Monday, September 28, 2015

The Big Question: Why

I want to share with you a video clip that one of my college friends posted on her Facebook. It addresses the question of your "why" and your "what." If that made no sense, never fear. All will be explained in the clip.

Awesome, no?

I think our "what" is endless. It's all the stuff we do. Even this blog is a What in my life. Probably yours, too.

The Why is when it gets interesting.

I've been thinking a lot about my Why since I watched this video. Not quite sure I have a handle on it yet. Seems like it should be obvious, doesn't it?  Here's the thing: I don't think we're really taught to think in terms of our Why. It's more about "what do you want to do?" instead of "why do you want to do it?," which doesn't really make sense.

I think it's possible our Why can change or evolve, too (as we change and evolve). I think my Why wasn't very good up until a few years ago. It was all about external things and people. Not very healthy. Ergo, my life wasn't very healthy. Now, I'm trying to live my life in a healthier way, and that's required many changes. My Why now looks more like this: I want to live my life in a kinder, more loving way, that impacts others positively, BUT my self image is not caught up in what other people think. That's not precise enough (in my opinion), but it's closer to how I see my Why.

What is your Why? And What are you doing to get there?

Monday, September 21, 2015

What I Learned This Summer, Part 4 (and Battle of the Band Results)

I've got results from Battle of the Bands. The song was "I'm On Fire" and the contenders were DuTonc and Crozet. This battle was different for me because Bryan submitted the music. Ergo, I didn't have any partiality one way or the other for these two versions. Many of you voted Crozet because it sounded more 80s and/or closer to the Springsteen original. I know that it was less jarring when you're used to hearing the Springsteen version than the techno/upbeat version by DuTonc. And many of you said that.

Here's the odd thing for me. On first listen, I preferred the Crozet version for all of the reasons you stated above. BUT, I had to listen to it several more times. In the listening, I began to appreciate DuTonc more and more. There cover is different. And good. And I really began to like it. In fact, I learned to like it so much that I now prefer it over Crozet (which I liked best after only one listen). So, my vote (to my own shock) goes to DuTonc.

In the end, it looked like this:

DuTonc: 8 (including my vote)
Crozet: 13

PART 4 of 4:

The person I hurt most was me, but...

Before I finish that sentence, I want to tell you one more thing I've been learning since last November. That is when I joined a Bible Study to read the entire Bible. (Right now we're in Romans.) If you've read the Bible front to back and found nothing disturbing in there, I'm going to suggest you read it again.

There are some tough stories in there. I could begin a list, but that would make this blog post really long. I've managed to parse out meaning for a great many of them (some still have me scratching my head), but maybe the point of it all is that being a good Jew (OT) and a good Christian (NT) are not easy. Even the gospels, which I thought I knew very well, raise some tough questions. I don't feel quite so bad about my lack of understanding given that the disciples had a difficult time with it as well. And they were right there.

One of the great joys, though, of reading the Bible is that there is quite literally a story in there to cover every aspect of the human experience. Good and bad. It covers the things we do well and things we fail miserably at. There are prayers of thanksgiving and prayers full of misery.

If you're not familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son, the long and short of it is this: The second son of a prosperous (Jewish) farmer asked his father for his inheritance so that he could go off on an adventure. I suspect that his adventure looked a lot like a year in Las Vegas where he didn't find a sin he didn't like. Anyway, the money was gone and his prospects were so bad that he went to work as a laborer for a (foreign) farmer slopping the pigs (abhorrent for a Jewish person) and eating worse than those pigs. It was so bad that the young man decided to go back to his father and beg for a job, because his father treated his laborers much better than he was being treated. Just hoping for a job, he returned home. His father responded by not only welcoming him back with open arms, but throwing a big party. The older brother, who never left in the first place, didn't like it one bit. His response was, "I never got a party." And the father told him that he need not be jealous because all that was his also belonged to the older brother. And that he should rejoice because his younger brother was lost, but now he's been found.

When I was in high school, that story disturbed me. As the eldest child, I read it from the perspective of the older brother. I never left. Where's my party?

As someone who ate one too many Pringles/Lays (one person, one choice), I NOW find great relief in this story. In fact, I referenced this story in my Testimony given at camp. However, at that time, I wouldn't allow myself the relief that came with it. I was still that Lesser Christian. Still the younger brother who, knowing his Father (and the richness of His kingdom) still chose to go another way. I remained stuck in the despair that the younger son felt knowing he'd blown it big time, even after coming home and getting the grand party. And, more importantly, the forgiveness of the Father.

