Why I Listen to Christian Music (+ My Top Recommendations)

Why I Listen to Christian Music (+ My Top Recommendations)

I broke up with Taylor Swift. And, unfortunately, I’m afraid that we are never ever getting back together.

I still remember the first time I heard Taylor Swift’s first single, “Tim McGraw.” It was so unique, so different, and so me. There was nothing else like it in country music at the time. There was no other artist popular at the time who was tall, with freckles and curly hair – no other artist who, had her hair been a different color, would have looked a little bit like me.

About three weeks ago, Taylor Swift released her long awaited sixth album, Reputation. This album has been hyped up for months, by fans and the media alike. Everyone seemed to know it was coming, and everyone lost their minds preparing. I mean, this is Taylor Swift. This is an event.

I awaited “Reputation Day” with a great deal of anticipation. I couldn’t wait to see what this new era of Taylor’s music would bring. (If you didn’t know, her fans consider each of her albums to constitute an era. It’s all very serious business.) I woke up that Friday morning ready to purchase an album. But in the age of music streaming services, I have changed a bit. I no longer immediately buy an album – I listen to it first. Reputation was not available on streaming services immediately, so instead I listened to the ninety-second samples of the songs on iTunes. And what I heard surprised me.

Yes, it was a different sound for Taylor, but that was to be expected from the singles released before the album, as well as from the simple fact that every album is a different sound for Taylor. That’s not what bothered me. It was the content of the lyrics. Some songs had my eyes widening and my cheeks reddening. Some songs I couldn’t even finish the preview of. In total, there were about five or six songs that I felt comfortable with.

I am an adult (more or less). If I deem these songs inappropriate for me to listen to, what does that mean for her much younger fans?

This reminded me of an experience LDS General Authority Elder Gene R. Cook shared in a talk he gave at BYU-Idaho in 1989. On a flight to Texas, he found himself seated next to Mick Jagger. So he asked him a question: “I have opportunity to be with young people in many different places around the world, and some of them have told me that the kind of music you and others like you sing has no effect on them, that it’s okay, and that it doesn’t affect them adversely in any way. Then other young people have told me very honestly that your kind of music has a real effect on them for evil and that it affects them in a very bad way. You’ve been in this business for a long time, Mick. I’d like to know your opinion. What do you think is the impact of your music on the young people?”

Mick Jagger’s response was a bit surprising, to say the least. Elder Cook continued, “This is a direct quote, brothers and sisters. He said, ‘Our music is calculated to drive the kids to sex.’ Those were his exact words. I’m sure I had a real look of shock on my face in receiving such a bold response. He quickly added, ‘Well, it’s not my fault what they do. That’s up to them. I’m just making a lot of money.’”

Surprising though it may be, Jagger’s answer makes sense. Satan has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. He does everything he possibly can to stop us from living righteously. Of course he would want to influence the music we listen to. How easy is it to get some random song that you’ve maybe heard one time stuck in your head? Very, I know.

As I have seen more and more artists turn to this mainstream secularism, I have often had to look for music alternatives elsewhere, even giving up songs by my favorite artists, or letting go of listening to them altogether. That doesn’t mean I don’t still listen to Justin Bieber, or Ed Sheeran, or Bruno Mars. I’ve just made it a goal to be even more vigilant and cautious.

I am not saying that you are a bad person if you listen to Taylor Swift, or Beyonce, or even Mick himself with the Rolling Stones. I definitely do not think that every artist or band who releases music that could be considered inappropriate does it with some evil intention. But I think we need to be careful about what we consume in terms of media. Garbage in, garbage out, right?

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

– Romans 12:2

So, these alternatives to mainstream music… Well, I have found them in contemporary Christian music. I know Christian music gets a bad rap. It’s not “cool” or “popular” or whatever else is supposed to matter these days. But, through years of listening to Christian music, from being raised on artists like Steven Curtis Chapman and Nicole C. Mullen, I have found something very interesting: every single genre of music is present within Christian music as a sub-genre. You can find whatever you want – pop, country, hip hop, and, of course, worship.

