Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Silent Stars

If you'll allow me to venture from my musings, I have some news! My Silent Stars Christmas CD is now available! I really am proud of this project, I suppose it's because I finished the first half while I was pregnant and the last half while figuring out how to be a mom. I see Mary, the mother of Jesus, in a whole new light! Below is the blurb from this month's AR Email blast:


As of today we're now shipping all orders for The Silent Stars! And in honor of the 5th (ish) year anniversary of Alli's Always Eden record we're giving away a copy of the CD with any order that's placed in her online store (excluding digital downloads) from now until Christmas! All you have to do is enter "freeae" in the coupon section when you check out!

You can now hear "Adorn" one of the new songs Alli added to the record on her website

upcoming shows:

12/12 - Pleasant View, TN
Saturday December 12th - 6 PM
Live Love event raising money for the Nashville Rescue Mission
Admission is FREE with a large can of vegtables for the mission

12/20 - Cedar Falls, IA - CD Release Show
Sunday December 20th - 7 PM
with special guest Calais Cervetti, an amazing artist who will
be creating a live piece of art on stage with Alli during the show!!!
Tickets $8 and include a free Silent Stars CD

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

by e.e. cummings

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reciprocation

Yesterday when James was playing next to me on the couch, something kind of magical happened.

he reached his hand up on to my back

and pulled at the ends of my long hair

just the way Kirk does when I have a headache

just the way my dad did to help me to sleep as a girl

my shoulders relaxed, my head fell to the side, and I think I heard birds chirping...

he pulled my hair gently for about three strokes and then,

he grabbed a big handful and yanked with all his baby boy strength and I was thrown back into reality.

But hey, I take what I can get. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Little Moments

There is sound proof "baby lounge" in the back of the room our church meets in. Speaker in the corner, fan in the other corner, rocking chairs, and a one sided window create a pretty comfortable place to hang out on a sunday morning. There is normally someone nursing, someone with an overexcited baby, someone rocking their little one to sleep. It's a peaceful way to commune, whether or not conversation happens. You walk in the door and there is an understanding.

A couple months ago James and I were in said baby lounge with several other moms and babies. The musicians were playing a hymn that I cannot remember now and we could not hear the congregation loud enough to really sing along without it being a little awkward. however, one of the moms started singing, was it me? I don't remember. And the rest of the moms joined in quickly, as if to sigh together and agree with the lyric of the song. No one even sang timidly, which is why it seemed more than normal to be a sweet declaration of what we knew to be true, or what we needed to remember as truth, together. It was a really beautiful moment to witness.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust thee, how I've proved thee o're and o're
Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, O for grace to trust thee more....

or maybe it was

I need thee, O I need thee, every hour I need thee
oh bless me now my Savior, I come to thee

I'm glad I noticed the moment when it happened and was able to breath a little deeper for a couple chorus's. I do wonder how often moments like that spring up out of nowhere and I miss them. Maybe because the room I'm in is not sound proof and distractions are not kept at bay. Or maybe I'm just not listening. Once again, in the fall, the leaves are reminding me to listen. To watch. What a treat it is to be the sole witness of a leaf falling from a tree. How many leaves must turn from green to yellow and then fall to the ground without anyone ever having witnessed it's beauty. How many songs sung together on a Sunday morning, without acknowledging the power (the necessity) of declaring truth, declaring need, together.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Walls

I was talking to two of my favorite women about decorating. I was saying how they have similar tastes and styles and would love each others homes. I was thinking about James and eyeing the door leading to the parking lot leading to our car which would take me home. I was holding my cell phone incase the sitter needed me. I was wondering what we are doing talking about decorations for our earthly homes. What a futile conversation. How can we even talk about this after such a heart wrenching night? But there we were, there I was, talking about it. I suppose if we don’t, we might just shrivel up and collapse right where we are from all the weight.

I was driving home and had enough time to listen to one short song so I chose Why it Matters by Sara Groves. I asked the question Why again, as I do most every day, most every conversation, most every dollar spent. Why?

Why the cooking. the cleaning. the eating. the sleeping. the mortgage. the lawn. the crown molding. the porch swing.

I think about a house we visited in Ecuador that sat above water which gave the children sores whenever they entered it. I think about their “kitchen” in the corner and the pots and pans neatly hanging on a wall made of sticks. The tub in the back where laundry was done. The magazine pictures and newspaper clippings where my framed pictures and paintings would be. I think of her eyes, the mothers. Her baby who she never let go of while we stood in her home and prayed for her family. The rug on the floor. The blanket folded on the cot where she sleeps.

I should think I will have had my fill of decorating by the time I am through here. There will be no mansion for me in heaven, no paintings or newspaper clippings to distract me from what is on the other side of the wall. Heaven for me will not be a room with my name on it, please God. I’ve had enough rooms, enough walls. Heaven, surely, will not need decorations.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Joyful Joyful

Last year I recorded The Silent Stars Christmas EP. This year I am adding 4 new songs and making it into a full record. I have enjoyed this whole process much more than I knew I would and probably my favorite part has been reinterpreting old hymns. There is so much depth to some of these old hymns. One of the songs I added this year includes verses from Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee. I love this quote from the author of the lyrics, Henry Van Dyke:

"These verses are simple expresions of common Christian feelings and desires in this present time—hymns of today that may be sung together by people who know the thought of the age, and are not afraid that any truth of science will de stroy religion, or any revolution on earth overthrow the kingdom of heaven. Therefore this is a hymn of trust and joy and hope."

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.

