Dance Again: grief is healing
I wrote this album and book at a time in my life when I was experiencing what many of us are experiencing today: uncertainty, fear, and grief. I hope that these songs and words will support you in discovering how grief can be healing.
So Am I: life, living, and letting go
I wrote this album and book during the short, yet beautiful life of our daughter—14 months of what many of us are experiencing today: anxiety, fear, exhaustion. I hope these songs and words help you find rest.
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Nov 9 (WORKSHOP) — Voice and Singing (Zoom)
TBA (CONCERT) — Hope for the Broken Hearted (FB Live)
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Morning is Coming
Playing in danger
This is very VERY good for us
I'm so scared of the future
You don't want to be a leader
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Open To Hope / Dr Gloria & Dr Heidi Horsley — June 2020
Hope, healing, grief, and Dance Again
Peoria Music Live / Kindall Nelson — March 2020
Wide range of topics: making music, being a dad, church, culture
Upworthy / Doyin Richards — December 2015
Life with Olivia
I am a musician, songwriter, book-writer, producer, and leader.
I played for 18 years with my band Hello Industry and worked for 12 years as a worship pastor for the Church. For the past 6 years, I've primarily worked as a solo artist and have published two books.
My current writing and learning revolves around hope, healing, breathing, receiving, and being only — and fully — where and who I am.
I tend to think pretty deeply about things, to tear them apart and then put them back together, until I understand them.
Born in Chicago, and having lived in Colorado, Germany, and Northern Illinois as a child, I now live in Peoria, IL with my wife and 5 kids.
For more about me and for my official bio, see my "about" page.
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See my "resources" page for a list of books, tools, and people who have been most inpiring to me on my journey.
summary of my work
(random thoughts about life and music and art. for a more structured read, see my books and my blog.)
MUSIC THAT BRINGS HEALING
I remember sitting with a friend in my red 1988 Honda Prelude, listening to music on a Chicago radio station, letting it wash over us, not saying a word. It was a healing experience. We both had experienced trauma and loss. Music somehow brought hope. It helped us become present. It went to places in us we couldn't otherwise access.
As an artist, my music focuses deeply on the possibility of music that brings healing, presence, and courage. I'm sure a big reason I write, record, and play concerts the way I do is because of the healing and hope I have experienced through music. I want to let some of it pass through me to others.
Live concerts, in particular, have a healing quality that is powerful and unique. When an artist plays songs about life in a room for other living, breathing human beings, something special can emerge. My concerts (held mostly in Peoria and Chicago Illinois) have, over the years, become a mixture of music, human connection, and workshop-like moments for becoming present and receptive to healing.
HOW CAN MUSIC SUPPORT HEALING?
I’ve always accepted that music can bring healing, but over the last several years, this idea of music that brings healing has become more firmly rooted in my experience. In order to share my voice, I have to release. This is true as a concept, but it is also true physically. Our bodies are designed to breathe without our help. The more we try to help — to control — the less natural, deep, and nutritive breath can be for us. The more we trust breath to come and go — the less we try to control it — the deeper it goes, into every corner of our body, bringing life and healing. Breath is the vehicle for Voice. Sharing our Voice is an act of release. Receiving another’s Voice requires similar release. When we realize this, music becomes an opportunity for healing.
Songs in particular offer specific opportunities for healing. As I do my work as a songwriter and a singer, not only do I share a song with others, but also I model a process of letting go which has its own value beyond the song itself. The song becomes a path for others to walk on their own journey toward healing and finding their Voice.
I hope my concerts in Peoria and Illinois are an opportunity for healing. I hope when I share my Voice, all of us are helped to find our Voice.
Music that heals is at the heart of my artistic practice. In addition to my albums and live concerts, I’ve written a couple of books about healing, So Am I and Dance Again.
SONGS ABOUT LIFE
I’ve been writing songs about life since I was 19. “Songs about life” as a 19-year-old and “songs about life” as a 39-year-old are very different things.