There is very real irony in this dichotomy. In the coming back to Christ, my relationship with Him now is better than it ever was in my youth. Having hit rock bottom, I can fully appreciate the gift that Jesus gave with his death in a way that I couldn't before. Jesus tells many parables of things lost and found... and how the found thing means so much more after it was lost. I didn't really get any of those stories until I was the lost thing that was found.

Do you remember when I told you the testimony of the Gideon fellow and said that what we had in common was hitting rock bottom? The other thing we had in common was a need to forgive ourselves simply because Christ forgives us. That is another one of those things in the Bible that sounds simple, but sometimes isn't.

My friend, Stephen T. McCarthy, recommended the book Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus. I read it. One of the (many) things the author discusses is the notion of forgiveness by default. If you don't know what that is, you're blessed. The idea is that Christ died to save mankind (meaning everyone), but you just got lucky. In other words, he did it for everyone else, and you got it by default. I thought this was an idea that was just mine until I read this book, and then I realized way too many people feel this way. It's not the truth. The truth is that Jesus died for you. Specifically. There is no such thing as salvation by default.

There is a reason that in the book of Luke, there is the story about the criminals being crucified alongside Jesus. Murderers. One of them ridiculed him, but the other recognized that he was the Son of God. To that one Jesus said there is a place for you in my kingdom. That is how that pastor could tell the man who became a minister for the Gideons, "Yes," when he asked if there was forgiveness for murder. It's in the Bible. (Luke 23:39-43)

There is a reason for the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), because there will be people who know the richness of the Father's kingdom, but there will still be holes in their hearts that they believe the world can fill. They will have to hit rock bottom in that world before they understand that what they were seeking they had all along... and come home.

So, to go back to the start:

The person I hurt most was me, but God forgave me, so who am I to not forgive myself?

There are no Lesser Christians. There are Christians whose story differs from yours. But, that's good. God uses every life for His glory. Every. Life.

And that's what I learned this summer.

Do you have trouble forgiving yourself? Does knowing that Christ forgives you make it easier? Have you ever thought you were saved by default?

Friday, September 18, 2015

What I Learned This Summer, Part 3

PART 3 OF 4:

Okay, so we've covered some ground on what I learned this summer. I could tell you more about camp, but I'll just say this: some of it was hard, some of it was easy, and all of it was good. Ultimately. I can't say it was always comfortable, because it wasn't.

However, one of the counselors sent me a friend request on Facebook, which was waiting for me when I finished my family vacation. Honestly, that felt very good, and I'm very grateful for her. ::understatement:: **Since then, I've become FB friends with many of the counselors. Now that we're more than a month away from camp I'm learning that social media actually can aid in these friendships. After a year of getting to know one another better on Facebook, camp won't be nearly so challenging next year. We'll have gained on the issue of time, and I hope I'll be better about sharing my experience.

**A Facebook Friend Request might seem like this super small thing, but it can be huge to someone else after they've had a fairly tough summer struggling with... well, everything. Another example that small acts of kindness are often the ones that mean the most to others. So, don't be afraid to get out there and perpetuate acts of kindness!!!

I spent the entire three weeks not really wanting the other counselors to know my experience because deep down I thought they'd see me as a Lesser Christian (don't think that actually exists, but there you go). What I actually achieved was just not letting anyone in. If they don't know you, they can't like you. Or hate you. Or even feel "okay" about you. In other words, the law of thirds doesn't work if you don't let anyone know you. The irony is that I should've figured this out week one because I became very close with that group of high school girls. I'll just stop and admit to being a slow learner.

What else did I learn?

At our last fellowship dinner at church our pastor invited the Gideons to come. Frankly, I wasn't looking forward to this presentation. It cuts into our "fellowship" time and usually makes choir practice run late. Let's just say I wasn't their ideal listener.

One man did most of the talking. He began by sharing his testimony. (Does this feel familiar?)

I will do my best to not be overly wordy and get the gist of his testimony. He said that he grew up not knowing Jesus. His family didn't know Jesus. He didn't find Jesus until he was at the rock bottom of his life. He was in a prison cell after just being charged with first degree murder and kidnapping.

You didn't see that coming, right? Me either. I try to imagine what that must've been like and come up empty.

Anyway, he said that another inmate saw his despair and gave him a Gideon Bible. It was the first time he'd ever had his hands on a Bible. He started to read, and in the reading, believed. However, there was a kicker: he didn't believe that God could forgive him specifically. He didn't doubt that Jesus died on the cross to save mankind, but mankind hadn't committed murder and kidnapping... so that salvation was for other people. A pastor came to the prison and spoke with him. When he asked the pastor if Jesus could forgive a murderer, that pastor immediately said, "Yes."

