Christie DuPree

Christie DuPree

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Our praise precedes our miracles"

Writing has always meant a lot to me, but the last couple of days with my phone being broken has made me realize how much writing little things as instagram captions has really satiated my need for writing. Maybe in a bad way, maybe in a good way.
I constantly have a need to put my heart-thoughts into words, and most of the time it ends up on instagram. Which is fine because I love sharing there, and I love hearing from the people who take the time to read that stuff. But like I said, my phone has been broken this week and it's actually been amazing. Big shocker there, huh? You mean real life ain't so bad?? What a surprise.
But I felt compelled to share something today and figured I'd write it here.

Today I've been locked in my room listening to sermons and listening to worship music.
A quote from one of the sermons I heard recently was "Our praise precedes our miracles" and that quote literally floored me. It's changed my perspective. It went along perfectly with something HUGE that God has been teaching me for the last couple of years. Thankfulness and praise. Thankfulness and praise must always come first. Choose a thankful heart. Praise God always. In all circumstances. Always. And since I've begun learning how to do that, everything has changed. It's honestly a pretty easy thing to teach yourself once you start to get your head around how incredibly worthy God is. Stacked up against anything. No matter what you're facing or what is going on in your life. God is always bigger. And if you don't feel it, declare it every day until you do. If God isn't bigger than your circumstances it's because you haven't magnified him in your mind. If everything else isn't paling in comparison to God's sheer goodness and glory, it's because you haven't acknowledged him in your heart. And once you start to do and to declare that, everything changes.
Choosing to thank God even when things are going horribly horribly wrong is the only response that we should have. Having an awful day? Worship. Can't make sense of anything in your life? Praise God. Because worship is the doorway to God's presence, and God's presence changes everything.
It changes our outlook and rearranges our priorities. Why? Because God is good at his very nature. In him is no darkness at all. He can't leave anything he touches the same as it was before. So when we worship and when we lean in to him, we're reaching out to a God who is ALWAYS reaching back out to us.

I could go on about this forever right now because it's what God has been drilling into my head and my heart lately. And the more I choose to worship him and draw near to him, the more things shift and my perspective is lifted towards heaven.
But I just want to encourage you to try it. Your words have power. Declare the goodness of God over your life and your circumstances and recognize that he is bigger and is capable of more than you ask or think or imagine. And then watch how things change. Worship. Worship is not limited to singing songs. You worship with your heart. With your actions. With your life. With your voice. If you can't sing, do it anyways. If you can't dance, do it anyways. We can waste our breath complaining about how things aren't exactly as we want them to be or we can choose to use our voices to declare God's goodness instead, and realize that if we have the Lord, we have everything we need.

I have a playlist of my favorite worship songs if anyone wants to listen. Find a good worship song and let it be your anthem. Declare the lyrics over your life. Music is so powerful and I truly believe God works so much through worship music in my own life. I know a lot of "Christian" music is cheesy, but there is some really great worship music out there if you look for it! Here's some of my favorites: worship





Sunday, August 30, 2015

Glaciers

How often are my prayers begging God to do something or to change something or to give me clearer direction or a certain issue? Always pleading and half believing. Don't I have faith? Don't I know my prayers are heard and indeed are being answered and have already been answered? God's answers to our prayers oftentimes come to us in a form comparable to a glacier. We're desperate for God to move and we want answers immediately. But what happens is that after a while, maybe even years, we look back and find that our circumstances have changed. Our prayers answered. The glaciers have shifted. The ice melts. The ice thickens. The form changes. And it's only evident now after the years have passed and we have the eyes of experience to compare the two. Keep pressing into The Lord for answers. Continue to lay your requests before him day after day. But know that he is already at work. He has his magnificent plan and nothing will stop him bringing it about. It just might be a slow moving process. One that you can't see with your own eyes just yet. One that builds character. One that melts away bad character. One that evolves slowly over the course of God's hours and days, not our own fast paced schedules. Let us have patience and ask God to give us faith and to help our half hearted belief. To help us see evidence of his hand at work, but even when we can't see it, let us thank him for it. Knowing that he is constantly working on our behalf, no matter what our circumstances may show us.

Love,
Christie

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Plants Have Eyes

Blogging twice in one day? Who am I?

