Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How I Wonder What You Are...

When I was in school the years seemed to start and end at the close of summer. I enjoyed the release of that routine when I left my educational years and entered "adulthood". I like starting over every December 31st. Of course we are not machines and we cannot just hit "empty trash" when the clock strikes midnight. But I still enjoy the ceremony of it.

One of my favorite 2 1/2 year olds named Ruby sleeps with what I call her "entourage". It consists of a blanket (or two, but one specific one of course) a plastic doll, a stuffed cat and often next to her bed, a sippy cup of juice or water. One night this fall while I was watching her she emerged from her sleeping quarters, sippy cup in hand and arms full of her entire entourage. She had the whole quivering lip, I'm so tired but I can't sleep thing happening and it was one of the cutest things I've ever seen. I scooped all of them up and we sang some songs together to get calmed down.

"Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are..."

Oh Ruby...
I carry around an entourage too. From this past year, from every year before that, and sometimes I even borrow baggage from tomorrow. And I wake up afraid too. One day your plastic doll and tired blanket will not be enough to scare the dark away. I fear that day for you but I need not because I know you are carried by arms much bigger than mine, bigger than your parents, and He will always sing with you until you get back to sleep.

"Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky..."

This next year is such an unknown for my husband and I. Our roles in life are changing and nothing will stay the same. I suppose not everything will change. We will still love each other and I will still soften each time he says my name. The keys to our house will remain on our keychains and I will soon make baby food with the same food processor we use now. There will be mornings and evenings, suns and moons, as there always has been. But still...I can feel the winds changing direction when I stand outside. I can feel it blowing through my hair as I place my hands where this child grows inside me. I can feel you moving, baby, as your father and I are moving. "Look up!" says the wind. Watch! Listen!

And so we will watch, we will listen. We will enter this new year with great joy and great trust in a strength that surpasses understanding.

The Star, by Jane Taylor

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky!

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark,—
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Silent Stars EP up on Itunes!

The Silent Stars EP is finally up on itunes! Just in time for Christmas. :) I'm really proud of this project and hope you'll give it a listen and leave a review if you want.

There is also a review up about the EP here,

and

my blog was voted one of the top 10 artist blogs of 08 by CMcentral.com!
I'm very grateful for the support!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tell me a Story

I love reading novels. Sometimes I look at the stack of non-fiction sitting next to my reading chair and feel guilty reaching for the one novel on top of the endless parade of (I'm sure wonderful) books on spirituality, healthy living, and an array of interesting topics that I would love to be more knowledgable on. But the truth is I am a sucker for a good story. This is why I do love non-fiction writers like Frederick Buechner and Annie Dillard; they use story to portray deep truth. This is something Jesus did as well, which I am constantly reminding myself of when I start to feel guilty for reading so many novels and only a handful of non-fiction books. I need not feel guilty, I know this. Story is good for my soul, good for my songwriting even. And I think I learned much more about my own faith while reading this last novel than I would have by reading the latest self-help spirituality book.

The book I just finished is Christ The Lord: Road to Cana by Anne Rice. I was moved deeply by her portrayal of Jesus as a 30 year old man about to start (what we call) His ministry. If you like fiction and the story of Christ interests you, you'll love her two books on His life. Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt was also wonderful. I could go on and on but I don't want to sound like an episode of reading rainbow. I'll just say thank you Anne, for writing something that must not have been easy to write so that the life of Christ could come alive for us readers.

Thank God for the writers, the poets, the artists. I need these people!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

22 Weeks

I'm not one to post on this sort of thing, but I couldn't let this one go because I myself, am 22 weeks pregnant this week.

There is a movie out called "22 Weeks" about a mother who went in to an abortion clinic at 22 weeks pregnant and ended up giving birth to her live child in the bathroom by herself, with workers refusing to help her keep him alive. No matter your stance on abortion, this is a story that needs to be told and I'm anxious to see it. Watch the trailer here, and read the article they refer to here.

from their myspace page:
"A film about decisions, their effects and the echos they leave behind. Based on the shocking World Net Daily article by Ron Strom, on victim's testimonies, and real 911 calls about one of the most controversial subjects of our time, "22weeks" achieves to confront both sides of the spectrum and their perspective to the on going question: "what would you do?"
This is the shocking true story about the reality behind abortion and the heroic struggle of a mother willing to do anything to save her child."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Time and It's Trappings

I’m sitting once again at a favorite coffee shop of mine, hot chocolate in hand, Christmas music playing from the speakers, considering the last year of my life. Lately I’ve been struck by the abstract nature of time. I know time is passing, I know the green grass has dried up and turned brown, the flies that invaded my house this past summer have finally left, and I will soon (as I did last year and the year before) have to think twice before I write the date on my checks. I know this is happening. I know.

At church yesterday I watched the children run across the wood floors of the old building we meet in, and I was struck at how fast they are growing! Wasn’t she just pregnant? When did that little girl turn in to a teenager? When did that cute baby get out of that stroller and start walking around?! When did this happen? Well, over time. Over these last years.

This reminder of time’s unforgiving consistency is what causes me to consider my life of 2008. A year in which not much has changed from it’s beginning to now. It seems. A year in which I wrote dozens of songs, some of those songs ended up on a couple records, I played dozens of shows, traveled to many places, watched too many hours of television, read some books, got slightly better at playing the piano, met some new people, grew some relationships, and hopefully learned some things. But it seems to be a dud of a year when I consider the children in my life who have done things like learned how to talk, how to walk, or how to eat solid food! Now THOSE are big accomplishments. This is the point in my thought process when I realize how much our culture shapes the way I look at my life. Culture tells me that my worth is found in what I have accomplished, when I know this is not true.

When I sign off of this website, I’ll still be pondering the funny abstraction of time and how it seems to change it’s dimensions as I get older, but I'll stop pondering what I’ve done over the last year because I know my means of measurement are way off. Here is the first verse and chorus of a song called “Trophies” that I wrote recently with my friend Stephen Gause. Seems appropriate.
Trophies

I have nothing to prove
though I know this to be true
still I will try not to lose
this game where worth is found in what we do

fighting for my survival, to earn my place in line
a status and a title, as if that were the prize

Trophies in my hands
fall apart like castles in the sand
it’ll all be washed away
there I’ll stand with nothing left to say
cause your love has sustained me
your love has sustained me

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Baby Feet

Below is my favorite image from our 20 week ultra sound! It was so amazing to get to see the little life growing inside me, too much to explain in words. These little feet and little toes were the first thing we saw on the screen and I think it's quite appropriate to direct you who are reading to this poem I wrote last April 18th. Our Baby is due this April 16th according to one doctor and 20th according to another. So I'm going to say the 18th, which was my original estimation anyway and I enjoy knowing that what I wrote on April 18th of 08 might just have been about our little miracle to be born a year later. It sure makes more sense to me today than it did then. Read it here: By The Feet of a Little One.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thankful Game

God has given us much. We all have countless reasons to be thankful in every circumstance. Here are some specifics:

Something Functional in my house that I'm thankful for is:

My washer and dryer. Thank God for washers and dryers.