That changed his life. Forever. Of course, it didn't change the consequences. We always get the consequences of our actions. He served thirty plus years of prison time. During that time he got his PhD in Theology.

After he was paroled he joined the Gideon ministry because it saved his life. Through that ministry he talks not only to churches but regularly goes to the prison and visits youth in correctional facilities.

What he says to the youth: "You are only one choice and one person away from prison."

That statement kept my brain working for weeks. One person. One choice. I began to think about my own life. I knew there was meaning in there. I had to figure out how I could apply it.

Here's what I figured out: People and choices are like Pringles. You can't make just one. Each time you're confronted with a person and/or a choice it is taking you one of two ways. Closer to Jesus or further away. There is no middle ground here. So, if you make that choice or bring that person into your life that takes you away from Jesus, chances are it will lead you to more of the same. The reverse is also true. If you bring people into your life who bring you closer to Jesus and make choices that bring you closer, they will lead you to more of the same.

That whole scenario put my Soundtrack posts into a new perspective (which are, essentially, my life). I'd talked about holes and filling them, but finally I could see it all very plainly. When I decided to turn to the world to fill my holes that was one choice away from Jesus (because every choice is closer to or further away). Of course, it led to more choices of the same. Instead of getting fuller, I just got emptier. Until, like the man leading that presentation, I hit my own rock bottom.

And, still, even after hearing this, I was still struggling with my own feelings of being a Lesser Christian. That guy didn't know Christ when he did what he did. I knew Christ when I did what I did... and I did it anyway. No, I didn't kill or kidnap anyone. The person I hurt most was me, but...

Well, I'll save the rest for my last post in this series.

Have you ever thought about how important your choices are? The people you bring into your life? Does the whole "one person, one choice" resonate with you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Battle of the Bands ~ I'm On Fire

I'm interrupting my posts on What I Learned This Summer for a fun round of Battle of the Bands. If you came here looking for the What I Learned posts, skip back one (and then one more).

I've been a bit swamped and didn't have a good idea for this round of BoTB. So, I sent an email to my CP, Bryan, over at A Beer For The Shower, and asked him if he had any ideas for a good BoTB match-up.

He sent me back this:

Since I was THAT DESPERATE, I laughed and said, "Yes, bring it on."

So, he sent me back the links to two covers of the Bruce Springsteen song I'm On Fire. I hadn't heard either of the covers, so this was a delicious surprise. Plus, you got some relief from my taste in music and get Bryan's instead. A win/win, right?

I can say with all honesty that I know nothing about either of these covers. I'm not even going to look them up on Wikipedia, because this is really just about listening to the music and deciding what you like best. So, let's just do that.

Just a reminder: video presentations are not part of the voting in this battle. It is solely about the music.

Here is the link to the Springsteen original (which is NOT an option in the voting): The Original.

Okay, the first cover is by the band Du Tonc:

The second cover is by Crozet:

Please vote for the version of this song you prefer. If you want to get into the Ins and Outs of why you like one better than the other... I LOVE long comments!

For more Battle of the Bands fun, check out the other BOTB bloggers to vote on their battles:

Monday, September 14, 2015

What I Learned This Summer, Part 2

PART 2 OF 4:

Okay, so I left off at camp. Week one. I woke up at 3am inspired to give a campfire message. I figure you want to know what that was (because I would if the shoe were on the other foot). Lucky for you, I wrote it all down.

**I didn't get this quite right. There are things you think you know, but you don't. And you don't know them until you know them. Of course, that makes me wonder about the validity of anything I write ever. Because that learning thing is an ongoing process. And I don't know right now what I don't know... ::sigh::

However this is what I said:

Tonight I want to tell you my story. Give you my testimony. Because people don't care what you know until they know that you care. But the truth is they don't care what you know until they know you. So, I don't want to just tell you what I know, but how I learned it.

What I know: Life will knock you down.

 If it hasn't yet, it will. How you deal with that will depend on your relationship with Jesus. Even so, there may be times when you, like the Prodigal Son, decide to take your own path. And, like the Prodigal Son, it won't work out well for you. But, also like the Prodigal Son, the Father will welcome you back with open arms.

I grew up in the church. Accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was in elementary school. I started coming to this camp the summer before 7th grade. I had good and bad times, but life was mostly good. Honestly, life was mostly good until it wasn't. I made some bad choices 16 years ago**. Choices I should've known better than to make. Choices that ended up hurting me very badly.

