// the kind of music that follows you. //

With-all-my-heart-the-greatest-hits-zoegirl

One of my most vivid memories of my time in our Arlington house (think kindergarten to midway through third grade) is when Dad let me have his CD player, and when I got my very own music for the first time. My music, not just listening to TobyMac and DC Talk and Skillet with my parents (much as I loved those bands too), but CDs that I could cherish and listen to whenever I wanted, where I could choose the song my heart wanted in that moment.

I still remember my first three CDs, too– Another Journal Entry by BarlowGirl, Dying For A Heart by Krystal Meyers, and With All Of My Heart by ZOEgirl. Christian girl bands defined my music taste in my growing-up years, and it was amazing. I loved those CDs, and those artists, and their songs. I downloaded them onto both the iPods I circulated through after the CD stage, too– and discovered even more songs by them, which was thrilling. (Thank you, iTunes and parents who were willing to pay for my music.) And I could still instantly recognize any of those songs today, even sing along with all my heart (though the lyrics may be off, as my seven-year-old interpretation of them left much to be desired).

Eleven or so years later, and my music taste has expanded and changed considerably, and it’s a rare occasion that I’ll find myself going back to BarlowGirl or Krystal Meyers– I’ll have to be looking for a specific song, perhaps for story inspiration or simply for nostalgia. But I can never listen to either of them for very long before wanting to move on to other music, to my current favorites.

A little bit more often than that, probably once every couple of months, I’ll find myself scrolling through Spotify and pausing at ZOEgirl, then smiling to myself as I hit shuffle just to see what song comes up.

Because ZOEgirl is a band that has stayed with me through the years, more constant than even BarlowGirl, whom I legitimately thought were my favorites during middle school. ZOEgirl’s musical abilities are alright– upbeat, nice, good enough for me to still be listening to now, at least (they do have lovely voices)– but it’s the lyrics of their songs that keep bringing me back to them. They’re wonderfully written, and looking back I realize that I’ve associated different songs of theirs with different stages of my growing-up. Every season has a musical anthem (anthems, more accurately) in my life, and there have been quite a few seasons where ZOEgirl’s lyrics have been exactly what my heart needs to hear.

When I was little, my favorite songs by them were “Feel Alright”, “Dead Serious”, and “Anything Is Possible”. It’s actually quite amusing to look back and recall why they were my favorites; they’re shallow reasons compared to the depth I seek in music now.

“Anything Is Possible” was upbeat and sounded like the Cheetah Girls, and I liked dancing (“dancing” is a relative term here, ha) along to it. “Feel Alright” began with lyrics like “the sun is shining, there’s no need to sleep no more / the day is bright and your heart has it’s wings to soar / time will be flying, and freedom is at the door / you feel alright yeah, so what are you waiting for?“, and that was just the kind of sunshine my little self loved. (It wasn’t until I was older that I appreciated the other lyrics, the “tell me to give up and I will fight much harder / tell me to be quiet and I’ll shout it even louder“, the boldness in sharing Truth.) And “Dead Serious”? I adored that one. It was so sassy and confident and brave. Remember how I mentioned how my little-self tended to completely misinterpret song lyrics? Yep. This one was one of them. The lyrics that I did understand, I loved– “who’s that girl with the Bible in her hands / the smile on her face, she doesn’t get it, I don’t understand / the way she walks with her head in the clouds / she doesn’t care who laughs, walks right through the crowd / that’s right, that’s me, I don’t care what you think / people talk all day, I don’t care what they say“. That was the girl I thought I was when I was little. But I think subconsciously, that was the girl I wanted to be. I just didn’t become her for years, until I finally saw the Lord in the right way, until my eyes were opened to just how small I am, until I learned that grace was for everyone. I guess you could say that “Dead Serious” has always been one of my anthems, but I have a deeper appreciation for it now, even though I don’t love it as much as I love so many other heart-anthem songs of mine. I’ll always smile whenever I hear it though.

