Tuesday, December 28, 2004


We made it to beloved Iowa last night, faring well on the roads through Kentucky that have caused so much havoc the past week. I tend to forget how long the drive is--10 hours with Sam--but at the same time I am amazed with how well it goes. Cari and I had some time to talk about some deeper things and we both entered "family week" refreshed and united. We stopped in Burlington for 30 minutes to pick up a pack and play while briefly seeing Cari's siblings and extended family on her mom's side...then we made it to Fruitland in time to spend a little time with "grandpa" before he left for the late shift at work.
Thankfully Sam slept until 7am (he slept about an hour total from 7am to 9:30pm yesterday), and we had a delightful start to the day. We saw Cari's grandmother and visited her for awhile this morning, and are resting a bit while Sam is napping. We will have a big Christmas party tonight with siblings and parents, which should be fun and provide much entertainment and joy. Blessings from the flat land!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

Hope all of you have a merry Christmas, whether in the midst of joy or sadness, for Christ was born as a man, fulfilled the law as a man, and died as a man that we might have eternal life through Him. He ascended into heaven and will take us home one day. Everything on earth is not happy, happy, joy, joy, but we have hope in something beyond the temporary that endures and brings peace. May the Gospel be so in our lives!

I fixed some blueberry and oats pancakes this morning to kick off the festivities here in our Nashville home. Cari's sister Lindy tried to leave town yesterday (she was supposed to leave on Thursday), but got no further than Clarksville, TN and had to turn around due to the terrible conditions of the roads in Kentucky. So she is with us and will probably head north with us on Monday to Iowa (as long as they get their act together in KY and clear off the roads!).

Sam opened his gifts, which included some new wooden puzzles, a book, a barnyard set, and a concrete mixer truck, among other things. We watched the 40th Anniversary edition of Mary Poppins, though Sam doesn't like to watch tv for very long, it seems. He'd rather be up running around or playing in his playroom, which is fine with us. We read the story of the Incarnation of Christ from John 1, and learned some background information on Saint Nicholas (the real person that is the basis for some true as well as embellished ideas of our Santa Claus). In the midst of a "fun" story, we remind ourselves that life is not about being naughty or nice...anyone can do that...but about being transformed by Christ and reflecting His glory on earth. The peace of Christ to you all today!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

crucial year end request

The week is passing much too quickly and I know all of you are busy...so thank you for checking in even though your time is short. After several meetings regarding Blood:Water Mission, I have a year end request. First, a brief on what we are and what we do and plan to do in the future.

Blood:Water Mission promotes clean blood and clean water in Africa for tangible, physical impact on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, while also addressing underlying issues of health, poverty, injustice and oppression. We fulfill this commitment by building sustainable and personal community links between Americans and Africans, particularly in rural communities and with grassroots organizations in Africa.

These organizations consist of nationals and local community members who help distinguish the specific needs AND assist in searching for solutions. We desire long term relationships and transformation by seeking existing organizations with community trust and by growing a sense of ownership within the community.

So what does it look like in reality? Our first major campaign is the 1000 Wells Project in Spring 2004. According to the World Health Organization, $1 = 1 year of clean water for 1 person in Africa. For 1000 hours, February 16th thru March 27th, artists, bands, audiences, college and university students and faculty, pastors and youth leaders, local and national business leaders will give and mobilize the people within their communities to donate $1 dollar each toward building and/or repairing clean water well systems in 1000 different locations across southern Africa. Jars of Clay started the Blood:Water Mission and will be leading this campaign via concerts, promotion, and interviews.

What is my year end request? I'm asking you to contribute toward our operating costs for the first quarter of the year--$20,000--and frankly and humbly we need it. Going to Africa changed me, and I'd love for you to join me in my transformation by considering Blood:Water Mission as a recipient of your heart and generosity. I've been volunteering 15-20 hours a week to this organization and am a founding partner. Your donations are tax-deductible, can be made out to Blood:Water Mission, and can be sent to Blood:Water Mission, P.O. Box 682545, Franklin, TN, 37068-2545. If you have any questions, please email me or submit a comment below.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Blood:Water Mission meetings

On Monday I spent the day meeting with a broader group of people committed to Blood:Water Mission, organizationally and practically. My head is spinning from all of the information covered, but I am greatly encouraged by it all and look forward to the coming months as God continues to build upon this vision. We are grateful for several friends, mentors and colleagues who have joined us in putting dreams into reality...God has been the networker, bringing together the pieces of His "body" to work together in ways beyond comprehension or human manipulation.

This morning I had a meeting for Blood:Water Mission with yet another person who has already and will continue to be a huge resource and brother in this work. Our breakfast ended at 2:30pm, which tells you how full the meeting was. I plan to unpack these discussions over the next few days through this blog, and hope you will dream with me as well as join me practically in the work I have been led into by, as Francis Shaeffer called it, the "extruding hand of God".

Saturday, December 11, 2004

New Books

My newest installment of books came in the mail yesterday. Here are the titles...
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
by Joseph Ellis
Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community: Eight Essays by Wendell Berry
The Poet and the Lunatics by G.K. Chesterton
Intruding Upon the Timeless: Meditations on Art, Faith and Mystery
by Gregory Wolfe
The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Paul Elie
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Three Short Novels by Wendell Berry
G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense by Dale Ahlquist.