Something about my body that I'm thankful for is:

The way it tells me when I'm too stressed out. Trust me, my body knows and lets me know pretty quickly. I'm also thankful that God gave me a body that responds so positively to music. It works better than any drug at aleviating the stress.
Also, my sense of taste. I've been especially thankful for taste with this 2nd trimester business. :)

Something hard that I've been through that I'm thankful for is:

Moving away from home and readjusting somewhere else. Being away from my family is never easy, but I am so thankful for what I've learned from it and how I've grown and changed. I also met my husband here so I can't complain!

Something about this country that I'm thankful for is:

It's diversity. We have a diverse group of people calling this country home and I love that in a 5 mile radius from my house I can find restaurants making food from all over the globe.

Something about 2008 that I'm thankful for is:

The gift of this life growing inside me. I'm thankful that God would let us be a part of such an amazing miracle.

A word I'm thankful for is:

Restore

A sound I'm thankful for is:

laughter

A place in nature I'm thankful for is:

the mountains

Feel free to post your own thankful thoughts, Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Faith on the Today Show

One thing I love about the holiday's is the way themes of faith and stories about Jesus find their way to places like NBC. I saw Faith Hill on the Today show this morning singing Joy to the World, and was struck at the beauty of the lyrics. What a message to be singing for such a Politically Correct crowd!

Joy to the world
The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
and heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the World!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Christmas EP!

Some of you know that I just finished a Christmas record called The Silent Stars EP. It's 3 of my own songs, and 3 Christmas hymns that I've re-written the melody for. I'm really proud of it and am anxious to share it with you!

I've had some questions about it and let me tell you a couple things. First of all, you can pre-order 2 copies of the record from my website for only $9.99 which is a pretty great deal. Yes, it will be up on itunes but not for a few weeks which will be after the pre-orders are sent out. You can listen to "I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day" right here on this page on my noisetrade widget. What is a noisetrade widget? It's that box halfway down this page on the right side that allows you to listen, download, and share my music all for free. Also check out the cover art of a Christmas rose, which I is just beautifully done by Jett Butler of Foda Studio.

You can also watch this video of my version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem". I hope you like what you hear!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

what I'm reading

Mary’s task was the bearing and raising of a child, which can operate as a symbol of all things that require great effort and bear fruit far beyond the personal rewards involved. But the literal bearing and raising of a child is indeed a calling, a mission, and moments of joyous surprise and expectation have the shadow of a cost. I think this is why the first several weeks of pregnancy typically feature an assortment of discomforts: we need reminding, and this is especially true in our self-indulgent culture, that if we foolishly imagine for a minute that parenthood is an accomplishment or achievement or right, sooner or later something will smack us with the realization that it is, above all, a surrender.

from the book Great With Child,
Debra Rienstra

Friday, November 7, 2008

A game for distraction

If I were 7 again I would....
Take piano lessons

If their were an extra hour in the day...
I would not be able to stay awake

my junk food indulgence of choice is...
potato chips

the color yellow makes me think of...
dandelions

the most used item in my kitchen is...
a non-stick saute pan from Ikea

your turn... :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Campaign Update

Although we hoped tuesday November 4th would be the day of determining my Dad's future in the Iowa State Senate, we have been left without a final verdict. My dad was ahead all night and many celebrated his win before absentee ballots were in. However, the absentee ballots have closed the gap more than we thought they would and we are left in the balance. Here is a statement from waltrogers.org for those of you who are interested:

Many of you are asking us how things are going with the ongoing vote count in our campaign. We want to take this opportunity to give you an update.

As of tonight, and after counting an additional 143 absentee ballots today, we are leading by 65 votes out of over 31,000 total votes cast. There are still some votes left to be counted, including provisional ballots and remaining absentee ballots.

Results will not be final for several days yet.

Although there are no guarantees, we still believe that Walt will maintain his lead, and that when the counting is done, Walt will have won this election.

We will provide additional updates on our website at www.waltrogers.org as they become available.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the coming days, and thanks for your support!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Walt Rogers for Iowa Senate!

I've been in Iowa the last few days for the end of my dad's campaign. He's running for the Iowa State Senate. It's been exciting to be a part of it! He has a lot of support in the community and it's been encouraging to see so many people volunteering their time and energy because they believe in the man that he is.

The last few days I've had a chance to help bring some literature to houses in the area. It's been fun to walk door to door alongside my family in support of my dad. He's worked so hard these last months and I'm proud to be his daughter!

He will be an amazing servant to the people of Iowa and the kind of leader that is needed in government! If you happen to live in the Cedar Falls, Waterloo, or Hudson, Iowa area, please vote for Walt Rogers tomorrow!

Here are some pictures from the summer:


Friday, October 31, 2008

Encore

I've posted this picture before but in the spirit of halloween I'm re-posting this picture of Oso's dog cousin, Bumper. It just makes me smile too much. :) Happy Candy Hunting!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Inspiration Lately

The other night we went to see the Art Music Justice tour with Sara Groves, Charlie Peacock, Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, and Brandon Heath. My husband works with some of these folks and I love their music so I expected it to be a fun night of seeing friends and enjoying some music. But it was so much more than that.

There were multiple video’s playing on the screen throughout the night and during the first song, Add to the Beauty, they included quotes from people like Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I was crying before they even got to the chorus. For some reason it really hit me as I watched a simulation of a flower blooming during Sara singing “Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces, calling out our best, and I wanna add to the beauty...”

My emotions stayed quite fragile during Sandra McCracken’s set, as I kept thinking of her new record and how so many of the songs are inspired by motherhood. Thankfully, I simmered down in the middle but absolutely lost it at the end of the evening. Sara spoke about International Justice Mission which is an amazing organization of lawyers and investigators who are working to free slaves all over the world. Many of them are girls who have been taken into sex trafficking and Sara showed a video of some of the girls who have been freed. Over their pictures were quotes from each of them about what they are afraid of. Or were afraid of during their captivity. You can imagine how heart wrenching this was and it made me so thankful for the men and woman who serve these girls in a way that many of us are no able to do. I was a wreck. Moved deeply. I had to leave right at the end because I was so emotional!

I was moved to be more proactive in my day to day life because even if I cannot be the hands to remove a girl out of a brothel, I can pray for her, and live in a loving way that effects change in the world. I can be faithful with what is in front of me and trust that God will lead me into situations and opportunities to make a difference. I believe our diligence in every day life DOES have an impact on the girl in slavery. Somehow, we are all connected and I must trust that God is the one to weave redemption into the story, my job is to follow him as closely as I can.

Thanks AMJ tour, for taking the time to put together such an inspiring show and for putting your hearts into it every night of the tour!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tension

We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who
don't. -Frank A. Clark

It's probably good to remember this right now when there is so much tension in our country. I'm thankful we live in a country that allows tension. Humility cannot grow next to pride and pride is rampant where there is no tension. Conflict, within it's bounds, means we have the possibility of moving forward. This is what I'm telling myself for the next two weeks anyway. :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Last day of tour...

I am in Jacksonville, Florida today. Although there are pumpkins on some of these southern porches, it is definitely still summer here. There are lizards running away from my feet on the sidewalk, like ants in Tennessee. There is a river near where the bus is parked and I walked through some neighborhoods to see it this morning. The sun was so hot I didn't stay long, but it was nice to see the wind blowing on the surface of that dark blue water. The other day we were in Wilmington, North Carolina and we could smell the ocean from 4 miles away where we were playing. My hair puffed up like cotton candy and I considered walking the distance just to see the waves, but never actually did.

