22May

[old post revisited] i don’t like kleenex.

this is around the time my uncle milton passed away. my heart was aching but my God was working. thoughts from four years ago.

the trashcans i passed had kleenex all in them. family members, neighbors, friends and co-workers of my great-uncle came in and out of his home. expressing their condolences and comforting my great-aunt and cousins. the sunroom filled of hymns being played on piano by my sister and the living room and kitchen of people crying and laughing softly at the mention of great memories.

it’s been about 24 hours since my great-uncle passed away, and i already miss him.

see, i didn’t know him incredibly well, but he was the brother of my mom’s dad. not to be confusing; he was the uncle of my mom (and many more people) and the brother or my granddad and their other siblings.

he loved God and he loved people. he was great at his job and a strong leader in his community. he had a huge beard and a contagious smile. there’s no doubt he could have passed for the black santa and his big laugh could fill a room of any size. he was pretty hip for his age, lol, and always listened when you wanted to tell him something. i remember talking to him on the phone just before i moved to Nashville: he showed so much interest as I was making a pretty big decision. everything about that conversation was encouraging. pretty cool dude!

i must say, i don’t have 8 million memories – the paragraph above is everything i have to hold onto. but i know my mom and her siblings do and many more of my family members. i know they all loved him dearly and i wish he was still here so i could have grown closer to him.

i would like to ask you to keep my family in your prayers. they are all very strong people, i would just like to ask you to pray that they would continuously be reminded of God’s love, protection, comfort… His peace.

thanks,
jamie-grace

weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
psalms 30:5

2Feb

i don’t mind waiting [revised]

I was going through all of my old blog posts and found this one from the day I first sat down with tobyMac. My mom and I had driven up from Atlanta to talk about music and those things.

June 19, 2010…

18 year old Jamie Grace’s thoughts.

have you ever had a dream? not like when you’re sleeping and it seems like a giant monster is chasing you in mcdonalds or taylor lautner asks you to prom (yes… that happened in one my dreams… ha!). but a longing to do something. something you dreamt about doing… have you ever had that kind of dream?

i have. i do… i always will.

see i have about a million dreams – things i want to accomplish in life and some smaller scale things i want to do. there are musicians or actors i would love to work with but i would also like to own a horse and buy a pair of pink cowboy boots – they’re not all super huge dreams. one of my dreams though, a kind of huge one, has been in existence for about 5 years now.

have you ever had a dream to last for what seemed (seems) like forever?

see this dream is big. and i’ve always wanted something to come out of it. i’ve always thought to myself, what would it be like if it were real?  i’ve prayed about it and thought about it and gotten weary when another year passed and my dream was just that.

when it was just a dream.

there’s a song we sing a my church that is one of the simplest songs i have ever sung. it says,

i don’t mind waiting
i don’t mind waiting
i don’t mind waiting
on the Lord

i don’t mind waiting
i don’t mind waiting
i don’t mind waiting
on the Lord

what, is that 7 words? just one word more than that movie with lindsay lohan when she wanted to be a superstar or something…

we sing that song at my church every now and again and when in the moment it’s so comforting to sing those few words. it “feels good” to sing it and there’s nothing wrong with the song (it’s actually pretty awesome), but do i really mind waiting? you can even ask yourself if you’d like… do you mind waiting?

in a world where twitter updates come to us faster than we can read them and email gets to our phones, itouch’s and computer desktops as soon as we hit wi-fi or good cell service – are we even ok with waiting?

i feel like i can answer that question with a “yes,” but i the moment – it ain’t always so easy.

today i had a meeting that had me speechless and if you know me then you know that is absolutely ridonkulous. i can listen when needed but in a fun yet serious meetings with hilarious yet professional people? sheesh that’s my element, but i didn’t speak up much today.

i did listen though… a lot. : )

today i learned that even though i will still be waiting, because that’s just a part of life, i have already waited. today i learned that God has seen my patience and He has seen my dream and is taking me to truly pursue it. in the past five years He has been training me for this, testing me, teaching me… preparing me. and now it’s time.

i am so excited to share with you all all of the things that God is doing. i am still a little in shock that He’s chosen me ha :). but i guess more excited and elated than anything. and maybe a little anxious? because i would absolutely love to just spill the beans right now. but the thing is?

i don’t mind waiting.

God will always have us in the waiting. It’s a huge part of what strengthens our Faith. Ironically… some of the quotes from when I was 18? Check out my song “The Waiting” on the new record, written when I was 21 (along with Morgan and Natalie Grant). Crazy how God works.

