don’t know.
            I’ve never thought of myself as shy. For years now I figured I was just antisocial, but lately I’ve been wondering if maybe that’s not right, if maybe I’m just introverted. Maybe it’s not a personality defect, but just a personality trait. Either way, I feel so distant from everyone here and the pressure to socialize is suffocating. It’s not that I don’t like people—I do. I love hanging out with a few close friends or having long one-on-one conversations. And I’m wondering if you feel that way too.
           So if I walked up to you and told you my name and made some awkward joke about being a wallflower, do you think I could elicit a small laugh from you? If I mustered up the courage to tell you, a perfect stranger, that I always feel weird at parties like these and that I’d rather be somewhere quiet where I could get to know just one other person a whole lot better, do you think that the corners of your mouth might start to turn upwards, even just a bit? If I pointed out that the night sky is clear tonight and that the stars and the planets shine brighter and sing softer than these heavy incandescent bulbs, would your eyes light up at the idea? I promise that if you made some corny astronomy-related joke, I not only wouldn’t think it was lame, but I would actually find it kind of cute.
            So if I asked you if you wanted to get out of this place, would you follow me out the door and into the great unknown?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sous cette couverture d’étoiles

Sous cette douce couverture d’étoiles, j’entends la nuit chuchote mon nom. Je ne peux pas dormir, à cause de l’insomnie. Je ne peux pas rêver, à cause des rêveries. Vous voyez, ce n’est pas les soucis ou l’anxiété qui me hantent et qui risquent de rendre mes nuits sans sommeil. Non, ce sont les milliers d’idées qui courent dans ma tête, qui ne me lâchent jamais.
            Bon, à vrai dire, la culpabilité appartient aux processus de mon cerveau. Mais quand je m’allonge sur le lit et essaye de m’endormir, ce sont toutes les idées fantasques et tous les songes seduisants qui inondent ma tête et qui chantent les mélodies animées et trépidantes pendant les moments qui devraient être silencieux.
            Arrêtez ça ! –Je donne des ordres mais mes pensées ne m’écoutent pas. Elles coulent comme les ruisseaux scintillants en plein forêt, sans cesse et même sans ralentissement. Enfin il faut y céder. Mon esprit n’a pas d’interrupteur ; je ne peux pas l’éteindre.
            Alors je reste au lit, frustrée, et je m’ennuie. J’essaye de me reposer. Je regarde la lune d’entre les lamelles du store vénitien. Voir la lune comme ça toujours me fait sourire. Je la regarde bénir le paysage avec sa douce lumière, et ça me calme un peu. Je regarde et je souris et j’attends. Et je prie. Et je réfléchis de nouveau. Je pense aux créatures qui habitent la terre dehors, qui remplissent leurs poumons avec de l’air frais, qui vivent en pleine vue de la lune, qui courent et explorent dans la nuit sans le moindre peur. J’y pense et je suis un peu jalouse : elles vivent une liberté que je ne connaîtrai jamais. Mais je vois mon amie céleste à travers les fentes de l’ameublement, et son clair rechauffe mon cœur encore. Enveloppée dans cette paisible couverture de nuit et de nature et de clair de lune, finalement mon imagination commence à ralentir. Mes pensées de fleurs et de tamias et de forêts et d’oiseaux chanteurs se transforment en songes, et mes songes se transforment en rêves profonds. Enfin je m’endormis par les berceuses de la nuit. Bonsoir, Lune. Bonne nuit, Terre.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Deep Night

After the evening birds drift into dreamland,
After the fireflies turn out their lights,
When the twilight turns to midnight
and the indigo sky becomes like pitch—
This is the Deep Night.

The hopes and fears of a million dreamers
hang in the thick air,
While I lay awake in bed.
Amid vain efforts to fall asleep,
I try to remember what it was like
before insomnia.
Nighttime sleep
plays hide-and-seek
as the rest of the world lies
deep in slumber.

“You are supposed to stay inside,”
they say.
“You shouldn’t be out at night.”
But God made me this way,
and He has a purpose;
Maybe I am to be
an ambassador
of the morning-bright people
to the nocturnal world.

I long to leap through
the overgrown grass—
The nighttime is wild and free.
I’d hunt with raccoons
and sing with the owls
and admire the moon
with some hedgehog pals—
This is what I would do
if I could shake off the constraints
of the well meaning world,
which is so blind
to the beauty
of that which it does not understand.

Someday I will dance
by the light of the stars,
But for now I settle
for waiting and checking
by the blue glow of the phone
Whose clock tells me
that I have been trying for too long
to march in file
to the tired song of day
When my spirit was made
to craft beautiful melodies
in the obsidian hours.

