Build My Life

Danielle Noonan | Papercastle Records Artist
 

written by: Danielle Noonan

Hearers and Doers Matthew 7:24-27

"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn't not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. And rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it".
 

I'd like to preface this post by saying that I'm not a doctor or a psychologist. When it comes to life in general I rely heavily on grace, mercy, massive amounts of caffeine, belly laughs (usually at my own expense) and sometimes a good ugly cry. I'd like to say that my life experience gave me the tools I needed to be a parent and a wife but honestly that's something I have to work on continually. In fact, I sent a text to a girlfriend last night with a big SOS because I need a crash course in middle school boys. I'm still working on being a good wife, mother and musician... but the harder I work, the more I pray, and the more I work on being a better wife and mother, the more I am incredibly thankful for God's provision in my life. In all of those things of course, I fail miserably sometimes. But, God created me as a stubborn, passionate wilding so I'm just going to keep on keepin' on. 

 

With that said, we hit the jackpot with our kiddos. Three boys, each one of them with their own personality and all very different. Being their mother has been the most exhilarating thing I've ever witnessed.  It's almost overwhelming to think about the amount of love you're given, only to give it to someone else. I've been peed on, pooped on, heard three unique hilarious voices and giggles grow louder and louder. I've caught glimpses of myself and my husband and thought, "oh man, here we go". They love babies. They love to dance. They love to laugh, really laugh, and they tell me every day that they love me. My oldest is in middle school, in the throws of waiting independence but still wanting to hold on to so many of the little things that kept him content as a little kid. He's genuinely artistic, smart as a whip and was a born leader. Our nine year old memorized facts about everything under the sun and enjoys quizzing us, making us feel like we literally know nothing. One day he told us that he wanted to be pope and a baseball player and he was concerned he couldn't be both. That's gonna be a disappointing day for that kid when he realizes neither are probable. All their hearts are so big and I'm so thankful that I'm theirs. 

 

 
 

When I was pregnant with our third son Henry, I could tell even in utero that he was going to be an extremely active kiddo. He moved constantly, poking at my ribs, bouncing on my bladder and at night there would be the inevitable kidney jab. When he was born, sure enough...he didn't stop. Nothing stopped Henry, even when he nursed, he'd rub his tiny little feet together and kick the whole time. By the time Henry was 18 months old he was able to crawl on furniture and once his vantage point changed, he began jumping off of things. He'd look at you, see the terror in your eyes and jump. This terrified me but with two other kiddos who needed me there were countless times when I barreled downstairs to catch him crawling out of his playpen, curling his little toes around the edges and getting on his favorite chair to jump off of. 

 

 
top to bottom: Lucus, James, Henry

top to bottom: Lucus, James, Henry

I called my mother, who after parenting 14 kids should have all of the answers to my problems, and I told her how scared I was. At this point in my parenting experience, I felt like I had everything under control. I was at the end of the baby learning curve, or so I thought. How hard can a baby be? I've had two! I was clueless and needed some serious mama help. My mom has a handful of answers for problems. The first one, go sit in the sun, it cures everything. "Oh go sit in the sun, you need some vitamin D". I knew it wasn't that answer. The answer she gave me definitely wasn't what I was expecting. "He sounds like his mama", she said. "Just let him jump off, of course don't let him hurt himself but if he wants to jump, let him do it, and stop worrying about it." I guess it made sense right? I mean, the kid, no matter what you tell him is going to jump off the chair. I'm pretty sure I hadn't ever seen, "What To Do When You're Baby Won't Stop Making Dangerous Decisions" as a chapter in any parenting book. So, I piled pillows around his chair, made sure he would tumble off of them once he plummeted to the floor and just let him jump. He jumped off that chair probably thousands of times. He jumped off that chair so many times that it gave me time to put all of the locks on the cabinets that he was after also. I had to make sure that he had a firm, but giving foundation for him to fall to. He trusted me, he knew that I would catch him if I were there. But if I wasn't there, those pillows were his safety net. He finally got that he needed them to jump freely, happily and most importantly without injury and when they weren't there, he wouldn't jump off the chair anymore. Who knew? God sure does and he tells us that in Matthew, that when we have a foundation on the rock, no storm, no rain, nothing can harm us. He calls us to build everything we have upon His word and when we do that, we won't be shaken, we'll be safe in His arms. 