I want to encourage you to add some Christian music into whatever you’ve got playing in rotation. Do it without judgment or expectations. Just see if you like it. See how it makes you feel, especially compared to other music. Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry – I’ve got some suggestions for you; I even organized them by sub-genre for your convenience. 😉

Pop //

  • Hollyn – Hollyn is a fairly new artist with an amazing voice. One day, while listening to some music on shuffle, I genuinely thought I was listening to a Selena Gomez song for the entire first verse of one of her songs. {My picks: “Alone (ft. Tru),” “In Awe,” “Can’t Live Without”}
  • TobyMac – Okay, TobyMac is kind of the boss of Christian music. Seriously. Back in the day, he was in a band called dcTalk that was instrumental in making Christian music more than just traditional gospel. His career has spanned decades, and his music just keeps getting better. {My picks: “Me Without You,” “Love Broke Thru,” “Made to Love”}
  • Britt Nicole – Britt is one of my all-time favorites. She’s one of those singers whose music has truly had a major impact on my life. I don’t know what I would do without so many of her songs. {My picks: “Through Your Eyes,” “All This Time,” “The Sun is Rising”}

Hip Hop //

  • Lecrae – There is literally no other person like Lecrae on earth. He was once living a life that he says was full of sin, until he turned everything around and vowed to live unashamed. His story is so inspiring, and he’s better than most mainstream rappers out there, in my humble opinion. {My picks: “Welcome to America,” “I’ll Find You (ft. Tori Kelly),” “Broken (ft. Kari Jobe)”}
  • NF – NF is a newer artist, but he is fantastic. He’s quickly become one of my favorites with his intense rapping and message. He’s also breaking into top forty radio, sharing a positive message with a broader audience. {My picks: “Therapy Session,” “Oh Lord,” “I’ll Keep On (ft. Jeremiah Carlson)”}
  • Derek Minor – Lecrae’s protégé definitely has the talent of his mentor. He’s pretty awesome live too. {My picks: “Change the World (ft. Hollyn),” “Ready, Set, Go,” “Fresh Prince”}

Alternative //

  • Needtobreathe – NTB is my favorite band, period. I have seen them live five times. There are no words to describe the love I have for them, and how they have affected my life. Isn’t that what music’s all about? {My picks: “Hard Love,” “Brother,” “Washed by the Water”}
  • John Mark McMillan – JMM is a newer favorite of mine. He is also great live, and has some of truest alternative Christian music you’ll find. {My picks: “Future / Past,” “Enemy, Love,” “Carbon Ribs”}
  • Tenth Avenue North – I have no words for TAN. They have made some of my darkest moments bearable. Their music is what healing sounds like. And they happen to be five of the nicest guys ever. {My picks: “Times,” “I Have this Hope,” “Love is Here”}

Singer-Songwriter //

  • Ellie Holcomb – Ellie is actually in a band that I love with her husband, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors. She’s recently decided to release some of her own music, and it is stunning. Her rootsy sound combined with scripture-inspired songs is a beautiful mix. {My picks: “He Will,” “The Broken Beautiful,” “Red Sea Road”}
  • Steffany Gretzinger – Steffany has one of the most beautiful voices. She often lends her talents to Bethel Music (we’ll get to them in a minute), but she has also released her own solo album, full of nothing but beauty. {My picks: “Letting Go,” “No Fear in Love,” “Out of Hiding”}
  • JJ Heller – I will admit, I’m not very familiar with JJ’s music, but a few of her songs have definitely stood out to me, and encouraged me greatly. {My picks: “Braver Still,” “Sound of a Living Heart,” “What Love Really Means”}

