Happy New Year! I know the rest of the civilized world celebrates New Year’s on December 31, but December 31 means nothing to me. No major change occurs in my life in January.
The end of August, however, is full of change, excitement and potential. Ever since I was five it meant the beginning of a new school year; a new teacher, classrooms smelling of freshly cleaned desks, the potential of new friends, thick sweaters and stiff jeans hanging in my closet, the smell of sharpened pencils and new markers, more challenging dance steps in ballet, a piano book full of unlocked songs, the mega thick issue of Seventeen laden with the latest fall fashions, blank notebooks waiting to be stickered and doodled upon, and new music to celebrate and imprint this season of my life - the possibilities for the new school year were endless.
They still are. In late August there’s a shift in the weather, in people’s dress (it’s almost boot season – hooray!), in our family’s schedule and routine. There is more structure, are more commitments, are more deadlines, but with those come more productivity, more possibilities and more excitement. And for me, new music.
For every season in my life I have songs associated with it. There’s the New Order and Yaz we jammed to endlessly when I was on dance team.
The deep, mystical lyrics of Michael Stipe (R.E.M.) and Bono (U2) resonated throughout my college years. Songs swaying from beautiful ballads to punchy political protests to boppy dance tunes. It was the stuff introspective, formative college years were made of.
My writing has musical seasons too. Anytime I hear the strings and horns from Les Miserables they remind me of my character, Emma, in Angry. Anytime I hear Todd Agnew’s raspy voice I think of my book Hot, and the main character Lindsey. Jack Johnson reminds me of my friend and editor, Amy, as we both Pandora’d him simultaneously while she edited my book Skinny.
There are songs that take me back to spring breaks and slumber parties and countries I’ve visited and even my wedding. Songs take me back to special friends, family members, trials and triumphs.
Psalm 33:2-3 "Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy."
I’m eager to see the soundtrack God will lay for this school year. I’m currently riveted by bands ranging from Snow Patrol to Toby Mac to the powerful voice and lyrics of Holly Starr. Her songs encourage me to walk strong in God and remember He is always right beside me. This is a message I’ll carry in my virtual backpack as my new year commences.
How about you? What musical memories strum your heartstrings? What songs will be on your playlist this year?
I recently went to see Snow Patrol play at a dated club in Cincinnati that holds about 1000 people. Let’s just say the last time I’d been to Bogart’s was when I was in college, and my friends and I were jamming to Royal Crescent Mob.
The place hadn’t changed a bit – not even the sticky concrete floors or the stench of stale beer or the dated wood paneling.
Half way through the show the band played their song, “Run”, and at the chorus the entire audience began chanting along with the lead singer, Gary Lightbody, “Light up light up as if you have a choice - even if you cannot hear my voice.” Bogart’s echoed with the inspiring lyrics. Goosebumps ran up my arms. For a moment, everybody in the crowded club shared something. From the stage I could see Lightbody’s eyes well up with tears. He drew his hand to his chest and at the end of the chorus shouted, “Bless your hearts.”
This is a band who has recorded and released five albums. This is the band who opened for U2 in their last tour, playing for stadiums full of tens of thousands of people, but that night, at a teeny, grungy club in Southern Ohio they were reminded they had potential. People identified with their music, sang their songs.
Potential. We all have it. We just need to be reminded every now and then.
Our God gives you everything you need. Makes you everything you’re to be.
2 Thessalonians 1:2
No matter where we are in the pursuit of our dreams, sketching out our plans or riding high in the rafters, we have days of discouragement, “no’s”, dings and doors slammed in our faces. But one fan singing along is all it takes to keep us going.
Who do you need to encourage today? Who do you know who doesn’t see their potential, but might, if only you pointed it out?