Non-Christian Christian Music

She stood when she was supposed to, sat when she was given a cue, bowed her head when everyone began to pray; she did what was expected of her. She lost her voice, her will to speak and sing, when he left. She stood and listened to the others, but couldn’t bring herself to join. She wanted to feel what they felt, and her frustration grew with every passing week: “why can’t I let go?” She was afraid. She stood respectfully, afraid to move an inch or even mouth the words that everyone else sang with pride. She justified it in every way she could, without even realizing that she let her sadness take away her God. 

One week, she started to smile when she looked around the room and saw dozens of hands raised and eyes shut. One week, she began to sway, out of control of her own hips as they took her back and forth in the tiniest movement. One week, she found herself in her room, humming along to a song she’d heard the week before. One week, she said, “next week, I will be ready.” One week, she sang again. 

She didn’t care who heard or watched her sway easily along to familiar songs with familiar words. She found her voice again. She found her God again. She wasn’t going to let anyone steal her joy. 

For months, I couldn’t bring myself to sing in church. I made excuses, saying I was too uncomfortable or afraid that someone would hear me. While this was true, I had done it so many times before without an ounce of fear. I used to love singing in church, no matter how much I sounded like a dying walrus. I’ve always valued the sermon over worship greatly, and yes I do get more out of the sermon because it’s applicable information, but there’s also something magical about worship that I’d forgotten about.

It gave me my excitement back. For so long, I couldn’t figure out how to feel excited and happy when it came to God. I studied because I wanted to know more, but the passion wasn’t there. I thought that’s just what happens after you’ve been a Christian for a while. Yeah, that excitement does wear off because it isn’t a new thing anymore and you will hopefully start to focus more on the studying aspect of faith, but I was forgetting how to feel God at all. I was learning about Him, but I wasn’t growing with Him. He was becoming the subject in a textbook, rather than the God who loves and created me. I need Him to be both.

When I sang, though, I felt it. I felt it in every part of me, and couldn’t contain my joy. It had been so long since I let myself go and just enjoy a moment that I didn’t want it to ever end. I spent too long patiently waiting for worship to end, not realizing that what I was searching for was surrounding me, and all I had to do was join in. Joining in doesn’t usually come easily to me, but sometimes letting go of that fear really pays off.

For the first time in God knows how long, I’ve been excited all week to go back to church. I want to do it again; I want to sing. I can do that any time, and I have been, but I want to get lost in it in the way you just can’t experience anywhere else but with a bunch of other people who feel the same way. There’s something unexplainable and freeing about it.

I’ve forgotten how much I’ve missed singing in church, but I don’t ever want to forget again.

Music has been on my mind lately. I’ve been in a mood where I feel like I can’t have a moment without it playing. This isn’t exactly healthy long-term wise, but hey, I’m excited again and I’m relishing in this feeling. I’ve been listening to a lot of contemporary Christian music, mostly songs I hear in church, and I love it. However, I’ve always preferred Christian music that isn’t exactly “Christian,” meaning it isn’t in the Christian genre and/or won’t be found on Christian radio. It isn’t quite so explicit. It makes you think. It’s a challenge to find God everywhere; to find Him in the most unlikely places. The world isn’t so evenly divided into secular and not. The world is full of Light if you look for it.

Thus, I give you my favorite non-Christian Christian songs at the moment:


Poem: I Wish I Could Sing

I wish I could sing.

I wish I could be sweet and pretty,

Like the other girls who do it so easily.

I wish I could dance.

I wish I could be graceful and tiny,

Not someone so clumsy.

I wish I could act.

I wish I could be loud and funny,

Not someone afraid of my own spoken words.

I wish I could still be me,

Just maybe do things a little differently.

I wish I could sing.

Let me know what you think!

Instagram: gabriellegillispie


My Love For Harry Potter

With all of the current buzz about Harry Potter, as The Cursed Child has just been released and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is coming out soon, I figured that there will be no better time (excuse) to ramble about why Harry Potter is so important. Dear Lord, it is important.

A week ago, the children’s library that I work at was doing its yearly Harry Potter showing with our makeshift Ollivander’s where the kids could create their own wands. Needless to say, I was excited about it. Even though I knew I was going to have to focus on my own duties, I also knew that it would be extremely difficult to do so when Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone is playing just a few feet away from me. I was right. I was putting away books on the other side of the room when the music started playing. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you know exactly what music I’m talking about. You’re probably singing it right now. No, you’re definitely singing it right now.

Let me tell you that as pathetic as this may sound, I was genuinely an inch from being brought to tears the instant I heard it. I stopped, a book held in mid-air, and just reveled in the familiar tune. That sound has always been a sign of pure joy and excitement. It’s something that my siblings and I sang obnoxiously throughout our entire childhood, something I play when I want my spirits lifted, something I heard when I got to visit The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter in Orlando, something I tried so hard to learn on my flute in my band nerd days. And as soon as I heard it that day in the library, I was instantly flooded with memories of all of those things as I am every time I hear it.

