Wednesday, December 22, 2010

HMK Tour

Well, The How Many Kings Tour was a great time. We played 15 shows in 18 days and I think we are all glad to see our families again! But if you're gonna be away from your family, I couldn't have asked for a better group. It was a blast, full of great shows, new friendships, meaningful conversations, lots of laughs, and a couple bus adventures including spending a night in Kentucky on the side of the road due to a legit snow storm (the Iowa in me has to clarify whether it was legit or was) and unloading all of our luggage and merch from under the bus on the side of the interstate and taking a shuttle to a show. I can never say it was uneventful. :)

Thank you to everyone who came out to see me at the shows, you made my nights!! And to all of the new faces I met along the way, thank you for welcoming me in and supporting my music!

I hope everyone has a great Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Well I finally got to rock James to sleep for his nap today. The best 5 minutes of my month. Some other highlights from the past few shows:

-Being in my hometown (Cedar Falls, IA), seeing family and friends and eating my moms monster bars!
-an awesome gift of self purifying water bottles for the whole tour crew from my high school friend, Johnni. Thanks Johnni!! We love them! She also gave me a super warm pair of socks that came in handy for my next highlight...
-watching the snow fall in Eastern Kentucky! The down side of the beautiful blizzard that night was that our bus had to pull over on the side of the road instead of driving home for a day off, to a day whose to do list kept getting longer and longer... in the end I got back to Nashville around dinner time when I should have been there for breakfast. Not too bad considering the craziness of that 24 hours. After a crammed full day yesterday, ending with a great show in Elizabethtown, I got to come home for one more day with my favorite two boys on earth.

Four more shows left, North Carolina, Maryland, Georgia and Ohio. Thanks to everyone who has come out to the shows already this month! Hope to see some of you still.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sweet Faces

Almost every show night there is someone who is Jesus to me. Someone who looks in my eyes and tells me just what I need to hear. Sometimes it's a friend, or someone I know, but often it's someone I've just met.

Each night, in Waukesha WI, Minot, ND and Edgerton, MN, there were those sweet words that kept me going despite my fatigue (this schedule is tiring!)

In Shawnee, KS it was a Sandy who made me feel so loved. Sandy thanked me for the sacrifices musicians make to listen to the call they feel on their life. (I started tearing up...) She empathized with how hard it is for me to be away from James at his age and told me about her two grown kids. Her eyes reminded me of my aunt Janet, who has always had kind eyes. My favorite moment was when her husband Kevin, as he introduced himself said, "I'm the lucky one" and pointed to Sandy, smiling. Thank you for your sincerity, your encouragement, your reminder of why I do what I do.

1 John 2:28
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Zeeland, MI

Thank you Michigan for a great show! In addition to there being coffee available in almost every room (my kind of people ;), I will remember Zeeland by what was written on the white board in my dressing room. It was a great reminder to me all day:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Madison, WI

Starting to find a rhythm.

It's been awhile since I existed on this schedule. Going to bed after midnight and waking after 8 or 9. My body is as confused as my heart, after two years of domesticating myself. It is a good kind of stretching. I know myself well enough to know that if my little world isn't shaken up every now and then I am in danger of building a cocoon around my heart.

Thank you to the sweet girls who ran my merch table last night and who, after witnessing my uncontrollable yawning, brought me a coke to wake me up! I don't drink coke, but the offer itself woke me up! So sweet.

We loaded the bus to the first snow of Madison. It was, like every first snow of the year, beautiful. I have several snow songs that have never made it on to a record...perhaps I'll have to resurrect them this winter.

There are 2 other girls with me on this tour, and we decided the bus needed a makeover, here is a pic of some of our work from last night. NOW, it's a Christmas tour. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hastings, NE

Thank you Hastings for welcoming us so kindly. Our first show went great thanks to your generous hearts. It’s crazy how briefly lives can intersect, how our stories will have this same page to share.

I want to say thank you to the woman from Arkansas who hugged me last night and told me “You go girl” in a quiet and motherly tone. I fell into her arms after a long day like I would have fallen into my own mothers arms. I needed that. I wish I could remember your name now, it started with an A and was really beautiful.

I am tired, I miss my boys terribly, and I am grateful for this opportunity to sing about Jesus.

