Thursday, July 21, 2011

Looking Back 7 Years...Part 3

In this crazy and exciting blog entry, I will be reflecting on words of advice and wisdom I have asked for and recieved from my favorite Christian musicians over the past 10 years...I believe there are 3 kinds of music types in this world.... You have your  less than 1% of elite naturally born & gifted Beethovens...who could literally sit down at the piano at the age of 3 and compose an 8 page symphony with little to no effort. Then there are those who are blessed to be born into a family of musicians, and it's only natural that you follow in their footsteps..Or if you're like most people...or like were born into a family in which you are the black sheep when it comes to music. Your parents didn't get the chance to learn an instrument as a child, or they might have for a while but decided at an early age that this whole music scene, wasn't worth pursuing. Trust me...I feel your pain! It can be SO hard at times to stay encouraged in your music dreams when it feels as if EVERYONE around you is oblivious to your heart's screaming & tormented music passion. I've been there...and if you're one of those people, I'm writing this encouragement for YOU. Everyone has their own music story to share, so I thought I'd tell you a little bit about my life so you can see where I am coming from...So both my parents are originally from the European country of Lithuania. They came to America in 1990 due to Russian communism. I was born in 1993. All my relatives are back in Lithuania it is just my dad, mom, sister and I here in America. Apparently my mom once told me that my great-aunt used to be a famous opera singer and that my grandfather (Mom's side) loved to sing and had a great voice....otherwise....that's it for music life in my family...yep...then a few generations later...I, Aiste came along...AND I happened to discover the Christian music world when I was 8 years old...To this day, I know it was a God thing. I remember one sunny afternoon sitting & playing with my toys in the living room and my Dad came home from work. He was like "Aiste, I found a CD that I think you will really like." The first Christian music CD that I had ever recieved from my Dad happened to be by the band "PLUS ONE". guessed right...I absolutely FELL IN LOVE with this band..and then my Dad eventually introduced me to Christian radio my 5th grade year..and then my love for Christian music escalated rapidly after that I as began to discover more and more bands in that genre. I remember hearing from someone that "The passions you loved and discovered as a child, are things you may enjoy doing for the rest of your life." For me, that passion was obviously Christian music. To this day, it makes PERFECT sense why I've dreamed my whole life of having a Christian band...I immersed myself in music SO MUCH growing up.  I started playing the piano when I was 8 years old and continued through my junior year of highschool. I started singing around that age too and have been involved vocally ever since through voice lessons and choir. I started playing the flute when I was in the 5th grade through the concert band at my highschool and I continue to pursue that instrument. Last but not least, by God's grace, I'm trying to teach myself guitar this summer...AHHH! I come from a town in southwestern Minnesota that has about 1,500 people. As I mentioned in my Part 1 series, I was pretty much the only girl in my small highschool (250 students) who had a passion for Christian music. By passion I mean, more than just loving music, actually being proactive in eventually starting  a band and establishing a music ministry within that. So I've seen many dark days, where my music passion has been, tested, tried, bruised broken, crushed, twisted & turned, punched in the face, burned through the fire (meteorically speaking) doubted, left hanging, rejected...You name it every discouraging and  unwanted trial....I've been there...but my dear passionate music friends...what do we do when we are tested?  One of my many favorite bible verses describes this perfectly, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4 ( So as this verse explains, even though we are crushed and pressed on every side...WE. DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. I repeat my dear passionate music friends...What do we do? WE. DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. Ahmen! I believe that the music dreams that seem "Impossible" that God has placed on our hearts are NOT there by accident...  I'm serious. That God-breathed music dream is NOT there by accident. So many times in my own music life I've doubted God, and questioned, "Why me?!, Why do I have to be "CURSED" with this crazy God-breathed music dream?!?!? Why Jesus, WHY!?!?! But I am realizing more and more day by day that God places Crazy dreams on our hearts that only by HIS HELP and HIS TIME will be accomplished. So I can trust God, knowing that he has a purpose for my music dream, and that it WILL come to pass, and he won't leave me hanging...BUT...I have to be willing to be  that proactive person, who's willing to go that extra mile in my music life to make it happen. I have to work HARD. God never said that God  breathed & God sized dreams would be easy by ourselves...He needs to be the center of it all...That's when the "Impossible" truly becomes the POSSIBLE and the world around us is left staring at us with their mouths wide absolute AWE at what God just did through a beautiful life that was dedicated to follwing him with their whole heart...
If you haven't already, you should check out the book called "Wide Awake" by Erwin Raphael McManus..This book literally changed my life and my perspective on God sized dreams.There are SO many challenging and inspiring quotes in this book. Basically McManus explains that those crazy seemingly impossible God inspired dreams on your heart..ARE POSSIBLE and can become a reality, or as he says "Dreaming Wide Awake." Some sample quotes that I've highlighted: "Ever notice that people who refuse to give up seem to succeed the most? Ever notice that people who expect great things seem most likely to accomplish great things?...You have to be willing to dream of a life that seems unlikely or maybe even impossible...They're the things that burn inside of you that if you cannot attain or accomplish, you feel like you would rather die...Once you have a dream from God and refuse to relinquish it, that dream is going to come to pass no matter what opposition you face..." (McManus) These are just a few of the MANY mind boggling quotes I have highlighted throughout this book..Now as I'm looking through what I've highlighted I think I will do a separate series reflecting on some of my favorite quotes from this  book.
So what I'm about to share with you comes from one Christian musician who has been one of the most AMAZING music inspirations in my life...Let me introduce to you Mike Donehey. He is the lead singer of the worship band  called Tenth Avenue North. He is in his late 20s, is married and has 2 girls. He has a unique sense of humor and he carries himself with a light hearted smiling persona. I recently had the chance to talk to him after his concert at Sonshine Festival  2011. I asked him, how his band Tenth Avenue North started. He explained how in the beginning he never had in mind that the end result of his music project would end up being the band known today as Tenth Avenue North...He and his fellow band members just started out by doing worship at local churches, coffee shops, basically any place or venue who was interesting in hearing their music. As time moved on God eventually blessed them with a music platform in the Christian music industry. It took time, it wasn't an easy journey, but they let God make it happen...AND...It. Did. My heart truly changed and took on a new perspective of what it means to have a Christian band after he said that. I realized that if you have a passion for christian music and worship what you love! Go to that local church and pour your heart out to the hurting youth, go to that coffee shop and sing that our saviour can truly move the mountains. Don't let fear hold you back. Simply sing, because you love doing it in Jesus precious name. He will bless you. I also realized that as a Christian musician you have to start SOMEWHERE...Tobymac did not become Tobymac in a day...He started very local and built his platform up as God graced him, each and every day. Don't underestimate the value of practicing your instruments on a daily basis, it may get monotonous (that probably means you need to reinvent a fresh outlook) or boring and I'm telling you... YOUR MUSIC PASSION WILL BE TESTED... but the ending result for Christ is COMPLETELY WORTH IT. I was telling Mike how I was discouraged in my music life because I just started learning guitar when I was 18. The funny thing is, he told me that he started learning guitar the summer he graduated from highschool...when he was 18 too...just like me...( he then smiled and gave me a high-five) I can not tell you and he does not even yet know what a breath of encouragement that was to me! So basically, don't think you are EVER too old to learn to sing or play an instrument if you are truly passionate about music. Just like our relationship with Jesus Christ is a growing process, so is our music lives. Those 2 pieces of wisdom I received from Mike Donehey, I will forever hold close to my heart...

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