A Great Promise to Begin a New Year On

Today, when I should have been listening to what the pastor was saying in his message, God re-showed me a beautiful promise for those – like I – who suffer with depression (so, you decide if I really, technically, should’ve been listening or not…after all, I heard what God wanted me to hear, what I needed to hear).

2 Corinthians 7:6 AMP says:

But God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and the sinking, comforted and encouraged and refreshed and cheered us by the arrival of Titus.

 

In the KJV it says that He ‘comforteth those that are cast down’. Being ‘cast down’ is an accurate (short) definition of severe depression. But, I love the way the Amplified Bible amplifies this verse; it tells us that God comforts, encourages, refreshes and cheers the depressed and sinking.This tells us God’s nature and desire. This is such a brilliant promise.

I’m on Twitter and I noticed that Spotify (internet radio, MP3 service, etc) are asking people what song best represents their 2012. Well, there’s been a lot of music that touched and help define my 2012 – my own music and other peoples’, as well. I answered their question with one of my songs – my first single release, ‘Hope Breathing (A Lullaby)’, because, one, it was my first single release (a pretty big deal, to me…well, and to a few others who count themselves among my fanbase – it was a defining moment which took me from struggling/starving singer/songwriter to recording artist proper) and because there is a lot about the song that speaks of 2012 for me (and, because, I’ll admit it, I was trying to plug my own music…shameless plugging, yep)…but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there are two more songs that, together, sum up 2012 even more than ‘Hope Breathing’ does. Read on…

I recently wrote and recorded a song that highlights a lot of what it’s like to suffer with severe depression: the sinking, the sorrow, the overwhelming nature of it. That song is ‘Waterfall’ (if you follow my blog at all, you might have read about this seriously morose song here). I experience and struggle with this on a regular basis. But, in these times, if I stop and ask God to help me, He is always faithful to ‘help the sinking’. Some days are better than others. But, I can honestly say that God’s comfort is real, and I couldn’t make it without the comfort God gives.

In this verse in 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about how God used another person – Titus – to comfort and cheer him. And, indeed, there are times when I’ve had a message or a phone call or a visit from a friend that has made all the difference to my darker days. The difference between total despair and coping. Sometimes the comfort comes from taking a moment to quiet myself before the Lord and allow Him to minister grace to my aching heart and troubled mind…

Yes, I ended up this year writing a song that accutely describes the depths of depression and the agony thereof,  but earlier in the year I wrote and recorded another song – ‘My Salvation (Ageless One)’– that is all about how God can help the depressed – indeed, how He often helps me personally. It was based greatly on Psalm 27. Today, using 2 Corinthians 7:6, God reminded me (He is so good) that it is always His desire to comfort the hurting and broken, the overwhelmed, the SINKING!  With this verse, God is ending my year with hope for the new year ahead…and, well, that was definitely worth blogging about (as well, I think, ‘interrupting’ the pastor’s message).

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

(AMEN!)

 

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An Anthem of Anguish

I recently wrote a very morose song. In fact, when I played it for my husband – and I had warned him beforehand of the moroseness thereof – he said, “Oh! You mean really morose! It’s really good, but it’s really morose.”

I debated sharing it with the public at large. I mentioned my dilemma on my Facebook Page. My exact words were: So, I’m wondering if the latest song I’ve written is a bit too morose. When I say “morose”, think ‘Bottle’ and multiply the moroseness thereof about 100 times. Yeah…it’s a downer. But, the question is, is it too much of a downer?

Someone then asked, “What’s it about?”

I responded with, Pain…depression…life…pain.”

The words that came up inside me after I’d hit the post button were: anguish, grief. This is an anthem of anguish.

Someone else posted after I did: Plenty of songs were inspired and written about heartache, pain, suffering etc. Put it out there as there will be plenty who will relate and thank you for putting into words how they might feel.” 

This comment encouraged me to go ahead and share it for the reason of putting words to heartbreak and even, in this case, actual emotional breakdown and the ofttimes daily struggle that those with severe depression can go through. But, when I finally recorded the song, I realised I wanted to share it not only for that reason – not only to share how I feel when faced with my stressors and to be a voice for those who don’t have the words for it…  

I don’t want to limit this song.

