Posts filed under Anything and Everything

"The Invisible" by Daniel Bashta- Album Review

The Invisible I think the title of this blog might be a bit of a lie. I'm sorry. I don't mean it, but this will be not so much a review of the new Daniel Bashta album "The Invisible" so much as me trying, with all my written power, to persuade you to go out and by this album immediately.

Reason #1- The same brilliant (this is not stretch or exaggeration) team that produced my last album "Current," also, once again collaborated to produce this Bashta album. They did not hold back. They didn't play by any rules or candy coat or allow anyone to shove them within the tight constraints of a box. They just stood alongside Daniel and shaped the songs as they are meant to be shaped. The results are stunning.

Reason #2- The songwriting. Daniel is an intense life live-r and this is shown in his songwriting. There is never a moment on this album (unlike much of the Christian industry, unfortunately) where you don't think Daniel cares passionately about what he is singing. You never find yourself thinking, "it doesn't really sound like he knows who he is singing about." No, you listen and you think, "Ahhh, this is a very real God he is singing about and he is singing like he actually knows Him, very well." Daniel's songs are like a painting of who God is, a revelation of Christ and Daniel's painting is clear. We can clearly see our Savior. We don't have to strain our eyes at a fuzzy, blurry image, we can see Jesus in these songs. This is a great achievement of a songwriter/singer and Daniel does it flawlessly.

Reason #3- The singing. Passion. I remember being downstairs while Daniel was upstairs recording vocals in our studio and he was singing so passionately, with so much energy, with such belief and conviction, that I remember getting chills without even being able to hear any other bits of the song. Just his vocals only. He doesn't resign to doing this only once on this album but instead, song after song, he is singing with every ounce of his being. This kind of vocal performance stirs me, as a listener, to do just the same.

I could keep listing reasons. I could keep going on and on but it really comes down to this, there are few records in the Christian music industry still being made like this one. The kind where there is freedom, where there is creativity and musical excellence. The kind where you can see a creative, real, God within every note or beat or word. I believe that this album will change lives because of the great truth being clearly revealed within it.

Yes, you can hear me singing on various songs throughout the album and I even had the opportunity to co-write on the opening track called "I Want It All (Just Give Me Jesus)" and I couldn't be more proud to get to be a part of such a stunning project. Go out and buy this album now. Support Daniel and this record so that he can continue to make music that moves us and grabs us and hurls us into the presence of our Savior. Our real Savior and not some candy coated religious one.

Then, once you have listened repeatedly, I want you to come back and tell me which songs are your favorites. I say listen repeatedly because your favorites will change listen by listen. Every song is that good.

Ohhh I'm excited for you :)

Buy the album right here, right now:

Daniel Bashta "The Invisible"

Enjoy!

Posted on February 5, 2013 and filed under Anything and Everything.

My Top 10 Blogs of 2012

Top 10 Blogs of 2012
Top 10 Blogs of 2012

At the start of each year I try to go back and take a look at the blogs that I posted over the 12 months and see which had the most impact or greatest response from you, the readers.  I'll admit, in doing so I am constantly humbled that you have invested your valuable time in following and reading my blogs and then even more astonishing, you have passed some of them along to your friends or co-workers or neighbors because they meant something to you and you wanted to share that meaning with them.  I am baffled that you wold do this and feel greatly honored by it.  Thank you from the depths of my being.  Your affirmation is a treasure of great worth.

So here we are again and I have my 2012 list.  These blogs rose to the top above the 50 something blogs that I posted over the year.  I hope you find some that you want to re-visit or re-share or perhaps even some that you have never seen and you can read for the first time.

Here goes:

1.  Music To Run To Blogs- Without a doubt, my music playlist's are the most popular blogs on my site.  I love it.  People stumble upon these lists from google searches for running playlists all the time and then frequently let me know that it was a happy surprise to find my blog.  Here are the Music to run to lists that I posted throughout 2012.  Happy running/listening.

Music To Run To #4

Christian Music To Run To #1

Christian Music To Run To #2

Music To Run To #5

2.  "Every Good Endeavor" By Timothy Keller (Book Review)- This blog had the most hits in one day than any other blog I've posted (probably because Timothy Keller tweeted a link to the blog also as well as his book publisher).  If you haven't read this book yet, you need to get it now and get it read!

3.  Freedom-Loss- I'll admit, I have been surprised by the number of hits and reads this blog has gotten.  I love that it hit a nerve with people and as a result it has been widely read.

