To know I loved well.

I was reading back through my journal last night and found this line that I wrote when I returned last year from Italy: “I’m glad my heart aches, because it means I loved well.” 

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I have been home these days unpacking not just my suitcase, but also the things in my heart I have felt this summer. And, I’ve shared much less on the social media scene these past months. It has been hard, very hard to find words to type that do justice to what I want share, but I think this should not surprise me because I believe we are made to live life face-to-face with each other. We are made for intimacy-- the beautiful one on one, look me in the eyes, kind of connection. And as much as we feel like it can, social media will never quite accomplish this. Some of my favorite moments this summer were not playing music on a stage, nor were they the ones when we were around many people, doing many things. They were the one-on-one moments that I cannot even share here because they were too precious and too sacred. They were the moments of connecting with a person in sincerity and sharing with them the real truth of Jesus, and watching God move in our midst. The greatest treasure was found in the hidden places. It’s like the song we all love: “Oh the reckless love of God... it chases me down, fights till’ I’m found, leaves the 99.” We cannot miss this truth. In the parable, Jesus says the kingdom of God is like the shepherd who left the 99 for the one. Wow. This is not a picture of fruitfulness coming in the way we are used to. The pursuit of the one is a costly sacrifice, a risk, and it’s for ONE. I believe this is God’s heart. My prayer this summer has been, “Lord, may this be my heart and the heart of the Church.” I believe revival will come in this way— in the face-to-face moments of true connection, and discipleship. It will come through meeting people, seeing them, pursuing them as Jesus did, and inviting them to know our great God. It may feel more powerful when we do ministry from a stage, or when we send out our words on our social media platform, BUT if that is our only aim, we are missing the precious ones who are around us who have eyes to look into, hearts that are hurting, and need healing from a real God. That is why I love the word “ministry.” Jesus has a ministry where he went out to the world, to seek, to save, and to heal people who were lost and in need. Wow. Oh to love like Jesus loved. Oh to minister as Jesus did. Lord, how beautiful is your love.  

I am grateful for the times I can use social media like now to share thoughts that I hope might encourage someone who reads it. It is a wonderful thing to share precious things of the heart and pour them out like an offering. May we love well, and allow the Lord to lead us to love in ways that stretch our hearts further out, even to the point where it aches. But when my heart aches, from those growing pains, I know I loved well. 

I chose this photo to share with this post because I thought it was a true little glimpse into such a moment that we experienced on this trip. This one was with Michael, and the little son of one of the missionary families we stayed with. He loved to watch Michael play music but he also just loved to spend time playing with him.

I chose this photo to share with this post because I thought it was a true little glimpse into such a moment that we experienced on this trip. This one was with Michael, and the little son of one of the missionary families we stayed with. He loved to watch Michael play music but he also just loved to spend time playing with him.

8 REASONS I AM THANKFUL FOR AMERICA

Tomorrow, we celebrate Independence Day! Today, I feel inspired and compelled to reflect on some of the beautiful things I am thankful for that we get to experience here in the United States. We must never underestimate the power of thankfulness. It is a powerful thing. 

As we all share in an array of traditions and festivities tomorrow, eat amazing grilled food, play at the lake, and watch the fireworks, I know that among many there is also a great deal of unrest, distrust, fear, and disillusionment when it comes to the subject of the state of our nation. It is in the news, in our conversations, and in our minds. You can sense it. But my fellow Americans, let us take a moment to rejoice because among it all there are some beautiful blessings...

Here is my list: 8 reasons I am so thankful for America. 

1. FREEDOM OF RELIGION

I have several friends who live in nations where, right now, it is absolutely illegal to speak of their faith, of Jesus Christ, or to read a Bible in public. They must be very careful, very discrete, and play their Christian music with the windows closed. As I take a moment to think about this reality, yes, this REALITY in some places, I am absolutely overcome with joy that I can read my Bible at Not Just Coffee with no fear of punishment. We have held Bible studies there. We can even play Christian music uptown in the open for Uptown Worship Ministry, and we have so many Churches of all different faiths and religions all around and we are all able to worship unafraid of punishment. May we never take for granted how blessed we are to have this.

