13 July 2016

Figuring It Out

I'm circling back around to this blog in case I figure out what I need to say about Race in America.

In the meantime...

  • I made a record.  Here it is.  A couple of the song demos from earlier in this blog's life found their way onto the album.  I'm sporadically blogging about those songs here.
  • I missed my quota of one post per year last year.  Alas.

Everything's pretty messy.  We'll see if I figure out what to say here.  Or this might be my post for 2016.

21 July 2014

Song of the Month: July

This month's prompt was "finish a song"--i.e. take something that's been sitting around unfinished for some time and just get it done.

I had been hoping to possibly figure out a couple other seeds that I'd been unsuccessfully chipping away at, but then Psalm 46 came up in another context, which got me back to a setting of it that I had started a while ago.  I had put it away since it felt too derivative at the time, but I decided to go with that direction and then even attempted to write a chorus that was "Hillsong"-ish (which is not my go-to style).

The Psalm has a refrain that happens a couple times:

The LORD of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

And it also points to the new Jerusalem in Revelation 22.

Demo here.

18 July 2014

Song of the Month: June

The prompt for last month's group was "three chords and fear."

Demo here.

31 May 2014

There Was A Time

A songwriter at my church recently started a songwriting group for anyone interested.  Writing is (at best) maybe 4th on my list of things I do musically, but I do enjoy it sometimes.  We had our first meeting last month, and we left off with an optional writing prompt for this month's meeting:  Freedom.

Since I tend to focus on the brokenness and struggle of the Christian life, I ended up writing something more about the absence of freedom and lack of growth in my life.

Rough, one mic, no click track, demo here.

Next month's prompt:  three chords and Fear.  Not sure if I'll finish anything, but we'll see.

09 February 2014


My father passed away fifteen years ago today.  It was a Tuesday.  I was a freshman in college, a few hours away by car.  I had gotten a call in the middle of the night on Sunday and got picked up Monday morning by some family friends, so I was able to get home and go to the hospital and everything.

Soon it will be more than half my life without him than with him.  In terms of my conscious life of memories, it's already reached that threshold, I suppose.  I don't really know what to think of all that.  I sort of don't even know what I'm missing--who I've become and who he would have been and what our relationship would have been like as I became more of an independent adult.  Whatever milestones he's missed (hard to see those things from here).

Both my grandfathers had already passed away before I was born, and both my grandmothers since then.  I think about death fairly freely.  My own.  My mother or brother's.  Family friends.  It's not so much "frequently" as much as it is a regular undercurrent, a perspective that I have on life.  I don't think that it's too morbid.  (Maybe it is.)

In light of that, I try not to assume my life and the steady steps of numbered days.  Sometimes it helps color my interactions with loved ones--not taking them for granted and not assuming that I'll see them or talk to them again.  And I think that's a good thing.  Heartbeats and breaths--smooth muscle cells that I can't control, after all.


Lately I feel like life has been more disappointment than joy.  More fear than freedom.  I feel like I've lost touch with the transformative power of the Gospel working itself out in real ways in my real life.  It's easier for me to dwell on the broken and the unsatisfying than on the restoration and redemption of those sad, disappointing, frustrating, tiresome, heavy things.

Prayer of a certain kind comes easy--the immediate, the conversational, the pleading and crying out and thanking.  The community around me (whatever that means) is good, I think.  But I want a magic bullet.  I want the easy.  I want what I want.  And when I don't get what I want, my brain is able to be rational and grateful to God for keeping me from what he would not have me have.  But the rest of me is just wondering when it's all gonna change and when I'm going to be satisfied, content, happy, at peace in Christ.

Which I suppose isn't the point, looking to some future time.  Today is the day and right now is the moment.  Repentance and returning.  Resisting and rejecting.  Rejoicing and...resting.

27 January 2014

Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners

Time for the 2nd Annual January New Song post.  This might be it for the year, who knows.

Sometimes we write new music to old hymns that have fallen out of common practice as a way to bring them back into circulation and remind us of the truths that they express in a particular way.

I've decided to take a well-known hymn with a well-known melody and set it to new music to perhaps let the words resonate in a new way.  Familiarity can sometimes bring its own obscurity.  It won't be for everybody.  It might just be for me.

You can read the words here.

You can listen to a rough demo here.

01 January 2013

Why Are You Cast Down?

Just to make sure that I hit my quota of at least one post per year and get that out of the way early, here's a relatively recent new song from a few months ago.  It's an adaptation of Psalms 42 & 43, which have a common refrain running through them both:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

I don't have too much to add to that.  Here's a rough garage band demo of the song.

Why Are You Cast Down?

I remember how I marched up with the multitude
Shouts of praise to the house of God
Now I’m thirsty in the desert, longing for you
When will I see? What can I do?

    They say, they say to me, “Where is your God?”
    I cry, “It’s been so long, so long, so…”

    Why are you cast down, oh my soul, oh my soul?

