A Place to Call Home…

Have I mentioned lately how much I love this city? And the fact that I get to call it home for this season of life? Some days it just still amazes me how life changes when we really surrender & just go in the direction God whispers. It’s a beautiful beautiful thing.

How is God amazing you these days?

Life Offline Happened

I’ve been semi-unintentionally offline for a week & a half. I didn’t set out to “turn it all off” or “go dark”…life simply happened. Life offline happened. And it was beautiful.

Last week I had the honor of being involved with the STORY conference in Chicago. I absolutely love that city (until I have to drive in it!) & couldn’t ask for a better reason to spend a week there than working alongside some of the greatest people I know to produce an experience for creatives. An experience that we hope inspires them & pushes them to dream beyond the current self-imposed confines of their imaginations.

My favorite part is always the offline conversations. From the STORY team to the attendees to the Sponsors who generously partner with us to make STORY a reality. I love connecting with all of them. If I tried to name them all I’d end up with a book of a post & I’d inevitably leave someone out. So, I won’t even try :)

If you want to see & read about what really went on at STORY, Sarah Cunningham has recaps in words & pictures on her site. If you were there, I’d love to hear what your thoughts on the experience!!

I’ve already got STORY 2012 penciled in on my calendar & I cannot wait!!

Sounds of Silence

I’m not an avid Pandora listener. But, when I do, every once in a while a song will catch me. I’ll find the song, hit play, & turn on repeat. That happened last week with “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel.

Maybe I’m reading into it too much. But some of the lyrics struck me as glaringly relevant to today’s society. Funny how some things never change…or at the very least we as people repeat cycles.

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared

Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you

Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming

And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence

I see parallels to valuable silence that seems to nearly impossible to find in today’s culture of digital noise. To the cacophony of voices all clambering to be heard, fighting for attention. But everyone is so busy talking that no one is listening. Rather than listening to & connecting with one another we’re bowing to a neon god. All the while, the prophets, often those on the peripherals of society, are quietly & faithfully trying to warn us. But we’re too busy tirelessly shouting in vain to notice.

Do you see what I see in these lyrics? Any thoughts? 


Throwback Sundays…Moments in the STORY & 100 Words

It’s a Throwback Sundays double feature today. I’m getting ready to head to Chicago tomorrow for STORY . So, I thought it’d be a good time to take a look back at these two posts I wrote about STORY 2010 & the wonderful week surrounding it. You can check them out here & here.

The 100 words post is still a favorite of mine. I love the challenge of trying to summarize an experience in words even if they usually do fall short. And those 100 words give me a starting point…I could retell the stories for hours that surround them.

It’s not too late to join us this year! You can still register here.


A Book for the Soul of an Artist

I first heard of Gary Molander when I read “The Idiot’s Guide to Church Burnout” on CollideMagazine.com. That was January 16th, 2010. I know because that’s the day I clipped the article into Evernote. It was also a day that was a dot in a picture that a couple of months later God would connect.

The last line of the article I read that day haunted me “I want to be clear. Burnout is a very real thing. I’m not questioning its existence. I’m questioning its root cause. And I really don’t think the root cause is being overworked and underpaid. I think the primary cause is our inability to marry our deepest God-given passions and desires to a structure or organization where we honestly believe that God can change the world through us.” It haunted me because that’s exactly where I was. But I was no where near being ready to admit it.

Fast forward a year…almost exactly…it was January 20th, 2011. I know because the magic of technology tracks things like that on emails. Gary emailed to say he was working on a book “Pursuing Christ. Creating Art.” and he wanted me to write an introduction to a chapter on the Church. At this point, and even up to the point that I sent that piece to Gary, we had never had a face to face conversation. To say I was humbled is an understatement.

Gary may not have the title “pastor” at any church. In fact he writes in his book “I think it’s a really good thing I’m not a pastor anymore…” But, Gary is a pastor at heart. And he is a pastor especially to artists because as an artist himself he understands that wiring & what it means to experience life from that corner of the world.

In “Pursuing Christ. Creating Art.” Gary time & again reminds us that it’s not about us. He speaks from a knowing & broken place as an artist himself but one he refuses to wallow in. He validates the emotions of artists but challenges all of us not to use them as an excuse. An excuse for anger, bitterness, divisiveness, inaction, & more.

In sharing his own stories, experiences, & struggles as an artist Gary encourages each of us to take heart, & to remember that we are first & foremost children of God. At the end of the way, that is what matters. And at the end of the day misplacing our identity in anything or anyone else will leave us producing false art.

There are so many incredible “one-liners” from the book I could fill this post up with, but I’d rather encourage you to read them for yourself in the context of the book. You can pick up a copy here.

I think we all need to be reminded, from time to time, to wholeheartedly pursue Christ while creating art rather than getting lost in a pursuit of art that leaves us unintentionally creating Christ. 

*Image taken from the e-confessional companion guide for the book. It’s beautiful. And helpful. Check it out here