I realize I’ve been away from this writing place several weeks, and I’m tempted to feel guilty for not following my own weekly regimen.  Especially since watching Julie & Julia last night.  But then I remind myself that I am, afterall, a songwriter who does some blogging and not the other way around.  So…thanks for sticking around when you don’t have to and when nothing new is showing up for weeks…


We don’t live near the sea. In the three years since our last visit I’ve thought of it little, Content with grass and pines, gardens and topsoil.

Afterall, it’s good to be home.

Now that we’ve returned, I’m humbled to know: Neither my absence nor lack of remembrance Affect the life of the sea.

She exists without us; Her magnitude is not even slightly diminished. Waves roll in From places under the sun we’ll never lay eyes on. Her roar continually fills our ears-- A “white noise” that surrounds us all and depends on no electrical outlet.

She has no need of me.

But watch those children slice and kick the foam, Squeal as she slams their shins in play and We turn backs to the crash, try to keep upright, Even as we laugh at the fall.

I was pleased for a while simply to feel sand sink underfoot Stand guard at the shore and count heads.

It’s easy to stay put.

But when the time came, I grabbed board, and friend, And we waded against the push Leaned hard Into the current Got ourselves deep and Removed. We felt privileged, Small and strong. I thought we might stay out there forever.

It’s heavenly to float.

And a momentary pleasure. The sea doesn’t ask approval But swells and swallows according to her own purpose And when she lifted and catapulted our bodies We could not but submit We could only lay down and close our eyes As we rode galloping water steeds all the way Back to the shallows.

Transported by the tide.

Wild wet-haired creatures rose up laughing, whooping, exhilarated-- Dripping, sand-scuffed, ecstatic.

And I realize— It’s home to be alive.

Feel that sting?

Little Samuel points to the “boo boo” on his forearm, scrunches up his face and says: It stings, Mom.  Feel it.

I don't understand as he presses his wound against my forearm, holds it there.

His eyes fix upward on mine, searching: “Can you feel that sting, Mom?”

Oh.  I realize.  He believes he can transfer the physical pain, share it by touching skin to skin…

And I so want to say: Yes!  I do feel it exactly!

But even though I know what he is talking about, even though I deeply love and care, even though we share blood…I can only share his suffering so far.

I wish we could fuse minds and hearts…experience each other’s joy, pain, memories.  Sometimes life feels so…solitary.

So much of our lives are experienced apart from other human beings, even the ones in our homes, beds.

Only God knows the exquisitely unique joy you felt when you realized you’d fallen in love for real...or the burn inside your heart, throat, when you were betrayed...the falling feeling when you heard the doctor's prognosis...your insides alight when the lightbulb went on in your mind and loneliness that day I ate my lunch hiding in the bathroom stall in high school.

God knows...

And yet…it is enough.  Creator and Created are in sync.  We are never actually alone, even in our thoughts.  The Created are fully known.  The Created are fully loved.

The Created can touch wounds to our Maker’s heart: Feel that sting?

And He says: Yes. I feel it exactly.

January: why I love it

It's true.  I've come to love January.  Some people get it, others are feeling a letdown after the Christmas holiday highs.  And I admit that I came to love January after moving south where the sun makes frequent appearances in the dead of winter (although this year is turning out to be much colder than usual).  

Still, the beauty of this time of year exists even in Chicago (where I began this week, supporting Nicole as she made a new recording of "Witness"). 

January is...

New.      Hope.      Clean.      Open.      Spare.      Simple.  

Christmas decor comes down, and the house feels a new spaciousness.  I am motivated to clean out things accumulated and paint a wall or two.  The calendar isn't (yet) cluttered, and sometimes I just like to look at it and enjoy the empty.  

If you think about it, it makes sense:  If Christmas is Hope entering, then January should be Life Transformed by that Hope.  

I want to be transformed.  From the inside out.  

The visible, external displays of change in a new year are reminders of that, I suppose...and lift spirits, even when the cold is not yet lifted.  