When I was 19, I wrote songs about my doubts and frustrations with the world around me. I saw hypocrisy everywhere. I saw so many better ways. I couldn’t accept what I’d been taught about God and life. I didn’t have answers, but I was pretty sure things I was being taught weren't right. I wrote most of my album, Fooled, around that time and into my mid-twenties — those were my songs about life, from my twenties
When I was in my late twenties, I wrote songs about identity. My focus shifted from the hypocrisy around me to the incongruence inside me. I wrote MaryAnn — a collection of songs about identity — about the inconsistencies within and the struggle to be a whole person. Those were my songs about life, songs about identity, from my late twenties and early thirties.
When I was in my early thirties, I wrote songs about my own value as a human being. I desperately wanted to believe that I had value, but couldn’t shake the fear that I was just a drop in the bucket, a grain of sand, dust. There was also a tiny-but-growing Voice in the mix during this time, saying something almost completely opposite to the message coming from Fear… something about an infinite value that was somehow associated with me. I wrote about these — my songs about life in my early thirties — in my album, Matter.
In my mid-thirties, now in my late-thirties, I find myself still writing songs, and books, about life. Now the songs feel less disdainful and more hopeful… not the type of optimistic hopefulness that turns a blind eye to reality and swears everything is definitely going to be perfect but the type of hopefulness that says, maybe. Maybe, even though I’m spent and tired and broken and broke, maybe life is still ahead. Maybe, even though I’ve lost my precious daughter and have no hope of getting her back, maybe there is still life… maybe it’s even right here in this very moment. Maybe there is life and beauty even in the midst of darkness.
The progression feels to me like an expedition. I started in my twenties, at the surface, shovel in hand. Twenty years later, the landscape is not the same, but it is the same journey. Every year the path leads me a little deeper, a little further in, a little closer to whatever it is I am searching for…
I can’t imagine this journey without the expression of music as a way to digest and mile-mark life.
This is a word I’d never heard before 2014. The day the doctors told us our daughter had Trisomy 18 was surreal. Our entire life has pivoted on that one day — on that one word. It took a while for the idea to sink in that we were no longer a “normal family.”
We were told that Trisomy 18 is a chromosomal defect — a defect that made Olivia “incompatible with life.” We had no idea how wrong that statement was at that point; we know now.
Having turned down the suggestion to terminate the pregnancy, based on the unlikeliness of our daughter to even survive birth, we were prepared to say goodbye to Olivia in the delivery room. We endured months of doctor visits. The sonograms were an opportunity to see and know Olivia as a living person, so we did our best to treasure those visits, but it was exhausting. By the time Olivia was due, we were already dead-tired.
Olivia was born, alive, after an emergency C-section. She didn’t make any sounds, but she was alive. I knew we probably only had minutes. They handed her to me. Heather was numb from the neck-down, so I held Olivia to Heather’s face while we cried. These moments. How can one entire life be contained in only a few moments? We soaked them in. We soaked her in.
The moments kept coming. We experienced what we thought was her entire life over and over. Over and over, Olivia guided us back to the present moment — the only place we could be sure to be with her. As the fear of losing her increased, Olivia continued to invite us to here and now, over and over and over, day and night, for fourteen months.
Olivia taught us how to live.
I wouldn't wish Trisomy 18 on anyone's child, but I don't hate Trisomy 18. I don't hate what happened. Olivia — just as she was — was and is perfect. We are so thankful for all that she brought to our lives. And we would do it all again, in a heartbeat.
The songs and books I wrote during and after Olivia's life are precious to me. They're songs for people who want to live. Songs about finding your voice. Songs for grieving parents. Life is such a mix of light and dark, of waves crashing from every direction, and these songs and books are to help us be with each wave.
WHY I STOPPED PLAYING WORSHIP MUSIC (AND WHY I NEVER STOPPED)
I was a worship leader for churches and large student conferences for 18 years. I trained other leaders, and I trained trainers of other worship leaders. On a fall day in 2013, a friend asked me what I would need to significantly move me forward on my current path. I was already playing worship music for 3000+ crowds. As I pictured much further down this path, playing for 10,000 or even larger groups, I was surprised to feel very little excitement. It was then that I realized, I didn’t really want what was at the end of the road I was on. Within the next couple of weeks, I spoke with my band, Hello Industry, and told them it was time to change roads. Up to that point, we were hired for worship events and were allowed to play our own music in the spaces between. Usually, our music fell through the cracks because playing our music wasn’t what we were truly hired to do. If I was going to invest my life in a direction, I wanted it to be a direction I truly wanted to go. I always enjoyed leading worship, but my heart came alive when we were sharing our own songs about life. I’m not only a singer; I’m a writer. I knew I had been hiding a little bit behind the high demand of popular Christian Worship Music, and although I was afraid of the rejection I might feel if I was to offer only my songs, it was worth the risk for the sake of investing fully in what I cared most about.