Here begins a month of lights and sound and turkey sandwiches. But mostly this month is about:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
1 John 1: 1-4

Friday, November 12, 2010

Christmas Tour with Mark Schultz and Downhere

Two years ago I was on tour with the Robbie Seay Band and Chris Taylor, carrying a little boy in my belly! Since James was born, I have taken it easy and enjoyed some time at home, writing and being a mama. For the last few months though, I've been anxious to get back out on the road and I am so excited about my first tour back!

Starting December 2nd, I will be joining Mark Schultz and Downhere for the How Many Kings Christmas Tour. I feel like I have a new energy for music these days and can't wait to play these Christmas songs again. I hope you can make it out to a show!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why My Grandpa's Death Gives Me Hope

My grandfather had a smell. The kind of smell that made me smile hours after a hug from him. The kind of smell that makes me feel safe and loved and about 10 years old still, if I find it upon my nose.

He loved my long hair. I would cut it and then grow it out again and every time it was long enough for him to reach back and flip with his hand, he would smile gently and say "ah, your hair is long enough to flip!"

My grandpa would whisper in my ear as we parted… "be good". or "be a good girl". It was his trademark, one discussed at his funeral in length and remembered by many of those who had the privilege of knowing him. We knew he didn’t mean to tell us to get good grades, or go to a good college. He didn’t mean make lots of money or get a good job, or eat your greens.

He was a man of few words, especially in large groups, but his actions spoke loudly and we knew by the way he lived his life, what he meant by “be good”.

A few years ago we asked he and Grandma to reflect on their lives and tell us stories. We video taped it, and at his funeral we watched a teary Grandpa remind us...

“I have tried to do...what is right. And I didn’t always do that- but I knew the Lord would forgive me..... I am so satisfied with what we got. You can all see the good Lord’s been good to me.”

He says that and I tear up every time. He reminds me that life is worth all the trying. It is worth all of the getting out of bed in the morning, the fighting through the fog to believe.

My dad has been texting our family bible verses every day for the last few years. A couple fridays ago, the verse that showed up on our phone screens was this:

Matthew 12:33
Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

My grandfather leaned over and looked into the eyes of his wife of 61 years and said, “We bore good fruit.”

That night was the night he was taken to the hospital. His sudden decline was jarring and with the possibility that he may not recover, grandpa’s fruit: his family, made their way to his bedside. Four daughters and their spouses. 14 grandchildren and their spouses, and 20 great-grandchildren.

You should have seen the waiting room of the ICU, it was like a continuous church potluck as we gathered and prayed, told stories about Grandpa, and hoped for the best.

The best, it turned out, would come differently than we realized at the time.

Grandpa waited until all 14 grandchildren had their chance to say goodbye. And literally minutes after my last cousin got there, grandpa let go.

The patriarch of the family I have spent every childhood holiday with, the man who drew me birds and smiley faces into peanut butter crackers when I was sick, who has come with my grandma to every one of my concerts within driving distance, the man who has always been a source of stability and consistency in my life, was dying.

That night my brother Michael had brought his guitar, and a few of us grandkids passed it around in Grandpa’s room, singing songs that came to mind and calling upon the God who every single one of us believes in.

The God who held Grandpa as a young man, through word war II and through those years of loss and struggle. The God who pursued him all his life and gave him grace when he faltered. The God who blessed him with a beautiful family and 84 years to enjoy them. This Jesus, whom we worship, is the reason we could sing, with tears in our eyes, In Christ Alone, around Grandpa’s bed.

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone - who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This Gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid:
Here in the death of Christ I live

The nurse came in to check on him...his heart monitor was beeping. She whispered to my mom it was because his heartbeat was so faint it wasn’t picking it up. We kept singing...

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

my grandmother put her hand on his face and we witnessed 61 years of marriage.... coming to an end.

No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till he returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

The words were still lingering on our lips as we looked up to the monitor to see the straight red line indicating that his heart had stopped.

My grandpa was a dignified man, and he died a dignified death. That moment in the hospital, we experienced the peace that comes from righteousness in Christ. And so...we do not mourn as those who have no hope.

Grandpas death has been a powerful reminder that I will one day be the one in that hospital bed. The way I live my life matters, the choices I make affect generations to come, and I want to go out the way Grandpa did. With peace and faithfulness and complete trust in Jesus, to carry me from this life into the next.

1 of those 20 great-grand babies will be born later this week, and one was born the day after Grandpa died. I don’t know how it all works, but I like to think that he got up to heaven just in time to meet both of them before they came to earth.

