Thursday, January 27, 2005


I wish I were referencing something spiritual, or the contents of a pie, but instead today's subject is of the tooth variety. Perhaps there are some out there that have been graced with healthy teeth...I have not. This morning I had the joy of hanging out with my dentist and his assistant as they numbed the top and bottom of one side of my mouth (and my tongue a little) and excavated cavities. I mentioned to him, "It must be nice to know that most of your patients are not happy to see you." I guess I was speaking for myself, too. But there are those (and I've been there too) who are excited to see the dentist because the pain is overwhelming, and whatever it takes in the long term is ok by them. Thankfully I haven't been in those shoes too often.

I could also reference this week with the title of this entry...we have been so busy this week. Just when we think a break is coming, something comes up and fills the time slot. And it has all been enjoyable. Even a birthday party the other night at a karaoke club--yes, a karaoke club--did something for the spirits. Perhaps is was the boldness and the courage represented, or just the opportunity to read some of the silly song lyrics and see some terrible videos as songs from the past 20-30 years rolled by. Or maybe it was the ice cream cake.

I have been blessed with some great opportunities to connect with people in Nashville over the past few weeks. Some are friends of old, and some I've just met. Either way, I have been encouraged and found some refreshing joy along the way. This is a result of some extended time at home, which has reminded me just how busy the past couple of years have been.

Monday, January 24, 2005

marriage and more

We are recovering from quite a crazy weekend. We shared in a joyous occasion as (now) Bobby and Mary Simmons were joined together in marriage. The wedding and reception were at the Riverwood Mansion in nearby Inglewood (part of Nashville)...only a 5 minute drive from our house. Before I married Cari, I lived in a house with a bunch of friends one street over from this old plantation house. A couple of years ago, our friends Stephen and Kara were married at the same location, which was built around 1798.

On Friday night we joined the rest of the wedding party for the rehearsal dinner. These dinners are momentous, because they bring family and friends together for a brief time and all of the lives intersect. It reminds me of the reality of the Gospel, as we don't always choose our friends and family, but He uses us mightily still, often without revealing His intricate network of the kingdom. Bobby and Mary were able to share their hearts about everyone involved, and some of us were able to do the same for them. Afterwards all of the guys went out to a local pub and shared some last moments with bachelor Bobby...bringing up many stories and drawing much laughter!

The wedding and reception were Saturday evening. I was an usher, and welcomed/seated many in attendance. Some crew members from Jars tours over the years were able to join us for the evening, revealing the way God has worked in so many lives just in the past 8-10 years in one circle of friends. I had to make a quick run to the grocery store midway through the reception in order to get decorations for their car. I returned just in time to pull the car in front of the doors and we all started our creations with soap, whipped cream, streamers, toilet paper, balloons, and so forth. Bobby and Mary are now enjoying their honeymoon somewhere in the Caribbean.

Last night I was part of a benefit concert for the H0pe:Aloud project. A number of independent artists in Nashville are joining together to make a cd of songs inspired by HIV/AIDS victims in Africa. Part of the process is for some of them to go to Africa in 6 weeks to hear the stories and meet the tellers. Songs will be written, pictures painted to make this cd which will raise money going directly back to these communities. The concert last night featured Taylor Sorenson, Andrew Peterson, Bebo Norman, Randall Goodgame, Sandra McCracken, Derek Webb, and Dan Haseltine. I shared my encounter with Dumani in the hospital in Cape Town, and played guitar while Dan sang The Valley Song. Stephen Gause shared about another experience on our trip, and Dan explained the journey of Jars of Clay in the fight against HIV/AIDS (and the greater need for worldview transformation overall). The night was beautiful and many supported the effort. I look forward to seeing the fruits in the future!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

making records

I'm finishing up the last of 3 days in the studio for a project. The songwriter is James Thiele, and we have recorded about 3 songs each day. Some of them fit into rock and some fit into jazzy pop (whatever that means)...somewhat of an assortment overall. Some have stretched me and some play right into my natural instincts. Tomorrow morning I'll be recording bass for my friend Stephen, for a one-song demo he's producing. I think that will be it until the end of the month for sessions.