On top of feeling distracted from the work of sharing my own songs, I also never resonated much with most of the worship songs we played. They felt like a narrow expression of our experience as humans — of spiritual beings. They all seemed to say the same thing in the same way. While I didn’t disagree with most of what they said (although I did disagree many times with the certainty with which they said it), I personally longed to express myself fully, and to help others do the same.
So we stopped taking worship events and started booking only concerts.
There was a period of time, which is just now coming to an end, when I was under the impression that I had quit leading worship. Many of my friends and family seemed disappointed and would say things about how great it used to be when I “used to lead worship.” When I would hear these statements, I’d feel torn. I felt sad — as if grieving the loss of something — but also relieved and driven to move forward — as if there was no need to grieve in this case, because the thing I was grieving was not behind, but ahead.
I’ve found myself, over the past several years, playing small solo concerts for groups of people. In my songs, I talk about my full experience of life — things which are explicitly spiritual and things which are not explicit but nonetheless seem deeply spiritual to me — I write songs about life and songs about pain, and living the full gamut of life. In my concerts, I share these songs about life, and I practice my own ability to give and receive, to breathe in and breathe out, to be fully with my Self and others. I believe the way breath works and the way God works are very similar, if not one and the same. Taking time to allow these breaths — these moments — to flood into our bodies feels like worship to me. Releasing control and allowing ourselves to fully be with the entire experience of each moment — to receive Life and to release it — feels like worship to me. In this way, my concerts have become a place to practice Rest, Trust, Quiet, and a complete shifting of the mind. My concerts are a place to practice being, and being with — with God, with each other, with our Self. My sense is that my concerts are more worship leading than ever before.
I’m realizing that I never stopped playing worship music. I’ve only allowed my expression of worship to become more full — something I’ve longed for for a very long time.
MUSIC ABOUT HOPE
I used to feel my songs were all sad. I was surprised when a friend of mine described my songs as music about hope. I had thought in order to give others hope I had to give answers. Since my music did not give many answers to the pain, loss, and grief we experience in life, I figured it didn’t qualify as hopeful. But I've come to learn that hope is more effectively shared through with-ness and empathy — through breathing together as we are in the darkness.
My music is about hope — not because my songs show a way out of the pain, but because they illuminate life and joy amidst our pain. My music and books point to the listener's strength — to live fully within the storm.
Music about hope does not need to give answers. Probably, all we really need is to to be reminded who we are.
SONGS ABOUT GRIEF AND LOSS
I was excited when I finally found the subtitle for my latest album and book, Dance Again. For a while I had almost settled on Dance Again: Grief and Healing. On a morning walk, it dawned on me that grief and healing cannot exist outside of each other. I cannot heal if I do not grieve. Grief is actually the vehicle for healing. In a way, grief is healing. Dance Again: Grief is Healing is not only a collection of songs about grief and loss; it is a collection of songs about healing.
A friend once told me about the way he was dealing with the loss of his son. He described a beautiful project he was working on and how it would draw many people to God. I wanted to be excited for him, but instead I felt sad for him. I wished I could slow him down in order for him to spend more time with his own grief and loss. I wished he could recognize the importance of time to grieve, time to heal, time to be non-functional. I wanted to tell him to take two years, or five years, to stand again on his feet, instead of mere weeks or months. Sometimes we skip right over our own needs in order to help others, while the thing others need most from us is an example of what it looks like to be patient and gentle with our own unproductive, non-functional, broken Self.
CHRISTIAN SONGS ABOUT GRIEF AND LOSS
There don't seem to be many Christian songs about grief and loss. I believe this is simply because Christian-Culture hasn't provided us with the category, not only for music but for thinking. The existing categories seem heavy on the side of songs about hope and songs about life — which is good — but that isn't he full picture. Art loses its power when it isn't able to show the beautiful contrast of light and dark.