Friday, October 2, 2009

4 NEW SONGS!

I recently recorded a few new songs that I am releasing through noisetrade for the next month or two! 3 of my own and one that I wrote and recorded with my friend Marc Scibilia. You can download them for free (and potentially win an ipod shuffle), or you can pay whatever you want. All of the money that comes in through noisetrade for this time will go straight to my cousins family. (details below)



From my October email:

For the next month or two, our Noisetrade beneficiary is going to be quite special! Alli's cousin Annie has a daughter named Natalie with Type II Spinal Muscular Atrophy and every dollar given through Alli's Noisetrade widget will go directly to Natalie and her family to help pay for medical expenses. SMA is a recessive genetic condition that disrupts the signal from the spinal cord to the voluntary muscles in the body, including those involved with supporting breathing. SMA is the number one genetic killer of babies, and at this time there are no FDA approved treatments. However, Natalie's parents say they are hopeful for the treatments that are in trial right now and they are looking forward to the progress of gene therapy. Natalie is an adorable 3 1/2 year old and is doing remarkably well, she is a joy to everyone around her! For more information on SMA, visit fightsma.org

AND the person that tells the largest number of friends about Alli's music through Noisetrade will get one of each of her records (including her records that are now out of print (One EP, At Sea: Live, and The Silent Stars EP) and a t-shirt absolutely free, the more friends you tell the better chance you have of winning! (please note that you must initiate the download process by clicking on the link in the confirmation email and then again on the following screen each time you "tell 5 friends" otherwise the system won't recognize how many people you've told, but then after that you can cancel the download).

At the end of the six months we will pick at random one monthly winner out of the six to receive a free iPod shuffle, "the brand new music player from apple that talks to you!" You can also post the free music widget (above) on your Facebook, MySpace, blog, website, and much more.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My friend Jenny has blogged recently about a 20 year old girl named Katie whose courage is an amazing inspiration. Katie is from Nashville and is living in Uganda raising 13 children that she has taken in as well as caring for hundreds of other children in her village. Did you read that? At 20 years old, she is raising 13 children in Uganda by herself.

With little help, she is feeding and caring for 1200 other children in the area. She is not there with an organization or with family, she is there by herself because at some point she could no longer stay still, stay silent. She had to go. I’m pretty intrigued by her story and want to ask you to check out Katies blog, and/or Jenny's posts about Katie.

From Jenny's blog:

“I ask Stacy what Katie needs...
Right now, she says, Katie needs to buy a piece of land and build a clinic next to her house so that she will stop bringing in sick babies and children off the street and into the living room with her other 13 children! They also need to build a few latrines. Apparently the 1200 children are stopping up the ONE toilet she has at the house. She needs $6,000 to buy the land. Then they need money to build a basic clinic.

Fine, I say. We will get the $6,000 and then we will start raising money for the clinic (which by the way has a waiting list over a year long of doctors and nurses who have already committed their time. They are simply waiting on a place to be built).”

So Jenny and her blog readers and going to raise at least $6,000 to help Katie with this project. Can you help? Do you know someone who can? I could not NOT share this story with you and at least ask you for prayers for this amazing woman. I'll blog again when Jenny has a specific place where you can send donations, but please feel free to contact Jenny directly about this.

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:32-34

Katie's Blog
Jenny's Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Morning Read

What a teacher or librarian or parent can do, in working with children, is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I'm concerned, this providing of oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations.

-Madeleine L'Engle from A Circle of Quiet.

and a few pages before,

I think that all artists, regardless of degree of talent, are a painful, paradoxical combination of certainty and uncertainty, of arrogance and humility, constantly in need of reassurance, and yet with a stubborn streak of faith in their validity, no matter what.

I do believe she is right. If you are a creative person of any kind and have not read any Madeleine L'Engle, you are missing out! Start here. Or here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Definition

I am

a mother
sitting on a stool.
afraid of sharks.
still getting used to being an adult.
embarrassed by that last statement.

I am

a songwriter
annoyed by gum chomping.
tired.
looking out the window to see what Oso is barking at.

I am

a wife.
wondering what I should make for dinner.
excited that it is almost fall.
wishing I lived closer to family.
regretting the brownie I just ate. okay, the two brownies I just ate.

I am

a daughter, sister and friend.
always holding back..something
ashamed that I enjoy television so much.
a mediocre guitar player.

I am...

so many other things, yet none of these things.

I am not defined by anything other than:

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:15-17

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wanted and Unwanted Babies

I don't know anything about this organization, but I had to share this video once I saw it. I don't know how you can ignore this.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To Be Heard

I am a struggling believer. always. I look at those Christians who so vibrantly speak about the truth, and their energy inspires me. But I constantly lack the courage to follow them.

“Alli, Your song is on the radio charts!”
“Alli, you’re going to be on tour this fall with ____!”
“Alli, your song is going to be on so and so’s new record!”


That’s great, is what I’m thinking. I’ll believe it when I hear it myself, I’ll believe it when I’m on the bus, I’ll believe it when I get there. I can’t believe it now, too often it doesn’t happen and I can’t bear the small disappointments with the already heavy heart I carry around.

God! Why do you ask us to believe and not doubt when so often the things we are believing for fall apart?

Oh, I am heartily weary at living at a distance from thee. But I am too scared to get closer for fear that you will not come through. I have seen too many hopes turn to disillusions, too many prayers go unanswered. And I know you have your reasons. I know. You must have reasons.

But how can you ask me to live like I believe everything I pray for? You know that much of the time the flood waters rise anyway. So why should I believe that you will keep us dry?

