I was too tired to read the Bible. It put me to sleep.

I struggled for a long time. I felt like a failure. I looked around me and saw my Christian friends reading the Bible, growing, learning, praying, in what seemed like a perfectly disciplined faith. I felt like I couldn’t live up to that anymore because I was a mother. What little time I had to myself, I was too tired to read the Bible. It put me to sleep. I felt so guilty that reading the Word of God put me to sleep, but it did. I had an infant. And then a toddler and an infant. I just couldn’t find the time or the motivation to read regularly. And the guilt was eating me alive.

Growing up, I remember my pastor saying not to feel guilty if you ever fall asleep reading the Bible. “What better way to fall asleep than in the arms of the Father?” he would ask. True, I thought. But if you never read more than a sentence before you fall asleep because you’re so tired that a moment of stillness is like a sleep aid, you begin to think maybe that sentiment doesn’t apply to you.

And so the guilt piled higher.

This went on for a few years in my life. I still prayed. I still worshipped God in the car, listening to my favorite live worship albums. I still went to church. But I felt like a colossal failure because I couldn’t seem to find the time to actually read the Word of God. I knew that’s where the power was. I knew that was what I needed to go to the next level in my faith. And I just couldn’t seem to have a breakthrough.

If you’re a mom reading this, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. A moment of stillness is like a fine wine – you cherish every sip, every second, like you’ll never have it again, because truth be told, you may not. Throw in the obligatory daily Bible reading and it seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb. It might as well be Everest.

But I have good news! There is a way to be a mother of young children and still nourish your walk with Christ in a meaningful way.

I was listening to a sermon from my pastor in my car one time when I heard him talk about his son. He said that his son was given some advice when he was a young entrepreneur – to get a copy of the Bible on audio and listen to it as much as possible throughout the day. My pastor laughed that his “cheap” son bought the King James Bible on audio because it was only $9 as opposed to $50 or more for the other audio translations. And because of the Elizabethan language he was immersing himself in day in and day out, he began to speak like Shakespeare. “How goes thou, dearest brother?” he would say. Pretty funny.

But that funny little story flipped a light on in my stubborn brain.

My faith doesn’t have to be defined by the actual physical act of reading the Word right now. I can listen to it instead! What a concept!

It’s so simple, and yet for me, it was profound. I am just in a tired season of my life. A busy season. A season of dirty diapers, and tantrums, and messes, and cries, and more messes, and more dirty diapers, and sharpies on the wall, and jelly on the floor, and rocks in my cup, and… you get the picture. Sitting down to read anything, while it sounds luxurious, just ends up being a recipe for sleep. Glorious sleep.

Any parent will tell you that the car is one of the few sacred places left where you can actually do a little thinking once you have kids.

So when God showed me that all I have to do is listen to the Bible, it opened up a whole new world for me! Now, every morning when I’m getting ready, I whip out my handy little smart phone and turn on my free audio Bible (any translation I want!). I listen to a chapter or two while I’m putting on my makeup. It’s awesome! I get to have a few moments to myself and immerse myself in the scripture all at the same time. It has become my favorite part of the day.

But it hasn’t stopped there. Whenever we drive, I listen to the Bible on audio some more. Any parent will tell you that the car is one of the few sacred places left where you can actually do a little thinking once you have kids. They’re strapped down, you see. They can whine all they want, there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re on the highway going 70 miles per hour. You can’t take their shoes off for them or find their monster truck. You have a legitimate excuse. And it’s a perfect time to listen to the Bible! (Plus a bonus: you’re immersing them in the Word, too!)

I live thirty minutes from my church, an hour and a half from my parents and generally twenty minutes from anything else I want to do, so needless to say, we’re in the car a lot. I made it through Leviticus that way.

The point, my sweet friends, is that your walk of faith doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. And in fact, it won’t. And that’s great! If you are in a season of life where sitting down to read anything, even for five minutes is out of the question, don’t fret. Find another way. There are endless resources out there. Even if it’s just a simple five minute devotional read from a free app, you can find a way to be with God each day. But I’ll forewarn you – it will only leave you wanting more! (What a great problem to have!)

