Women in Worship: Kaitlyn Hermening

Mar 23, 2016

My first experience on a worship team was at age fourteen. The days of braces, unattractive glasses, and major identity searching. It was an awkward time in life.

You should know that when I was three years old I was taken in to see a doctor about my extreme shyness. According to my parents, I would only speak to the two of them, my sister, and maybe a grandma. Further, my dreams of becoming a dancer were crushed when my mom removed me from ballet lessons (still bitter); I definitely pulled off the pink tutu but couldn’t manage any of the moves without desperately clinging to my teacher’s hand.
 ParrishTheThought- Women in Worship
The Lord has a sense of humor in how He shapes our paths. Little Kaitlyn wasn’t a likely candidate for leading any sort of group in something that called for public speaking, singing, or playing an instrument. At sixteen, however, I attended a youth worship conference, which exposed me to this specific ministry. Displayed before me was a team of musicians who used music as an avenue to connect with God’s heart, in response to Who He is – expressing their praise and worship through song. My heart was stirred deeply in ways I didn’t fully understand. I just knew there was a newfound passion for others to engage with God and experience His Presence, similarly to how I had then.

This was a definite turning point in my life. As my relationship with the Lord increased in love, I became a bolder and more passionate person. I finished out high school leading for my church youth group and went on my way to college to further study worship and music ministry. In the classroom, a lesson was emphasized repeatedly. It was one I’d already known experientially but was finally able to attach words to: Your private worship leads to your public worship.

I’ve heard that the way we view our earthly dad is generally associated with how we view our heavenly Father. Ephesians 3:14-15 mentions how God is the source for all fatherhood and family. The closest picture we may have to how we relate to Him can be modeled in our relationships to our dads. How do you identify?

Maybe your dad is present and engaged in your life. You feel secure as his daughter, well-loved and cherished. Maybe you appreciate him but feel disconnected - two distant lives in the same home. Maybe yours was absent or distracted – abusive, even, or a source of deep hurt. You might have learned valuable lessons from him and held him as a standard for all future relationships. Or, you might have learned from everything that was lacking, so that you would know what to avoid.

It’s only natural that you would approach God in a way that’s familiar to you, until the relationship develops in trust and healing. Do you feel the need to present to Him a cleaner, better, less needy version of yourself? Do you feel more like His employee versus His child? Are you aware of His care, leading you to have such freedom to tell Him anything and everything? Is your relationship with God a healthy one? Are you shame-ridden to even get close?

“Unreserved / Unrestrained / Your love is wild for me / It isn’t shy / It’s unashamed / Your love is proud to be seen with me / Your love’s not fractured / It’s not a troubled mind / Your love’s not passive / It’s never disengaged / Love keeps its promises / Your love’s not selfish / Your love is pure”
–“Pieces” by Amanda Cook

What made the difference for me was letting God tear down false thought patterns I had built about the gospel and letting Him plant HIS thoughts in my mind. Regardless of whether or not I may actually have the healthiest earthly relationships (as I am blessed to have a wonderful dad), my own sin and the reality of a fallen world can distort how I relate to my heavenly Father In the private is where I saw the unhealthy thoughts I really believed. When nobody else was around, I was left to confront those with the Lord and truly deal with them. I started learning His heart in the private.

If I am secure in my relationship, I will lead worship from that place of confidence. My journey has been one of blossoming into a woman who knows that her authority comes from truth. God has and is teaching me to shed away old shackles of fear and self-deprecation and shame. Instead, He clothes me in light and joy! I can live freely because my Father loves and chooses me. What perfect love He has for us that He restores us to wholeness and gives us abundant life!

My authority does not come from anything in and of myself (2nd Corinthians 3:4-6, 5:18-20). I can sing and declare truth because truth is not dependent upon me. He has validated me, and I can rest on His word.

Dearest daughter, live and lead unbound.

Kaitlyn hails from the great state of Virgina, and blogs with Worship Exposed, a team of Liberty University grads who love God, and others through worship.  If she and I didn't live on two opposite ends of the country, she'd be a regular coffee date pal for sure :) I just love her, and her heart for Jesus, and her heart for worship. If you, or someone you know would like to be a part of the Women in Worship column, please don't hesitate to email me at ParrishTheThoughtBlog@gmail.com.

Real Talk Tuesday: Learning The Value and The Responsibility of Saying No.

