11/10/2011 10:01:00 AM Contest winners This year's new contest asked Catholic teens, "What's on your MP3 player?" Teens sent playlists of five songs that connect them to God, remind them to pray or get them through hard times, along with descriptions of how the songs help them. Entries ranged from Broadway tunes to Christian songs, classic rock to country. Here are the three winners.
Only three winners could be chosen for The Evangelist's "What's on Your MP3 Player" contest, but so many talented teens submitted interesting song choices, some of the runners-up deserved notice.
RACHEL FAY, 16
St. John the Baptist parish, Valatie
"Blessings" by Laura Story includes a line about blessings coming through raindrops that helps me remember the little things in life are what really matters. This song helps remind me that, no matter what we do, God is full of forgiveness. One line sticks with me: "We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love." I doubt God sometimes. Even though I know He has a plan for me, it's hard to find Him during the bad times. "Blessings" reminds me to pray and give thanks to God for every little blessing He has given me.
"Keep Breathing" by Ingrid Michaelson is a song I started listening to during a time of dismay, when - like the refrain says - "All we can do is keep breathing now." It's out of our hands; we have to put our faith in God and trust that he knows what to do. One line, "I want to change the world...instead I sleep," is like that moment when you know you have to tell a friend something they don't want to hear. That's when I pray that God will make sure I do the right thing, even if I'm not sure what it is.
"Courageous" by Casting Crowns is about standing up for what you believe, helping others and building strong relationships. God sent us here to help each other. This song also makes me think about my relationship with God: Is it as great as it could be? What can I do to work on it?
"Your Grace is Enough" by Matt Maher puts me in a great mood and reminds me that God loves me. "Great is your faithfulness, o God" means God has faith in us and will forgive us for our sins. Jesus always has our backs. Also, even the strong need someone to guide them at times. Sometimes it's hard to realize that God's grace and love are all we need. I don't know where I would be without God.
KATELYN EASTERLING, 15
Sophomore, Averill Park High School
St. Henry's, Averill Park
"The Climb" by Miley Cyrus really empowers me. The message is about the journey and how well you live your life. It reminds me that God will always be there through the voyage, holding my hand. This song also reminds me that everyone makes mistakes and making a bad decision doesn't mean God is going to frown upon you.
"A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton makes me think that just because you can't always see things doesn't mean they aren't there. It makes me feel like I should never give up on anything. Whenever I hear this song, it gives me hope and tells me it's OK to miss people that are no longer in my life. It makes me think of heaven.
"Keep Holding On" by Avril Lavigne is a very emotional song for me. It makes me think of helping someone through a difficult point in their life, the way others have helped me. When people come together, almost anything is possible.
"Firework" by Katy Perry empowers me to be myself. This song states very clearly to be who you are, because "an original is always worth more than a copy." "Firework" makes me think God made us all different so we would be individuals. No one should try to be anything but themselves - after all, everyone else is taken.
EMMA BRICELAND, 17
Senior, Ballston Spa High School
Corpus Christi parish, Round Lake
"The Breath You Take" by George Strait says that life isn't the breath you take, but the moments that take your breath away. This song definitely is germane to faith and believing in yourself. Strait's words soothe me and leave me feeling hopeful. When I am frenetic and stressed out with school, I take a deep breath and think about the things that take my breath away.
"My Wish" by Rascal Flatts: All of the lyrics in this song are words of encouragement. It says to find God's grace in every mistake and know that somebody loves you. Flatts tells his audience to dream big and never give up when life doesn't go the way we planned. I like listening to this song before I compete in figure skating. I like to think God is singing to me, encouraging me to perform at my best. It calms me down so my nerves don't get the best of me.
"Christmas Shoes" by Newsong reminds me how to be a good person. It is about a boy who wishes to buy shoes for his Mama but does not have enough money. A man covers the bill and realizes God sent him that boy to remind him what Christmas is all about. This song depicts the real Christmas spirit and how everybody should act. We all need to remember to be good Samaritans.
"Sleepsong" by Secret Garden says, "May there always be angels to watch over you, to guide you each step of the way." Before I go to sleep, I always listen to this song. It is comforting to know that there is always an angel watching over me and helping me make decisions. I know God is always with me too, sending these angels.
MEGHAN KANE, 14
Freshman, Bethlehem Central High School
St. Thomas the Apostle parish, Delmar
"What Love Really Means" by JJ Heller reminds me how amazing God is and how much He loves us all. If you feel as though the world is against you and no one cares, God cares. If you feel you need to change yourself to impress someone, know that God loves you just the way you are. If you have sinned and think that you will never be loved, think again because God will forgive you and never stop loving you. As it says in the song, God will love you for you. When I listen to this song, I know that God loves me, and the mistakes I have made and will make will never change His unconditional love.
"Free to be Me" by Francesca Battistelli is true and inspiring. Being yourself doesn't always come easily. People can be quick to judge and feeling accepted is something that many people, including myself, strive for. Many teens (girls especially) are pressured to be someone they are not. In this song, she sings that she's free to be herself even though she's not perfect and life isn't perfect.