But every night
as I lay in bed,
waiting for the
sleep that does not come,
I grow a little closer
to throwing off the covers,
tiptoeing outside,
and exploring
the Deep Night.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Inspired or The Anti Ars Poetica

The blank page is intimidating. There are so many stories that I want to tell, but I don’t always know how. Sometimes I have so many things that I want to say but I don’t know where to start, so I say nothing at all. Other times I stay quiet because the ideas in my head are so big that I can’t find words that are sufficient. I have vague senses, dreamy moods, and lyric images that float around in my head. Certain colors, and sunsets, and words in French. Pairs of alliterative words, and sometimes words that I want to make up. Colors and flavors and fragrances all swim around—a pot pourri of sensations. And it’s so much and so many that I don’t know what to do with it all, or how to organize it into different vignettes and poems and stories. So I grab my iPod and turn on some music and go outside. Being in nature and hearing my favorite melodies makes me feel even more inspired, but it doesn’t always make me find a direction in which to channel the images in my head. Sometimes I end up getting lost in the music or in symphonic fantasies and that’s okay, too. I let my mind wander and sometimes I come up with a new idea. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I see a sunset and its beauty makes it impossible to focus on anything else. And I can’t look away because a sunset changes every minute and I’m just so caught up in the awe and wonder of what marvelous things my God can create. And then I’m filled with praise and thanksgiving, and I ask Him what He would have me create. I believe that He gave me this gift for a reason and if I follow Him, He will use it for wonderful things, even if I don’t see the end result of them. He tells me that He has plans for me, and I find my purpose in Him.
            And so I go on singing and dreaming and praying and listening and trying to put my ideas down on paper. And I keep on being inspired. I’m inspired by lyrebirds and kites and fireflies and clouds and words like “phantasmagorical.” And I keep pondering and sometimes I write and I swing on swings et je plane. And I can’t even fathom a guess as to what great blessings God is going to pour out on me or how He is going to use me. But I know that He has plans for me, and I smile.

Jeremiah 29: 11-13
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Five-Minute Dance Party

Here is a tip: If you blink repeatedly while scanning your eyes around the room, it will look like you are in a room with a strobe light. I don’t recommend doing that for the entire duration of a five-minute—or even a one-minute—dance party, but it can be amusing when done for a few seconds.
            Now, there are a few things that you have to remember about the five-minute dance party. The five-minute dance party is not the dance that pro football players do when they make a touchdown; there is no gloating involved. The five-minute dance party is celebratory but not “in your face.” It is a positive, uplifting thing. Think of it as a spontaneous carefree interlude in the middle of an otherwise ordinary day.
            You can have a five-minute dance party with friends or you can do it alone. I typically prefer to do it by myself, ‘cause I’m antisocial like that. But if I’m with someone that I’m really comfortable around—and I have to be really comfortable around you if I’m willing to let you see me “dance”—then there’s nothing that I love more than to share some merriment with a person who’s dear to me.
            The five-minute dance party does not require music, but you can put on some tasty tracks if you like. Only n00bs (and perhaps also insecure preteens) think you have to have music on to dance. If you are of that mindset, it’s okay: there’s hope for you yet. My favorite music to dance to is Owl City because it’s peppy, optimistic, fantastical, dreamy, and has awesome beats and groove-alicious techno synth lines. (Here is another tip: don’t say “groove-alicious.” It sounds ridiculous. See?) Another bonus is that it’s often going through my head even when it’s not blasting out of any speakers around me, so I have, in essence, turned my mind into a portable dance-party-machine. Clever, huh? Anyway, you choose what music you like. If you want to include music. Again, you don’t have to.
            Other accessories: You really don’t need anything else—just you, your buddies if you choose, and a playful attitude. One thing you should never bring along is self-consciousness. Leave it at home, or at least in your pre-dance-party mindset. It doesn't belong at the five-minute dance party. Like a sloth on tranquilizers, it will only hold you back and take away from the vivacious atmosphere. Take my word for it.
            Now, if you’re like me, you like things that are bright and multicolored and happy and wow. However, there are some things that sometimes appear at other types of parties that are not appropriate here. For one, confetti. I love confetti. I prefer making it myself out of construction paper than using the sequins that you can get at craft stores for seemingly every occasion under the sun. But I digress. Confetti is not appropriate for the five-minute dance party because it results in an aftermath of work instead of an aftermath of laughter and gaiety over how much fun you just had. If you throw confetti at a five-minute dance party, you will most assuredly spend more than five minutes cleaning it up. So don’t do it. “But what if I cut up rather large pieces of confetti?” you might ask. “Those will be a lot easier to clean up, won’t they?” No. Don’t do it. Take it from someone who knows. Besides, one of the nifty things about the five-minute dance party is that you can have it almost anywhere, but you don’t want to make a mess just anywhere, even if it is bright and colorful and even if you are going to clean it up.
            If confetti is not recommended for the five-minute dance party, then glitter is a MAJOR NO-NO. As much as I love that Pink lyric, there is almost no place where it is appropriate to throw glitter in the air. Because glitter in the air eventually falls to the ground, and then it is a nightmare to clean up. Don’t even try to outwit it: glitter-resistance is futile. Other people who are much funnier than I am have commented on this, so I will direct you to them instead of trying to elaborate further.