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” James 1:5-8

a wave.

It does not say that we shouldn’t doubt because everything we ask will be given to us. It says we shouldn’t doubt because when we doubt we are like a wave on the sea. Tossed back and forth by the wind.

Is God more concerned with my strength than my happiness? More concerned with the stance of my heart and mind than with whether or not I receive what I ask?

When James cries I know he wants me to pick him up. That almost always solves the problem. And I LOVE holding him. But he will never learn to fall asleep on his own if I pick him up every time he fusses. He will never figure out how to reach out and grab a toy if I always put it in his hand for him. I am somehow loving him better by letting him fight for it. Even though all I want to do is satisfy his every need completely. The world he lives in will not be kind to a boy who gets everything he wants.

and yet...

I want him to believe that when he cries I will comfort him. I want him to know I hear him crying. I always hear him crying. I would know that cry anywhere.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On why I’m tired of hearing about Jon and Kate.

Someone please tell me why our local news is covering this years most popular halloween prop, the Kate Gosselin wig.

Could it be because halloween is just around the corner and they wanted to cover something fun and festive? No, it’s August, people. August.

I have a problem with America’s fascination with celebrity.

When someone steps out into the spotlight they need to expect the crowds to turn and watch. The problem is that the American public is obsessed with what happens to those people when the lights are turned off. What they do when the camera crew has the day off. And yes, celebrities need to expect this as well, but that does not mean that is the way it should be.

I suppose I’m bringing this up because I am surprised at how accepted it is to treat famous people like they were never kids who had to be potty trained as toddlers, or teenagers who popped zits in front of the mirror, or aren’t adults who get insecure at social functions and spill coffee on their shirts.

I think we are the ones that need to (and have the power) to change things.

Every time I watch the news when they are covering the divorce of two people I have never met and whose hearts I know nothing about, I am encouraging that news channel to keep broadcasting about that sort of thing.

Every time I buy a People Magazine I am supporting the paparazzi, who take any sense of normalcy away from celebrities. And don’t tell me Kate Gosselin had it coming when she signed her family up for her reality show, while that might have been a poor decision, she shouldn’t have to deal with seeing pictures of her ex-husband and his new girlfriend at the grocery store.

Other celebrites such as musicians and actors are just people who had a talent and an interest in the arts. Must privacy always be the price they pay? I guarantee we are missing out on some great talents because they avoid fame for this reason.

Do you really wonder why child stars rarely get to their 20’s without some sort of mental breakdown? Isn’t it obvious? We, the magazine readers, entertainment news watchers, gossip blog subscribers, are the ones who drive this industry to treat celebrities in a way that causes many of them to lose it a little. Life is hard enough without someone hiding behind the bushes to take a picture of you in your bathing suit.

So come on, join me in my protest! Dress up as Pippy Longstockings this year for Halloween! Buy some M&M’s at the checkout to distract you from the gossip magazines. In order to change things, we have to treat it as if it is none of our business, because it isn’t.

Sorry for the soapbox folks. One can only stay silent so long :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday. It's Tuesday isn't it?

Sometimes, when James goes down for a nap I hear a voice in my head. That voice is the voice of Padama from Top Chef saying “Okay, your hour starts... NOW!”.

And I fumble out of his bedroom and look frantically around the house to find the most pressing thing that needs to be done. More often than not this results in my getting nothing done because I’m so overwhelmed by how much there is to get done. It is not a way to live.

So right now, instead of working on the songs I should be working on, or cleaning my house for the dinner party we’re having tonight, or making a video for the new website, or packing the diaper bag so that when James does wake up I will be ready to go out the door to get an allergy shot, or go to the pet store to get Oso some food because he hasn’t eaten since his half breakfast yesterday when we ran out, instead of those things, I am sitting at my computer writing run on sentences.

Good Morning.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Morning Brain...

It turns out if you drink coffee right after you brush you teeth it tastes like Christmas. It also turns out Nashville is having a bout of beautiful weather in July and lifting everyones spirits. Delightful.

You'll have to forgive me... this morning my brain is about 50 different places and this post might have zero relevance to anyone. But I'll tell you what I'm thinking anyhow.

I’m thinking about the new bible study I just finished with some friends on the book of Ruth, and about how much Ruth would have missed out on had she not gone with her mother-in-law to a foreign land after her husband died. She could have stayed. I’m thinking about how my life would be different had I stayed in Iowa when I had the chance. Did I have the chance?

The other day during a cowrite with my friends Jeff and Charmaine, we got into a theological discussion about pre-destination and abortion and all sorts of hot topics that somehow helped us finish a song about faith and believing through our unbelief. Is it worth asking how and what if and why? Because it generallydoesn’t get me anywhere other than another hour of pondering that I could have been “working” on something. But in fact I do believe pondering time is productive time. For me anyway, according to my Strength Finder test. And it appears that is what I’m doing right now in these 20 minutes I have left before James wakes up.

I read an article this morning about how children are not in touch with nature like they used to be, which got me thinking about all the things there are to be afraid of because I will be scared to let my son wonder off into the woods too, even though I know it’s good for him. Who knows what or who is out in the woods these days? Where is the line between trusting God and being responsible?

Yesterday on NPR’s Splendid Table I listened to an interview with Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivores Dilemma. It was a short but interesting discussion on the organic and local food movement. Got me thinking about how to best spend my money. Do I spend money (that I don’t have) on good quality food I know is better for my family, or is it more responsible for me to buy more affordable, albeit processed, food?

