Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ludovico Einaudi

So my friend, Cal, turned me on to this Italian composer/pianist named Ludovico Einaudi. I am LOVING his music.

Even though most of my days are filled with lyrics and melody, I still crave music when I wake up and when I'm winding down at night. My problem is that if a lyric gets stuck in my head before I go to sleep I will wake up in the middle of the night still singing it...and again in the morning...still singing it. It's quite annoying. But I think I've found a solution, classical music.

Billy Joel (who I love) put out a classical record that I listen to sometimes, and I've been trying out some more dynamic symphonies and things. But my favorites tend to be the composers that often get labeled as Minimalist composers. Einaudi is one of these people, although his stuff is more melodic than what is normally in that classification. I'm learning...

All that to say, I'm really enjoying it. You should check out his music. Thanks Cal!

Any other recommendations out there?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How Long Until We Get There?

I wish you could have been there for the moment that we recorded the violin part at the end of "How Long Until We Get There." It was like the tune was flying around outside and at the exact moment we felt we needed a violin part at the outro, it fluttered into Don Chaffer's ears and out his mouth as "Buh, du du du du du de dum, buh buh, du du du dum". Which sounds like nonsense, and it sort of did, until Suzanna played the part. And then I probably teared up...

Two things that inspired Don and I in writing this song:

1. This quote by C.S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory
"We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty... The books or music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited."

2. This photo of David J. Nightengales

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thats your wave

The Sundance Channel has this series that I enjoy called Iconoclasts. They pair two people who excell in their field and film them spending time together. I've only watched one season, but one of my favorites is the one I watched last night with Eddie Vedder and Laird Hamilton. I'm an Eddie Vedder Fan, AND I love surfing, so I really enjoyed watching this episode. I don't know how to copy this clip into blogger, but here is a link to a clip of the show if you're interested.

my favorite quote of Eddie's was this:

With Laird it's hard not to watch him; watch his brush strokes, and it kinda gives you the courage to try a few things that maybe you normally wouldn't. When he says "that's your wave", you kinda gotta take it.

I love that.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Two highlights of my day so far

1. Wooden indians in the back of a pickup.

2. A restaurant I've never experienced called Potbelly's. I've seen it before but the name never made me think "Oh, Sandwhiches!" But, apparently, that is what they specialize in. And.... it was good. The highlight of the meal were these cookies:

Since you all know how seriously I take my chocolate chip cookies, it was nice to find that Potbelly's does as well. So thank you PotBelly's. For the cookies.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Prayer in Spring

This week I'm playing some shows with Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken. Click that link to check out their new EP, it's pretty great! The shows will be fun.

As we were driving up here to Ohio yesterday I noticed how green everything is turning, and so quickly. Last week at church our pastors wife prayed that we would worship God the way that the tulips are worshipping God. Standing straight with their faces to heaven. I thought that was so beautiful and started noticing all of the tuilps that have indeed appeared to decorate April.

made me think of this poem,

A Prayer in Spring
by Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orcahrd white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Update on Oso

Well, our little dog is getting less little every day. He is almost 5 months old and 42 lbs. We recently discovered that he loves the water! My husband and I also love the water so this fact is really fun for us. Here is a picture of Oso after he ran up and down a creek at Radnor State Park... while I watched and laughed nervously, hoping none of the people walking by would think I was crazy for letting my dog loose in a creek. It had just rained so he could almost lay down and be fully emerged, but running and splashing seemed to suite him better. Here is a picture of Oso on our way home. He was tired. :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

By the Feet of a Little One

Imprints of tiny toes
mold the soft ground
on up the hill

I am heavy with breathing
with dreaming
and fear

the feet of a little one
a mystery
you are calm to anxious eyes
and sweet to the unsatisfied tongue

remind me how to remember
or to be content to not

I will drag on up the path behind you
in your silent pilgrimage


maybe there is something beautiful in not knowing
something deep

I won’t ask you any more questions
you will have to show me
the way

Thursday, April 17, 2008


The Frederick in my song “Closer to the Moon” is Frederick Buechner. I have been so moved by his work in the last couple years that I couldn't help but write him into a song. There is a sermon in his book Secrets in the Dark that probably changed the way I look at all matters of faith. The sermon is called “Message in the Stars” and if I would have been in the room to hear him speak this segment here, you probably would have found me on the floor sobbing.

Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God’s voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him.

