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Country Roads, Southern Trails, Goodbyes, Hellos and Goodbyes Again

It has been a bit of a whirlwind. I am sorry I haven't had a chance to update in the last few weeks. It has been such a whirlwind. We left Davenport for Fort Wayne and spent 4 days there and did two shows, one on Wells Bridge and another in a local park. There we said farewell to No Lost Cause. They were such a pleasure to meet. I was sad to see them go, but as Scott would say, it wasn't a goodbye, but a see you later.

No Lost Cause playing on Wells Bridge in Fort Wayne.

No Lost Cause playing on Wells Bridge in Fort Wayne.

Jamie, Ben, Nora and I after our last Fort Wayne show, just before they hit the road back to Jersey.

Jamie, Ben, Nora and I after our last Fort Wayne show, just before they hit the road back to Jersey.

That Sunday I was able to attend a local AME church someone from our concert invited me to. It was such a sweet time, the welcomed me and my friend with love and hugs. I even got to share a song with them. 

Gomez AME Church Ft Wayne, IN

Gomez AME Church Ft Wayne, IN

We left early the next day for Tennessee. We had a show in Mount Juliet that Wednesday. Before that I had the chance to reconnect with a friend in Nashville. It is so wild how our stories intertwine with those we meet. I am thankful for Amber, her generosity and friendship. It was also such a blessing to see a face I had known from before tour. 

Amber and I at Rocketown in Nashville

Amber and I at Rocketown in Nashville

What I didn't know then was that our trek south would bring not just a change in climate and the amount of sweet tea I would consume, but changes in our team and the way the tour would go. I left for a weekend after our Tennessee show for a prior engagement, and by the time I was back four days later, it was obvious that morale wasn't what it once was.

Tour life, I am learning, is not for the faint of heart. It is full of ups and downs, surprises, (good and bad) loneliness, isolation, unmet expectations, and so many more questions than I have answers for. By the time our Thomaston, GA show was done, over half the team left for home for various reasons. In many ways it felt like things were crumbling or that we were failing. There was a new band from Philly that had just joined us, and I am sure they were more than confused as to what was going on with this tour as one by one acts were dropping out early with little notice.

Since most of the vehicles had left with their owners, I rode to Charleston with the guys from Audio Impulse. Though it was unplanned and unforeseen, it was such a blessing and refreshing time. My week with them, in many ways was my favourite week on tour. And with how things have been going with canceled shows in Florida, it also marks the last official week of my tour adventure. We still have shows the last weekend of September, but all the shows between then and now have been canceled for different reasons that were beyond our control.

Audio Impulse doing their thing in Charleston, SC

Audio Impulse doing their thing in Charleston, SC

There is soo much to process from this experience. I've met so many people, heard their stories, sang, performed poetry, made new friends, risked my life, eaten more pizza than I ever want to ever again. Sitting here reflecting on these experiences as Audio Impulse does their exit interview in the room next door, I can definitely say that I am sad this adventure is nearing it's end. I have a feeling that the next few weeks will unveil so much and probably include a few tears. It's funny cause after reading this you may think that this wasn't a good experience for me. But that isn't the case. The Extreme Tour was in many ways what I expected it to be, in some others ways, nothing like I expected. Touring, on top of the things I've already mentioned was simultaneously exciting, joyful, humbling, encouraging, touching and so much more. The method sucks, but the reason behind why we do it is so worth it. 

Tomorrow morning, Sam, the tour director, and I will be the last two standing. We booked train tickets to Florida and will be staying with friends of mine there until our last few shows at the end of the month. I'll be spending the next week with loved ones, doing tons of reflecting, catching up on work and emails and probably asking some more questions of myself, God and the universe. 

Pray for us and that we would finish well despite all the ups and downs. Check out some photos from the last few weeks below. They include moments from Fort Wayne, Mt Juliet, Thomaston, Charleston and Macon.

 

 

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Davenport, IA (Part 1): The Fruit of a Dream

We left Minnesota Monday morning and made our way to Iowa. Mondays are rest and travel days. We have the day to travel to our next location, be a little touristy, and just chill. Then Tuesday we hit the streets and meet locals, do some promotion and ultimately put on a show on the Wednesday. 

I am SO excited about today's show. Our venue in Davenport is The Center. The story of this building, the organisation and all they do in the community blew me away. Over 10 years ago some Jr High and High School students visited Rocketown in Nashville and were inspired by their indoor skate park. They were determined to see that happen in their city. 

Upon their return, they came back to their church and noticed the building across the street. It was a furniture and carpet store at the time. The teens felt with conviction that this was their building. So they began to pray around the building, trusting that one day their dream would be a reality. The building eventually did go on sale. But the next obstacle was how do they get their church to buy them a 1.3 million dollar building. They continued to pray, put together a business plan, met with their church board and did all they could. 

One day the building was sold. An anonymous donor purchased it and gave it to the church. The church then had to wrap their minds around what to do with this building. So they sat down, came up with a plan and the congregation raised 1.3 million to renovate the building. 

It is so insane how what started as a dream for these young people became a reality. Not only did they get their skate park (three stories worth, mind you), the building which houses The Centre is also home to homeless ministries, one of the largest food banks in the Quad City area, schooling programs for youth, and a skate church where kids come and skate and hear a short message before the head back to skate.

The buildingn we're staying has three floors of skateboarding ramps, a rock climbing wall and a food pantry, thrift store, dance studio, showers that are free for anyone in the community to come use daily, and some offices above it. In the adjacent buildingthere is a cafe where the make breakfast and lunch daily as long as the resources are available. People come and eat, see old and new friends and get some much needed community. The Center also has a biweekly laundry outreach, where they go to a certain laundromat and people line up to have their laundry paid for.

It's insane the amount of things that are done through this organisation. While we were hanging out Monday night a man came by with crates full of milk and miscellaneous grocery products. He works at a local grocery store that has decided that instead of throwing out damaged or unwanted products they would give it The Center so that those with a need can have access to milk.

