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Fireflight Discipleship. Relationships. Self-image. For teen girls. briomag.com $2.00
Cat Whitehill and Eli Bremer
the by Martha Krienke
The Orlando-based rock band Fireflight encourages you to let God take you where you’ve never been. He wants to restore you and provide the strength to dream again.
dentifying Dawn Richardson among the guests at a Cruella DeVil costume party would be a game hard to win. Her two-toned hair and striking makeup might be expected for the lead singer of a rock band. But what about as an average 26-year-old just going out for an ice-cold Frappuccino? The front woman for the band Fireflight says her look remains the same in both scenarios. “I’m into art, and I love to paint, and recently I’ve discovered this makeup line with so many colors—it’s almost like an artist’s palette,” she says. “I really like getting up every morning and spending time painting a picture, doing my eye makeup. I feel as though I get to be like a flower, because I have these bright colors that usually you see only in nature.” From birth until she was about 10 years old, Dawn was a towhead, but more recently her natural color has changed to a golden, dirty blond. Some time ago her hairstylist suggested dyeing it two colors. The result was platinum blond on top and dark brunette on the bottom. Now she has platinum on her left and dark on the right. “I really like it. It’s fun on stage, because we move around a lot. I shake my
briomag.com ✺ july 2008
Fireflight is L to R: Wendy Drennen (bass guitar), Justin Cox (guitars, vocals), Dawn Richardson (lead vocals), Glenn Drennen (guitars) and Phee Shorb (drums). july 2008 âœş briomag.com
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Watch and Listen
Check out the music video “Unbreakable” at iamunbreakable.com. You can also watch Dawn’s video blog made especially for our Brio sisses at fireflightrock.com/brio.
PHOTO ISTO C K BY ILL U ST R ATIONS AN D K UHR C ALE B
Without Fear As is true in most lives, that growth didn’t happen without some struggles. In her early 20s Dawn started to realize how profoundly the tragedy of her younger brother’s drowning about 15 years previously had affected her. “When my little brother passed away, my parents were devastated, and I took it upon myself to make them happy,” she explains. “To do so, I felt like I always had to do the right thing, and I always had to be perfect. As a result, I grew up with a people-pleasing personality. It led me to making choices for other people instead of myself for the majority of my life.” Dawn’s fear of letting down her parents and others prevented her from being completely abandoned to Christ. ”Some days I just felt like I let God down, and I was broken permanently,” she says. Now Dawn quotes 1 John 4:18, “Perfect love drives out fear,” as her anthem. “If you understand how much God loves you and how perfect that love is and how powerful He is, it will drive away all the fear that you have, because you’ll start to understand that He’s protecting you,” she says. “If you’ll just rely on Him and trust Him for the choices in your life and make the decisions that you know He would have for you, there’s nothing to be afraid of, because no matter what you’ll face, He’ll pull you through.” This resilience and strength is the backbone Fireflight describes through Unbreakable. They say the true meaning of unbreakable is not that you will never fall. It’s more that no matter what happens— from losing a friend to an eating disorder to a parents’ divorce—with God’s strength you can face it and get through it. m
No Kidding Around Fireflight’s sophomore album, Unbreakable, and the accompanying cover art are also not textbook material for the Christian music industry. But one classic symbol can’t be missed in the front and center: a white candle’s burning flame. “For me, the candle represents the message of God and the message of the Cross,” Dawn says. “The Bible says we’re in this world but not of it, and we’re people out here surrounded by all this sadness, depression, death and all these horrible things. The rain is falling down, but we’re standing on the side of the building. We’re doing the impossible, and we have this message to bring with us.” In this new record, Fireflight wanted every aspect, from the pictures to the songs themselves, to be embodied with strength and intensity. “We feel this album is very powerful and has a very serious message, and we wanted to be taken seriously,” Dawn says. “We’re happy and joyful people all the time, but we want people to understand that when it comes to our music, we’re not joking. We’re for real.” Fireflight is so serious about their message of hope and love, they’re willing to take it to whomever and wherever they can. “We try to be honest when we write, and we try to talk about what we know,” Dawn says. “We find that if you’re honest, people will always be able to relate, and it almost doesn’t matter how old they are.” Last fall, the first single, “Unbreakable,” was the promo song for the NBC television show “Bionic Woman.” The band has also been included in music-video reels at both American Eagle and Journey’s stores across the country. “I feel like God told me when we were first starting out that He was going to take us out to the stage of the world to share the message of His love,” Dawn says. “Every opportunity we get to be in the public eye, whether it be at a Christian or secular event, especially where there may be people who have never heard the message of God’s love presented in a way they could understand, we just want to be there.”
Dawn first experienced God’s unconditional love when she became a Christian as a sophomore in high school. Her friend Jason invited her to his church’s Sunday night small groups. At first, Dawn thought, I don’t think so! But later she changed her mind and joined a Bible study for girls. “There was a wonderful mother of one of the girls who ran the group, and I really felt like they cared about me,” she says. “So I started going to youth group on Wednesdays, and before too long I decided I wanted to dedicate my life to Jesus. I started getting more and more involved in youth group, became a leader and grew over time to who I am today.”
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head, and it’s a cool effect with the light and the dark,” she says. Dawn knows her style is unique. Although no one has said it to her face, snide comments such as “I never would have thought she was a Christian” have been said behind her back, according to her friends. “I’m dressed modestly, but my hair’s crazy. I have dark makeup on, and people just aren’t used to that.” Dawn says in the same way the media makes girls think they all have to dress sexy, Christian culture expects girls to fit a different mold. “People are always trying to feel different in a way,” Dawn says. “They want to feel unique, and I think as a Christian culture, if we shape ourselves as these bland, black-and-white stick figures, it pushes people away, because it doesn’t feel honest.” By the same token, Fireflight reminds teens to respect their parents’ wishes for how they present themselves.
