Do you hate my hair?

Do you hate my hair?

My relationship with my hair is a very messy, complicated one. We fight a lot. One day I wake up wanting an icy blonde bob, and the next day I envy those who have long, dark luscious locks. In short, my hair causes me much grief.

But this blog post isn’t about my hair. It’s about my ability to make everything more dramatic than it needs to be. Kidding! (Kind of.)

In May 2018, I made a promise to myself: I refused to cut my hair again until I graduated. In my extreme unrest and desire for change, I kept it long but dyed it blonde. Then, a mere five days after graduation came the chop.

I remember complaining endlessly to my friends about my hair. But the second I chopped it, I wondered if I had made a mistake. All your progress is gone! What did you just do?!

The whole soap-opera drama involving my hair revealed much more about myself than I realized at the time. My hair was growing, just as that season of my life was one of growth. After being run down and emotionally exhausted for far too long, it’s what I needed. It may not have been want I wanted, but it is what I needed.

As silly as it seems, I do feel like God was teaching me something through that process of waiting. Just the other day, I listened to a sermon about the power of God’s working in the waiting. (It’s like my pastor knew that my hair was driving me insane.)

I actually laughed at myself when I decided to stick with my decision to let my hair grow–that awkward stage of growth in which so many people give up can also be an outlet for some of the most beautiful outcomes.

So sure, I might have complained (and still complain) a lot about my hair. But ultimately, waiting it out and keeping my promise to myself was more important to me. And God is showing me that I need to be faithful to Him and wait on His perfect timing.

Advertisements

In The Middle Of It All.

In The Middle Of It All.

“The unpredictable has found a hand to hold.”

Citizen, In The Middle Of It All

I’ve been getting a little overwhelmed by my mind recently. My tendency to internalize my thoughts and emotions has proven to add much more stress than needed to my life. I’m just so exhausted.

Exhausted by all the hurt my friends and family have experienced.

Exhausted by the feeling of being a passive participant in this life I’ve been given.

Exhausted by my own bitterness and anger and never ending questions.

Exhausted by the hatred and evil in the world. 

However, tonight in the midst of all the paralyzing thoughts and feelings stirring in my soul, I heard a still, small voice in my mind saying, “Do not grow weary in doing good.” God in His goodness immediately reminded me of that beautiful verse from Galatians 6.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

When it all falls apart,

When people hate you,

When you are utterly alone,

When you encounter those who defend immorality,

When you feel intimidated by the happenings of this world,

When those who profess to be Christians do not reflect Christ in any capacity,

When you feel like you can’t go on,

do not grow weary in doing good. 

Weariness of mind and heart makes sense for me right now. My life is on the brink of change. New things await, old things still beckon. Everything is in flux.

One song that keeps replaying in my mind during this season of life is “In the Middle of It All” by Citizen. I don’t really like the band, actually, but I love this song. My friend showed it to me while she was struggling with some similar things I am now. The band uses this song to proclaim despair and hurt and confusion. And then right before the chorus they sing, “In the middle of it all, I found you there.”

While it’s very clear the artist didn’t intend for it to be a spiritual song, I think God continues to show me more of Himself through things like this. In the middle of all my stress and anxiety and bitterness and resentment and excitement and confusion, I found Him. I found God in the storm of my life. And He alone is worth the pursuit. That alone gives me peace and calms the storms of my mind.

4 Books You Really Should Read This Summer.

4 Books You Really Should Read This Summer.

There’s truly nothing quite as wonderful as the smell of books. Walking into Barnes & Noble or the public library (or really anywhere that has tons of books) fills my heart with an inexplicable peace and joy. Even if I’m not reading them, I like being around them. Maybe because it makes me feel smarter. In any case, I compiled a tiny list of my summer reading suggestions because I just can’t stop thinking about these books. Check out these classics.

For the critical philosopher: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Arguably one of the most well-known novels of the 19th century, Crime and Punishment explores the psyche of Rodion Raskolnikov, a poor college dropout who murders an old lady and then must deal with all the consequences. The entire novel is one giant psychological and philosophical analysis disguised in a fictional tale.

For the romantic optimist: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

I would be amiss not to mention my favorite book of all time. This novel is intricate, thrilling, captivating, and absolutely enthralling. I cannot say enough about it. Dantes, a sailor, is wrongly imprisoned and taken away from the love of his life. The complexity of this novel will woo your heart and fascinate your mind. Within each chapter is woven the virtues and vices of mankind.

