Hey, guys! How's it going?! I actually followed through with my promise of posting, cAN YOU BELIEVE IT???
Neither can I.

  Quite awhile ago Nina asked me to share my music journey on the blog, and as I had already been thinking about sharing this for quite some time anyways, I thought it would be perfect! So if you're interested in this crazy awesome story, sit tight, you're in for a ride ;)

  Ahhh. Music. Music has been an aspect of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom will tell you that since I was old enough to sing, I would sing. Anywhere and everywhere, whether you wanted me to or not! It has literally always been who I am.

  My older sister, Amber, and I always sang together. Always. I mean.. I don't remember a time in my life that we didn't. My dad is a preacher, so anywhere he went to speak, we would always come and sing. And aside from that, my dad pastored a church for several years when I was really young, and my older sister and I were pretty much in charge of the music (but let's be honest, it was mainly my sister because I was just a little thing). That's how it always was. We literally sang everywhere. We were the cute preachers daughters who could sing. ;)

  Then as I got a tad older, playing music became a thing.
I don't really remember when I started playing the piano, my very first instrument, and the one I still feel the most comfortable with. I think I was about seven. The earliest memory I have was when my sisters piano teacher had just finished a lesson with her. I went over to the piano and played the song she has just played for the teacher (was I a show-off? maybe.😉) And I think I started lessons after that, haha. But it didn't last long. None of our teachers did. They either moved, quit doing it, or got married. And even then, it was all by note.I don't remember any of it today, and I play completely by ear, so I've taught myself pretty much everything I know... So yeah, we sang and played our hearts out for years.

  Until December 2012. I was eleven (I will resist the urge to make a Stranger Things joke).
During this month, Amber, my sister (and best friend), left home a week before Christmas. I know, it doesn't really sound like a big deal, but if you knew the situation, it definitely was, lol. It was the kind of moving out that involved me not knowing when I'd see her again. Or if she was okay. Laying in bed at night crying because you know she's caught up in the worst possible crowd, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. We had no communication whatsoever, and it was just overall a very, very difficult time in my family's life.
And this is pretty much where the mess starts.

  After she left, I had nothing to do with music. It wasn't intentional. In the beginning I used the excuse of, "I'm so used to Amber playing for me, I'll have to learn the songs." or just the fact that it hurt too much to sing without her. And it did. But looking back, I know that quitting was the worst possible decision I could have made.

I ended up rejecting it for four years.
For four years I did not sing.
I did not play.
I didn't even listen to music.

The devil whispered so many lies in my head. So many. And I believed them all.
That I wasn't good enough.
I could never play piano like Amber did soooooo what's the point?
Oh, also my voice is complete trash, and everyone that compliments you are lying just to make you feel good.
God doesn't care if you do this. 

  During this time, I also started heavily dealing with depression. I'm telling you what, you give the devil a foot, he's going to take a mile. 
These were the darkest years of my life. I'd always had tendencies to feel just really down and lonely for no reason at all, but this was different. Suddenly, it all escalated. I cried myself to sleep pretty much every night, dying to know what was wrong with me. I knew what depression was, but I denied I had it. I had never even really heard anyone talk about it. I acted as though it was this shameful thing. Because I was a Christian. I proclaimed to follow Jesus so therefore, I am supposed to be joyful 24/7, no matter what. Right?

Man, oh man.
That's a whollllleeeeee post in itself.

  I lived these four years of my life confused. Utterly confused. My brain screaming into the pages of my journal through my pen. But definitely not out loud, no, because we can't let anyone know how we feel.
Even when my parents sat me down, trying not to get frustrated, begging me to PLEASE let them understand why I am in this "mood", or why I did ______, or why I'm sad all the time, no. 
And even if I wanted to tell you, I couldn't, because I didn't have words. I didn't have words to explain the mess in my head, and even to this day it's still really hard.

  The pain... The mental pain that took place during these years, I will never forget. And I wish no one in this world would ever have to endure it. And my pain wasn't even as bad as others.
I began to believe my existence didn't matter. That no one cared whether I lived or died. I never wished I would die, dying scared me, I would just constantly wish I was never born. Any minor inconvenience in my life was multiplied by a thousand, because I was already so incredibly sad. Ultimately, I was just done. I had no fire about me. I can look back on pictures of myself from this time and even notice the difference in my eyes and demeanor.

It was such a frustrating thing, because I just couldn't figure it out.
Why are all my friends having such a good time, but I have to fake a smile?
Why do I feel so completely alone, yet I am surrounded by people that love me all day everyday?
Why does God love me when I can't manage to do anything right?
Better yet, why is He not taking this away from me?

I felt like I was constantly screaming inside my head. Like I was slowly drowning in a pool of pitch black, cloudy, cold water. Like a dark cloud constantly hoovered around me. Like my mind was the fog at night after heavy rain.

  July 15th, 2016 this all changed.
It started out as just a normal night at VBS. It was the last night (a.k.a. "the fun night"), so we had water balloon fights, a cookout, and inflatables. Right after we ate, instead of joining in on the water fight, all of the girls in the youth group convinced me to go into the church sanctuary and play and sing for them. By this time I started listening to music again, and I started playing some, but I had only sang or played for someone else probably two or three times before this occasion within the past four years.