Do you love rock music? Tell us why by writing to prizes@ briomag. com and label your e-mail “Fireflight.” Be sure to include your mailing address. Fifteen entries will be randomly selected to win an autographed copy of Unbreakable.
Wear a Tiara
briomag.com âœş july 2008
by Sally Amthor
I might not be a princess by royal birth, but I still have a crown awaiting me.
onight I received a tiara. It was an unexpected gift from someone who doesn’t know me well: a secret sister. The girls on my dorm floor at college had been exchanging encouraging notes and gifts anonymously for the past few months. When we finally revealed ourselves, I opened a silvery-white box and pulled out the sparkling gift. I discovered that my secret sister was Amy, a beautiful bright-eyed girl with glasses who lives on the other side of the hall. “For princess Sally,” she said with a big smile. I gave her an equally big hug. “Thank you,” I said. “This holds special meaning for me.” My name, Sally, means princess. But although my name holds such flattering distinction, I don’t flaunt the privilege, power and prestige my title conveys. I’m not a princess of the overnight Hollywood makeover, or of genuine royal English blood or even of the happily-ever-after fairytales I love to read. I’m special, but I’m not exclusive. I don’t presume to rule anyone, and instead of a castle, I live in a dorm like all of the other college girls. You see, my tiara doesn’t yet fit. Hair Dilemma I ran down the hall to my room to try it on, my first time to ever wear a tiara. After fumbling with it for several minutes, I stood in front of the mirror with messy hair, beaming at the tiara sitting lopsidedly on my head. Well that’s odd, I thought. It doesn’t look right. So I tried again. It took me a few minutes to figure out why it was slipping down over my nose or falling off the back of my head; it didn’t fit. Thinking it was just clumsy me, I hurried downstairs to get the opinion of my very knowledgeable sister, who lives in the same building. “They usually put their hair up to wear a tiara,” she said. “But you don’t have enough hair!” Leave it to a sister to point that out. But it’s true. My hair is quite short after a mad haircut rampage I went on over a school break. “Two inches, please,” I said unflinchingly. Two inches it was, and now when I put my hair up in a ponytail, it gradually slips out in tufts. I thought that if I used clips to pin back all the unruly strands, maybe I could gather enough on the top of my head to hold the tiara in place. But it was to no avail. >>>
july 2008 ✺ briomag.com
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Frustrated but undaunted, I sat down at my computer, typed “how to wear a tiara,” and clicked “search.” I scanned the pictures, mostly bridal displays, and sure enough, there it was. It was all in the hair. Perched high on glorious gleaming tresses or winking demurely from a billowing veil, the tiaras were worthy of any princess. I sighed. Granted, 2 inches wouldn’t have made much of a difference, but I was still heartbroken. The spiritual lesson struck as I laid down my tiara and went back to being a crownless princess. Where would I wear a tiara anyway? Well, that wasn’t the spiritual lesson, but it got me thinking in the right direction!
A Crown of Righteousness I remembered an object of rare beauty that I’d recently seen in an expensive catalog—the kind of catalog that makes me wonder how they got my mailing address, because I could never afford to buy anything from the company. It was a crown replicated from the convincing prop used at the coronation of Aragorn in the movie The Return of the King. It intrigued me for some time. After looking at it, putting the catalog down for a while and then coming back to it, it occurred to me that buying such a thing would be ridiculous. I was thinking that I’d have to be very proud to buy a crown, and even prouder still to wear it. It seems to me that it’d be a misrepresentation to crave a crown bought from a catalog, which thousands of “Lord of the Rings” fanatics have claimed, and which, undoubtedly, wouldn’t fit me any better than a party tiara from Claire’s. So I’m holding out for a different crown. Not a plastic pretend crown or a movie-replica crown, but a crown of righteousness. This crown that I’m waiting for isn’t for sale in expensive catalogs. It isn’t sitting in a museum. And it certainly has nothing to do with my own achievements, like the laurels placed on the heads of ancient Greek athletes. The crown I wait for is a free gift, given in much the same way my plastic tiara was given tonight—unexpected, unmerited. This crown will fit only a certain kind of
briomag.com ✺ july 2008
princess—one who’s a daughter of Jesus Christ, the King of kings. None of us deserves such a title. Few people, if any, ever earned their royalty. They were born into it. So how can I say I’m a princess? It’s only because “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13). That’s why my name means so much to me. It constantly reminds me that, despite the lack of towering hair and glittering jewels, I am a princess. In the classic film Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn plays a princess who secretly leaves her royal duties to wander the streets of Rome as an ordinary tourist. Her responsibilities are too heavy, so she does the simple thing: She goes out and cuts her hair—short. There’s no way that tiara is going to stay in place now! But a day in Rome and a haircut can’t change the fact that she’s a princess. I’m just like Audrey Hepburn . . . well, sort of. My hair may be short, I might not be wearing a tiara and I might be wandering the streets of New York living an ordinary life, but I’m still a princess! Second Timothy 4:8 says, “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” And so I wait. Of course, I’ll wear my Claire’s tiara (even if I have to pin it to my head), if only to play dress-up as every 19-year-old college princess should. But I’ll also be content to know that I’m heir to a crown that’s meant to grace my head alone. This one will fit. And when I see the King, I’ll lay my tiara at His feet. m Sally Amthor wears her tiara around her dorm room in Woodbourne, N.Y.
“The crown I wait for is a free gift . . .”