Welcome to My World

Divine Interruption 

Hi guys!! It's been a while since I put out a new blog post. Just to give you a quick update on what's been going on in my life, I've basically just been writing and recording as much as I can through this quarantine. If you came to my house and watched me every day (in a not creepy way...), you'd probably find my life to be pretty mundane! 

But, getting back to the whole, "It's been a while" thing! One thing that I've struggled with during this crazy season is consistency. Maybe that's you, or maybe you thrive on structure and couldn't have it any other way. I find myself putting off my daily responsibilities to get out of the house or try something new or go for a long drive because I'm just trying to avoid the work that needs to get done lol! I guess that's the enneagram 4 in me, that just wants to feel anything but the ordinary. I sometimes find myself so fixated on the big things I want to see happen in my future, that I try to pass up the small opportunities that are part of growth. But God is teaching me during this time to not just sit around and wait to be obedient in the big stuff. He wants me to be obedient every day, and in everything. 

I think 1 Corinthians 10:31 sums it up best, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." This is such a convicting statement!! Do EVERYTHING to the glory of God. That's a pretty high standard, and I'm so glad I don't have to strive to live up to that because Jesus already did on the cross!! So, what does daily obedience look like then? I think a great example is found in the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah. I just started reading through Luke, and I can't get this story out of my head. 

This is really a story of divine interruption. Zechariah had received a high honor and would be performing his duties in the temple for two weeks, burning incense and proclaiming the familiar blessing over the people from Numbers 6:24-26. In the midst of his duty, he was interrupted by God's divine plan. Although I'd like to think he accepted this good news that he and Elizabeth were going to have a child with eagerness and joy, he actually faced it with skepticism. Because of this, he was met with a mild and somewhat comical punishment. He would lose all ability to speak until Elizabeth had given birth to their son, John. You know, just the John who baptized Jesus, and paved the way for His ministry. Nothing big! 

As I was reading through this story, the Spirit laid this idea on my heart. Would I be willing to be interrupted for the purpose of God's plan, or would I rather Him pass me by at the moment to not be inconvenienced? Nothing about what Zechariah was doing when the angel came to him was wrong. He was fulfilling his duty in the temple, and serving God's people! But God had something less conventional in mind, and He wanted Zechariah's trust at that moment. His wife was going to give birth to the man who's name literally meant "Prophet of the Highest", but he was so focused on his duty, his life's work, that he felt inconvenienced by God's interruption. 

Why is this such a convicting thought to me? Well, I've always been a dreamer. Since I was a little girl of only 5 or 6 I wanted to be a singer and songwriter. I can remember sitting in the sandpit on the playground at school making up songs in my head and singing them to express how I was feeling. I've had this dream for so long, it's almost like it's a part of me, and it takes daily surrender for it to not become my identity. So, if Jesus showed up at my back door and directed my path elsewhere, would I be excited and ready to go? Or would I feel like it was an interruption to MY plans? Let's face it! Jesus doesn't often just show up at our back doors. I've personally never had that happen! It's more often the small voice of the Holy Spirit convicting, guiding, and giving just enough insight for us to trust. So, the question is, are you willing to be interrupted in your duty to follow God's greater plan?

Hands 

This poem is dedicated to my grandfather, Pop, who is one of my biggest inspirations.

Hands - for Pop

You were just a little baby and the first thing your hands grasped, were your mother’s warm strong fingers as she held you to her chest. 

You grew and they became stronger as you’d pull yourself to your feet, and would bound across the room in what seemed a flying leap. 

You’d run and you’d play outside, picking up sticks, bugs, and rocks. Your hands had met so many things in just your short life. 

The burden of labor would show in those hands, so calloused and scarred. Day in and day out they picked and plowed ‘til they felt they’d work no more. 

Those same hands would hold God’s precious Word as the seeds were planted in your heart. They’d fold to pray when by yourself and for those held close to your heart. 

Your hands would later hold the hands to the love of your life. And you’d hold your children in those hands and you’d been held before. 

To your wife, those hands were comfort and strength. To your girls, they meant playtime and a safe place. 

Your hands were direct and pointed when you’d preach the Word of God. Then were lifted in surrender as you would praise Him for what He’s done. 

Your hands gave away in marriage your three girls to the ones they loved. And embraced each grandbaby into a world so dark and cold. 

And as I study your hands now so weathered and old, I think of all these things and what these hands have been to me. 

They’ve been playtime when I was little; guidance as I grew up. Strength through the many seasons, and guidance when I needed it most. 

I’ve seen them raised in worship; seen them brought low in defeat, but in each and every moment, those hands have always been there for me.

They Called Him Jesus 

"For to us a child is born, 
    to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
    and his name shall be called 
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 

    Each of us celebrates Christmas differently. We all have different traditions, different family dynamics; some of us don't celebrate Christmas at all. I want to share with you how I celebrate Christmas, what it means to me, and why I wrote the song, "They Called Him Jesus". So, let's jump right in! 