On one hand, maybe we should create these categories, like Christian songs about grief and loss; on the other hand, that may be completely redundant. Songs about grief and loss are songs about grief and loss — for Christians and everyone else. Maybe instead of expanding genres inside Christian-Culture, it's time to step outside of the sub-cultures like Christianity and into human culture. Human songs about loss and grief... Human songs about life. We’re all working these things out. Let’s do it together as human beings.
SONGS FOR GRIEVING PARENTS
The songs on So Am I and Dance Again are my inner world, condensed into an hour of music, during the life and passing of Olivia. When I was in those moments, people would offer me books and songs, but I couldn’t read or listen. It was just too much. Too many inputs. Too much to sort through, and I didn’t want more to sort through. I feel sensitive about this when imagining my music being offered to parents who are grieving the loss of a baby, or the loss of a son, or the loss of a daughter. But I do realize not everyone is the same. I needed to keep my mind as clear as possible because my way of processing is to write words and music. For other parents grieving the loss of a child, it may be the exact opposite. If my my music can bring hope to parents who have lost a child, if these can be songs for grieving parents, I can’t think of something more rewarding or fulfilling — to offer hope or company to a parent who is grieving.
If you are a parent who is grieving the loss of a child, and you are looking for music to accompany you on your journey, I am deeply honored to offer you my songs and my books and my love.
SONGS ABOUT PAIN
Many of the songs I have written are songs about pain and hurt — probably because I wrote many of these songs as a way for me to process my own pain.
When we sing, we first take a breath. Then, there is a certain amount of letting-go which must happen in order to release that breath and to allow the voice to vibrate and resonate throughout the body. Without this letting-go, there can’t be much voice. Without voice, there is no singing. Without singing, there is not much of a song. This letting-go involves our entire body.
When we store pain or the memory of pain in our bodies, there is a certain amount of effort to keep it there, and to keep it safe, to keep it unseen. One way we keep it safe and unseen is to remove it from the process of breathing — ultimately, to remove it from our experience of living, and in a sense, to remove it from our experience of reality. It doesn’t exist at all if it doesn’t exist to me. Over time, we block off these protected places in our body. Over time, our breathing becomes more limited, more shallow and small. As our breath becomes shallow, our experience of life becomes shallow. This makes it very difficult to sing, as singing involves breath and a letting-go throughout the entire body — every part of it.
In order to really sing (or breathe or live) we eventually have to expose our hidden pain. This can be terrifying, enough to shut us down completely. But if we are willing to have the courage to really sing — to really breathe, to really let go, and to allow our hidden places to be exposed — healing rushes in. As fresh air and light rush through places we’ve had locked up for years, healing happens. As that same air flows back out of our bodies as Voice, our song carries with it the power to heal others too. Songs about pain are simultaneously music that brings healing.
MUSIC AS INSPIRATION
Songs begin as a spark. There is a moment when something real happens deep in our Center, and we instinctively take in a breath to express it. We call this inspiration. The latin root, Spir, in the word inspiration is the same root found in the word Spirit. As musicians, our job is to allow inspiration to hit us — to allow a spark of something real inside to cause us to take in a breath — and then to share that inspiration with the world around us — to allow the spark to emerge, as our Voice carries it to the hearts of others.
When we allow ourselves to be inspired and to share our True Self with others, we trigger new sparks — more inspiration and more sharing with each other. In this way, we support each other's healing process simply by allowing our own. I picture God’s Spirit flowing in and out of our hearts and our mouths, bringing life and hope and healing to every hidden corner of our bodies, of our communities, of our world.
BOOKS ABOUT LIFE
During the life of our daughter, I wrote a book about finding life in the midst of fear and uncertainty called So Am I: 14 months of life, living, and letting go. The book is written chronologically. It starts the day Olivia was born and I wrote the final pages the day after she passed away. As parents of a baby with Trisomy 18, we were forced to let go of a lot of things: our plans, our dreams, our sense of control. But in the letting go, we were swept by a Current — a Current which was always there — into the present moment. We were forced to let go, which brought us into the present — the only place life can exist. These 14 months of letting go became 14 months of life.
I offer this book about life to you with love.
BOOKS ABOUT GRIEF
After the loss of our daughter, I wrote a book called Dance Again: Grief is Healing. The book is a collection of moments of hope and of darkness during the year following the loss of Olivia. It is a book about grief, a book about fear, a book about healing... a book about life.
