The Library

Thank God for the public library.

A quiet, FREE, place to work. I’ve started coming here for sanity and inspiration. 

I often work from home these days, so there is real sanity in not feeling the tug to do the dishes, clean the garage or, you know, take a nap.

The inspiration is two tables away where a kind old lady is helping another old lady, new to the country, learn English. This is a place people come when they need to figure out how to do something new. Inspiration.

I’ve chased my tail some a bit this past year, until I heard what felt like a word from the Lord. “DUDE. Chill out. I’ve got this. Take comfort and rest. You know what you’re good at doing. Do that. I’ll meet you there.”

So I tried to do that. To chill out. Rest. Work hard but not frantic. And to create and serve people. Those are the two things I’m halfway decent at. (I know that's poor grammar. Don't care.)

That has looked like The Pivot. Hard, good work that has gotten the best response of anything I’ve done in years. Season two will start next week and I'm so jazzed.

It’s looked like writing and recording a new album. It’s the story of the chasing of the tail and the struggle to rest and trust. I finished the last background vocal Monday morning and sent it off to my buddy Shane to mix. I’m the happiest with it I’ve been with anything in many years. Can’t wait for you to hear it.

It’s looked like consulting, which is a fancy word for helping. I know what it’s like to be an artist without a clear sense of what to do next and I also have learned a few things from my twenty years doing all sorts of different jobs in music. I get to sit with new friends and help them figure out goals, plans and how to better communicate the stories on their hearts. What a treat.

In the process of making and serving, the Lord has provided. It’s not super lucrative and it’s not without its moments of absurd busyness or sheer terror or whatever else, but it’s so much better than it was. I love sharing stories. I love playing music. I love people in the fight to become better versions of themselves. I love the work I get to do and I trust it’s adding something good to a world which never seems to have enough beauty or friendship.

And God has, truly, been meeting me here. 

In the library.

(Which I'm now leaving, because I'm starving.)

This is not a political post.

This is not a political post, though you may think so at first.

I think the President is a scumbag. 

Why? Lots of reasons, that are pretty obvious to anyone paying attention.

The question I have to ask myself, though, is why, late at night, alone on my couch, do I suddenly start broadcasting this opinion on social media?

I’ll admit, it’s been really hard for me to watch people I love and respect make excuse after excuse for the shameful behavior of a petty man in hopes of getting something they want politically. I understand the lesser of two evils argument, but not the cheerleading and belief that our new President is going to bring America back to a Godly nation when A) it never was one and B) he’s quite an unGodly character.

But I digress. 

The issue at hand is legacy. 

We are, to the people outside our immediate friends and family, the sum of the cards we’re dealt and the actions we choose.

We can’t choose our cards. We’re born into the families, bodies, and geography we’re born into. We can’t change that. But what we can control is what we do with what we’re given. And that’s the legacy we leave.

Our President was born into great wealth, yet is leaving a legacy of bullying, selling shoddy products and walking in on teenage girls in the changing room because he can get away with it. That’s not great. It’s the definition of foolishness.

So when I’m alone, after a hard day’s work, and I’m tired and scrolling through the news or social media, why don’t I think about the legacy of the actions ahead of me? I can go to bed. That would be smart. I could read a good book. I like books. I have a great little library six feet away.

Then why do I post snippy comments and pick fights with strangers who disagree with me? I can claim that it’s out of my love for my country or the Church, which I’ve claimed. I can say I’m “raising my voice” against evil, which can be a good and noble thing. All of those ideas may have an element of truth to them, however, when I slow my heart rate and take an honest look, that’s not why I’m posting that stuff.

I’m doing it because I want to feel like I’m I’m right and I’m in control.

I’m posting because that man is an easy target. His failings are obvious and plentiful. It’s quite simple to focus on that, rail against it, and feel self-righteous. But I’m not righteous. No, not one part of me. But it’s a quick little endorphin hit to attack moral failure and watch the “likes” stack up. To tussle with the same three people that always rush to stand up for him. 

That’s why. And that’s not ok. You know what I’m not doing when I’m acting like this?

I’m not repenting of my own sin. I’m not looking honestly at my own moral failings, which are also plentiful, but a little harder to see. I’m playing God instead of trusting God.

I’m not getting good rest or working on the new record I’m so excited to share with you.

Who’s the fool now?

So this is my apology to you, my friends/social media connections. I’ve wasted your time and your energy to make myself feel “powerful” for two seconds. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry to my family, for being a dad and husband who’s tired and cranky cause he didn’t get enough sleep because he was picking fights about confederate statues or the NFL or some other thing he doesn’t really care that much about.

I’m sorry to my friends who’s heads must hurt from continually rolling their eyes at the messes I get myself into.

I’m sorry if you disagree with my politics and I made you feel belittled or judged. It may be ironic, but it’s not ok. And I apologize.