For the podcast enthusiast: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

This is the original “Serial.” Capote fuses journalism and novel writing in this non-fiction novel about an entire family who was brutally murdered. Fun fact: Harper Lee helped him interview people for this novel.

For the sci-fi geek: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

A futuristic society with no pain and all the pleasure your heart could think of. Technological advancements soared, leaving the human race with nothing but their wildest dreams. But is it really everything we imagined? Huxley explores the possibilities of a utopian society in a very “Black Mirror” -esque way.


Have you read these books? What do you think? I’m also looking to expand my summer reading list. Drop some book suggestions for ME in the comments below!

5 Things I Learned About Waiting That Are Probably Common Knowledge But I Feel Smart For Realizing Them

5 Things I Learned About Waiting That Are Probably Common Knowledge But I Feel Smart For Realizing Them

“All human wisdom is contained in these words: Wait and Hope!”

Alexandre Dumas, Le Comte de Monte Cristo

I’m an indecisive person. Which, in theory, makes waiting seem not all that bad. No decisions to make, right?

The worst part comes when I finally decide something.

That’s it.

Game over.

When I set my heart on something, I want it. And I want it right then.

Recently I’ve set my heart on too many plans, life paths, and fantasies that have yet to become realities, and I have been very humbled in the past few months.

I cognitively knew there would be stretches of my life in which I was forced to sit and wait. But I expected it in the form of waiting in line at the grocery store while a lady pulls out a bag of 274 coupons she cut out of the newspaper. Not waiting for months as I glide into the unknown of my future. Which is still unknown, by the way.

However, if we don’t recognize the expansiveness of the unknown, we cannot recognize the boundlessness of the opportunities before us. So here are five things I’ve had the privilege of learning in my time of waiting. 

The Beauty of Unpredictability

As much as my heart loves spontaneity, my mind yearns for structure. My fun, sporadic side always comes home at the end of the day, exhausted and ready to cuddle up next to the somewhat bland personality of my evening routine. It’s kind of cute actually. They sit and watch Jeopardy together and then are in bed by 10pm.

Not knowing what’s coming next has seriously threatened my boring side (she’s very offended), but it has also calmed my control freak mind and allowed her to understand that the beauty of life lies in its unpredictability.

The “Grand Narrative”

I like to think of my life as a story that is still being written each day upon waking. And though things haven’t gone exactly the way I want them, I know there is a grand narrative that will allow me to look back on my life with a series of ooohs and aaahs as I realize why I couldn’t have exactly what I wanted in the moment I wanted it. And I continue to see that all the previous experiences I’ve had–both good and bad–made me who I am today. I am so immensely thankful for every single person who has been in my life, even those who have deeply wounded me, because they have afforded me the opportunity to grow. To love deeper. To analyze more thoroughly. To pursue knowledge and wisdom more wholeheartedly.

The Things I Can Control

Pretty much all I can control right now is me, my thoughts, and my actions. Which I guess is true of most humans for the majority of their lives. But in my panic (and realization that my life was so often out of my control), I took my hair and stripped it of the rich, deep brown hues it once had. I not-so-patiently waited for graduation, as I had promised myself, and then I chopped it all off. And when people asked what caused this sudden external change, I tell them the truth. I just did it because it was one of the only things I could actually control in my life, and I wanted to remind myself of that. And though it sounds silly, finding control in the little things is actually a big thing.

The Work

Waiting is work. Lots of work.

And there is always something new to work on. Which is both exciting and exhausting. But while seemingly stuck in my waiting, I’ve learned that God is working way more than I am. He is working with me, “guiding me in his truth” (Psalm 25:5). He draws near to my heart, comforts me, and reassures me that “I need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).

For the longest time, I felt like a little child wrestling in the arms of my loving Father as He tried to hold me tight and show me His unending love. But after trying time and time again to force my way into a situation with a stubborn heart and mind, after being disappointed countless times, after feeling hopeless and lost, I finally just gave up. I stopped pushing away and kicking. I sat and cried and allowed God to hold me and love me. And I’m still learning to embrace and hold tight.

