My Top 20 Christian Worship Albums

So, being the muso and worshipper that I am, over the past few years I’ve amassed quite a large collection of Christian worship music.

Quite a few albums in this list were recommendations which quickly became favourites of mine (one of the many perks of having Christian muso friends).

Here we go! 🙂

I’ll also mention my favourite track (or two)  from each album:

20. Endless Years – Will Reagan and United Pursuit

(FT – Give Me A Song)

19. Songs for the Nations – Sean Feucht

(FT – Celebrate because it’s in 5/4 time!)

18. ZOLA EP – ZOLA – I’m particularly attached to this one because ZOLA is a local band, and I’m friends with several of the band members. Go Perth! 🙂

(FT – All of them!)

17. Let It Be Known – Worship Central

(FT – Dry Bones)

16. Kingdom Come – Bryan & Katie Torwalt

(FT – It Is Finished)

15. Live in Colour – Kings Kaleidoscope * – This was recommended to me not long ago by one of my best friends B. I do not regret downloading this album!

(FT – Higher Throne)

14. We are Young and Free – Hillsong Y&F

(FT – Wake and Sinking Deep)

13. ZION – Hillsong UNITED

(FT – Oceans and Mercy Mercy)

(and ZION Acoustic Sessions)

12. Safe Place – Kristene di Marco

(FT – Holly Dear)

11. Majestic – Kari Jobe

(FT – Hands to the Heavens)

10. Tides – Bethel Music

(FT – For the Cross and Letting Go)

(and Tides Live)

9. Hope’s Anthem – William Matthews

(FT – Hope’s Anthem and So Good To Me)

8. Live at Home – Cageless Birds Collective

(FT – Mt Zion and Invitation)

7. For the Sake of the World – Bethel Music

(FT – Our Father and Closer)

6. Home – Skyler Smith & Kim Walker-Smith

(FT – I Just Want You and Christ The Rock)

(and) Live at the Banks House – Will Reagan and United Pursuit

(FT – Nothing I Hold Onto/Climb)

5. Fingerpainting EP – The Ember Days *

(FT – Everything!! 😀 )

4. Live – All Sons and Daughters

(FT – Great Are You Lord)

3. Here on Earth – Bryan & Katie Torwalt

(FT – Nothing Holding Me Back)

2. More Than You Think – The Ember Days * – this album got me through a lot of tough times in the past few months. I pray it’ll be a blessing to you too. 🙂

(FT – Face in the Dark and Prodigal)

1. The Loft Sessions – Bethel Music – No matter how many albums I’ve got stored in my car, my laptop, my phone, I cannot help but come back to this album again and again. This album was my very first Bethel Music album, and it certainly won’t be the last!

(FT – You Know Me and Draw Near)

(* – This album is FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!)

If you’re interested, click on the album title and the link will bring you to the album page or iTunes.

Also, in case you haven’t noticed already, I’m a big fan of acoustic/live albums. I love studio albums, synthesized goodness, the occasional dubstep, but nothing pleases me more aesthetically than a beautiful, natural, acoustic album.

ENJOY! 😀

Blessings,
D x ❤ ❤ ❤

Origins

Everything starts with something.

 One of my favourite quotes of all time would have to be from Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary Episode (which, I might add, is FANTASTIC. Watch it. Now.) –

‘Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame. Whatever the cost.’

In this case, my parents lit the flame for me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved reading. When I was bored in the shops, I used to just read product labels just for the sake of it. My mum read to us as children before bed time (we still have that book – ‘366 and More Fairy Tales‘, and many more). For birthday and Christmas presents, as a child, I’ve always asked for a book I’ve been eyeing for a year or more in the local bookstore.

