Tag Archives: life

called to create

Tonight in my wind ensemble rehearsal, I actually enjoyed playing my clarinet for the first time in a while. I’ve played for about 11 years, but I’ve had a complicated relationship with my clarinet for the past couple. Somewhere down the line, I started to care too much about whether or not I sounded great, and I felt like there wasn’t much of a point to playing at all if I didn’t sound great. There are several problems with that mindset, and one of them is that I would lose the desire to play whenever I felt insecure about my skills. Since I’m too hard on myself, this has happened a lot.

But tonight I tried to take a different approach to playing. I thought about how blessed I am to be able to have studied music in college, to play clarinet, and even just to own my beautiful instrument.

I’m a sinner. I don’t deserve grace or mercy. I don’t deserve the clothes on my back, or the heat of the sun that shines down on me, or another day. And I don’t deserve Christ’s life given for me on the cross. But God has given me all of those things, and more than that too. It is by the grace and love of God that I get to create music; it’s another gift that he has lavished on me. And it’s a good gift.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.” -James 1:17

Put that way, I can stop worrying about whether or not I sound great, and I can play out of a heart of thankfulness.

I think that people need to create out of thankfulness. Not just music, but art or writing or cooking; any number of things.

Have you ever gone through an extended period of time where you didn’t create anything? Or perhaps you only created anything for the sake of achieving productivity. That’s what I’ve been doing lately, more or less, and it has made me feel sad and empty. But when I create something just for the fun of it, just because I can, I feel good. I feel a sense of purpose and joy at the marvel of building something with my own hands.

If we’re made in the image of God, I think we need to create. I suppose it’s a calling. None of us would exist without his desire to create, and I think that he has passed that desire onto us. I think it’s good for our souls and minds and bodies. But we can’t create just to try and be great. If that’s your purpose, you’ll just find yourself at a dead end sooner or later.

I think that God loves to listen to me play clarinet, but not because my playing knocks his socks off or anything like that. It doesn’t. Rather, he loves to listen to me play because he loves me and because he’s the one who gives me the ability to play. When I play, I’m making good use of one of the gifts he has given me, and I think that it warms his heart. My playing is like a silly crayon drawing that God has hung up on his fridge. He doesn’t love it because it’s amazing; he loves it because he made me. And he feels the same way whenever you create too.

Updates

Several months ago, I changed the focus of this blog from my personal life to the arts and mental health.

This was exciting for me. However, in the past several months, I’ve changed my career goals quite a bit. These changes have affected how I felt about my blog, too.

I used to be a clarinet performance major. I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in clarinet and build a career out of performing and teaching. Since then, I realized that I don’t actually want to leave my home state to pursue my studies. I also discovered that I love my minor in professional writing even more than I thought I would. Later, I developed tendonitis in my hand and wrist from my clarinet practicing.

Following these realizations and the pain in my hand, I changed my major to a bachelor of arts in music, allowing me to have more room for writing classes and to give my hand a break. Post-graduation, I hope to have a job in technical writing, editing, or grant writing and I’m super excited.

As my career focus has shifted away from music (and my physical ability to practice has decreased), my personal relationship with music has changed. This change exposed an unhealthy mindset that I had developed as a musician. I’m still wrestling with that now, but I’m learning how to accept music as an enjoyable hobby rather than as a career, and it’s good for me.

Since I’m still wrestling with what it means for me to be a musician and artist, I’m opening this blog up for other personal content again; especially faith. But the blog will still be different from its early days.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts in the past year about the benefits and costs of being personal online, and more often than not, I feel that the costs outweigh the benefits. So many people share intimate details about their lives online for all to see, but I think it’s worth it to trust people before becoming super personal; a difficult, if not impossible, thing to develop on the internet.

However, I realized that I can share my thoughts on a variety of topics and discuss what I’ve been learning and/or thinking about without giving too much personal detail. That’s what I’m gonna do.

So here I go again with changing the course of this blog. Ope.

 

Puppy Love

If you know me in real life, there’s about a 99% chance that I’ve told you about my dog, because I almost never shut up about him and I share a lot of pictures of him.

His name is Auggie, and he’s truly one of my best friends.IMG_5391

We’ve had Auggie for about five years. In most ways, he’s just like every other dog. However, though he is an ordinary dog, he’s been an extraordinary part of my life. As I sat with his head on my lap last night, I thought about all of the ways that God has used this little guy in my life, and I just couldn’t help but be a bit overwhelmed.