Country //

  • Zach Williams – Zach is a pretty new artist who has quite literally burst onto the scene. His songs are fun, and have a great southern rock vibe. {My picks: “Fear is a Liar,” “Old Church Choir,” “Chainbreaker”}
  • Crowder – Crowder is just the man. He’s been around forever, and he’s ridiculously funny. He also looks like he stepped straight out of Duck Dynasty. {My picks: “My Victory,” “Come as You Are,” “Lift Your Head, Weary Sinner”}
  • Rend Collective – This Irish group makes me want to dance around a bonfire. I think that explains it all. {My picks: “More than Conquerors,” “Joy of the Lord,” “Build Your Kingdom”}

Rock //

  • Skillet – Full disclosure: Skillet is intense, hard rock. They can be a bit frightening at times, actually. But if this is your thing, more power to you. {My picks: “Stars,” “Feel Invincible,” “Awake & Alive”}
  • Colton Dixon – Remember this guy from American Idol? He totally should have won. I’ve seen him live, and he’s great. I also met him once, and he smells really good, so there’s that. {My picks: “Anchor,” “Never Gone,” “Walk on the Waves”}
  • For King & Country – FK&C is a little bit of a stretch for rock, I’ll admit. But they’re rock-ish. And they are fantastically inspiring, so it’s all good. {My picks: “Shoulders,” “Priceless,” “Fix My Eyes”}

Light Worship //

  • Lauren Daigle – I feel like there’s a difference between straight-up hands-raised, praising worship, and something a bit softer. Lauren is a great example of this. She’s also just a great human. {My picks: “Trust in You,” “First,” “Here’s My Heart”}
  • Chris Tomlin – I’ve been listening to this guy forever, and I love him. Few artists have transcended the years as well as he has. {My picks: “Home,” “Good, Good Father,” “Love Ran Red”}
  • Meredith Andrews – I feel super cool because I liked Meredith Andrews before everyone else. I’m a total hipster, I know. {My picks: “Soar,” “Worth it All,” “The Gospel Changes Everything”}

Worship //

  • Bethel Music – I was skeptical about Bethel at first, but I have completely fallen in love with them. They are a group hailing from a church with the same name, and have multiple vocalists. I feel like their songs are so inspiring and uplifting, and I definitely recommend them. {My picks: “Pieces,” “Ever Be,” “Extravagant”}
  • Kari Jobe – I love Kari Jobe an awful lot. She is such an amazing person. Her incredible music is just a bonus. Here album Where I Find You is my go-to on bad days. {My picks: “Steady My Heart,” “Find You on My Knees,” “The Cause of Christ”}
  • Hillsong United – Ahhhhhhhhh. I love Hillsong United so much. (Their counterpart Hillsong Worship is amazing too.) Their music is the real deal. {My picks: “Touch the Sky,” “So Will I (100 Billion X),” “Not Today”}

So, take my challenge and give Christian music a chance. After all, you’ve got so many great recommendations now! These artists and bands are truly so special to me, and there are so many more I love that didn’t make the list. (So if you want more ideas, hit me up.)

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

– Matthew 6:21

 

{ featured image by Leio McLaren on Unsplash }

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The Old Mary-Faith Can’t Come to the Phone Right Now

The Old Mary-Faith Can’t Come to the Phone Right Now

It’s been a month. Where have I been for a month?

I had a horrible flare with my chronic migraines. I did my first Botox treatment. My port acted up. I almost passed out. I barely left the house most of the time. I wrote things and abandoned them halfway through. I got bogged down by school work. I got behind in school work. My mom had surgery. I got hit by Tropical Storm Irma.

I hosted a bridal shower. I was a bridesmaid. I started journaling again. I discovered awesome new music. I got excited for fall. I bought some cute dresses. I went to Target whenever I went to the doctor. I read a lot of books. I started doing yoga. I started moving my room to the guest room. I felt the Spirit strongly.