 

Being a parent of all boys is one of the toughest jobs in the world. For one, I'm not a man, so it's my husband's role in our family to teach them what that means. I can support that, and direct them to strong, Godly mentors, but I can't father. The pressure to raise kind, generous, holy boys, who love The Lord, and who are gentlemen is very VERY hard. With that said, it's by no means impossible. It takes patience, diligence and prayer, all those things my husband and I try to work on every day. It takes making hard decisions, decisions that may make schedules and day to day activities a little more challenging. It also takes us remembering that in this season of our life, we are not our children's friends. We enjoy them, we adore them but we're here to teach them and help build their character so they become wonderful fathers or priests. We continually pray for patience, and have faith that God is going to do amazing miracles and works within their hearts and minds. We know that one day, we won't be there when they jump. But, when they do, they'll have a strong, firm foundation that was given to them. Will they make poor choices? Yes. Have we as parents made poor choices? Definitely. Are mercy and grace bigger than either of those? Without a doubt. There is no break when it comes to parenting. There are no gold stars, your kids do crazy things that make you question your entire strategies as parents but then you remember what your house is built on. We can't forget to let His promises echo in our homes so we can see the little victories that we claim for His glory. We're still building. Slow and steady wins the race. 

 

Henry, who's six now, got a new devotional and we read it together before bed every night. Last week, probably through exhaustion, I forgot about his devotional. I tucked all the boys in, kissed them goodnight and around 9 I went up to check on them to make sure everyone was asleep. Henry was still awake, tossing and turning. "Mommy come snuggle with me", he said. Can I really say no to that? I crawled in bed with him and he rolled over and whispered in my ear, "mommy, I forgot to do my devotional tonight, will you read it to me?".  So, while everyone else slept, we snuggled down, read our scripture together and reminded each other of how much God loved us, what our family is founded upon and blessed that child. Lord, when they jump, let them always remember what their lives were founded on. 

 

written by: Danielle Noonan (www.daniellenoonanmusic.com)

 
The Noonan's | Papercastle Records
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S U P P O R T   D A N I E L L E ' S   M U S I C   +   M I S S I O N

We just finished up recording Danielle's debut EP titled "Undone" and are excited to share it with you!

He Rose Again

BEHIND THE MUSIC WITH ANDREA THOMAS

 
 
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness shall not overcome it." - John 1:5
 

Sometimes I am tempted in my own faith journey to focus on suffering. There have been seasons when I have spent significant energy and thought (and if I’m being honest, maybe even self pity) focussing on Good Friday and toward the cross. Of course we believe in the insurmountable value of suffering, but it is only because of the reality of the Resurrection. Not matter how hard life gets, not matter how difficult a situation may be, and no matter how impossible it seems for goodness to come out of a bad situation, He has the victory! He rose again! Death could not hold him. 

Even still, I imagine that there was a heavy confusion and perhaps even feelings of despair following Good Friday. The verses of this song, “He Rose Again”, come from that mindset of confusion. God’s ways are simply not our ways. It looked very grim and despairing for Jesus’ followers after He died. From the human eye, it looked like He lost. It looked like His followers were deceived. How often do we feel that way in our own lives? Sometimes it’s just confusing why things happen the way they do, and yet He works all things to the good for those who love him. In those moments of confusion and doubt of Jesus’ victory in our own lives, we must hold on to our faith; we must cling to the reality of His victory. Life will never be perfect here on earth. Even while we live in the victory of the resurrection, things will still fall short of the perfection for which we were made. For that perfection we wait in joyful hope! 

Allow me, for a moment, to tell you about the chorus of this song (it’s my favorite part!): The chorus of "He Rose Again", especially toward the end of the song as everyone harmonizes together, is such a beautiful reminder to me of how we keep vigil in our hearts. We support each other, we love one another, we work together; this is what it means to be the body of Christ! If everyone had the same harmony or played the same instrument, it simply would not have the same beauty and effect. Living in the reality of the Resurrection necessitates a response. We glorify the Giver of all good gifts by using ours!

Here at The Vigil Project, our team has felt convicted to give the Church songs to pray with during the Lenten and Easter seasons, yes, but also as songs for your earthen journey. To some degree, we all hold vigil in our hearts until we are called home. Let us embrace His victory and live our lives in the confidence of the Resurrection. We have been very blessed to journey with you through these most sacred seasons. Alleluia! He rose again!