Tonight is my last show with the Robbie Seay Band. They're great guys and I've had a good time getting to know them on the road. They've been very welcoming of the little lemon growing in my belly (aka: child) and patient with all of the side effects that come with pregnancy. I'm enjoying my last moments on the road, but I can't help being excited to sleep in my own bed for a couple weeks.

I'm tired. I've been getting plenty of sleep, but my soul is tired. I think that God is preparing me for what is ahead... slowly...and I am understanding why he gave us 9 months.

"I am no more lonely than a single mullein or dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel, or a horse-fly, or a bumblebee. I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house."
-Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thoughts from a plane

There are too many smells on an airplane for a pregnant women. My hands are cold and I’ve got my eye on the closest doggie bag, just incase. Traveling has become the hardest part of my job. I’m rubbing my eyes, grateful that I did not wear mascara today.

The flight attendant is short with me when I ask for a ginger ale and I lean to Kirk and ask if I look funny, is something wrong with me? No, but you look ticked, he says. Oh. The fingers of your thoughts are molding your face ceaselessly, I think. It’s a quote I read somewhere and am aware that it is quite true of me.

I sigh and wish it was winter already. That would mean I would be good and pregnant and well over this first trimester. That would mean the holidays would be up and running, bringing pumpkin pie and peppermint with them. Winter would mean I would have socks on and a thicker jacket which would keep me warm on this cold plane full of overwhelming smells.

I clearly smell fresh hairspray and do not know who would spray hairspray in a plane. A babies dirty diaper, a mans cologne, brewing coffee, and a package of chips ahoy cookies someone is eating.

And hairspray.

They are turning the overhead lights off, revealing the time change we are crossing and turning my eyes to the pink and blue sky outside. This slows my breathing some. Kirk looks over at me and smiles. I smile back for maybe the first time in an hour and instantly feel better.

The mother daughter duo across the isle has finally ended their movie that they had watched on their portable DVD player without headphones and the volume on full blast so we all heard the music of what I gathered to be some dancing movie. finally I can hear my own music without the thump of a bass drum in the background.

The coffee is now the only thing I’m smelling and I realize that my shoulders have been tensed up for awhile so I try to loosen them up a bit. We are almost to our descent, the captain says.

Planes, trains, and automobiles, I think. Is that what my life has come down to? No, it has not, says a voice in my head. You are being dramatic, it says. And this was really a fine flight, just fine. We even got a row to ourselves with a seat to spare so I actually took a nap at the beginning of the flight.

Oh, life is good. Beautiful in fact. These people with their dancing movies and their hairspray are beautiful. A few rows up a camera flashes a picture of a baby and I hear it laughing with it’s mother. By now it is dark outside and the lights of the city are lining up on the ground below us as we descend. Breath deep, I tell myself, you are almost home. And oh, it was a good flight, I think. Very good.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Debate 08

Tonight's presidential debate is being held at Belmont University, less than 2 miles from my house. It's a rainy day in Nashville, putting a damper on some of the outdoor events that were to take place around the campus. But it seems the city is proud to be hosting such an event. I know Belmont has been gearing up for some time and I've seen the Debate 08 signs lined up and down Wedgewood Blvd for months and months, since before I even knew what they meant. I remember the first time I saw them I figured it was some political campaign Belmont was putting on for it's students. It's a little more than that, I found out... :)

I drove by around noon today and saw less action than I had hoped for, although it was strange to see the inside of the campus fenced in and surrounded by armed police officers and guards. I could see signs everywhere, some camera crews, people walking around in groups, and some sort of fair put on by the students. From my car, I snapped this picture of the entrance to the event center that the debate will take place. Nothing too exciting, but you can see the fence blocking anyone from entering and the flags marking the entrance. What you can't see are all the guards that I didn't happen to capture standing just to the right of the frame.



I am, in fact, rather opinionated about this election, but I'm so tired of the constant buzz of argument happening around me that I've lost most of my energy for debate. Everyone is so revved up this time around and I can't even turn on a news channel without hearing two people disagreeing about something. For now, I'd like to just be friends on this blog and avoid talking politics. You never know, I may get worked up in the following weeks and write about some things, after all, my dad is running for office this year, and I am pregnant. So emotions are very near the surface these days!

Overall, I'm excited to be in Nashville today and am anxious to watch the debate tonight. On TV, by the way, they selected independent voters to be in the audience. Hope you tune in as well!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Thankful Church

This past Sunday I had the privilege of playing a couple songs at a church in Vancouver, WA. The congregation of this church is mostly made up of people who have or are struggling with an addiction and many of them have served time in prison. You could call it a recovery church, and although I would say every church is a recovery church (or should be) there is something unique about recovering from the kind of pit many of these people have been in. When you’ve been down to the depths where there is only darkness, the slightest hint of light is enough hope to live on for days. And these people in Vancouver had hope, boy did they have hope!

Before the service Kirk and I got to pray with some of the church leaders. I’ve been a part of my share of church services across the country. All sorts of churches and all sorts of people, and the prayer before a service is normally filled with requests that the service go smoothly, that the Lord would be present, all great things to pray about. But as the circle of prayer chimed around me what I heard was

“Lord, thank you for waking me up this morning...”
“Father, thank you for saving me from destruction and bringing my children back to me..”
“Thank you Lord for giving me a chance to live again...”

Every single prayer was overflowing with gratitude and it moved me deeply. I actually had to bend my knees and sit down because I was so overwhelmed (and light headed, probably the babies fault as well :)

Out of that thankfulness came a natural attitude for worship, and the room filled with people bouncing with energy. Although I was part of the service, there was no talk of how the order would go, when lights would come on or off, who would introduce who, what time the service needed to be over, etc.. The focus truly was on worship and community, which was so refreshing.

They sang songs about being free and any chance they had to sing the words “I am free”, they yelled it! They know what it is to be in bondage and they know what it means to be free. As someone who grew up in the church, it was such a wonderful reminder for me of God’s grace and how powerful it is. And also, how celebratory it should be when someone is set free! What a miracle all those people are. I only heard a few stories but the ones I heard amazed me. It had me thinking, if God can turn her life around, he can turn anyone’s life around. I should be thinking those thoughts every day, Lord help me remember!

I was so blessed by these people and found my songs taking on new meanings as I played them. I’m so thankful that they let me be a part of their service!

Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
O praise Him, O praise him,
Alleluia!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sunday in Seattle with Scott Erickson

Happy Friday everyone! I am headed to the Seattle area this weekend for a couple shows. I wanted to post and point out the sunday night show that I'm really excited about. I once posted about Scott Erickson and the Transpire Project and I'm excited to tell you that Sunday's show will feature Scott and his live painting!