Harry Potter is about so much more than a few movies or books. It’s about a generation of kids and adults alike who are bound by characters that, even if they weren’t young when they were released, they still grew up with in some way. A lot of us watch the movies at least once a year, and it’s an event for our families and/or friends. A lot of us have read all the books and re-read them multiple times. It’s so beautiful that what started with a book written on napkins in a diner by a woman who could hardly afford to eat, has now become a defining part of an entire generation. If there was ever evidence that words have power, this is it.

Growing up in a Christian household and later deciding that I myself am a Christian, I have heard countless occurrences of parents not allowing their children to watch the series because they consider it to be witchcraft. To that, I say read Looking For God In Harry Potter by John Granger. You will do a complete flip, going from not allowing your children to watch the movies to encouraging that they do, as the author of the book did with his kids. Is it by technicality witchcraft? Sure, they wave wands and say spells. However, it is not the true form of witchcraft that is often times depicted in fantasy movies where they are satanic beings who are inherently evil and corrupt people. This is meant to be fun. Whimsical. Simply, a story. At least at first, but I’ll get to that in a moment. I can even compare it to other “Christian” books/films such as The Chronicle’s Of Narnia and The Lord Of The Rings in which magic is also present. As much as I say that Harry Potter in its entirety is not a children’s series, that is it’s target audience. Children play pretend with fake guns, but does that mean they will grow up to be murderers? Absolutely not. They don’t treat their little plastic guns with the same thought as they would a real one, especially when they grow up. It’s a game to them meaning nothing more than an adventure. Children do the same with wands. They love the idea of magic because, to them, magic isn’t the same as sorcery. Magic is synonymous with Disney World and dreams coming true.

Harry Potter taught me valuable lessons that I hold today that also align with the bible. God is everywhere in Harry Potter, and if more Christians would give it a chance, they would see that. As I previously stated, Looking For God In Harry Potter goes in depth with multiple characters and stories, but I’m going to focus on the obvious: Dumbledore and Voldemort.

Dumbledore is the leader. He is the guider. He is the most powerful and wisest wizard the world had known and ever will know. Voldemort is the deceiver. He is the killer. He is dangerous and powerful and many follow him, but he is not the most powerful. Sounding familiar yet?

There is a point at which, yes, Dumbledore dies. And let me tell you, it is gut wrenching. He is betrayed by one of his closest friends, though he already knows it ahead of time and even tells this friend about it and why it must happen. After his death, it is not just a few people who are hurt by it, the entire wizarding world is in shambles over the tragedy. Only the Death Eaters (also consider that name for a moment: ones who consume death, over life), the ones who follow Voldemort, are not in mourning. The scene in which the Hogwarts staff and students raise their illuminated wands to the sky shows that he was the light, and he will live on. No, he does not raise from the dead, but that is not the last we see of dear Dumbledore. Harry sees Dumbledore later in a dream-like state after becoming unconscious, where Dumbledore comforts him and offers advice, such as, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” Dumbledore remains present, as a guide to Harry when he needed it the most, even after a physical death. In the final book/movie, Dumbledore’s Army faces Voldemort’s army. Dumbledore’s Army suffers many casualties, but they defeat Voldemort and his men in the end. Also, there is a scene in there where Voldemort forces his way into every person’s mind at once. Everyone squirms or screams or cries and cannot make it stop. Some question whether they should just give in to him. Most realize that he is the epitome of evil and they will do everything they can to resist and stop him. Does this not sound like a representation of the way that the real, actual devil is?

The books and movies start out childlike and whimsical. There is no doubt that the target audience is children. Bad things still happen, but everything seems much more black and white: most things are good, but sometimes bad things happen. However, as the story progresses and the characters age, the entire world seems to become darker. They start to see it for what it truly is. This, in my opinion, is a nod to the bible. The bible is not G-rated in any way, but it’s honest. It’s true. Not everything is pretty. The world is not all rainbows and unicorns and wizards happily casting cute spells all day. This is a story of good versus evil in one of the most complicated but true ways I have ever seen. As children, we know that Jesus loves us and yeah, some bad things happened and will happen, but we see the world as beautiful and fun most of the time. As we grow older, we see more hatred and evil and all the things that make the world and it’s inhabitants broken.

Harry Potter is a story in which God “…can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light” (Dumbledore). There is so much light in these stories if we would just open our eyes to it. And that’s the beauty of it. It isn’t explicit. J.K. Rowling doesn’t hand God to us on a silver platter. Instead, she challenges us to find Him. God can be found even in the darkest of places if we know how to look for Him. The world is not split so evenly into “secular” and “Christian.” God is in every inch of this world because He created it. We may have messed it up a bit, but it’s still a gift to us from Him. There is evil present, of course, but good will prevail.

Let’s challenge kids, and ourselves, to seek God everywhere. When I was fourteen, I saw God in Harry Potter. I caught my first glimpse without anyone telling me about it beforehand. It was then that I felt a hunger for more. I wanted to discover every way in which I could find more of Him in this series that I held dearly to my heart. It made it that much better. That much more exciting. The hunger I had eventually spilled over into every other part of my life and now I’m in a place where God is a constant thought in my mind and I am constantly seeing Him everywhere. I look for him in everything I see, everything I do, everyone I meet. I don’t only see Him in church and in the bible. He is everywhere.