What I think can be easily heard right away is that Waterfall was influenced by both the classical and musical theatre music genres. It  has a rather epic feel (and it has a life of its own, as many songs do; certainly it is bigger than the singer/songwriter who wrote it. I am tempted to call it a ‘masterpiece’, but I would not like to appear quite that bigheaded). Also, I wrote it while reading The Hunger Games Trilogy, and I believe that the first three lines of the song were, at least in part, inspired by them. Waterfall came with force, crashing into me (not unlike waves of grief themselves – it kept coming up and over me) – and, when I resisted it a bit, it kept coming at me in wave after relentless wave until I had it written. So, for that reason alone – the song’s insistence – it deserves to be heard. And so, I give you this beautiful, tragic, brilliant, morose song…for all that it’s worth. Because, after all, I feel it is, indeed, worth a lot.

 

 

Heart, Soul and Body Warmers (A "Recipe" for Winter)

I am NOT a domestic goddess. I don’t share recipes. I’m a lousy cook. I would consider myself a home-body (after all, I’m certainly NOT a social butterfly!), but I’m not what anyone would call a ‘home-maker’. I am generally pretty rubbish unless you need someone, of the female persuasion, to hit the D below Middle C (hit it with a voice, that is, and not a hammer…I am relatively sure that any woman, singer and non-singer alike, is capable of hitting said low note with a hammer (YOU’RE NOT GETTING ANYWHERE NEAR MY PIANO, LADY!)…but, I digress…I am very good at digressing…if you read my blog on a regular basis it is one of the things you expect and have come to look forward to). If you want to hear me hit that note you can, here.

However, today, I am going to share with you a recipe, of sorts. Well, there’s actually a recipe within a recipe, as you will see…but, perhaps, I am getting a wee bit ahead of myself. Oh, yes, I see me up there, ‘”Hello!” There I am. Right! Let’s get situated; first things first, and all; let’s lay a foundation, shall we?

Winter is upon us. The nights are long, and cold. Sometimes the cold doesn’t stay in our skin, but it creeps and seeps into the very fabric of our souls and frost begins to lay at the door of our hearts. Winter is often a depressing time for people who don’t even have a problem with depression. I dare say, I hear more ‘normal, happy’ people (sorry, did that sound sarcastic?) lament winter than I do my fellow clinically depressed. I suppose, we are used to it. I like winter. Not as much as I like the season I was named after. But, winter is a close second for favourite season. However, I will agree, winter needs help to be properly enjoyed – and it can be greatly enjoyed. I have three things to help us through those long, cold winter nights – not only to endure them, but to love them. You will need:

 

A Good Book

Specifically, you’ll need a good adventure. This is not the time for graphs, diagrams, psuedo-psychology or self-help books. I highly recommend  The Hobbit for winter reading, but, really, any good fantasy adventure story will do, especially any that contains at least one elf and a dragon or two. Escape! Get away from here (wherever your here is), and find yourself (which, perhaps somewhat ironically, you are more likely to do in the pages of a good fantasy novel than you are in any other type of book. Don’t believe me? Just try it). If you don’t like reading, I feel sorry for you. Go freeze (figuratively)!  Seriously, nothing feeds and warms the soul better than a good adventure story. I’m re-reading The Hobbit at the moment . It’s like visiting an old friend. I’m loving it more than I can begin to tell you.

 

A Good Drink  

Now, something that goes down well (ahem)! Hot, spiced, spiked milk.  This is delicious and will warm you down to your toes. (Here’s the recipe in the recipe…however, we aren’t going to get very technical, and we certainly aren’t going to have exact measurements here!)  What is required is: milk, cloves, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, a sauce pan, stove-top, something to stir with (spoon, twig, etc.), and – the best bit – Bailey’s Irish Cream. Heat the milk and spices, constantly stirring, for 5-6 minutes (do not let it boil!). I just dump the spices in there – as I said, no exact measurements, just do what feels right – a couple (or five) shakes of each spice will do. Pour the hot, spicey milk into a warm mug (straining the cloves, if you used whole cloves, that is) and add a half a shot (or so, you really don’t need a lot…unless you want a lot) of Bailey’s. Just a smidge is needed, for the flavour. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. So good. This is a real comfort drink, and it can chase the chill of winter away from your body and your mind. (If you really don’t want the alcohol for whatever reason, just add a touch of honey instead.)

Now, curl up with your book and hot, spiced, spiked milk… and love winter! But, there’s one more thing:

 

Music

Music to soothe and warm and breathe hope to your winter heart. This is a time to listen to classics and favourites, it’s also a time to search out and listen to something new/different. And, there’s always the festive music of the season. Find music that speaks to you, and play it! Softly in the background while you read and sip, or loud and all-consuming while you just let it wash over you in waves. But, choose music that supports the theme – in that, it is dreamy, adventurous… this isn’t the time for music you can dance to necessarily, but time for music you can escape to!