I’m sorry to our President, for obsessing about your failures instead of praying for you, and for focusing on your evils and not looking for the broken man in need of redemption.

I'm NOT sorry for standing up for what I believe is right, or calling out what I believe is evil. I do not need to accept your actions or behavior or believe you’re fit for your job. I just need to do this humbly and with wisdom.

There is hope for all of us. Thank you, Jesus.

I can’t choose the cards I was dealt, but I can choose how I play them. What do I want my legacy to be? If you know me, I hope it’s a legacy of kindness, thoughtfulness, humor and compassion. Of repentance and humble obedience. (Oh, the work I have to do…) 

If you don’t know me, I hope you hear my music or see the work of the communities I’m a part of. I hope that leaves a legacy of beauty, truth, thoughtfulness and honesty.

I have the feeling my sniping on the internet is not helping build either of those legacies. So I should probably stop. 

Wouldn’t hurt to follow the old 12-step advice: H.A.L.T. Be careful with your actions when you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. (As a self-employed father of three that means to be careful with my actions every second of every day.)

So the next time I’m up late, and he does something else stupid that gets me riled up and wanting to feel like some tiny emperor of my own Facebook thread, I’m going to try to shut the computer and go to bed.

There are times to raise my voice and to stand up for what is right. I just need to choose my battles and do it with respect and humility.

Thanks for your patience, your kindness, and your forgiveness.

Now I’m going to shut this computer and get back to work on my record.

Make Something

One of the great things about writings songs (or books, or painting portraits, or recording podcasts) is that you don't need permission.

You need time, a couple tools (often way less than we think we need) and the will to Make Something.

The news will always be stressful, Instagram will always make you feel like your life isn't as great as somebody else's, TV will always promise rest but leave you more tired. We justify our distractions and give them so much of our lives. They will never pay you back.

It's pretty darn rare that you spend four hours staring at screens and get up thinking, "Wow, that was really worth it! I'm better for that experience."

So look up from the news, hold the instagram app until it does its little "delete me" dance, throw a blanket over the TV and put the remote on a high shelf in a different room.

Get out that notebook. Set up your easel. Take a walk and hum a new tune. 

No one can stop you but yourself. 

Make Something.

You will never regret that you did.

Scattered, Smothered and Covered

I'm sitting in a little writing cabin, so kindly provided by the amazing folks at Porter's Call here in Nashville, trying to be productive. I've had a lot of great ideas recently and am trying to suss them all out, and it all involves a LOT of writing.

There's a new podcast I'm putting together, an online songwriting course, and a business plan for a new venture. Not to mention I think I'm two songs shy of a new record. 

The problem today is focus. A lot of me just wants it all to be done, so as soon as I hit a tiny roadblock on one thing, I switch windows on the laptop and I'm on to something else.

Some might say this is called "multi-tasking" but I call it "feeling really busy and getting nothing accomplished."

That blank screen/empty page is terrifying. It holds no answers and it takes the shape of all my fears ("You're washed up", "Your best songs are all written", "No one cares what you have to say", "This is all a waste of time", etc...). 

But ignoring it won't fill that page. Every time I leave with nothing I will come back to nothing. My sense of hurry and wanting to accomplish a lot is useless, it's only in my focus that I'll find anything.

And I need to be logical. What do I have to do for the podcast that needs to be done today? Set up dates and time for the interviews. Ok. Send six emails and then shut that down and come back tomorrow.

What do I need to do for my online course? Try out the camera and mic in my living room on a sunny day. Well, today is rainy and I'm not even at home. Leave it. I've done all I can do for today.

That business plan? The ball is out of my court at the moment, so don't worry about it now.

What can I accomplish today in the time I have left? I need to write those last two songs. I have a quiet room, a nice guitar, two melodies I love and an hour and ten minutes til my next meeting. 

Oh, and those fears I just told you about.

Well, I don't want those fears to win. There's nothing else I need to do right now but launch a crusade against that empty page. This song won't write itself, as much as I may want it to.

Here we go.

Hello World. (again).

I used to blog all the time. A lot of people used to read it.

Some of these people would disagree with me. Sometimes I did, too. I had a lot of opinions.

The more I listened to the people who disagreed the more I realized that maybe my opinions weren't as Gospel true as I felt them to be.

I started writing less and listening more. Then I just stopped.

I'm hoping that's called maturity or wisdom, but who knows. I'm glad I stopped, though.

It was time to take my life back from the internet and start living it in my own house, with my own family and my own friends.

I won't blog much up here. But I am writing a bunch of new music and turning a new page in my non-artist career, so I may write about that some. We'll see.

Thanks for coming by to visit. I hope you enjoy the music.

Maybe we'll get to work together someday. That would be fun. It's way better together than alone.