And now... James is awake, which leads me to thinking of a whole other river of baby thoughts. Like, why does sesame street have the monopoly on disposable diaper art?

All of this and more....fuel for songwriting, I tell you. It better be anyway, since it’s all I have right now. :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

International Justice Day

Thanks to my friends, Addison Road, I was made aware that today is International Justice Day. Check out this video made by a great organization called the Mocha Club,



some convicting words from Jesus on Justice:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel
-Matthew 23:23-24

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
-Luke 18:7-8

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

May It Be Springtime

I have never felt such abundance and such deficeincy simultaneously.

I awake early to James fussing through the monitor. I lean over to see that my phone says 6:28 am. I wait. He is not crying, just fussing. I close my eyes and almost drift back off to sleep. “Ah!” he exclaims in his “I’m awake, come get me!” voice. I smile with my eyes still closed, imagining his little arms trying to wiggle out of his swaddle. “Ah!” he says, louder. Okay...sigh... I’m coming.
Sweet is the season of spring: the long and dreary winter helps us to appreciate its genial warmth, and its promise of summer enhances its present delights.

When I open the door to his room, he immediatly stops fussing and smiles. Oh, his smile. I am ruined.
If we do not hoist the sail when the breeze is favourable, we shall be blameworthy: times of refreshing ought not to pass over us unimproved.

This too shall pass. Not only the hard parts, but the sweetness of these early weeks with James. Soon he won’t want to be held so much, he won’t be so easily soothed by my picking him up and holding him to me. Soon, he’ll be moving around, finding his own little way in the world, and I will think of these days when he was so content just to be in my arms.
When Jesus Himself visits us in tenderness, and entreats us to arise, can we be so base as to refuse His request? He Himself has risen that He may draw us after Him: He now by His Holy Spirit has revived us, that we may, in newness of life, ascend into the heavenlies, and hold communion with Himself.

After he’s done eating, he just stares up at me with those bright blue eyes and we study each others faces. With sounds and smiles, we have a conversation. Sometimes I think James is the closest I will ever get to God. I’m convinced of it, actually.
Land That drinks in the rain often falling on it and produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.
Hebrews 6:7

Oh James, I have never seen the hours of the night like I have with you. 2 am...4 am...6 am. I have never been a morning person, but sometimes I look forward to hearing that first exclamation out of your mouth when you see the sun coming through your window. Such exhaustion. Such abundance. Every day is a new gift, I’m more and more aware of that truth.
Let our wintry state suffice us for coldness and indifference; when the Lord creates a spring within, let our sap flow with vigour, and our branch blossom with high resolve. O Lord, if it be not spring time in my chilly heart, I pray Thee make it so, for I am heartily weary of living at a distance from Thee.

Excerpts are from Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. From the evening of April 24th, the night James was born.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Evolution of the Disclaimer (thoughts on songwriting)

I’ve found that there are many evolutions of a songwriter. This is especially true for co-writing. For example, there is the evolution of the disclaimer.

When one first starts co-writing they will often have ideas that will filter though the different rooms in their mind... and when almost to the entryway...almost ready to edge out of ones lips... the realization hits that this is in fact, a bad idea. It’s too cheesy, It’s been done.

Did I really just rhyme heart with start? Grace with place? Whoo, I’m glad I filtered that before they thought I was a bad writer. close call...

After awhile when one gets stuck in a certain writing session it will come to pass that some of those thoughts are let loose. The thought of not contributing any ideas at all becomes unbearable and there is no stopping the "bad" ones. However, this is where the disclaimer comes in. Before the horrible, no good, very bad, idea sees the light of day, you will hear things like:

“now this is probably a horrible idea but...”
“okay, I'm just gonna throw this out there...”
“I know this sounds cheesy, but what about...”


It’s inevitable. Find me a songwriter than has not used the disclaimer. Find me a human.

I have a friend that I recently saw for the first time in months. We were good friends growing up and now only see each other over the holidays if we’re lucky. She is almost opposite of me. She looks great in heels and earrings and button up shirts and her hair is always done. I, on the other hand, wear the same pair of shoes with every outfit, and I’m lucky if I remember to brush my hair in the mornings. She works a real 9 to 5 job with a salary and coworkers and staff meetings. I couldn’t even begin to describe my job to you but it wouldn’t sound anything like that. On the outside she is much more put together than me. However, seeing her the other night reminded me how easy she is to be around, how simply enjoyable she is. I walked away feeling quite good about myself. And the reason is because she is confident. Which in turn, made me confident. I’m sure she has, but I can’t remember a time when I heard her use a disclaimer. She is who she is and she loves the people around her for who they are, differences and all. It’s refreshing.

I really think that songwriters are notoriously insecure. Maybe creative types in general. It’s hard to put something together with the materials you have available and then reveal it to someone else. Because what if they see through the half written verse and realize that I am in fact, void of substance. Void of anything worthwhile to say. This is the voice every creative person must fight off. This thought process only leads to disaster. We must revert back to kindergarten where “no question is a bad question.”

It seems even the best ones have their set backs, but in the evolution of a songwriter, one arrives at a place where idea after idea gets freely tossed into the pile of words and melodies in the middle of the room without any disclaimers. Warts and all. There is little room for filters in co-writing. The truth is, when someone's bad idea is combined with someone else's bad idea, the result can be a very good idea, or at least an organized bad idea that leads to a good idea. Because although I do think there are bad ones (and I have come up with mounds of them) ...a songwriter must go into a writing session with the thought that in fact, “no idea is a bad idea”. A confident vulnerability is crucial to a successful co-writing experience. Insecurity is a waste of time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Still here...if only in part

Being James' mother has given me more pride and more humility than I've ever had. It's a new exhaustion and a new energy, I am settling down and speeding up. I seem to be pulled in very conflicting directions at all hours of the day and I have a new appreciation for pretty much everybody.