I share this book, not only for those who have lost a loved one, but for any person who has experienced loss in their life. The loss of a job is a similar pain to the loss of a child. It’s different, and usually not nearly as intense. But it’s still loss, and it still feels like loss. Dance Again is not a book about how to grieve, nor is it an account of the events of my journey. Rather, it is a sharing and an exploring of the inner world of a grieving father, a grieving person. It is an exercise in simply being with the pain, anger, confusion, grief, and healing involved with loss.
My first book, So Am I: 14 Months of Life, Living, and Letting Go, also a book about grief, is about loss of a different kind. It is about the loss of a dream and the loss of control. I wrote it during the 14 month life of our daughter, Olivia, whose life required me and my wife to give up everything. We didn’t sleep. We couldn’t go places. We could barely function. I lost my dream of being a musician — something I’d been working toward for 15 years at the time. Olivia taught us to let go of dreams — even the dream, or illusion, of control over how our life was going to go — in exchange for the one thing we truly can have: this moment. This was a painful process, but it taught us a new way of of living — one where the future and the past do not exist, and the only thing one can be sure of is that We are here. We’re breathing out. We’re breathing in. We’re alive. Loss isn’t always bad, especially when the space it leaves becomes an opportunity for life to flow in.
When I was 16 and experiencing one of my first big losses, I read the book by C.S. Lewis, A GRIEF OBSERVED. This book about grief practically carried my through one of the hardest seasons in my life until that point. I hope some of my writing can do a similar thing for someone else out there.
BOOKS ABOUT FEAR
When writing books about life, one winds up writing books about Fear. For a long time, I considered Fear the enemy of life. Now, I’m not sure sure Fear itself is the enemy as much as how we relate with Fear. Our culture rails against the existence of any kind of pain. Entire industries are built on the removal and avoidance of pain and discomfort. Fear is uncomfortable. Fear is painful — not the thing about which we are afraid, but Fear itself, as stated in the famous quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Fear Itself can become bigger than the thing we are afraid of. But the inverse is true too: Fear can become smaller. The thing which gives Fear its bigness and smallness is our response to it. Specifically, the thing we do which makes Fear grow is to attempt to control our circumstance. When our response to Fear is to control, we allow Fear to control us. Fear grows. But when our response to Fear is to let go, Fear loses its power over us. It doesn’t go anywhere; it only shrinks to its appropriate size. Fear typically has to do with something which has not yet happened, or has already happened, and therefore is not based in the reality of this moment. It is based in the imagined. We tend to imagine things worse than they are, but we also have the power to imagine them positively, or maybe even better, not to imagine them at all — to take each moment as it comes and to live life here and now. This type of living requires a lot of letting go, a lot of trust, and a lot of practice. But at any given point, we have the power to live like this.
My first book, So Am I, casts Fear as the absolute enemy. In my second book, Dance Again, a book about grief and healing, I begin to wonder if the real enemy is Control.
BOOKS ABOUT HEALING
Grief is healing. A book about grief is a book about healing. Often our feelings about grief make us want to skip over it, or rush through it. It is not something we have time for. It is not something we want to deal with. But there is not grief and then healing — they are intertwined. Healing comes about through grief. Not after grief. Not in addition to grief. Through grief. To rush through the grief process is to rush through the healing process. To skip grief is to skip healing.
In our culture, we have a difficult time being with anything uncomfortable or painful. Grief is both. But if we follow our culture’s lead — if we rush or skip the grief process — we will not heal. There are a million un-healed people, calloused on the surface and infected beneath it, walking around us. Our decision to run away from discomfort is killing us.
If we can find the courage to be kind and patient with ourselves and to allow the process of grief to take as long as it needs to, we will not only find healing for ourselves, but we will weaken a culture of hiding from grief and the healing it brings. When someone sees us allowing grief and healing, they will receive permission to do the same, and so on.
This is a verse from the Old Testament Bible: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quiet and trust is your strength.
The direct translation of the word repentance in this instance is major mind-shift. This is not what many of of think of when we hear the word repentance. Many of us equate that word with stop sinning. That is a narrow view of the word and not what it means in the context of Isaiah 30. Major mind-shift. A shifting of one’s mindset in a way which is drastic. This shifting of our mind is where our salvation will come from.