Someone once said to me that it’s impossible for my dog to really love me, because he doesn’t have a soul. While I agree that dogs most likely don’t have souls, I do believe that they are capable of love, even if it is not love in the same way that God or humans love.

God has certainly used Auggie to show me that I am loved. If I tried to count the ways that God has shown me love in the past several years, I’d certainly fail to count them all; there are too many ways. While many of these may even be unrecognizable to me right now, Auggie has been an undeniable source of love in my life. My relationship with Auggie is a simple one, but a truly meaningful one. I’ve faced a lot of challenge and change in these years (new friendships, lost friendships, breakups, sicknesses, moving out, a slew of bad decisions, and more,) but nothing has ever changed that Auggie is happy to see me whenever I come home.

Some of my relationships with friends have grown weaker or were left behind as I faced these challenges and grew, but Auggie has treated me the same, with companionship and a care that almost seems human, through it all. In many ways, his love resembles unconditional love. He doesn’t care about the unwise decisions that I have made in the past; he doesn’t even know about them. He only knows that there are some times when I’m hurting and I just want him near.

Sometimes he’s a pain, and sometimes he’s needy, but he doesn’t ask for much. He’s content with not much more than attention, food, water, snuggles, playtime, walks, and love. These things don’t seem like much when I consider how much satisfaction my family receives in calling him ours.

He’s six years old, but to me, he still feels like just a puppy. I’ve had five years to get used to him, but I’m still hardly any less excited about seeing him than I was on the day that we picked him up. Even when he’s being difficult, I can’t help but love him and be proud to have him as my own. I often show him off to others, and say, “Look at him! He’s amazing! I love him so much!” As I thought about this kind of love that I have for him last night, I thought that maybe God looks down on me with the same kind of love.

Sometimes I’m a pain, and sometimes I’m needy, and I ask for an awful lot… but God tells me in His word that He loves me in spite of all these things; that He sings over me and that He is proud to call me His daughter. He’s excited about me every single day, even though he’s had every day of mine written in His book since before I came to be. He’s had a lot of time to get used to me, but He’s still crazy about me. He loves me enough to give me each new day, to give me new mercies every morning, and to provide me with simple joys like beautiful weather, music, and Auggie in my life.

He knows about every one of my mistakes, and all of the times that I have failed Him, but He looks past these because of the sacrifice that He has made in Jesus. Though my earthly relationships come and go, He’s always there, and He’s always excited to hear from me.

Some things in life seem so simple, like owning a small dog. However, even within these things, God shows us love. Sometimes you need to look up close to see God’s loving care woven throughout every detail of life, but it’s there. He’s present, He’s close, and His fingerprint is everywhere.

In what simple ways has God shown you love in your life?

Yours truly,

Amberly

 

Stories

This world is full of stories. Every person has a million little stories. And for each person all of those little stories add up into one big story: their life story. And these life stories add up into an even larger story: human history. Some stories are marked with happiness, and some with sadness. There are stories of great joy and stories of great pain, of gains and loss, of life and death. Short stories and long stories. There are highs and lows. Rising action and falling action. A climax and a resolution.

These stories make us who we are. They build our characters and they shape the ways in which we look at this world.

For me, there’s one story in particular which changes and shapes my life every single day. It’s the story of a God who formed this world and all of its people out of the love that He is. It’s about a people who turned away from that same God and broke His heart. And then a man steps into its plot, and this man changes the whole thing by bringing love and grace and hope to these people. His name was and is Jesus. He was both fully man and fully God, and He paid the price to draw the people back to their God.

With nails in His hands and feet, and a crown of thorns on His head, He displayed a love that gives every person the chance to find and turn back to the true source of life. He laid down his life for these people whom He called His friends. And then, defeating the power of death once and for all, He rose again. Every person who encounters this true person of Jesus is shown a love beyond compare. It’s a love so powerful that it changed the big story of this world, and it’s a love powerful enough to change every person’s own story.

All of that being said, I’m choosing to write about my own stories. I’m choosing to share about the love that gives me hope every day, in both pain and in joy. I hope my stories will encourage you and bring light into this dark world, and I hope that they show you the person of Jesus.