    Christmas is, by far, my favorite holiday. Not only because of the great food, seeing all my family, and giving and receiving presents, but because it is the celebration of the birth of my Savior, Jesus. I added a Bible verse at the top of this blog, and I want to talk a little bit about why I included it. This passage encapsulates so much joy. When I read it, I think about the people that were anxiously waiting for the Messiah, yet He was nothing like what they had expected. Have you ever received a present from someone that you didn't expect to get? You're surprised this person even thought about you, much less gave you a present! You open it, and you have a choice to make, receive it with joy and thanksgiving, or disregard the giver's kindness and thoughtfulness in giving you such a present. Many people saw and see Christ in this light. Some judged based upon His outward appearance and decided He was not the king they were awaiting, while others listened to His humble instruction and saw the miracles He performed. They truly believed He was and is the Son of God! The truth in this passage and the decision we have to make is just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.  

    So, what does this all have to do with the writing of "They Called Him Jesus"? I'm so glad you asked! ;) Some songs can be a long and agonizing process to write, while others come easily and just want to be written. This was one of those songs that came naturally because it came from such a genuine place in my heart. The thought of writing a Christmas song has always been daunting to me. What could I possibly have to say that hasn't already been said? I finally decided I'd just try and began thinking about what Christmas means to me. I love the traditions - the tree, presents, the food, decorations, family, shopping, the FOOD - but, when you take all that away, what remains? Jesus! He's why the holiday exists. He's why we come together. He's why we give gifts! Christ should always be at the center of CHRISTmas. So, why don't I make Him the center? I get caught up in selfishly wanting every item on my list handed to me Christmas morning; I want the food that I want and I don't want to have to share it with anyone; I don't want to give up my comfortable bed when my large family is packed into a tiny house. Just like that, I lose sight of why we celebrate. There's nothing wrong with the traditions, the presents, or the food, but what has priority in my life when Christmas day rolls around?  

    So, this year, I'm deciding to keep Jesus in the center of my Christmas. Every time I feel a selfish thought coming on, I want to crucify that in Jesus' name! If Jesus sacrificed His life for me, I think I can give Christmas, and I hope much more, to Him. Christmas was the beginning of salvation 2,000 years ago and continues to be so every day for those who find the forgiveness, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ!  If you have any questions about my faith, songwriting, or just a random question, please feel free to head over to my contact page and ask away. Merry Christmas! 

You can stream "They Called Him Jesus" now everywhere you listen to music!! 

Love, 
Emmalee

F E A R L E S S 

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18a. If perfect love casts out all fear, then couldn’t so many of our walls be broken down by love? How often have I made decisions out of fear instead of reason? I believe that the biggest thing holding back so many of us is fear. Almost all my life my reasoning has been, if I don’t take this job (that I’m not very passionate about) then I won’t have a steady income, but if I do, then I’ll end up discontented with what I’m doing. But at least I have a paycheck, right? I decide not to get too close to people because it's better to not get hurt. I may be lonely, but at least I'm safe, right? Wrong! So much of my decision making is based on the level of certainty that comes with making that decision. But what if I finally decided to believe what I’ve read and been taught for so long? That God has a plan and a purpose for my life, and I need not worry about the future. It sounds a little radical, but isn’t being fearless a radical decision as well? How can I truly be fearless if I can’t place those fears somewhere? Praise God I have somewhere to place those fears. God loves me perfectly; no conditions. So, if perfect love casts out all fear, then God’s love, which is perfect, is big enough to cast out the fears that once held me so tightly. There is freedom and there is fearlessness in being able to put my trust in a God who is so much bigger than my problems.

When Moe Loughran, Josh Bronleewe, and I wrote Fearless, we weren't necessarily writing it for me to release. We decided we'd pitch it and see if it landed somewhere, but the second we walked out of that writer's room, I knew it was my song. There was no doubt about it. This song resonates with me so much and has helped me face so many struggles and I hope it will help you do the same! You can stream or download Fearless everywhere you listen to music now!! So, let's start living out the life we've been designed to live, a FEARLESS life!

The Power of a Song 

    Recently I had the opportunity to sing for the residents at Jubilee House Memory Care. I've always loved singing oldies and hymns, so I never shy away from getting the opportunity to sing those songs to the generation that grew up with them. I have very fond memories from when I was little of singing and dancing in the kitchen with my Mom and Mimi. We would turn on Elvis', "Hound Dog" or "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow. I never realized as a little girl how sad that song is... Anyways, I've learned to appreciate all generations and genres of music because of my Mom and Mimi. 

    It's always a blessing for me to share those good, old songs with the people who've enjoyed them the most. It's amazing to me that people suffering from the awful disease of Alzheimer's can still remember every word of their favorite songs and be brought to tears by the memories connected to them. I can remember my great grandmother, Grams, despite not being able to remember what she ate for breakfast that morning, would listen to her favorite Elvis songs and remember every word to them. And something similar happened as I sang for these sweet people. 