"Angel By Your Side" by Francesca Battistelli inspires me to reach out. There may be a time when all someone needs is someone to listen or tell them that everything will be okay - but sometimes you can't say that, and sometimes words can't help. Maybe what that person really needs is an angel: someone who will be "the strength they can't provide on their own." You can be that angel. Sometimes God needs to act through people in order to get to someone who needs help.
"Stronger" by Mandisa helps me know that everything will be all right. When you have a parent who has cancer, the word "strong" takes on a whole new meaning. Before, maybe you pictured a guy with big muscles; but after you see a loved one go through something as challenging as cancer, that person comes to mind. I am a firm believer in the saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," and this is basically what she's singing about. Life is full of struggles. This song gives me something that, sometimes, is the only thing that can help: hope.
"Where is The Love" by The Black Eyed Peas stuck with me [because of the line,] "The truth is kept secret; it's swept under the rug. If you never know truth then you never know love." This has taught me to be more courageous and loving. Also, because of this song I found a small tree that had no sunlight in the forest, dug it up and planted it in a park. Without love, that tree would not have survived.
"Morningstar" by AFI has helped motivate me when I don't feel like waking up in the morning. Because of this song, I decided to go to church more.
"Rise" by The Flobots is about freedom and taking charge. This song has taught me to take responsibility for my actions and be strong when it is needed. For example, because of this song, I invited a girl to my table when she was sitting alone at lunch.
"The Graduation Song (Best Friends Forever)" by Vitamin C has helped me stay strong when I was feeling blue about leaving friends to go to different schools. Even though friends leave, you can still stay together and be best friends forever.
ERIC BALSCHUNAT, 16
Junior, Queensbury High School
Our Lady of the Annunication parish, Queensbury
"Amazing Grace" by The Dropkick Murphies is a classic song that conveys the saving power of God. If I'm having a bad day or have done something wrong, this is a good reminder for me to put my trust in God and He will send me on the right path again.
"Turn Turn Turn" by The Byrds puts a Bible passage to music. It is a simple message that God has a plan. Sometimes bad things will happen, but with the bad comes the good and in the end God's plan will turn out for the better. "There is a season" puts an emphasis on the ongoing process of God's plan. "Turn turn turn" - reminding me of a clock or the earth spinning - shows how natural God's plan is. The song encompasses the balance we can find in the way of the Lord.
"Power of Soul" by Band of Gypsys is joyful and inspiring. The verses use metaphors to talk about a "high-flying" type of person and a "jellyfish" who has no backbone. Drive and conviction are needed to be true to the Lord. God gave us free will and the power to do good. He didn't just leave us as "jellyfish" in His creation. With the gifts God gave me, I can do anything I set my mind to!
"I See the Light" by Hot Tuna is an affirmation that God has revealed much of Himself to us. With His light in the world, we can truly live in it, have our sins absolved and gain a deeper understanding of the Lord. It also is about how we can, with the help of God, find our way in life. This song inspires me to find God's plan for me on a daily basis, reminds me of how good it feels to do His will and makes me glad that He has a plan for me.
KATHERINE EXUM, 13
Eighth-grader, Windham- Ashland-Jewett Central School
St. Theresa of the Child Jesus parish, Windham
"Drifting" by Plumb is one of my favorite songs because when I feel alone or far from God, I listen to this song and it brings me back to Him. I think the song is trying to explain that no matter how bad things get, there's always something that can bring back the good. "Drifting" reminds me to pray more and keep close to God, so whenever things in my life don't happen the way I want them to, I remember that things aren't as bad as they could be and that I have a Father in heaven who loves me and is willing to forgive me for the things I do wrong.
"Manifesto" by The City Harmonic is a song I listen to almost every day because of the joy and peace it brings me. This song reminds me of my faith and encourages me to strengthen my relationship with God. Part of the lyrics are from the "Our Father," which is my favorite prayer. "Manifesto" helps me remember my faith as a Catholic and how good that faith is. This song encourages me to think about how good our God is and all the good things he blesses me with.
"Be Not Afraid" by Robert J. Dufford tells me that even in my darkest and scariest times I'm not alone. Jesus is always with me, even when it feels like I'm alone. He never leaves our side. If I'm scared, sad, or angry, I sing it; when I listen to "Be Not Afraid," I feel as if Jesus is talking straight to me. I don't want to overreact to someone just because I'm having a bad day, and by listening to this song I know that everything isn't as bad as it seems.
"How Great Thou Art" by Daniel O' Donnell: I like to listen to this before my cross-country meets, because it makes me feel a lot less nervous. It's like a message of praise to God, exclaiming how great and amazing He is! "How Great Thou Art" also humbles me and helps me not to be too proud of myself, because without God, none of the things I do in everyday life would be possible. Without God's love and forgiveness, I would not be the person He helps me to be.