I love Scott's work and am honored to get to share the stage with him. If you're in the Seattle are please come out and enjoy a night of music and live painting at a fun, inviting coffee house. I'd love to see you!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oso the Wonder Dog

My puppy, Oso, has been sick this last week. I've been out of town and it's killing me to be away, but in the last couple days he has started eating again and looks like he is on his way to a full recovery! I was really upset when he didn't seem to be getting better and am so thankful that he has turned around. I love that little guy. We took him in last winter and have loved watching him grow. He's a big dog now! Here is a video I made as my tribute to Oso (the wonder dog). It has some images of him as a lazy little puppy and also some more recent clips of him playing and swimming (his favorite thing to do!). I found the perfect song sung by Chet Baker too. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A week in photo's....

Still in Texas... The hurricane left a wake of beautiful weather which seems welcomed by the whole state. It's great! Here are a few fun pictures from this week:

The other day while we were driving we stopped at a gas station that had a Czech bakery inside and of course, everyone had to get something. I decided my safest bet was a texas shaped sugar cookie with red, white and blue sprinkles. I might as well embrace texas while I'm here, is what I figured. I didn't end up eating much of the cookie, BUT, the best part was that they wrote my name on the bag before they gave it to the cashier and when I sat down in the van to pull out my texas cookie, I noticed that my name was spelled right!! This NEVER happens. It's an easy enough name, but happens to have many spelling variations. Ali, Ally, Alley, Allie, Aly. I get them all. But it was right!! Alli. This totally made my day, as strange as that sounds. :)


And at lunch yesterday in College Station a nice guy who was eating with us, who goes by the name Frodo gave me the lid to his tea which happened to have a message that seemed especially pertinent to my specific situation:


It's kinda blurry, but it says: When in doubt, consult your inner child. :) Oh I will, and I am, trust me.



And here is a picture of the Palace Theater in Bryan, TX where we are playing tonight. (Chris is not at tonights show)

In other news... My sweet dog Oso is really sick. If you pray and do not feel strange praying for a dog, pray for Oso! I'm working on a video of him that I'll post soon. Until then...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Misc. Update

Hello from Dallas where the weather is surprisingly wonderful! I Know it's been a crazy and for some people devastating week here in Texas because of Hurricane Ike and I pray that those of you affected will find peace in all of it. It's been quite a year of natural disasters here in the states. Crazy.

Because of the storm, we've had to cancel some of the Hope Coffee Melody shows, and I'll miss seeing some of you in Houston, and meeting new faces. Hopefully we'll make it back there again when everything settles.

For now I'm enjoying a couple unexpected days in one place and am spending my time writing. I feel like I just finished You and the Evening Sky, but I'm starting to think about songs for the next record, which is always a fun period of time. That season before I feel like I need to write, and can just enjoy it. I think I'll do something different for the next record... we'll just have to wait and see what blooms. Funny how the winter tends to be one of my most creative times. I do love sweaters and hot chocolate. :)

Unrelated, but interesting, I read this article earlier on Zach's blog and thought it was a great story! If you like dogs, you'll love reading this.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

... and a tour is not the only thing beginning.

I have a bit of news...

Some of you know that I was supposed to be in Uganda this past week with Compassion. And I was planning on going up until about a month ago when I found out that I was...

pregnant!!!

It's true, there is a human being being woven together by the hands of God in my womb. That is a crazy concept, trust me, it's blowing my mind.

I am only 8 weeks along but it's changing the way I look at everything. I know it's early to be telling people, especially the world wide web. (!) But I want this blog to be an honest place where I can write what is on my heart and connect with people. And what is on my heart lately is this baby. Which is why my blogging has been less frequent, I can't think of anything else to write about! Sort of like when I got Oso, I suppose. But this is slightly different. ;)

There you have it. Not that I have that off my chest, I'm sure I'll be writing more. For now, I'm going to ask for prayers. Being on the road isn't easy, and fortunately I'm traveling with great guys who barely even let me carry anything, but I need Gods strength to stay healthy (and sane). So I am grateful for any words you would speak to the Father on my behalf. Thank you!

I'll keep you updated...

A tour begins...

Yesterday I flew to Dallas to meet up with the Robbie Seay Band and Chris Taylor for the Hope, Coffee, and Melody tour. Last's nights show was a part of another event, and I only ended up playing a couple songs due to some time restraints. Thanks to your sweet comments about wanting to hear more! Hopefully I'll be back through Dallas soon.

Today we are in Waco at Common Grounds coffee shop. I've played here a couple times before and always enjoy it. I'm actually going to be back here on November 8th (my birthday!) with Waterdeep, Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken. Not a bad place to be on your birthday! I'm looking forward to tonight, and the 8th and I'm so grateful to be traveling with such amazing people this fall, it's a blessing.

If you're around Waco today, come out and drink some coffee, hear some music, and hopefully walk away feeling hopeful. That is the plan anyway. :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Impossible to Eat Just One

I have another Soul-Audio blog for you- discussing 100 Calorie Packs, Dishwashers, and sin nature...

Read it here.

Ripening Grapes

I know I haven't been blogging much but I plan to make up for it this week. For now, here is another favorite quote of mine.

The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.
-Galileo Galilei

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Compassion Headquarters

I spent the last two days in Colorado Springs for a Compassion DVD taping. It was a training video for compassion artists and speakers and was a very fun time with a diverse group of people whose common thread is our passion for children. Here is a picture of Chris Taylor and I having some fun in front of the Compassion offices here.
(Chris and I are about to leave for a tour with The Robbie Seay Band!)

As we were touring the Compassion headquarters my eyes were constantly drawn away from the group and onto the artwork that decorated the walls. It was artwork done by children that are a part of the compassion program and it was beautiful! Some of their creations were also heart wrenching, a mixing of trees and flowers with guns and symbols of war. I’m aware that for some of those kids, that is their reality and it breaks my heart. But it also brings me hope because the fact that their picture is up on the wall means that somebody is writing that child letters letting them know how special they are, and somebody at their church knows what their favorite sport is, knows where they live, and is loving them with the love of Christ. I can't tell you how much I respect this organization. Please check out the work they do!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympic Musings

For the last two weeks I have been captivated by the drama of the Beijing Olympics. My jaw fell as I watched the opening ceremonies, stunned by the creativity of Zhang Yimou and moved by the significance of so many bodies acting as one. From that moment they had me. My husband and I spent many of our August evenings watching race after race, game after game, in awe of the dedication and possibility in Gods diverse children.

Tonight as they were showing clips from various sports I started crying. This has been a common occurrence while watching the olympics. I am moved by the raw emotion one exudes after achieving a goal, or failing to achieve a goal. And these athletes are not putting on a show for the camera's. At times I almost felt like I was seeing something I shouldn't be seeing, it felt too personal.

I think when anything stems out from our physical bodies, the emotional companions are intense.

when an athlete lives and breathes their sport, when they eat and sleep according to what will benefit their performance, when they dream of nothing but becoming better, even the best, when their goals drive them for years prior to one specific event... that event must be monumental!

I know every athelete in Beijing has been told in their life that they could not do it. Whether they heard those words audibly or in their own head, I know they heard them. And so to watch the tears come after a race is won or lost, moves me deeply. At some point they had to choose to follow a different voice. This requires courage. The fact that they have even made it to the starting line reveals courage.

And so... I am reminded to dream, to work hard, and to remember that I can only control what I can control. What matters is putting everything I have out there with abandon. As much as I would love to win the race and as much as I would love to be validated in my work, all that I can control is how much of myself I choose to give.