It’s been a month, but I feel like it could’ve been a year. I have often looked at the time when I was around 13 when I was diagnosed with POTS as being some strange divider in my life. It was before and after. But now I am learning that there are points in everyone’s life that act as those dividers, those pivotal moments. Maybe something life-changing happened. Maybe you just had a special, or awful, day. But it happens all the time and then everything is different.

As you maybe (probably) know, Taylor Swift has released some new music recently. The first single from her forthcoming album, “Look What You Made Me Do,” addresses the media’s criticism of her (as well as some problems with Kim and Kanye). Towards the end of the song, she has what seems to be a phone conversation that perfectly sums up the entire point of the song.

“I’m sorry. The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead.”

I’m not saying we die all the time (that would be creepy/impossible). But our old selves do. Seasons and stages and phases of life do. And before we know it, the old us can’t come to the phone right now, or ever again.

So I am back now. But maybe I’m not the old Mary-Faith. No. I don’t think she’ll be able to come to the phone.

19 Lessons I’ve Learned in 19 Years

19 Lessons I’ve Learned in 19 Years

As is probably obvious by now, I love writing. It’s how I express myself. But, in this post, I wanted to do something a bit different. In honor of my recent birthday, I will be sharing nineteen things I have learned in nineteen years. But instead of using my own words, I’ve decided to share these nineteen lessons through quotes, scriptures, and song lyrics. Because really, that’s how we learn. Not through ourselves, because we don’t have all the answers, but through the lives and wisdom of others.

So, here are nineteen things I have learned in nineteen years:

  1. “The only thing I want in life is to be known for loving Christ.” – “The Cause of Christ” by Kari Jobe
  2. “I don’t have time to waste on the boys that are playing the games and leaving the girls crying out in the rain.” – “Love Me Like You Mean It” by Kelsea Ballerini
  3. “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant.” – Genesis 32:10
  4. “Real queens fix each other’s crowns.” – Unknown
  5. “Remember life is more than fitting in your jeans, it’s love and understanding, positivity.” – “What do I Know?” by Ed Sheeran
  6. “If I lived a thousand lifetimes, and wrote a song for every day, still there would be no way to say how You have loved me.” – “Letting Go” by Steffany Gretzinger
  7. “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” – Albus Dumbledore (aka J.K. Rowling)
  8. “God gives us difficulties to bring out the best in us.” – Marvin J. Ashton
  9. “When I can’t, You always can.” – “What Love is This” by Kari Jobe
  10. “There is an abundant need in this world for your exact brand of beautiful.” – Lysa TerKeurst
  11. “Now when our hearts were depressed and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go…and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.” – Alma 26:27
  12. “I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.” – Sylvia Plath
  13. “And I said unto them: If God commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done. And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?” – 1 Nephi 17:50-51
  14. “America is too great for small dreams.” – Ronald Reagan
  15. “You love me even when I fall apart. I can’t explain it, that’s just who You are. Don’t want perfection, You just want my heart.” – “Through Your Eyes” by Britt Nicole
  16. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13
  17. “In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.” – Unknown
  18. “The tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” – 1 Nephi 1:20
  19. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

Is this all I have learned in nineteen years? Definitely not. But it is an accurate summary. As #3 says, I certainly do not feel worthy of all of the truth that the Lord has revealed to me. But I am grateful that He has chosen to teach me these lessons, and more, each and every year.

It’s been a good nineteen years. Here’s to the next one hundred. 😉

Goodbye, Grandpa

Goodbye, Grandpa

These words have filtered through my mind time and time again over the past few weeks. I am just now setting them free. Maybe the reason it was so hard for me to let them go is because once you experience loss, you hold on to everything a little bit tighter.

g-and-g

Today marks two months since the passing of my grandfather. These past two months have been hard and beautiful and everything all at once. It has become a cliché that we never know what we have until it is gone. For me, this is true. I never truly understood the bond that my grandfather and I had until now.