I was out walking one evening and noticed that all the plants in our neighborhood have such character. 
I  realized that they are all actually creatures with funny personalities, so I decided to do a fun film photo series where I gave them eyes and tried to capture their spirit.







I just like them!
God is so creative. He created everything with such unique detail and so often we don't even give anything a second thought. But now I try to look around and imagine everything with eyes and it's a lot of fun! 

Love,
Christie

Perfect in Weakness

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." -2 Corinthians 12:9

This verse is everything.
In every valley and pit that we may ever fall into in our lives, in all our vast misunderstanding; God's understanding is infinite. In all our incapabilities, God is capable of more than all we ask or think or imagine. In all our shortcomings, we have the ability to overcome through the strength that God provides for us. That he willingly and joyfully provides. He delights in being our helper and taking us that extra mile when it's hard for us to take that next step. We do it through his strength. If you're trying in your own strength, you won't get there. You'll only get frustrated with your circumstances and frustrated with yourself and you'll reach the end of your rope before you've even begun. But it's because we weren't meant to go through this life in our own strength. We are weak and it's because we desperately need the Lord and his strength.

I was praying last night and was focusing so much on what I didn't know and how I didn't have the answers or the capability to navigate on my own. How I needed wisdom and direction and how I just didn't know how to fix anything. But as I was sitting there feeling empty and inadequate, my focus began to shift and instead of telling God what I couldn't do and how I didn't have the answers, I began thanking him that HE knows the answers. That he has understanding when I don't. When I'm clueless, he is all knowing. When I'm incapable, he is MORE than capable. When I'm weak, he is strong. And suddenly that verse had new meaning for me. It's perfectly okay that I am weak. It's okay to be at my wits end. Because it gives God the chance to be all that I need. When we are nothing, God is everything. This is how it should be all the time. We should constantly be existing in this state of nothingness and denying ourselves so that God is magnified. We get so comfortable being independent, when really we are desperately dependent, by nature. God created us to desperately need him. It's a gaping hole that will go on desperately being void until we seek and pursue Jesus whole heartedly and allow him to fill that hole. And I woke up today and instead of focusing on my problems and confusion, I thanked God for my inadequacy, because it means I get to rest in him and stop trying so hard. Living life in pursuit of our savior means that we're no longer running this race alone. It means that we have infinite strength in times of weakness. It means that we can actually rejoice during hardships because it's producing in us something greater and it's refining us.

It means we have hope when everything appears lost.
It means that when we have nothing left to give, we can surrender to a God who provides everything we could ever need.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Creative Writing

So I recently had the privilege of giving a quick lesson on creative writing (i.e songwriting, poetry, etc..) at a faith-based arts camp. My friend works there and asked me to come and share my bit of "wisdom" on songwriting for her writing class.

I am not the best speaker, so beforehand I went ahead and wrote out all that I wanted to talk about, so I figured I would post it here incase anyone else was interested in reading it.

As I have already shared a bit about my own writing process here, I left out the bit about that and am skipping ahead: 

So we could sit here and I could talk about inspiration, and what inspires us all in different ways and go into detail about capturing the wind or that perfect sunlight that sparks a feeling in you that makes you want to write a song, but that wouldn't really help any of you because honestly I think that "inspiration" is different for everybody. It's elusive and it's hard to pinpoint.

Thomas Edison put it like this: "Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration."  So even though inspiration is super important when you're wanting to write a good song or some kind of poetry, I think that GOOD songs and GOOD writing of any kind is more about perspiration. It's when you saturate yourself in something and work hard at it often. That's when it produces results. It's like a muscle. It sounds silly, but you don't grow muscles from just being inspired to go to the gym. You gain muscle by working hard and developing them over time. I always find that anytime I'm feeling uninspired, if I just pick up my guitar and start playing around with songs I already know, or even just start making something up on the spot, inspiration will sort of sneak up on me. So with anything creativity-wise, I think the best approach to take when you're not feeling inspired is to just throw yourself into it. You'll find that the more you create, wether it's "good" or "bad", you learn from it, and you will come up with bits and pieces that you actually like and that you can build off of or take away from.
Thomas Edison also said: Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always just to try one more time. 

