Monday, December 29, 2014

The Awakening

It's like I woke up...
As I walked through the crisp white snow under the winter Baltic sunrise I had never felt so alive , I've seen many  Lithuanian sunrises, but this particular one was beyond beautiful, shades of lily flower purple with the golden sun and traces of mandarin orange in the background. I wish I could have taken a picture to show you, but my camera had no room. Oh those moments that are forever imprinted and memorized in intricate artistic detail by the heart. I realized going into this, I had forced myself into a life I was never meant to live, I knew the art & degree of so called practicality was never me from day one, I made my passions, visions, and dreams of art and music drink a deadly poison to kill them off, just when I thought I killed them, through the shadows and cracks of my heart they arose to re inspire once again. 

As I was creating a worship playlist the other day, I was vividly reminded of 
my childhood of going to those Christian music festivals for ten years , and they were definitely not an accident. Starting with musician A in the merch tent and ending wih musician Z, personally asking each of them what inspired them to start their band, every precious conversation, every word as a young girl. I thought everyone in general had a similar experience with Christian music, (those interested at least) but then when I moved outside of America, Jesus turned my beloved musical childhood past upside down. I realized this gift He blessed me with as a child was sacred, and those shoes and circumstances I found myself in were not merely coincidences, but divine blessings in disguise that would help me with my missions work in Europe. 

 Honestly I somewhat hid this sacred gift when I arrived on European soil. It didn't resonate with my soul like it used to. Growing up my genre was more like Hillsong, DCB, hawk nelson, fm static, TFK, Barlow girl, Toby Mac, skillet, disciple (I still listen to the Canadian & hard rock) When I moved to Europe, my heart really changed. I still love the same Jesus as I did 3 years ago before this adventure began, but God really opened my eyes. Before moving to Europe I started getting into Christian metal music (I remember going to this For Today/Devil Wears Prada concert with a dear friend, I told her everyone there will dress metal, so we planned our outfits, make up, hair, and dang.....we looked perfect for that scene after many hours of prep....dead rose lipstick...Ahmen. We get to the show, literally we are the only ones dressed up and everyone else looks "too normal" I will refrain from mentioning the city name...such a hilariously artistic experience I will never forget) it seemed normal, and then I went to my dream missions school, the Steiger missions school summer 2013 in Germany. I became friends with Christian metalists from all over the world. I found it deeply intruiging and interesting how they were using metal to evangelize the gospel. As I started traveling with my missions school throughout Europe wih it was Slot Art festival or Polish Woodstock, Czech Republic, Germany, and really getting to know people"s hearts in this part of the world, God really broke my heart for them and in those moments I realized how relevant having an evangelistic Christian metal band would be, such a common genre for Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. And about halfway through the Steiger missions school, God inspired me with my own metal music vision. Never in my life did I imagine myself ever proclaiming the gospel through this genre, in fact I thought it would be the last genre I expected to evangelize with, but over the years God has really grown my passion for Christian metal. (I vividly recall a metal memory when I was a little 12 year old girl rocking out at one of my favorite Christian music festivals, Sonshine. My friends dragged me to the HM stage for the 1st time in my life which I usually avoided like a disease. I was standing there absolutely terrified as my friends enjoyed the show and I happened to be standing right next to this band"s table and this musician guy who has tattoo sleeves on both arms on his neck and ear gauges, warmly smiles at me, says Hi and asks me what I thought of the show, I just stand there in utter horrifying shock and ran out of the HM stage area as fast as I could....looking back on this situation if I were to go there now, I would totally be in love with that Christian American metalist.....God"s sense of humor...the things we run from in life we eventually end up embracing...)

Also, Growing up for me, a song was not merely a song. Every lyrical line, every word, every morpheme and phoneme (excuse my non-existent nerdy linguistic side) was like a precious diamond that flowed through my veins in my blood. Every song reminded me of a life story, a circumstance, a specific person. Those Christian music childhood songs were such a beautiful gift from the heavenlies that I didn't realize until now. I know I probably take music ministry way too seriously, but the etiquette in how it is done means everything to me. I was inspired by the American Christian music scene, but never truly satisfied, to the point where I decided to move to Europe in hopes of starting or being part of some Christian music revolution. I couldn't just sit in my comfort in America and watch my own flesh and blood spiritually suffer. Something had to be done. It's especially a hard daily life decision to make when you are blessed and cursed to be part of 2 cultural worlds at once. It kisses and scars the heart and soul at the same time. 