16Jan

I Need to be Nervous When I Go On Stage

“What was your first thought when you first performed on stage with tobyMac ? Nervous and scared or calm and relaxed?” -Mariah from Indiana

My last post dug into my fears… my anxiety… the things I don’t like to have. While I do believe (per my last post) that most of us (if not all) have fears and struggles that we should work hard to overcome, there are some instances where we probably shouldn’t make it personal goal to face something with complete independence. Performing is one of those things.

No matter if I’m singing a song about the relationship I have with Christ, the omelet I had for breakfast or the husband I am waiting for, I always want to glorify God in everything that I do. It doesn’t matter if I’m walking onto a stage surrounded by millions, turning on a live webcast for thousands or sitting in small circle of five. My main goal is to think of Who gave me the gift of singing and hopefully give it right back to Him.

When I walk on stage, I want to be shakin in my boots.

I don’t want to have unhealthy anxiety. I don’t want to feel insecure. I don’t want to feel guilty. I just want to remember that what I am about to do is not possible on my own.

I always want to walk on stage thinking, “Lord, please use this for Your glory, if you don’t show up there’s no way this can work out. You are my King, my Savior, and I know You’re always in control. I can’t do this on my own, please take over, please have Your way.”

I understand that God uses me to share His message of Faith and Hope and Love, but I understand that He doesn’t need me and quite frankly, I’m okay with that. I’m blown away seeing what God does in the lives of His children and I lose my mind (in a good way! haha) that He would let me be a part of it. However I know that He could do what He does without me and for that, I am humbled.

I never want to walk on stage thinking, “I got this! They’re gonna love me. Last time I was here they were pumped, they’re definitely gonna love it now.”

So to make a long answer even longer, 😉 yes. I do get nervous.

Sometimes there is a legitimate shake about new lyrics or a song I’ve messed up in a few shows, but overall I can’t let that stuff get to me. My nerves for new music is huge but my love for singing it is even greater so that naturally overcomes it.

If you’re a singer, or if you’re thinking about allowing the world of being “on stage” into your life, don’t allow your nerves to over shadow your love for what you’re doing. In addition, take note that the gifts we have were gifted to us, and we should never act as though we have the confidence to complete tasks 100% on our own.

14Jan

Sometimes There Are Animal Heads

Taxidermy.

The art in which (I am creating this definition, please don’t quote it in a paper) someone stuffs the lifeless head and/or body of an animal (typically deer, raccoons, etc.) and showcases it.

I was around it. But I’ve always had my struggles.

Anytime the opportunity presents itself to inform someone of my “issue” with animal heads I have one of two options, neither of which has an awesome result.

1 – I can say that I don’t like them.
Result: It’s hilarious to everyone and a present goal to get me near one.

2 – I can say they truly make me uncomfortable.
Result: I come across as a brat with an unsettled fear from my childhood/the sickly girl with anxiety who needs her meds STAT.

While neither result is preferred, both options are true.

I don’t like them.

As a little girl I thought it was just an “I’m scared” thing. Growing up in a family of dear hunters there were rooms in my grandparents’ and uncle’s houses that i just wouldn’t enter. If I saw the deer head I would immediately become anxious and find the quickest escape.

I even remember one time going out to eat with my mom and sister to a restaurant with a full bodied stuffed buffalo. I stood at the cash register and cried hysterically as the hostess silently laughed. I was 14.

Second, they truly make me uncomfortable. As I got older I realized it was much less of a fear and more of something I genuinely didn’t like. I grew up afraid of the dark, all bugs, the zoo and most movies. Over time I’ve forced myself to get over these fears as a result of not wanting to be “that girl.”

The Summer before my freshman year of college I would stand in my room at night and turn off the light. I would count as high as I could before I started losing my breath and “needed” to flip the switch back on. I started by barely making it to 1. By the end of Summer I could count to 60 seconds. It was difficult, challenging, I had to sing a lot of worship songs through July nights, but I made it. I did it. And now if I’m staying with friends who need darkness to fall asleep, I can get through it. Something I once thought was impossible.

I hate telling people about my fears.

It’s embarrassing.

I’m 22 years old and I don’t like the dark.

I’m so mature!

But something I hate more are the things that genuinely make me uncomfortable.

I hate talking about them.

I hate telling people I don’t like animal heads because I’ve had anxiety for 13 years.

I hate admitting that I’m “that girl” that’s had panic attacks about it. That hasn’t experienced certain restaurants because of the way they choose to decorate. That sat in the car for 2 hours while my sister texted me pictures of cowboy boots to wear to the Grammy Awards because I had a mini panic attack trying to go in the store after seeing the amount of taxidermy inside. This was 2012.

I’m working on it.

I’ve improved.

I think.

But it’s hard. And honestly, humbling.

I can write songs and sometimes be nominated. Sing them pretty decently in front of thousands. Play six instruments, some on my record. Chat with Reba on the phone. But you put me in a room with a moose head and I’ll have a full on panic attack.