On Tuesday I went looking around and walked in to the Solid Rock Cafe. There I met some really amazing people who love and serve the homeless community everyday through meals and friendship. I met this amazing young man named Drew who shared his story with me. We had lunch, made some friends, did dishes together and later I introduced him to the team. He wound up spending most the day with us. I am thankful we could be community for him and could offer him a reprieve from the streets even if for one day.

Drew and I 

Drew and I 

Solid Rock Cafe 

Solid Rock Cafe 

This beautiful place has already grown on me. I am more than certain that I will be back to Davenport again. There is truly something beautiful at work here. Pray for this city, it's young people, it's many homeless men, women, and children and those who have dedicated their lives to serve them. It moves me and warms my heart that all this life and hope was birth out of the mouths of a couple of young people who dared to dream big.

It challenges me and I hope it would be an encouragement and challenge to us all not to underestimate the power of our dreams whether lofty or small. Our dreams are never to big or impossible, nor are they ever too small to be worthy of realisation. Theses kids dared to dream the impossible and not only did they get something that was probably beyond their imagination, their audacity snowballed and touched so many more lives than they could have ever thought. Let us follow in their example.

 

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Dodge Center, MN: Be Loved

In front of the venue

In front of the venue

Last night was good. We came here directly from Merrill and went right into the set up process. The venue, Hole in the Wall, was pretty sweet. It had a drum riser and the walls were littered with graffiti and writing that some youth have put there. Dodge Center isn't huge but the people we've met have been real friendly and hospitable.  One of the local restaurants opened up just so we could have dinner there which was sweet. 

Last night's highlights for me were a little different. None of them had anything to do with me performing. lol I've mentioned this already but it has been so cool seeing my tour mates perform. Last night I had the privilege of watching two of them do so for the first time. Both were such a delight.

Sergio performed last night and it was SO MUCH FUN. He is the oldest in our group and it could be easy to underestimate him just by looking. But watching him perform and listening to his music was just fun. It was cool to see him do what he left his home all summer for, and to see him have fun doing it. The other really cool part about his performance was that some of the other tour members played with him. I'm sure they didn't have to, but I'm glad they did. Fir me, it was a sign of unity and the heart of service that this tour is founded on to see this group comprised of people from different backgrounds, places, ages, etc. band together for one cause and not just serve the community but each other.

Sergio doing his thang backed up by Jamie

Sergio doing his thang backed up by Jamie

My second highlight was also from Sergio's set. My girl Jamie played drums on his last three songs and she was phenomenal. Over the week I have gotten to know Jamie and her family. She has shared a bit of her story with me and her passion to play and desire to do more with her gift. I just thought it was so cool that she came here to support her husband and that the door opened up for her to do what she loved last night. I hope we get to see/hear more of her in the next week.

On a more personal note, while it has been a good week, it can be hard to get real restful moments on the road. We share space everywhere we go pretty much. So true alone time is something you have to fight to make happen. I am definitely going to be more intentional about having a moment everyday to really pull back and reflect. That being said, though it's early in the game, I already feel like there's tons to process and I don't think I have really had the chance to. But yesterday during We Are One's set I had a sweet moment with God. They sang their newest song Beloved, and it just struck a chord with me.

Cameron and Tucker of We Are One 

Cameron and Tucker of We Are One 

It has been a crazy summer for me and in many ways the year still holds some surprises I'm sure. But it is a good reminder that I belong to God, and that I am loved by God. Just as we bring this hope and reminder to these towns and cities, it is also for us to remember to "be loved". Mothing we can earn or strive for, simply ours to receive. From God yes, but also from each other.

Be love, be loved.

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Merrill, WI: The Future Is Bright

Our journey to Merrill was a smidge more eventful than expected. We blew both tires on our trailer within the same hour. Luckily the second tire blew right in front of a local garage about 2 miles from our destination. Even cooler, the garage was owned by a local Christian who knew our hosts. He lent us a spare tire which tied us over until we could buy new ones. 

Sergio and Sam working on replacing a tire.

Sergio and Sam working on replacing a tire.

I'm glad we were all safe and it was nothing but a few blown tires. We hit the road again tomorrow for another 4 hour leg. Here's hoping Saturday's trek will be boooring. lol

Tonight was our second and last night in Merrill. It was also our first show of this leg of the tour. We were hosted by a youth drop-in called OTTS Garage. The youth pastor Justin has been serving with the kids here for the last three years. It was great to hear his heart for the youth of his community and the burdens they carry. 

Merrill is a small town and based on our first hand experience Thursday night, there isn't much for recreation here. Justin shared how he saw that many youth lacked hope for their future. There is a lot of depression, addiction, self harm and the like among the kids. He sees leaving as the best bet for most of these kids and if they don't get the chance to leave, it is that much harder for them to make it. 

In the midst of all that, it was sweet to meet locals and here their stories. One of the teens we met is Destiny. She is a beautiful soul. She spent the day helping and serving  at the event and hung out with us at the end of the night. She shared about her passion for photography and her plans for college. I am more than certain she will reach all these heights and more. Check out her photos here: https://www.facebook.com/Destinys-Photography-1000954249952947/

Destiny and I after a full day!

Destiny and I after a full day!

Another person I met in Merrill is Nancy. She helped prepare us lunch with such grace, joy amd charm. I had a blast chatting with her. Hearing about her family and their life in Merrill. It was like having a Merrill mom. She's great. 

Nancy!

Nancy!