I think I'll go watch Rudy or something now... or listen to some Morgan Freeman commercials on utube... or at least drink a Coca-Cola. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

To Embrace One's Brokenness...

“To embrace one’s brokenness, whatever it looks like, whatever has caused it, carries within it the possibility that one might come to embrace one’s healing, and then that one might come to the next step: to embrace another and their brokenness and their possibility for being healed. To avoid one’s brokenness its to turn ones back on the possibility that the healer might be at work here, perhaps for you, perhaps for another. It is to turn one’s back on another, one for whom you just might be the Christ, one for whom you might, even if just for a moment, become the body and the blood.”
-Robert Benson. from the book Living Prayer

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Curse of the Metronome

Ooooooh, it sounds mysterious doesn't it? This is the title of my new soul-audio blog. check it out here!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tammi and Elizabeth

There are a lot of ridiculously talented people at my church. Visual art is in constant rotation and a few times a year we host concerts for the musicians. This past tuesday was an amazing show put on by my friends Tammi Rhoton and Elizabeth Foster. It was so moving and I want to share their music with you as well.

Tammi just released her new record called "For the Weary and the Broken" and it's a beautiful and sincere collection of worshipful songs. My favorites are Beautiful Savior and Broken Hallelujah's. I also cowrote a song on the record called Come on Home. Listen to her music on her myspace page!



Elizabeth blew me away the other night with a song of hers called Dig Deep. It's on her myspace page as well and I'm still singing it to myself as a reminder...


Dig deep girl, dig deep girl
cause there's more below the surface than what you see girl
too many people need your help to keep your eyes upon yourself
so dig deep, dig deep, dig deep....

Listen to this song and other great songs at Elizabeth's myspace page. She is also a seriously fabulous visual artist, you can see some of her work on her website.

Thank you girls for inspiring me!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Today's Book Title

If I were to write a book today, here are some titles you might see:

1. Trader Joe's: Why I love them and can hardly wait for the new store to open in Nashville

2. Learning To Let Go of Control: a memoir

3. Inspired by the Olympics: a collection of essay's

4. I Need Thee Every Hour: The application of hymns in every day life

5. Chocolate. Why oh why have you just now decided to give me heartburn??? (a novel inspired by real life events)

How about you, what would your book be called?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Further Thoughts on "The Things We Can and Cannot Keep"

Cinnamon reminds me of my Grandfather. A couple years ago when I was adorning my baked oatmeal (my mom's speciality) he watched me shake the cinnamon on there and said "you can never have enough cinnamon!". For some reason I think of that every time I use the spice, and in honor of him I normally add a couple additional shakes to whatever it is I'm peppering.

Often when I replace a role of toilet paper I remember a conversation I had with a high school friend, Ben, who said that it drove him crazy when people put the roll on so that you have to pull the paper from the back instead of the front. What?! Why do I remember that?

It is not uncommon for me to brush my teeth and think of an episode of Seseame Street where they taught me to brush in circles on each tooth. And I still do. Brush in circles.

Macaroni and Cheese will always make me feel at home. The words Salisbury Steak will forever trigger images of my elementary school lunchroom. And the smell of bleach or chlorine immediatly transports me to the girls locker room during diving practice in high school.

Today I was talking with Amy on the phone and when she asked me about my song The Things We Can and Cannot Keep, I thought of some of these quick pictures of my life. The things I remember and (for sometimes arbitrary reasons) carry with me. Will I get to keep them? Will these things still be a part of me when this world is gone? Or more than just a part? There are so many people and places that have meant so much to me here. I just often wonder what we will be like on that day when all things are restored...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Can Do This

This past monday at the Seminar in the Rockies I played in the round with Robbie Seay and Justin McRoberts. Despite the fact that we were following an illusionist who had just laid 50 lbs of broken glass onto the stage, Justin and Robbie insisted on playing barefoot, so I followed suit. We sat on wooden stools in a row and held our guitars, each taking turns telling our stories and playing our songs. I was honored to be up there with such great singer/songwriters and we were all there because of Compassion so it was a meaningful night. For my last song I moved to the keys to play Closer to the Moon. The problem with that is this:

I don't really know how to play the piano. I just fake it.

I've taken lessons and probably written a dozen songs in C because it's the only key I can do without too much thought. Closer to the Moon is one of those.

I'm forcing myself to play live because it's the best way to overcome my nervousness about it. Only when I walk in front of those Oso colored keys do my hands start shaking. I check my feet placement to make sure the peddle won't slide away from me, I set my fingers around middle C and then smile, look at the crowd, and try to stop thinking.

I was a diver in high school and learned quickly that for me, it was all a mind game. If I started thinking of all the things that could go wrong with the dive at hand, it would normally go wrong. I often hit dives in meets that I never came close to hitting in practice. I guess the stress of the event left no room for over thinking.

I broke three glasses on my first day as a server in a restaurant. At different times. No joke. I kept psyching myself out thinking "I'm gonna drop this glass... I'm totally gonna drop this glass", and then I would.

Of course.

Finally I realized that I would be fine if I just answered myself with a "no you're not! you have both glasses in your hand and you are NOT going to drop them". I suppose that is what they call mind over matter.

Chin up, shoulders back, I can do this.

One day I hope I'll be able to play the piano without a cheerleader on call in my head. Until then,

I am a great piano player... I can do this... I am a great piano player... I can do this...

(btw: download Closer to the Moon for free right here on this page. Click on the noisetrade widget on the right, under the Compassion banner)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Saddle

After a 14 year hiatus, I rode a horse the other day. It's true. Allergy shots are my friend. I loved it and wrote a little about the experience in this soul-audio blog. Check it out!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Stereo Subversion

I forgot to post a link to this interview with Brian Palmer of a website called Stereo Subversion. They have some great interviews up there, including one of my favorite writers, David Wilcox. When Brian and I talked on the phone for this interview I kept telling him how bad I am at interviews... so it was nice to read it back and see that I made some sense every now and then. :) Thanks Brian!

Check it out here.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trip to Uganda!

EXCITING NEWS!

The first week of September, I'm going to be traveling to Uganda with Compassion International. I have been working with Compassion for a couple years now and cannot say enough about how wonderful they are. They know exactly why they are doing what they are doing, who they serve, and the best way to serve them.

I will be there 10 days and will be blogging EVERY night of that trip that I have internet access (which should be most nights). We just got a video camera so there will be some video blogs as well. I want to let you know now so you can make sure and check this blog during my trip. You can also sign up on my email list if you want a reminder.

I'm more excited than I can tell you, and hope that you can experience a little of Uganda with me!

Rocky Recap

It's been fun being at Rocky Mountain High again. I had such a fun time getting to know some great folks from all over the country. Thanks to everyone who was so encouraging to me throughout the week. God always reveals himself to me through other people. Thank You!

I got to hang with some great bands as well, Remedy Drive and Vota. Check out their music, they all have such great hearts and it was fun getting to hang out with them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oso's Cousin

Like us, my brother and sister-in-law are also in the pre-kids stage where our dogs are our children. We love them. :) This picture of Oso's dog cousin makes me pretty happy so I thought I'd share it with you. I know it's not halloween yet, but seriously, is this not the most awesome dog picture you've ever seen?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Rockies

I know this view well. The brown lodges that dot this valley and the evergreens that clothe the surrounding mountains. I’ve eaten in these dining halls and touched pine cones that rest on the ground under these trees.