What a legacy he has left.

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
-1 Corinthians 15:55-58

Thursday, August 12, 2010

All Your ?'s Answered Here! (maybe... :)

Many people have been asking me lately what I’ve been up to, how I spend my time, and what is in the future for me musically. So here is a short answer for those of you with limited attention spans (or kids), and then a longer answer if you have an extra 5 minutes and a dose of curiosity. It’s like a choose your own adventure blog. (that’s not a bad idea actually...hmmm....)

short form:
I write with other people 2 to 3 days a week and spend the rest of my time working on my own music and trying to be the best wife and mama I can be. Yes, I plan to release more records, yes I plan to tour again, and no, I haven’t dropped off the planet just yet.

long form:
I’ve been playing music in one form or another for the last 10 years. In fact, 10 years ago this summer I signed a record contract with a label here in Nashville, and after 2 years of traveling back and forth I moved here from Iowa in the spring of 2002. In these “Nashville years” I’ve written many (many) songs, recorded some of them including 1 record that never released from the label, 3 independent records, a live record, a few EP’s and side projects, and a Christmas record. I’ve toured solo, with my husband (who came into the picture in 2003, married in the beginning of 2005), and with several other artists and bands. I’ve slept in nice hotels, not so nice hotels, vans, tour buses, churches, host homes, and thank God, my own bed. I have loved these last 10 years and feel like this last year of becoming a mother has allowed me the space and emotional rawness to really look back over all I’ve experienced with new eyes. New eyes to see the lessons God has tried to teach me that I’ve been stubborn to learn. New eyes to see the future, with hopefully more courage and more humility.

(picture from a 2005 Shawn Mcdonald tour. look at that gorgeous Gibson guitar...sadly (very sadly) the gibson is in different hands now... so is that shirt. I liked that shirt...)

I have not been traveling much since James was born 15 months ago and I’ve loved this season of “normal” things. Like learning to cook, and waking up to the same landscape every day. Going to church, meeting friends for dinner, establishing routine, it has been a nice breather after the years of just the opposite.

I’m gearing up a bit this summer. I have been writing new songs of my own, revisiting old ones, collaborating with peers and friends, and finding the strength and inspiration to organize some ideas into action. What that basically means is that I hope to have some new songs out for download this fall, I’m working on some new tour dates for the coming months, and I even have a side project that I’ll tell you about soon enough.

thank you for sticking with me during this slower season. I am so thankful to everyone who has continued to listen to my music and supported me during these quieter months. If you haven’t already, you can download a few new (and otherwise unreleased) songs from noisetrade on the right side of this page, or here

and you can also hear a few songs that I have co-written on some records:

“Want To Be Real” with Chris August whose album comes out August 24th, you can hear a sampler, including a snippet of our song on his website. His voice is amazing!

“Change in the Making” with Jeff Pardo and Jenny Simmons from Addison Road. This is track 2 on their fabulous new record called Stories. Jenny and I wrote “What do I Know of Holy” on their last record. Love these guys!

“Love Reality” with Charmaine, it’s the title track on her debut record. She is so unique and inspiring, I really think you’ll love her music!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thoughts on Community

There are many spanish speaking families in my neighborhood. One specific family a few doors down captures my attention on an almost daily basis. Of course, their many dogs might be the first reason for this, and our dog Oso is attune to the barking that echos up from their yard. He was, after all, born from Lucky, their black mix breed dog who sits on the front porch guarding her palace.

Most mornings around 7 am, the mothers of the couple families who live in the house go for a walk together. I only know the name of one, and she is a sweet soul. Though she can’t speak much english we exchange greetings often and she loves to check up on Oso and see how big he’s gotten. She wears jeans and walks with her chin up and a soft smile on her face. Sometimes I wish I could knock on the door at any time of the day and just watch the way they live. Watch the way they cook, the way they laugh together in the evenings, ask them what the secret is to their apparent ease.

We often joke with some close friends of ours about living in a commune together. Sharing a garden, a lawn mower, power tools... eating our meals together and raising our kids together. We joke, but we dream of it too.

I sneak up to the window and watch these woman walk past my house most every day. I find myself envying them. Their friendship, their community, their lightness.

Sometimes I get tangled in the web that wraps around the ladder of image. What would people think if we moved in to a house with friends? What would these woman think if I asked to walk with them in the mornings?

