Testimony Tuesday: Why I Turned My Commute Christian

I think we can all agree that commutes are not exactly the highlight of our days. I recently jumped from having a 4 minute drive to work to having a 20-plus minute drive, and while I hardly mind it, it was definitely an adjustment to spending that extra time each day in the car.

(Before all of you 2+ hour commuters start to rag on me – yes, I realize 20 minutes is barely a commute at all. I used to drive an hour and a half each way to college every day for a year. I know how rough it can be.)

That said, after a few weeks of having a substantial commute again, I realized quickly that it was way too easy to just zone out while I was driving. Granted, that’s not good for obvious reasons such as you should always be alert behind the wheel, but it also didn’t feel very good for my soul. I spend enough time zoning out when I actually get home and crash on the couch and scroll through all of the social media posts I missed that day.

So, I decided to do something about it.

I remembered one time, a few years ago, that KLOVE did a 30-day challenge for its listeners: listen to nothing but Christian music for an entire month, and see what changes God brings about in your life. (They might still do this challenge, I’m not really sure.) At the time, I wasn’t ready to commit myself to that – I like other genres too much, I told myself. I didn’t want to give up my country music, my Broadway showtunes, my moody alternative, or even my top 40-filled workout playlist.

In reality, I just wasn’t ready to be seen as “that girl who plays the Jesus music,” but that’s a whole other story.

Anyway. The point is, as I was figuring out how to make my commute somehow beneficial, I thought of the challenge. While I still am not eager to give up other genres of music, it did strike me that switching my car radio over to KLOVE each morning and afternoon would be a really easy way to make my commute less mindless.

In other words, I decided to turn my commute Christian.

And let me tell ya: it worked. Now, instead of mindlessly singing along to some country song or another, or listening to the weird morning talk shows that every radio station seems to think are the thing to do each morning, I not-so-mindlessly sing along to songs that praise our Father. I say not-so-mindlessly because it’s impossible to hear people sing about the Lord so passionately and not feel that passion too. Plus, I often find myself applying the praises sung in the KLOVE songs to my own life.

It has proven to be a wonderful reminder of the blessing each day brings. In the morning, I go into the office with a refreshed perspective and a happy heart, knowing that the Lord has a plan for the day, whatever it may be. In the evenings, I get to reflect on the lessons learned in the past 9 hours, and I am reminded of God’s love for me, which can be the best comfort after a stressful day.

Plus, the songs are just catchy.

I haven’t decided how long I’ll stick with my Christian commute, mainly because Christian radio falls into the same repetitive trap that every other radio station is privvy to. But so far, I’m loving it. I’m loving the intentional time spent with the Lord, and more importantly, I love how I feel it is strengthening my relationship with Him.

I challenge you: just for a week, change your radio dial to your local Christian station. See what joy it can bring – I promise, it’s even more worthwhile than you might think.

Is anyone among you in trouble?
Let them pray.
Is anyone happy?
Let them sing songs of praise.

– James 5:13

Getting Lost

(I apologize because even after wracking my brain for an alternate title, I am unable to use any pun besides the one that is so obvious, but also the most appropriate.)

This past weekend, my best friends came to town, and together, we got lost. We attended the inaugural Lost Lake Festival in downtown Phoenix, a first-of-its-kind-at-least-for-the-Valley concoction of music, food, drinks, and experiences that culminated in one blissful weekend of forgetting about real life for a little while and losing yourself in the here and now.

I realize that sounds really hippie-dippie, and while there certainly were people there who indulged in that kind of quest to lose themselves, we were not among them. We were among those who instead took the three day festival as a chance to lose ourselves in laughter, in light, and in, of course, really good music.

Now, with my voice still somewhat gone, my apartment finally back in order, and my cat shunning me for making her interact with more than one other person, I reflect on the past weekend with nothing but absolute nostalgia and incredible gratitude. 