To recap:

            Another thing to consider is the “where.” As I mentioned, you can have a five-minute dance party almost anywhere. Don’t forget the “almost.” Here are some situations where it is not appropriate to break out into a five-minute dance party: office meetings (this only happens in commercials), during class, while a minister is giving a sermon, official ceremonies (graduations, etc.—although the end of a graduation ceremony is a great time for a dance party).
            Don’t think, however, that just because you’re in a place where you need to be quiet, you can’t have a mini dance party. My friend Sarah would often post pictures and statuses on Facebook about five-minute dance parties that she and her friends would have in their university’s library. And what’s more in need of a dance-party break than a long study session in the library? Just keep it down. (This would be a no-music dance-party place.) You can let loose all you want in a place like a library as long as you don’t disturb the other patrons or make a mess. Use your own discretion.
            The last thing to discuss is the “why.” That’s one of the great things about five-minute dance parties. Like the characters in a musical, you don’t need some extravagant reason to take a break from whatever it is that you’re doing and dance out for a few minutes. Just found out that you don’t have to work weekends this month? Dance party. The book you’ve been dying to get your hands on is finally back in stock? Dance party. You went outside and were just overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape that lay before you? Dance party! Guy that you really like just asked you to dinner? Girl that you asked out said “yes”? Those are some of the best reasons for a five-minute dance party. (And for those last two, feel free to extend the giddy happy dance beyond five minutes.) Or maybe you just need a break from the tedium of a mundane workday. Close your eyes, think of an awesome adventure you had recently, and dance party away, my friend. However, depending on your work environment, you might want to close the office door first.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I wonder if caterpillars know that someday they'll fly. Do they know that they will turn into butterflies, or do they just go about their lives, crawling on the ground, doing their caterpillary thing, and then one day start the metamorphosis process because it suddenly just seems natural, like breathing or like drinking when you're thirsty?
            I think that maybe we’re like caterpillars sometimes. Some of us have no idea what flying’s like, but we see others doing it and we want to do it, too. But it seems so foreign, and appearances suggest that we should never be able to; the ones we see flying seem like an entirely different species from us. But they’re really not; they’re just in a different phase of life than we are.
            Whether they are people we know personally or perhaps famous people that we look up to, when we watch the ones who are soaring, it’s tempting to see them and think that they have some integral trait that we just don’t possess: grace, agility, wings. But the truth is, that’s just not the case. Like the lowly caterpillar that has the same exact DNA as the butterflies that fly above it, we have all of that potential inside of us now. You have what it takes. Maybe you’re the aspiring musician, furiously scribbling down the songs that are just pouring out of you, practicing in your garage until 1:00 am. You see the rock stars on TV and you want to be that good. My friend, you already are a rock star. Maybe you’re the premed college student, trying to manage a part-time job while you take 18 credits and maintain a 3.9 GPA because one day you want to be the chief of surgery at the top hospital in your state. Look at the hours your keeping—you’re practicing for your residency. Maybe you don’t know what you want to do in life but you have lots of ideas and a big heart and a couple of life-sized dreams that you’re scared to admit to even yourself but that you want to throw yourself into headfirst.
            Don’t feel discouraged because you can’t see any wings yet. Everyone has to start somewhere. There was a time when your favorite band was playing in any local bar or café that would have them. Your role model who works at Johns Hopkins started out with the same overloaded schedule that you have. Butterflies start with their stomachs lying on the ground. And have you ever watched caterpillars in the chrysalis stage? I have, and it has to be the most boring part of their short little lives. It doesn’t look like too much fun, and I imagine that their bodies are working very hard to do what they need to do. It also takes up about a third of their lifespan to complete. But when they emerge, they can fly.
            Maybe it’s not your moment yet, but there will be a day when you do have wings. It’s coming. If you feel more like a caterpillar right now than a butterfly, embrace the stage of life that you’re in. Keep trying; keep growing. Don't give up. No one magically arrives at point B--they have to travel there from point A first. And when you're getting bored and tired of the place that you're in right now, remember that when you have your wings, you will look back and you will know that the caterpillar stage was well worth it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The View From Here

When I look at the world, I see more than what’s physically there. The colors are more saturated, the sun shines brighter, and the clouds are always puffy like cotton balls. When I sail back and forth on a playground swing, I close my eyes and I’m flying through the galaxy. I pass the stars and planets and they wave hello. The earth is down there somewhere, but my feet can’t feel the ground, so I might as well be miles away.
            The dandelions aren’t weeds, but friends who just want to be included 'cause they’re eager to play. The honeybees that buzz ‘round the clover patch are friends, too. They don’t mean to hurt anyone; it’s just that they scare easy. When they follow you around, it’s just because they’re playful and they like you and they think you look pretty and smell nice. The spider is a brilliant seamstress who uses her silky silver thread to embroider lacy stars that iridesce in the moonlight in the forgotten corners that other decorators have neglected.
            I see a piece of litter that glitters on the ground, a discarded silver wrapper reflecting the sunlight. A broken piece of red plastic from a child’s toy looks like a flower from the distance as it peers through the blades of grass. Shy, it’s afraid that someone who sees it will throw it away, unwanted, like yesterday’s tired headlines. But I know that it’s beautiful.
            This world is filled with so much magic and ethereal beauty, but I think that a lot of it goes unnoticed. Your backyard is a breathtaking wonderland, if you can only see it.