Rest. Not a nap. Not taking a day off of work. But a posture. Rest is a posture of letting go and of courage which can exist in the midst of work, of difficult circumstances, of everyday life. This rest is where our salvation will come from.
Quiet. I believe is referring to an internal quiet. How many of us in our culture allow for internal quiet? How many of us even believe inner quiet is possible? Quiet is a discipline. It takes practice. It takes intentionality. Like any discipline, it does not come easy. But this quiet is where we will find our true strength.
Trust. Another discipline. Many of us believe that trust is something which we do not have because of the actions of another person. I can’t trust because of what so-and-so did to me. But, while what has been done to us is real and impacts us in real ways, trust is a decision we make. If we do not trust it is because we decide not to trust. This isn’t to say that we should trust everyone and everything. But it is to say that we can choose to trust in the same way that we can choose to rest: as a posture — as an act of courage and confidence. Even when we are failed, we can still choose to trust. This trust is where we will find our true strength.
A side note about trust: Religious people love using the word faith. We throw it around as something which is always good. We use it like it is a responsibility. We believe it can move mountains. But sometime I feel we’ve romanticized the word so much that it’s lost its meaning. We no longer feel there is a cost to faith — it’s just something we say we have. In order to reprogram our understanding of this word, faith, it might be a good exercise to replace it for a while with the word trust.
SONGS ABOUT TRUST
My latest albums contain songs about grief and loss, but they are also songs about trust. Having learned not to trust from an early age, trust is a difficult thing for me to do, but I am learning to trust again. As a posture for living, it’s even more difficult. But I want to trust again. Our time with Olivia taught me that trust is not a posture for people who have nothing to fear. Trust is a posture for people who have plenty to fear, but who choose not to live under the control of someone, or something, else. We make the choice to live from a posture of rest and trust because we want to, not because circumstance allows.
I used to be a worship pastor (maybe I still am, I don’t know…) and played for thousands of church services and student conferences. Trust was a word that came up more than almost any other word, so I’ve sung a lot of songs about life and songs about trust. But the way which many of those songs used the word never felt honest to me. It was kind of like saying, I believe God is going to do what I hope He will do. I know that doesn’t always happen. But trust as a posture is something different than trust as a believe or a statement. It’s less of a contract (I believe you will do this and that) and more of a stake in the ground. I choose to live life in a way which is not controlled by other people or circumstances. I want to live a life of trust and rest, so I will… even if things happen different from my wishes.
HOW TO DEAL WITH ANXIETY
Music and writing has helped teach me how to deal with anxiety. Anxiety and depression run in my family. When I was 14, I came very close to committing suicide. I believe music saved me. It was just some song that some songwriter decided to write on some probably very normal, average day. But because of the work this songwriter did, there was something running through my head which was feeding my soul a line of life — a line of hope — and it was just enough to stop my from ending my life that day.
I’ve read books about anxiety, done countless exercises designed to help teach how to deal with anxiety, and listened to calming music for dealing with anxiety, but I believe the thing which has helped the most has been less of the techniques for dealing with anxiety and more about the courage and willingness to let anxiety remain. In today’s culture, we do whatever we can to avoid pain and discomfort. In our efforts to rid ourselves of anxiety, we feed it. It grows. And we try harder to avoid it. I’m learning to be with my anxiety. To befriend my anxiety. To sit next to the scared child, and instead of telling him what he is feeling is stupid, having a deep appreciation for what he is feeling, and offering comfort.
My version of being with my anxiety, many times, has been writing songs about anxiety or books about anxiety. Sometimes it has simply been taking a walk and allowing my anxiety to remain — to even find some appreciation for the part of me which feels anxious. My ways to copy with anxiety are unique to me, but if we are willing, we can all find ways to be with rather than to avoid, or cut off.
SONGS ABOUT IDENTITY
My albums, MaryAnn and Matter, are mostly filled with songs about identity. MaryAnn is a fictional character who represents all of us while we are searching for our Voice. We feel lost and forgotten, but deep down we have hope, confidence even, that the person we are is something really great.
