Jammin’

Note: I did back-to-back posts this week because I know that I won’t have time to do a post during this upcoming week.  So this is really the post for March 24, 2011.  Don’t miss yesterday’s post below this one! =)

I’m going to deviate from my usual format a bit to offer something of a commentary.

So.  I’ve spent more than 15 minutes on Facebook/the Internet this week, so Rebecca Black has hijacked my mental playlist.  Also, it’s Friday.  I’m surprised no one is running around campus blasting the song from a boombox on their shoulder.

 

For those who haven’t heard, Rebecca Black is one of several girls who have had the opportunity to record a song and film a music video through a group called Ark Music Factory.  It’s an interesting operation, from what I can tell.  Most of the songs I’ve seen feature a girl of around 12 or 13, singing about something of importance to her.  A rapper appears for a brief time to… rap.

 

While this would seem exciting, poor RB has been met with a lot of criticism.  Her song “Friday” has been called the worst song or video ever (though many others have).  I joined in the laughter, but then I thought about it.

 

What makes what she’s saying about choosing between the front and back seat of a car any less important than one singer telling us that she brushes her teeth with a bottle of Jack Daniels?  Why is counting in English and Spanish several times throughout a song (“one, two, three, four; uno, dos, tres, cuatro!”) more valuable than her recap of the order the days of the week?  Why is it dumb for the rap to detail changing lanes with a school bus in front of you but okay for other songs to thoroughly describe how a girl is dancing in the club?

 

To be fair, I’m not saying that this song and video are golden.  There’s not a whole lot of variety in the melody, and I’m not sure what 13-year-olds have such vibrant Friday-night parties, but it’s innocent, and Rebecca straight up tells us that she is having “fun, fun, fun, fun.”  Plus, the YouTube hits and iTunes sales are rolling in, so maybe the joke is on us.

I probably also feel this way because I can kind of see things from Rebecca’s point of view. If someone had told me, when I was thirteen, that they would not only let me record a song in a real studio, and not just into tape recorder hanging upside down from a music stand with my headphones unnecessarily draped over one ear, I would have been ecstatic.  Making a music video instead of singing dramatically in front of the mirror with a hairbrush or flashlight until someone complained would also be pretty excitement-inducing.  But because I’m me, and not an Ark Music Factory girl, I just got really creative, as you can see.

In all honesty, my songs wouldn’t have been that much better.  Somewhere at my parents’ house, there is a purple folder stuffed to bursting with songs that I’ve written.  I know for certain that one of them is about dealing with the consequences of accidentally spending too much money at the movie theater and feeling completely irresponsible and angry with myself.  There’s a couple from 8th grade and senior year of high school about transition and saying goodbye.  Most are terribly dramatic, but I’m not kidding when I say music is a big part of my life.  Writing things down into rhyme and occasionally singing them was one of my favorite ways to work through things.  It’s always fun when I come across some old lyrics and can still remember the melody. =)  One such song is “Attitude Adjustment,” which I wrote in frustration after having procrastinated about burning my iTunes account onto some CDs during a computer transition. Yeah.  I’ve no room to judge.

Here’s a sample:

“I try to rationale that when

I have time I’ll do it again

But that upsets me more

I should have done it long ago

Irritation you should never know

Needs to walk out the door


I suppose I’m exaggerating

But when my plan is ruined, it’s just so frustrating

I find myself crying poor me

I find that I’m feeling bad for everybody

I wonder where my optimistic mood went

I need an attitude adjustment

I need an attitude adjustment


I get quite angry, I’ve learned.

When CDs aren’t properly burned.

When I’m told to do something I’ve done.

When I don’t like the ideas of someone.

The mood just lingers, I fear.

I end up snapping at anyone near.

Lord change my attitude, I pray

Lord keep me joyful every day……

I was really exaggerating

‘Cause when my plan is ruined it’s just so frustrating

I find myself crying poor me

I find that I’m feeling bad for everybody

I wonder where my optimistic mood went

I need an attitude adjustment

Lord send my joy back to me

Help me to live for Your glory

That’s not too easily done

When I’m angry with everyone

Help me find where my optimistic mood went

I need an attitude adjustment!”