Mountain mornings are unlike mornings elsewhere. I love to move my hands through this air and watch the swiftness in the flight of these birds.

I’m in the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO. Since 96 I’ve spent a week out of every third summer here for a youth conference my family has been involved in. We set up shop just before the Christian Artists Seminar swoops in, and I’ve often overlapped my time at both. People come here for conferences, sure, but mostly I like to think they come because they are drawn here.

And I know some’ll tell me it’s the elevation...but I also like to think that I am more aware of my breathing up here because I am more aware of my aliveness. more aware of the gift i’ve been given to breath, to taste and to see.

I know some’ll tell me it’s the time change... but I like to think it’s the nearness of God’s creation that opens my eyes early in the day, to awaken me wholly.

Right now there is a baby crying, some band playing in a nearby lodge, a dog barking, and the conversation of a family sitting in the bench beside mine, but that is okay. It still feels quieter up here. Internally, anyway.

I blame the mountains. They are louder than any noise I could make.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Your Spanish Dance

(For my friend, you know who you are.. :)

your life is worth a million songs
I don’t know where to start
maybe with the way I move
from hard to softer heart

for everybody has a space
to hold inquiries pose
behind the brown and hazel eyes
a steady fire glows

you fill the gaps with green and blue
a waking with the light
or sleeping till the dinner bell
and dancing late at night

the way you take a bitter day
with ease and changing chair
no matter rock or dirt or sand
the ground is always there

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Politicians, my Uncle Bob and Billy Joel

What do they all have in common? My new soul-audio blog. :)

If I stand back and evaluate my blogging, I've found I write a lot about my observations of human nature. This mostly stems from the good bad and ugly I find in myself, and this new soul audio blog is no exception. I think I would have liked to study anthropology, maybe I still can one day.

Zach asked about Soul Audio and to answer I'll direct you to their 'about us' page which has a brief description of who they are. They seem to have a nice objective view on music and I enjoy reading their interviews and artists blogs, of which I participate.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Caffeine, a Reintroduction

I've given in. I'm not sure how long it will last and I'm already getting some headaches but...I've taken up caffeine again. It's just sort of neccesary. I'm not sure how I've lasted 4 years without it! 4 years! That sounds ridiculous. On the night Kirk and I met the topic of caffeine came up somehow.

"I just stopped drinking caffeine"
"me too!"
"O yeah? Well maybe we could get some decaf together sometime".

Actually I made that last part up, but it was probably something like that. We did spend a lot of time talking over coffee in those days. Both of us have taken it up again in the last few months. This is due in part to this coffee shop and Rachel's amazing espresso drinks. (try the cuban, you'll never go back) And also in part to our lives getting busier and requiring a little help.

Does anybody have any energy tricks that don't involve caffeine? Mental energy is what I need the most. Is there some secret I don't know? Don't tell me it has to do with waking up early and running. Ok fine, if it does, tell me. But don't expect me to be excited about it. :)

Secrets? Do tell...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Walt Rogers (the other Mr. Rogers)

We all have many titles that we stand under. Many names that we go by and answer to. You can call me by my nickname or my full first name (Allison), my maiden name or my married name, or some combination of them all. You can call me Kirk's Wife, Oso's Dog Mom, etc.

One name I have had since birth, and one that I am always proud to be called is "Walt's Daughter".

I respect my dad so highly and will always look up to him. He's andventureous and practical, a risk taker who is full of wisdom, a man who stands for truth and justice and lives to serve God in everything he does. Which is why I am so proud that he is running for the Iowa state senate.

I'm sure I will post more about him as we approach November. Check out his website!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Remind me... (Soul-Audio #4)

What's lost is nothing to what's found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.
-Frederick Buechner, From Godric

I have been mulling over this quote by Frederick Buechner lately. Frederick says he would like to have it on his gravestone. I think I would like to have it tatood on my hand or something, for how often I need to be reminded of the truth that love will prevail.

I wrote more about this in my new Soul-Audio blog called Memory Tricks. Read it here.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Noise Trade- Free Music!

It is a day to celebrate freedom, not only in our country, but in music!! Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage,


Since It's launch a couple days ago, I have been downloading music like crazy! If you enjoy finding new music like I do, you will love noisetrade. some of you may recieve my email updates and have already read this, but if you haven't here is what I wrote:

I'm writing today as an artist, but also as a music fan. I believe in the power music has to speak to a heart. It has been a constant source of peace and clarity in my life and as a singer/songwriter, I can only hope that my music inspires others the way so many have inspired me.

For this reason, I am extremely excited to tell you about NoiseTrade, a new website dedicated to getting music in the hands of listeners, for FREE! I am giving away songs off of all of my records for FREE! You can share the music with friends, or donate a few bucks for support if you'd like, you can even post the NoiseTrade widget on your own blog, MySpace, Facebook page, etc with just a click of your mouse. This is a win win for music lovers and artists.

A couple of months ago I asked for your help to spread the word about my music which you have been so gracious to support. My hope is that through NoiseTrade you now have the tools you need to do it. Please check it out today and tell your family, friends, anyone you can think of that would want to hear the music. Thank you so much, I couldn't do any of this without your support!

Check it out!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Listening Back

We should try to be the parents of our future rather than the offspring of our past. -Miguel de Unamuno

I've been finalizing some new chord charts these last few weeks from my 3 records. Putting the G's and the C's and the A minor's in their correct spots above the correct words. It has also required some listening of the songs, which is so strange to me. I haven't listened to Always Eden, my first record, in maybe a couple years. At least not entire songs. I really love that record, what it means to me, what we captured, how we captured it, it will always be my favorite record for the organic nature of those early days. However, my voice sounds completely different and I find myself cringing at the way I sang things, or how I phrased something. It's so funny, how the past is all laid out there like a train track, and how the future is all swimming like a river.

The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other
ages you've been. -Madeleine L'Engle


I feel like I understand myself better as I listen to those old songs. When I read lines I wrote so uncensored, snug up next to the sound of Joseph's upright bass on songs like Right From Wrong, which is one of my favorites, and the only song I've written that has generated zero feedback. Which is fine, I meant it, I wrote it, I sang it. And if it was just for me, I think that is ok. An artist is surely allowed a couple paintings that are for their own room.

Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in
writing. It's one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period. -Nicholas Sparks


I am afraid of beginning... are the first words you hear out of The Day of Small things, my second record, and that was never more true than when I got that record back from the printer. I had told Kirk once that I wanted to make a CD that looked like the inside of a soybean. All green and happy. And there it was in my hands, my silver soybean. Would people like it? Would they like me?

It's been fun to look back and listen and remember the process of creating, the times when I am somehow still guarded from the inevitable cringe of critique and opinion. It is okay, I tell myself. I can learn from the rocks in the train tracks, and move with the current all the same.

Monday, June 30, 2008

To Behold

I got to spend part of the day with my friend’s (almost) one year old daughter today. While I was giving her a bottle before her afternoon nap, she looked up at me with her big brown eyes and stared at my face. She just kept staring right at me and I felt like everything in the world was okay.