What would people think...? Such a meaningless question most of the time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Defining musical no particular order.

“Listen to this” he said, with eyes sparkling. Someone was moving some recording equipment behind me and I looked to see if I was in the way.

“Seriously” he handed me the headphones, “put these on”.

I sat down on the couch and did what he asked. Latter Days by Over the Rhine started playing into my ears and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had never heard anything quite like that before. Or felt anything like that from a song before.

“What a beautiful piece of heartache... this had all turned out to be... Lord knows we’ve learned the hard way...all about healthy apathy...”

* * * * *

I was young, eager, and clueless the day I saw Jennifer Knapp take the stage at a festival in the midwest.

My friends had gone to get some lunch and I was watching our spot in front of the main stage in a field of sweaty fans. Or maybe they were there next to me the whole time. Or maybe I was the only one in the crowd... the surroundings are blurry because when Jen stood up there by herself and started playing her guitar my brain stopped cataloguing anything but her music.

She was wearing a black t-shirt and jeans, sunglasses and a ponytail. I stood up to listen.

She was more memorable, more confident, more inspiring than the 10 piece band before her, or the hip speaker that would follow her. And I thought to myself...

that is what I want to do.

Without taking my eyes off the stage I leaned over to the person next to me, “What did they say her name was?”

* * * * *

“Sit down here” she said motioning to a red couch near the window of her office on music row. “You haven’t heard anything of hers?”

I shook my head and stared at the street below. This was a long way from Iowa.

She pushed play.

Tony, was the first Patty Griffin song I ever listened to. The graphic lyrics about a teen suicide shook up the naive songwriter in me. Shook me up in the best way possible. I would never look at writing the same again.

* * * * *

I was in high school, a member of a club, and all of us were wearing blue t-shirts and sitting around tables in a cafeteria somewhere. I’m sure there was a program of some sort and I’m sure I was staring out the window dreaming about something until Enrique picked up his guitar.

Q, we call him, a musical mentor of mine and maybe the first person I ever knew who wrote songs, started playing that unforgettable guitar line that opens The Eye of the Hurricane by David Wilcox.

I was hooked instantly.

At a time when people didn’t always expect much out of us, Q played us a song that expected us to think, expected us to take life seriously and inspired us to believe there was a reason to do that.

Songs, as it turned out, are just stories set to music. And I thought maybe I had a few stories I could tell...

(a younger version of myself... :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I don’t remember the big moments from childhood. I know they happened because I’ve heard the stories, seen the footage, memorized the pictures. But my actual memories are of moments much smaller and seemingly uneventful. I recall the way things felt and looked to me at the time, and when I dwell on them they play back like an indie film full of random scenes.

The scratch of my dads beard on my cheek. I giggle and turn my face.

my mom rinsing the shampoo out of my hair with a plastic cup, and the warm water runs over my head and face... her long fingernails gently scratching my back before bed. I feel safe.

My blue and green flannel nightgown that matched my moms. I would tuck my legs up under it in the winter time to keep warm.

rain falling on the windshield on the way home from gymnastics class on an autumn evening. My dad is asking me something and I am staring out the window watching the street lights overhead.

the taste of a watermelon jolly rancher at the swimming pool, I am standing in a towel dripping wet, and can hardly reach my hands over the counter to pay my 5 cents.
I think about these images more often as I care for James.

When he is in his 20’s he might not be able to tell you what it was like to say “truck” for the first time, he might not even remember his first day of school, or his first glimpse of the ocean. But I think...maybe one day when he is lonely or drifting his mind will default back to some foggy memory of a blankie scrunched up on his face, his own papa’s scratchy beard, the comforting feel of warm water down his back, the sound of my voice singing a lullaby... maybe.

My days are filled with such mundane, normal moments. Yet, it might be these very moments that he remembers.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dear Guilt

Today I am dreaming. I am trying to decipher the Wants between the Shoulds. I filter every decision I make through what I think I should do, or what I think everyone else thinks I should do. And although a lot of the time I end up doing what I want to do regardless of whether it lines up with what I think everyone expects of me, I end up feeling guilty for not living up to their supposed expectations.

Guilt is like bitterness, it is not meant to stay in our hearts longer than the time it takes to say

I’m sorry


I forgive you.