The one thing that seems to be continuously moving forward is my heart as I love this little boy more more every day. I promise I'm trying to write more. I have so much I want to write about but as new moms all seem to know, my brain works differently now and the minute my thoughts start to move a direction I would like to follow (that might lead to a song or blog post) another thought trail begins, or James wakes up from his nap, or the laundry beeps, or I'm late for an appointment, or I realize I haven't eaten lunch and am about to fall over. :) I also promise this won't turn into a mom blog, but for now it's all I can think about. Here are some pictures of the last month.

Flying to Iowa for a show


Happy Face!


Sad Face :(


Sweet sweet little boy :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Son

I have a son. I’ve used the word only a few select times in public. I try it out at home every now and then to see how it sounds, before I fully incorporate it into my vocabulary. I remember feeling similar with the words “husband” and “wife”. I have a son. A son. It’s a big word.

Today James and I went to the grocery store by ourselves. This was made possible by the help of a pretty fancy sling that will probably become a staple. We went to Trader Joes. I figured James’ first grocery store should be a good one. We also went to the doctor this morning and by the time we got home in the afternoon I felt like I had accomplished enough for the whole week! It’s funny how my to do lists have changed. The other day I actually had “cut toe-nails” on my list.

My world feels smaller and slower and my heart... already, is softer.

James took his time revealing himself. I went into labor on a tuesday and didn’t have him until friday night. The story of his birth is a long one that I won’t go into detail about, I just know that God taught me many lessons in those few days of waiting for James, and in those last hours when I didn’t think I could endure one more contraction, and when I was certain I would never see my little ones face, I kept hearing in my head,

“Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?” - Isaiah 66:9

That moment when I first felt James on my chest was a good moment. One of the ones I think maybe I was made for. My mom was there, my husband, our doula/midwife, and a handful of hospital staff whose faces are blurry to me. The moments after James was delivered are all pretty blurry to me. I was exhausted, relieved, awe-struck, and overwhelmed. But I remember.

I remember seeing the smile on my husbands face as he softly said, “we have a son”
I remember hearing the first cry of the life that grew in my womb
feeling james’ hands wrap around my finger as I held him for the first time
I do not take these things for granted.
I know what a miracle it is, what a gift it is from God to give birth to a life.

I don’t exactly know how life is going to look for our new little family. We still have a lot of figuring out to do, a lot of unknowns. But something changed in me the minute James was born. Something calmed, something settled. Life will never be the same. I have a son!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

James

It's a boy!!

I have many stories to tell and pictures to share but for now I just wanted to let it be known that James entered the world on Friday April 24th, weighing in at 8 lbs 1 oz. We are all exhausted but doing great and loving these first days together. I promise I will share more soon!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Wednesday Game of Non-Sequiturs

I've had too much caffeine today (the baby doesn't seem to mind...) and I'm already anxious since my due date is tomorrow (What?!) and it doesn't look like this baby will be on time. SO, what better way to calm ones self than with a game, right? So here it is, a game for a wandering mind like mine, and on a wednesday no less. Wednesday's are for wandering anyway, are they not? I always get my best work done on Friday's, I'm finally warmed up by then...anyway...

The Wednesday Game of Non-Sequiturs:

3 things that are always in my fridge: tortilla's, eggs, butter

Most recent guilty pleasure song: Dead and Gone by TI and Justin Timberlake. I know.... I'm surprised too.

Favorite class from high school: creative writing

If I could grow anything perfectly in my backyard it would be: tomatoes. I just love the smell of fresh tomatoes. And I can't decide on a single herb or flower.

Most Used Wedding Gift: KitchenAid Mixer (if not-married, you can answer with most used gift in general)

Talent I wish I was born with: cooking

Color I would paint my fingernails if I didn't care what people thought of me: Purple. I say this because I have a bottle of light purple fingernail polish that I bought on a whim and occasionally take it out and put it on a finger or toe in the hopes that I will have the courage to finish a whole hand or foot... I never do. One day my friends, one day. The fact remains, I do care what people think of me. What is it I am afraid people will deduct from purple nail polish? Maybe that they will think I'm too childish, not sophisticated enough. You like how I'm finding some deep meaning out of my reluctance to be daring with nail polish? moving on...

Favorite thing to find in your lunchbox as a child: I think I'll go with pringles.

Age you would not like to revisit: 13

Age you would like to revisit: 10

Book I still haven't finished but is on the top of my finish list: The Omnivore's Dilemma

And finally,

Day I think Alli will give birth to her first child that is due tomorrow: I'm pulling for this saturday, the 18th.

If you need a distraction for a few minutes today, feel free to leave your answers in the comments! I'll let you know when this baby comes!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Afraid

I don’t want to admit that I am. But the fear is undeniable. Debra Rienstra (and her narrative that has been a companion to me through this pregnancy) calls it the “quiet, tensing fear, a constant, high-pitched hum that no one can hear but me.”

There is something lonely about pregnancy that can not be assuaged. I felt this from the very beginning and sort of expected it to go away with time. It has not and possibly will not.