2. GOVERNMENT AID AND SOCIAL PROGRAMS

This is a big subject I know, and don't worry- It's a simple but good thought! I am aware that many of us long to see so much reform and improvements in these areas but regardless, I must point out something. Let's just for simplicity sake use this one example, but I believe it will speak well to this subject. I have 2 friends who have spent time in India and in Nepal. In these places, when someone is ill, crippled, orphaned, starving, or a leper, they are left on the street with VERY little government intervention at all. Children are in so much danger, sick people cannot get help if they cannot pay, and my friends tell me with tear filled eyes how incredibly large the needs are there. I only bring this up to point out, regardless of how much we want to see things improve here, let us be truly thankful for the help we have. We can go to an emergency room without being turned away. We have aid for the elderly, orphaned, and even food stamps and medicare. It's not peferect but we HAVE it. I am thankful for that. And as a side note, I am so thankful for the MANY, non-government organizations helping people in our nation who are in need and in so many other nations around the world. Let's hang in there, hope for good improvements, and look for ways to help those in need around us right where we are.

3. CHEMEX COFFEE

Best coffee making method EVER. Made in America people! This makes me happy. There is a neat legacy of creativity and invention in our nation. So many wonderful things were created here. This leads me to my next point:

 4. OPPORTUNITY

I believe that in our nation there is much opportunity and resource for making a living, for entrepreneurship, and for starting small businesses. I remember discussing this with some friends from various places in Europe and they were amazed how easily Michael and I could work for ourselves, make a living by it, and furthermore, by how many different career paths are available to pursue and to study in local collages and universities. I believe this is a blessing we can so often miss. I am thankful for the opportunities we have here.

5. IN AND OUT BURGER

Protein style for me! Have only had it a few times being an east coast girl but man, I love it! I can also include burgers and fries in general. No shame, just being honest, I love me a good burger, milk-shake, and fries! Can I get a witness?

6. CHARITY

Even a little of our wealth is enough to make a difference in many lives. Many amazing organizations, charities, and missions movements have started in America. Sometimes we loose perspective about just how much we really have and truly, we have so, so much to give. I am thankful personally to have never missed a meal, to have a place to live, 2 working cars, beautiful instruments and I am thankful we have had enough to give financially to support missions. I am humbled, and truly overwhelmed even as I type this by how much provision for my basic needs and for some things I really love that I have! May we be a nation that dwells in our land thankful and be a people who give generously. 

May I be allowed one more food item on this list?

7. CHICK FIL-A CHICKEN BISCUITS!

What would I do without this glorious, buttery, chicken delight? Just eating one of these biscuits makes me proud to be an American :) 

8. THE GRAND CANYON

I say the Grand Canyon because it was one of the most incredible things I have ever beheld. The depth, the detail, the grandness of it all left me in awe as I looked at it. What a beautiful land we get to call home! And I could so easily extend this to include so many other incredible American wonders such as the redwood forest, the beautiful beaches on both shores, and my treasured Appalachian mountains. I am so thankful to live in this glorious place.

Let us just take a moment to be so thankful for this nation we live in as Americans.

And furthermore, let us remember what to do with the heavy and hard things we sometimes face and feel about where we are as a nation. Scripture gives us amazing direction in this:

Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication WITH THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Me at the Lincoln Memorial in DC at night taking it all in how many incredible events have taken place here.

Me at the Lincoln Memorial in DC at night taking it all in how many incredible events have taken place here.

Michael watching during the procession as his Grandpa Bowman's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. It was so special seeing him be honored as a veteran who fought during WWII and spent a career dedicated to serving our nation.

Michael watching during the procession as his Grandpa Bowman's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. It was so special seeing him be honored as a veteran who fought during WWII and spent a career dedicated to serving our nation.

A LESSON THE WAVES TAUGHT ME

I love waves. They are a thing of beauty to behold on a quite morning on the eastern Carolina shore, especially at sunrise when the light dances across them making a road of gold strait to the horizon. I’ve also known waves to be thing of terror- especially as a little child as I walked out into them alone for the first time and got knocked down and about by them, or to see them raging, tall and wild in a storm.