If you’ve heard me play before you’ve maybe heard me try to quote him and probably fumble all over myself. Because when I think of how deeply I resonate with the way he tells his story, I...lose... my train of thought. I get overwhelmed. I can’t explain it. This morning I was re-reading the introduction to Secrets in the Dark and found myself staring at the page where Frederick (we’re on a first name basis) says this about the sermons he preached at Phillips Exeter Academy:

In sermons like “A Sprig of Hope,” “Message in the Stars,” “The Sign by the Highway,” and “The Face in the Sky” I tried to be as dramatic and vivid as I could without going overboard, to tell a story or set a scene that I hoped would capture their imaginations. I tried not to let them ever see where I was going next, to keep them on their toes, to keep them wondering what on earth I was getting at until suddenly and unexpectedly, if I was lucky, we all of us got there together. I tried to be suggestive, elusive, and unpredictable rather than systematic, dogmatic, and pontifical. I never took it for granted that they believed any of even the most basic affirmations of the Christian faith concerning such matters as God and Jesus, sin and salvation, but always tried to speak to their skepticism and to honor their doubts. I made a point of never urging on them anything I did not believe myself. I was candid about what, like them, I was puzzled by and uncertain of. I tried to be myself. I tried to be honest.

Thank you Frederick, for this.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Nashville's Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

Who has the best chocolate chip cookie in Nashville? Last week, my friend Cal and I set out to find the answer to this question. We take our cookies very seriously.

After driving all over town to find the best options we ended up with 10 different cookies to take home and test. In alphabetical order:
1. Bread & Company
2. Cafe Coco
3. Christie Cookie
4. Dulce Desserts
5. Fido
6. Noshville
7. Portland Brew
8. Provence
9. The Wild Muffin
10. Whole Foods

There were a few places we would have liked to sample a cookie from but they were out of chocolate chip cookies. Rule #1 of owning any sort of food store: NEVER run out of chocolate chip cookies. They should be ashamed of themselves. We were distraught... but we persevered.

All but three of the places we stopped are locally owned. Every one of them bakes their cookies on the premise and most of them also make their own dough from scratch. I should also mention that the Wild Muffin is not an actual shop, but at least 3 coffee shops in town sell their baked goods so we thought they should be considered their own entity.

After gathering all 10 cookies we headed home to sample them. We scored the cookies based on 4 different categories: appearance, smell, taste, and texture.

Now, I feel like our results are pretty conclusive, but you have to consider a few factors.

1.Beverage choice. Both Cal and I chose alternatives to the traditional cows milk. I drink goats milk and she drinks almond milk. We're strange. We are aware that this could effect the taste of the cookies.
2. Preference. We both like different things in a cookie. Cal looks for a chewy goodness factor, while I tend to appreciate a crunchy exterior with a soft middle.
3. Freshness. We could tell that some of the cookies were fresher than others, but we tried not to let that deter our opinions. You can tell if a cookie was probably better the day before, or if it never really had any hope.

Overall, we tried to be objective and take all factors into account.
Here is our lineup:

By the end we were so full that we vowed not to eat another chocolate chip cookie for at least.... a few hours. :) After intense discussion... even Oso got in on it....

we decided that our winners were..... drumroll please.....

Gold All Around Winner

This cookie looked delicious and tasted pretty great too. We could tell the chocolate was good quality and although it was slightly dry, we knew that right out of the oven it would have been a heart melter. All things considered, it was a clear winner.

Silver Blindfolded award
Portland Brew
This may be the ugliest cookie in town, but it has the most wonderfully unique flavor! After eating all of the cookies this was the one I wanted to come back to and finish eating. Even Cal enjoyed the crunchy perimeter. And the fact that we love their coffee might have helped a little too.

Bronze Home baked award
Whole Foods
We agreed that this one stirred up a mental picture’s of mom’s and grandma’s. It was a great texture and the flavors all blended well. Eat this one if you’re feeling homesick!

Bronzette Photo Op award
Bread & Company

This cookie looked the most appetizing and we couldn't wait to eat it. Unfortunately it wasn’t as fantastic as we’d hoped, but it still looks pretty dang good and we thought it deserved recognition.

Honorable mentions: Cafe Coco for capturing Cal’s heart, and The Wild Muffin for best healthy cookie.

Congratulations to all of the winners! You’ll receive your free copy of “Cal and Al's Cookie Review” in the mail shortly. Just kidding. But at least you’ll see more of us the next time we want a good cookie. :)

I'm taking part in Shannon's "Works for me Wednesday's" with this blog. Check it out here!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Official Release of "You and the Evening Sky"

Today is the official release day of my new record called “You and the Evening Sky”. (Don't ever know if I should capitalize the “and” and the “the” :)

As some of you have already heard me say, I’m very proud of this record and am so excited to share it with whoever wants to hear.