It’s as if a pregnant woman enters this new realm of spiritual mystery, a water that must be traveled alone. For some reason I picture the underground lake from the Phantom of The Opera.

It is traveled alone because there is no other way. I don’t think our human minds or hearts can hold what it means to give birth to a life. We cannot fathom such a miracle, and the mother who carries the child cannot speak of the depth she experiences, simply because she does not have the words.

In the middle of the night, wide awake, I stare at the pack and play in our room where the new baby will sleep very soon. I walk over to it and push the button that turns on it’s nightlight. I touch the fabric where we will soon lay our son or daughter. And I hear the hum. The constant hum that Debra writes about. She says,

“One indisputable truth about pregnancy is that once the baby is in there, it must come out somehow. The end is near, the end is real. The only way out is through.”

I am afraid of the birth itself, I would be a fool not to be. But more than that, I tremble at the enormity of experiencing life on this level. Experiencing the Creator on this level. How is it that He gives us such a taste of something so far beyond our current capacity? I have not yet seen this child's face, and already I am overwhelmed with awe.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April's Noisetrade News

If you receive my monthly emails then you have already read this, but for those of you who don't here is an exciting update about some fun stuff we're doing with this months noisetrade downloads. (You can download my music by clicking on the links below, or just click on the noisetrade link on the right side of this page down about halfway)

I'm excited to say that you can still get some of Alli's music for free but we're upping the ante a little bit for the next few months... We wanted to give you one more reason to tell your friends about Alli's music and we wanted to help a few amazing causes in the process. So for the next six months we're going to be giving away Alli's music but what's different is that each month the person that tells the largest number of friends about Alli's music will get one of each of Alli's records (including her records that are now out of print One EP, At Sea: Live, and The Silent Stars EP) and a t-shirt absolutely free, the more friends you tell the better chance you have of winning! (please note that you must initiate the download process by clicking on the link in the confirmation email and then again on the following screen each time you "tell 5 friends" otherwise the system won't recognize how many people you've told, but then after that you can cancel the download).

At the end of the six months we will pick at random one monthly winner out of the six to receive a free iPod shuffle, "the brand new music player from apple that talks to you!" You can also post the free music widget (above) on your Facebook, MySpace, blog, website, and much more. For more information on how to get started just click here!

The other new twist is that 100% of all the net proceeds (NoiseTrade takes 10% to cover the credit card fees and admin, etc.) that come in from people who choose to donate money will go to a different non-profit organization every month. This month we're excited to be supporting Not For Sale, an amazing organization that is committed to abolishing modern day slavery around the world.

Thanks so much for all your help spreading the word, we can't do it without you!


(P.S. I wrote about Not For Sale a few weeks ago in this post)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Songs that move me

Once when I asked my friend Don Chaffer what record he recommend I download from itunes with a gift card he answered, "Ah, whenever I have an itunes gift card I just buy something that moves me." Sounds easy but it makes me think of Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail when he says something (sarcastically) about how easy it is to find "the one single person in the world who fills your heart with joy".

I suppose love finds us more than we find love. And I often feel that way about music. Here is a handful of songs that have found me at one time or another. I remember where I was the first time I heard all of them and songs like this become a part of who we are, I think. There are many more and hopefully will continue to be, but here are a few.

David Wilcox- How Did You Find Me Here
I was in High School when I first heard this song. After hearing a friend play "Eye of the Hurricane" from the same record, I bought a copy immediately. A few songs in, this track begins and I was sold. I don't remember where I was but I know it was through headphones that I first felt the weight of this song. It still haunts me, in a good way.

Sara Groves - When it Was Over, Why it Matters
I was sitting in my car about to go for a drive to clear my head when I saw Sara's record, "Add to the Beauty" still in it's packaging on the passenger seat. I had just had a long conversation with my husband about music and how I wasn't sure If I could or wanted to continue playing. When it was over is the first track and before the first chorus was over I was crying with a clear reminder of why I love music and why I write and play music. It was just what I needed. Later, Why It Matters resinated deeply with me as well. I'm very thankful for that record!

Andy Gullahorn/Jill Phillips- Ressurection
Jill, Andy's wife, released this song on her new record, "The Good Things" and I heard it for the first time this last week at Jill's release show. It is one of the most moving songs I've heard in a long time.

Rivers Rutherford- When the Lights go Down (made famous by Faith Hill)
I heard Rivers play this at a songwriters deal before Faith HIll recorded it and fell in love with the story. At the time I was working at some restaurants and the images in the first verse still stay with me.

John Gorka- Houses in the Fields
My husband played me this song when we were dating. We were driving around listening to music after some late night coffee and I remember falling in love with him even more, knowing that he had such good taste in music. :)

The Khrusty Brothers- Sympathy for Jesus
I don't remember the first time I listened to this song because every time I listen to it I put it on repeat for about 5 times after. Something about the raw emotion that Don conveys through this song is... well...I can't really put it into words. It reaches such a unique place in me that most songs don't dare travel.

Tom Conlon- Wake Me
Justin McRoberts Introduced me to Tom Conlon, I listened to this song on his ipod while we drove back to our hotel from a Compassion project in Ecuador. The context I was listening to the song through was just too much, too much.
"until one alarming day when heaven's first chair trumpet player and this whole world gets finally fully redefined...it feels just like dreaming, I almost believe it, Just tell me I'll wake up forever one day... and it's just temporary things that I'm seeing..."

I'm so thankful God gave us music.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How Do You Write a Song?

Do the lyrics come first? Or the music? How long does it take you?