I'm excited about the weekend ahead, as an opportunity to hang with friends arises thanks to Bobby and Mary's wedding. I've known Bobby since the Belmont days, forming the rhythm section together quite a few times while in school. He's been part of the Jars crew for many years, production manager most recently, which means we've continued to spend a lot of time together since school. I'll be ushering in their wedding, and we have the rehearsal tomorrow and the wedding Saturday afternoon/evening.

Tonight I'm going to watch the Illinois/Iowa basketball game (go Illini), then head down the road to see Sam Shifley play bass with his band, The Golden Sounds. They're playing at the Family Wash, which I haven't been to but have heard rave reviews. I'll let you know my thoughts...

Monday, January 17, 2005

camping and mlk, jr day

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. day to all. The more I learn about him, the more I realize the differences in America only 40 years ago. He certainly left a legacy beyond himself...changing the way people saw the world and each other during his lifetime as well as for years to come.

My camping trip with more than 10 of my good friends--including the one getting married this coming weekend--was frigid but so much fun. This has been an annual tradition for some of us, and it was all the better with more people. We drove down to Savage Gulf, hiking about 1 1/2 miles in to a campsite near Savage Falls. We fixed a feast for dinner, with beef stew the main course...subsidized by hot dogs, baked beans, foil dinners, and whatever else people threw in their packs. There's nothing like s'mores over a campfire, and man, were they delicious! We placed the graham crackers near the fire with chocolate on top so that they were warm and the chocolate a little soft, then squished the gooey marshmallow between the crackers.

I had the typical night of sleep for camping--waking every hour or two to rotate in my mummy bag, and drifting in and out of sleep from about 5am until rising around 6:30. For breakfast we fixed the cholesterol special: bacon, sausage, eggs, and so forth, all using the same grease and running together. It was fantastic and filling. The falls were a short hike away and a great place to wash dishes, so all of us wandered down there before cleaning up the camp site and hiking back to the cars. If you click on the link above (Savage Gulf) you may find a picture or two from the park website.

Yesterday Cari and I celebrated our 6th wedding how time flies! Our celebration will spread over a few weeks as we try to make it to a movie and a dinner out as well as possibly finding a cabin to host a weekend getaway. It will be Cari's first overnight away from Sam, if you can believe it. I can't wait for that to happen.

I'll be in the studio working on a project for a songwriter with Universal South Records the next few days. Joining me will be Andy Osenga and Will Sayles (who also played on the Indelible Grace sessions) and Ben Shive. I'll try to give some updates in the midst of making music.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

more from the garage

I'm about to go out and work on the garage some more...this time tearing out the storage loft so that we can start from scratch with our own ideas and hopefully make the garage a great work space as well as useful for a little storage. We are anxious to be able to park a car inside as colder weather is coming and frost/ice along with it.

We went down to the nearby Shelby Bottoms along the river and walked for about 45 minutes this morning. It was refreshing to be out in the warm, windy air listening to birds chatter and watching planes fly overhead occasionally. Sam got out and walked for the last 5-10 minutes, pulling us along as he ran around. Every day he's learning so much, and he's now able to say some of what is on his mind. It makes me smile thinking about it. The last few days he's started telling jokes. He'll say a phrase (which only he understands) and then start laughing hysterically, and the more we egg him on, the more he delights in it. If only we knew what he was saying....

We had our first prayer meeting with City Church last night, a very rich conversation with God as a church body. I am satisfied much too easily by this world, and need to be reminded of the things that truly matter...that are kingdom centered and bring God glory. May we all move forward this day with this mindset and goal.

Sunday, January 09, 2005


The sun is out and the temperature up after a dreary wet week. Somehow rays of natural light can do so much to raise the spirits. We will definitely spend some of the afternoon outside on this day of rest! We were hoping for a broncos upset of the colts, but so far that looks highly unlikely...oh well. We certainly miss the Titans in the postseason!