A sunrise in May on a weekend trip I took with my mamma

A sunrise in May on a weekend trip I took with my mamma

This morning I awoke thinking of waves. I felt that the moment I opened my eyes to faint morning light coming in my window, I was hit with waves of worry. I did not even have a chance to rub the sleep from my eyes before I was already knocked around a bit by the thoughts of things unfinished, unknown, and hard that I must face today. 

Then I realized, waves of worry come and knock us about but there are also beautiful waves of the Lord’s love and truth that come. They come steady, as sure as they keep coming on that shoreline I love. They wash over my feet, and then I go further in and I touch them with my hands. Then I just jump in and wade among them, and I am wet through and through as I float and rest in their rhythm. 

God is inviting us to come to the shoreline, to come to His presence, in prayer, in worship, and to let His waves of love wash away what the worry has done. He has truth and hope for us to hold onto to in our days.

A sunrise at Myrtle Beach this past January

A sunrise at Myrtle Beach this past January

It really hit me this morning, God is real, and He is so good, and we can walk in relationship with him. When we open our eyes in the morning and the waves of worry come, He is there. 

Here is an amazing verse that speaks to this: 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; (like the waves coming to the shore) they are new every morning; (like the sunrise each new day) great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”

-Lamentations 3:22-25

Me, my coffee, and another beautiful sunrise on a cold winter morning.

Me, my coffee, and another beautiful sunrise on a cold winter morning.

 

May the waves of the Lord’s love wash over you today, and may they be sweeter, stronger, and more real then the waves of worry and fear. 

If you have never felt this love of the Lord in a real way, I encourage you with all my heart, go to him. Ask the Lord in prayer to show His love to you in a real way and I believe He will- or please come to me or someone else in your life who can pray with you and talk to you more about knowing Jesus and walking with Him.

The victory of a thankful heart

“Remember when we painted these walls blue? And I love the way the dogwood tree blooms in the spring…."

Last week, I found myself driving around the city in my car, carrying with me a mind and heart heavy with what seemed like a hundred little things to take care of or to be concerned about. The world around me was bursting forth with color and fresh springtime life, the sun was warm, and the day was lovely but my heart was still heavy.

The song that came on next was this one, our song, called "Home." And these lyrics spoke to me as if they were brand new.

I remember when I wrote it, one evening when I sat in our living room alone with a heavy heart. The journey of the writing of this song was one of choosing to sing about the beautiful things I saw in our life and to be thankful for them. The process of singing about these things, identifying them, then rejoicing in our blessings and our home became a victory over a heavy heart.

I write this post today because as I made my coffee this morning, I was in awe of the beautiful white blooms of our dogwood tree right outside our window. These are the ones I sang about. I was reminded of this song. I was reminded of the moment God led me to open my eyes of my heart to see His love all around me in our life, so I did that again today. Oh how I love those white blossoms.

The view from my kitchen sink, with our lovely dogwood tree out back and my banner that says "Joy."

The view from my kitchen sink, with our lovely dogwood tree out back and my banner that says "Joy."

 

The thing I love about God, and I really KNOW this to be true, is that no matter how downcast we may be, He is always there with a portion of joy and peace to give us. Thankfulness postures our heart to receive it. Thankfulness is victorious. Even when we struggle to be thankful, we struggle to see the beauty, the Lord is patient and helps us to lift our eyes in our darkness to see the sun… he helps us hold on until the dawn comes. 

Here is a verse for you to soak in today. There are some beautiful words, some beautiful truths in this Psalm. Let it wash over your heart. 

Psalm 138

1 I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
    before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
    and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
    for you have exalted above all things
    your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me;
    my strength of soul you increased.

4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
    for they have heard the words of your mouth,
5 and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for great is the glory of the Lord.
6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
    but the haughty he knows from afar.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and your right hand delivers me.
8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands.

 

 

Thoughts on musicians and coffee

Latte from Methodical Coffee in Greenville SC

Latte from Methodical Coffee in Greenville SC

Where the musicians are, you will find coffee.