Here are the lyrics to the title track, MaryAnn: She carves her path with her eyelids She, she knows she’s lost but she won’t look back She is farther now than she’s ever been Oh, don’t you know, that’s the way it goes when you’re MaryAnn
It’s like a discontinued TV show And once you were gone you were forgotten It’s like the world stopped watching years ago And once you were gone you were forgotten
You, you know where she’s coming from You know where she’s going and it’s not good You pretend like you just can’t understand Oh, but you know there’s no difference at all between you and MarryAnn
It’s like a discontinued TV show And once you were gone you were forgotten It’s like the world stopped watching years ago And once you were gone you were forgotten
Oh, but you're so much more And you could never be ignored
Oh, don't believe their lies They hope you never see inside
And in spite of all of their reviews You’re my favorite show I’ll never miss an episode
WORSHIP SONGS ABOUT REST
I was born and raised as a Christian, but, while I do identify with Christ, I do not identify much at all with Christian-Culture. For a while, that made me feel that I must not have anything to contribute in the way of worship. I'm learning that worship is much, MUCH more broad of an activity than what I learned it was growing up. Similarly, "worship music" can be a much broader category. The songs about rest I write don't remind me much of the songs I've learned to accept as "worship songs" but I believe these songs about rest are worship songs nonetheless. If a song can help "clear the path" for connection with Self, with the moment, with others, and with God, that, to me, is a beautiful worship song.
This broadening of our definition of "worship song" helps broaden our definition of worship. Christian songs about life and hope, Christian songs about grief and loss, human songs about love and hate, worship songs about rest, songs about life, songs for grieving parents, songs about pain, songs about trust, songs about identity, songs about life... These songs help us be who, when, and where we are. They help us connect to here-and-now. They help us connect to God. Worship.
One of my most recent worship songs, Rest In You, is a song about trust, a worship song about rest... about choosing to rest in the midst of the storms of life. Here are the lyrics to Rest In You:
When darkness falls and I can’t see, When I am blind your hand is over me, it is over me. And when I run and when I hide, Even there your hand is over me, it is over me. And when I fail, when I trip and fall, You pick me up, your hand is over me, it is over me. And when I’m old and when I die, You call me out, your hand is over me, it is over me.
When the road is long, when all hope is gone, In the suffering we will rest in you. When the silence stings and it’s hard to sing, In the suffering we will rest in you. I’ve tried my best to win for so long, so long, I’ve tried my best to win for so long, so long. When the silence stings and it’s hard to sing, In the suffering we will rest in you.
I recorded my solo version of this song the day before Olivia passed away. I wasn’t sure at the time if that would be the final take, but after Olivia passed away it felt very important to me to keep that particular take — the very last thing I recorded with Olivia still alive in our home. I love this recording.
FINDING YOUR VOICE
I lost my voice on stage about 7 years ago. I still remember it vividly. It had a traumatic affect on me. It was the same week I’d gone full-time as a musician. I needed my voice to work. If I can’t depend on my own voice, how can I possibly be a full-time singer-songwriter? How can I take care of my family? How can I take care of myself?
I began a long road of learning about the voice. I read every book on voice, breath, and singing I could get my hands on. I took lessons with a lot of teachers and studied many different vocal techniques, all geared toward finding your voice.
The more I learned about my own voice and my own breath, the more the idea of trust came up. Breath and voice are functions which work so much better from a posture of rest and trust. As a professional singer and someone who has difficulty trusting, this has been a real challenge for me. How can I learn to trust? I don’t trust. It’s not a switch one can just flip.
The past 7 years of studying the voice — studying my voice — has been a long and difficult, sometimes painful, road of learning to practice trust. Rest. Letting go. So difficult. So necessary.
I’m learning that the journey of finding your voice is a journey to the deepest, most hidden corners of your Self. It’s a journey of going to those places, off seeing how hard we try to control — especially there in those places, and of trying and trying and trying… to stop trying so hard. :)
Letting go of the things we’re most afraid to let go of — that is a picture of the journey of finding our Voice.
The more I look at this picture, it looks like a picture of a wounded soul. A broken person. And Someone is patiently, gently healing them. Like waves of breath, healing washes over and into the soul. It is never discouraged. It never quits. It never speeds up. It is patient, gentle, and persistent. And over time the soul learns to trust this Someone Who Heals. And this trusting which eventually happens is the healing. It is the healing. The mending of the brokenness is the mending of trust.