The Reason

The anxious nights filled with praying and crying will be worth it. I know without a doubt in my mind that I will look back and realize the beauty of this period of my life. My future self will not be able to exist without first experiencing these formative moments.

Music Moment: Superbody

Music Moment: Superbody

A mullet comparable to that of John Stamos. A crew neck paired over a collared shirt. A single cross earring dangling from his left ear. This is Robert McCurry, frontman of Superbody. He walks through the door of our local coffee shop, looking like he stepped right out of a DeLorean before walking in.

Funky synth beats and electronic voices blare into my headphones as I sip coffee, waiting for him to walk in. I’ve been listening to his album on repeat for the past 24 hours. Expecting to see the 23-year old clad in typical college kid attire, I blink multiple times in disbelief as he walks through the door.

Small Town, Big Dreams

Superbody is the creation of Robert McCurry and Caleb Dills, two kids who made their music debut in the rolling hills of Chattanooga, Tenn. As an eclectic mix of Tears for Fears meets Joy Division, Superbody epitomizes the revival of the ‘80s maximalist. McCurry describes his upbringing as typical, suburban, and middle-class. “But I started, of course, playing in different punk and rock bands when I was in middle school, like everybody else.” Bass guitar is his instrument of choice, noting that a lot of his favorite music “actually has bass lines on it as opposed to synth bass lines.”

The duo released their first album, Hades Land, in 2015 and featured a lo-fi vibe. “We didn’t even know what we were at that point. We had no idea how to mix, so we ran a bunch of stuff through tape machines. We were scared of people calling us out for doing everything with software because we didn’t know how to work the software that well.” This explains much of the experimental sound incorporated into their first album.

“I’m not scared of that anymore,” says McCurry, “like, that’s so pretentious that I would think that anyone would do that. But at the time, we were so scared of people calling us out because we never produced something.”

The days of hesitant music production were long gone after Hades Land was released. Technology and software quickly became integrated into their newest album, Youth Music. Once this album dropped, a few national magazines, such as the Office Magazine and The 405, picked up on Superbody. They went on tour up the East Coast and into Canada.

From the looks of McCurry, you would never guess he was a pop artist in the 21st century. In fact, you might assume the exact opposite; he resembles someone from an 80s movie. When it comes to his appearance, McCurry shares a funny story about how the mullet came to be. “We started recording, and I started singing with that weird, deep voice, and I was like, ‘No one’s gonna even believe that this is me.’ I looked more freaky with the fact that I just looked normal. So for the first record, I grew the mustache and bleached my hair. We started writing the second record, and I was like, ‘I have to grow a mullet for this.’”

McCurry’s whole persona is an antithesis of the DIY punk artist. The entire “I-look-lazier-than-you” personage is the exact opposite of what he wants to portray. “I just wanted to be expressive in whatever way I can because the music is extremely expressive and bright.”

From Indie to Pop

After being in countless punk and indie bands, McCurry has developed a very distinct pop music philosophy. “Caleb and I just set out with this: we wanted to make the most creative, accessible pop music that we can stand by. That anyone can listen to and anyone can have an opinion on as well.” After seeing how indie music can play it a bit too safe, McCurry ran to the opposite extreme with his music.

His drive for distinctiveness led him to create Youth Music. The opening track, Real Luv, is a conglomeration of techno vibes and robotic ‘80s voices. The entire album flows in this manner: extremely pop dance and extremely ‘80s. “It was very intentional for the rhetoric and everything to be, like, oh-so-80s because that’s what we were obsessed with. Maximalist early ‘80s music. Everything about that. That’s the explosion of creativity to me.”  

Though Dills recently left the band to pursue other endeavors, McCurry is still prepared to take on the pop scene with fresh ideas and content. McCurry labels himself a poptimist– someone who spread positivity through pop music. “As soon as I started trying to actually write pop songs, I was like, ‘This is the highest form of art. Period.’”

With the release of Youth Music, the return of ‘80s pop has never been more apparent. McCurry drew much of his inspiration from the ‘80s hit band Wham! “They just found a way to affect youth culture with pure positivity,” McCurry says. “The fact that there were high school kids walking around with ‘Choose Life’ shirts and ultimate positivity in their lives when most of the youths, especially boys, seek out darker things almost always.”