But not empty, feel-good-for-the-moment hope.  Last year at this time I wrote about daring to be a fool.  Living with courage.  Swinging the bat.  All of which has not been in my nature.  The transformation that began January carried through 2009 - not in my own strength - but through the propelling spirit of God breathing wind behind my back, diminishing the face of fear.  You have also been a part of that story.  And I am not the same.

The promise of spring is in my veins.  Far off yet, but guaranteed.

Hope and Peace to you, my friends.  In with the new!



On success & celebrity...


* My apologies for going long tonight...

Dear friend, so many things I've suddenly wanted to write you about. So many unrelated things on my busy little brain.  I won't hit you with them all at once, but here's a short list.  


    1.  Success & Celebrity

    2.  Internet OCD

    3.  Fear

Tonight we'll go with: Success

It's a very strange thing to have to "sell" one's own work, whatever sort of work it is.  

If we find ourselves at a place (finally) where we value our own work enough to want to share it with the world beyond, and hopefully, support ourselves financially, we have to face this beast called "self-promotion."  So awkward.  So uncomfortable.  

But (eventually and with some prodding) we do it.  We put it out there and we wait tense and unbreathing for some positive sign of being well-received by someone other than our mother.  

Oh, the pain of waiting...

    (p.s. If I have ever made you wait for a response to your artistic efforts, I sincerely apologize.  I     know how bad that feels and don't wish you to feel it.)

And when acknowledgment sweet it is.  Like a water mister at Six Flags on a July day.  Joy. Relief.  Excitement.  Hope!  

It makes possible the next effort. Who of us continues to be brave without being lifted up now and then?

But many accolades are necessary in order for us to take ourselves, our own work, seriously? To give it weight?

Someone said enthusiastically to my friend, also an independent singer/songwriter: "I hope you make it!" 

Of course - it's an expression of love and support and it should be received as such.  (Let's not be easily offended.)

But I do wonder if these words we utter aren't also a subconscious indicator of just how saturated we are in a consumeristic and celebrity-driven society?  Don't they sting because they betray the doubt that's already there in each of us, under the skin? 

The voice that says, "This - what you offer - doesn't really matter."

Afterall, this friend is actively working in the profession of her choice, creating new musical art every day, carving out a living doing what she loves, contributing to the community.  Is this not "having it made"? Do we really need to be featured on MTV or win an award or become a household name before we can feel legitimate in our work, in our very life?  

When pressed, I'm sure few of us would argue the point, and yet it slips out: I hope you make it.  

And then there's the fact that each of us who decides to step out and show something we've created must face that inner ugliness that does actually desire fame and celebrity, or at least, the praise of men.  It's there, under the skin, just a little bit.  

    Because then I'd be a "real" artist.

According to the Christian faith (which is my faith), that's not what I'm supposed to be after.  In fact, just the opposite. I'm supposed to want Creator God to be great - and me to become less.  

I'm supposed to desire balance and right perspective in my life.

I'm supposed to love others as I love myself and desire their good before my own.

To walk humbly with my God.  

How in the world do we self-promote and also voluntarily become less??  I do believe it's possible to grow a thriving business, or to make a living from one's work (yes, even art), and still "become less" spiritually speaking. 

I'm just's tricky business.

There are hierarchies which become established among artists, and arrogance and insecurity both. We want to be part of certain circles, and pride often follows the connections and acceptance and praise.  It's not pretty.

I'm saying this here because...I want no part of it.  I want you to want no part of it, because we don't need another celebrity.  Let's instead build a community that reminds each other of the truth that we are just that: a community of people, each with something to share at the table.  Doesn't matter what it is.  

I need what you offer, even as you need what I offer.

A few months ago, Matt Bronleewe and I wrote a song called "Sunrise" (not yet recorded).  This is how it begins, and this is my conviction:

    One brings a song and one beats the drum

    One builds a shelter so others will come

    One starts a fire, and one grinds the grain

    We are gathered from the fields and the rain

    Strangers with one strange hope...

written in love,