You’ve probably heard about the stages of grief before. I don’t believe in that. Grief is not some neat process that you follow step-by-step. And there is no denial. I do not deny my grandfather is gone. But it still shocks me when I think about it. It is more a sense of disbelief than anything else.

“Each life that touches ours for good / Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord; / Thou sendest blessings from above / Thru words and deeds of those who love.”

– “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good,” LDS Hymn Book #293

My grandpa was spiritual sunshine. When I was younger, I would often say that everything my grandparents ever did was church-related. I even said that he was “booming with church.” If you ask me, he boomed with church until his very last breath. I have never met someone who loves Jesus Christ as much as my grandpa. I am not saying this because I’m biased, I’m saying it because it is true. His testimony was so clear. There was no doubt in his mind that he had a loving Heavenly Father and Savior. Often, when bearing his testimony, he would use the phrase “I testify to you.” That is how real this was for him. He was a special witness of the gospel in every way.

My grandpa served as president of the Columbia, SC LDS temple years ago. I loved hearing him talk about the temple. He would testify of the spirit that resides there and the importance of attending often. He would especially emphasize the importance of my cousins and I remaining worthy so we could attend the temple when we were old enough. My cousins and I sang “I Love to See the Temple” at his funeral.

My grandpa sealed one of my older cousins to her husband for time and all eternity in the temple. When I was younger, I thought he would one day do the same for me. When we discussed this one time, he told me that I “better hurry up.” I guess I didn’t move fast enough for him. But, I was still blessed to receive my patriarchal blessing from him. Mine was one of the last patriarchal blessings he was able to give. This was such a special experience for both of us. It was one of the last things I talked to him about.

Grandpa was a University of Virginia graduate, and a life-long fan and supporter of his alma mater, as well as Thomas Jefferson, its founder. He passed this love on to me at a young age. For years I insisted that I would one day attend UVA. I broke his heart when I decided this was no longer my plan, but I’ve always held a special love for the Cavaliers. Though I have come to admire many past presidents and Founding Fathers as my love of politics has grown, Thomas Jefferson was the first to truly capture my heart. I still love him to this day.

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine. I will recur for proof the days we have lately passed. On these indeed the sun shone brightly.”

– Thomas Jefferson

As my grandpa got older, he got sick. Among other issues, he experienced kidney failure, and had to receive dialysis treatments three times a week. I never knew the toll dialysis took until I saw him go through it. It is bittersweet to have the very thing that is keeping you alive cause you so much pain. But this strengthened our bond even more. Grandpa came to understand my chronic health issues more than he had before. We would joke about being in a competition to see who could see the most doctors, take the most medicine, or require the most needle sticks. I always knew my grandfather loved me, but it was during the last few years of his life as we shared this commonality that I began to truly see how strong this bond was, and how much he wanted me to stay strong.

Grandpa always made me feel important. He was an engineer, had served in multiple important church callings, and was extremely intelligent, but he valued my opinion. He would always ask me what I thought about the latest headlines, especially during the 2016 election. On one of my last visits with him before he was admitted to the hospital, we shared a laugh about the shirt I was wearing. It read, “A Woman’s Place is in the House and the Senate.” He had the best laugh.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

– Winnie the Pooh

A few weeks ago I became worried that I would forget the sound of his voice. It was then that I realized that I will never, ever, as long as I live be able to forget the way he said, “Hi!” when you walked through the door. He was an eternal optimist. Even on his worst days, he would tell you that he was feeling well and doing fine.

As a history and politics enthusiast, I have developed a great love and respect for Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and their relationship. They were incredibly close, especially at the end of President Reagan’s life when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s. My grandparents are my Ronald and Nancy. They are the real relationship goals. Their bishop said that my grandpa’s two favorite topics were the gospel and my grandma. It’s true. I cannot explain the love he had for her. It is the kind of thing that you had to witness to understand.