Modern Love: Synth Pop in a Digital Age

The fact that ‘80s pop is making a comeback is actually very significant. Music production has completely changed in the past 30 to 40 years. From analog to digital, some artists are still adapting to the process. Many prominent “indie” artists– BØRNS, Bleachers, LANY, and The 1975, to name a few– are re-inventing this ‘80s sound in the modern music world. “We [Robert and Caleb] were so obsessed specifically with one hit wonders. All of that early ‘80s pop and dance music still stands up today, and they didn’t have computers. They were doing all of that shit on a tape reel. They didn’t have any of the software that we have right now.”

Another aspect that makes ‘80s music stand the test of time was the pure quality with which it was produced. With the rise of MTV, it was almost impossible to get on the charts without a music video. Ironically enough, even with the rise of social media, music videos are on the decline. Many #1 singles on the radio don’t even have a video to accompany them. “[With] things like Instagram stories and Snapchat, I try to stay away from it as much as possible. Actually, with the small fan-base I do have, surprise people. I like that.”

McCurry admits that the shift in music is continuously changing. “In this day and age, people can arrange and compose without barely even knowing how to play music. When you’re sending stuff off or recording, you just leave someone to work on it for weeks and then you get it back. There’s no excuse for that anymore. You need very minimal money, minimal experience to produce music on your own. Now you can make anything sound like anything with just the software.” McCurry is somewhat of a paradox: he loves the vintage sound and the modern technology.

 

For a hint of Superbody’s style, check out their hit single Patricia or their Instagam. Featured image by Juniper Jeffries.

 

Holy Saturday.

Holy Saturday.

“Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.” Mark 15: 46


 

I’ve been stuck in bed with the flu all day. My lungs feel as though they are about to give out from all the coughing I’ve been doing. My fever won’t go away, and I’m miserable.

In the midst of my sickness, I could only seem to groan and complain that my Easter plans were ruined by my untimely sickness. All the while my heart was bitter only because I wanted to celebrate Easter my way.

Tonight I finally sat down to read the accounts of Jesus’ death one by one. Starting in Matthew and going to John, I read from the garden to the cross. Each time I read these, I see myself in Peter as he denies Jesus. I see myself in Pilate, “wanting to satisfy the crowd.” (Mark 15:15) I see myself in the angry mob mocking him and spitting on him, reveling in my sin.

And yet I continually missed one key point: the Easter story isn’t about me. It never has been. It’s not about any of us. It’s about Jesus and his sacrifice. The whole point of Easter is Jesus Christ.

 

The cross is not beautiful. The cross is not romantic. It was an attempt to destroy the Savior of the world. But alas, even death couldn’t defeat our sweet Jesus. As Holy Saturday comes to a close, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude knowing that Sunday is coming, knowing that He is risen, and knowing that he reigns eternally at the right hand of God.

Happy Easter. (Maybe you’ll be hearing from me again tomorrow, considering I’m still bed-ridden.)

KV

On Self-Love.

On Self-Love.

On February 11, the Sunday before Valentine’s Day, I gathered together to celebrate with a bunch of wonderful women. Celebrate each other. Celebrate ourselves. And you know what I noticed as we went around the room sharing a glimpse into our hearts? Every single person liked something about themselves that is completely and utterly intangible.

Physicality can only lift you up so high before its efforts become futile. Find intangible qualities in yourself and spend your life passionately cultivating them. That is true self-love.

 

Far too often in our millennial minds, we confuse self-love with self-appeasement. We live to indulge our fleeting pleasures in the name of “self-care.” Loving yourself is more than doing face masks or buying yourself new clothes or makeup or trinkets every other day.

True self-love demands self-respect. It requires a deeply rooted sense of self– an awareness. You cannot begin to love yourself until you take yourself seriously.

I’ve recently explored the idea of self-respect. What is it? How do we get it? Is it inherent or learned? One of the most impressive essays I’ve found about the topic was Joan Didion’s 1961 essay published in Vogue. Check out these excerpts.

“In brief, people with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called character, a quality which, although approved in the abstract, sometimes loses ground to other, more instantly negotiable virtues.”

“Nonetheless, character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.”

I suppose this is just an attempt at an eloquent reminder to stretch beyond the cultural standard of surface level self-care. Dare to pull back the shimmering veil from your picturesque life and see who you are– who you really are.