Battle of the Eyes

Though my eyes are closed and asleep

My mind is restless and wide awake

Exploring a universe outside of this beautifully disgusting world

Hiking the path of infinite heart ache

Driving the road of instances that occurred both years ago and just today

Hurting and thriving all at once

When eyes are open, the inner battle is halted

But once those eyes are shut, the war rages on

Fade to Black Slower, Please

As a “TV kid,” I learn terms such as “stand by,” “take DDR1,” “roll maters,” and so on. But as I look back, the term that represents my senior experience the most is “fade to black.”

Because I’m a senior, I’ve gone through almost all of my “lasts” in high school, and now I’m down to the last of the lasts. Today, I anchored my very last show on Steele News Live, and this past weekend, I performed at my very last Pop Show… ever.


When I think of Pop Show, the first term that pops into my head is “show bizz,” as if some sort of professional is telling us, “This is show bizz, people!”

Pop Show is a time for ridiculous entertainment, really bad un-organization backstage, and all seniors at that senioritis stage where they think, “screw it, I’m going all out… because senior year.”

My senior year happened to fall on the 50th anniversary of Pop Show, and I, as the president of concert choir, got to aid the choir director in making this year’s Pop Show as amusing as its limits could hold. Preparing was a smooth ride between choreography and memorizing music. Because the talent in choir this year overflowed into the previous three concerts allowing us to receive straight ones at contest, I knew this Pop Show had to, and was going to, put the “show” in “show bizz.”

Opening night came and the first song, “The Evolution of Dance,” started to play. I instantly felt connected – there was a thrilling vibe of excitement, and simultaneously, I had deja vu…

A treasured memory this year happened in a practice room as Concert Choir prepared for contest. Mr. Skladan, the choir director, put the choir to a sudden halt during our practice round of “Omnia Sol,” but allowed Eli, the pianist, to continue playing. Through the crescendo’s and the forte’s, we stopped singing at the most sentimental, emotional, bone chilling part of the song:

“And when we part and sorrowed can’t be swayed, remember when and let your heart be staid.”

That deja vu was nostalgia – a reminisce of connectedness between choir members. After we competed flawlessly, Mr. Skladan, Steven and I walked to our results, though we knew the good news coming already… straight one’s. We were ready for contest, we were set with staid hearts, and we were a go for for Pop Show.

My best friends and I performed the song “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips. As Jonah and I sang the very last line, we slowed down, sang “I’ll love you long after you’re gone, gone, gone” with shakiness in our voices and tears in our eyes, and realized it was over as the tech crew faded to black.

Then senior night came, and I cried. We all cried, we sang “We Go Together,” and we received our flowers. Then, in our black, signifying our senior position, we all faded to black together.

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This is me crying during “We Go Together” because senior year

Two years ago I sat at a news desk, auditioned for the TV Communications Class, and then received a golden ticket into the Steele News Live Class of 2016. Two years later, I sat at a news desk, announced to the school, and said goodbye to Steele High School forever.

Jessica: “Well Erica, do you want to cry now or later?”

Erica: “Well I really don’t think we have much of a choice.”

Jessica: “You’re right because this show is meeting its end.”

Erica: “Well Steele we have to move on, but we’ll love you when we’re gone. See ya round.”

Jessica: “And with that I say goodbye one last time… see ya Steele.”

It is from within every ounce of my heart that I thank everyone who allowed me, as well as 19 other students, to take 12 minutes of your mornings to read you the news. I am humbled to have learned how to produce news, how to handle the behind the scenes of broadcasting, and how to on air report and anchor. I’m forever grateful for a great teacher who put me in, and 19 classmates I shared my experience with.

Thank you for watching my ten minute midterm about cellphone use, for enjoying my “passion” feature, and for showing an interest in the “violent intruder drill” story. This is mile two of a 1,000 mile road trip, and the distance ahead is based off of the set foundation of Steele News Live. As I watched Jessica, Steven, and I fade to black today for the last time, I realized that it was only the last time in High School – there are many more “fade to black’s” left for my future… I just have to let whoever is directing control that.

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This side by side represents a journey… one that I grew in.

 

You Will

Tonight, I had the opportunity to see Hillsong live in concert for the third time in less than a year. The decision to go to the concert was an act of spontaneity, as we purchased the tickets at 3 p.m. yesterday, but obviously, it was the best spontaneous decision we have ever made.

No, I am not going to write an entire blog post about the concert, like how Taya’s vocal range blows my mind entirely, or how the stage sets and flashy lights fit perfect with each song choice of the night. I am going to share my heart… my heart about worship.

I walked into this concert tonight feeling far from God, and I knew that it was nobody’s fault but mine.

I was tired, I was distracted, and I was distant. I had come to a place that I told myself I would never come to: I had almost given up. Almost, because I did not let myself fall into that trap 100%, it was more like 98%. I was dreading leading worship at church, and I was falling into gossip at school. I love high school, but I was simply attending it – I was not fulfilling my purpose to be passionate about people and to love always.

So, when those flashy lights came on and when Lauren Daigle stepped out and started singing, I prayed. I prayed that God would make me desperate again, and that He would take me back to not only the heart of worship, but to the heart of myself when I first gave my life to Him – that pure heart so in need of Jesus’s touch. No more distractions, no more excuses. I wanted to be close to Him again.

Lauren ended, and Hillsong started. Joel Houston set the atmosphere of the entire night when he prefaced the concert with: “If you came to be desperate and came to meet with God, you will.” 

Oh my gosh, that is it.

It is so hard to even fathom that the simplest answer to my prayer was in two words, “you will.” I came to meet with God, and I did…

I have been struggling with finding joy in leading worship lately, and I certainly did not want to be leading a Church into worship if my heart was not there. Tonight my perspective flipped and my attitude changed:

Worship is so much more than the music, the voice, the words, and the flashy lights. Worship is praising Jesus when you don’t have a drummer for your worship team. It’s when your voice cracks in the middle of a worship set but you keep going because you are too busy meeting with Jesus. I almost want to say that worship is looking past the word “worship” in the first place, ignoring the word itself, and going straight to the source of it. Worship is meeting with Jesus. Plain and simple. And if you want to meet with Jesus, you will. He does not let you down because “He is a good, good Father, and that is a good, good song.” – Joel Houston 

The band started playing The Stand, but only playing. The words were on the screen, but the band did not sing yet. The most incredible moment of my night is when the entire room began to sing, “So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the One who gave it all,” without a worship leader there to start. That is worship – feeling Jesus strong enough to know that you are connected to Him and to His people around you. That is why He gave us a voice, it’s why He gave us the gift of song, to connect ourselves with each other and ultimately to the Lord.

My heart for youth groups everywhere is that the youth

  1. Will find the heart of worship, looking past the word alone and meeting with Jesus.
  2. Will go back to the desire they had for Jesus when they first gave Him their lives.
  3. Will be desperate to meet with God, because they will. 

Something else that Joel mentioned that is so important when it comes to worship is to “practice empathy and compassion even when you don’t feel like it.” Oh, I have many days where I definitely, and in no way, “feel like it.” But then I asked myself, Erica, what happened to you? I’ve had no love recently, only hostility and a heart full of gossip. I want my heart to replicate Christ’s heart and I desire to be like Him, and guess what, I will. 

It is just so simple when you break it down into two small words that have the power of God Himself invested into them. It makes the load and the weight on your shoulders go form 50 pounds to 2. Be desperate for God, and you will meet with Him.