    One particular instance filled my heart with joy as I sang for the residents at Jubilee House. Ms. Willie, who has been a soprano singer throughout her life, was lost in the music. She could recall every lyric of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" and was harmonizing perfectly. She continued to do this with every hymn that we sang and became more and more confident as the music went on. Music truly does have power! 

    When I feel discouraged, or wonder why I do what I do, it's moments like these that encourage me. I know that music is a gift and the benefits of sharing are worth it! "When words fail, music speaks," Shakespeare.

Serbia 

    As most of you know, I took two amazing weeks this summer and went on a trip to Serbia. I have always loved to travel, experience new cultures, and most importantly, share Christ's love with those around me; so, when this opportunity came my way I couldn't refuse it. Some may say I'm crazy for getting on a plane with people I've never met before and flying across the globe to a country I've never heard of, but it was one of the best experiences of my life, and I wouldn't take it back for anything. While we were in Serbia, we helped lead a week-long English camp with Josiah Venture. While there, we help students improve their conversational English skills, encourage them, and teach them stories from the Bible. So, I want to jump right into what made my two weeks in Serbia so amazing! 

    I want to start by giving you some insight into Serbian culture. Even though I understand very little of the culture, this is what I learned in the two weeks I was there. To set the climate, we have to keep in mind that Serbia is a shame and honor culture. This means if I were to do something that put me to shame, there would be a large threat of ostracism and my past mistakes being emphasized over victories. The level of encouragement students hear over the week at camp is not the norm. It was incredible to see them open up as we encouraged them in their strengths as opposed to pointing out their flaws. I had several students tell me they weren't looking forward to going back to school because the environment is so negative and discouraging. For many of these students, camp is a break from the negativity.  

    I want to share one story that is so special to me and continues to touch my heart as I think back to it. The second night of camp we were in our discussion groups. Galé had shared a touching story from the Bible of how Jesus loves us like the shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep to go after the one. I was hopeful that this would touch my student's hearts and we would have a meaningful conversation. To make them more comfortable, the discussion groups were in Serbian. Even though I didn't know what was being said, I could tell it was good. Afterward, I pulled one of the students aside and asked him what happened. He shared with me that last year he came to camp with a heavy burden. He felt empty. Like something was missing. That something was Jesus. When he realized this, he decided he wanted Jesus to take that burden and emptiness he was feeling. He asked Him to be the Lord of his life, and immediately he felt joy. He felt like that burden was lifted and that void was filled! He had shared this with the group and I was so proud of him. He told me he was so excited for the upcoming week at camp because he wanted to know how to become closer to God and continue to feel that excitement and joy He gives.  

    What this amazing young man shared is something every Christian experiences. You accept the gift Christ has given to you and you're excited to share it with others, but that excitement begins to fade. I'm asking God in prayer that He would bless this young man for sharing and renew his joy. I'm praying the same for myself. I'm praying I would never forget how exciting it is to be a child of God!

Another Year of Music 

    When I was eleven years old, I was given my first guitar for my birthday. It was a cheap Epiphone acoustic, and I named it Ellie. I started out picking simple melodies until I finally had enough coordination to strum, which is a large feat for someone as uncoordinated as myself. :) Soon it started a fire in me to write music. My very first song was about my neighbors. No, it wasn't about how they showed up on my back porch every day wanting me to come out and play, or about how we rode our bikes up and down the street every day pretending we were race car drivers, not even about how we snuck on to the golf course across the street and played in the sand pits (still wondering why we thought that was a good idea.) I wrote about their lives, the struggles they had to face at such a young age and the grace that is freely offered them. Just as that grace is offered to everyone freely.  

    Today is my nineteenth birthday, and that fire is still in me!! It's been eight years since I first started writing, and I wouldn't change a moment of this journey. I've chosen a career path that is not guaranteed success, and that can be scary, but it's also taught me to trust in God to provide every need. In the moments I think I should give up, God reveals Himself in ways I would have never imagined and His still small voice reminds to keep going. He reminds me that the last eight years were not in vain, but were a process of growth. 

    So, to wrap up this blog post, I just want to say thank you to every person who has supported and listened to my music. If you've been following along since my first release when I was thirteen, or you're just now discovering my music, you are so appreciated. I believe God uses music to bring us together when we wouldn't otherwise have made a connection. Life is a process and a journey and I'm so thankful for everyone who has joined me in mine. I want to connect with you, and know how I can come alongside you, pray for you, do life with you!! Send me a note through my contact page, or send me a message on Facebook or Instagram.

    Want to know what the best nineteenth birthday gift would be? Head over to Spotify and give my music a listen. Start at the beginning and hear the progress!! Each project is a new chapter in my story, and I can't wait for you to read the next chapter soon. Here's to another year of music with the best music family in the world!