=) Anyway, for those on spring break, I hope you have a wonderful one!

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Everything Will Be Just Fine?

I usually check the news right before I go to bed.  I was up rather late last Thursday night, so by the time I was checking Yahoo!, the news had already broken.

Japan had experienced an 8.9-magnitude earthquake.  One of my best friends is currently studying abroad there.

Fear swept over me.  Was he okay? I clicked through photos of the destruction and skimmed an article detailing the quake and resulting tsunami.  My knowledge of Japan and its geography is very limited, so I had Google maps open and was trying to piece together what areas had been affected.  God, please, let him be okay.

Thankfully, my friend is doing fine.  His Japanese home shook a little, and the area isn’t experiencing nearly as much damage as northern Japan is.  I still worry.  What if another quake comes?  What if the radiation gets out of control?

I realized that if God spoke to me right now and said, “Marissa- everything is going to be fine.  Your friend will stay safe and free of the harmful effects of radiation.  I’m going to piece the brokenness of Japan back together even better than it was before,” I would stop worrying.  I’d probably say something like, “Oh- okay.  Great!  Thank You!” and maybe see if I could help.  But I wouldn’t be worrying anymore- Someone a lot more powerful than me would already be taking care of the situation.  I could help, in fact, I should help, but because God had assured me that He was running the operation, I’d know that it was going to turn out fine.

God has told us that everything will turn out for good.  What I immediately see as good and what He sees as good differ, and we will go through some really bad things, but God has still got everything under control.  The strength and peace that I can gain from that extends beyond natural disasters into the everyday.  This stressful week before spring break, a suffering relationship, an unhealthy lack of sleep, a failed test or experience- these can all be bad things.  Sometimes I’ll learn from them, or grow from them and be able to see them as good in a few months or years.  Sometimes I just won’t understand them in this life.  But just as I can gain peace from reassurance that what I define as good will happen, I can gain peace from God’s promise of what will happen.

As it says in Revelation 21, “‘They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

Even though we know that God will renew our broken world in the end, please still lift up our brothers and sisters and the hurting people of Japan in prayer.  Please also be praying for everyone with family or friends over there, as well as for the missionaries currently stationed in Japan.  God hears our prayers for relief, strength, peace, and renewal, and Japan could especially use that right now.

And eventually, Christ will return and make everything new.

When I Reach the End

I had floated through my week on a wave of excitement and happiness.  I- and the rest of the world- can tell when I’m really excited about something because more music than usual just bubbles out of my person.  I have trouble staying still (read: I break into an irregular amount of spontaneous dancing) and my life further resembles a children’s television show in that my brain starts churning out these little songs having to do with whatever the exciting matter is.

I was so excited- one of my best friends, who I hadn’t seen in months, was going to come visit me at school.  He had a randomly-timed break and was going to come on over for some serious catch-up and bonding time.  I’d set aside a full day of my insane schedule- if I didn’t see him that day, I wasn’t going to see him again for a long time- an unfortunately long time to go without seeing a best friend.

When I woke up that morning- I had a text.  He had gotten sick.  He had gotten sick.  And he wasn’t coming.

I can’t remember the last time I’d been so disappointed.  I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to go to an Owl City concert when I had tickets and wound up having to give them away.  This happened twice.  But I just thought (and still think)- “Ehhh- he’ll come back!”  I was disappointed when I got a B instead of an A in my economics class.  My GPA is doing okay now, so it’s fine.

But this time was different- it mattered a lot more to me.  I was deeply sad, and didn’t much feel like skipping all about anymore.

I’ve never gone through a break-up, and certainly not one coming after years of dating, but I can’t imagine how much disappointment and hurt must be there.  You may have spent those months or years expecting to marry that person, and then the plans change.

It got me thinking- what if we go through our entire lives thinking one thing, and then we get to the day of our deaths and we’re disappointed (to say the very least).  What if we get to the end and we realize we lived our lives for the wrong thing?