As you can tell, I have a lot of reading on the horizon. First is Hannah Coulter, which is Berry's just released continuation of the Port William stories. I recommend him to anyone. And I look forward to more of another favorite writer, Chesterton. A great weekend to all...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


A phone call tonight reminded me of a story I wanted to share from the weekend. Sunday night I met a man named Roscoe…he approached me as I walked through the door for our church service. A black man, he wore a nice suit and some new shoes, and looked like he needed some help. I could smell alcohol on his breath. He shared some of his story: he was 38, an only child (or else his siblings were outside his life now), and had received news from Louisville that morning that his mother (in her late 70s) had died of an apparent heart attack while sitting at an intersection in her car. He needed $21 to be able to buy a bus ticket to Louisville that was leaving in 45 minutes. He was self-conscious about his new shoes, saying he’d bought them the day before for $85…before receiving the news. I asked him to wait in the hallway while I asked around for some help.

I wondered if he would walk out when I hadn’t immediately helped him, but believed that instead he would actually engage others and wait for me. I asked around, knowing that everyone has their story, especially in the realms of homelessness and hard times, yet for some reason trusting that perhaps this guy was telling the truth. Well, I walked back to him and handed him a handful of bills—I don’t even know how much it was—and talked with him some more. He said he wanted to pay me back, and when I said to just put it in the offering sometime, he said he’d pay me back AND put it in the offering. I told him we’d just like to see him again and hear more about his life.

He said he was a poet, and I responded by saying we could use another poet in our midst. Though he had a speech impediment, he started into a poem he’d written about the story of the fiery furnace in the old testament. For a couple of minutes, he recited this simple yet profound poem, emphasizing the crucial moments in the story revealing God’s faithfulness and the miraculous events as well. I was surprised and smiled. I told him he’d better go if he indeed needed to catch the bus in—now 30 minutes. Before he left, he shared another poem about children…one I’d love to write down if I see him again.

I’ve been thinking about him all week. I wondered if I’d see him again, hoping I would. This afternoon I received a call from Craig, our pastor. He said a guy named Roscoe had found him at the church office and wanted to give a report from his journey and say thank you. I’m still smiling…and I hope to hear more poetry soon.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

remembering Africa

This afternoon I joined some friends to continue developing a project called “Hope+Aloud”, an effort to bring together many independent artists here in Nashville to creatively respond to HIV/AIDS in Africa. Included is a trip to Africa in February to hear stories and have personal connections with South Africa and Kenya, and then come back to write songs for a cd that will be sold to raise money for the Africans who shared their stories (their communities). I was asked to share about my trip to Africa for the benefit of those at the meeting who haven’t been there yet. In my preparations, I realized at the last minute that I was probably going to lose it…cry…and have to share this with those in the room. This shocked me, and I was suddenly a little (ok, very) fearful. Yet I knew that I had an important voice that was possibly somebody’s connecting point.

So I shared, and I lost it, and kind of recovered, and cried a little more, and in the end know that my story—particularly about a man named Dumani—was a vision of God’s mercy displayed on earth. Those in the room were/are anxious about what lies ahead, namely the unknown about a trip to Africa and the way their lives may be changed as a result. Yet they are drawn to this project ultimately for the expansion of God’s kingdom and His glory. For those of you reading about this for the first time—or those who want to reread my journal from Africa and Europe—it is posted with my writings on the link to the right (My Articles Online--Written Thoughts--Journal from South Africa and Europe).

I am reminded of the importance of hope, which is different than optimism and pessimism. As a believer in the Gospel of Christ, I don’t just see the world as a better or worse place…I see it as God’s redeemable creation that has intention and design, all leading to the kingdom to come that we taste but have yet to fully experience. May we all yearn for that today, wherever we are physically and personally, and move forward in that grace.

Friday, December 03, 2004

good-byes and hellos

We gathered with some friends tonight to send off some friends who are headed to Orlando, Florida for work with a church in the area. Though we haven't seen them much in the past 6 months, it was a joyful time together and we will miss them greatly. Jonathan and Amanda Noel have been friends for several years, and I've been blessed with the opportunity to play bass for them in the studio as well as live. They are both extremely gifted musicians and songwriters, and the church body in Orlando is blessed to be receiving them!

Tonight gave us a great chance to catch up with old and new friends, somewhat ushering in the "holiday party" atmosphere while sustaining the ability to actually talk with friends and not just say a few words to lots of people. Cari and I were blessed in that, and Sam was a trooper for the third night in a row as he was kept up long past his bedtime. A flight of stairs helped occupy his time at the party, as well as crackers throughout the evening. We're hoping one of these mornings he'll sleep in instead of getting up at his usual 6-6:30 window.

The weekend is here...blessings and rest and relaxations to all!!!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

studio again

I spent a lot of the day in the studio with Jars of Clay, working on the last song or two (hopefully) for the record set to release in March 2005. We tracked a version of “I Need Thee Every Hour” today, which happens to be a song familiar and special to Jars over the years. It is one that we often sing before shows and in times together away from concerts. Simple but deep in desire with the lyric. They should finish up the song by Monday, and hopefully all of the record will move on to the mastering and duplication processes soon!

Last night we were invited to dinner with our friends some friends from City Church. Puncochars live between Brentwood and Franklin, and have helped in the leadership and foundation building of our church community in East Nashville. God may move them to the area someday, but they have a great house in the country and are great with hospitality. We loved our time with them and long for more fellowship like this. Sam was up until 10:45 last night, and had no problems and a great attitude the whole time. Unfortunately he still woke up at 6:30 this morning, though!

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