The big focus of the day was the concert of course. We started setting up at around two and spent most of the day praying that it wouldn't rain. Ultimately the vent was a success and it did not rain at all the entire event. I performed a 25 minute set alongside No Lost Cause, We Are ONe and DJ Grand Mill. It was cool to hear my travel mates do what they do best. They performed with heart, care and compassion whether there were two or 15 people in the room. Just outside of the building they blocked off the street and set up skate ramps. Kids competed in a skateboarding competition as well as something called the Tampico Challenge. If you've never experienced Tampico, it's something else completely. Two people compete to see who can chug a gallon of Sunny D like orange beverage in under 5 minutes. The first to complete it and hold it down wins $100. No one won. Unless you count the trash can. Let's just say there may have been some upchucking.

Ultimately I had a great time in this cute little town. Some of the youth stuck around and I got to hear some of their stories. There is much heartache and brokenness here, but there is also hope, and love. There are people who love beyond themselves and give of their resoucres, time and gifts to those around them There are those like Justin standing in hope for those they love. Others like Destiny proving the stats and the odds wrong. There are places like OTTS where you can come and just be. The seeds are many.

The future is bright. 

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Stillman Valley: Arise, Dry Bones

Wednesday, I finally made it to Stillman Valley. Because of some scheduling changes with a host church, this stop on the tour wound up being a bit of a Sabbath stop for the team. Those who had been on the road since the beginning hit their 6 week mark and there were a few of them had been on the road for about 5 weeks. For myself and another band, No Lost Cause, it was the beginning of our journey. We were able to meet the team, get settled in and have orientation without too many things on our plate.

It turned out to be pretty sweet. When I got there some of the guys were staining a play structure behind the church. Over the course of the last day, I watched these guys give of their time and skills to this church with out complaint or reservations. Decks were fixed. A kids room was painted. And in the afternoon yesterday people went out to local spots just to meet people and love on the community in any way they could.

I am sure I’ll be sharing about our team over the weeks. But a definite highlight was meeting Jamie her husband Scott and their three beautiful children, Austin, Ben and Norah. We shared living quarters on Wednesday night since I’m the only girl on this leg and all the guys were just crashing together in the church basement. They are a really cool family from Jersey. Jamie and I clicked right away, maybe it’s a woman thing lol and the kids and I are pretty much bffls. 

Silly faces on the No Lost Cause tour bus!

Silly faces on the No Lost Cause tour bus!

I have enjoyed spending time with them, hearing more about their journeys as individuals, as a family and as a band. God has been faithful to them. It is more than evident. I love their willingness to take the risk and take their kids on the road with them. I am glad that starting a few days early allows me to spend more time with them. Jamie and I have already bonded over our love to serve through food. We tag teamed on Wednesday's dinner and pancakes for breakfast yesterday morning. I sense there will a lot of cooking in my future and I don’t mind one bit. 

After dinner we had a team meeting. It was just a time of reflection and sharing. It kind of felt like we were in small group together. While we were waiting for the rest of the group to come, I sat down bend the church’s piano to sing a song and Cameron of We Are One picked up his guitar and joined in. We had a really sweet time in worship. Not just singing songs but welcoming God inout midsts and inviting the Holy Spirit to move. We also prayed for and sang over the city and surrounding area. 

Team briefing and prayer

Team briefing and prayer

Stillman Valley and the surrounding area was described to us by locals as spiritually heavy. My Uber driver told me about drug problems and the struggles of blue collar living in the area. As we prayed and sang over this town, I was reminded of God's love. There is a hope and a future for Rockford, Byron, and Stillman Valley. It may seem dry, things may seem dead but He has a plan. They have not been overlooked or forgotten by their Maker. Dry bones will rise, new life will spring up, and Hope has come.

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Chicago: Tacos and Overflow

Today we left the farm in the wee hours of the night, drove across the border to Vermont and I officially began my journey. I flew from Burlington, VT to JFK, chilled there for a few hours and then landed in Chicago at about noon local time. We were behind schedule because of a few delays but it was uneventful overall.

My goal in Chicago today was to figure the best route to Rockford IL, run some errands, get a bit of work done and grab coffee with a friend. I'm two for four and not even sad about it. (Errands can wait and I'll do the work tonight while waiting for my bus.) 

After figuring out how to get to my next destination, I went on a hunt for food. As I was walking down the street, I noticed a restaurant. This girl next to me catches me staring and says "It's banging." and really that's all I need to eat your food. Granted she worked there, but they don't necessarily pay her to claim the food is boss. I am glad I went.

Dat Taco Lyfe!

Dat Taco Lyfe!

The staff at Don Fresco's were so friendly and upon hearing of my Canadian-ness one of them asked me to say 'sorry'. Apparently I have an accent? lol She also confessed her undying love for Bieber to which we had to respond with a sing along version of Sorry. The food was solid. Eating corn tortillas always reminds me of my time in Mexico. It was no Mexican street food, but it was fresh, tasty, filling and served with so much joy that it didn't matter. Hearing so many people speak Spanish made me one to get back on that tip. Maybe next year, who knows?

I then walked to meet a friend at a Overflow Coffee Bar on States S. Our time together was such a blessing and encouragement. I met Dorothy years ago at a conference through a Christian club we were both part of. And though I don't have tons of memories of her back then, it has been sweet to see God reconnect us since she's been living here in the US. I stayed with her last fall on my last trip to Chicago, and this time around I was happy to be able to see her again. It is so interesting how our stories intersect; in our faith journey, as Haitian Canadian children of immigrants, in our passion for justice and as women.

We met at around 4:30 and talked till after the coffee shop should have closed. It was so encouraging to share more of our stories, catch up on that last year and hear all about what God had been doing in her life. She has such a heart of encouragement and a budding prophetic gift which I truly appreciate. I was feeing a bit nervous last night while packing, so it was a nice reminder that God was looking out for me as I embarked on this journey.

Haitian Sistas

Haitian Sistas

As we closed our time together we went inside to say goodbye to our barista and his girlfriend who was hanging around waiting for close. As we began to chat with them it was clear that this was not an accidental meeting. Justin and Rachel are both creatives, Christians and have a passion for the arts, and community building. The coffee shop Justin works for is a local social entreprise that has been in the city for just over 5 years and he just shared his passion for the community they serve and how God has been faithful to help them build bridges and love people.