Written by: Andrea Thomas

 
 
 

Seeking and Saving

BEHIND THE MUSIC WITH GREG&LIZZY

 
 

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and “Alleluia” is our song.” – Pope St. John Paul II

 

As we approach the fourth week of the Easter season, I’ve recognized something in myself and something in the Church community around me: it’s hard to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ for fifty days.  In fact, it may be harder to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ than it is to remember His Passion and Death during the forty days of Lent.  But why would this be the case for us? After all, we are “the Easter people” as Pope St. John Paul II reminds us, echoing the words of St. Augustine of Hippo.

Seeking and Saving is a song that Lizzy and I wrote out of this heart for celebration, and this exploration of why it’s sometimes a challenge for us to enter into it.  We recognized in ourselves this kind of somberness in our own prayer, and we felt like the Holy Spirit was inviting us to pray with joy and to pray with celebration.  Christ proclaims His mission in the Gospel when He says, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).  That’s you and me, and in His Resurrection this mission is accomplished…that’s something worth celebrating! This song is intended to be a refreshment of that Easter joy, hope, and celebration at a point in the season when it’s hard to sustain it.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that make it difficult to sustain our celebration of the Resurrection and some simple ways we can remember from day-to-day that “’Alleluia’ is our song.’” It seems to me that during Lent we work hard to follow through with prayer and fasting commitments we’ve made, adhering to structures we’ve put in place for ourselves and to those prescribed by the Church.  Sometimes we get to Easter Sunday and suddenly all the commitments of prayer and all the structures of fasting are gone, and we are seemingly released from our obligations.  There is little or nothing to hold us accountable in our prayerful celebration, yet this is indeed what the Church asks of us during Easter! It is our Christian duty to celebrate, to live into and live out of the joy and the hope of Jesus’ victory over death. 

I want to invite you to consider making some daily commitment to celebrate the Resurrection.  In a way similar to what you probably did during Lent, put in place some small structure to help you live this joy to the fullest.  If you gave up chocolate for Lent, eat an extra piece every day, and, when you do, sing “Alleliua” and let it be a reminder of the sweetness of the hope of the Resurrection! If you were doing a daily examination of conscience during Lent, keep doing it and add sixty seconds of praise to the end of it allowing yourself to be overcome by the joy of our salvation in Christ’ rising! You get the idea: let’s allow the penitence and the remembrance of Christ’ Passion and Death to draw us beyond the tomb and even more deeply into the glory of His Resurrection.  Let’s watch for the darkness to be overcome by the light, let’s pray for peace, hope and joy that surpasses our understanding and destroys our despair.  Let’s celebrate, because Love is stronger than death!

Written by: Greg Boudreaux of Greg&Lizzy.

 

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The Eyes of Mary Magdalene

BEHIND THE MUSIC WITH JOHN FINCH

 
 

“Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he had told her.”  – John 20:16-18


Can you imagine just for a moment what it must have been like to be the first person to encounter the risen Lord at the tomb? In all of my humanness, I cannot even begin to describe how I would have felt, no doubt I would be full of many different emotions. I think there would be a dramatic series of intense sadness to intense confusion to intense joy all in one morning. That would sure be a lot to take in all in one morning, especially if it was before the first cup of coffee, and we know it was very early. Try comprehending the fact that Jesus, once dead on a cross and laid in a tomb was now alive, conquered the grave, conquered sin and death and has given us the chance for eternal life in heaven with the angels and saints, amen! Mind. Blown. And this is two thousand years later we are talking about. I still cannot begin to understand the miracle that took place on that glorious morning.

How about we take a look through the eyes of one of the most influential biblical characters ever known, the eyes of Mary Magdalene. As we know, she was a devout follower of Jesus in his ministry, with eyes that saw him die and the very same eyes that saw him rise. I have personally never written this way before, and that is what makes this song extremely unique in my own experience as a songwriter. As I began to write, I really connected well to her character. I did a little research on who she was but more in the sense of who she was as a follower of Christ, which we know she was just so human and one of the most beautiful examples of God’s mercy. I am not sure if I connected more to her humanness or her desperate plea for mercy and need of a Savior.

This song is set up from the Gospel of John.  Scripture tells us that it was very early in the morning when Mary Magdalene and a group of women went to the tomb and found it empty. Then it goes on to tell us that Mary saw a man who appeared to be a gardener but was truly the risen Lord. He asked “Dear woman why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” But at the moment Jesus spoke her name, she came to realize that this was indeed the Lord, no longer dead but alive. Jesus told her “Go and find my disciples and tell them I am ascending to my Father.” So with great joy and excitement, Mary ran to the disciples and told them “I have seen the Lord!” The beautiful thing is that we are given these same eyes to see the Lord — In his holy presence and in one another as we live in the glory of the Resurrection. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.”

