Even If You Don’t: Holding On To Hope In Dark Times

We know God can do anything. So how do you react when He doesn’t do something that you beg him to? When your loved one isn’t healed? When your heartbreak feels unbearable and then something else piles on top of that? When you just don’t know how to go on, yet you have to anyway?

I’ve been going through a rough patch emotionally, especially over the past few weeks but really for a few months now. And I feel like God has thrown me some songs as “lifelines” in this time. First it was “I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe and more recently it was “Even If” by MercyMe.

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

I didn’t much want to sing this when it popped into my head. Actually, I couldn’t at first since all I remembered was the “But even if you don’t” line. But I looked the song up, grasping for some hope to anchor my soul, and after playing through it a few times I could breath and pray again. I’ll admit, though, that there was still a part of me crying out, “Why?” when I thought about Him choosing not to take away the sorrow and hurt. And it’s okay to do that. As my counselor said, God is big enough to handle it when His kids are frustrated with Him.

Hope is one of the key things that gets us through the times when we’re frustrated with God and don’t understand what He’s doing. And it’s something I don’t think we talk about enough. Paul tells us “faith, hope and love remain”  (1 Cor. 13:13, WEB). They’re all three virtues that aren’t going away, but we talk about faith and love a whole lot more than hope. Which is a shame, because hope is something that’s very much needed in this world. Read more

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A Little Celtic Culture

My family and I have been wanting to see Riverdance for years, so when we realized they were coming into Columbus Mother’s Day weekend we snatched up some tickets. And I’m so glad we did. Just watching the videos on YouTube is impressive, but seeing the entire show live was fantastic. I’m still in awe of how fast their feet were moving. And it’s so precise! I can’t even reliably walk down stairs without tripping over my own feet

A Little Celtic Culture | marissabaker.wordpress.com

  • Amusing side-note: since I started dancing at church, people compliment me about how graceful I am. But a couple months ago, I’m walking downstairs to where we practice before Shabbat services and managed to trip down the stairs hard enough to create an enormous, instantly purple bruise on my shin. Any gracefulness I display while dancing is a genuine miracle.

One thing I hadn’t expected from Riverdance was how much of a Celtic “feel” there was to the show. I supposed I’d expected it to be more “showy” and less cultural, if that makes any sense. The poetic voice-over played a big role in setting that tone, as well as the musicians (have I ever told you how much I adore Irish fiddlers and bodhran players?), and a singer who made me wonder if I’d wandered back into a Celtic Woman concert. The whole thing was fantastic.A Little Celtic Culture | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Riverdance is actually the second Celtic show I’ve gone to this year. Emmet Cahill was on his first solo tour with his new album (if you don’t know who he is, drop everything and click here. You’ll thank me when he’s the biggest name in Irish music a few years from now). And I’m hoping to get to Dublin, Ohio’s Irish Festival this year, too. And see Albannach (a Scottish pipes and drums band) at the Renaissance festival. One can never get too much Celtic music!

  • Random thought: none of the people currently in Riverdance have red hair. This does not fit my assumtion that there must be tons of Irish redheads out there since everyone automatically assumes I’m Irish because of my hair.
A Little Celtic Culture | marissabaker.wordpress.com
the Celtic section of my bookshelf

I can’t really pin-point a reason I love Celtic things so much. I do have some Celtic ancestors in my background (we’re English and Scottish on my dad’s side of the family and English, Scottish, and German on my mom’s side), but it’s so many generations back that I doubt we can say genetics play a role. But since my hair has been reminding me of my Scottish heritage my whole life, we’re going to say it still had some influence on how much I love Celtic culture, music, and dance.

Are any of you obsessed/in love with a culture that’s not the one you grew up in?

 

 

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Music of the Spirit

Every once in a while, I’ll get into a discussion with someone about what sort of music is and is not appropriate as part of a church service. One of the groups I regularly attend with plays contemporary Christian and Messianic music, the other only sings songs out of their custom hymnal. And there’s quite a bit of variety in other groups as well, from a capella psalm singing to rocking worship bands.

I’m not going to say any of these musical traditions is “wrong” or “more right,” but I did notice something interesting about music when I was studying prophecy last week. One criticism that I’ve heard hymn singers level against those who sing more up-beat songs is that it’s too focused on emotion. You can’t “welcome the spirit of God” through music, they say. The music should be respectful and instructive. Worship’s not about making you feel God’s presence. Or is it?