This place more than lived up to its name. It overflowed with joy and welcome from the second we stepped inside. And our time afterwards with Justin and Rachel was such an encouragement! At one point everyone kind of stopped to take in the moment and suggested we pray. We all laughed, shared needs and requests and just began to pray for each other, Overflow, Chicago as a whole and then we shared words of encouragement with each other. Not a word was out of place. There was laughter and smiles and I know for me even a few tears. These kindred spirits had been exactly what I needed.  

Rachel, Justin and I at Overflow

Rachel, Justin and I at Overflow

I have no clue what the next two months will have in store, but I do know that already God has been confirming things and reminding me of his promises. God is faithful. So much so that even in this city that I have yet to know fully, God brought people along to encourage me, remind me of my worth, of His love and to commission me onto the next part of my journey. I meet the team tomorrow and I am becoming increasingly convinced that there is more than music in our future. 

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Let The "Extreme" Adventure Begin

I'm going on tour!! I remember the excitement when I got the news that I was selected to be part of this year's Extreme Tour in the US. Texts were sent, excited phone calls received, and immediately a list of things I had to do crossed my mind. Fast forward a month and a half, and here I am a few days away from starting this adventure.

I will be sharing my experiences with you as much as I can as we travel across the US sharing songs, laughter and life with people from all walks of life. I hope that you will beable to get a feel for the places we see, and those we meet as well as the amazing team I get to experience it all with. I don't think there is any way that I can truly anticipate what is to come, which is such a weird place to be in for me.

I was chatting with one of my fellow tour mates today and it clicked that this is going to be a journey of faith for us all. Firstly, we're all volunteers. Life on the road can be unpredictable on a good day, let alone when you aren't sure how you're going to pay for gas or food or anything for that matter. Then there's also the kind of tour we are embarking on. Some of the communities we are going to will be places of extreme need. I read a post from one of the artist that was in Detroit today. The host church had him sign a waiver before performing. What a wild experience that would have been. 

As a Canadian, I am aware of the things that I will experience differently. Exchange rate, culture shock, racial tensions and being in the US during the peak of what will be one of the most important elections this nation will have faced in recent history, are all things that I am aware that this Canadian chick will have to navigate. 

That being said, I am more than excited for all that is to come. Or maybe the right word is expectant. Yea, I know that this is going to be an adventure and I know that God will be with us as we embark on this journey. I know that God will provide and care for us. Wisdom, discernment, grace and patience will all be necessary and I know that the Holy Spirit will guide and help where I find myself weak.

I fly into Chicago Tuesday morning and hit the road on Wednesday. If you're the praying type, feel free to pray for me and the team. We'll gladly take it. I will be sharing updates here and posting on social media as much as possible. If you want to help with the financial side of things there is a GoFundMe page to help with that. 

Thank you to all those who have given, prayed, sent love and best wishes. I couldn't do this without any of you! Catch you in a few days.

-Grace

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Throwback Thursday: Dear Dad

Can I tell you a story? You weren't around but when I was six I had this friend. She was cool, Fletch and I would play with her after school. Sometimes her mom would watch us while mom was at work. Back then, she was my best friend. The one I told secrets to. And at that time my biggest secret wasn't what you'd expect from a six year old. I had no lofty dreams of living in a castle, or learning to fly. No, my secret was on the more serious side. Six years old and already jaded by the world, I told my best friend I would never get married.

Crazy isn't it? Most would laugh, "Isn't she adorable?" But I was serious. While most kids are building their dream world with Barbie and Ken, I wanted nothing to do with it. And to be honest it never crossed my mind that it was strange of me to think this way. I mean, look at all the good it did you and mom, and back then I could probably count the number of healthy relationships I knew on one arm. That being said, when she found out, as moms always do, she was less than pleased. Even through her heart ache she still held out hope for her seed. She probably sat alone in her room that night and wondered if it was her fault that I felt this way. I've since hoped she didn't blame herself. It wasn't her fault, but I understand that those words are easier said than believed.

Now as I sit here 20 years later, a few thank yous are definitely in order. I'd like to thank you for teaching me a few lessons in life. Like what not to look for in a man and things of the like. I'd also like to thank you for my early introduction to fear, insecurity, doubt, and confusion. Just a few of the things you left behind when you left us behind. Now to be honest, I don't quite care to know whether or not you intended it to be that way, or whether you feel bad. And please don't bother telling me you love me. I know for a fact love don't act that way. The reality is today, I'm now a woman as they say, and I find myself surveying my heart and my mind, realising things aren't completely right. And since you never cared to ask, or stick around to take a look, I thought I'd give you a little glimpse of what you left behind.

 


With every year that passes, I learn more about myself, who I am, and who I desire to be and in all that I've also begun to see my hang ups. Whether I like it or not one of those is most definitely you. It's funny how much of you and mom I see in myself and how I process life. It seems that even though you were never around, I can't escape your your influence. I still find your fingerprints on the files of my mind in those moments when I'm less aware of the truth in my reality. They are my grown up versions of the monster in my closet. And though I have grown out of being afraid of the dark, my present battles are no less potent.

This new monster is much more aware, you could even say sophisticated. You see he built his factory right inside of my head. No need for a closet to hide in when you've got a brain, and an unwitting victim fueling the fire with her own fear and pain. No need for Sulley and Mike. Here reigns a monster who feeds off memories for his strength. And when I'm not careful, when my guard is slightly down, he comes out of his cage and begins to prowl. Looking for an opening, a single chance to strike. It's weird that the older I get the more his influence is apparent in my life.
 

Daily, in this battle we embark. Some days I win and others... Well, those are the days when, although I know he isn't quite real, I can still feel his breath as it crawls up my neck. Whispering my name, laying out my every shame. Every reason why I am not enough;

"Your father left you. You should know by now that you suck!"