My grandpa always taught us, in everything he did. He was not going to let the weakness and frailty of his last days stop him. On Christmas Eve, with all of the family members in town at the time standing around his hospital bed, he gave each of us an individual parting message before pleading with us to live righteously so we could be together again. It was the last time I would have a coherent conversation with him. On Christmas Day, there were no presents or pajamas or carols. We were at the hospital, and he had taken a turn for the worst. All we cared about was each other. In his final time on earth, he was teaching us what Christmas really was, and what family really meant.

I have struggled with accepting my grandfather’s death. I miss him so much. I will hear a song, or see a certain scene in a movie, and think of him. It is still hard not to cry. But I have also felt an overwhelming sense of peace. Perhaps it is his last gift to me. Perhaps when he reached the other side, he asked the Savior if He would mind helping me through. We don’t know about exactly what’s going on in the spirit world. I don’t know what Grandpa’s doing right now. But I know he is watching me, and helping me, and walking with me. He never left me. And he never will. He will be with me in spirit until I see him again, face-to-face.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

– Revelation 21:4

g-headstone

Wanderers in a Strange Land

Wanderers in a Strange Land

I am a conservative, but I am not a Trump supporter. I have never been. In fact, I was an original Never Trump-er. I watched in horror as the party that I tended to identify with morphed into something unrecognizable. Something that Ronald Reagan would scoff at. Something that living former Republican presidents could not accept. But still, I was optimistic. I knew that, no matter what, Trump would bring something new and interesting to the table, and our country could use something fresh. I thought maybe he would surprise us all. I watched his inauguration with hope.

I didn’t know it was possible to create a path of destruction this quickly.

I have supported the plight of refugees for quite some time now. Immigration is a messier subject for me. I support legal immigration, however I believe illegal immigration is a major problem that needs to be fixed – fast. I was open to some sort of wall or fence or whatever else the president and Congress could jointly agree upon. Trump’s latest executive order, known as his “Extreme Vetting” order, is a twisted distortion of what the country needs.

Should there be some sort of vetting process in place for anyone coming into America from a country associated with terrorism? Yes. Is this the way to do it? Absolutely not. This is separating families and breaking hearts.

I am the great-granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant. I am proud to be one-sixteenth Mexican. If this policy had been in place seventy-or-so years ago, I would not be here today. My family would not exist, because my great-grandfather would not have been able to make the choice to come to America legally for a better life. It’s a good thing this policy was not in place way back in the 1600s, because then there would be a much bigger issue than my family not existing – America would not exist.

We are all immigrants.

I have written about Syrian refugees before. My heart is with them and continues to be broken by them. Tell me how we can stand as the world’s primary superpower and turn our back on people who are fleeing war? Children who are fleeing destruction they don’t understand? Because that is what is happening, in effect. We are turning our back. We are holding in our riches and our wealth and our blessings and saying that these things, like people, cannot cross our border.

“Jesus died to open up the gates of heaven. The least America can do is open up her borders to those who need shelter.”

– Mike Donehey 

I don’t care who you are, what color your skin is, what your religious beliefs are, or what country you are from. If you have no harmful intentions, then I would consider it a privilege to welcome you to my beloved country, and to the freedoms we have. I would gladly take the tired, poor, huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.

“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in.”

– Matthew 25:35

The truth is, none of us are from here. None of us belong here. This is not our home. Our home is in Heaven. But our Heavenly Father gave us a beautiful world to live in during our necessary time here on earth. Could we not follow His example and do this for someone else?

“Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.”

– Alma 26:36

For Syria

For Syria

Syria. How did we get here?

I cannot trace the beginnings of this heinous conflict, nor can I tell you what either side is fighting for. Technically, I am completely oblivious to the civil war in Syria. But I am not oblivious to the suffering. Perhaps it is better that I know so little. Sometimes when we get too close, we can only see what we want. Who should win and who should lose. And that is when we create our own reality to fit the events into. It is how we lose sight of what is really happening.

