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life

The 5 Things I Am Most Thankful For

By | Faith, life, quotes, Uncategorized | No Comments

 

grateful

In every day life, it is not happiness that makes us grateful,
but gratefulness that makes us happy.

 

1. My family

You wouldn’t believe the stories if i told you. It has been a trying 2014. With some near-fatal stuff that wasn’t trivial enough to stick on Facebook, I am most thankful for my family and the gift of their lives. God is so good! We are like blades of grass, blown by the wind. Life is so fleeting and we walk around every day thinking we are invincible. Praise God for every day He gives you – good or bad!!! Amen!

2. A Place to Lay My Head

I am forever grateful for the people and families who have opened their homes to me this year (and the last several), fed me, given me a spare bedroom for a night, and given of themselves more than is required. It’s like I never cease to be amazed by the kindness in people’s hearts – their desire to give in the form of a meal, a care package, or just a home away from home. And they never want anything in return. I feel so absolutely blessed by these brief, yet profound encounters; and forever changed by the friendships that have developed by the many families that have welcomed repeated visits.

If  I could remember all the names of the people I want to thank, this would take forever to read.  But here are my shoutouts: The Edivans, The Kazarians, The Haydens, The Bazers, The Oguntemein family, The Annis’, The Azure Family, Obehi and her roommates, The Baldanza Family, Charlene Chow, The Bustards, The Scobies, Nancy Deckant, Canyon, Ito Osaigbovo, Heather Lloyd, Nicholas Denham, Lola’s cousins, The Aspers, The Olsons, The Kenyons, The Cunninghams, Crystal McGee, The Socrates’, The Colemans, The Adewales, Eliza Hechmer, Alaina Kleinbeck, The Brackbills…and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

3. Life!

How can we possible see everything, go everywhere, know everyone?  We can’t!  But we sure can try!!! I am so thankful for the ability to experience this thing we call life. To explore, to feel, to encounter new faces at the turn of every corner, and to learn something new each day. While tuned into an NPR interview last week, I heard the Interviewer ask his guest if he felt he was missing out on the life he ”could” have had. The guest responded saying Every day is an adventure. There is no such thing as missing out. You pick what you want to do and you do it. Once you finish that, you pick something else and do that. Life is an adventure ya*ll!  Dont miss out, just do!

4. Hope

It has been a discouraging year in world news. It would seem, based on reports, that evil is winning. But it’s not. Evil NEVER wins!  Justice is always served and death cannot and will not prevail!

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18  

Wow, that verse couldn’t be any more true. In the midst of trial, man continues to rise, trust, and hope for better! Evil never wins. Evil tries, but it keeps trying and it’s growing tired. Hope believes in things it cannot see. That is the VERY definition of hope!! Hope doesnt believe in what is. Hope is all about seeing potential – trusting and knowing that what IS can be better! This is why hope deferred makes the heart sick. ~ Proverbs 13:12

So my call to action for anyone reading this is to HOPE! Don’t lose heart. Don’t let your heart grow sick.

5. The Things We Cannot Touch

As I sat down to write this, I wasn’t sure what #5 would be. But isn’t it funny that the most beautiful things in life are the things we cannot touch. I think God did this very strategically. After re-reading #1-4, it’s an eye-opener when we realize that what matters most can’t even be touched – faith, hope, love, health, freedom, gratitude, joy. During this season of thankfulness (my favorite holiday of the year, by the way), I am asking to be reminded of this every day!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to You All!!!

-Joy

Leaving Pittsburgh…

By | life, year of no fear | 5 Comments

2014-07-04 13.49.17

Dear Friends,

It’s with a bit of sadness and a lot of anticipation and excitement that I announce that I will be moving to Philadelphia at the end of this Summer. I actually don’t know where to start but I thought I should let you all know.

Earlier this year I felt strongly that things would be changing, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. I wrestled with the idea of leaving Pittsburgh but tossed the idea out pretty quickly for a number of reason. On one account, I’ve become accustomed to this routine I have – leave for a few days or a few weeks, come home and reconnect with friends, family and my church community, then leave again. It’s a back-and-forth that’s been pretty predictable and fairly comfortable all at the same time. Ironically it’s also incredibly unpredictable as every day on the road is different from the next. But somehow both lifestyles have found a way to work together while being polar opposites to each other. And in working together, they have become very comfortable.

I used to think being comfortable was a good  thing;  and I’m not saying that it’s not (we all have our comforts), but comfortable for me has become fairly stagnant and stale over the past few years. I’ve been in Pittsburgh my whole life…or at least the greater part of it (since age 5) and you guys have treated me so well – welcomed me with open arms and helped me grow as a person and as an artist. Pittsburgh is an awesome place to be an artist!!! The last time I listened to my first album I cringed. It’s so terrible!  I can’t even believe you let it see the light of day…and kept listening! haha!  Some of you have been around since Day 1 – as encouragers, committed show attendees, financial supporters, word-of-mouthers and so much more! So I owe much to the people, and music/art scene in this town for helping me to become better, for sticking with me all these years (9 in total) and helping me to get to the next level.