Yesterday started with a unique event--a free performance of the Nashville Ballet at the downtown library. Sam really enjoyed it, and I think all of us did as well. Last night we had a great time with the Yarbrough's, especially since Sam and Abby hadn't seen each other in over two weeks. They've both been saying the other's name every day, and they have a great time hanging with each other. She gave Sam a couple of new puzzles for Christmas, which will provide hours of entertainment in the future.

The week will bring some meetings and finish with a camping trip Friday and Saturday with friends (a sort of bachelor party for Bobby Simmons). Enjoy your Sabbath.

Friday, January 07, 2005

garage time

I finished up my portion of recording for Indelible Grace #4 and am happy to be off for a couple of days. We tracked 3 songs a day, some smoothly and some taking a little time to find the right arrangement and performance. I played upright bass on 2 songs on Wednesday, which was both a joy and a challenge for me (since I hadn't played it in 6 months or so).

We started tackling our garage yesterday, which is detached from the house and has played the role of work area and "I don't know--throw it in the garage for now" from the time we moved in. We filled up the old volvo wagon and made a run to the dump for disposal. I think we'll need to make another run today, but we made great headway and are excited to actually create a good use of space in the garage. The car will barely fit in length-wise, and there's a good 3 feet to work with on one side for a work bench, grill storage, and a slot for the mower. It will be wonderful to have easy access to everything now that all the junk and project scraps are gone. At some point I will tear down the "attic", which is at one end with a floor as plumb as a circle...and right now I won't even set foot up there because I'd soon be dropping 8 feet to the ground in the midst of who knows what!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

studio work

I've been working in the studio the first part of the week on the next Indelible Grace cd, which means the joy of working with many friends and having a good time while making music. We returned from Iowa on Sunday, and I jumped right into the project on Monday. I am anxious to have a little family time back in Nashville now that the holiday craze is over, but thankful for the opportunities to record here in town!

Time to record some more music...

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The New Year

It is a big deal to start off a new year. Everyone has a sense of rebirth, a fresh start--even starting completely over (again). Somehow one day out of 365 gets the glory for this, and a mass movement begins around the U.S. and even the world. Every man and woman loves a do-over, a wiping of the slate, and a clean, tidy new look. It can change the feel of every moment of life, or it can fly out the window on January 2nd never to be seen again (until maybe next January 1st).

Though I won't share any resolutions, I will give you insight into what is on my mind as I ponder the year ahead, 5 years ahead, and the rest of my life on earth. It comes from G.K. Chesterton, one of my heroes of literature, one who had a lot to say and was gifted to say it elegantly and confidently beyond the church and throughout the world. Even though he lived in the late 1800's and early 1900's, most of his writing seems more profound every day...he was a prophet that still has more to say about the world. Heroes inspire. Heroes reveal greatness around them. Heroes rarely seek heroism--it finds them and they know not exactly what to do with it.

First, background from his work The Outline of Sanity. The word "distributism" is examined, an idea based on property and peasantry, in his terms. It mirrors in many ways the idea of membership reinforced by Wendell Berry. It involves self-support, self-control, and self-government. A community that produces and consumes, instead of focusing on exchange with the outside world. Distributism is done by people, not to people (big business and big government fall under the "to" category). Though business and government serve purposes, they are not the acting and dependent force. It involves fairness and true freedom...and faithfulness.

The deeper quote that I can't shake is from his book Orthodoxy about the paradox facing man. He proposes that to find life, one must "hate [the world] enough to want to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing."

This paradox is beneath all the questions in life...Why am I here?...Why should I care about that?...What can I do? If you hate the world without loving it enough to bring about change, pessimism parks in front of your door. It you love and value the world but don't actually do anything to change it, optimism is the best you can bring. But what about hating it enough to change it and loving it enough to think it worth changing? This is the framework of hope. And this hope is the very power and outpouring of the Gospel.

Powered by Blogger