    Why are you so troubled, oh my soul, oh my soul?
    Hope in God, praise Him again
    Praise the God of salvation

I remember how you led me through the lands of old
You sang your love to me night and day
Now I’m drowning in the deep, deep waters alone
Forgotten, grieving a heart grown cold

    They say, they say to me, “Where is your God?”
    I cry, “It’s been so long, so long, so…”

    Why are you cast down, oh my soul, oh my soul?

    Why are you so troubled, oh my soul, oh my soul?
    Hope in God, praise Him again
    Praise the God of salvation

Defend, deliver me, send out your light, your truth
Lead me into your joy, my God, my refuge

    Why are you cast down, oh my soul, oh my soul?
    Why are you so troubled, oh my soul, oh my soul?
    Hope in God, praise Him again
    Praise the God of salvation

16 January 2012

The Long Haul

Our pastor asked us in the congregation to submit a paragraph or a page on the theme of transformational communities--I suppose testimonies of how we’ve experienced transformation in our lives individually and corporately. I have no idea if this is the kind of thing he was looking for, but this is what I wrote.


I’ve been a part of the community called City Church of East Nashville for just over five years now. From my medium-term perspective, I feel like I’ve seen as many things not change as change.

I’ve seen my own heart, calcified with bitterness and anger, be softened overnight--some miracle of God’s mercy that I certainly didn’t instigate.

I’ve seen a covenant community share life with a family in poverty, to some degree of mutuality, and the difference that can make in one girl’s life as she grows up in the church.

I’ve seen people (myself included, I hope) grow in knowing their sin and their Savior all the more. Grow in prayer and repentance as a community. Grow in love and service and interdependence. Grow as a Gospel community.

I’ve also seen the dividing boundaries of us and them persist.

And I’ve seen the racial diversity of the church more or less stay the same as when I first came, attracted as I was by the mission statement that I saw online about “reconciling the diversity of East Nashville.”

Marriages and divorces. Births and deaths. People coming in and moving on. Pretty much everything in Ecclesiastes 3.

I think we do well as a community in weeping with one another as well as rejoicing with one another. In pointing each other to look to Jesus in order to glorify the Savior together.

And while so many things look the same as they did five years ago, I don’t lament that terribly right now. So much heart change isn’t necessarily evident at first glance. Seeds planted that may not show yet. Some sow, others reap, and we enter into each other’s labors.

Sara Groves has a song called “The Long Defeat”:

I have joined the long defeat
that falling set in motion
and all my strength and energy
are raindrops in the ocean

I can't just fight when I think I'll win
that's the end of all belief
and nothing has provoked it more
than a possible defeat

and I pray for a vision
and a way I cannot see
it's too heavy to carry
and impossible to leave

I guess that’s part of what I feel about being in it for the long haul. Praying and laboring the unseen kingdom into the here and now of our daily lives.

In the meantime, in the waiting and in the working, as I wrestle with all the false gods and idols that maybe, just maybe, might fix my life this time (not true, thank God), I find myself in a community that reminds me that Jesus is real. He is my portion. He is the Lover that I long for. To Him be all glory, in this place and all places, forever and ever.

26 December 2011

On Twilight

A few months ago I resolved to read the first Twilight book, to see for myself what all the fuss was about.

The first couple chapters were slow going (also, since I'm semi-resolved to only spend time reading it if I've done some devotions that day). The melodramatic inner life of an angsty teenager. But once elements of plot started to take shape, it made for somewhat easier reading.

I'm about 200 pages in now (out of about 500), and somewhere around the 150-page mark, I read a sentence that gave me a future post idea (Top Ten Worst Sentences...?):

"Desolation hit me with crippling strength." (page 145)

Every few pages there's a sentence that just makes me cringe for one reason or another. Sure, the writing style depends on lots of adjectives and adverbs. But more so it's the ideas that give me pause.

Before I started reading it, I was discussing some of these thoughts with a friend, and we had a difference of opinion as to whether this was actually a damaging influence on one's worldview or just a fun diversion. Certainly, there are things that I read for escapist fun.

But I still feel fairly strongly that there's a lot of untruth in the fantasy that the book provides. Mostly, the myth of salvation in the romantic Other. Edward has been described as "perfect" several times already, not to mention other flowery variations on that theme. Even more explicitly:

"I wanted nothing more than to be alone with my perpetual savior." (page 166)

Ugh. The book takes true things--being cared for and protected by a lover, for example--and turns them into false idols, packaged as something that we want and must have. To my eyes, Edward is a creepy, domineering stalker with no sense of boundaries. But Bella (and perhaps the reader, by proxy) gives herself over to him as her total fulfillment.

I think I rail against the myth so hard in my heart because it's a fantasy that I know I'm prone to myself. Daydreams and imaginary conversations. Idealized mates. But it's not real, and it's not something that I need to encourage in myself. People are people. Marriage can be great and true. But never a substitute for Jesus.

Anyway, I will probably finish the book at some point, at which point I might be willing to see the first movie. I do not plan on reading the rest of them.

Then I'll probably re-read Harry Potter VII to wash the taste out of my brain. Yes, it's an escapist page-turner, too. But throughout is love, sacrifice, friendship, family, loyalty, endurance through trials, a host of truth.