These are questions I do not know how to answer. It can not be explained, in my opinion. The way I cannot explain how I feel after seeing the sunrise over the ocean. Often it takes weeks, months, years to finish a song. However, after I post this I will head to a writing "appointment" with another writer where we will probably start and finish a song in 4 hours. This is one way to write. But even there, even in the fast food of songwriting, my best moments are when I dive in, when I commit, when I give. I do think that the best songs are written exactly as Annie Dillard explains here in her book "The Writing Life". I have never heard it explained quite this way.

This, my friends, is how you write a song:

To find a honey tree, first to catch a bee. Catch a bee when its legs are heavy with pollen; then it is ready for home. It is simply enough to catch a bee on a flower: hold a cup or glass above the bee, and when it flies up, cap the cup with a piece of cardboard. Carry the bee to a nearby open spot-best an elevated one- release it, and watch where it goes. Keep your eyes on it as long as you can see it, and hie you to that las known place. Wait there until you see another bee; catch it, release it, and watch. Bee after bee will lead toward the honey tree, until you see the final bee enter the tree. Thoreau describes this process in his journals. So a book leads its writer.

You may wonder how you start, how you catch the first one? What do you use for bait?

You have no choice. One bad winter in the Arctic, and not too long ago, an Algonquin woman and her baby were left alone after everyone else in their winter camp had starved. Ernest Thompson Seton tells it. The woman walked from the camp where everyone had died, and found at a lake a cache. the cache contained one small fishhook. It was simple to rig a line, but she had no bait, and no hope of bait. The baby cried. She took a knife and cut a strip from her own thigh. She fished with the worm of her own flesh and caught a jackfish; she fed the child and herself. OF course she saved the fist gut for bait. She lived alone at the lake, on fish, until spring, when she walked out again and found people. Seton's informant had seen the scar on her thigh.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I See You

I sneezed...and then I sneezed again...and again. Three sneezes.

The man across the isle from me offers a “bless you” and smiles when I turn to give him a thankful nod. “I see you”, he’s saying with his gesture. “I hear you”. He sips his gin and tonic at 10 in the morning and for a 5 hour flight on Southwest I don’t blame him. I love Southwest but they’re not afraid to pack in the people and for long flights it gets a little... well, long.

Earlier I watched the flight attendant's face as he brought our drinks around on his plastic tray, balancing it all like a circus act as the plane shuffled in the wind. He is a smiler, but not an over-smiler. He offered the cokes and coffees and “adult beverages” with kindness, looking briefly into the passengers eyes but never lingering there. He’s probably found that to be the best way to interact with this plane of people all tightly squeezed together like family in a van on vacation to Florida, but not at all like family in a van on vacation to Florida because Lord knows we are not talking or playing games or even fighting with each other. Most of us are happy to remain quiet and anonymous.

Sneeze! Again. “Bless you!”. Mr. gin and tonic smiles once more.

Do you ever find yourself so far removed from the present that you forget where you are, who you are, when you are, if you even...are? Maybe it is just me but in those moments there is something about hearing my name said out loud, or the “bless you” from a stranger that jolts me back to reality with a gentle reminder that I do in fact, exist.

“I see you.”, “I hear you.”

Pregnancy sort of rules out anonymity. It’s like I have a red flashing light on my belly that says, “Look here! Check me out! Is this crazy or what?!”. People ask me questions and make comments as if it’s totally normal to bring attention to someone's current state of being. You never hear strangers say “Oh you’re short aren’t you!” or “Wow that’s a lot of makeup you have on today!”. Normally we don’t point out all the things we see about each other. But with pregnancy, people see you and they let you know. I’ve found it to be sort of comforting. A constant reminder that I am here, in this moment, with all these other souls who are also here, in this moment. And I want to remember this season with all it’s changing winds. I want to feel the shuffling plane as it moves through the air pockets, I want to smell the perfume of the woman near me. I want to feel my husbands knee resting against my leg as he dozes off.

I’m thankful that God gave pregnant women heightened senses. Maybe He didn’t want us to forget these months of such intense miracles happening right before us, inside us. Even this stuffy plane full of strangers is part of my story. I don’t want a gin and tonic to take the edge off. I want to feel this. I want to remember these days. And I embrace the red flashing light on my belly that seems to welcome the stares of everyone around me. Go ahead, see me. I see you too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sex Trafficking

After I wrote this blog I read this article where you can listen to an interview with a former child prostitute and it's a very interesting look into the psychological trauma these girls are put through. It was also brought to my attention that for the rest of February you can download the book Not For Sale for free at this website.Thanks Joanna!

Last night my husband and I attended a meeting led by a women at our church who heads up the Tennessee chapter of this organization called Not For Sale. It is estimated that there are 27 Million slaves in the world today, many of them women and children forced into the sex trade.

"Operating in various countries, Not For Sale Campaign educates and mobilizes an abolitionist movement through open-source activism. Nationally, the Campaign identifies trafficking rings, collaborates with law enforcement and community groups to shut them down and provides aid for victims. Internationally, the campaign partners with poorly resourced abolitionist groups to enhance their capacity."



I've mentioned the International Justice Mission before and there are several others working towards this same goal to free our brothers and sisters who are undergoing such suffering around the world.

I'm still digesting some of the stories we heard last night, including stories of the hundreds of thousands of sex slaves that are brought into the USA every year, into OUR cities, OUR neighborhoods, working out of houses on OUR streets. It is happening all around us, we don't have to go to India to see proof of this horror.