I was okay.

There is just something about children and the way they look at the world with such sincere curiosity. It’s alarmingly comforting to me.

Of course, as they get older those eyes see more and store more and their gaze is not as innocent as it started out. It happens to us all, somewhere in those first few years on this planet.

I don’t really remember what it is like to look at something or someone and simply behold them, like my friends daughter did with me today.

Instead, behind my eyes is often skepticism, self-doubt, mixed motives, fear.

But oh, to see the world as a child does, to accept a person for who they are and not for what they’ve done or haven’t done, to trust without fear, to cry without shame, to eat without worrying about the next meal.
I desire that kind of abandon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mr. Rogers

Okay, so I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I've lost it. I've been posting mostly about books lately, have used the word wonderful like 3 times in the last week and now I'm posting about Mr. Rogers. Next I'll be posting about what my favorite variety of Daisy's are, right? Well, before you write me and Mr. Rogers off, just give these videos a chance. You have to watch this first one in it's entirety to really feel it, I think. It takes a minute to get used to how slow he talks but I think it's good for us. So If you have 6 minutes and 50 seconds to spare, watch this clip of Fred Rogers defending PBS to the US Senate in 1969.



I mean, there really was something about this man, huh? I never thought I'd be so inspired by Mr. Rogers. I feel especially connected having the same name and sharing a love for sweaters. :) If you have another 6 minutes (it's well worth it, in my opinion) here he is accepting his lifetime acheivement award at the Emmy's in 1997.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gilead

I just finished a wonderful book called Gilead by Marylin Robinson. It is quickly climbing my list of favorite books. The book captures the inner monologue of a dying man in a long letter to his young son. It's really beautiful. Here is one of my favorite sections. I don't have children but I just thought this was profound, the way it's said.

"The story of Hagar and Ishmael came to mind while I was praying this morning, and I found a great assurance in it. The story says that it is not only the father a of a child who cares for it’s life, who protects its mother , and it says that even if the mother can’t find a way to provide for it, or herself, provision will be made. At that level it is a story full of comfort. That is how life goes-- we send our children in to the wilderness. Some of them on the day they are born, it seems, for all the help we can give them. Some of them seem to be a kind of wilderness unto themselves. But there must be angels there, too, and springs of water. Even that wilderness, the very habitation of jackals, is the Lord’s. I need to bear this in mind."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nashville Summers

It’s not every day you can take your dog to the symphony. In Nashville there are two days in a year and tonight was one of them. The Nashville symphony plays in Centennial Park a couple nights in the summertime and I was so grateful that it didn’t rain tonight. Oso and I got to the park right before they started playing the theme from Superman. We found a spot near the back of the crowd and I laid down the sheet I brought for us to sit on. My plan was to tire Oso out before things got rolling but I didn’t get there in time to do that so... Oso was extra alert. Luckily, even when he’s excited he’s still pretty chill. So he stood and sat and looked around anxiously, watching the kids playing next to us. One of them had red croc-like shoes that looked like cars and came up to show me how proud he was of them. His version of petting Oso was more of a tapping, but Oso seemed happy for the attention. My favorite song they played was the Olympic Fanfare and Theme by John Williams. I just love that piece of music and every time they use it in Olympic commercials I get so excited! (looking forward to the games this summer) It was great to hear it live.

10 reasons I love Nashville in the Summer
1. symphony in the park
2. Shakespeare in the park
3. movies in the park
4. the flea market (happens all year but is more exciting in the summer)
5. the farmers market, especially when the blackberries are ripe
6. fireworks on friday’s at the Sounds games
7. Sounds games
8. iced coffee drinks. (I know I can get these most places, but I have my favorites here..)
9. The green. It’s very green here. I love it.
10. Summer Concert series... these don’t really happen anymore but I keep hoping they’ll bring em back. Who is they? Who do I need to call?

Add your own town list if you want, or just come visit Nashville in the summer! But not in August if you can avoid it, you’ll melt.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thomas Merton's Wonderful Reminder

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him. It "consents," so to speak, to His creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him. If it tried to be like something else which it was never intended to be, it would be less like God and therefore it would give Him less glory.

No two created things are exactly alike. And their individuality is no imperfection. On the contrary, the perfection of each created thing is not merely in its conformity to an abstract type but in it's own individual identity with itself. This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading out its roots in the earth and raising its branches into the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever did or will do.

-Thomas Merton, From the book New Seeds of Contemplation

*Thanks Alice For quoting this during your teaching the other day. I needed to hear it...

This painting is "An Old Acquaintance" by Megan Lightell

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Life Lessons From Baking #2

#2 Never justify making a recipe that you know you can't resist eating by telling yourself you'll give most of it away. You won't, you'll eat it.

There is only one recipe I've found that is like this for me and I made it today. It's a vanilla wafer- like recipe. It's basically just butter, sugar and vanilla (and eggs and baking powder and salt...) and for whatever reason, every time I make it I end up standing at the counter staring at the tray of cookies saying "just one more" until the tray is almost gone. This results in feeling absolutely gross for the rest of the day. Cookie baking is a hobby of mine, and I can normally get by with a finger-full of dough and 2 cookies fresh out of the oven. I'm fine with sending the rest with my husband to work. But apparently, this vanilla cookie recipe will never make it to Kirk's office.

If I ever make them again.... I'll be sure there are about 10 friends over to witness the moment when they come out of the oven, because I won't make such a fool of myself with all of them watching.

Lesson I learned this afternoon?

If you can't resist the temptation of the cookie, then don't give yourself the opportunity to eat it.

A Path Drawn by Man, Soul-Audio Blog #3

I forgot to put up a link to another Soul-Audio blog that I wrote.

Read about a walk Oso and I took a couple weeks ago. Exciting, I know. But somewhere in there are the words earthquake, spike, and umm.... turtle? Did that make it more interesting or more strange?

Either way, read about it here if you'd like to. I've been impressed by Soul-Audio's content, be sure to check out the rest of their site if you have a chance.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Iowa Disasters

This past thursday I flew in to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, knowing full well that the floods were ravaging the state. Earlier that day I had heard my hometown of Cedar Falls, IA (same river flows through) mentioned on Fox News so I knew it was as bad as everyone was telling me. We drove right through downtown Cedar Rapids and saw familiar buildings like the Five Season Center and the Quaker Oats factory standing in the middle of a river. There were houses whose doorbells were well under water, tops of cars barely showing, childrens toys floating by the tops of street signs. It was a crazy sight to see.

When I planned to come to town this week, I had no idea I would be around witness this.

83 of Iowa's 99 counties have been declared disaster areas.

It's estimated that 20 percent of Iowa grain crops have been claimed by floods.

over 25,000 people in Cedar Rapids alone are displaced from their homes.

Since the beginning of 2008 my home state of Iowa has seen record snow fall, record tornado's and now, record flood waters.

The recovery efforts after a disaster like this will take years.

Please pray for Iowa!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Great Puzzle (thoughts from Maurice Sendak)

I love these quotes from Maurice Sendak that I read today in an American Way Magazine. He is the illustrator of the children's book Where the Wild Things Are, and his work is being exhibited at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia.