It’s now up on itunes, or you can order it from my website.

A couple people have reviewed the record and here is one review that floored me because I feel like she connected in a way that reminds me why I play music. It’s up on
Thank you Heidi for your words!

I've been blogging a little about certain songs, and will probably continue to do that. If there are songs that you'd like to know more about, feel free to email me. You can also hear more about the writing and recording of the record on the bonus disc which has dialouge between Don and I, as well some extra songs, and some nonsense. And yes, as some people have pointed out, we actually did do a cover of “Home on the Range”. And maybe most surprising is that that song is not part of the nonsense I mentioned. So I suppose it would be part of the... sense?

Here is a picture of Don and I in the studio, looks like I'm playing "The Things We Can And Cannot Keep" while Don ponders some brilliant idea as usual. :) It sure was fun recording this.

I stole a book

I stole a book from my jr. high library. A book called The Silver Swan, Poems of romance and mystery. Of course that is what I would have stolen in jr. high. Of course. Poems of romance and mystery.

I still have it and I opened it this morning. I couldn't tell you if the marked pages were marked by me or someone before me. Some good soul who returned the book... But here is a poem whose page was bent down, someone wanted to remember it. It could have been me, it could have.

A World To Do
for Jeffrey

"I busy too," the little boy
said, lost in his book
about a little boy, lost
in his book, with nothing

but a purple crayon
and his wits to get him out.
"Nobody can sit with me,
I have no room.

I busy
too. So don't do any noise.
We don't want any noise
right now."

He thumbs
through once, thumbs twice;
the pictures, mixed with windy
sighs, grow dizzy,

as difficult, high drifting
as the two-day snow that can
not stop.

How will the bushes,
sinking deeper and deeper,
trees and birds, wrapt
up, ever hop
out again?

Any minute now the blizzard,
scared and wild, the animals
lost in it--O the fur,

the red-eyed claws, crying
for their home--may burst
into the room. Try words
he's almost learned

on them?
He sighs, "I need a man here;
I can't do all this work

Still winter, flock
of pages bent on reading
their own argument, continues
thumbing through itself.

-Theodore Weiss

Friday, April 11, 2008

For all you word lovers

a website that I frequent: Visual Thesaurus

Game- a perfect afternoon

In a realistic world, in 20 words or less:

80 degrees

what about you?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Quietly Died

There was a dead deer in the turning lane and I didn’t see any blood smeared on the pavement or body parts where they shouldn’t be. It was honey tan and curled up like a child sleeping. I turned my eyes back on the road and immediately thought about what I saw out of the plane window last week as we left Nashville; a fire gently crumbling the walls of an apartment building, fiercely altering some lives and sending black smoke into the sky like there was something it wanted to say.

I am now realizing that the thing that joins the two images together is the silence of them. The way the building and the deer quietly died. From my enclosed perspective they were just images without sound, without emotion. I could choose to feel it or not to feel it.

There was a building on 11th avenue that made me think of a heart. A box of a brick building standing next to the old train tracks below the skyline of downtown. It looked vacant except for the top right window whose glass slid open far enough to let a torn curtain fly out into the wind. Mine is the only heart I’m somewhat familiar with, so I suppose it could be my heart it reminded me of.

It’s spring; I better start opening some windows.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New Today Story

On the first day of 2008, I was on vacation in southern florida with my family. But instead of walking along the gulf coast listening to the waves, I was in a condo with my guitar, trying desperately to finish a song called “New Today” that is on my new record. I had already finished the song over a year ago and even put it on a live record called “At Sea”, but something didn’t feel right about the dynamics and the way the story unfolded. My experience of playing it live proved that people weren’t connecting with the narrator as quickly as I wanted them to, and were losing interest in the lyric, and I felt so connected to the song that I wanted listeners to feel the same way. So there I was at the beach, just days before Don Chaffer and I would start recording, trying to find the right path for “New Today” to take.

Today, I’d like to focus on one of the changes I made and why I made it. In her blog, Lindsay made some very good points about the two versions and caused me to look at the song differently than I have before. If you’ve never heard the song and are reading this, you might want to listen in order to understand better.

While writing this song I had a strong image in my head that informed the lyric. It is of a girl in her apartment which is across the street from a church. It is Easter Sunday and she has picked out a new dress and new shoes and is trying to feel the way you should feel on Easter. Reborn, forgiven, new. But she feels draped in shame, aware of every ounce of evil she has proved capable of. I know this girl, I’ve been this girl.