Which brings me to my next point. And that is to release yourself from the pressure of writing something "Good". We all kind of have this instinctual idea that we've got to sit down and create something awesome. But the reality is that throughout your life you are going to constantly be producing art on various scales from mediocre, to good, to hopefully GREAT. And it's important to accept this fluctuation and be okay with it. Not everything you are going to write is going to be mind blowing. But that's okay! It's imperative that we be okay with failure, because it's not actually failure. It's just an idea that didn't quite work out, and we can't let those failed ideas become discouragement. I've found that in releasing myself from the pressure to write something good, it often gives me the headspace to write with more of a carefree state of mind. And oftentimes those songs will end up being the best ones because I wasn't putting this unnecessary pressure on myself. Instead I was just writing purely for the fun of it, and when you're having fun and enjoy what you're doing, it shows in your work. But you have to figure you are going to write a lot of mediocre stuff in order to get to something amazing. Wether it's songs or poetry or any kind of writing that you do, if you keep at it, you will eventually land on something amazing. There is no right or wrong way to be creative and there is no right or wrong way to write a song. Just start with honesty, and with whatever is in your heart, and keep doing exactly that. 

And the next thing is: Don't get hung up on the "good" things you write. It's okay to appreciate your work, and to be proud of it. But recognize that all of our gifts are from God, the creator of creativity himself. It's okay to let your heart be joyful when you strike gold in your writing, (and you'll know it when you do,) but just remember that the glory belongs to God. But here's the thing: Don't stop writing. Don't be satisfied with one great piece of work. Be thankful and hold it with open hands and say "Okay, God, you've given me something great here, but I'm giving it back to you." And just keep writing. Because what will happen is if you keep riding that same wave of the last great thing you wrote, and allow yourself to be content with that, you let your practice slide and you get out of habit and your perspiration evaporates. So even if you think you've written the best song in the world, keep writing. Because God is always working and moving in our lives and he has so much more for us than we often take hold of. So if we keep showing up and are faithfully stewarding the gifts he's given us, he is going to keep pouring out on us. But also remember that rest is essential to not getting burned out. God created the world and then he rested. It's okay to give yourself space to rest and create absolutely nothing for a while, but don't let that go on for too long. Don't let your rest become laziness.

I heard once that "Our talents are God's gifts to us, but what we do with them is our gift back to God." So if God has put a creative spark in your heart, take responsibility for it and have the discipline to keep working out that muscle. And that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be a "christian artist" or write worship songs or write books about God, although you could do that if you wanted. But it's more about the attitude of your heart and how you give the glory you receive back to God. It's about letting compliments roll off your back and keeping your pride in check. Be humble and don't let your identity be found in your art. Our identity should be found in Christ. So no matter how great you ever get or how much you achieve through your music or your writing, don't let that become who you are. An easier way to say that would be: Put who you are into your work, but don't let your work become who you are. Be responsible to cultivate that artistic flame, but keep in mind that our only true standing in this world is that we are sons and daughters of Christ.

And this next and last thing is super important: Don't, under any circumstance, compare yourself to others. To anyone. Not your brothers, your sisters, your friends, your piers, or even those you admire. Wether you think someone is better than you, or you think you are better than someone else, those are unhealthy thoughts that you need to take captive. Don't compare and don't let jealousy rule in your heart. Recognize when those thoughts come knocking at the door and turn them away. Don't let negative thoughts inhabit your mind. "Comparison is the thief of joy", and it destroys creativity at it's root. God has made each of us uniquely our own. And our creativity is all uniquely different for a reason and for a purpose. Because God himself is limitless! He never runs out of ideas and because of that he has given each of us such an important role to be unique in this world. But it's perfectly okay to be inspired by another artists work. It's a beautiful part of the process, but don't compare and contrast and put yourself down or try to duplicate what someone else is doing. Just go with what comes out of you naturally. Being honest and true to yourself will reap the best harvest. And I know that any form of creative writing is an extremely vulnerable process. It can be terrifying when you are opening up your heart and sharing that with people. But don't let the opinions of others stop you from becoming who you want to be. Like I mentioned earlier, all the glory belongs to God anyways, so we can release ourselves from the pressure of trying to achieve more than the next person and release ourselves from any crippling jealousy. Because it's not a competition. Encourage one another and have fun and don't take yourself too seriously! Be humble enough that when other people succeed at the thing you want to be doing with your life, that you can genuinely be excited for them, knowing that their success does not equate to your failure. Any fame or praise that we or anyone else receives in this life doesn't actually belong to us, so don't be threatened by others success and don't let other peoples opinions hold you back. Just trust your instincts and have fun with it, because if you are creating something that God has put on your heart to create, you can be proud of it knowing that it's all from him and for him.