Syria has captured my heart this year. Images of civilians caught in the crossfire (or maybe fire that is intentional), refugees on rafts, and children dying have been inescapable. I have been particularly affected by Syrian refugees. My support for allowing them into the country wavered only after the attacks in Nice, France. Even then it was not enough to dispel my feelings. To me it has always been simple. If you are not safe in the place you call home, of course you would leave. We would all do that. It is the logical thing to do. But where do you go when you leave? Shouldn’t the answer be to a place that welcomes you with open arms? Just as we have shelters and measures in place for those who must leave their unsafe homes within our country, shouldn’t we treat others the same?

I think what truly solidified the pain I have felt for Syria was the video of a little boy named Omran. Even if you don’t recognize his name, I’m sure you have seen him. He was captured calmly sitting in a chair wiping blood from his face, covered in soot and ash and who knows what other debris. Omran did nothing. He was just going about his life doing the things little boys do. I am sure he did not plan on nor want to experience bombings and explosions and the hurt of living in a war-torn country.

“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

– Matthew 18:4

This may seem rich coming from someone who is so interested in politics, but leaders are very good at talking. Talking in circles and saying the loveliest, prettiest things that will put your mind and heart at ease. They will tell you anything to win your approval because most of them are convinced that their job is not actually to lead, but to keep you satisfied and at peace because that is how they avoid conflict. Conflict must be avoided at all costs. Even if it means watching people suffer while they refuse to get involved because they don’t want their country having any part of a war that is not theirs.

After World War II, the victorious allies (who comprise the nations that we now refer to as “first-world countries”) vowed that such an atrocity would never happen again. There would never be another genocide. This is a promise that has been repeated by many leaders over the years. Apparently it is an empty one. If it held any meaning, surely we would not be in this position now.

I am a strong proponent of American exceptionalism. I believe I live in the greatest country in the world. Patriotism is a good thing. Loving your country is a good thing. But sometimes I think it gets in our way. We get so focused on how we are our own country that we forget that before there were borders and nationalities and languages, there were children of God. God loves no one person more than another. Jesus did not die for only one group of people. We are not commanded to only love our neighbor if he or she looks like us. That is missing the point entirely.

I cannot imagine what it must be like for the people of a country that is currently breaking at the seams from battle and has always been underprivileged to watch people in other countries go about their lives as if nothing has happened. So, to the people of Syria, we have not forgotten you. We may not be there with you, but we know what is happening and we are hurting with you. We are praying for you and loving you across continents and oceans and miles.

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

– John 13:34-35

First Things First

First Things First

Hi there. My name is Mary-Faith, and I’m glad you stopped by. Technically, this is where I’m supposed to tell you why I started this blog. But, first, I think it would be better to tell you about me.

I’m an almost-adult with a love for literature, history, and politics. I’m an aspiring political journalist, which is a fancy way of saying that I’m trying to figure out how to basically be Megyn Kelly. I have dealt with chronic illness my entire life, but a few years ago I was diagnosed with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), which has proved to be the most pervasive and life-altering medical condition I have experienced. This has not been easy, but I would not trade life as a “sick person” if I was given the choice. It has shaped the person I am, and I am convinced that I would not be nearly as proud of who I have become, and am still becoming, were it not for this trial.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), more commonly known as the Mormon Church. I love my church. My relationship with and my testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ, is the most important thing in my life. It influences everything else in my life. As my testimony has grown, so have I. Christ’s gospel truly is a light amidst the darkness of the world, and it’s a light I want to share.

So, why did I start this blog? Mainly because I wanted to share the gospel, but not in a deep, doctrinal, instructional sort of way…in the way it applies to me and my life. How it helps me through my struggles with my health, how it has influenced my love of politics and America, and how it has brought me to a place of true joy.

That is, essentially, who I am and why I started this blog. I hope you’ll stick around for a little while.