My older sister and I still have our collection of Enid Blyton short stories (both), Nancy Drew (classic and modern)(mine), The Hardy Boys (hers), Mallory Towers (hers), St Clares (hers), Spy Kids (that was mine, I was a massive fan of Spy Kids), The Secret Seven, and a lot of random books we’ve collected over the years. I still remember many of the stories attached to the books (where we got them from, who gave them to us, for what occasion). I even attempted to read Shakespeare’s MacBeth at the age of 10 when I found an old, musky-smelling book in an old-er bookshelf while exploring my grandparents’ house (That was interesting. Didn’t understand a word, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Felt so very grown up). And of course, who would forget their first ever children’s Bible, filled with beautiful images, Biblical heroes, and wonderful miracles! 🙂

 MacBeth? At 10 years of age? Bring it on.

This was one of my favourite ND books.
This was one of my favourite ND books.

During my last few years of primary school, there was the ‘Goosebumps’ craze – a fellow bookworm friend of mine brought his ENTIRE collection to school, and they were liberally distributed across the classroom for our reading pleasure. I remember hiding a noticeably large stack of books in my class drawer so I could read them while during class – I. Just. Couldn’t. Get. Enough. Of. Them!

Naturally, having read so many books and falling in love with stories of mysticism, romance, adventure, and swashbuckling knights in not-so-shining armour, my love affair with writing began from a very young age – I wrote my first short story in the style of Enid Blyton at the age of 8 in a small purple notebook, along with illustrations, dress designs, and journaling snippets (mostly about my two best friends, Sam and Jac, and the mischief we got up to in primary school).

It eventually became two notebooks, then three, and it kept increasing in number and in size. I had journals all throughout primary and high school.

I wrote poems (especially during exams when I’ve finished my paper ahead of everyone else and my brain is still going at a hundred miles per hour), drew illustrations (mostly of natural objects like trees I saw outside my window at class), wrote stories (on the most random topic like swimming), jotted down my dreams and goals for the next 10 years, and journaled my actual dreams (you know, the ones we get when we sleep?).

To be brutally honest, I think I wrote the most when we were moving to Australia – my thoughts, hormones, and emotions were tumultuous, to say the least. I saw my handwriting evolve throughout the years, from agitated to tired, tired to hyperactive, cursive to block, you name it. I realised my handwriting reflected the things I was going through while I was journaling. My journals were TOP-SECRET, without a doubt – the confidential secrets my friends told me throughout my high school life were stored away in my journals (you will not find my journals, I promise you). I only showed my illustrations and sketches – I never show my poems unless it was something I was extremely proud of.

I do love writing fiction though – I had a map of my imaginary world (Tolkien style – mountains, forests, lakes, ‘This is where ________ lies’, you name it), filled with history and myths. I was deeply attached to my characters, especially my lead heroine, especially as she was transported to a parallel world soon after her 18th birthday to save that parallel world from imploding on itself. I even had a friend of mine draw a phoenix for me so I could use it and its descriptions for my ‘novel’. I never finished it. 😦 My sister and I also wrote fanfiction (mostly Power Rangers, because we were MASSIVE fans of Power Rangers at that age), so I wrote a LOT of stories of that nature before moving here to Perth.

I wrote several short stories during high school as part of my English assignments (I had way too much fun writing them, although they were slightly morbid and emotional in nature). I must admit though, many of the stories were slightly autobiographical in nature, as they mostly reflected the state of my heart and mind. I was hugely inspired by Ray Bradbury – my aunt sent me ‘Fahrenheit 451‘ several years ago and that book shifted my paradigm. I wrote another short story in honour of him.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I read Fahrenheit 451 again about a week ago, and it continues to amaze and fascinate me.

These days, I usually channel my creative writing juices into songwriting instead, being the musician that I am. I write fiction or non-fiction, or reflections, only when I’m struck by inspiration or a lightning-bolt-idea, or when I come across a particularly interesting writing challenge like this one:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/writing-challenge-reflections/

Other than that, I write for the fun of it, or when my fingers are feeling a little itchy.

(I still journal though – less illustrations, less designs, but more songs. My sister made me a TARDIS journal, in honour of our current favourite TV show Doctor Who. I love it.)