So just have fun with your writing! Write about what you know and be true to yourself and work hard, but don't put too much pressure on yourself. If you're not enjoying the process, then throw all your expectations out the window and just have fun with it.

Thanks for reading!
Christie


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Songwriting

A lot of people have been asking me lately what my songwriting methods are, and I forgot to answer that question in the Q&A video (a couple of posts back)
so I figured I'd do a blog post about it just for fun.

So basically I usually start out with a phrase of lyrics and a melody, and build off of that. And then I'll get a chord structure going. I tend to write the melody first because it's usually just what comes to me before anything else does. Often times I'm just going about my day thinking about stuff and then a certain phrase pops into my head and it is immediately accompanied by a melody, and that sort of becomes the anchor to the song and I'll build around it.



Like our song "Unhinged" from our record "Sway", part of the lyrics are "If I tried to measure my whole heart, babe, it's a bit uneven, it sways your way" - the thought of dividing up your heart into portions, and the majority of it being pulled toward someone else as opposed to keeping it for yourself was the anchor to that song, and those lyrics were the starting point that I built the song around.


Melody and lyrics are always the most important thing to me when it comes to music.
If I can grab onto a melody and connect with what you're saying, chances are I'll like the band. But even if the music is great, if the melody is neither here nor there, I have trouble getting into it.
It's not that I don't fully appreciate good song structures and chords, but I love things that I want to sing along to. But of course if you've got both, that is definitely ideal! haha



And then other times I just sit down with a guitar or something and just start goofing around until I get something I like.
Those songs are always the most fun. I definitely take what I do seriously, but not taking yourself TOO seriously is just as important. 

Do what you love, but have fun doing it.

I hope that answers it for those who were wondering, feel free to ask anymore questions!

Love,
Christie

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Steady Perseverance

“No one expects to attain to the height of learning, or arts, or power, or wealth, or military glory, without vigorous resolution, strenuous diligence, and steady perseverance. Yet we expect to be Christians without labour, study, or inquiry.” -William Wilberforce

I found this quote on the Deeply Rooted instagram account the other day, and it just really stuck with me. Over the last couple of years I've realized how for most of my life I've known so little about the book that is supposed to be our foundation as followers of Christ. I've grown up and been saturated in it my entire life, and spent time reading the word and dwelling on certain scriptures, but the truth is that so much of the Bible I just straight up didn't understand. And because of that, I spent a good many years literally sighing at the thought of having to pick up the bible and read it. I knew it held such truth and freedom and life giving words, but I could never actually unearth it because I wasn't fully, intentionally applying myself to understanding it. 

I was cracking it open out of obligation and even then would mostly just read Psalms and the gospels, because it was the easiest to understand outside of context. And because the rest of the bible just felt weighty and confusing and almost daunting. It honestly overwhelmed me to the point that I subconsciously let years slip by without making a habit of regularly reading God's word. The entire Old Testament confused me to no end and the thought of trying to decipher and piece all the names and stories and events together just seemed impossible. But last year sometime I was just like, okay. I've got to just read this stuff. Even if I don't understand it, I've got to just dig in because I know it's so important.

And if you're at all like me and felt like the bible was just an overwhelming feat that you'd never conquer, just know that you're not alone, and that actually it's NOT as overwhelmingly impossible to understand as it seems. I stumbled across some books on amazon that have been helping me to understand better and I wanted to share them with you, along with some other books I'm studying.

First is this tiny, simple little book that literally lays out each and every single book of the bible and gives a brief synopsis on what each book is about. Studying this tiny little guide has helped me SO MUCH when I'm reading the bible and helps to give an overview of what's happening so that you're not totally lost amidst all the crazy hard to pronounce names of people and places and what not.
It's like 2-3 bucks on amazon. Totally worth it.