It makes me want to be one hundred percent sure I’m on the right path.  If I get upset over the outcome of one week being different than anticipated… the consequences of poor preparation over an entire lifetime would be devastating, particularly in the case that there’s something after this life and I don’t just end once my heartbeat does.

I confidently believe that I’m headed in the right direction.   I sway off the path constantly, but what determines what happens to me after this life is dependent on one perfect person- Jesus.  I believe that there is a life after this one, and that it goes on forever.  I believe that there is a heaven and a hell.  I believe that the only way of acceptance into heaven is not by your own merit- an accounting of all of the good vs. bad things that you’ve done- but by the merit of Jesus Christ, the only one who could stand before a perfect God, being God Himself, and take the blame for all of the things that we did wrong that we can’t make okay because we’re not perfect.  I believe that without faith in Jesus’ taking our place before a holy God, you will not get into heaven, leaving only hell as an option for what happens after death.  I don’t know about levels of hell or what it actually looks like- I only know it to be permanent separation from God, who just may have been playing a larger role in your life than originally supposed.

I believe that the aforementioned faith in Jesus Christ leads to a love unlike others- a love for Someone who loved you when you didn’t care for their very existence, much less their painful and huge sacrifice.  I believe that this love leads to the “good” acts that matter, though these acts alone can’t do much for you in terms of salvation.

My belief about what’s coming next eliminates my fear, rather than generating it.

But how do I know?

I’ve experienced the love of God.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve lived it.  I’ve observed it in those around me.  I’ve studied the brain and wondered how such a magnificent, complex thing could arise from nothing or spontaneity.  I’ve read the Bible- the word of the God I love, and I’ve applied it to my life.  My faith figures into my life in an incredibly important way.

I am sure of what I hope for, and in that, I am extremely blessed.

“Proverbs Chapter Three, Verses Five and Six”

I recently got my registration date for Fall 2011 classes.  Not too big of a deal.  Except that it’s going to be my last fall undergraduate registration EVER.  I’ve been making such a fuss that you’d think I just learned that I’m graduating tomorrow and then immediately shipping off to Neptune to begin my brand new life.

I’ve a bad habit of not taking or anticipating change very well.  I’m so happy right where I am.  It took me a couple of years to realize what a blessing it is to be at the school that was originally at the bottom of my list, but now I’m getting these incredible opportunities while surrounded by simply amazing people.  The impending “lasts” are reminding me that it’s going to end, and that the “end” is zipping up on me much more quickly than I would prefer.

I sort of “cheated” in making friends upon coming to college.  I’m at a big university, so I knew a number of people that were going to be coming here, though not very well then, and my friendships with them have grown amazingly.  With grad school, it’s going to be a little different.  I also probably won’t be going to grad school in my home state- which means moving even further away from home.

I’ll just stop there, because my mom reads my blog and I don’t want her to start crying.  I don’t want me to start crying.  Change is hard, and I think it’s because we think of all of the possibilities of what could be coming and we fear them.

There is an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” which reads, “Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the [Lord’s] will… that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him- the present anxiety and suspense… It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross, but only the things he is afraid of.

It can be a little confusing, since “Screwtape” (the speaker here) is a representative of the devil, so all of the suggestions are “backwards.” Let me break it down: Instead of recognizing that I need help with the fear that I’m facing about the unknown, I’m tempted to ask for help for things that haven’t even happened yet.  There’s nothing wrong with praying that God would bless what comes and give me peace and strength, but I also need to be careful not to ignore what’s troubling me right now.

I, in my fear and apprehension, am 100% “the patient” right now.

Slow down, Marissa.  He has promised, and He is good.  It’s easy to rattle off “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him,” but it’s harder to actually put your trust in Him.  Thankfully, He helps His frail and struggling children to do just that.

One of my dad’s most favorite Bible verses comes from Proverbs 3.  He used to say it every night after praying for our dinner, so my sister and I memorized it without even trying.  It’s a good verse to know:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

My prayer is that I’ll hold on to the truths of God’s word, all established in His love.  And hopefully, God will grow in me a peace and a joy, and any sorrow in a time of change will not be a sadness established in fear.  Your will be done, Lord.