 

So, there’s my little recipe for winter. It’s not technical, fancy, or domestic-goddessy, but, I can tell you, it is thoroughly enjoyable!

 

 

 

Some music to escape to:


Trending

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I’m trending on ReverbNation’s Folk Chart. And, I think it’s definitely worth blogging about.

I started out so low on the chart that I really didn’t pay any attention – something like 76 and now, at the time of this post, I am at 37 on the chart. Climbing, slowly but steadily inching really, up the chart. All of a sudden I noticed some time a couple of weeks ago that I was rising in the chart and I went to look at it. That’s when I saw that I was featured, with three other artists/bands, on the right of the page, under the label ‘Trending Now’. The brilliant thing is, the people/bands that I started out ‘trending’ with, have come and gone, but I’m still there! 

 

I want to say thank you, ReverbNation, for the exposure. Thank you to the people who are hitting me – because it’s obviously getting these hits that is keeping me trending – thank you, and, please, keep it up! I had a friend and fan tell me that he hoped that I was on the top 10 by Christmas. That would be a fabulous Christmas present if it happened.

 

Every little creep up is encouraging. I never looked for overnight success. When you begin your singing career at the age of four, overnight success really isn’t an option unless someone looking for the next big child star discovers you right then. Alas, I wasn’t discovered then and neither was I discovered at age 16 when I had made the definitive decision that this is all I wanted to do; but what I did do was keep plodding along. Now, decades later, some would discourage me and expect me to finally give it up, leave it to those younger, to those backed with more money and support. But, I won’t. It’s the small victories that can mean so much and keep me going: the accomplished musician who expresses how much my range has impressed them (it’s not hitting those high notes that gets them – it’s how low I can reach that is impressive); the lifelong singer/songwriter I respect so much who tells me how good he thinks I am; each sale of the single, ‘Hope Breathing (A Lullaby)’, and the album, ‘Gloriously Autumnal’ (they may not be flying off the virtual shelves, but I celebrate every sale I do get); each new LIKE on my Facebook Page; the trending on ReverbNation and inching UP the chart. These things whisper vital encouragement to me in the times when other influences would scream at me to quit.

 

So, again, thank you. Thank you friends and fans. Thank you, ReverbNation. Thank you respected musicians and songwriters who are properly impressed. You spur me on, you combat others’ apathy, obtuseness, lack of taste, total misunderstanding and any number of other things that those others bombard me with. Please…keep whispering and, hopefully, I’ll keep trending. I like it!

 

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The Weaned Child

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;

my eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things

too great and too marvelous for me,

But I have calmed and queited my soul,

like a weaned child with its mother;

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

– Psalm 131:1-2 (ESV)

 

These verses have been on my heart and I’ve been thinking about them quite a bit lately, especially verse 2.

As a mum who has breast-fed – and, subsequently, weaned – four children, this is a picture I can relate to: the image of a weaned child with its mother.

The weaned child is content in the mother’s presence without having to be on the breast when there is something that troubles them. The child is now able to comfort itself when things are bothering them – the parenting experts call it “self-soothing”. While there was a time that whatever the traumatic event (or perceived trauma) was, from getting an immunisation to a bump on the head or just feeling out of sorts, would result in the necessity of the child being latched on until the calming effect of nursing would take place (for THERE WOULD BE NO CONSOLING WITHOUT IT!), now the child is capable of calming itself down.

I don’t think this is a picture of us no longer needing God when we ‘grow up’ a bit. On the contrary, I think it’s a picture of how we should be when faced with things that would send us into fits of despair. Our aim should be to reach the place of maturity where we can tell our own souls to calm down, reminding ourselves that God loves us and is in control, and place ourselves in a place of prayer where we can receive the peace that passes all understanding, as we wait upon God (see Philippians 4:6-7).

I can admit I have not reached this place. I am still a very unweaned child – sometimes falling to bits, unconsolable in the face of pressures and stresses. But, my prayer is to become like this weaned child with its mother, able to calm and quiet my own soul.

The psalmist David often talked to his own soul – encouraging himself – to calm and quiet down and trust/wait upon the Lord (Ps 42, 43, 103).

This Ps 131:2 is simply the latest scripture to drive home the point to me. The picture of the weaned child is one I hold in my heart and aspire to fully become.