In middle school, my favorite ZOEgirl songs were “I Believe”, “About You”, “Plain”, “Different Kind Of Free”, and “Give Me One Reason”. The latter two didn’t actually have anything to do with my life; “Different Kind of Free” is about a suicidal girl who finds hope  and freedom in Christ (I think; I could be wrong though), and “Give Me One Reason” is about a girl who walks away from the nonbeliever she loves because she loves her God that much more. But the lyrics of both are beautiful. And “Give Me One Reason” was rather mind-blowing to a preteen; walking away from love to follow Christ was a strength of character I prayed I’d have, but wasn’t sure I ever would. And the bridge gave me chills every single time I listened to it. It still does, on occasion. The other three were relevant to the seasons of life I was going through. “Plain” made me cry and smile all in one, because I was so insecure and I needed someone to tell me that “you are a jewel, you’re a treasure / you are one of a kind / and you shine just as bright as the stars in the sky / you’re a rare kind of wonder, created just right / so keep your head up no matter the pain / there’s nothing about you that’s plain“. “I Believe” and “About You” were songs I sang before I lived them, if that makes sense. I enjoyed listening to them in elementary school too (“I Believe” was another fun Cheetah Girls-ish song in my mind), but it wasn’t until I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life (June 20th, 2010 ^_^) that those songs actually meant something to me. Every time I’d be tempted back to my old selfishness– which was all the time— I’d sing the chorus of “About You” to myself. “It’s not about me, it’s gotta be about You / and all I wanna see is who You’re turning me into / I will not forget that You said You’d always lead me through / to who I wanna be, making every part of me about You“. And “I Believe” became one of those confident, brave anthems of a young Christian– “now I’ll shout it from a mountain / that I am not the same that I used to be / I believe in God, believe in God!

In early high school, when I went through that rough season of pruning and discovered that at the end of the day, the only Friend who will never ever fail you is Jesus, “You Get Me” was what I listened to when I was teary-eyed and frustrated over friendships that never seemed to stay. If you want to know what the cry of my heart was during that time, listen to that song. (Or, if your heart is crying out, go listen to it. It’s like getting hugged and being reminded that you’re okay because you’re His.) Now, I listen to that song and smile because it was an important season, one that grew and stretched me and brought me closer to Jesus, and I’m grateful.

Now, there are three ZOEgirl songs that are my favorite, that I would call my current anthems. “Beautiful Name”, “Unchangeable”, and “One Day”. I’ll just share some of my favorite lyrics, and you’ll understand why they’re my anthems. They’re fairly self-explanatory, if you know me. 🙂

“Beautiful Name”:: “I will run, I will fly / I will live to be a sacrifice / through it all I’ll rise above / unafraid, I will face what comes / I will run, I will fly / and for my faith I’ll live and die / I’ll be strong, I will press on / for the sake of Your beautiful name / Your beautiful name“. Is this not epic? This song makes me so happy. And brave. And wanting to just go sing it and share Jesus everywhere.

“One Day”:: I honestly can’t even choose my favorite lyrics; this song is just so me. All of it. The frustration and hope and joy. And it forever gets me excited about my heavenly home. One day, I’ll be there, and everything will be worth it, and Jesus will win for eternity. Yes please. Go take a listen, and maybe you’ll get excited too. 🙂

“Unchangeable”:: “a faith that’s unshakable / a heart that’s unbreakable / Your truth has set me free / a love that’s unchangeable / a life that’s available / if I would just believe / that’s what You gave to me“. I just love how this song flows. How all the un’s work together. I don’t have a very deep reason for loving this song; I just do.

All of this to say– we all have music that’s followed us through the years, and I’m thankful that this is the band I get to say this of. I’m thankful that I got that CD way back in elementary school. And I’m even more thankful that God has used ZOEgirl in different seasons of my life to tell me what my heart (be it selfish or broken or timid) needs to hear. Oh yeah– and I’m thankful to you for reading this, and letting me share some of the music that’s impacted me with you. You are much loved. 🙂

So now, if you’ll excuse me– I’m going to run, and fly, and be strong and press on, all for the sake of His beautiful name. ^_^

{love always, Em}

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2 thoughts on “// the kind of music that follows you. //

  1. Ooh I loved reading this! …That ZOEgirl CD was one of the first I ever bought too! {my first three: The Essential Rebecca St. James, Kari Jobe, and ZOEgirl With All my Heart <3} so even though I haven't really listened to them for aaages, as I was reading this, I was singing along to all the quotes in my head ^_^ My favourites were "With All my Heart" and "I Believe" {I think I remember a time I was a little obsessed with "Dismissed" as well} but they all bring back some 9-or-10-year-old nostalgia thinking about them. I love what you said about possibly remembering the lyrics wrong because your 7yr old self didn't necessarily get all the words right – SAME. Even reading through the lines you quoted, there were moments I though, "THAT'S what they say there??" 😉 After reading this, I have to listen to them again: they're certainly not a genre a gravitate towards these days {far from it} but thinking about the lyrics you brought to mind in this post {Beautiful Name!!} I need to have a closer listen to them again 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • GWYN. I AM SO GLAD YOU KNOW THIS MUSIC TOO. Seriously, this is so rare. ^_^ Oh yes, I really liked those songs too! “Dismissed” was another one of those sassy songs I liked when I was younger. xD Yes, exactly– my music taste is SO different now, but it really is worth it, taking a listen to them every now and then. Especially “Beautiful Name”. ❤ So many of their song lyrics are very kindred-ish.

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