The 2nd verse of the “At Sea” version sings:

Walking up the church steps, I stop to look around
people seem to stare just like they know
I’m wondering if Jesus could even love me now
covered in a shame I can’t let go

and in the new version:

I’m wondering what Jesus thinks about me now
still carrying a shame I can’t let go

I know that *whoever is in Christ is a new creation, and that he took our shame upon himself. I know this, and from the viewpoint I wrote the song from, the narrator knows this as well. The problem for me, and the reason I changed “covered” to “carrying” is because in my mind, she was carrying her shame around like a shawl on her shoulders. Christ can’t take our shame from us unless we surrender it. The kind of shame I was writing about is the kind of shame that plagues us, the kind that is not as easy to lay down. The kind that starts to define us, starts to cloud our eyes and shape our posture, it becomes our identity. Sometimes it takes believing that we are new creations before we ever start to feel like new creations. There is a difference between being covered in shame, and carrying our shame. The latter implies a level of responsibility and the need for confession and surrender.

I find this kind of shame to be common among people who have been raised in the Christian faith, I find it in myself.

The Result

Lindsay also pointed out that the first version of some other lyrics imply a desire for newness, for forgiveness that isn’t as present in the new version. And maybe you’re right, Lindsay, maybe I lost some of that desperation in the lyric changes. It’s hard to listen objectively. It’s interesting, because so many songs follow this same path of editing, it’s just that I don’t release the initial versions of each song on a live record! But with this one, I’m happy that I did. Thanks Lindsay, for shedding new light on the song, namely your wedding interpretation, and for taking the lyric as seriously as I did while writing it.

As a songwriter all I can hope for is that each song will serve it’s own purpose, stand on it’s own and sing to the ears that will be inspired by it’s message.

*2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, April 7, 2008


I am an artist in residence at a new website called It's a website whose creators seem to be thinking outside of the normal boundries that often classify Christian music. They cover a lot of independent artists along with artists on major labels, which i greatly respect. I look forward to seeing what they have in store!

Read my first Soul-Audio blog called "Somewhere Like Kansas" here.

Proclaiming Peace, St. Francis

While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart. Nobody should ever be roused to wrath or insult on your account. Everyone should rather be moved to peace, goodwill, and mercy because of your restraint. For we have been called to the prupose of healing the wounded, binding up those who are bruised, and reclaming the erring.

-St. Francis of Assisi

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Saturday Ramblings

My family are in town this weekend! 2 parents, 2 brothers, and a sister-in-law. Last night we ate mexican food and then talked until after midnight. Most of what I had to say was about Oso and all his new developments. My mom brought pictures that she took of him his first week in our home and he looks so much smaller! He was 23 pounds at the time, and now, not even 8 weeks later, he is 39 pounds!

I know that those of you who have kids are giving me that knowing smile right now because once I have children there will probably not be any Oso blogs. :) But for now, I’m enjoying it. He’s my walking partner, my daily companion, the one who hears my songs first and stays under my chair while I’m singing. We’ve become friends.

He’s currently chewing on his tail on the floor next to the couch, perfectly entertained, while I write and think and wait for the rest of the family to wake up. I’m writing because I’ve been having issues reading lately. By lately I mean, for about 8 months. I have a stack of books next to my bed and on my desk that I have started and can’t seem to finish. Which is odd, because I love to read. I just can’t focus. Off the top of my head (which isn’t always very reliable... ) The only books I’ve been able to get through in full this last year (since the summer-ish) are:

The Time Travelers Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
Holy the Firm, Annie Dilliard
Telling Secrets, Frederick Buechner
The Pirate Who Tried to Captures the Moon, Dennis Hasley

2 of those are fiction and one is a children’s book. (sigh...)

Books that I’m still reading:

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
Eat This Book, Eugene Peterson
Too Deep For Words, Clayton J. Schmit
The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer
The Hero and the Blues, Albert Murray
The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis
Space for God, Don Postema
Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the art of spiritual attentiveness, Esther De Waal
Potluck, Kim Thomas
French Woman Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano

Maybe it's not that I'm restless, maybe it's just that I'm finding truth in children's stories and fairy tales. Maybe it's the same part of me that is finding a friend in a dog named Oso :) That is the way I'll look at it anyway. Going to eat with the fam...

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children. –Kahlil Gibran

Friday, April 4, 2008

Addison Road- What do I know of Holy

A few months ago I wrote a song with Jenny Simmons, lead singer of the band Addison Road. The song is called "What Do I Know of Holy" and was just released on their new record called All That Matters. I loved writing with Jenny and I was so moved by her passion for the Lord and for what she does. The song came out of a spiritual experience that Jenny had, realizing how little we really know of a Holy God. She wrote about it here.

