I would much prefer this introduction be in person, over a cup of coffee with good music playing in the background, rather than a letter I’m writing from my front porch in Ohio. However, God seems to find ways of connecting us all despite geographical divides, so I’m being obedient and believing that community pervades distance. As I write, I’m picturing you all in my mind. I’m hoping this letter finds you rested, healthy, and whole.
Amanda Blankenship is a beautiful friend of mine, and I’m thankful that the friendship I’ve found in her and other female writers and leaders in our area has been graciously expanded through her involvement with Brave. I’ve been using my journalism minor (never thought that would come in handy, but God redeems all things, right?) as the editor of the Brave blog over the last month, and it’s been such a gift to sift through the wisdom, humor, and insight that you all have poured into your writing. Thank you to the brave women (and man – shout out to Bob Blankenship) who have contributed to this work of love. And while Amanda has had the privilege of drinking coffee with me on numerous occasions, you all have not, so this letter will serve as an introduction until we are able to chat in person over some of Jenny’s delicious caramels.
I’ve been leading worship for about thirteen years and have written songs for as long as I can remember. It goes without saying that the songs I was writing at twelve and thirteen were certainly not Grammy worthy; however, I remember sensing the desire to create something from nothing from a very young age. My church gave me opportunity to lead worship on a regular basis when I was about thirteen, and I’ve been involved with worship ministry ever since. My youth pastor even let me lead original music for youth services and would lie to me and say they were the best songs of the set. Looking back, I always led worship because I could sing, but I distinctly remember feeling like I had no clue what I was doing and even tried to step down on many occasions. I’m thankful for a pastor and a mom who shepherded me in the right direction even when I felt unworthy and awkward.
When I was about twenty-two I started being asked to lead worship outside of my home church. Those opportunities turned into years of travelling from church to church and many beautiful kingdom relationships. I’ve led worship in every denomination imaginable; around campfires, at fairs, at parks, and in barns. At the time I felt like I was by the brook being fed by ravens, completely unaware that God was preparing me for something else down the road. I just wanted to be poured out and for Him to use me. If it went no further than a bonfire or a barn, that was okay.
In May of 2017, God began to speak to my heart about eventually leaving my current vocation (special education) to pursue ministry full time. Full-time ministry had never been on my radar, but I had never experienced a “commission” from God this intense. The Lord kept giving me a vision of a boat that had been attached to a dock, with a Fatherly hand slowly untying the boat and pushing it out to sea so it could finally do it’s job. Trying to be obedient, I began to clumsily move forward, taking Bible classes online and seeking out mentorship wherever I could. It was during this season that I found Brave. It was also during this time that God birthed Wilderness Project, a collective of worship leaders and musicians I now travel and write music with. This band has been nothing short of a gift, and I’m thankful for every moment we get to spread the love of Jesus together.
During this transitional season, the Lord has been consistently teaching me from Isaiah 54. Because I feel it’s relevant, I’m going to leave you with some thoughts from that passage today. While most of us tend to read Scripture in order, I like to read Isaiah 54 backwards. The chapter is full of incredible promises and ends with one we are all familiar with: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, but every tongue that rises up against you in judgement you shall show to be in the wrong…” Isaiah 54:17. But have you ever noticed the first word of the entire chapter? The first word isn’t a promise, it’s a command. The command is to sing.
“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband, says the Lord.” Isaiah 54:1
That’s the Scriptural command I want to leave you all with today: sing. Sing over barrenness. Sing over sickness. Sing over anxiety. Sing over depression. Sing over opposition. Because your song has power. Your song has authority.
God wants to use your song to give birth. Carrying vision and expectation can be tiring, and labor can be painful. But we never know what God is giving birth to through our obedience. So please, sing.
I’ll be lifting you all up in prayer and I can’t wait to see you soon. May the Lord bless and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
All my love,
Worship Leader, Songwriter