4.  Burned By The Church Video Blog-  This video blog has been viewed almost 8,000 times in only the short 4 months since it was released.  What I love most is that it has been shared by hundreds of you.  Thank you.

5.  Never Underestimate How Weak You Are- This is one of those blogs that I needed to write for myself as much as for anyone else.

6.  Thankful/To Be Known- I was nervous about posting this blog on Thanksgiving Day because I thought perhaps everyone would be too busy to read it, but boy was I wrong.  You read and you shared even with turkey in your mouth and gravy on your chin.

7.  "Live For Now" And The Fool- I got angry and I wrote.  Boom.

8.  The Incision and The Pain Echo- Ahhh a Hope blog.

9.  Best Albums I Heard In 2012- I love making lists and apparently you love them too.  Music is cool.

10.  Live Performance Videos- In 2012 I released 4 of 5 performance videos that I filmed.  Each of these 4 videos and the blogs that they were attached to found their own spot at the top of last years most read/watched blogs.  Which one was your favorite?

Current- Live Performance Video

The Damaged- Live Performance Video

Galaxy Former- Live Performance Video

Laughter Comes Upon Us- Live Video

Now on to 2013...

Posted on February 1, 2013 and filed under Anything and Everything.

Muzzle The Know It All

 muzzle the know it all

muzzle the know it all

Proverbs 3:5 (in three different translations) says:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." (ESV)

"Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding." (AMP)

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own." (MSG)

I have been wrestling with this.  Not just the trusting part but the "letting go and not trying to figure everything out on my own" part.  I have a hard time not trying to unravel things, sort things and looking at what they mean, how the line up and make sense.  I will shuffle and re-shuffle my thoughts about various things going on in my life until I feel as if I have made sense of them, but, every now and then it just isn't possible, there is no sense to be made and I find myself falling back onto these words written some 3000 years ago.  I find myself thinking, "Dang, Sarah, when will you learn that this is the place to start, not to end up, after you've worn yourself out."  So here I am again, flipping the worn pages of my bible till I land on this verse, that I have underlined and starred as if it's meaning should've already been absorbed, it's lesson learned. 

I know I talk a lot about running, but, I am going to do it again because the things I learn as a runner frequently coincide with the spiritual.  I have learned, over time, that the running routine needs to change frequently or the body gets unresponsive, no longer getting faster/stronger/fitter/etc.  I can run 3 miles a day for weeks and watch my body go from at about a 10 minute mile to perhaps a 9 minute mile but after a while I stop getting faster and my muscles stop toning.  In fact I have run so frequently in my life, I have conditioned myself to be able to go out and run 3 miles easily even if I am my flabbiest, most un-fit self.  If I desire more speed or more fitness I have to change my routine and challenge my body again.  I have to close out that know-it-all voice in my head that says "Do what you're used to, what's easiest, what takes the least energy!  Don't change!"  It's almost like I have to start from scratch, doing something new, so that my body will once again need to improve it's ability in order to function. 

It is the same with the bible.  I have read it cover to cover a number of times and yet I still find that I have let myself act as if I have never read this verse in Proverbs 3.  I have let the words fall away into a reservoir in my brain that never gets tapped into. 

If you jump down a couple of verses to Proverbs 3:7 it says

"Don't assume that you know it all."

I think this is the root of the weeds that I have been wrestling with.  I don't think that I know it all, but, I frequently think that I know some, or if I'm being truly honest, that I know a lot, but the truth is, who cares how much I know if it is doing nothing in my spiritual life?  If I am forgetting the bare bones?  If I am overlooking things that would relieve stress and worry and anxiety in my life and replace them with peace and comfort or as Proverbs 3:8 says about us if we truly know these words

"Your body will glow with health,     your very bones will vibrate with life!"

I am thankful that there are these moments when I can be reminded that there needs to be an adjustment.  I am thankful that God is patient and will take responsibility for what I need to know and what I don't, for what I need to learn now and what I'm not ready for, making my only responsibility watching, listening, following Him.  So, once again, I am going to change up my spiritual routine.  I am going to shift gears, even though there may be a bit of grinding and difficulty so that I can be ready for whatever He may say or wherever He may lead. 

Once again it is time to muzzle my inner know-it-all get back to "Trust[ing] God from the bottom of [my] heart; [NOT] try to figure out everything on [my] own."

Posted on January 22, 2013 and filed under Anything and Everything.