 

My dear fellow bloggers – what’s YOUR story? 🙂

Blessings,
D x ❤ ❤ ❤

The Reason for Love

A few hours ago, a good friend of mine ‘A‘ asked me a thought-provoking question:

‘Is love an emotion?’

Is it something we can’t help but ‘feel’ or ‘fall into’?

According to the handy-dandy dictionary, love is defined as – 

  • a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person,
  • a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection,
  • sexual passion or desire,
  • a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart
  • a term of endearment.

In light of these definitions (and the many many many many many many many many songs dedicated to love), it is easy to think that love is just emotion and feelings (the warm and fuzzy feelings, as people call them sometimes).

Personally, I think love is more of a response, stimulated by emotions arise from circumstances and situations. Love is not merely an emotion because it is usually accompanied with or followed by action, whether large or small. We love on purpose. It is a choice. We can choose to love or not to love. Emotions will arise regardless.

A throws this statement into the conversation and we ended up discussing it:

People confuse the emotions evoked by love to be love itself‘.

This is the way I see the statement:

Say for example I’m frustrated with a friend about something he/she has done, and I think that the reason I’m frustrated with this person is because I love him/her (as a friend) and I want the best for him/her (who wouldn’t, yeah?). With every emotion or feeling, there is usually a root thought. Usually we are frustrated with someone if he/she has disappointed our expectations in some way, and therefore has nothing to do with me loving that someone. If I’m not careful enough, I might think that because I love him/her, I therefore have the right to continue being frustrated with him/her (because to me, that’s what love is) rather than confront him/her about THE ISSUE ITSELF (and resolve it).

I’m confusing the emotions evoked by love for him/her (in this case, frustration) with love itself. 

A gives another example – his mum gets worried when he goes somewhere without letting her know. She thinks it is because she loves him that she worries, but the actual problem is a ROOT of fearfulness.

I would like to challenge you to think about any similar situations you’ve been in and have a think. 🙂 There are so many facets and aspects to this (and the concept of love in general).

This is the way A perceives the statement:

To A, it’s easy to know whether you love someone if you would choose to love them even after they have done an unimaginable deed towards you (betrayal etc).Emotions (good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant), are there to colour the love. Otherwise, love would be pretty boring. However, colours appear different under different lighting. The same goes with emotions – this is why we should never make decisions based on our emotions.

(It’s like shopping in a grocery store with an empty stomach. Everything is appealing with an empty, usually growling stomach. I cannot tell you how many chocolate bars I’ve bought, Lindt dark chocolate of course, just because I was peckish. Most of them are still in my bedside drawer.)

http://www.theskinnyonlowcal.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/grocery-aisle.jpg

A then throws another spanner into the works and asks, ‘So what about being in love?

Being a born-again Christian and being so desperately in love with God (but having never been in a proper relationship i.e. I’ve never dated anyone), I found it hard to answer that question fully. However, I do know that despite my tumultuous past and my uncertainties for the future, God’s love has never failed me.

So what exactly does ‘being in love‘ mean? I might follow up with another post after having a thorough think-sesh over this. 

Unfortunately for the culture we live in, we throw the word ‘love’ around a lot, most of the time quite haphazardly. We do the same with the word ‘hate’ (believe it or not, it is actually a very powerful word).

‘Goodness me, I love this chocolate souffle.’

‘I love this colour!’

An ‘I love you!’ shouted from one end of the carpark to another to a friend before parting ways (I do that all the time).

Many don’t stop to consider what exactly they mean when they mention the word ‘love’. We can be in love with anything or to hold deep affection for something or someone – I would protect my friends and family to the end, no matter what. But I think that in everything we do, say, or think, even ‘falling’ or ‘being’ in love, it has to be filtered through the sieve of Kingdom/God principles. It is a wisdom thing – being equipped with a powerful Spirit who continually empowers you, counsels you, guides you, and discerns all things for you.