Music of the Spirit | marissabaker.wordpress.com
Photo Credit: Elijah Henderson via StockSnap

Musical Prophecy

Early in Elisha’s ministry as a prophet, three kings came to ask him a question. They were planning to attack Moab, but ran out of water and wondered if their venture was doomed. King Jehoshaphat of Judah suggested inquiring of a prophet of the Lord. Once Elisha agreed to help, he makes what might seem like an odd request.

But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. (2 Kings 3:15, KJV)

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All I Ask Of You

I’ve been reading Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge (or rather, re-reading, though it’s been 6 or 7 years and I only realized I read it once before when I recognized passages that spoke to my heart the first time). One of the main themes, and the one that left an impression on me from my first reading, is how much God wants me. He truly longs for a relationship with each of us, and it goes far beyond what we often mean when we say “God loves me.” God loves everyone. He has to, right? But when God tells us He loves us, He doesn’t mean an automatic benevolence that happens just because “God is love.” He means a real, passionate desire to be in relationship with you.

To be spiritual is to be in Romance with God. The desire to be romanced lies deep in the heart of every woman. It is for such that you were made. And you are romanced, and ever will be.” – from Captivating

This is speaking directly to women, so perhaps it won’t resonate so much with my guy readers. But God’s longing to be in relationship with us applies to both men and women in His church. Perhaps a glimpse of how being romanced by God looks to a woman will give you gentlemen some insight into what it means when Christ calls the Church His bride.

Almost 10 years ago, I started collecting favorite quotes in a notebook. One of the very first things I wrote down were the lyrics to “All I Ask Of You” from The Phantom of the Opera. On the opposite page, I lined it up with scriptures that spoke about the love between us and Jesus. Years later, I turned that into a video I never shared. For today’s post, I went back and updated that video with a few new scriptures. I think perhaps this is the best way to share what I’m trying to say today. Enjoy 🙂

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

You might have noticed a lack of blog post last Monday. I’d been planning to write something about a book I recently read called A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit, but came down with pneumonia. The only reason there were posts on the past two Saturdays is that they were already written (it seems like whenever a Bible study comes together really well so I have an extra Sabbath post ready “just in case,” something comes up that gives me a reason to use it).

It’s been nearly two weeks now and I still don’t feel fully recovered (much better, though!). So instead of a thoughtful book review, I want to talk to you about a song that’s been stuck in my head. Or rather, a specific version of the song.

You’re no doubt familiar with the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” You might even have heard Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé’s new cover already, but if you haven’t seen the video yet please take a few seconds to at least glance at it, since that’s a big part of what I want to talk about.

Apparently they’ve tried to turn this song into a cute family-friendly version for the holidays. If you close  your eyes, though, it still sounds like a man trying to seduce a woman. But then you open your eyes and see a cute little pre-adolescent kids acting out the roles. In the words of Jubal Early, does that seem right to you?

In the original score, written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, the two singing parts are called “wolf” and “mouse,” with a male voice usually singing “wolf” and a female voice usually singing “mouse” (thought not always — did you know Joseph Gordon Levit could sing?). Actually, it turns out we can talk about Wendy Shalit’s book after all, since she mentions “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in her modesty book.

Now this song is very stereotypical because certainly not all men are hungry wolves and not all women reticent mice. Indeed, I’ve known quite a few hungry woman and mousey men. However, the simple fact remains that a young woman in 1948 had a hundred and one reasons to say no to sex, if she wanted to say no, and those reasons were credible. The story we are told today is that all these reasons, such as a father waiting up for you, were oppressive to women. And yet in their absense we can appreciate how an earlier generation of girls was made powerful by them. (A Return to Modestly, p.55)

If she’d seen this music video, though, I’m not sure Miss Shalit would have put her discussion of it under the heading “Girls Who Can’t Say No” as a contrast between today’s culture and that of 1948 (the year Loesser sold the rights to MGM). I think she might have moved the discussion to one of the many passages in her book where she talks how much we as a culture sexualize our children. For one thing, she draws a parallel between assigning sex-education classes to younger and younger students and increasing levels of student-on-student sexual violence in schools.