Overall, this was a very interesting song writing process for sure. I had the idea of looking at the Resurrection in a new perspective, but it was an incomplete thought. I got together with Greg&Lizzy and we sat down and prayed with this perspective, and within that meeting God began to inspire the song and bring it to what it is now. I pray that you are truly blessed by this song and that you may pray for eyes to see the Lord in a whole new way this Easter season, for He is risen! 

Written by: John Finch

 

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Were You There

BEHIND THE MUSIC WITH ANDREA THOMAS

 
 
 

So often during Holy Week we hear various renditions of a familiar hymn: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” I’d like to reflect on this song as if it were sung by two different people present for Christ’s passion - Judas and Jesus’ mother, Mary.


First, let’s look at Judas for a moment as we encounter him in today’s Gospel: a bold, prideful man who we know ends up betraying Jesus and putting into motion the foretold Passion of the Christ. We also know Judas’ eventual fate, but before this man chooses to take his own life under the weight of his shame, let’s look at what this song would look like coming from his experience of the Passion: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Sometimes it causes me to tremble.” Tremble, indeed. How often are we so ashamed of ourselves that it physically hurts us? How often are we so disgusted with our actions and our sin and our betrayal that we are sick to our stomachs? We all, to some degree, have fear and guilt. We all, to some degree, tremble in shame.


And then we have the perspective of Mary, the mother of Jesus. This sacred song sounds very different, coming from her lips: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Sometimes it causes me to tremble.” No one knew Christ’s Passion so intimately as did Mary. She journeyed with him every step, she felt his every move, and she sensed his every moment of pain. And yet she could do nothing. Mary sings not of guilt or shame; Mary sings of the indescribable pain from watching her son, the One whom she loves, suffer so greatly. She knows deeply the anguish of these wounds. Indeed, this too causes a very different trembling of the heart, a different trembling of the soul, but a tremble nonetheless.
In our daily lives, you and I experience different “tremblings”; sometimes we feel the trembling of Judas, and sometimes we feel the trembling of the Blessed Mother. What is trembling in you? We, at The Vigil Project, have been journeying together this Lent, and we invite you to continue journeying with us and to bring your tremblings to the foot of the cross. For whether it is shame and guilt and fear driving your trembling, or a compassionate heart that aches at the thought of His pain, Jesus has the victory. He can transform your guilt into redemption and your pain into glory.
 

Written by: Andrea Thomas

 

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Lord Have Mercy

BEHIND THE MUSIC WITH GREG&LIZZY

 
 
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.  Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me.  For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me.  Against you, you alone have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your eyes so that you are just in your word, and without reproach in your judgment.  -  Psalm 51:3-6

 

One of the great mysteries, the beauties, and the ironies of our Christian Faith is that the thing we need the most is also the thing that we do not deserve, the thing we could never earn.  It is Mercy.  As Lizzy and I began praying about this project and what the Lord was asking us to write about, this theme of His love and His mercy kept coming to our hearts. We know we need it, but if I’m being honest with you, this is one of the hardest things for us to ask for.  Asking for mercy means admitting my own weakness, my own failure, my own inability to “fix it myself”…it means being humbled.  It also means I need something I don’t already have, it requires me to go outside of myself, it requires me to ask for a gift that I cannot and will not ever be able to repay.  It means being a beggar before God.  Perhaps at times in our lives it’s easy to fall into a perspective of self-righteousness in which we can see the way that those around us need God’s mercy and healing, but we can’t see our own need. Precisely this is the tragedy: we can't see our own need,  and we become starved for mercy simply because we’ve forgotten how to cry out for it.

Lord Have Mercy is a song we wrote to be this cry.  It’s the same cry of David in Psalm 51, it’s the cry of our own hearts.  We wanted to write a song that doesn’t hesitate to cry out from exactly where we are and for exactly what we need: Mercy.  As we were writing, we were struck by the humility of St. Dismas, crucified next to Jesus, asking for what he needed most: “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”  He knew his guilt, he knew his sin, and he knew that his punishment was just...but he asks for mercy, and it is given to him.  Our prayer for you and for this song is that we might all have the humility and the courage to cry out to God for the mercy that we need.  Lord, have mercy on us!