"Your brother was right. You are ugly. Really, who would ever want you? You're too much to handle. And no one really wants a black girl" 

"Did your mother's tears teach you nothing? No man can be trusted. You'll never really know a person. It's better that you stay protected."

So we fight this war, me and this monster, while he feeds on my scars. I thank God everyday that I've made it this far. Reminding myself  " You are not what his actions say you are!" True as those words are, I've come to realise how those lies have penetrated my reality. Now there are places I rarely choose to venture in, cause for the most part I don't see the use. But sometimes thoughts just swirl around in my head. In those moments I wish I was braver, less prone to hide. I'd stand in front of you and just speak my mind.

I'd tell you about hearing mom cry herself to sleep at night. I'd ask you if it was worth giving it all up for the D. Was worth the cost of your family?  I'd tell you about my nightmares, how I'd be woken up at night by scenes of evil legions led by the man they call my father. I'd tell you how embarrassing it is to be the only kid not making a card for her dad on Father's Day. I'd describe the shame you feel of having to raise your hand to tell your teacher there is no such man for you to dedicate a card to. Feeling all those eyes looking at you, as you expose your mess to the entire class.

If I had it in me I'd tell you how awkward it still is to answer questions like, "What's your father like? What does your he do?" I can't very well say he specialises in procreation and abandonment. Although you're an expert in your field, it's not much of an accomplishment. Oh how I abhor the pity in their eyes when I do tell them about you. Having to explain that the only way my father was ever in the picture is in between dusty frames, and such has been my reality since I was 5.

 Did you know, that I resent the fact that I have to carry your name? It is a constant reminder of what you were supposed to be, flaunting before my eyes the scars left behind, and the legacy I wish I could put behind me somewhere in eternity. And sometimes, when I look at Fletcher all I see is your face. In those moments it's difficult not to relive the disgrace. It's like even through genetics you're silently mocking me. And though I won't admit it, deep down I know it bothers me so because it means that every day in the mirror, that face is yours as well.

But what can I say, I'm not that strong. I'm prone to hide so instead I write these letters, ease my pain away through prose and song, praying that my children will have a better life. See I know I'm not the first, nor will I be the last to be stuck with a dead beat dad. And in those moments I am thankful that God in heaven is no tool, and no fool. He knew my worth before I was even aware and on His promises I can depend. Because unlike you He sees them through till the end.
 

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Throwback Thursday: Just A Few Things...

I wrote this peice a while back and realised I had planned on posting it as a #tbt months ago but never got around to it. I figured today was as good a day as any; the Cosby, and Ghomesi trials are in the news and in two days around the world a certain group of men will be gathering in major cities across the world (including mine) who shamelessly support rape, the denigration of women and abuse of LGBT+ people. *** UPDATE: Now cancelled meetings. woo****  Proving that this is still a conversation to be had today.

To be honest it blows my mind that people exist that believe such atrocities. But I digress, the stats say that most victims of rape know thier abuser, and it happens more than most would like to believe. Though this is written from the perpective of women, I am aware that this happens to men as well and that this is ultimately a humanity issue- something we should all care about. Odds  are you know someone who has been a victim of sexual assault whether you are aware of it or not.


I realised recently that I am kinda angry. What I also realised is that part of the reason I feel so angry is that in some weird way I have convinced myself that expressing said anger would be inappropriate, and maybe even rude. I was telling myself it was unbecoming of me, and I needed to exercise self control, and extend grace, yada, yada, yada... This leads to me shelving the issue, not realising that doing so will only serve to create a shelf of anger which eventually will kick my butt.
Well it has and so here I am.
Hangry. (I didn't misspell it. I'll explain another day.)

I am going to get a few things off my chest... I hope you don't mind.

Gentlemen Boys! (Men, especially the gentle kind don't need this speech) NO MEANS NO!!! In case you don't know what no means, I will clarify: *ahem* It is the opposite of yes,

Or as dictionary.com would put it:

NO [noh] adverb, adjective, noun, plural noes, nos, verb adverb 1. (a negative used to expressdissentdenial, or refusal, as in response to a question or request) 2. (used to emphasize or introduce a negative statement): Not a single person came to the party, no, not a one. 3. not in any degree or manner; not at all (used with a comparative): He is no better. 4. not a (used before an adjective to convey the opposite of the adjective's meaning): His recovery was no small miracle. adjective 5. not a (used before a noun to convey the opposite of the noun's meaning): She's no beginner on the ski slopes. noun 6. an utterance of the word “no.” 7. a denial or refusal: He responded with a definite no. 8. a negative vote or voter: The noes have it. verb (used with object) 9. to reject, refuse approval, or express disapproval of. verb (used without object) 10. to express disapproval. Idioms 11. no can do, Informal. it can't be done.

Just to be clear (just in case) That is NON en francais, NIET in Russian, NayNay in Pinette. Oh, and the absence of yes, is STILL NO.

Alrighty, all that being said. If one more young woman tells me of a man boy who doesn't understand the meaning of the aforementioned word, I may have to come and give you the licking your daddy should have growing up.

Now before everybody get all up in a huff saying "Rose, is this not a smidge passive aggressive of you? Are you not being a little dramatic?" And the like. Let me stop you.

No I am not. Why?

Because every woman should have the right to say who has access to their bodies, because little girls shouldn't have to grow up feeling dirty and confused cause some perv didn't have the self control to keep his hands to himself. Because my heart aches, with every tear I have cried for the almost dozen women I know who have been raped, and others who've been molested, manipulated, used or taken advantage of.

This isn't dramatic. This is real life. And it has to stop. It is wrong and straight up makes me mad. More than that it grieves me. To see some of the most beautiful, wonderful people I know destroy themselves because of what was done to them. And the crazy thing is, in most of those cases the guy wasn't some crazed serial rapists. He is the trusted friend, the family member, the first love, the co-worker, those cute guys at the party, the husband who sorely misunderstood his role... Those guys are our neighbours, for some of us our friend, and some don't even realise what they did.