So...this is addressed to the shadow named Guilt:

I’m sorry not to tell you this in person, but the truth of the matter is that I don’t know where you live. If you appeared to me plainly then I would address you to your face, but you are transient and incessant, a chameleon of a ghost that shows up in my words and actions, in my wake and my sleep, and I can’t detect you the way I can jealousy or sloth. You don’t follow me around like nostalgia or selfishness. You are the wall between me and my tomorrows, the widows clothes I should have taken off years ago, the childs blanket I am afraid of falling asleep without. So, dear guilt: this is me tearing you off like a band aid- please don’t come back next time I have a wound. There is a much better way to heal, and I choose grace.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Grass is Green

Next to me on the wood floor of my kitchen is my sweet almost one year old who is pulling all of the plastic and cardboard out of our recycling pile. Out comes a milk Odwalla bottle...a Sunshine Wheat holder (my husbands favorite beer, TN just got it) empty kleenex box...paper towel role...extra grocery sacks...

He leans his hand on a cupboard and tries to pull himself up but slips. He whines and his little eyebrows wrinkle as he looks up at me to see my reaction.

“You’re okay”, I assure him, still typing. He agrees, and continues his work. Once all of the recycling is unloaded he decides to explore under the wooden shelf against the wall and paws through dust bunnies and dog hair to get to something that has rolled underneath. A ball? A toy truck? Apparently he cannot reach and heads for me feet, pulling at my pants until I pick him up.

“Okay little bug, come here.” nap time.

I change his diaper and he whines until I give him his blankie, and grabbing with one hand, he pops the two middle fingers of the other in his mouth as he does when he’s tired.

We rock for a minute before I put him down. His head lays in the middle of my chest and he strokes my arm and side with the hand that is not in his mouth. I can hear his stuffy nose as he inhales and exhales, his body weight feeling heavier with every breath.

I lean my nose on the top of his head and my memory flashes back to the nursery of the church I grew up in. My friends and I used to sneak in and steal cherrios when no one was in there. James smells just like that nursery to me, some sort of combination of cereal, diapers, baby soap and slobber.

His red hair tickles my lips and I breath in his smell one more time before kissing his forehead and whispering “I love you”. His blue eyes are barely open but he looks up at me and pulls his blankie to his face as I lay him down in his crib. My heart breaks for the first time today. It won’t be the last.

I walk out of James’ room, reheat my coffee, and look out the window of our kitchen. The yellow daffodils are very welcome friends this spring. The pink buds on our cherry tree out front remind me of what was hiding there in the brown branches this whole winter. Any day now they will blossom into little white flowers, just in time for Easter.

I walk out the front door of my warm house and feel the sun on my face for a minute. The grass is greener than it was even yesterday.

I have so much to be thankful for.

Why should I ever think the grass grows greener somewhere else?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Love | Reality

For the last couple years I have spent a lot of my time at home writing songs with and for other artists. I love love love this job, and have had the chance to write with some really amazing artists. I’m excited to introduce you to a few of them this year as their records release.

Today I want to tell you about a girl whose music is just as stunning and inspiring as she is herself. Charmaine intrigued me instantly with her kindness, cool australian accent, and natural beauty. The first time we wrote together I was near the end of my pregnancy and Charmaine and I quickly hit it off talking about the mystery of God and our desire to embrace that mystery instead of avoid it. After 30 minutes of getting to know each other, I was already a fan of her as a person and when she opened her mouth to sing shortly thereafter I instantly became a fan of her music! It was a fun day of writing, complete with lunch at a local hot dog joint (I was pregnant after all)! The song we wrote that day is the title track to Charmaine’s debut record called, Love | Reality. I’m proud of this song and can’t wait for you all to hear it! Thank you Charmaine, for letting me be a part of your story!

Love | Reality is available on Charmaine's website (, where you can listen to our song plus several more from her record. (fyi: if you order it now from her website you get an instant download of the first single, Tokyo) It's seriously a fabulous record with a really unique sound and a genuine depth behind the music. Check it out!!