What I know: When you make a choice (any choice) there are consequences.

I dated and then married a man who wasn't a Christian. I should've known that was a terrible idea. Our core values weren't the same. But, I brushed those doubts aside and rationalized that it would be okay.

What I know: If you have to make rationalizations for your choices, you need to rethink those choices.

In fact, he turned out to be an abusive husband. He never hit me, but he threatened me repeatedly, and it was scary being married to him. His two children from a previous marriage moved in with us six months after we married (and out of a physically abusive household with their biological mother). The weight of responsibility for those children fell heavily on my shoulders. I knew that I was their one and only parent with an inkling of how to love and nurture a child.

What I know: You cannot save another person. Only Jesus can save another person.

We've talked a lot about shining this week. The longer I stayed in that situation, the less I shined. I got a migraine that wouldn't go away. Ever. No doctor. No medication would make it quit. My neurologist told me on my first appointment, after asking about my circumstances, that so long as I continued to beat my head into a wall I would have a migraine. I refused to accept that and continued to beat my head into that wall for another two and a half years. My philosophy was "I'm not a quitter," and "I'm not getting a divorce. Ever."

I was sick. My ability to effectively work my sales job diminished to the point that my paycheck was severely affected. The migraine took over my life and I became a shell of who I was. My mother constantly expressed her fear that I was going to die. It wasn't until I fully agreed with her (staying married would end in imminent death) that I filed for divorce.

What I know: When you're sick and/or abused, you push everyone away. You don't want anyone to know.

My relationship with Jesus moved from a daily dialogue and weekly worship to occasional cries that sounded a lot like, "Please help me!"

What I know: God listens to all prayer. Often, we stop listening when we feel surrounded by darkness. 

After my marriage ended, my migraines didn't get better. I didn't understand it. Over the course of the next year I actually got worse. I fell behind on my mortgage payments, and the electric was regularly being shut off on my house. I dreaded calling my parents and asking for help. Eventually, I financially fell through the floor. I had no choice but to sell my house and move in with my parents. It was devastating.

Once upon a time, Jesus and I were like that (fingers together), Now we were more like this (fingers apart). And we were gaining on this. (hands apart)

What I know: God will not always answer your prayer.

Remember the first thing I said? Life will knock you down. I was down and God seemed to have disconnected my number. At least, that's what it felt like. I wish I could tell you that I took all of this with grace and remained faithful that God had my back.

Fast forward three years.

I became really angry with God. I spent a lot of time shaking my fist at Him. I put away my Bible and stopped even trying to go to church. Remember what I said about life knocking you down? I was down.

What I know: God listens to prayer. Even when you stop listening, God remains faithful.

A friend of mine said, "Tell me about your relationship with Jesus." (That would be you, Stephen T. McCarthy)

I was offended. I didn't want to think about it and definitely didn't want to talk about it. My response was something like, "None of your beeswax."

However, I couldn't stop thinking about the question. So, I pulled out my Bible off the shelf. Went back to church. Started singing in the church choir. Started reading books by people smarter than me. I found relationship with Jesus. Again.

What I know: You must choose Jesus every day. Being saved in elementary school doesn't carry you through life. You must choose Jesus again and again.

So, what do I know?

Life will knock you down.
When you make a choice there are consequences.
If you have to make rationalizations for your choices, you need to rethink them.
You cannot save another person. Only Jesus can save another person.
When you don't feel shiny, it's too easy to push everyone away, including Jesus.
God listens to all prayer. Often we stop listening to Him when we feel surrounded by darkness.
God remains faithful in every circumstance of your life.
Lastly, you must choose Jesus again and again because He's always choosing you.

(The end)

Yes, it was long and there turned out to be some crying. I know what you're thinking, but it wasn't JUST me. Me and a few other people. Young people who probably felt like their relationship with Jesus wasn't where they wanted it to be. Therein lies the beauty of a painful story (life). If you can turn that disaster around, there is hope. Or to put it another way, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Friday, September 11, 2015

What I Learned This Summer, Part 1

PART 1 OF 4:

On my last post, I told you that I wanted to share with you things I've learned this summer.

Before I went to camp, I worried and worried and worried about it. (I think it should be obvious that worrying nets you nothing but migraines, but there you go.) Of course, I worried about the obvious stuff like my ability to simply be able to do it. However, I also worried about whether or not people would like me (typical co-dependent stuff) and if I'd be able to relate to the kids. There was also an unspoken worry about whether I was "good enough" as a Christian to do this. I think that unspoken worry was the worst. Honestly, it was the one I didn't want to even think about, more less form into a coherent thought that could be addressed.