I could throw a bunch of statistics out there (that would shock you)
I could tell some true stories of children taken from their homes and brought to affluent US families to work as their slaves (this actually happens)
I could share verses in the bible that remind us how much this breaks the heart of God. (there are many)

I may do more of all that in the future. Today, I just want to bring this up, start a conversation, raise awareness, and remind myself and you reading to keep our hearts open. The truth is there are many amazing stories of rescue and redemption. There is hope and there are many ways we can be involved.

What ALL of us can do right now is become aware and pray.

Not For Sale works in many states around the country and you may be able to get involved in your own community. Check out their website and please pray. Please pray.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Traveling Friend

Below is a video of one of my best friends, Calais. We were inseparable all through school and have been through a lot together. I've written several songs and poems with her in mind and have always been inspired by her. Calais is an amazing artist and an avid traveler. She is applying for the STA World Traveler Internship and made this video as part of the application. She is the PERFECT person for this job and I know we would all have a blast following her and learning from her journey's, as many people already have from her past travels. If you have a minute, please watch the video below, show your friends, comment on the video, etc., it'll all help her out!
I love you Cal!

Monday, February 9, 2009

my thoughts to you

I haven't been blogging much cause all I can think to blog about are baby things. And I don't want to overwhelm you reading with baby things. But alas.... baby things.

Yesterday at church I realized that I've been talking to this child in my mind, as if since it is inside my body it can hear my thoughts. Would you call me crazy if I told you I actually thought the baby was affected by my thoughts? I won't go so far to say I think the baby can hear my thoughts, but I believe something must be happening in the spirit so this life can already sense joy and sadness, fear and anxiety. And I find myself very conscious of this during worship.

As the people around me stood, I sat and listened to the voices. They were singing:
Holy Holy Holy
Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning, our song shall rise to thee!

and I was thinking:
These are Gods Children singing together, baby! Do you hear the voices? These are His sons and daughters, like you. Do you hear it? Isn't it the most beautiful sound?

When I take communion:
This is Jesus, baby. This is his grace that I'm giving you right now. I know it's nothing you haven't already tasted, bread and juice, but this is different. One day I'll try to explain but the truth is, I don't really understand myself. Your mom has made mistakes, baby. And I will with you, I know. I'm sorry. Already, I'm sorry I can't be perfect for you. But this is my manna. I will show you what I mean. Lord help me show this child... this is grace, baby. this is grace you're tasting.

and when I feel him or her moving, when I see the rumbles underneath my skin... I have no thoughts. It is often the only time I have no inner monologue. No song lyrics rushing by like a river, no worries standing up like boulders, no ponderings floating along like leaves. I have no thoughts, I only feel.
peace.

I want you to keep moving, because when you move my world stops.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Twitter

I've resisted.

and failed.

It's true, I joined twitter. I was a skeptic for a good while but decided to give it a shot. So if you know or care what twitter is, my username is allirogers.

maybe once I really get the hang of it I'll write a blog trying to convince you how great it is, but I'm still sorting out what I think. :) I have some friends like Justin and Keely who really love it so I'm taking their word for it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Poem is a Window

Only three presidents have commisioned poets to write poems to be read at their innagurations.

Robert Frost read at the inauguration of JFK in 1961, Maya Angelou at the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993, Miller Williams in 1997 for the second inauguration of Bill Clinton, and Elizabeth Alexander who read today for the inauguration of Barak Obama.

When Robert Frost took the podium in 1961, the sun and the cold hindered him from seeing clearly the words to "Dedication", which he had written for the occasion. Instead, he recited a poem called "The Gift Outright" by memory. I love this story!

Maya Angelou read her beautiful poem, On the Pulse of Morning in 1993 and Miller Williams read Of History and Hope in 1997. Today, Elizabeth Alexander read her poem, Praise Song For the Day. Her delivery was not as powerful as someone like Maya Angelou, but she read a stunning poem that I look forward to reading again once it's published. A stanza that I loved was,

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
on the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.

There were several artistic expressions included in todays ceremony. Aretha Franklin singing "My Country Tis of Thee", the quartet of Yo-Yo Ma on cello, Itzhak Perlman on violin, Gabriela Montero on piano and Anthony McGill on clarinet, the choirs, the beautiful prayers of Rick Warren and Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, and Elizabeth's poem. I'm so thankful for these creations that made their way into such a formal ceremony. I hope future presidents follow Kennedy, Clinton and Obama and realize the power of something as seemingly simple as a poem.

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Snow Dogs

A new year always feels like starting a car in the freezing cold; it takes a little time to get warmed up again. And since we are in Iowa this week, our car is demonstrating this for us quite well. :)

Yesterday I had some down time during what felt like a small blizzard so Oso and I went on a walk. Oso LOVES the snow. The path we walked on was covered in a foot of snow and it was coming down hard enough that our tracks were covered by the time we turned around to walk back to the car. Of course, trot is a better word for Oso and trudge is a better word for me. It was a nice adventure and I enjoyed staring at the beautifully shaped snowflakes landing on my gloves.

I spend much of my time thinking these days. There is much to think about and our future feels a lot like this snowy path, all gloriously foggy and stretched out ahead of us like a measuring tape. (as mentioned in the previous post)

Thinking...thinking...thinking...it's what I do best, according to my strength finder test. :) Thinking so much that my swirling thoughts are having a hard time landing anywhere as this snow does so easily. I'm lost somewhere between the clouds and the ground, still. When some more thoughts land, some will land here I'm sure. I'll keep trudging down the path in the meantime. Hope you don't mind.