Remembering Johnny Cash

Today (September 12) marks the anniversary of Johnny Cash’s death. There are few people who I haven’t met who have impacted me as much as The Man in Black.

To honor his life and legacy I’m publishing this new song—CASH.

I wrote the lyrics a few years ago as my attempt to tell Johnny’s story, based on something Cash said: “Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.”

Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.

Two friends set it to music and recorded a demo.

I hope you enjoy it. And I hope Johnny would approve.

CASH Giveaway

I’m excited to announce our latest giveaway—a 9×12 print of this Johnny Cash portrait, “Man in Black,” originally done in charcoal and graphite by artist Timothy Marsee.

The contest is open from September 12-30, 2017.



Sitting in the front room at the Mama Cash House, where Johnny recorded some of American Recordings V when too weak to go into the studio.

This summer, our family took a trip to Nashville.

We had the surprise opportunity to enjoy a personal, private tour of the Mama Cash House—the home Cash bought for his parents and where he and June spent their last days (pics here).

The living room at Johnny Cash’s Bon Aqua farm, the place he called “the center of my universe.”

We also were invited to visit Johnny’s Bon Aqua farm—the rural home that he called “the center of my universe” (pics here).


We’re thankful to Brian and Sally Oxley for their hospitality and generosity in sharing these treasures with our family and the world. Read more about the Oxley’s work here. If you’re ever near Nashville, be sure to visit Storytellers Museum; you’ll be glad you did.

Birthday Cash

My wife is a master birthday cake designer and decorator. She makes everyone in the family whatever cake they request.

In 2015, I joked that I wanted a “Johnny Cash birthday cake.” A Google-search for that phrase produced a picture of Johnny eating his strawberry cake in the bushes. And that led to a comical reproduction.

From there, a birthday tradition was born. In 2016, I reproduced Cash’s mug shot (from that unfortunate incident at the Mexican border…his incident; not mine).

What pic will 2017 produce? Friend me on Facebook to find out on September 25.

The Waves, the Caves, and the King of Grace

A New Song — Wave Upon Wave

Listen to this week’s new song—Wave Upon Wave.

The Story Behind the Song

Jenny and I leaned against the gazebo railing watching the moonlit waves roll in on the Jamaican beach. We were celebrating fifteen years of marriage. Our conversations covered the joys and sorrows, blessings and difficulties we’d encountered, been surprised by, and moved through in that decade and a half. We talked about our hopes for the future, the ways in which we hoped to grow and change.

Just out from the gazebo stood a solitary pillar of stone, around which the waves broke. I wondered about how long it had stood there. Had it always been alone? Or had it once been part of a shelf of rock, now eroded and gone?

I knew that over a thousand years of waves crashing against it, the pillar had been—and was still being—shaped and changed. Nevertheless, to the human eye—especially to the eye of a one-week visitor—the pillar seemed the same each day. Continue reading “The Waves, the Caves, and the King of Grace”

Author Spotlight: The Rabbit Room

The Rabbit Room’s community of authors and musicians has blessed and inspired our family through their creative endeavors. I’m excited to giveaway some of their books this month (see below for details).

Andrew Peterson’s music is a family favorite, to the point that our middle child once tried to get out of garbage duty by announcing, “I’m not a garbage man; I’m Andrew Peterson.” (Does Andrew take out the garbage? Inquiring parents want to know…) And here he is (six years ago now) giving it his all, playing through Andrew’s Christmas album, Behold the Lamb of God.

Continue reading “Author Spotlight: The Rabbit Room”

Something My Father Said

My dad and I sat in the front room around winter break of my freshman year in college. I had finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life.

Sometime during my first semester at the University of Northern Iowa, I joined a thousand other students in an auditorium, mesmerized by the words of a man whose story had been released as a popular film a few years before. In the wake of his new-found popularity, he now toured the country sharing his story with students as a motivational speaker.

“I want to be a motivational speaker.” I laugh now to think of that aspiration.

My dad didn’t laugh. He asked a simple question, “What are you going to say?”

“That’s the problem,” I admitted. “I don’t know what I want to say.” Continue reading “Something My Father Said”

A Christmas Carol

The season of Advent is incomplete without the singing of Christmas carols.

This week’s song— “How Beautiful the Mystery” —is  based on a Christmas carol I wrote in late 2000 as the text of our Christmas card. (Go ahead. Follow the link and have a listen. You can finish this post later.) I set the original text of this song to the existing hymn tune “Manoah.” Ten years later, my friends David Ward and Jeff Bourque would write a new tune, for which we added a chorus and additional verse. Continue reading “A Christmas Carol”

When the Worst Thing Happens

Naomi is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. Her story is told in the book of Ruth (which, in my opinion, is misnamed—Naomi is clearly the main character).

This week’s song— “A Sweet and Pleasant Providence” —is a hymn based on the story of Naomi. (Go ahead. Follow the link and have a listen. You can finish this post later.) Continue reading “When the Worst Thing Happens”

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…

Twenty years ago today—November 7, 1996—I met Jenny Thayer. Twenty months and a few weeks later, she would become Jenny Schumacher, my wife.

In honor of these events, the first song I’m posting here is one that I wrote for our fifteenth anniversary—“Fifteen Years.” (Go ahead. Follow the link and have a listen. You can finish this post later.)

I wrote a song for our wedding, which I sang that day. It started: Continue reading “It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…”