Which brings me to this so-called new Chapter:
I’ve never had a 5-year plan. Or a 10-year. Don’t think I ever will. I like 1-year plans. I like looking at the past 12 months, seeing how I grew, what I could have done better, and then making realistic goals to shoot for in the next 12 months. This year, I felt strongly that staying where I’ve been (in the literal sense) would keep me in a holding pattern. So it’s been a restless season, full of uncertainties and not knowing what’s next.  I still don’t know :)

The few people I told in advance asked me if I’m moving to Philly for the music scene, for a life change, or to be with my sister, Peace. My answer was Yes. Yes to all 3 – primarily and simply for change. But the fact that my sister lives there sealed the deal (we’ll be living together). Regarding music: to be honest, I don’t really understand how the music piece fits into my life. It has always seemed like a foreign object that just set up shop in my life…and so somehow I let it stay. I still, believe it or not, feel like a fish out of water. I still don’t feel like a musician. I still don’t know why I’m doing music except that it is the gift God has given me to share with those around me. And at this point in my life I have become completely ok with it being just that. I am always expecting it to change. I am always expecting it to someday not be there (or at least to change its form in my life). But for now it is still around and so I am going to do it the best that I can! So if you thought I was going to announce a career change- that’s not happening…yet…or anytime soon as far as I know! :)

Aaaall that to say, being in Philly does make being a musician alot easier. I don’t have to be on the road for 2 weeks at a time because DC, Lancaster, Baltimore, NYC…etc are all 90 minutes-to 2.5 hours away instead of 4-7 hours.  That’s a huge perk. But of course I will still be traveling to the Midwest and going down south, so there will be long tours on the books as usual.

For years I told myself that I would/could never live in Philadelphia. The traffic alone was enough to make me pull my hair out! And the people…well they aint Pittsburghers (but you didn’t read that here)! hehe. But I guess I’ll just deal! :)  I honestly wish I could say that God told me to go there. I’d feel more confident about the move if that were the case. But I’m just making a move and trusting that he will honor it and keep opening doors.  I guess that’s how it works, right? You can either stay put and stick to what you know or venture out and discover all the possibilities. You’ll never know what you don’t know unless you get out of the box!  In any case, I strongly believe Philadelphia is just a stepping stone. Definitely not the end game!

Last but not least, deciding to move was especially hard when i thought about Samuel & Emmanuel – my two 4-year old recently adopted brothers who have become the light of my life.  I won’t lie – I’ve shed alot of tears on that one and if there’s anything that would make me change my mind, it would be them.. But I’ll be passing through Pittsburgh as much as possible  to stay connected. And i should also mention that I will of course be swinging through Pittsburgh for occasional shows.

And so…
If you are in Pittsburgh, thank you for the part you have played in my life over the years.
If you are in Philadelphia, I’m looking forward to getting to know you better!
If you’re somewhere else, I’ll see you on the road!

That is all.
With love,
-Joy

 

p.s. one final shows in Pittsburgh before I leave! Its free and with the band
AUG 21: Rodef Shalom Garden Party!

details

 

#363 Don’t Quit

By | art, life, touring | No Comments

Welp folks! I believe we’ve seen the last of the cold and snow and it’s finally feeling like Spring. Today I wrap up my month-long tour and settle back into Pittsburgh for the whole month of April. It has been quite a month and definitely the most rewarding experience I have ever had on the road. So grateful for all the friends I’ve made, all the places I’ve been, and all the people who came out to support. Words simply cannot express how thankful I am. This year I’ve really begun to see the fruit of seeds that were planted years ago: new doors opening, better opportunities, and goals being met. It’s like trees are finally growing and things are blooming. And i’m so very excited about the future!

While on one of my friend’s Instagram today, I came across this photo (below) and it felt so appropriate. It felt like a great way to wrap up this tour and begin what is hopefully the next chapter. Don’t quit. Don’t ever quit!

(via Amena Bee)

#359 12 Rules to Live By

By | life, Uncategorized | No Comments

Since i just created 10 Rules to Live By for the Independent Artist on my Grassrootsy blog, i thought I’d do one for this blog. It seems pretty fitting given that this 365 Days of All or Nothing blog is nearing its end. Anyhow, these have become some of the major things I’ve taken away from this past year.

Don’t Settle

No matter what! Don’t settle with a job that you “like” but don’t “love”. Don’t settle for a guy or girl who isn’t “the one”. Don’t settle for anything.

Be Adventurous

Takes risks. Life is meant to be lived fully. If you try to stay safe all the time, you’re not really living. The glory of God is man fully alive!

Enjoy your food!

Food is so yummy! Try new things…especially when you’re in new places. And most importantly, eat with other people. It only makes the experience better.