Mar 22, 2016

Good Morning!
It's cloudy here in Napa, but thats not gonna get my spirits down! I've got two days to go until I get to pick up Nate from the airport, two days until Batman vs Superman, and last but not least, two days till...Spring Break! Only good things coming my way :)
Anywho, this past week has been incredibly busy. If youre a teacher, you know, the Spring is like a speeding train that comes to an abrupt halt at the end of the year. It just gets crazier and crazier (in a good and worthwhile way of course!) We start planning for next year as soon as Winter break is over. Last week those plans started moving in place. I've been running the Chapel Leadership team auditions and interviews. Chapel Leadership is a hand selected course for the students who lead worship and run our Chapel services through videos and slide shows. What I would have given to be in a class like that in high school! Anyways, I've been interviewing and kids for the past week, and it's been so fun! It is so uplifting to hear the testimonies of our students, and to hear their hearts for the Lord and his School. Vacaville Christian Schools is totally God's School. 

There is a downside though...The band selection of the class caps at 15. We need to have enough students to fill two full bands, then we have 3 or 4  tech kids. I always have way more students audition than can be added to the course, and I have to tell them "No". One year I took on 21 students, and sacrificed the tech-team. It was crazy! I thought 5 students extra coudln't possibly be that big of a deal, but I was wrong. Too many people means not enough oppertunity. It was impossible to give kids the kind of attention and musical instruction they needed or deserved. Too many students meant that I was overhwhelmed and impatient. Were they all excellent musicians? Yes. Was I a good teacher to them? Let's say I did the very best I could... but they deserved better. 

 Saying no is not fun, but it has to be done. I have to remember, that these kids aren't mine. This class isn't mine. Chapel isn't mine. Nothing is mine. It's all God's, and there is so much more happening behind the scenes than my class. All of these students have lives of their own that the Lord is working in. All of these students have lessons that the Lord is teaching them. I have to remember that the times that I heard "no" in my life, were the times when my walk with Christ grew the most. Ultimately, isn't that point of Chapel Leadership? To help the students at Vacaville Christian Schools grow in their walks with Jesus?

We always find ourselves wanting to say "yes" to everyone. We agree to do so much, that eventually something falls through the cracks. Sometimes the something is you! For me, I always say yes because I hate letting people down. I hate the idea of someone thinking that I can't do something. It's ALWAYS rooted in pleasing others. I end up having so much (or so many people) on my plate that no one is getting the best that I can offer, and that includes God. 

Colossians 3:17 says this:  ...whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Are you like me? Are you guilty of caring way too much about what other people think? While so much of following Jesus is easier said than done, we as Christians can rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and His still, small voice. HE will give is the wisdom, reassurance, and the confidence to say "no". We actually will be able do everything He wants us to do, and it will bring Him glory. He will give us the power to do everything He wants us to do, not everything. There's a big difference, and when learn that we find power...and peace.

Following Our Shepherd

Mar 16, 2016

Hello everyone!
Happy Tuesday everyone! Is daylight savings kicking anyone else's butt? There was once a time when I could weather this season in about a day or two... but now, not so much. I do have to admit, I love the extra hours of sun. I guess that's the California girl in me. When I think about whether or not I could live in different parts of the country, that's the one thing that keeps me right where I am... the weather.

Anyways, speaking of weather, I just got back from sunny Ventura CA. Seriously, it was just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes you just need a brisk morning walk by yourself in the beach air and a cup of snobby coffee while you walk and pray. I was so refreshed. 
Parrish The Thought Blog
I've been thinking about what it looks like to take hold of your relationship with Christ, and the importance of clinging to the Word. I've been going through Psalm 119 in my quiet time with Jesus. I think I've shared this with you before, but King David is singing his praises about how much he loves the Word of God. In Bible 10, were discussing The Good Shepherd sermon in John 10.  Jesus comes right out of the gate warning people and telling them what thieves and robbers look like, and how they sneak in and steal the sheep. The scariest thing I think is that the thieves don't break in and take them, they pretend to be the shepherd so that the sheep just go willingly. They imitate the shepherd's individual and distinct call,  It's the only way to get a sheep to follow. Some sheep herders still use this method of sheep herding. Their sheep are so well trained that even in the midst of mixed flocks, they would naturally separate themselves if they heard the call of their shepherd.

Jesus has a distinct call. He has a distinct message, in fact it's so distinct, it's the only one of it's kind. Have you noticed how our culture is trying to either change that call, or even replace it all together? A call that claims to have more freedom than the grace of Jesus. A call that would actually say that His word is flawed, and even hateful.  This is what Jesus is warning us about. Jesus tells us that the sheep who know the voice of their shepherd won't even hear the call of a stranger or an impostor. They stay put, and are not tricked into following this false call. 