At first I just played around a bit, I was so insanely nervous, haha. But after much convincing, I began to close my eyes, and played my favorite worship song at the moment, "We Dance" by Bethel Music. I knew how to play it, but I had never heard my voice sing it before. It's funny actually, because I feel like that song was almost like a foreshadow of what was about to happen. It's all in the lyrics:

"You steady me
Slow and sweet, we sway
Take the lead and I will follow
Finally ready now
To close my eyes and just believe
That You won't lead me
Where You don't go

When my faith gets tired
And my hope seems lost
You spin me round and round
And remind me of that song
The one You wrote for me
And we dance
And we dance

And I've been told
To pick up my sword
And fight for love
Little did I know
That Love had won for me

Here in Your arms
You still my heart again
And I breathe You in
Like I've never breathed 'till now

And I will lock eyes
With the One who's ransomed me
The One who gave me joy for mourning
And I will lock eyes
With the One who's chosen me
The One who set my feet to dancing?

It's nice to know I'm not alone
I've found my home here in Your arms"

   I tried my best to ignore the fact that there were about four other people in the room, and just focus on what I was singing and Who I was singing it to. One girl was videotaping, and I love that I have that to look back on. You could definitely tell I hadn't used my voice in years. My voice was shaky and cracked a couple times, but regardless, it's the most special video I have. But before I could even get through the song, I had to stop. Because everyone was sobbing. I mean sobbing. I stepped off of the stage to check on everyone, and I found out that they were crying because of me. Or what God was doing through me, I should say.

  Everyone always told me that I had a major anointing and calling on my life, but I never understood until that moment. I can't even describe to you what I felt that night. We sobbed at the altar for hours and hours and hours. Eventually the whole church came in, I sang again, people were giving their hearts to the Lord, and it was genuinely one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed. The Holy Spirit's presence was so thick in that place, I will never be able to forget it.

  I left that night a changed person.
Since that day, I have never dealt with depression. God gave me a joy and a peace I never thought I could have. It was always something I hoped for, but it was like a fairytale to me. Man, I can't even explain. He truly delivered me.

  Two days after the night at VBS, I sang in a church service for the first time in all those years. I have a video from that too, haha. I almost chickened out and said no when I was asked, but I'm so glad I didn't. Then that night, I was asked to join the worship team, and I did. Reluctantly, but I did.
I learned that I couldn't think about things, I just had to quickly say yes, lol! Because if I gave myself time to think, I let fear take over and I'd shy away again. I just had to jump head first into freezing cold water. It was uncomfortable at first, but mannnnn. My love for not only worship and being on the team, but my love for Jesus and music grew into a fire. Was I confident? Heck no, but I was confident in Him. He truly drowned my fears in perfect love.

  I began doing things I would never do before. I began to sing louder. Once I even got up in front of my (rather large) church and testified about all this. Which if you know me, you know that even if I'm close to you I can have a super hard time opening up and making coherent sentences, let alone doing that! 😅 God just began to work in me so deeply, and He was opening so many doors, and some of my most intimate and deep experiences with God happened during this time. The ones where you just wanna bask in Him all day long. Where He feels closer than your skin.

  A year later, my cover video had almost hit 3k views, I sang at three different services each Sunday (and several through the week), I'd learned a couple more instruments, then I moved churches and joined another worship team with people I didn't even really know at the time lol (which has been more amazing than I could have ever dreamed and has built my confidence even more), and overall I have learned how truly GOOD my God is. He turned my mourning into dancing. He freed me from the bondage of fear. He took all of my sadness, and handed back joy. He made a river in my wasteland.

  I still have so much to work on. I'm still so timid. Half the time when I'm on stage, my heart is beating out of my chest and I wring my hands out of nervousness in between songs. I have a very hard time taking compliments, because sometimes I still fear they're lying to me. But that's okay. It's a process. I've come so incredibly far, and just the thought of that makes me tear up at the goodness of God. I am so thankful, you guys. He is slowly unraveling the lies the devil whispered in my head all those years, and replacing them with beautiful truth. I love Him, haha.

I guess I'll end this here.. If you made it this far, you are officially my favorite person. XD

There is always hope. Never, ever forget that.
-aaliyah xoxo


*cough* *shyly creeps back into mY OWN BLOG*

hahaha hi. I'm aaliyah, remember me? if you don't, I completely understand. HA.

I was just going through my old posts and reading all the comments, and within a few minutes tears were streaming down my face. It really made me miss writing and interacting with all of you lovely, encouraging, amazing people. I don't have a grand explanation for why I haven't been writing... I just haven't. I got on here awhile back and redesigned my entire blog in hopes it would get me motivated, but it didn't really help, lol. Like..I don't even journal anymore. So it's not just here. And if I'm not journaling, you know I'm in a major rut or something because I basically can't function without it, lol. It's been like this for well over a year now, and I can't figure why. By far the longest rut I've ever been stuck in. Sometimes it makes me want to scream, it frustrates me so badly! Writing has always been such a major and important part of my life, and aside from Jesus and music, it's basically how I get through things (I'm sure all my other writers out there can relate!!). Honestly, not writing during a rut has probably done more harm than good, lol. I am a complete advocate for taking breaks from everything, but after so long yoU GOTTA PUSH THROUGH AND DO WHAT YOU KNOW YOU LOVE AND NEED, right???? Yes.

So that's what I'm doing today, I guess. An attempt to push through. Get the blood pumping through my writer brain. I feel like I can't even word anymore, what the crap.

Anyways. I'm gonna try to work on some posts, I actually have likeeee two whole ideas, yay!!! 😅😅

I love you guys. Thanks for always being here. You're the best.

-aaliyah xoxo