And don’t let Satan keep you from reading the Word by making you feel guilty like he did with me. He robbed me of several years of meaningful growth in my faith by telling me I was too busy for God and by telling me that if I didn’t have an hour every morning before everyone woke up to sit in a quiet place and read and study, it wasn’t worth my time. But when your infant wakes up four times a night, what exactly is the definition of “before everyone wakes up?” See, that’s his plan – not to turn you to him, just to keep you from God. And he’ll use any means necessary, believe me. And a steaming pile of guilt is one of his favorite tactics with me.

Take back your walk. Don’t fall victim to preconceived notions. Ask the Lord today to show you how you might incorporate him into your day, everyday. And see if you aren’t radically transformed and blessed because of it.

If you would like to download the Bible app I use for audio (and reading), check it out here. There’s a kid’s Bible by the same company and it is awesome, too!

, , , For everything, there is a season

Recently, my husband and I made a huge decision. After several years (yes, years) of praying, considering, questioning, and praying some more, we decided that it’s time to say goodbye to the band, Lately. I’ve been playing in a band since I was sixteen years old, starting off in my little youth band at the Baptist church I grew up in. A band is a lot like a marriage – a lot of ups and downs, a lot of good times, a lot of struggles, where communication is crucial and emotions have to be the caboose, not the engine. We have had a lot of fun over the years and learned a lot of lessons along the way. But after ten years as a band, it is time to say goodbye.

I want to make it clear that this is by no means an indication of issues or problems. We didn’t split up because we just couldn’t take it anymore. Quite the contrary. As I said before, we prayed over this for two years because on our selfish side, we didn’t want to give this up. It is a lot of work and lot of thankless hours, but it’s awesome, believe me. But we knew that God was leading us somewhere else in each of our personal lives. As for me and my family, it’s a new season for us – a season of diapers and bottles, family time and precious memories. It’s a time to focus on the new challenges God has placed before us – namely parenthood and its accompanying mysteries.

I will still be writing music (I can’t help but to write). I will still be releasing music. I will still be leading worship. It’s just not going to be the driving force behind every decision I make. It’s going to be something I do as the Lord leads, when the Lord leads, how the Lord leads. The easiest way I can put it is this: previously my focus was God first, music second, family third. It’s time to prioritize to God first, family second, music third. That’s how it should have been all along.

So here we are, facing a brand new chapter of life. And I can think of no more fitting scripture to commemorate this exciting moment.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Here’s the to the future,

The Artist and the Suit

So I was reading an article on Yahoo! today about the punk movement and how it has become so corporatized that it’s no longer punk. It’s quite true and I’ve been saying that for a long time now. But it’s kind of the same thing with rock music, country music, Gospel music, and on and on. Really pop is the only one staying true to its roots: make music to make money… PS: you can read the article here.

I think about this a lot. Whenever something underground gains any momentum, someone in a suit sees it as an opportunity to capitalize. Take vampires for example. There was a time when the vampire craze was limited to a selective pool of undergrounders (I just made up a word) who dedicated their souls to Anne Rice and attended vampire parties in the basements of L.A. Now, thanks to the sissy vampires of Stephenie Meyer and the wonder of capitalism, you can’t shake a stick without hitting some sort of vampire paraphernalia: a TV show, a movie, a t-shirt, a lunch box…
Having worked in the corporate world, I know a thing or two about how these people think. It’s called the bottom line. And as long as the pockets of the big wigs are lined, they don’t care what they’re pushing next. The art of the original concept disappears, replaced with generic, run-of-the-mill cut-outs. To quote Christian Bale in Little Women: “Mediocre copies of another man’s genius.”
And it begs a question. Where does this leave us, the artists, who just want to get our art out to the world? Where do we strike the happy medium? It’s the age old battle between the “man” and the rest of us. As an independent artist, I find myself in a conundrum of being both the punk and the suit. The artist and the man. The dollars and the sense. It’s a fine line to walk… If I do what my husband always tells me and “stick it to the man,” I’ll be sticking it to myself…
But personally, I enjoy the challenge. I like having to figure out how to maneuver both sides of the battle. And I like the idea of paving a path that’s rarely been walked, for the very reason that it’s both difficult and at times, a conflict of interests.
Thus is the challenge of living in America, land of the free and home of the capitalist. And seeing as how I am a full believer in capitalism, I suppose my greatest challenge and my greatest achievement will be to reconcile the capitalism I love with the artist I will always be…