P.S. You can also watch a video of Charmaine talking about our song in the video section of her site.

from Love Reality:

There is more to the story than this
more than the morning routine
when I open my eyes I can glimpse
pieces of eternity

I can hear a whisper, like a secret
I can see a glimmer, and I know know that

the reality of love, reality of love
is so close to me...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

on social networking and wrapping paper

I haven't been twittering or facebooking (word?) for a month or two...and it's been really nice. When something in my day happens, I am not thinking about how I can fit that moment into 140 characters to share online. I think there is a place for twitter and facebook, certainly. I enjoy them both to an extent. But for now, I'm going to keep my updates sparse. The break has done what I had hoped, freed up some space in my brain. Allowed me experience my days more completely by living moments as they happen instead of taking mental notes about how to tell the story later. I do that enough as a songwriter.

blogging is less restrictive of course and I still enjoy the creative outlet it is for me. However, I haven't been blogging as often anymore because I have a hard time finishing thoughts. I have a folder on my computer titled "blogs" and it is full of incomplete thoughts. My husband is always encouraging me to give up my need to "complete the circle" as he says. I'm not a perfectionist, but I do like things to be wrapped up nicely, even if it's a sloppy wrapping job, at least it's wrapped.

Kirk used to present gifts to me in brown paper grocery bags. I finally told him that I would really love it if he would wrap them (and he has ever since). I feel silly knowing I will just throw away the wrapping, but It makes me feel special knowing he took the time to fold the colorful paper and tape it together at the ends.

and now here I am. I can't even tie a blog about how I can't tie anything together, together.

They say you lose brain cells when you're pregnant... I thought I would get them back at some point but so far they still seem to be on vacation somewhere....I hope they are in California. I like California. And I hope they bring back some citrus fruits for me, I like citrus fruits.

Monday, March 1, 2010

In The Middle Of It

Every man I see looks like a little boy to me now. This was very true earlier this week when I had the chance to watch my friends Don and Lori Chaffer (Waterdeep) play some songs from their new record. I knew it was a grown man I was watching as Don jumped around, shaking his head to the beat, pulling the neck of the guitar up with the high notes, smiling through his beard at the close of every song. I know that he writes checks and mows the lawn and reads books with hundreds of pages in them. But all I could see was Miles, Don's six year old son, dancing around the living room to one of The Who's songs with his hair sticking up in the back and peanut butter smeared on his shirt. Don's water bottle may as well have been apple juice with a straw out the top. The strings of his guitar may as well have been plastic buttons that light up when you press them. Instead of his harmonica, a kazoo (although, I would bet Don actually has played a kazoo live before).

In the Middle of it
by Don Chaffer
(from Waterdeep's new record "In the Middle of it")

Halfway here
Don't disappear
Things might go clear
If I just stay on deck
And don't strain my neck
And get into the thing I'm in the middle of
Just one more time on the fiddle, love
I'm gonna pay attention this time, I swear
At the Loan and Pawn
You can see what's gone
And there's ghosts out on the lawn
if you squint your eyes
And don't look surprised
They'll stare right back at you graciously
And you don't have to get high to see
Just remember when the tire goes flat, to use the spare

I'm in the middle of it
I got everything I wanted and I really love it
I'm in the seat of honor
if you could die from happy, baby I'd be a goner
So sorry when I go dark
it must a been that I forgot about the spark
So sorry when I go lame
I got no reason I should every complain

Old sunshine
it's going all the time
and that's not just a good tagline
Cause every living thing
would cease to sing
if the sun just decided to close up shop
we'd all be lyin' on the chopping block
and in a couple minutes there wouldn't be anyone there
I should never complain (he should never complain)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Asia, our sweet girl in Tanzania, will graduate from her Compassion program this year and I will miss her gentle letters, hand drawn pictures of flowers and houses, and maybe most of all, her Psalms that close every letter she writes. Yesterdays Psalm was this:

Pslam 50:1-2

The Mighty One, God, the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty, 
God shines forth.

Sandwhiched before the Psalm, and after words about her recent examinations and a comment about the rain, was this:

“I promise to pray for you, may God protect you. And I am also praying for James, may God fight for him...”

Yes. May God fight for him.