Best Albums I Heard In 2012

 Best Albums 2012

Best Albums 2012

Last year was a great year in music.  I have been feeling, in the last few years, that music needed to turn a corner and bring out something fresh and inspiring and I think last year was the start of that.  As a result, I am eager to see what the next few years hold in new music.  Below is my list of "Best Albums I Heard In 2012."  This means that a couple of the albums, as you will see, actually released in 2011 but I didn't hear about them or listen to them till 2012.  Because of their greatness, I have decided that they still need to go on this "Best Of" list.  There is a little bit of everything on this list and I hope you find something to inspire you throughout the many music accompanied moments of your life.  The list is in alphabetical order (waaay too difficult to try to put them in order of favorites) mainly because each album would be my favorite during different moments.  One favorite for running on a sunny day, one favorite for running on a cloudy day.  One favorite for driving to church and another for driving through the night on a road trip. 

Best Albums I Heard In 2012:

1.  Active Child- You Are All I See (actually came out 2011): This album fits any moment and has stationed itself as my go-to album in my collection.  It never fails to inspire me.

2.  Alt J- An Awesome Wave:  This band is being heralded as the next Radiohead, I don't know about that but I sure am loving this record.

3.  David Byrne & St. Vincent- Love This Giant:  Many people are disappointed in this album but I am not.  I love both of these artists and all their crazy-ness, so the two of them together is wonderful to me.  You can decide for yourself.

4.  Ellie Goulding- Halcyon: It blows my mind that this album is even on my list, I mean Ellie is pretty darn Pop sticky sweet but there is something about it that I love.

5.  Half Moon Run- Dark Eyes: Ohhh the interesting production and vocal performances on this record.  Love, Love, Love.

6.  Hillsong Live- Cornerstone:  Only 2 tracks to make it land on this list...they are that good.

7.  James Vincent McMorrow- Early In The Morning (Released in 2011):  Soft and beautiful.

8.  Lost in the Trees- A Church That Fits Our Needs: This album has beauty and freshness combined. 

9.  Metric- Synthetica:  This record is just flat out cool.

10.  Nikki and The Dove- Instinct:  This is the album fueling my runs lately.

11.  Paper Route- The Peace Of Wild Things:  This was the album I was most eager about releasing 2012.  I had high expectations, so high in fact that I became a bit nervous thinking there was no way the album could live up to them, BUT ohhhh they did.  There are so many great moments on this album.  Ugh.  So well done.

12.  Sleeping At Last- Yearbook (actually came out nov 2011):  I was slow to hear this record but happy once I found it.  This one goes on and tension falls off.

Honorable Mentions:

David Ramirez-Apologies

All Sons & Daughters- The Longing

Nolita Knights- Distance Kills

Santigold- Master of My Make Believe

Biggest Dissappointments:

Mumford & Sons- Babel

Fiona Apple- The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

With both of the above albums I felt like I needed to love them and rave about them in order to fit into the cool people club but you know what?  I just didn't love them.  I barely even like them.  I would sit and listen and feel a bit like I was a townsperson in "The Emperors New Clothes."  I don't think I should have to be brainwashed into thinking an album is brilliant, I think it should just BE brilliant.  Ahhh, now you know.  Can we still be friends?

Well here is my list.  I hope you see some of your favorites on here as well as find some new music to inspire you.  Give me your lists and the albums that you think I'm crazy for not including.  Woohoo for great new music!!!

Posted on January 10, 2013 and filed under Anything and Everything.

Top Ten Best Things I Read In 2012

 Top Ten Best Things I Read In 2012

Top Ten Best Things I Read In 2012

This list is varied.  There are books on this list that will thrill some and displease others.  There are books on this list that have changed my life and others that have just made the hours of their reading pleasant ones. Some that were released in 2012 and some that are much older but that I've only just read. There is fiction, non-fiction and some that hover in-between.

I love to read.

1000 pages or 100, I don't care, my only requirement is that the book moves me.  These are the 10 books that did just that.  I hope you find something here that will do the same for you :)

1.  Every Good Endeavor- Timothy Keller (I have about a 900 word gush about my love of this book in my blog “Every Good Endeavor” By Timothy Keller (Book Review)"

2.  Imagine- Jonah Leher (The sub-title for this book is "How Creativity Works" and I think each and every one of you creative types should read it.  Now.)