Our decision to go to Lost Lake was a little spontaneous, but we bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale back in April and have very much used this weekend as something to look forward to, especially as October ramped up and got, in a word, nuts. We used Lost Lake as an excuse to reunite, an excuse to eat a lot of carbs, and an excuse to, for lack of a better phrase, act our age. 

There’s a strange phenomenon in this world, particularly in people I know, where we don’t always get the chance to act like the twenty-somethings that we are. I’m not saying I always want to be that person, but every once in a while, it’s good, refreshing, and necessary to just let go.

There are times where work can be incredibly stressful, the world can feel unbearably heavy, heartbreak and grief can overwhelm us, and things just generally feel like a bit too much. I’m not saying those moments don’t, or shouldn’t exist. In fact, without them, it would make appreciating moments like the ones we experienced this weekend much more difficult. But even in the wake of the turmoil, stress, and pain, there is always immeasurable hope. We can choose to see that hope anywhere: in the spirit of a kind friend, the message of an impactful artist, or in the tinny ring of laughter. 

I’ve always looked at music as a way for humans to connect. In every performance, be it an entire set or just one song, there is always that moment where everybody is singing in absolute unison, soaking in whatever emotion that particular artist meant to get across at that time. Music offers us a way to find our similarities, and even make our differences less foreboding. 

Getting to spend three full days basking in the truthfulness and wonderfulness of that was so rewarding, and incredibly refreshing. 

Getting to spend it with some of the people who mean the most to me made it that much better.

So, thank you, Lost Lake. Thank you for bringing us together — both my friends, and the strangers we got to experience it all with. Thank you for shining light on what may be dark, and for further illuminating what is already iridescent. Thank you for reminding us that there is always good, always friendship, and always laughter.

Thank you for recharging my batteries and being a tangible reminder of what to focus on when life gets to be a lot to handle.

Thank you for being one of the best weekends ever.

Just… thank you.

It’s Different for Girls

My friends and I hate that song. You know, the Dierks Bentley one. It talks about how “it’s different for girls, when their hearts get broke. Can’t tape it back together with whiskey and Coke.”

Okay, okay. Just listen to it, here:

I love Dierks. I really do. He’s a hometown country boy and being a country-loving Arizonan, it’s part of my obligation to like him.

But dang it, I hate that song.

As I drove “home” tonight (and I say that in quotes because my home for the weekend is a cute little townhouse nestled into the Ahwatukee foothills, complete with the cutest, fluffiest dog), that song came on. At first, my normal irritation arose because – to quote my best friend here – we sure as hell can tape ourselves back together with whiskey and Coke. Though, I will admit, I prefer tequila or gin.

That, however, is not the point.

The point is, after my initial flood of irritation washed over me, I thought about it for a split second longer than I normally do.

And you know what?

It is different for girls.

But, disclaimer. It’s not different for girls in the cute, fragile, damsel-in-distress, can’t-nurse-a-broken-heart-back-together kind of way the Dierks unfortunately paints a picture of.

No, it’s different for girls because that picture is exactly what society expects. Weakness is assumed. We are not supposed to put ourselves back together with whiskey and Coke because that’s just not ladylike.

You know what else isn’t ladylike?

Independence. Ambition. Courage. All things that have gotten women to where we are today.

Don’t get me wrong. Heartbreak hurts. I get it. I 100% understand – I have been there. I have felt as if someone had wrenched my heart straight out of my chest, stomped all over it, and feebly handed it back to me with the lamest “We could still be friends” ever. (FYI: that never works.)

But I have also felt the freedom that comes from putting yourself back together. Maybe there was no whiskey and Coke involved and maybe I didn’t go out and get with someone else and then act like it never happened like the song says – but I didn’t do that because I’m me, not because I’m a girl.

I really wish anyone else sang this song. I honestly do.

But, dear Dierks, please rethink it.

After all, it’s not like you want to be held to the expectation of turning into a world-class, whiskey-swigging, playboy jerk just to get away from your problems and forget about the one that got away, right?

Didn’t think so.