This past semester I experienced what it was like to lose the heart and soul of who I am. It was terrible. Soul glazed lifeless eyes with no inspiration to talk to anyone. The person who loves talking with people became anti social. 
Looking back, I don't even recognize myself in some situations. I realized that if I forsook the heart and soul of who I was,eventually it will come back to me in the most unexpected moments as if Jesus is gently reminding me who I am.

As a follower of Jesus, whether you are new in your walk of have been a Christian for many years, there comes a time when Jesus does something in your life that is so powerful, life altering, you walk away a radically changed and different person and just left completely speechless. It's like every morning you wake up after that experience you see your family, friends, relatives, every person walking down the street in a new light. How you smile, do music, do art, dance pursue those passion, visions, dreams, it's just different. Trust me, people will notice. And it never leaves you. I pray each of you dearest friends would be blessed in this way.' Spending the past several years in Europe, I can honestly and genuinely say, I am not the same person I was 5 years ago....

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Art of Saying Goodbye

Life is truly mysterious, I believe I will never quite fully understand it,
As this semester FINALLY comes to a close I find myself lost admist a season of goodbyes.
I look back on my life, especially the last three years of doing missions work in Europe, and I am left completely speechless at every single beautiful heart and soul I have met on the streets of this life. Sometimes it feels like I've met at least half the world, metaphorically speaking. I've come across SO SO SO many people of different cultures,religions, languages, dreams, passions, visions. I question God many times, why me? Why was I so privileged and blessed to walk these shoes and look into each person's dear eyes? Maybe I will never truly know the answer to this endless pondering. In all honesty I NEVER forget, a name, a face, a beautiful walking story, a dear heart and a dear soul. So once I meet someone, they are are eternally remembered in my heart....Whether that is a blessing or a curse...depends on the person.... ;)

From the people I've met, I believe the world is in such good hands, I'm so excited to see what God will do through you. 

Every person you meet is for a reason, and not by accident.  I firmly believe this. Every person is an answered prayer. I notice that God puts people in my life at the exactly right time. Whether I'm going through an inspiring season of my life or a season of struggle and sadness. The most recent example I can think of is, about the last month into the semester, I really fell into this deep depression about my metal music vision. I was endlessly questioning God if it was His will for this vision to happen. I desperately prayed for a sign...and next thing I knew God blessed me with a dear friend who really inspired me not to lose my heart for Christian metal music ministry. It was the perfect miracle at the perfect time.

Lots of people I have met in this beautiful life were last minute  and it seemed so unexpected that our lives would cross paths. That's what I love so much about life, really, God is full of unexpected people surprises. It's adventurously, excitingly unpredictable. 

Also, I've realized especially  the missions heart type of people, we realize from the beginning there will be one too many goodbyes that we will experience. I knew in that moment   when I  made the decision  to move from Minneapolis back to Lithuania, it would be the beginning of something unpredictably great, but also a life process that would require a sacrifice of more heart pain.  It's like you know going into this life adventure you will meet alot of people, there will be seasons of life time friendships, or maybe someone you meet for several weeks or a day, but nevertheless, as we reflect back to Jesus heart, cross, and passion I can confidently say, 
"You are the God who is in the heart in the midst of the tears of goodbyes."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Sparkle in your Eyes

For a moment I saw a familiar sparkle in your eye
So this is where the double cultured worlds kiss,
The art of being Lithuanian American, Both sides have their loses and sacrifices
Sometimes in those beautifully unexpected moments my heart finds so much joy, and I realize the sacrifice was worth it,
Other times when the reflections of my musical childhood past stare me in the face, I honestly ponder what could have been...

Treasured Trash

The other day I found myself painting clouds. It's been one day too long since I last found myself doing something enjoyably artistic on this side of Eastern European heaven. As I sat there with my paintbrush, shades of blue and white paint and wine red tea, I was reminded of my childhood art past.
I vividly recall, one of my greatest art inspirations, my former art teacher Mr. Hanson. I will never forget him. He was the type of art teacher who could take something that society considers trash, and create an artistic masterpiece out of it. Little did I know how this perspective would influence my life in such a way years to come.  Wither it was using old cardboard boxes, cartons, a variety of paper surfaces, collections of paints, he simply found a use for every artistic detail. I decided to do the same in my own life. Put me in any given artistic situation, and I will  do my best come up with an idea of how to turn nothingness into somethingness wither it is literal art, music, relationships, loving Jesus etc.

As I sat there stabbing the ancient crusted decaying paintbrush onto the thick slabs of cardboard clouds with freely thoughtful abstracts of blues and white while listening to my favorite Belorussian/Russian band Nuteki, it really got me thinking, how have I truly turned the trash that surrounds me into treasure while walking the beautiful streets of this life?