3.  How We Decide- Jonah Lehrer (Brains, thoughts, science...yes please.)

4.  The Light Between Oceans- ML Stedman (Beauty on paper.)

5.  The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald (I've read this book before but it was fun re-reading it thinking of the new movie coming out this next year...and yes I imagine Leonardo DiCaprio will be the perfect Gatsby.)

6.  London: The Novel- Edward Rutherford (1000 pages of London history.)

7.  Reason For God-  Timothy Keller (Mr. Keller talks about the hard things and guides us to understanding.)

8.  The Book Thief-  Markus Zusak (Oh the tears I wept in this book.)

9.  Life After God- Douglas Coupland (The book that the cool kids have read.)

10.  The Night Circus- Erin Mergenstern (Dueling magicians.  Enough said.  I expect a movie to be made from this book.)

Now your turn...Give me your favorite reads of the 2012.  Make them good. 

Posted on January 3, 2013 and filed under Anything and Everything.

The Ludicrous Depths of Christmas

Manger I can't imagine the terrible burden it must've been on Mary and Joseph to have to travel to Bethlehem, due to their government's desire to track and tax the people, some 2000 years ago (Imagine a 5-7 day, 15-20 miles per day, journey on a donkey's back while 9 months pregnant). It was even worse that when they arrived in Bethlehem, after their horrible traveling, that there wasn't a home, hotel or even a single bedroom available for them to stay in. Instead they were left with a stable. Animals, their food and ick, and a baby delivery.

Mary and Joseph didn't act like victims and throw a fit and say "Hey! You said this baby was going to be a King! Where's the super high-tech royal delivery room and hospital suite?" They dealt with what they had been given, a dirty, dark, lonely place for animals, and because of this, we get a chance to see what kind of Savior He is. Phillip Yancey puts it perfectly,

“Once they have seen Him in a stable, they can never be sure where He will appear or to what great lengths He will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation He will descend in His wild pursuit of man.…”

Romans 8:28 says, "We are assured and know that all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose."

Mary and Joseph knew their God would take all things, even the bad, hard, trying things and would work then together for good. Because they allowed God to use their lives to serve His purpose, we, now over 2000 years later have a chance to see to what great lengths He will go in His wild pursuit of us.

Sheesh, to know this, is a gift itself.

This Christmas, be reminded to let Him use your life to serve His amazing purpose and who knows what your life may reveal to us about our great Savior King.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Posted on December 24, 2012 and filed under Anything and Everything.

Christmas Music Playlist

Well, Well, Well and Ho, Ho, Ho. It's time for a Christmas Music playlist. I have thumbed through all of my Christmas records, dusted them off, slipped them from their sleeves and begun the Holiday music listening. Some of these songs are new favorites and some are quite old, but these songs will be serenading all of my cozy Christmas times this year. Perhaps you will find something on this list to add to your own.

1. Nat King Cole- Adeste Fideles (The Magic Of Christmas) 2. Mariah Carey- All I want For Christmas Is You (Merry Christmas) 3. Ella Fitzgerald- Silent Night (Merry Christmas From Ella Fitzgerald) 4. Amy Grant- Tennessee Christmas (A Christmas Album) 5. Celine Dion- O Holy Night & Ave Maria (These Are Special Times) 6. Frank Sinatra/The Midnight Strings- Jingle Bells (Merry Christmas To You) 7. Future Of Forestry- O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Advent Christmas EP) 8. Elvis Presley- Santa Clause Is Back In Town (Elvis' Christmas Album) 9. Harry Connick Jr.- Silver Bells (Harry For The Holidays) 10. Trevor Davis- Mr. Grinch (B Day In Bethlehem) 11. Vince Guaraldi Trio- A Charlie Brown Christmas (The entire album is on my playlist) 12. Andrea Bocelli- The Lords Prayer (My Christmas) 13. Paper Route- The Music (Thrill Of Hope) 14. Dean Martin- I've Got My Love TO Keep Me Warm (Christmas With The Rat Pack) 15. Stevie Wonder- The Little Drummer Boy (Someday At Christmas) 16. Bing Crosby- White Christmas (White Christmas) 17. Sufjan Stevens- What Child Is This Anyway? (Hark! Songs For Christmas Volume 2)

I have soooo many more That I could add to this list but I am going to stop here (stop, Sarah)...

Enjoy!

Oh, and don't forget to leave me your Christmas Music Playlist staples below :)

Posted on November 29, 2012 and filed under Anything and Everything.