On being an illustrator:
"An illustrator, in my own mind... is someone who so falls in love with the writing that he wishes he had written it, and the closest thing he can get is to illustrate it."

On the illustrator’s subversive role:
"The next thing you learn is that you have to find something unique in this book, which perhaps not even the author was entirely aware of. And thats what you hold on to, and that’s what you add to the pictures, a whole other story that you believe in, that you think is there".

On the enigma of creativity:
"That will be the mystery that will haunt me until the day of my death: What is that thing that comes into the work that is not premeditated, that you didn’t think of, that actually belongs there but you don’t know how it got there?"

On the enigma wrapped in that enigma:
"it’s really about the spirit, and I find that hard to talk about because, you know, I’m a cynic. I don’t know from the spirit and yet I do. And that is a great puzzle of my life. ... Something deeper is involved, deeper in myself than I know what it is".

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Iowa Flooding

It's flooding in the midwest right now, as you've probably seen on the news. This includes my hometown of Cedar Falls, IA, where all of my family live. The rain just keeps on coming, and parts of CF are preparing for evacuation.

"According to flood forecasts provided by the National Weather Service, the river level is expected to exceed the top of the flood levy. Sandbagging of the levy area will be taking place soon to protect the downtown area; however, merchants and residents in the downtown area need to prepare for possible evacuation later Tuesday.

Cedar Falls officials are urging downtown residents and merchants to prepare for evacuation by taking all steps necessary to safeguard their property. The area should be closed for business immediately. Cedar Falls police are blocking off downtown area immediately. There will be no one allowed in the area"

Here is a picture of an intersection not far from my parents house-

You may have also heard about the recent tornado in Parkersburg, IA which is about 20 miles from Cedar Falls. The tornado was a mile wide and destroyed most of the town. And now parkersburg is dealing with flooding on top of the damage done by the tornado. Here is a photo of what most of parkersburg looks like-


Lord, I pray you protect the people in the path of these storms and bring new life out of such destruction...

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
2 Corinthians 5:1

Friday, June 6, 2008

Vassar Miller

This week I was introduced to a poet by the name of Vassar Miller. I am falling in love with her poetry and am completely inspired by her.

“A poem is a window that hangs between two or more human beings who otherwise live in darkened rooms.”
-Stephen Dobyns

Oh, I feel that. I think all art is a window.

This beautiful poem of Vassar's is actually the introduction to her collection called If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough,

Introduction to a Poetry Reading

I was born with my mod dress sewn onto my body,
stitched to my flesh,
basted into my bones.
I could never, somehow, take it all off
to wash the radical dirt out.
I even carry my own rock
hard in my mouth,
grinding it out bit by bit.
So, bear me
as I bear you,
high, in the grace of greeting.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

10 years from now

In April I posted a game called 10 years ago. Today I'm gonna do 10 years from now. So here goes!

10 years from now I hope I will have

1. finally read Mere Christianity (I know...can you believe I call myself a Lewis fan? And a Christian?!)
2. learned how to sew. something. anything.
3. children
4. become an awesome piano player!
5. traveled to Asia
6. a better understanding of scripture
7. no debt
8. an herb garden
9. written songs I am proud of
10. learned to love better than I know how today

What about you? Come on, even you Mark. You don't have to do 10 if you don't want. :)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Weeding

The thing about owning a house is that weekends now come fully stocked with grass that needs mowing, weeds that need pulling, and other responsibilities that if ignored, would probably end up growing out of control in a kind of way that would defeat the purpose of having a house.

The thing about yard work is that sometimes in the moments when your fingernails are complete with a dirt manicure, your neck is sunburned, and you have stopped caring about the bug crawling across your left forearm, somewhere in there you think about that verse in the bible when God told man he would work the ground (with toil)

The thing about working with the ground is that there are all sorts of parables to be derived from insects that live under rocks and vines that grow over the fence.

Yesterday I noticed that what seems to overtake the established shrubs in our front yard are the small, shallow weeds. They curl up over the branches and leaves and grow like a web around the plant. It happens quietly and subtly, almost gently, like a hug they close in. Some of the ones I pulled last weekend were there again this weekend, taking their place, challenging me for the final word.

If my body is a dwelling of spirit and soul, maybe their needs to be a sabbath day of rest and a sabbath day of weeding.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Adventures in Osodom

This morning while Oso was sniffing around the backyard, I snuck out on to the porch without him noticing. I sat down on the steps and watched him for a minute before he looked up and seemed to snap to attention at the sight of me. He started walking toward me slowly, like he wasn't sure if I was real or not. I smiled and said his name and at the sound of his name he started running toward me and wagging his tail as if to say "Oh, it really is you!". He is so funny.

Some recent adventures in Osodom:

1. He chewed a hole in the grill cover and proceeding to twist and turn and almost strangle himself with it. We found him that way, head swollen, starting to foam at the mouth. It was quite tramatic actually (for me, mostly). It took him a few days to recover but he's back to normal now.
2. He came camping with Kirk and I, and did great! He stayed in the tent with us, played in the creek near our site (nonstop), and went on a long hike with us. of course this led to andventure number 3,
3. Ticks. 3 ticks to be exact. Those things are pretty gross.

Here is Oso at 2 months, and Oso a couple weeks ago, at 5 1/2 months. Am I really posting about my dog as if he was a child? What is happening to me?

2 months:

almost 6 months, just hanging out in the backseat. He looks like he should have a seatbelt on.

Sorry those pictures are so bad, they're from my phone. I can never get to a camera soon enough when he does something cute.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Music: A balm for the craziness

Anxiety and Panic disorders seem to be more common every day. Is it that more people are being affected by these issues, or that we're talking about it more? I don't know the answer to that, but I have several friends who struggle with anxiety and I have my share as well. Today I read an interesting article about Jeff Tweedy, the lead singer of Wilco, and his panic disorder. This article from Rolling Stone was written a few years ago after Tweedy had gone to rehab for his addiction to prescription pills.

"For Tweedy, who tries to write and play music every day, one of the most difficult things about rehab, at first, was his loss of guitar privileges. (Because of possible suicide attempts, the hospital didn't want strings around.) Eventually, he was allowed to play during art-therapy classes. "The doctors told me, 'Your panic goes away completely when you play guitar,' " Tweedy says. "I guess my color changes, everything."

I've heard that his doctors actually concluded that music was a better remedy than anything else they gave him. I love that.

I certainly have times when music is the only thing that will calm me down. Like when I'm sitting in between two strangers on a bumpy airplane ride, or when something frustratingly tragic happens and nothing seems to make sense. Music.

Here are some songs I listen to often for calming down purposes. Because they move me and remind me of the bigger picture.

Jill Phillips- Everything
Pierce Pettis- Love Will Always Find its Way, Great Big World
Eva Cassidy- Fields of Gold
David Wilcox- What You Whispered
Sara Groves- Why it Matters
Tom Conlon- Wake Me

Chris Rice also recorded an instrumental record called "The Living Room Sessions" that has been a favorite of mine. It's all hymns on the piano and it feels peaceful to me.

What about you, what music or songs do you listen to as a kind of balm for the craziness?

P.S. Randy Elrod does this deal called Water Cooler Wednesday's and I am participating in it today with this blog. Check it out!