This fear. This anxiety. It sucks.

I have narrowed it down to being uncomfortable with something that was once alive, but is now dead. This “issue” can control my life. And I hate it.

Because of it, I have never been to a funeral. Including the one of my own grandfather’s and three of my uncles, one of which I was really close to. I have tried. I’ve gotten in the car, I’ve even walked into the church, but the anxiety of seeing life lost was too much to handle.

I hate it.

No offense to PETA or vegetarians but I do not think the life of an animal is nearly as important as the life of a human loved one. But the vibe of being around a life lost is one that I’ve never been able to handle.

I don’t know why lifeless animals or people freak me out. I don’t know why it makes me cry. I don’t know why it forces me to have to take conscious breaths. It makes no sense.

But there are two things that I do know.

1. Fear is not healthy.

I don’t enjoy being fearful, as mentioned I have overcome many things I once thought I couldn’t. While I am working toward getting better, however, I do ask those I love to be respectful of the process. I won’t be “fixed” by throwing me in a hunting gear store. People have tried it and it ended miserably.

But I won’t give up trying. I will keep praying, singing worship songs and working toward not letting my anxiety control my day.

2. I am not alone.

You may be reading this and facing a fear yourself, irrational because of an illness or maybe because of trauma. Or you may be reading this feeling emotional (empathetic, saddened, humored, etc) thinking of someone you know with a similar issue.

Thing is, it’s not just me. And if it’s you, I want you to know that it’s not just you. I know sometimes people think it’s a joke, they don’t take you seriously, they think you’re being immature… I know it’s hard. But know that they have something in their lives too that even if they’re afraid or frightened there is something that makes them upset or frustrated. It’s not our job to learn what those are but put yourself in their shoes and compassion will come out of nowhere.

This isn’t a plea to be fixed.

This isn’t a blog to gain pity.

This is simply a note to let other people know that they’re not alone in the fears they’re facing and someday we’ll all face them together.

14Jan

I Geeked Out On a Facetime Convo

There are three things  I need to tell you.

1. I got a really cool CD when I was a kid.
2. I had to give somewhat of a theological explanation of it.
3. I geeked out on a Facetime convo.

1. I got a really cool CD when I was a kid.
Most people that know me know that I’m a pastor’s kid. My dad started our church when I was about 2 and to this day he and my mom serve there diligently. Our church is not the hugest church, which I honestly love because it feels like a family, but when I was growing it was especially small. It started with five members; my parents as the pastor (dad) and worship leader (mom) and our only non-blood-related member Shellon who taught children’s church to my sister Morgan and I.

When I was 9 or 10 my parents got a sampler CD for our church’s youth group, I believe promoting a conference or something. However we didn’t necessarily have a youth group so Morgan and I got to keep the CD. There were a bunch of songs by artist we were familiar with but one of our favorites quickly became Where I Wanna Be by V*enna. Now I may be aging myself as they’re not touring at the present moment, but back in my day ZOEgirl, Aurora, Out of Eden, V*enna and the likes… they provided a more modest appearance and deeper lyrics than the music that was seeming to dominate pop radio. Singing about a relationship that was completely normal for me to have even as a little girl.

2. I had to give somewhat of a theological explanation of it.
Morgan, dad and I were riding down the street one day when he asked us to explain the song we were both singing at the top of our lungs.

And will You take me high, so I can reach the sky
With a love that never dies… this is where I wanna be

And when You lift me up, and then You bring me down
If I know that You’re around… this is where I wanna be

While he already knew the answers to all of his questions, he asked us girls, “What are they singing about?” “Who do you think they’re singing to?” “Why do you think they want to go there?” And sat there, patiently (well he was also driving…), as we gradually began to understand that the lyrics were much deeper than just a fun excuse to drop a good beat. I realized that they were singing about a Love greater than any love that man could give and wherever that Love was, they too wanted to be. I wanted to be a part of that Love they sang about. Wherever this Love was, I wanted to be also. 

3. I geeked out on a Facetime convo

Yesterday some of my friends, who are in and friends of the band The Neverclaim, came up to me asking if I liked the band V*enna. I responded with the most natural response: duh. They went on to tell me how they’re friends with one of the girls, Sharnessa, and could call her for me so I could meet her over the phone. It’s not that I thought they were joking, but I need a good 24 hours of mental preparation before I meet anyone awesome so that I don’t blab like I’m a 5 month old trying to report the news so I went all “noooo” and carried on chatting with everyone. Needless to say, they are some of the nicest guys and ended up facetiming with Sharnessa and handing me the phone. I said nothing that even resembles an English word but I was seriously so pumped to talk to her I couldn’t stop laughing.