The associative link between the disenchanting of sex and increased sexual brutality among children works like this: if our children are raised to believe, in the words of the New Jersey kindergarten teacher, that talking about the most private things is “no different from talking about an elbow,” they they are that much more likely to see nothing wrong in a certain kind of sexual violence. (A Return to Modestly, p.19)

Now, I’m not saying this cute little music video is going to lead to increased levels of sexual assault among children. Rather, it bothers me as part of a trend that portrays young children in more and more sexualized ways. Most people I know would hope their 10- or 11-year-olds didn’t understand what’s going on in this song — they wouldn’t be encouraging them to sing it. And if this little boy was older, I’m not sure which interpretation of the song this performance would make me lean towards. Does “mouse” want to stay but feels she should leave, and “wolf” is persuading her to do what she wants? Or is “mouse” really trying to get away, and “wolf” is blocking her escape? Depends on how you sing the song, and how you feel about the line “What’s in this drink?” that was cut from the video, but not the version on Idina Menzel’s CD.

Am I over-thinking this? Perhaps. But it saddens me how many people think this is just a cute little video and don’t seem to see the potential implications of two children singing what is a rather adult song. Sure they’re adorable and talented, but was it a good idea for the adults who were in charge of creating this music video to use them like this? I really don’t think so.

Songs by Mood

marissabaker.wordpress.comLast week, I learned that Neurowear launched a set of headphone about a year ago that scans your brainwaves and matches music on your iPod to your mood. As border-line creepy as that sounds to me, it’s just the next step from websites like Moodstream and Musicovery that play music based on whether you’re feeling happy, sad, calm, dark, lively, inspired, positive, creative, or pretty much any other mood you like.

I have genres or playlists that I’ll turn to for different moods, but I also have specific songs that I like to play for specific feelings. Is this just me? Or do you have a song you play every time you’re sad? A favorite song to match a happy mood? What about songs that help you deal with anger?

Angry

You know that feeling when you’re angry and you know you shouldn’t be, but you still need to do something with those feelings? That’s when I sing these songs. I feel much better afterwards and it means I’m not taking out my anger on anyone else, so they’re happy (although I have been told it’s creepy to witness).

No Good Deed — from Wicked (Idina Menzel)

Mordred’s Lullaby — Heather Dale

Blown Away — Carrie Underwood

Sad

These songs are like a pat on the back or a hug when I need reassurance. I listen to them when I’m feeling down and want to move out of that mood.

Everything is Fine — Josh Turner

Little Miss — Sugarland

You Are Loved — Josh Groban

Sub-category for when I’m discouraged about being single:

As Fast As I Could — Josh Turner

Melancholy

These songs are for sadness that I want to enjoy. It’s the “sad is happy for deep people” feeling rather than being sad for a reason that makes you not want to be sad any more.

Wine After Whiskey — Carrie Underwood

September — Daughtry

Katie — Celtic Thunder /Colm Keegan (which I’m afraid there’s no video for, but you can hear a clip)

Inspired

These are the songs I play when I want to feel like I’m fearless and I can do anything.

Defying Gravity — from Wicked (Idina Menzel)

Wide Open — Jason Aldean

I Stand — Idina Menzel

Happy

I was trying to think up songs for this category, and my sister said, “Don’t you sing One Direction when you’re happy?” As embarrassing as that may be,  yes I do. I’ve whittled it down to just one song from them, though.

What Makes You Beautiful — One Direction

Nil Se’n La — Celtic Woman

Hopeful

Since “Waiting For Superman” didn’t quite fit in with the happy or the melancholy songs, I’ve added this category.

Waiting For Superman — Daughtry

Wedding Day — Casting Crowns

This Is The Moment — from Jekyll and Hyde (Robert Cuccioli)

Peaceful

I play these songs when I want to relax and I’m trying to encourage a peaceful feeling. They’re usually the first songs I play, then I move on to a playlist of related songs and artists. Or I listen to instrumental music with dolphins.

Hero — Il Divo

So She Dances — Josh Groban

Worshipful

These are my favorite stand-in-awe of God songs.

Blessed Be Your Name — Robin Mark

Who Am I — Casting Crowns

In Christ Alone — Keith and Kristyn Getty