It's only been in the last few years, that I can say that I am confident in the voice of my Shepherd, Jesus. It's only been in the last few years that I really started to dive into His word and read what he really said. But let me tell you, it has been such a transforming few years. It's really amazing how sneaky the enemy is. Women of the Word, I encourage you to be steadfast in your devotion to the Word of God. I think it's David's devotion to the Lord, and his knowledge of the heart of God we can only find in scripture that inspires him to write Psalm 119...and then it's the same call that calls him back in his failure in Psalm 150. David is so confident in the Word. Even in our sin; no matter how great, we can rely on the call of grace and truth that Jesus so uniquely sends to us. Cling to your Bibles, Ladies. Let us be passionate about the words of Jesus. Let us lean on them and long for them like King David, so that we would be so familiar with our Shepherd's voice that we wouldn't even hear the voice of another.

I Have Confidence In Sunshine - Floral Day

Mar 10, 2016

Hello there!

Happy Thursday to you! Friday is almost here, you can do it. This week at school it's been spirit week for the Sadie Hawkins dance it's coming up. It's been so sweet watching my students ask one another to the dance. 

I don't normally go all out for spirit week, because the less I look like a teacher the more my students tend to act like wild animals. Teaching high school can already feel like working at a zoo where they let all the animals out, I don't need more of that. However! Today was floral day and in the spring can't get enough of florals! Not to mention, I'll never deny a sweet little dress with hot pink flowers and pockets! Also I got this flower crown as a bridesmaid in my brother and sister in law's wedding over the summer and I have been dying to wear it again. Surprisingly, the opportunity has never come about... Until today!

My mom commented that I was channeling Maria from the sound of music. Another pretty well-known fact about me is that I love Maria VonTrapp with my whole heart. There's never a time where I'm not trying to be just like her. In all seriousness, "I have confidence" is one of my favorite songs. I feel like that says a lot about me, and probably surprises no one.

Women in Worship: Molly Broomer

Mar 9, 2016

Hello there everyone! 
I cannot wait for you to read today's column. Molly's heart worship is so sweet and genuine. For more info about Molly and her ministry, you can check out her blog www.itsallrightthere.org.

I love being a woman. I love everything about it. I love femininity, I love relationships and all the lovey-dovey” stuff we get stereotyped for, I love the chick flicks and the flowers and the dresses and the makeup. I love the strength of a woman - the ability to overcome great obstacles, to fight fiercely for the ones she loves, to rise to any occasion, and to do it all with grace and beauty. It has saddened me to watch our society slowly, but surely, change the expectations on women. We are, in short, being forced to be just like men in order to feel equal and look equal and to be respected by our female peers. The message I feel I am receiving is this: If you dont want to be just like a man and have all the things a man has, youre failing as a woman. I know this has leeched into every area of life already - I fear it may leech into the worship/church leadership area of our lives as well. 

I am not a feminist in the traditional sense of the word. I am comfortable with the differences between men and women and I want to keep it that way. On the other hand, Im not a person who claims that women belong in the home and nowhere else.” I believe women have a lot to offer the Church and historically we have been called on to fill gaps and lead where there has been desperate need. I also believe that what a woman brings to the worship table, specifically, is really beautiful and unique. My dear desire for women everywhere is to experience the freedom to be exactly who God made us to be, as females and as leaders. It can be both. We can be both gentle and strong. We can be both relational and visionary. We can be both humble and confident. 

In my experiences of leading, both on and off the stage, the struggle has been coming to terms with who I am and what my gifts can offer to a group of people. We each, as individuals, have to learn to love our own gifts and personalities and to be confident in who God made us. We also have to come to terms with our weaknesses and address any issues that may arise because of them. On top of this, women have a little extra work to do. We need to be confident that we are where God has called us to be. We need to be aware of the environment God has put us in, the challenges that may exist with our co-workers and the volunteers under us, etc. We need to be sure we know who we are and what were about. I feel that because theres often already a hidden (or maybe not so hidden!) attitude about whether we are right for the job and whether we can handle it, women need that extra dose of confidence and grace under fire. This comes from being deeply rooted in the Vine, tethered to His will and drinking directly from the Source of life. Keep in mind, confidence and servant leadership are different than defensive, territorial guardianship of your position. It may feel like you need to be on guard with your fences up, but I promise - serving is better. Grace is better. Humility is better. It pays off in the end, even if only to save you from sinking to the level of those who would see you fail. 

Remember that while women have struggles and strengths unique to being female, our male counterparts have struggles and strengths as well. Neither side should be seeking to put the other down or become the better sex. Being a confident female leader should include blessing the men in your life, offering them respect whenever you can, and choosing to build them up. Men have a unique calling from the Lord and they also have unique weaknesses which make them vulnerable to the attacks of the Enemy (as do we!). You can choose to celebrate them for who they are, just as we so often wish to be celebrated! I believe if women are to be equal” in all eyes, it will be because we chose to be gracious, while not being ashamed or chased away from leadership. I believe it will be because we served well and built up those around us, not because we competed and beat them in every arena. That is not how the Kingdom of God will advance. That is not His design for the Church or for the sexes.  

On stage, I know that aspects of my femininity, the things about us that make us different from men - these are often the very things I rely on to be effective and these are the things that I know God uses so often to reach the congregation. When it comes to music, especially worship music, nothing can make me cry faster. I am relational and transparent - I love to share! And dont we all? Isnt that what makes our womens retreats and our girls-night-outs so great? I am also strong in what I believe and know is true. So I use that on stage! I share my heart, I share whats been true for me the past week, I encourage people to lean into Biblical truth, I cry so often, its become a running joke at our Church! But I wouldnt have it any other way, and neither would my people. They feel comfortable opening up with me, the feel comfortable being vulnerable in worship because I have gone before them. That is the job of any worship leader, and I feel as women we have so much to offer in this area! 

In wrapping up, I suppose my encouragement is this: be who you are. Be who God made you to be. Be strong & confident in your gifts and your talent and your leadership. Don't try to be a man, dont try to be like another leader you admire. Find what makes you you and go for it. Focus on loving God and the people around you, becoming more like Jesus each day and giving His love away to the world. I believe God created us male and female for a reason. I believe that together, we reflect the wholeness of a perfect God. You have a purpose - to reflect a beautiful part of who God is. Being a woman is a fierce and wonderful thing. We have so much to offer the worship world and the world at large. I am so blessed to be part of that.

Identity and Modern Womanhood

Mar 2, 2016

Happy Wednesday to you all! I hope your week is going well thus far. Today started a little sad for me, Nate left for tour yesterday, but he'll be back right before Spring Break, so that's a good thing. Also, school is so crazy, I'm able to find distraction and comfort at work. I know Nate loves being on tour, and he is living out his dream, so that makes it a little easier too.

Anyways, for the past few weeks I've been super burdened to talk about this subject, but I've had a hard time putting it on paper (or screen). Do things sometimes bother you, but you can't really put your finger on it? That's how I've been since seeing the previews for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, How to be Single, and The Boss. I wasn't mad about what I was seeing, I was sad.  During the course of these movie previews My heart broke as I watched our mainstream media send a very clear message: Gentleness and Modesty are equal to weakness or backwards thinking, and what you want is all that matters. There are all these preconceived ideas what modern women should be doing. I'm not so sure.

"If you don't decide who you are the world will do it for you." This is a saying I discuss in my high school Bible class. I think applies to all people of any age.What is the world turning us women into? Does strong womanhood and sense of self mean that you are entitled, that you have the right, to indulge your every whim even or especially at the expense of others? I think generally, the World's reply might be "yes" and it breaks my heart. I don't bring this up to condemn, I just want to challenge what modern womanhood looks like. Gentleness, Kindness, Modesty (not having to do with how much our little you wear), are not synonymous with weakness, or lameness. I couldn't think of  a smarter sounding word.

If we look to the Word, the entire book of Ecclesiastes shows that no excess of indulgence will ever truly fulfill us. We won't find who we are or who we want to be by serving ourselves only, we will only find loneliness. Ladies, there are Godly and courageous women all over our Bible. Being Gentle or Modest does not mean we sit quietly and just let the world go by. By no means!Look at Deborah in Judges! When the king is too cowardly to fight for the God of Israel in Battle, she suits up!  Esther, when she realizes her people are in danger of mass genocide, she goes to the king expecting to be killed, but having great faith that Lord the will see her through. Ruth, is a Moabite, but she is loyal, and sticks with Naomi to the very end, eventually marrying Boaz, the kinsman's redeemer and is the grandmother of King David. Mary is a teenage girl engaged to be married and the Lord gives her the Job of being the mother to the Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, knowing he is going to be the Savior but having no clue how it would all go down. Not to mention being pregnant with baby that's not Joseph's. Courageous, Gentle, Kind, Modest. Strong.

What do you think? Do you see this trend growing? Am I overly sensitive? Am I backwards? It's all food for thought, but I would love to hear what you think.

See you soon!

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