One of the things I've learned over the course of my Soundtrack Posts*(story of my life set to song) is that I really screwed up. We aren't far enough long (yet) for you to see the entire disaster roll out, but if you're paying attention all the makings for it are in place. My self-esteem took a severe punch during the three years of junior high school** creating what I called "holes," and it never really recovered. I would spend a very long time trying to throw anything and everything into those holes so I could feel whole. Do you see the irony?

*link to Soundtrack posts (in general)
**link to junior high school and "holes" post (in specific)

Worse, I would make decisions that would put me further and further out of touch with my Christian faith. I was looking in "worldly places" for someone or something to fix my holes. (How many people does it take to say "you are pretty" or "you are worthy" or "you are smart" to undo years of damage? I don't know, but I can tell you I NEVER reached that number.) I had no idea that I already had everything I needed to repair those holes. Had I simply looked toward my faith instead of away, the answer would've been really obvious, as it is to me right now. (I died for you. I love you. You are already worthy. Go in peace, my child.)

Back to pre-camp and my last session with my therapist. I told her some of my worries. She told me that I don't need to share with the folks at camp the worst aspects of my life. Migraines. Disability. Abuse. Instead, focus on the positive. Knowing me, she also reminded me of the law of thirds. That is one third of the people will really like you, one third will be "okay" with you, and the last third will dislike you. Possibly because you remind them in some indistinct way of someone else that they actively dislike. Or, yeah, it could just be you. In other words, it would be unrealistic to go into this experience thinking everyone is just going to embrace you with open arms.

For the record, I still believe in the law of thirds. However, I also believe in the laws of time and experience. What do I mean by that? I mean that the law of thirds would've been an excellent outcome for my camp experience. The reality was that most of the staff was much younger than I am (in their twenties, with many still in college). In other words, most of them them could've been my kids. AND they knew each other. Just like I knew the other counselors way back when I was last at camp in 1986 and 1992. It was like a reunion with your camp family. WELL, that makes it tough for a new/old person who isn't part of the family. So, we hadn't spent time together and our experience was vastly different.

Now go back and pull in my biggest and unspoken fear: You are not a "good enough" Christian to be here.

I spent the four days of training in an internal argument with myself. The scared part kept saying things like, "What do you think you're doing? You aren't capable of helping anyone." The added bonus was, "Most of the staff doesn't even like you. They know you're not good enough to be here." The more rational part was saying things like, "This will get easier as time goes by. Maybe my experience can help someone else." I suppose the more rational side won since I stayed.

Given my trouble with migraines, I decided not to be a cabin counselor, but to be on support staff. Believe me when I say that was much more than I thought. I taught three activities every day and worked somewhere during Free Time. However, most of the time my evenings were free. That was a mixed bag. I liked being able to just go to bed if I didn't feel well. I missed evening campfires and the way God works within one.

I believe it was Sunday night/Monday morning of week one when I woke up at 3am (probably with a migraine), but also with a certainty that I was supposed to give a testimonial message at the campfire for the high school girls. I wasn't all that keen on it, but the idea wouldn't let me go, and I was up until 6am working it out in my head. When that sort of thing happens, I know that it is outside of me. It wasn't what I wanted, but I still ended up talking to the Division Director, telling her the way this happened, and giving that message on Tuesday night.

Come back on Monday and I'll share with you that message.

Are you familiar with the law of thirds? Do you struggle with the idea of people not liking you? Have you made choices that took you further from, instead of closer to, your faith? What do you do when you're in a situation that scares you?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

BoTB Results and (another) Quick Update

I know I'm a bit late with Battle of the Bands results. The song was Starships and the contenders were Pentatonix and Pitch Perfect. This was one of the best voting sessions I've had on a battle in a while. The vote started out for Pentatonix and then the next vote was for the Pitch Perfect crew. One group would gain ground and then the other would catch up. It was tied several times as we cruised toward the final count. A good many of you liked both videos (as do I) and found the voting difficult. Some of you had NO trouble casting your vote. How did this finish?

