For those of you who don’t know… we are expecting a little boy. He is due any day now, and we can hardly believe it! It has been a journey of prayer  and this little bundle is a living testimony of God’s grace in our lives. We are so grateful that God would choose us to be his parents and cannot wait to hold him in our arms!

Dan and I decided to mark this answered prayer with a photoshoot by the amazing Shannon Cunningham Photography on Capitola Beach, here close to our home in the Bay Area. Here are a few of our favorites! linzy-1linzy-86linzy-31-2linzy-54linzy-135linzy-117linzy-162linzy-120

XO,

Linzy

Photo by Imbu Studios

Today, I’m reminded that amidst the perfectly posed, beautifully edited photos and stories I see on my Instagram today, there are hundreds of other ones I do not see. So many are experiencing the sting of loss, the brokenness of betrayal, the pain of fresh heartbreak… and you need to know that you are not alone. Though it might seem like everyone in the world has it all together, it’s a fallacy. No one’s life is perfect. In fact, I would venture to say that your life, much like mine, is perfectly imperfect.

It’s amazing what you can do to a photo. You can take a basic, nondescript picture and with a few swipes of a finger, transform it into something that is alluring and beautiful. On one hand, it is an art form. It takes incredible skill to be able to create beauty and elicit an emotional response out of the mundane, the dark, the emotionless. But when we use this ability to put forth an image of who we want to be, rather than who we really are, we feed into the spiral of shame and comparison–the ultimate joy-stealer.

We cannot edit our lives the way we can a photograph; remove the smudges and stains, saturate the good parts and fade the whole image to make it seem natural. Our lives don’t work that way. So, why are we so quick to display the polished, I’ve-got-it-all-together side that makes others gawk and spurns on jealousy when the reality is oftentimes the opposite?

I’ll be the first to say that I am guilty of putting forth my “best,” oftentimes on days when things are the worst. It somehow feels better to join the rest of the world in showing that I have an amazing life, when the reality might that I am crumbling inside and trying to pull together the pieces.

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This post is for all of those kindred spirits out there wishing you could trade shoes with someone you see today. For those of you who feel “other” than the rest of the world, left on the sidelines, alone in your suffering and brokenheartedness. You are not alone. In fact, God says that he is especially near to you. Listen to these truths:

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Ps. 34.18

“The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him and He makes known to them His covenant.” – Ps. 25:

“For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.” – Ps. 22:24

“For he will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.” – Ps. 27:5

Be encouraged friend, knowing that God is in the business of healing and redeeming even the most painful parts of our stories. Remember, your story is YOUR story–it’s unique and special, no less than anyone else’s. Let His voice speak louder than the ones in your head and the ones of those in your social circles. God is not standing idly by watching your pain; He is holding you, listening to you, loving you, healing you, lifting you, empowering you, and will eventually strengthen you to send you out again.

To those who hurt: I hurt too. My heart is all too familiar with it’s broken state. But I am learning to trust in a God who can and will restore. May His voice be louder than all the others as we journey on the road to healing together.

I recently guest-blogged for Project WOW, a group that exists to promote conversation, community and resources for women of worship. Here is a bit about my journey through songwriting. Hope that it encourages you!


 

You know the feeling. That defeated feeling when you’ve set it all up just right: a blank document on your computer or open page in your journal, a perfectly tuned acoustic guitar, a quiet room, maybe even a freshly lit candle — what should be the perfect *inspiring* space for a fruitful writing session. Full of determination and excitement, you begin to strum… but your mind goes blank. You play the same 3 chords over and over again, hoping for that perfect combination of a heart-wrenching melody and eloquent lyrics to come out of your mouth. But nothing comes, and before you realize it, you feel defeated.

This was me, over and over again, as I began my journey of songwriting. It was full of struggle and rarely ended with what some might describe as a “win.” When I was young, I have a distinct memory of God saying He would give me songs for this generation to sing. I was sure that God had called me to write songs for the church. So, why the struggle? How do so many of us as worship leaders wrestle to produce the songs our hearts desperately desire to lead?

It took me a long time and a lot of tears to realize that like many things in life, songwriting is a process. It is an art that must be crafted and refined. But more than that, it is a journey — and a sanctifying one at that. This journey requires dependence, surrender, creativity, and endurance. It requires the Spirit of God to be present and us to be listening.