A sees being in love as a heightened form of love. Again, he reiterates it is a CHOICE. So whenever you’re faced with an option, you can choose whether to love or not to love, no matter where the person has come from or is going through. Being in a love has an element of spontaneity to it. When we are seeing them the way God sees them (fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, very much loved, valued and special in the eyes of God), the choice to love is so automatic that not wanting to love isn’t even an option. Your decision is always the same, unaffected by circumstances.

Danny Silk puts this very nicely,

“Yes, it’s vulnerable and scary to keep your love on toward someone who has become a perceived threat—you cannot guarantee what he or she is going to do. But you can guarantee your own choice. And you can always choose connection.”
― Danny SilkKeep Your Love On

agrees that it is essential to love and forgive the person who’s becoming or has become a threat to your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. However, it is also important to know how to protect yourself if you’re attacked or anticipating one.

In the quest to love the unloveable, you can still be vulnerable but not defenseless. (Think about it :))

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:16-19 NIV

Love is a lot of things, but essentially, it is a direct translation for God Himself.

It is also a language (5 to be specific, according to Gary Chapman’s ‘The Five Love Languages):

  1. Physical touch
  2. Words of encouragement
  3. Gifts
  4. Quality time
  5. Acts of service

Although everyone has a certain affinity to one or more of these, essentially they are called languages and they can be learnt. They are not exclusive either, the lines can be blurred. Many times genuine love is misunderstood because the receiver may not understand the gesture in which it is communicated by.

To end this post, the Scriptures paint a very vivid picture regarding the extent of God’s love for us – burning like blazing fire, stronger than the death, jealous demanding as the grave, many waters can’t quench its thirst (Songs of Solomon 8:6-7).

1 Corinthians 13 is famous for its description of what love is, contrary to the dictionary definitions. Have a look at this:

The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Love is not merely an emotion.

It is a choice.

It is active, not passive.

It gives more than it takes.

Ultimately, LOVE conquers all. 

Penny for your thoughts.
(Many thanks to A for contributing to this post)
Be blessed, ❤ ❤ ❤
D x

Quote and Music of the Week

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. – Martin Luther (1483-1546)

This is why I do what I do. 

Many ask why I chose to pursue music education (or even music in general) instead of the usual (typical Asian) pathways like medicine, dentistry, law, engineering (blergh) etc. All I can say is – music is where my heart lies. It is THE thing that makes my heart leap in anticipation.

Basically, it is my passion. It makes me so very happy. And I daresay that passion, and my reliance on God, was the thing that kept me going throughout the last four years at uni, and will be the thing that keeps me going in the years to come.

—————————

‘…It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise,
We pour out our praise to You only…’

Check out this song 🙂 : 

All Sons and Daughters – Great are You, Lord

asad2

This song rekindled my fascination with God and His goodness.

ENJOY!

Love,
D x

Inaugural Post – French Flourless Chocolate Cake

It’s been about six years since I stopped blogging. However, since I have a lot more spare time (post-degree blues), I thought I’d start writing again. 🙂

This blog will be filled with:

precious memories,

thoughts (sometimes whimsical),

travel stories,

photos (lots of them), and

tried and true recipes I’ve found over the years (mostly involving chocolate).

To start us off, I’ve decided to share a wonderful flour-less chocolate cake recipe (#noms).

French Flourless Chocolate Cake: French Ties: Love, Life and Recipes | Penguin Books Australia.

A week or two ago, I was asked to make dessert for our STAND worship team night. Our wonderful and fearless leader is on a gluten- and dairy-free diet so I wanted to find something that would be suitable for her to eat. This recipe is gluten-free but unfortunately not dairy-free – I posed this to her and she said she would live. 🙂

This recipe was shortlisted and eventually became the winner. I must admit, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted something so dark and so good (even my dad liked it – that is something). As per usual though, I put in half the amount of sugar listed. Also, instead of 200g of (usually 45%) NORMAL dark chocolate – I used 100g 70% dark chocolate and 100g normal dark chocolate.

Finally, to counter the potential bitterness, I dusted a light layer of icing sugar onto the top of the cake before serving.

Enjoy the delightfully scrumptious chocolate-y-ness! 

Blessings,
D x