Fast forward a few hours, I’m sitting there eating dinner when Jonny comes up to me with his wife and a friend saying, “Jamie Grace, I want you to meet my friend Sharnessa.”

Literally my face.

1389598898978Needless to say, Sharnessa (who I realized her friends called her Sharn and I was probably allowed to do the same considering I’m pretty sure we’re homies now but I probably would’ve been so excited I would’ve laughed the whole time) is one of the sweetest people ever. I’m pretty sure if V*enna had never existed (which is an awful thought) she would be the young lady in church that girls ask to talk to about their dating lives and for fashion advice but I have to say it was terribly cool to chat with someone whose song played a part in a pivotal moment in my Faith.

In 10 years, if I’m married with a couple of kids like Sharnessa (which I really hope I’m married within 10 years… my my), I hope I can drive to a friend’s show to meet their friend who is also performing. I hope it’s some awkward teen/20 year old girl who can say she and her dad talked about one of my songs when she was little. I hope that I’ll still be relatable, genuinely interested in her and her family, career and dreams and I hope that even though the song she loved of mine was 10+ years ago, that the ministry I was (am) about still has an impact on her when we meet for the first time.

4Jan

I Wanna Get Married In Grand Central Station or Something

I recently had the privilege of playing the Madison Square Garden Theater along with headliner tobyMac and other artists on the Hits Deep Tour. My big sister/best friend Morgan flew in for the day and continued to ask me what I wanted to do for 3-4 hours in New York City.

I had no idea.

Literally. I kept saying, “I just want to eat or whatever” which is the worst answer for someone who grew obsessed with Broadway and fascinated by culture. Eventually, however, I ended up telling Morgan to take me wherever everyone else thought I should go. She decided on a lovely pizza place (with our friend Ashley), a classic walk down Times Square, a visit to the NBC studios (I geeked out major when I saw The Today Show set) and a quick walk around Grand Central Station.

I thought GCS (is that what they call it?) sounded cool but I didn’t really expect the full experience that I actually had. From the second I walked in the doors I wanted to laugh and run and reenact every scene from every movie I had ever seen that took place in GCS. I was impressed… enamored… blown away by being in the actual Grand Central Station. Granted we did ask someone to take a photo of the two of us, I managed to keep my composure. I smiled some, taking a few touristy 360˚ shots and was ready to go until something unforgettable happened.

Morgan and I were headed toward the exit when we saw a couple and their two friends.  The guy was holding flowers, the girl was giggling up a storm and two of the friends had cameras. I stopped immediately. I was not about to miss out on a classic engagement. I whipped my phone out (I’m that girl) and got ready to capture his question and her answer; hoping it would be a yes. Then I realized a third friend of theirs, holding a clip board and wearing all black. She was situating everyone in their appropriate positions when Morgan and I had the realization that this wasn’t a proposal, this was a wedding.

IMG_20140103_080240

Personally, as someone who is possibly too emotionally involved with Hallmark and Lifetime (not the murder ones like the good ones) movies, especially those around Christmastime, I was blown away. I immediately started recording (yes I have their whole wedding on tape) and stood there with Morgan smiling and grinning as Jacob and Alyson (made that up) said their vows. Which honestly took forever but that’s besides the point.

The entire time we stood there I witnessed a lot of people going by. Some stopped to watch with us, admiring, taking photos or even laughing. While others hurried by, not even realizing there was a “moment” happening, often times walking directly into my shot (see Macy’s bag holder. Sweet lady I’m sure, but just barely missed my clear shot of the officiator.)

However, the couple never flinched. In the midst of the yelling, screaming, screeching of trains, questioning of bystanders and all of the other natural New York sounds, they never took their eyes outside of their small circle where something much more important was going on.

I wanna be like Jacob and Alyson.

I wanna wake up one day and decide that opinions and critiques are merely those and are not to dictate how I live my life. I want to laugh loudly in Grand Central Station because I’m way too excited to be there. (Not in a way to cause someone to think I’m up to some creepy plan just like enough to make my heart happy.) I want to go to New York and feel confident in telling my friends back home that all I did was eat a slice of pizza then go take a nap. I wanna stand in a busy room with the love of my life and see no one but him.

I did this a little. I do this some. While in GCS, just before the wedding, I spotted an old man with cowboy boots and went up to him, talking about how we both wear boots. He was with his family who happened to be from Georgia and we all had a brief chat.

More of that, America. More please.

I want to do things that may be embarrassing to others but are enjoyable to me. Never compromising who I am but bringing smiles to the faces of others because I dance crazily in my car at the red light, sing at the top of my lungs while in the convertible, talk to sweet grandpas in New York about their awesome shoes and get married in Grand Central Station… or something.

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