Their whole record is great and I'm proud to be a part of it! You can listen clips of our song and the whole album on itunes. Check it out if you want!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A game for a rainy thursday- 10 years ago

10 years ago, I never would have thought I would:

1. Let a dog lick my face
2. blog
3. Live in the south
4. use and enjoy hot sauce
5. Marry someone from Texas
6. enjoy waking up before 8 am
7. love Harry Potter as much as I do
8. give up coffee
9. have control issues
10. exclaim in a loud, excited voice to my husband, "Come look! There are blue jays in our yard!"

How about you? What about your current self would surprise your 10 years ago self?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My musical dog

Well, what can I say, he's just drawn to it. Pretty soon you'll see him on youtube playing chopsticks or something. Although his paws are so big he'll have to use his nose. Trust me, it's gonna happen. I just know it... :)

for more proof, see this picture. :)

John Mayer

I just read a blog that John Mayer posted the other day, and was really intrigued. He talks about "a level of self consciousness so high in my generation, that it's actually toxic."

he elaborates, " what I want to do is to shed a little light on why we're all in the same boat, no matter the shape of the life we lead: because every one of us were told since birth that we were special. We were spoken to by name through a television. We were promised we could be anything that we wanted to be, if only we believed it and then, faster than we saw coming, we were set loose into the world to shake hands with the millions of other people who were told the exact same thing.

And really? Really? It turns out we're just not all that special, when you break it down. Beautifully unspectacular, actually. And that truth is going to catch up with us whether we want to run from it or not. The paparazzo following me to the gym ain't gonna be Herb Ritts and the guy he's following ain't gonna be Bob Dylan."

Man, I do think John is insightful and very aware of his generation, which I would classify myself in. But what strikes me as interesting is how he seems to be saying that everyone is in the same boat, UNLESS you are a Bob Dylan or a Herb Ritts. Like if you reach a certain level of fame or "importance", then you have attained contentment with yourself and the world, and you no longer struggle with being self concious or wondering if you are as "special" as everyone said you were.

And I would venture to say that everyone, everyone, even Dylan and Ritts and Madonna and Mozart are, and were, just as conflicted as the rest of us.

And why? Because in our insufficence, we are painfully aware that we are not enough on our own. I believe it is part of being human, part of being alive in the world, because we were made by a God who is our idenity and salvation. Every generation that has ever lived has been sick, in need of healing. And maybe John is right, maybe our generation's symptoms look like toxic self conciousness, like a desperate desire to be loved and important. I think the concept of fame has been somewhat of a thief to us. That is another blog, perhaps.

2 Corinthians 5:1-3
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. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

This post is a part of Randy Elrod's Watercool Wednesday's, check it out!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Further thoughts on "The Things We Can..."

After reading a comment that my cousin Lisa posted to the previous post, I’d like to add something to my explanation of the song.

Let me start by saying that I am often hesitant to explain my viewpoint of a song at all, because I don’t want it to defer your interpretation. You (reader, listener) may have heard “The Things We Can And Cannot Keep” and found a meaning inside the song that I have not found yet, that I did not know was there. Something mysterious happens with art when it speaks in ways that the author or artist has no control over. In my opinion, It is all that an artist can hope for, that their creation would have wings and fly on it’s own.

So I am happy to explain my songs, but I will always be careful not to share too much. Let me give you an example. There is a song by Sara Groves that has moved me very much called “Why it Matters”. You can read the lyrics here. There is a line in the song that says “Like a statue in the park, of this war torn town”. Now, I don’t know what town, or what statue she had in mind when she wrote the song, and I’m not sure I want to know. Not knowing allows me create a home for the song in my imagination, without the stage set for me. It’s like reading a book and then seeing the movie, it’s rarely what you imagined in your head, and sometimes you end up wishing you hadn’t seen the movie at all and could have just kept the images you had in your mind.

I am actually going to elaborate on this subject when I touch on another song called “New Today”, but for now I’ll get back to my original intent, “The Things We Can And Cannot Keep.”

After Lisa reminded me that innocence is not just about childhood or adolescence, I realized I had made it appear that way in my post. And I wanted to point that out, in light of what I said in the above paragraphs, I don’t want a listener to be fenced in by my description of the song. Let me put it this way, I think I’ll relate to “The Things We Can And Cannot Keep” just as much in 30 years as I do now. So if you relate to the song in any way, I thank God, the ultimate Creator, and the one who gives art wings.