"Trust In Jesus" by Third Day helps me to place my trust more in Jesus. Jesus is always there for us when we need Him. If we place our trust in Him, we don't have to worry about any of our problems. This song inspires me to try to live a life more like Jesus did and to carry out my responsibilities as a Catholic: to love others as myself. It makes me think of the life Jesus lived and what He did and does for us. I can put all of my trust in Jesus and have a worry-free day, because He is my Lord forever.
MARIA HARTZ, 15
Junior, Scotia-Glenville High School
St. Madeleine Sophie parish, Schenectady
"Beautiful Things" by Gungor: On a mission trip this past summer, they discussed how others can judge you based on things like religion or how you look. The youth group leader said, "You are a beautiful child of God, and He loves you when others do not," and they played this song. It showed me that God really does love you, no matter what. He works miracles and gives you hope when it looks like there is none. I listen to this song every day, and I cry every time because it is so powerful and helps me remember that when you feel like you have nothing, you always have God.
"Alive Again" by Matt Maher, I interpret as sometimes, people can drift away from their faith and do things that may make them forget what is really important in life, or they feel distant from God. I have felt that. The chorus of the song says: "You called and you shouted, broke through my deafness. Now I'm breathing in, breathing out, I'm alive again." Before I went on my first mission trip two summers ago, I had lost the strong connection with God that I really wanted. But God's plan for me was to go on that mission trip, build my faith and reconnect with Him - and when I came home, I was a totally different person, for the better, because I was "alive again" with a stronger faith in God.
"What Love Really Means" by JJ Heller is about a young boy, a woman whose husband has left her and a man in jail who is waiting to die, who each ask God to send them someone who will love them for them. We all can feel alone and that no one loves us. But if you pray and talk to God, He will give you a path to follow. As the song says, He will love you for you, not for what you have done or what you will become. This song really makes me believe that no matter what, I can always rely on God to listen to me and answer my calls.
"When I Leave" by JJ Heller: A lot of high school juniors are talking about what they want to study in college and what they want to do as a career. I want to do something that will make a big impact on other people, just like so many people I know have made a huge and inspirational impact on me. As long as one person can look back on their relationship with me and say that I really helped them in some way, I would be happy for my entire life. This song really shows how I feel about that. God has put people in my life that have impacted me in a big way. This song reminds me that as a person, you should be one to remember, and you should do good for other people. When God calls you home, you will have left the world in an improved state, because you did everything you could to help change it.
"For Good" by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth is from the Broadway musical "Wicked." The song says that certain people are put into your life for a reason, and you should cherish them. They will make a big impact on your life. I have many people in my life who helped change me for the better. I think about what my life would be like if God did not make our paths cross. Everyone you meet can make an impact on your life if you let them - and if you feel like you need someone inspirational in your life, pray to God and ask for one. I did.
NICOLE ST. ONGE, 16
Junior, Hoosick Falls Central School
Immaculate Conception parish, Hoosick Falls
"Speak Now" by Taylor Swift is about two words that are commonly heard at wedding ceremonies. The silence that follows is the final moment where anyone can voice their reasons the two should not be united in marriage. The lyrics in this song are based on Taylor's idea of how she would handle planning to intervene in a marriage that was destined to fail...unless it was she who was marrying the groom. This song has a deeper meaning to me. It makes me really consider saying things on my mind. It's common to not speak your opinions because you're worried about it coming out wrong or you're nervous, but that's what makes the act even more courageous. There will be many times when I'll have opportunities to make an impact through what I say, but only if I am willing to take those chances.
"Mean" by Taylor Swift: Life is full of people who will hurt you, through physical means or words. It's inevitable and painful. It's sad that we have to live in a world like this, but the only way to get through is to take each hurdle as it comes. When someone does something that makes me feel worthless, I'll listen to this song, as Taylor sings about how one day, I'll be accomplishing great things, while those who hurt me will be nothing but mean.
"Back to December" by Taylor Swift reminds me that it's impossible to say you have never hurt someone, but it's very seldom that we as human beings will admit our wrongs. For some, it's embarrassing to admit that they weren't right and that they made a mistake. "Back to December" is an honest apology for hurting someone, and that shows a lot of bravery. The lyrics encourage me to admit my wrongdoings directly and not just shrug them off. It also gives me a reality check that even if my apology is as sincere as it can possibly be, life with that person may not ever go back to how it was before I made my mistake.
"Innocent" by Taylor Swift says that forgiving someone isn't always an easy task. Taylor Swift penned this song after Kanye West interrupted her award acceptance speech. Whenever I listen to the song, I always think to myself, "If she can forgive someone for embarrassing her in front of the world, I can forgive this person for the little things they did to me." Even with that motivation, it can still seem impossible to forgive and forget. In those moments of uncertainty, I remember all the times that I've wanted forgiveness and received it, and that brings me the faith and courage that I need to do the right thing.
"Change" by Taylor Swift shows we've all had points in our life where we ask ourselves if all the pain is worth fighting through. It's important that we get back up and try again. This song's references to the future are usually all I need to tell myself that fighting for the life I want is always worth it. We should all fight each other's battles, because that is a true act of love for one another.