I know it's absolutely silly and hilarious, but this book! Like, say what you want, but it's been cool to approach the bible from just a completely deconstructed and simple kind of way. It's been helpful to get a better understanding of God's word so that I can dig deeper and not feel like I'm just lost in ancient stories. 


And I've also been going through a bible study with some friends of mine, following this book 
and it's been completely life changing. Each chapter/study I've had to underline almost every paragraph because it's such practical, helpful information and wisdom in growing your walk with the Lord from every aspect. I highly highly recommend buying it and going through it with some friends, or even just on your own.


And this next book deserves it's own blog post, it's own entire blog dedicated to it, a symphony, a standing ovation, you name it. I can't even express to you how incredible this book is. I've had to read the beginning 3 chapters several times over just to let them sink in before moving on. It's about our calling as followers of Christ to be holy in all we do, and how as humans we tend to categorize sin into different sections from semi-acceptable to acceptable but the truth is that God sees all sin equally and hates it all. It talks about how we have a holy standing before God thanks to Jesus' work on the cross, but we also have an obligation to live out holiness in our lives and in all that we do. It's insanely challenging and inspiring.
 SO GOOD.
I just recently bought the study guide to go with it, both can be found on amazon here 



And I always keep a journal nearby, to write down prayers, thoughts, etc.


I'm only just brushing the surface but It's such an important thing and I really feel like I'm not the only one who has struggled with this, so I wanted to share with you all and hope to encourage you to dig into God's word and watch how it transforms your life. Being diligent and disciplined enough to take time out of our busy lives to spend reading the bible is difficult, I know. But nothing compares or adds up to the value of intimately knowing our creator and familiarizing ourselves with his word. 
So I just want to encourage you to start. Start anywhere, but the beginning is always a good place.


Love,
Christie


Thursday, May 21, 2015

B&W

I've been in this unique season of regaining focus, and inspiration, and watching things shift and change and seeing how change is good and always for the better.

Refocusing what I want to do with Merriment, what I want to do with my free time, how I should be spending it and cultivating the things I'm good and want to be better at. As opposed to letting time slip by seconds at a time while trolling instagram or thinking about eating cookies. (Which is futile, really. Chocolate chip cookies are life.)

I try to take time off from the digital world (social media) periodically and focus a lot on taking film photos and pouring myself into that for a bit. It's refreshing and a whole lot of fun. Photography is important to me and feeds my soul, but it definitely comes second to music.

I've also been writing a ton of music and it's so rewarding, but I'll share more of that whenever we're able to start work on a new record.

Here's some black and white medium format film shots from the last few rolls from my Yashica.

 One of my dearest and truest friends, Bliss.

 Playing at the park.

 Bliss taking wedding photos for my little brother and sister-in-law last year.

 Becky. From the month we spent on tour together, 
talking about boys and our worth and staying up late and 
talking about what God was doing in our lives. She's a treasure.

 Another of my most treasured friends. 
God has put some of the most special people in my life and 
given them the ability to speak life into me and 
has used them as tools to continually sharpen me
over the years, and I'm just forever grateful for it.

 Among my beautiful friends
are my beautiful sisters, 
who I could in no way live without.

 Friend Kate on the garden steps.

 Cousin Remington.

 So thankful to have such solid men in my family, 
and my cousin's are no less than some of the
 most solid and also hilarious dudes I know.

Remington, Karsyn, and Collin leaning over a bridge in Nashville, TN.
This picture means so much to me. 
It's old timey and slightly crooked and dreamlike feel, 
but most importantly the three people in it 
who are completely invaluable to me. 
Family is everything to me and I am so 
thankful that God has given me some of the 
best people to call brothers, sisters, and cousins.

Keep pursuing your dreams, people.
<3 p="">
-Christie

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Q+A

Hey guys!

Hope you're all enjoying this marvelous Tuesday.
Recently I posted on my instagram that I would be making a Q+A video about Merriment
and had people ask questions. 
I ended up getting way more questions than I thought and wasn't able to answer all of them because the video would have been a feature length film lol!
But a lot of the questions were similar so I just selected a handful and made a quick video.

Here it is!

Thanks for watching!
Love,
Christie

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