Written by: Greg Boudreaux of Greg&Lizzy

 

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Praise To You

BEHIND THE MUSIC WITH JOHN FINCH

 
 
“O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.”     – Psalm 95:1-5

 

From the moment I was invited to song-write for VIGIL, there were a few reoccurring words that were placed on my heart that are very familiar during the season of Lent. What are these mysterious words you might ask? Quite simply, the acclamation, “Praise To You Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory!” I thought you might have heard those words before. And that’s just it; the idea was to re-introduce a familiar message in a new and worshipful way. Praise To You is both an acclamation and an invitation. So who is this King? I could give you many different answers, but in light of this song, let’s stick to the truth that Jesus is a King to be praised! He is not a king who sits on a throne in a land far, far away. In fact, Jesus is quite the opposite. This is where we come in. Jesus Christ is a King who desires with His entire being to abide in us, to have relationship with us, and to walk with us, because of His incomprehensible love for us. This song is a tiny glimpse into who Christ is and all He has done for us and for the Church; from the cross, His death and finally His glorious resurrection and all He has promised to us for the future. He is sovereign, He is Lord, He is Jesus.  

Praise To You is an invitation to worship; an invitation to gather, an invitation to the Holy Spirit and to the will of the Father. Not only do we invite you to worship with us whole-heartedly, we invite you to pray for the grace to receive the love that is freely given to you from the heart of God. The Lord is so deserving of our worship in humble gratitude and thanksgiving for the grace and blessings He pours into our lives. It is our prayer that you would invite Him into your heart as He so graciously invites you. Let us journey together and keep watch this season.  

Written by: John Finch

 

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An Artist’s Vocation

 
 

Being 26 years old is peculiar; at least it is for me. It’s a seemingly less enchanting time than was my time in college, of which I am three years removed, but nonetheless exciting still because I would say that I am on the cusp of being a true adult…in age anyways (I still buy fruit roll-ups when I grocery shop). Much of my formation as a Christian has consisted primarily of theology and church teaching, with an emphases on the all-emphatic term, “vocation”. What is a vocation, and why is it more relevant to me now at 26 than it ever was in my youth?

A vocation is a “call from God to a distinct state of life, through which a person can reach holiness.” (Lumen Gentium, 39). For us, this refers to our individual call to marriage, priesthood, religious life, or even the call to live a consecrated life as a single person. It’s so simple, and yet so complex at the same time. “Who shall I spend the rest of my life with in marriage?” “Am I called to become a priest?” “Are Franciscans part Jedi?” I say my age is peculiar, because for the first time ever I am confronting these big questions in a real way.

I am an artist. I compose and perform original and accompanied music all over the world, and for those of you in a similar state (or even those artists who are perfectly content)…I have found a solution: your vocation right now, and always, is to Beauty. Let’s see what Pope Pius Xll has to say about it in his encyclical “The Function of Art”:

“Composers, filled with the Christian spirit, should feel that their vocation is to cultivate sacred music and to increase its store of treasures. Let them produce compositions, which have the qualities proper to genuine sacred music, not confining themselves to works, which can be sung only by large choirs, but providing also for the needs of small choirs and for the active participation of the entire assembly of the faithful.”

 A wise Franciscan (possible Jedi…) once told me that there are “Capital V” vocations, and “Lowercase v” vocations. For example, not everyone is called to live the religious life, but all Christians are called to live a life devoted to holiness. Holiness is a “lower-case v” vocation. I move that all artists, not just Christian artists, are called to live out a vocation to the discovery, conception, and example of Beauty for all people to witness. Just as a husband devotes himself to his bride in self-giving love, or a priest sacrifices for his bride, the Church, so you as a musician, composer, painter, dancer, writer, actor, singer, sculptor, and expressionist should give all of yourself to your craft. Let your exhibit be one of complete exposition and vulnerability, just as the greatest example of Beauty, Jesus Christ, gave of himself on the cross for all to see.

It’s hard. Sometimes you don’t know where your next check is gonna come from, or perhaps even how you might support a family one day. There are days where I let this get to me, and I run to the classifieds online looking for the quickest way to make $50,000 a year. At some point thereafter, though, I always come back to this: God is faithful, and I’ve never been at a want for anything. He desires for you to give the gift He’s given you by His grace and for His glory. You are His work of art too.

 

Written by: James Rosenbloom