"I thought she wanted it."

NEWS FLASH: she didn't. You didn't stop to listen. You didn't even care. It was never about her, it was about you. Your wants, your needs. You took what you wanted and now you've moved on with life and she gets to spend the next how many years of her life trying to feel clean again. Trying to forget your scent, your touch. Waking up at night with nightmares, lashing out at the world. Becoming someone she never intended to be. Which tragically leads society to label her as a slut, wild, crazy, lost, and the like. But they don't know where she's been. They have no clue how she cries at night. Neither do you.

That makes me feel angry, and sad, and helpless. Cause there isn't much I can do. And so I weep with those who mourn, love the best I can, pray and whole lot and periodically imagine what it would be like to knock someone out.

To those thinking, well that's not me so we're good. Coercing her in going further than she wants is no better. Shafting her because she wouldn't give it up is also no better. There is no honour, respect, or love in that. So if you woo a girl and dump her because she has standards, you're a turd too. And I probably want to knock you out. But praise God for the Holy Spirit and self-control, as good as that would feel, it would be unbecoming of me.

That brings up another thing that frustrates me. Why am I the one having to control my fists? To the men who aren't jerks. Being nice isn't enough. We need you to set a standard amongst yourselves. We need you to create a world where it's understood that that kind of behaviour, and the thinking that leads to it is unacceptable. We need you to tell your homeboy he's a turd and should check himself, and knock him upside the head if necessary.

Fathers, talk to your sons. They are confused and so desperately need you to set the record straight on manhood. Brothers, uncles, pastors, neighbours and friends. Step in. Talk about it. I know it is messy. But we NEED you to go there. Too many have fallen through the cracks. Check a guy out if he's gonna date your daughter, sister, friend. Yes friend. With the number of girls who are fatherless, away from father figures, or who have dads who don't know to care, you need to. Who better to sniff them out than you?

It will serve several purposes. The women in your life who respect you, and know you care will tend to avoid guys you don't approve of. Also this will remind a fella that there is someone to answer to if he does pull something. One more thing, this may be selfish, it will also limit the times I have to threaten to chop it off. You laugh, but I've said it, cause someone had to and no one else volunteered. In all seriousness, the women in your world need to know that you are more than merely friendly or "not jerks" but that you actually care for their safety, health and well being as sisters, and fellow human beings.

Fellas:

To all those who've made mistakes. Yes, I called you a turd, but there is hope. You can change. Start today. It begins with your heart and your mind. Give up chasing your needs and desires. They are fleeting, and deceiving. Only God can satisfy. Straight up. Meet Jesus, change how you think, find someone to hold you accountable. Exercise some self control.

To those who've stood their ground, THANK YOU. Keep standing. It's worth it. We appreciate it. But please don't just stand. Speak. Truth is only useful when shared. Invest. Step in. We need you to.

Ladies:
If you have been used, abused, violated in any kind of way, I want you to know that you are NOT alone. It is ok to ask for help. It was not your fault, you are not dirty, or worthless. You are loved, and cherished. And yes, there will be a day when it stops hurting. Please know that you are not defined by what was done for you but by your Father who made you. (He thinks you're pretty great!)

For those watching this all play out as I am, be encouraged. There is hope. Keep standing, keep believing for more than you've seen. I promise it exists. Stand with your sisters. Weep if you must. Know that there will be a day... 

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Hello, it's me

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Hello, it's me

I've been wondering if after all these weeks you'd like to meet? (lame joke I know, I couldn't help myself.)

 

Sooo... Um.. Haaayy!

 

It's been a while. I know, I know. Lo siento. But I'm here now and, to be honest, I'm not sure why. It's crossed my mind more than once in the last little while that I haven't really written in a long time. And every time that thought crossed my mind it grieved me. So here I am and, if you'll allow me to be even more honest, this may not  be that deep or very clear. You may read to the end and wonder if there was even a point. 

See it's not that I'm lacking thoughts, it's that these days there are way too many. It's not that I am lacking clarity, it's that some things are becoming painfully clear. It's not that there isn't a point, it's that I'm certain there is. So I find myself living, thinking, questioning, (and questioning and questioning), listening, grieving and back to thinking some more. Through it all I've been learning about myself, my world, my God, my heritage and how all these things intertwine. Some days it's exciting and enlightening. Other days it's scary and confusing. And some days, it's striaght up maddening.

One thing I've noticed is that in those seasons when life, my heart, or my mind are heavy I tend to write less. I haven't completely figured out why but I think it's because if feels like more of a burden in those times. Or something to do with my distaste for vulnerability. (Yes, even with myself. I know, we're working on it.) The funny thing is that I'm beginning to realise that those are the seasons I need to write the most, as a form of self care, as a way to process my world and as a way to hear and see God at work in my life.

So I guess this is me saying 'Hello'. I guess this is me recognising  that I can be better. Note that I'm not saying do better, but be better. I am slowly realising that life is more about the being than the doing. It doesn't matter what I accomplish if I'm not healthy doing it. This is me acknowledging that writing and self reflection bring me life, even when it hurts or makes me uncomfortable. This is me letting you know that I am thankful for you and this is me telling the universe that in 2016 I aspire to simply be. Whatever that entails, in all of it's mess and glory. 

Now I don't know what the year may bring, I can't promise this will be a super consitent blog, I can't guarantee new music this year, or that on paper this year will beat the last in accomplishments. But I can say that I want to continue to grow in faith, in heart, in mind and in my craft. And I want to do that with you if you'll join me. I'll try to be less neglectful and to always be as honest as my heart will allow (and sometimes a wee bit more).

So here's  a toast: to 2016, the unknown, and what's to come!