Pentatonix: 17 (including my vote)
Pitch Perfect: 13

I appreciated all of you who asked about the migraines and my plan for getting better. There are often so many things going on contributing to the stress we feel (and the migraine that stems from it), so it can be tough to isolate the problems. Other times, it's really clear. If I'm eating "badly" that is a fairly easy adjustment. If the weather is crazy and the barometer keeps dropping, that's not. If my hormones are raging, that's not. If I'm stressing about stuff in my life, that's not easy, but it is fixable. So, I try to focus on what I eat and what I think.

I feel blessed that my doctor referred me to my current therapist. I know I've talked about tapping here several times, but it truly has been the most successful method I've found to release the emotional junk I tend to collect. I fully intend to return to my Soundtrack posts. I also want to write something (which may take a couple of parts) about things I've learned over the summer.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Battle of the Bands ~ Starships and IWSG (early)

I've been out of the IWSG loop for a while, and now I'm posting early. What can I say? I'm striving to multi-task here.

So, what is going on with my writing? WELLLL, I planned to get a whole bunch of writing done at camp. That didn't work out at all. I wrote exactly nothing. BUT, I did have about a week after I got home when I felt super inspired to get it done. To long story short this, I needed to insert a thread into the novel for the sake of continuity. I'd already started before I left, got stumped, didn't write a word for several months, and came back ready to try and give it a go. The good news is that my new rough draft is done. The bad news is that it is a very rough draft, and I'm already aware of some trouble spots I'm going to have to revisit. The good news is that it's easier to smooth out a trouble spot than to start from scratch. The other bit of good news is that I finished this project before a ferocious migraine set in. More on that later.

So, am I feeling insecure? Well, yeah. I think I tend to live there. However, this entire writing process has been incredible. I know I've stretched as a writer. If you read my very first rough draft you would agree. That bit of writing was heinous. Just heinous. The other thing that astounds me is how much my original story has changed. It's fairly unrecognizable when compared to that very first draft.

I guess it's okay to be insecure. Just don't give up. That's all I've got!

If you took the time to read the comments on my last blog, you know that migraines have taken over my life (again). The vast majority of my life since I got home has been spent in bed with a migraine. Uggghhh. I seriously considered just opting out of this battle. However, I'm really hoping to see improvement in the future.

I don't think I told you that I ended up getting a new cell phone. I just loathed the IPhone I had. I would say hated, but I mean loathed. My mom's quit working altogether while we were in Ohio, so we made a trip to the Verizon store to see if they could fix it. Did you know that Apple phones don't have a battery in them? Once they die, they are dead. I highly recommend backing up your IPhone immediately, if not sooner. They offered her a (fairly) reasonable deal on an Android phone. She took it, and so did I. I did mention my loathing of my IPhone, right? Anyway, the screen on the new phone is so much larger and I can do more with it. I still can't easily read blogs with it. Probably because I'm not smart enough to know how to negotiate my blogger dashboard with it, but I can still do way more than I could with the old one. And that has been handy since I spend most of my time in bed.

Where is this all leading? Well, I like to just troll around YouTube. You know, just to see what's there. I end up in the most unlikely of places, which can be good and bad. In my YouTube travels, I discovered a couple of pretty cool covers of this song Starships. You must keep in mind that I've never actually heard the original of this song. It's by Nicki Minaj, and I'm just not all that fond of her music. But, these two videos really cracked me up. I think the singing is good in both AND the videos are good.

So, this may be the only time that I encourage you to actually watch the video and actually make the video presentation a part of your vote. Both videos are clever in their own way. Your job is to decide which you like most. Your decision may be tough if you like the singing better in one, but the video better in the other or vice versa. In this battle, that's all part of the challenge.

So, sit back listen, watch, and vote.

First up is Penatonix with their cover of Starships:

There was so much video goodness in that to love that I could go on and on, but I won't. Let me just say that I laughed for a long time after watching that one. And then I went on a quest to find another Starships cover that I liked just as much. And, yep, I found one!

This is a video by Mike Tompkins, the cast of Pitch Perfect, and a whole bunch of random people who sent in footage of themselves for this video. I freakin' love that.

Here is Pitch Perfect and the gang with their cover of Starships:

We've got so many new Battle of the Bands players that I'm having difficulty keeping up. (We post a new battle on the 1st and 15th of each month.) For those who've been following this feature/blog for a while now, can you believe that once upon a time -- for a long time-- there were only five of us??? Well, now the list grows each battle. So, if your name is not on here and you're participating, please leave me a message in the comments. Thanks for your patience!

 Also, please vote for the version of this song you prefer. If you want to get into the Ins and Outs of why you like one better than the other... I LOVE long comments!

For more Battle of the Bands fun, check out the other BOTB bloggers to vote on their battles: