Barbie & Skipper

I don’t recall ever playing Barbies with anyone who wanted to be Skipper, do you?  I mean sure, she was cute.  But who wants to be the cute little sister, right?  We fought to be Barbie the Blonde Bombshell. Whoever didn’t run fast enough downstairs got to bee-bop around for the next 30 minutes, at best playing dress-up in Barbie’s dream house closet, or at worst, stuck in the backseat of big sis’ pink convertible watching Boss-hog Barbie make out with Ken.  Ugh. 

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m the little sister. Or maybe the fact that my sister has always been a happy, social, gorgeous talent. Or maybe the fact that I chose my haircuts out of the JCPenney “New Mom, New You” hairstyle look book(9 year olds must stay progressive). Or maybe the fact that my parents named me Leah (you know, the ugly sister in the bible Jacob got stuck with and worked seven more years to win the pretty sister … more counseling is required for me to actually tackle this point).  

Regardless, somewhere along the way I believed the lie that I was second best. 

Now let me be clear.  This lie was never, and I mean ever, brought on by my sister.  She has loved me, gone to bat for me, and supported my dreams even when they have stalled her own. It was also never brought on by my parents.  They are amazing and loved me for who I was and am.  I actually love that they named me Leah   No, this lie wasn’t planted by my family, it was planted by the father of all lies.  I was innocent and naïve and I took the bait without even knowing I had swallowed it.  

Proverbs 4:23

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

The lie that I wasn’t good enough had penetrated my heart, and my life was being determined it. Which explains everything.  Every time I jumped at a little attention, every time I took risks that didn’t match up with my faith, and even into an eating disorder that almost swallowed me as a teenager, that little lie took root and grew deep in my heart and caused me to believe I wasn’t good enough.  That lie quickly grew past a few people comparing me to my sister… I took over and began comparing myself to everyone, and worst of all, comparing myself to the girl I thought I should be.  Perfection became a black hole of striving and an unbearable chain that controlled my life. The verse below sums it up.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; …” John 10:10

Does he ever! And THIS is how he does it!  This is how he wrecks women’s hearts, young and old.  He doesn’t always come at us with guns a blazin’, attacking our faith. No, he’s smarter than you think.  He attacks us where we least expect it, in our thoughts.   He sows seeds of self-doubt, unworthiness, self-pity, jealousy, envy, and on and on until we are so weighed down by all of these chains we could not possibly do the work God has called us to do or live in the full joy of his love!  But notice the second half of this verse:

“….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Jesus came to give us life to the FULL.  I don’t know about you, but I’d say the first step to a full life is walking in freedom.  And that is exactly what God did.  He freed me of those lies. Now I’m not saying I woke up a new woman.  Actually, even better….

I realized I already was a new woman!  I accepted Jesus as a child and from that day forward, I had every freedom and victory living inside of me.  So I asked God to help me start living like it!  He gave me things to do to put that into practice, two things really.

  • CLEAN OUT THE LIES

I stopped subscribing to things that were not truth (and I mean literally subscribing: as in magazines, shows, relationships, movies, obsessions, books, etc.).   Some people may not be affected by the same things, but I know my weaknesses and I don’t want lies to start slipping back in.   “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Phillipians 4:8

  • FILL MY LIFE WITH TRUTH

I began filling my life with devotionals, books, people & music that reflected the truth about who God is and who He says I am, and most of all, I spent time with God.  I prayed and prayed that He would fill my life with friends that love Him and would encourage me in my faith, and did he ever!  I ask him even now to fill my life with truth, because when you study the truth, then you can identify the counterfeit.  (I don’t know if that last line is actually a biblical principal, but it’s how they caught Leonardo DiCaprio’s counterfeit money-printing character in “Catch Me If You Can”, so I think it’s worth mentioning). 

So I will ask you this.   What lie are you believing? Maybe, like me, it’s a lie that started when you were young and you didn’t even realize it was there. Maybe, like me, a lot of the choices you made were steered by the lie you believed.  Maybe, like me, you will find freedom in God and freedom in who he says you are.

-Leah

 

 

 

 

 

The top 10 Reasons life gets BETTER after 30!!!!!

The top 10 Reasons life gets BETTER after 30!!!!!

To some of you, this thought may be insane. But when you work in a creative field, 30 seems to be some weird magic number of impending doom. The music business is brutal. It's feast or famine and it's even harder on the ladies. I know, because I am one. But the ONE thing I was most surprised about were the comments I got about my career after I turned the big 30!

"You have a window, you really need to think about that". 

"It's not gonna get any easier with your age".

"Have you considered lying about your age"?

Yes, these are things people have said to me. Not behind my back, but to my face. No joke.

One of the things I love about our song "Save Myself" is the lyric in the bridge.

Save myself for something right

Save myself for something better

Save myself from all the lies

Save myself for my forever

God has called us to be in this world but not of it. Part of that calling is living in the truth of our creator. The truth of HIS word. Not the worlds word. The truth about what God says about us. What God says about our calling, our lives and our desires. And none of it says your life is over when you turn 30. In fact, the best years of Jesus's ministry were the years after he was 30 years old. I could name half a dozen figures in the bible, who's lives and ministries didn't begin until that tender age.

So, I refuse to believe that my life is over because I am not 24. I also refuse to believe that God is finished with me, just because of my age. 

Here are my top 10 reasons you get better after 30!!!!

 

1.  I care a lot less about what other people think now than I used to.

2. I am not afraid to be creative and push the boundaries of my own abilities.

3. That being said, I know my own limitations. There is SO much freedom in that. I am NEVER gonna be Beyonce or Lady Gaga. I've made Peace. Now I can move on, and just be ME!

4. I have a little girl. She is watching every move I make. Being her mother, makes me a better artist and a better writer. Those little eyes are a lot to live up to. I became a mom at 30.

5. I can let go. God is watching me. He is my creator. He is my father. HE is my BOSS. I am ok with that. It stinks being in control all the time. I like knowing that I don't have to!

6. Wine.  Guitars. Architecture.  Love.  Blue Jeans.  Landscape. Humans. ALL get better with TIME. Just sayin'.

7. I am better at managing my time. I have so much less of it so I have to make the time I have to work on my passions count !

8. I am not afraid to sacrifice. There is a time to sew and a time to reap. I have had enough experience now to know this is the truth. The times of sewing don't scare me like they used to because I know there is a harvest on the other side.

9. I am not a slave to the music business anymore.

10. I love music more now, than I did the day I moved to Nashville. I am old enough to be grateful to have the ability to create. Every single person I work with, I cannot believe that they want to work with me. Life begins with gratitude. I am grateful for every song I get to sing. Every lyric I get to write. I am not owed another day or another opportunity. That is ok. It allows me to live in the moment. There is so much freedom in that.

 

Brandon

J-E-L-L-O

J-E-L-L-O

In my family we have a saying….I'm Jello!  It's our short for "jealous".  Yes, we are from Mississippi. Yes, we can spell and we see that this is not the correct spelling.  But we're also fun and definitely a more fun way to admit to super-not-fun jealousy.

I have realized over the past few years that a clear sign I am "jello" is criticizing or judging someone else.  We've all heard or been a part of the comments.  The need to point out how someone dresses, how they do or don't parent, what they have, how “frivolous” they are with their money, how "irresponsible" they are, how they are "never home", "workaholics", couldn't possibly be happy, must have a horrible marriage, are trying too hard, and the list goes on.  It's easy to put down what we are jealous of so we can feel better about ourselves, our circumstances and our decisions.

"Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?"  Proverbs 27:4

The bottom line- jealousy is UGLY! An awful part of jealousy is, when recognized, it acknowledges that the person we are jealous of has something we want.  That's the last thing I want to admit!!!! I even struggle with typing that right now.  You see, the problem I have usually has little to do with the person I envy.  The problem usually lies within my heart.

 

 

I have learned when I admit to my jealousy, an amazing thing happens.  I grow.  It frees me to be honest with God.  It opens the door for God to change my heart.  And sometimes, it frees my heart from the jealousy I feel.  Not every time!  I mean, let's be honest, we probably all have "that person" that seems to have the perfect everything.  My suggestion…. after you vent to God, sing your praises to him.  Personally, It's hard for me to want someone else's life when I am so thankful for my own. 

 

 

 

 

- Leah

 

Save Myself

I was sitting in a bible study at 19 at Toby Mac’s house.

His wife, Amanda, was leading a group for young women.

I can’t even remember what it was about, I don’t remember how I knew about it, and to be honest, I’m pretty sure I was mostly there because it was a beautiful house…. that belonged to Toby Mac.

That bible study changed my life.

I was talking seriously about marriage with the guy I had been dating, and I was really struggling with it.

My boyfriend and I both knew God, but we put him aside when it came to intimacy.   It was at this bible study that God was calling me to give him all of me and all of my relationship.  If I was to move forward with this man, we needed to put God first.

What did it matter?

We had already "crossed the line".

What difference would it make now?

It’s not like you can start over.

But the bible says we can.

“Great is His faithfulness; His mercies are new every morning.”

Lamentations 3:23

So I talked to my boyfriend about it and to my surprise…. he completely agreed! I was so thankful we were going to take this step together, but I’ll be honest, it was not easy.

It was 9 months before we got married and I remember thinking it was impossible.

  Amazingly, we made it.  This commitment was the beginning of Bill and I putting God first in our relationship, which has lead to blessings I cannot begin to count and a journey I could have never fathomed.

FAST FORWARD several years…..

My sister Brandon & I have a band called MENA.

We heard this song called “Save Myself”.

 It took me back to the moment I made the decision to take God up on wiping the slate clean.

We both knew this song needed to be heard.

So what does it matter?  I will tell you this: God’s plan is perfect.  How can we ask God to bless our relationships if we don't put him first in them? Maybe you haven't walked perfectly. That's ok, because he has you covered:

His Mercies are new every morning!

I encourage you to take God up on wiping the slate clean.

"They'll get to know me by being kindly forgiven, with the slate of their sins forever wiped clean." (Hebrews 8:12 Msg)

- Leah

Consider the Lilies

I opened those 2 clear plastic boxes, those tiny little handmade Marionette faces smiling back at me. They were a gift from my husband on my 30th Birthday. A memento from a video we made, called "Marionette". Much love was put into that 3 minute and 30 second piece and very little love was given to us as were were quickly discarded by our record label before the video even came out. We financed that video with money we didn't have, and released it quietly hoping to draw some attention to the beautiful record we had made, and put out in the aftermath of losing our deal & our courage.

So, in a haste…I passed the little boxes off to my sisters house after my birthday to reside, because I had nowhere to "display" them. She brought them back to me a few months ago when we moved into our new home and they have been sitting, waiting, patiently in those clear plastic boxes in a closet in my basement. Until I opened them last Thursday.

I was so excited. My husband and I purchased a new home. A place to raise our sweet little daughter. And last Thursday was THE day for me. The day my talented interior design friend was to come over and decorate my writing room! Give me a haven, and a place to create and return emails, strategize for our new band MENA and think. A room in my house full of toys, of my own. I was happy. I was ecstatic! Until I opened the marionettes. Those tiny faces, looked up at me and took me back 5 years. Reminding me of how much I loved that record. And how hard I took it when nothing happened with it. And I just sat there, and cried like a baby. I mean, couldn't stop myself. I am happy no one was in sight!

It's been years. I am healthy, I have a lovely family, I literally have no complaints in life but there I sat heartbroken over 2 marionettes. Who symbolized everything I had worked for and then lost. Everything I thought I had made peace with. Trusted God with. Laid it at the feet of Jesus.

When Leah and I were talking about what to call this blog, I had this verse on my mind. Consider the Lilies. What does that mean? So we looked it up.

"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

28

"But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!… Matthew 6:27-28

What it means to me is this: There are these beautiful flowers. Gorgeous and growing in the fields. Waving in the wind. Never worrying about where they will get their sunlight. How they will continue to grow. Just being themselves. Clothed in beauty. Being all they were created to be. Not worrying about tomorrow. Just peaceful and trusting in their creator in his purpose for today. If God takes care of FLOWERS this much… how much MORE does he desire to take care of us. In our beauty, in our worry, in our sorrow, in our happiness.

So Thursday, after I dried my tears and wept for what might've been... I prayed. And then I realized something. I don't wanna be there anymore. I wouldn't trade my present for my past any day of the week. And even when it is so tempting to revel in the pains and even the joys of yesterday…. I have to consider the lilies. Knowing that I am in the center of God's perfect will, firmly planted right where I am supposed to be. And wholeheartedly grateful for where I have been, and the woman God has allowed all those incredible experiences to make me.

- Brandon

P.S.

The Marionettes are displayed right where I can see them, everyday. I'm proud to say I only smile now when I see them :) 

Doing a New Thing

"How long have you been doing music together?"

  We get that question a lot.  My sister, Brandon, and I have been singing together since the age of 4 & 2.  My mom finally let an eager singer-in-the-making make her debut in a small church in our hometown of Lucedale, MS and of course I, her little sister, tagged along for the ride.  We've played a ton of places over the years and made a variety of music (some we are very proud of, some we'd love to forget!).  Regardless of where we play or what song we are singing, there's no one else in the world I'd rather stand next to and sing harmony alongside a beautifully sung melody.  I am at home when we are making music together.

  At the center of all the things we are (children, friends, business owners, parents, wives), we are ultimately children of God.  We spent our musical time together in 2015 writing songs centered around our faith. I've not had a more freeing experience as a songwriter than to write about the one I love the most; the struggles, the blessings and the "struggle blessings".

Our band has the same heart but a new name, MENA.  We are passionate about women and passionate about encouraging them, as there have been some amazing women in our lives who have encouraged and championed us, including the woman we named our band after, our grandmother "Mena".   We cannot wait to see what God has in store for us, but I have a good feeling it will look nothing like what we've done before.  That is refreshing and exciting, and to be honest, scary.  The verse below has given me so much encouragement this past week.  I hope it will encourage you as well!

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way for you in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

Isaiah 43:18-19