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Throwback Thursday: Home

Home

There are days
Days when the hours seem too long
Days when my heart sings no song
Days when I am certain, convinced
That this is not my home

Moments when I know I don't belong
I catch a glimspe of a different song
New, yet familiar like a storm long gone
I see the wreckage left behind, 
Reminding me of its reality
Yet I have never quite felt its winds
Tasted of its rains, or sat on its clouds

I still yearn for this storm, my soul calls home
For deep down I know, this rock is not where I belong
I look around and see pain and strife
Yes, I know there are joys in life
Though I revel in them daily
There remains this silent plea
From deep within me 

For more

And as I search, and search, I am fully aware 
My hunt is in vain
The answer I seek already lies in me
This vague memory of this place I seem to already know
Like a photo I once saw so very long ago
Blurry, as if in a dream, this land so serene
Unlike anything I've ever seen
Beyond anything this mind, and these eyes could never comprehend

And so again I contend that this is not my home
Here alone on this mound I call home
I know that what I live is but a lie
Partial reality, illusions meant to assuage my heart
Silence its plea for more

More beyond these shores
Continual hope and joy
Peace and love everlasting, far reaching, and never ending
More, 
Beauty incarnate
More
Life,
More!
Love with out the heart break
Hope with out the earthquake
Peace without the strife
Compassion without the war

More than what is beyond my front door
More than what is beyond foreign shores
More than the dreams that haunt these corridors
More than the failure AND the glories of those who've come before
More than just fine, more than ok, more than getting by 

Survival is no longer an option
For in my heart I know that my place is not
Not in the mediocrity of this land content in its disparity
Not in equations, less than, more than, plus or minus, solutions or inequalities
Not in the wants and needs, desires of those with more than they have a vision for
Not in the rivers of self pity forged over the years by tears of the weary, dead beat, woe is me industry
Not in this city, this nation or land
Not in any tribe, family or clan
Not in any universe known or to come

No this is not where I belong
This is not my home
And so I hold on to this dream, like a wish
As if I had caught the last star to ever shoot across the sky
Because somewhere deep down inside me lies a heart
Bursting with a cry for a home that is yet to come
But will one day appear just as the rising sun
In glory and wonder with the power to scorch away the memories
Leaving this life as nothing more than a vague memory, a dream
And the reality to come as the only one

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My Week In Music 2: #MWIM- Home

There were some pretty sweet highlights this week. I rediscovered Amanda Marshall, she's a killer Canadian singer, songwriter and I have some great memories of listening to her stuff growing up. I also had my first listen of Shawn McDonald's Brave. I haven't listened to much of his stuff in a while, so it was cool when it came up in my Spotify discovery. I am looking forward to listening to it some more in coming week. There were some pretty cool moments at first listen.

Song of the week definitely goes to Home. It's on Bethel's We Will Not Be Shaken and features Hunter Thompson. Dude's got the voice of an angel. Like. For. Real. Listening to Thompson share about what inspired the song, I immediately related with his sentiment about finding home. The yearning for that place where you know all is well, where you belong. The realisation that no matter where on earth you search nothing will quite satiate that desire. 

"Draw to me Jesus

I’ve made my heart a home"

That tension is so real to me. I regularly get hit with the pangs that come with knowing I was not made for here. What struck me, was that rather than simply yearning for eternity, which is my regular response. His search for home led him to draw closer to the One that is home. 

Ultimately home, for the believer isn't found in a place but in Christ.. Not something to strive for, but rather make room for. Home is found in intimacy with the Father, in walking in step with His Spirit. In that relationship where we are fully known and fully loved.

It is found in rest.

A lesson I am fighting to learn everyday. 

I think this song will be on the soundtrack of this year for me as I continue to work out those themes in my own life. Feel free to let me know what home means to you. I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Like last week I made you a collage of what I've been listening to this week. If you haven't yet you can listen to Home below.

R.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Entends Mon Coeur

Today's throwback is a clip of me and the ever talented David Breault performing at Fière Francophone, an event honouring immigrant francophone women in the region and their accomplishments. It was a great time and a bonus that I got to sing in French!

R.

 


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My Week In Music #MWIM1

I listen to a lot of music. A lot. My newest roommate (she moved in with us this April) asked me recently if there was a time when I don't listen to music. I was tempted to respond "Well, when I sleep!" Until I realosed it was most definitely a lie. lol 

So I thought I would post a weekly collage of what I've been jamming to. It will probably been a random hodgepodge, but hey, that's me!

R.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Through Me

It's Throwback Thursday on the blog! Here's a little goody from last year!

-R.

Through Me

Mama's still breathing
But you can't say she's living
Sitting in a life boat
Stroke working against her
Stricken down by a life
Hell bent on keeping her
Down
Pen stroke ain't as confident as it used to be
Struck down, stripped of her crown
Royal blood too rich for her arteries
There she sits on her makeshift throne
Remembering the days of old
Wondering if she's destined to spend the rest of her life alone

The days grow cold.

Or maybe it's the draft she feels
Walking around the house in her underwear
Long gone are her needs for outerwear
That's only for people who care
Or simply care to hope
She's long found the end of her rope

Mama spends her days alone
With the voices in her head
Whispering psalms of lamentation and regret
Unable to let her forget
So she erects shrines
Dedicated to the good times
When life made sense
Children understood respect
Back when she had control of her mind
And she needed to keep track of time
Cause if she wasn't careful it would fly by
Now, it stalls, just like her speech
Trickling out in spurts that no mind can quite reach
So she spends the days of her life,
Engulfed by the young and the restless
Limping through the days
Lifeless and helpless
Lost in her failures and regrets

But some days, you can still catch a glimmer in her eyes
Remnants of a time left behind
Back when she was my everything
Untouchable
Ain't nothing could take her down
Or steal the shine off her crown
She was a warrior
A queen
Her purse may have been empty
But she swung it over her shoulder with plenty of dignity
You should have seen her tame a crowd
They never stood a chance
Armed with wisdom, wit and intellect
She could take you across galaxies
With nothing but a few phrases and a passing glance