Let me know what you think!

Instagram: gabriellegillispie

Out Of My Mind

I am on a mission. I seek knowledge like nothing else, knowing that the brain is the most powerful tool that God gave people. I want to utilize mine to it’s fullest; I want to do as much with it as I can. A mind not in constant pursuit is a mind gone to waste. At my current state, I don’t know where my level of intellect lies. I feel pretty stupid half the time, and I’m not sure if that is a result of some outside factor or if it’s actually true, but I know that I have so much more to learn and there is one particular way I feel that I can expand it as much as I can: the exploration of books.

Every book holds it’s own little universe. Some will tell you facts, some will give you other realities, but they all have something to offer. I want to take as much as I can. Books are the most selfless creations on the planet; created, not just by, but for the author and then existing to serve as many people as they can.

This is why I want to explore as many books in my lifetime as I possibly can. The thought of all the information that lies ahead of me, waiting for me to discover it, is beyond exciting. As a future children’s librarian, currently working in a library and having been there since I was fourteen, even I am surprised at the number of times someone will ask me my favorite children’s author or book and I can’t think of an answer. I stick to the ones I loved as a child: Junie B. Jones, anything written by Beverly Cleary, The Anybodies, and that’s all that comes to mind immediately. I was an avid reader as a child (and never stopped, really), but it’s been so long since I’ve read these books that I can’t remember most of the titles or authors.

If I’m going to be a children’s librarian, I am going to be the best one I can be. Whatever I’m going to be, I want to be the best at it. I want to be the best friend I can be. I want to be the best wife and mother I can be when those things come my way. I want to be the best Christ follower I can be. I want to be the best human I can be.

My starting point is where I feel comfortable: the children’s floor. My goal is to read nearly every book in the library, skipping over obviously irrelevant books (I really doubt I need the potty training ones at this point, or all the SAT study guides on the teen floor, etc.). Picture books, chapter books, early readers, nonfiction, all of it. I want to be asked, “do you have any suggestions?” and be able to genuinely answer because I know what’s on the floor and where to find it. I’ll move on to the other floors of course when I’ve achieved that, but the children’s floor is the first big goal. And, I will document it as I go along. Not every book will have an individual post, but I want to keep track of my progress and let others in on this adventure.

So, this will be a big adventure and a daunting task, but I need to do it. I haven’t felt such a strong need to do something in a long time, if ever. I want to learn.

Then, there is the book that inspired this feat. The beautiful book that I’ve told everyone I know to please read: Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. I don’t know what I expected out of children’s fiction, but it was not this book. Children’s literature is as diverse and interesting as adult. In fact, probably more so because there’s more innocence, which leaves more room for complete and total creativity. Also, they’re straightforward. No beating around the bush; less unnecessary flowery language just to fill pages and sound intelligent. Simply written, but just as beautiful.

Out Of My Mind is the first book in at least a year that has remained a constant thought in my mind for at least a week now. I’m still excited about it even as I move on to other stories and characters.

If you do not know, it’s a story about a girl with cerebral palsy, unable to move or communicate or do anything on her own. The only thing she can move on her own is her thumb, which she uses to point at general words on a board attached to her wheelchair. What no one knows is that she has a photographic memory. She has no way of communicating this, which of course is frustrating for both her and the reader. She watches her little sister do all the things she never could, like learn to walk and eat on her own. Yet, she stays positive. Not in an unrealistic way; she gets incredibly frustrated and upset at times. She knows, however, that she will never not have this disease, so she might as well do her very best. She might as well expand her mind to it’s fullest potential, which is a whole lot.

Yes, it was an inspiring story, but it was more than that. I cried along with her, laughed when she did, and got angry all the same. When, not only kids, but the teacher at school thought she cheated on her test because she did really well, I had to put the book down. I felt connected to her, and found similarities to myself. I think that’s exactly the point. She’s a person, not a disability. Most of us, of course, say that we wouldn’t treat someone with a disability any different than the next person, but this book begs the question: would we? And would we realize it?

I thought at first that it was stupid of me to relate to her when she spoke of being unable to get words out, because my innate shyness is not to be compared to her physical disability, but then I realized how beautiful that really is. Here is a completely able-bodied person who cried when a disabled character described her condition, not out of sympathy, but because she’d thought the exact same things many times about herself. We are not incapable of understanding one another. We are different, yes, but an American is different than a Russian (or whomever from whatever country), yet we don’t see them as any less of a human. Just different in a lot of ways, but the same at the core. That’s where it counts anyway. I don’t understand most things a disabled person goes through, and of course they have bigger struggles, but how amazing is it that I was able to see myself in the mind of someone that everyone saw as nothing more than a girl who drools on herself?

That is why I chose Out Of My Mind as the starting point for this series.

Let me know what you think!

Instagram: gabriellegillispie