If you can relate, I have some encouragement for you that I hope will help you along your journey:

  • LET GO. Release the pressure of having to come up with the *perfect* song. The harder you try to write it, the more impossible it becomes to write. Perfection is not the goal, surrender is. The times where my writing struggles the most are the times when I realize I’ve stopped writing for my Creator and started writing for what I think others want to hear. Honor Him with your gifts and let Him drive your songwriting.
  • ASK God for a word from Him. If we believe God’s Spirit is alive and inspiring our hearts to do His will, don’t you think He will inspire the church with new songs that express truth and bring Him glory? Maybe you are that truth-bearing vessel. Try to think of people and situations that you are aware of in your church — what do those people need to be singing? What truths do they need to hear?
  • LISTEN to songs that are resonating with your heart and spirit. Try to emulate those. Maybe even write new words over a melody you love from another person’s song or lyrics over someone else’s melody, just to get started.
  • BREAK the mold. Write creatively. Maybe you start with a drum beat loop to get you going, or you use a less familiar instrument as you write to stretch your knowledge base. Don’t let yourself fall into a rut of writing the same song over and over.
  • COLLABORATE. This is a hard one! Be brave and show someone else what you’ve been working on (even if it’s unfinished). Surround yourself with people who will both encourage you and push you in your writing. I’ve found that my writing skills grow leaps and bounds when I have the courage to share my songs with other worship leaders to get their feedback. They might see blind spots in your songs or have helpful tips for how to nail what you’re trying to say. It’s risky to the ego, but well worth it.
  • FINISH, and then start again! Don’t let too many pieces of your songs linger undone. Finish what you’re working on (even if you don’t love it) and start another. It’s too easy to write a thousand fragments but never bring anything to completion. Or, to write a great song, but never write again. Continue to craft your gift by completing them often.

Maybe this isn’t your story. God has gifted many leaders with a natural ability for writing, where the songs just “flow” out with little effort and the whole experience feels serene. However, in my experience, most writers are in the former camp. They struggle. And too often they give up. If you have a desire to write songs for the Kingdom, tell that to God and bring Him into the struggle. He might surprise you with the songs He brings. And when He gives them, use them for His glory.

It’s been about 2 months since the release of my worship EP Here in the Waiting, and I have been completely overwhelmed and humbled by the response. Thank you all for the stories of how God has been using the words and songs from the album in your lives. My prayer was that this project would be used to help others connect with the heart of God, through both personal and corporate worship. God is answering that prayer one day at a time, and I am grateful!

I wanted talk a little bit about what inspired the title of the album “Here in the Waiting.” I’ll start by saying my main inspiration for writing often comes out of my own personal journey with God along with situations going on within my own community.

Well, when I started asking God for a vision for this album I was in a pretty dark and difficult season. Many of you don’t know this and most of you probably wouldn’t guess it, but I struggle with fairly significant depression. A little less than a year ago, I was in one of these seasons where everything seems lost, hard, confusing, dark… you know what I’m talking about?

All of those thoughts led me to an intense search for meaning…  I was back to asking God questions like, “what do you want me to do with my life?,” which led to deeper questions like “what’s the point of my life?,” which started revealing even deeper pain and struggle that led to some pretty dark days. Some of you know what that feels like. I asked God to take away the cloud that loomed over my life, the dark thoughts that I couldn’t shake, but He didn’t answer right away and I was left in a season of waiting.

Through it all, I slowly realized that as I fixed my eyes on the things before me — the circumstances that I could see with my own eyes, the feelings of the day — the struggle worsened, the days got darker. But, the more that I could lift my eyes and fix them on Christ and on a future in heaven that is promised to me, where all pain, loss, and hardship are gone, the more freedom I experienced.

It made me realize how much we are often “here in the waiting” for things to get fixed in our lives — for the hard things to disappear, when really we are here in the waiting for our Savior to come and fix this messed up world. We are waiting for eternity. And when are eyes are fixed on that, it changes everything in the day to day.

I would guess that every one of us is in some season of waiting — waiting for that job to come through, waiting to find some purpose in life, waiting for the heartache to heal, for the bad memories to disappear. I want you to know that God hears you. He knows what you’re going through and He will answer in His time. Our God is a god of hope, love, and He promises that one day He will take it all away and give you eternal life with Him. Until then, we remain here in the waiting.

Thank you guys SO much for coming out to the show! It was such an amazing night of worship and celebration. Here’s a few shots from the night. Many thanks to Isabella Stackhouse and Annmarie Morrison for these amazing photos!

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Album available on iTunes here.