I've realized there are several seasons of life where I find myself so busy, I overlook and miss the details that surround me. Wither it is the sight of red rose, or a person I should have talked to, but just decided not too, judged them out and moved on. Maybe what we consider trash in our lives isn't necessarily actually worthless. Have we actually taken the time to look at it, and realize all the perspectives to somehow turn it into an artistic masterpiece?
Those moments of sadness and depression in our lives, those times we really hurt and cry out to God and ask WHY? KODEL? Usually our first instinct is to just take those moments and eternally throw them out because there seems to be no artistic or musical or joyful perspective. But I challenge you, what if there is, if you look deep enough, will you be able to find that glimmer of light in those seemingly unfavorable moments of life?

Maybe there is a person in your life that you pushed away, but in your heart you realize you must talk to them and revive the relationship,
Maybe you let your greatest passion, vision, and dream in life die, and Jesus keeps whispering to your beautiful inspiring soul to bring it back to life again for His glory,

I encourage you dearest friend to take those colorful shattered glass pieces of life that surround you, and to create  what may seem like an abstract nothingness into an artistic somethingness. <3

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Art of Christianity & Secularism

I would like to take the time to write a personal elaborative response to a post by one of my favorite Christian metal  band's For Today. I am very proud of Mattie Montgomery (lead singer) of taking a stand on the issue of Christian bands touring with secular bands, as portrayed in the text to the right. Over the years, I have become very disappointed with the Christian music scene in general. Bands are simply not willing to collaborate with secular bands. Furthermore, several Christian communities (not to mention any specific names) from my experience tend to segregate "Christian" and "Secular" bands as if we are "White as snow" and they are as "Black as hell". I'm sorry, but there is something seriously WRONG with that. I believe Jesus calls us to love ALL OF HUMANITY. When does Jesus ever say to "SELECTIVELY love humanity". or "Only love those you want to love or feel comfortable loving!?"

This raises a whole other issue. Why are we as humanity, afraid to love those who are different from us? I would like to share a personal example. Growing up, I was quite free to express myself through art  more or less. Especially when I entered my university years, fashion was of high importance to me. I started creating wild punk hairstyles and boldly expressing them. I started gauging (creating tunnels) in my ears because I really enjoy that look. I also got a tattoo to express my love for Jesus to my people in Lithuania.  For me this is completely normally adventerous, I don't have to think twice about the physical appearance decisions I made. I wouldn't even consider myself to be an artistically extreme body modificator. I remember before I moved to Eastern Europe, I was part of an evangelistic Christian music/art community, and I was accepted for who I was and not judged. Whether this be my faith, visions, dreams, or outward appearance. Then I moved to a very conservative community in Eastern Europe. That is where the judgement began. People may not directly state it, but I know what they are thinking. I am not a naive child. I have also experienced direct judgemental remarks of my  outward apperance.....from the supposed "Christian community". In all honesty,  I am SO DISAPPOINTED. No words will ever describe. It breaks my heart how someone can be so "closed-minded" ( I really hate using this term, forgive me, but SERIOUSLY) We are all created in the Holy precious Almighty image of YESHUA. What good does it do to your heart and soul to "judge someone out". Do you as a Christian, actually think, you are winning God's approval or something? Sorry to bring a vain tear to your eye, but you are NOT. For example, let's say you met a young man who had tattoos on both arms and both legs and on his neck. Who do you think you are to say that he is "A bloody hellish damned sinner?" You don't even KNOW him. You've never even SPOKEN with him.
You never even bothered to ask for his name. Who knows, what if he is a Christian musician, a pastor, an evangelist? LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING.  In 1 Samuel 16:7 it is written, The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."     

Going back to my thoughts on the Christian v. Secular band issue, what good is it if Christians stay on their side of the fence? In order to truly love humanity to it's fullest capacity, You have to love all people. Don't reject secular bands because they may not love Jesus like you do. So what? (YEAH, I just said that) Simply be that example of the love of Jesus in their lives and don't judge them. Remember what first inspired you to accept Jesus?  That moment of sweet, loving embrace that just hugged the heart and soul of who you are?  We need more Christians to go into the darkest corners of society. If we don't go, who will? You can't just expect someone to know Jesus and develop a personal relationship if you don't take your cute bottom off that couch and go do something about it. ( I just had to use that analogy)  

My prayer everyday is that we as Christians would continue to fall so in love with Jesus, ever so passionately, that He would give us that heart to love ALL PEOPLE. Regardless of outward appearance or what music they create.