The human voice carries on it an imprint of the human soul and the condition of the soul. It carries the brokenness. It carries the distrust. It carries the hope, longing, excitement, love. It carries the pain. All of it. Finding your voice is finding your Self. Finding your voice is participating in the healing of your soul. And hearing your voice — your full, whole, healed Voice, as it emerges from your body — is the reward. Like a coin of infinite value which has been lost in a house, the owner overturns everything in the house until he finds it. He does whatever he has to do until the coin is found. Your voice is worth finding, even if it takes a lifetime.
I was a pastor at a church for 10 years. I was, officially, considered a spiritual leader. Now I’m just a musician and writer. Am I still a spiritual leader? Are all people who have a job at a church spiritual leaders?
A leader is someone who goes first, not someone who pushes others to go from behind.
Spiritual leadership looks around and asks who is here and what can I do to support them in becoming more of who they are? A spiritual leader is not able to tell others who they are.
Spiritual leadership helps 1000 people down 1000 different paths by teaching and modeling the inward journey. A spiritual leader does not drive people down a single path.
A leader is different from a manager. In our culture — Religious Culture and American Culture — we have the two confused. In our culture — Religious Culture and American Culture — we have a surplus of managers and an extreme deficiency in spiritual leadership.
My wife and I both grew up in the Chicago area. After we were married we moved to Peoria, Illinois. We moved here to work with our band, Hello Industry. We played Peoria concerts and toured the midwest for a decade and a half. We still live here now and still play Peoria concerts. For the past several years I’ve been playing music about hope and grief and healing at concerts in Peoria living rooms, venues, churches, and student events.
CONCERTS IN CHICAGO
I was born in Chicago, but spent my childhood years in Germany, Colorado, and Sycamore / DeKalb Illinois. While I lived in the cornfields of Sycamore, I spent a lot of time walking around the streets of Chicago, receiving the energy of the city. Both sides of my family are from Chicago, so it is probably in my blood to love that city. Our concerts in Chicago are among my most treasured performances, and I look forward to many more to come.
LIVE PERFORMANCES AT MIDWEST STUDENT EVENTS
My band, Hello Industry, has played for hundreds of Midwest student events. We’ve driven our van — and dug it out of many snow-filled ditches — through Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa countless times to perform for thousands of students at Midwest student events from organizations such as YFC, CRU (Campus Crusade), FCA, etc.
SO AM I
Here are the lyrics for the single, So Am I:
When it’s been far too long and I’m this close to giving up, When the sun doesn’t shine; it’s far too gone and so am I.
When it feels all the time like your best is all behind, You’re counting days, you’re killing time, you’re all but gone, and so am I.
But you’re still here, you’re breathing out, you’re breathing in, you’re alive. And maybe life is still ahead; it’s there for you and so am I.
We’re still here, we’re breathing out, we’re breathing in, we’re alive. And maybe life is still ahead.
WHEN I WAS YOUNG
Here are the lyrics for the song When I Was Young, from the album Matter: Take a look inside your heart. Is it still the way it was when you were young? Take a look inside your soul. Is it still a ray of hope when things are cold?
When I was young, when I was strong, when you were lost I’d take you home. But now I’m just old and you’re feeling cold. What happened to us, what happened to us?
Take a look inside your heart. Is it still the way it was when you were young? Or does it feel like the road - it’s never ending and we’re going nowhere.
Remember when we used to dream of all the ways we’d save the world from everything?
When I was young, when I was strong, when you were lost I’d take you home. But now I’m just old and you’re feeling cold. What happened to us, what happened to us?
WHEN THE GOING'S BAD
Here are the lyrics for the song When The Going's Bad, from the album Matter: When the clock strikes twelve, when it hits the fan, will you come around when the going's bad? When the only smile is the one you have, will you come around when the goings bad?
No one like you could start a breakthrough, but you know you could be the only one to. No one like you could cause the tears to dry, but you could be the only one to try.
I know it’s overwhelming you. There’s nothing you could even do. So close your eyes until it’s thru. Close your eyes until it’s thru. You’ve done everything that’s reasonable. None of this could be your fault. So close your eyes until it’s thru…
More on the blog ;)