Speak Softly and carry a big stick!

Careful what you say. Careful how you say it. Speak in love. But make sure they hear you. That’s where the big stick comes in :)

Be Yourself

It takes a lot of effort trying to be someone else. That’s why you’re you. Stop trying so hard.

You Don’t Have to be Perfect

When we live in a culture where image is everything, its easy to forget that no one is perfect. The grass is hardly ever greener on the other side.

Integrity

Let your principles and morals govern your success. Not the other way around.  And let your reputation precede you.

People are more important than goals

This is always true. If you start to step on people on the way to your top, it will be lonely when you get there.

Less talking is always better

Stop talking so much.  You might be in love with you own voice but no-one else is.

Know who you can trust

Be careful who you share personal information with. If your friend is gossiping to you about someone else. You can be sure she’s also gossiping about you to other people.

Go to bed with a clear conscience

If you think you messed up or hurt someone, apologize. Guilt sucks.

Treat Everyone with respect

The golden rule basically solves every problem on the face of the earth. It’s a shame that the simplest principle is the hardest to live by.

 

 

#346 Memories

By | beauty, family, life | No Comments

It’s been unbearably cold here in Minnesota these past several days. As I pulled my keyboard into an on-campus venue and sat down trying to defrost, I nearly cried. My fingers were in so much pain. I suddenly remembered a memory I had as a child. It came to me for the first time in maybe 20 years and suddenly alot of things made sense.

As a kid I would often get to the bus stop late. And in the Winter it was hard to tell whether the bus was late (because of snow) or whether I had already missed it. So i would spend what felt like forever out in the cold waiting for a bus that would never come. The bus stop was a 10 minute walk from my house and by the time I would get home I would be crying from the cold.  My body has never really been affected by cold weather – just my hands and feet. And my hands would be a pale white color (i found out 15 years later that this was Reynaud’s)

As a child, my Grandma was my greatest comforter. My parents brought her to the States to take care of us while my mom was in Medical school and Residency. Grandma ended up staying even after. When I’d get home from the bus stop my Grandma would console me, try to make me feel better, and make hot chocolate for me. But she didn’t know any better because she had living in Nigeria her whole life…and so she made a huge mistake: she filled a bucket with hot water, took me into the bathroom, and stuck my frozen hands in the bucket to defrost them. Even to this day, I still can’t remember a more traumatizing, physically painful experience from my childhood – an experience that happened every time i missed the bus or had been out in the cold for too long.

As I remembered this, this week driving in -18 degree weather on roads covered in sheets of ice and feeling very negative about the weather, I thought about how seriously our experiences affect where we go, what we become, what we do, and how we feel at any given moment. It gave me a little perspective and made me realize how easy it can be to find beauty in something when your formative years have helped you to appreciate that thing.

Just some thoughts…

 

 

#341 Poison

By | life, little epiphanies, people | No Comments

After months and months of thinking about this, observing people, and a conversation I just had with my sister, this is what I know to be a FACT: Living a life where you all you care about is yourself and your own self interest is poison! It’s miserable and you should stop doing it because you will be lonely.

#329 God in India

By | life, purpose, travel | No Comments

Last week I came across a note online that someone had tagged me in on Facebook. It was written by a Penn State University student, Ashley Boughner, who was finishing up her trip to India. I fell in love with all that she had to say. She writes about intentionally transferring to a University with a student teaching program that sent students to Kenya only to find that when it came time for her to apply to the program, Kenya had been taken off the list. With her permission, I thought i’d share an excerpt from her writing. I think if you read it,  you’ll understand why I posted it here.

“Nearing the end of my trip, though, I was still wondering if me coming here was of great significance.  I wanted it to be more than “a fun time.”  I wanted it to have a point.  In Western culture, we have a tendency to make sure that there is a plan and purpose behind every choice that we make. If you’re graduating high school, you realize that the only thing people really care to ask you is where you are going to college or what job you have lined up. This continues until you finally get to consider retiring–how are you going to spend that retirement fund and bask in all that luxurious free time? Of course, the irony is that at this point many of us ask, “What was the purpose in all that planning?” But you get my point. This is how our culture thinks.

About a week and a half before the end of my trip [to India], I was having my breakfast and listening to some music. A stunning song came on by Joy Ike entitled, “Time”. The lyrics are about a man and woman who are so enamored by each other that their simply being together is enough to give them a sense of purpose and value to their lives. In consequence to this contentment, their relationship produces beauty in and around them that benefits others as well as themselves. I sipped my chai as I listened to the lyrics. Suddenly I felt contentment, joy, and thankfulness saturate my being, because the song was no longer about a man and a woman. It was about a young woman and her God sitting at a table over breakfast, reminiscing about their time together in India.”

“this is our life and how it starts, as we travel worlds and we make art. We’ll never really worry about wasting our time.”