And to this day I still stand in the shadow of her used-to-be
Never quite what she was, or who she dreamed I'd be
Needless to say, she haunts me
Even in her silence
She has the power to overtake my best defense
That's probably why I keep her at bay
Shameful as it is
I just can't seem to reconcile
The woman she was
                             The mother I miss
The woman she is
                          The one I dismiss
With the woman I am
                       The one I'm not quite ready to be
So different, but more like her than I'm willing to admit
So while Mama's still breathing
She may still be living

Through me
 

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The Tortoise Always Wins

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The Tortoise Always Wins

I'm a visionnary. So it's quite easy for me to get ahead of myself. I can see where I want to get to and all the pieces of the puzzle along the way. I can craft strategies and plans for every scenario possible if I give myself enough time. But at the end of the day, most of that doesn't matter without the right tools to build, and the right foundation to build on.

I walked into this whole experience pretty blind and naive. I figured 'what the hey, I'll record some music!' It is wild what the process has taught me about my strengths and weaknesses. About where I have built well and where there is room to grow.  It is difficult for me at times to see the end goal and know that I can't quite get there. That the things I am building towards aren't quite within reach yet.

I love Propaganda. He is a writer I regularly shake my head at because he is so talented. (Like for real though, check out his stuff it's crazy and free!) He has a song called Raise The Banner that has been speaking to me in particular these days, It talks about the need for excellence in all that we do with our God given talents. The marking part for me is when he says

"I read the story a million times. Tortoise always wins."

Essentially, slow and steady wins the race. Or for me: Slow down. Breathe. BUILD, Enjoy the journey, it's more important than you think!

In this season, I am realising that means to build. Taking the time to assess where I am and how I can invest in myself and my dreams to get where I need to go. My journey may not be like everyone else's or anything like what I expect it to be.

BUT.

It will be lead by God.

It will be the best of me.

It will be excellent.

Ha. The beauty is, if that's the case, no matter the outer ranking, this tortoise always wins.

R.


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Throwback Thursday: Again #WalterScott

With the launching of a new blog, I thought it would be cool to repost some old writings here sometimes. In light of the tragedy in Charleston I have found myself in a very familiar place. It reminded me of this piece I wrote not to long ago after the death of Walter Scott. The feelings, thoughts, and prayers remain the same.

-R.

 

It's been a few hours now. I have been sitting here at my dining room table in silence. Just crying. Thinking. Wondering. What does one say at a moment like this? Because truly I have no clue what is left to say. A friend told me that whatever I say would be beneficial even if it's repetition since we obviously haven't gotten the point.


So here I am.
Repeating myself.
Again.
Here we are telling you we matter.
Again.
Here I am crying.
Again.
Shedding tears for another brother slain.
At times like this it feels like it doesn't even matter if I know his name
The tears are the same.
They are the same tears I cried in the dark as my heart stood at Fruitvale station
They're the same ones I shed while sitting in my basement, for Trayvon Martin
They are same tears I cried in high school for Emmet Till
The same tears I cry when they say simple obedience will keep people from being killed
These are same tears I cry every time I smell the Gunpowder
The ones I cry when I think about my brothers
Then I pause
Again
To thank God they're alive
Again
To thank God my mother chose the cold white north
Again
Is it selfish, or cruel that I let out a sigh of relief
Again
Cause those weren't my schools
Those weren't my streets
And though they very well could have been
They weren't my story
So I wonder
Again
Why wasn't it me
I shed a tear
Again
In my shame and my guilt
That I get to look from the outside
While my people are killed
Those same tears that always lead me back to Black Rage
Cause nothing's changed
We still find ourselves crying out for freedom
Again
History must be black
Cause she keeps having to repeating herself
Again and again
Even then no one hears her
Over the sounds of misinformation and misplaced priorities
Hmm...
So once again
Here I am
Sitting in silence unsurprised
Once again
Anger welling up from inside
Again
Asking God one question
Why?
Again
Why?
Again?
Why
Am I repeating myself
Again
I no longer even pretend
That I expect any better
I sit down to watch a murder
And I don't even shudder
What has happened to my heart
That such atrocity doesn't immediately light a spark
Instead I sit in silence
Again
Slowly letting the truth come to head
Fighting
Again
To believe in forgiveness
Again
To believe we'll see justice
Again
Someday
Maybe
But then again
Maybe we won't
At least not until He returns
Again

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New Heights, New Seasons

Welcome to my new blog. For those who already know me, you know this is a place where I share my passions, fears, poetry and occasional rants. I have been mildly blogging elsewhere for a few years now. I thought it was high time to bring all my personas together as I prepare for the release of my first album.

It has been a year since we began the process of making This Love, and I am so excited for what it has become. These songs and poems are the fruit of hours in prayer, tears shed, and dreams dreamed, and it is such an honour to be able to share them with others. I can truly say that this is an honest reflection of parts of my journey over the last five years or so. I hope that these tracks will create moments for you and that these simple words and melodies will resonate with you.

If I'm honest, this journey hasn't come without it's obstacles. If nothing else, this last year has revealed to me the parts of myself that are prone to fear and insecurity. Is it good enough? Will people like it? Why am I even doing this? Those are just some of the thoughts that swirled through my mind throughout. In the midst of it all, I am comforted by the fact that I know that God has brought me this far. My job, as I see it, is to be faithful to the gifts I have been given and to leave the rest to Him. So that's what I'm going to do! (I'll try at the very least. lol)

Once again, welcome! To new friends, thank you for coming along for the ride. To old friends, mille fois merci, for riding with me thus far. I will be shutting down my old blog, but I may write about some of those topics again here in the future. 

Love y'all!

In His Grace,

R.

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