And I cried. standing there, over a pile of bills and junk mail.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taking Stock

James is nine months old this week. I feel I have lived more in the last year than I have my whole life. And now, nine months after giving birth, I am longing for the keen awareness I felt there at the beginning of this journey. like most voyagers, I started off strong and have found now that my heart is tired. I think I was running on adrenaline for the first 6 months of motherhood and in the last 3 months it’s become obvious that the adrenaline has run out and I’m in need of some recharging.

looking back

There is no room for numbness during pregnancy. Pancakes tasted like heaven, an orange was not just an orange, it was juice sent down directly from God. Sleep was deeper and dreams more vivid. Pain and stretching was felt from every corner of my body. My feet felt the grass underneath more sharply than any previous spring. My husband breathing next to me at 3 am was cause to stay awake and wonder if our son would look like him. Every star in the black sky was shining as a reminder that God had his hands on all things, including the tiny soul being woven into a baby in my womb. Nothing went unnoticed it seemed, everything was felt during those nine months. I am not romanticizing pregnancy. My first trimester was miserable, and I really thought I might just fall apart by the very end, but looking back I think even the aching was a kiss from life itself.

The day James was born was preceded by several days of labor. I stubbornly wanted to give birth naturally and it was that stubborn determination that got me through the worst pain of my life.

There is nothing that could have prepared me for the panic I felt during those hard contractions. I knew it would hurt, but I did not know it would feel so....wrong! Everything in my body wanted to run from the pain, wanted to avoid it, ignore it, hide from it. I did not feel strong, I did not feel determined. I felt about six years old and wanted to curl up in a ball and weep. (which is sort of what I did)

By the end of labor the moments in between contractions seemed shorter and shorter so that just when I thought I could take a calming breath another pain would start up again. I was a small boat in a great storm, helpless to the intensity of the waves swelling around me.

And it was the most alive I’ve ever been.

I can say that, I suppose, because there was an end. Because the minute James appeared, the waves calmed immediately. It was as if Jesus himself had said “Quiet, be still!”

My sweet boy was 8 days late so he did not require much cleaning once he emerged. They gave him to me right away and there we were. Mother and child, for the first time. I do not remember certain things about those moments after birth. I don’t remember, for example, the nurse giving me instructions (on God knows what), or the clammer of tools and the bustle of hospital personal in and out of the room. I don’t remember the pain of stitches or the shame of being exposed to a room full of strangers. The things I do remember center around James. His ears, his lips, his warmth. I was alert to all things James. 

Days later as I looked at myself in the mirror I knew that his birth would be my proudest moment. I felt like it was my initiation into womanhood, into adulthood, and in those first weeks I was living moment to moment like I never had before. (With a newborn, you don’t really have a choice). It was that forced change that has saved me I think. Saved me from the numbness.

two thousand and nine was quite a year for me.

But now, in a new year and a new season of motherhood I am...fading a bit. I'm starting to feel a slow drip of anesthetic creep back in to my heart, and it’s obviously time to take some action. So action is what I will take. If we become what we worship, than I suppose I should worship the God of life, of light, the God who makes the sun rise in the morning and the waves crash onto a rocky shore. Now that I know what it is to really live, I can not settle for just getting by. Even if pain is involved, I will be thankful for the pain- that my heart might beat stronger and my feet might walk with more conviction.

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.
-Charles Spurgeon

signing off for a little while to do some “house cleaning”...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Psalm for Haiti

Psalm 57

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

I cry out to God Most High, to God,
who fulfills {his purpose} for me.

He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me;

God sends his love and his faithfulness.

I am in the midst of lions;
I lie among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress. 
They dug a pit in my path—

but they have fallen into it themselves. 


My heart is steadfast, O God, 
my heart is steadfast; 
I will sing and make music.

Awake, my soul! 
Awake, harp and lyre! 
I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; 
I will sing of you among the peoples.

For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; 
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; 
let your glory be over all the earth.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Few Resolutions

I'm in a funk. It happens this time of year, I get lost somewhere in the traveling and snow and the memories and the pie. Oh, the pie. But It's a whole new year and I suspect I will be out soon. Of the funk, that is. In the mean time, here are some of my resolutions.

1. Exercise
the most common of resolutions for good reasons. My reason is two fold. I think working out will give me more energy throughout the day. And I think it will be a healthy stress reliever. So I'm going to attempt some sort of regular working out. I've tried in the past. and failed. But I feel good about 2010!

2. Live in the moment
I too often lean forward or turn around instead of sit down and pay attention to what is going on right at that moment. There is so much of the last few years I don't even really remember because I wasn't fully there when it happened. I am a good wanderer, which lends itself well to songwriting, but not well to living life. So I hope to find a balance.

3. Breath deeper, and slower

4. Give. Give. Give.

"Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices no more easily made. And give, give in any way you can, of whatever you posses. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace"

Ken Nerburn, Letters to My Son