The winters in Iowa are dark and cold—a long stretch of months during which it gets dark before dinner and imprisons you in the house every evening until Easter. Kids get cabin fever. You (and they) need to escape to another world.
During one winter, several years ago, I found myself spending the evenings from dinner until bedtime reading fiction aloud to our oldest three boys. I had somewhere picked up a copy of N.D. Wilson’s Leepike Ridge. I loved it and finished it in one night. A straight-forward, uncomplicated but fantastic adventure, it inspired me to try my hand at writing a book. (I’m still unpublished—but I’ve got two books down and two more half-written. Thanks for the inspiration, Nate!) I had a similar experience with Boys of Blur.
Continue reading “Author Spotlight & Book Giveaway: N. D. Wilson”
Greetings, friends! I’m so thankful for your support. I’ve heard encouraging feedback from many of you about this month’s songs — “I Have a Champion” and “The Right to Write (and a Song to Sing).”
Thanks so much for listening and for sharing links and posts on your social media accounts. Those little things go a long way in helping me share these creations with new listeners.
Continue reading “Thanks for Your Support!”
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”
Several years ago, to my surprise, I found myself listening to a significant amount of country music in my (radio-only) car. I appreciated the way country songs told stories, usually sad ones, which often smuggled important ideas into the heads of unsuspecting listeners. (For what it’s worth, I also like the songs about nothing and dogs and pickups and girls…)
One day I had the thought, “I bet I could do that.” (Humble, I know.) So I sat down over my lunch hour and whipped out a story-poem about a boy and his big brother — “I Have a Champion.” I emailed it to my friend Jeff Bourque, trusting his Nashville-sense could tell me if it was any good. He wrote back, “Made me cry. ‘Nuff said,” and went to work on a tune. Though it is one of my favorite collaborations with Jeff, we haven’t done anything with it in the years since.
Last June, my wife and children surprised me with a Father’s Day gift, one they had evidently worked on for some time—a storybook containing the song lyrics with illustrations by my kids. (Probably my favorite Father’s Day gift ever.)
Continue reading “My First Country Song”
You might have noticed (well…I hope you’ve noticed!) that it has been fairly quiet around the site since 2016 ended. I hope the New Year has been kind to you.
I wanted to provide four short updates on what I’ve been busy with and what you can expect in the month ahead… Continue reading “An Update, a Preview, and a Giveaway”
It is no secret that the end of the year can be a depressing time for some. The holiday parties and family gatherings are over—leaving us to say goodbye to loved ones or remember those who departed this year. The decorations and lights come down. The days are dark and cold. The trees are brown and the fields are barren. A year draws to its end, perhaps with reminders of unaccomplished goals and the speed with which life progresses, and we wonder if the next year can bring anything different. For some, the world and the future appear bleak. Continue reading “Hope and The Last Rose of Summer”
Thank you for following this site since its launch in November. I’ve been encouraged by the feedback from those who have listened to and shared songs.
I wanted to take a moment wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.
No song to post tomorrow. I’m taking a Christmas break. But I do hope you’ll take a moment to enter my end of the year giveaway, featuring a few books that have encouraged me.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
At the center of the Christmas story is the miracle of the incarnation—the eternal Son of God becoming human, fully God and fully man. We find the creator of all things in the form of a baby, dependent upon a mother and father to carry and clothe and feed him. This theme continues throughout his life, as the one who is the source of all creation trusts in his Father to provide his needs. He who is the life-giver is executed. He who will be given all authority in heaven and on earth submits himself to the will of God.
In 2004, as a young pastor, I read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “The Excellency of Christ.” This sermon from Revelation 5:5-6 discusses what Edwards calls the “admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Christ.” It is an extended meditation on the “meekness and majesty” that meet in Jesus Christ as described above. That sermon inspired me to pen a hymn so that I could worship Christ in song for these “diverse excellencies.” Continue reading “Singing “The Excellency Of Christ” by Jonathan Edwards”
Despite its association with joy and hope, Christmas and the New Year are also a season in which we might think of death. We are starkly aware of friends and family who were here last Christmas, but not this one. We face the reality that this Christmas may be the last we enjoy with those who are aging or terminally ill.
Several years ago, David Ward and I met for a songwriting retreat for the purpose of writing a few songs on subjects that were rarely addressed in corporate worship music. One of those subjects was death.
Continue reading “Singing in the Face of Death”
“Vocation” — Today, this word is often used synonymously with “employment” or “occupation” to refer to what you do to make money (or what you do for no pay, as the case may be).
“Calling” — In the modern church, this word is often Christian-speak for one’s “spiritual service” or what “God has called you to do.”
It is unfortunate that “vocation” and “calling” have come to have two different meanings. “Vocation” comes from the Latin “vocare,” which means, “to call.” Your vocation is your calling. Your calling is your vocation. And if what occupies your time is not what you believe God has called you to do, you might spend some serious time considering the disparity.
This week’s song — “All Things Good” — is written to help God’s people celebrate his goodness in our vocations, reminding ourselves of how our various vocations glorify God. Continue reading “Your Work Matters to God”