It will not just be any coffee, but it will inevitably be local roasted, poured over, aero pressed, french pressed, freshly ground on the newest kickstarter hang grinder with 15 coarseness settings (yep... I bought that one!) and brewed with the utmost care and perfection. When they pour a latte, cortado, or cappuccino, there will be a beautiful design on top and people around you are probably taking pictures of it for instagram. (Yep, i've done that too!) You will find us at the one or two coffee shops in town where we don't mind paying $5 for a cup of coffee or waiting 10 minutes for it to be finished because we know they will make something that to us, is like a work of art. 

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I love the pour over coffee method because one, it is delicious, but it also illustrates to me a process that parallels my art as a songwriter. Really, it does! For pour over coffee, you use fresh ground beans and slowly and strategically pour hot water over it to make a single cup of coffee. Let me elaborate... stay with me, this will be fun!

THE GRIND - I have read that roasted coffee carries the best flavor within 2 weeks of roasting. Buying local roasted, fresh beans is the best! It is also important to grind them precisely and right before you make coffee from them. For this method, If the grind is too course the coffee will be weak in flavor and if too fine, it will be too strong. (Can I just say this speaks to how when I get an  idea as a songwriter, it is so much better when I work with it fresh rather than letting it sit too long!)

THE BLOOM - The first step is to bloom the precisely, freshly ground coffee, by pouring some water over all the beans and waiting for about a minute. This is important to start unlocking the flavors in the coffee beans. I just love the fragrance of the coffee that comes up as you wait for that minute and watch the coffee bloom like a little flower. 

THE POUR - You must pour the water very slowly, a little at a time in little circles in the center of the cone for right around 3 minutes after the bloom. There is a patience in this step that I love. If you go to fast, I have found the flavor is less rich and if you go to slow and forget about steady pouring the water, the flavor turns bitter. The process of just standing there and pouring that water, smelling the brewing coffee, creating something delicious is so exciting to me. 

Me sipping on a Fall Latte from Not Just Coffee in Charlotte NC

Me sipping on a Fall Latte from Not Just Coffee in Charlotte NC

Just like there are hundreds of different coffee beans, grown in so many places, with flavor profiles unique to them:

We are artists with unique flavors ready to be extracted. We have a fragrance to our melodies that only we carry.

Through patience and trust in the process, we can see the best of what is within us come forth. Sometimes we share it with the world and other times, we create something to sip on in the hidden loveliness of the morning that we share only with ourselves and our creator who first showed us how to create.

I wonder if whether they realize it or not, my fellow musicians and artists love coffee because it's potential made into something so unique and delicious, through so many methods, parallels their own craft. But on another note, there is the reality that as a musician and songwriter, there are many late night gigs, recording and writing sessions, and early morning church services that make coffee and the glorious caffeine just necessary!

May God give you patience in the process today, and may he show you the beautiful flavors that you alone carry inside through this life you live. 

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

The story behind "Make Room for the Sky"

"Leaves sing as they fall, not afraid of the dying. Make room for new life... My soul now can fly through the space surrender made, far up to the heights."

Surrender. That's quite a word. As I really ponder the depth of it, I feel my flesh fighting as my humanity compells me to remain in control, to know the plans, to make a way for myself, to fight to be understood, and the hardest one, to live by the validation I receive in the things I do. There is a deep longing in us to be known, to be successful, fruitful, and for our lives to mean something. 

As I look at the fall trees, they are changing from a uniform collective of green companions to individual displays of color and beauty. Furthermore, they are shedding their truest colors and in a few short weeks will stand barren through the winter. 

I saw this tree and God began to speak to me. Do I believe I am enough, validated, loved even when I shed all of my leaves, all the outside accomplishments and titles I carry and just stand bare before the creator of me? 

Surrender says I trust you, just as the trees wait patiently for spring to come. They rejoice and live in every season- even the coldest, fruitless, and sometimes hardest season of winter. 

I want to be like them. I want to make room in the act of surrender for God to move, to speak, for him to show me things I could not see when the forest canopy was full and green. I want to see the sunset even when I'm deep in the wood. I want to sit with him, snowed in, spending time, to listen to the lessons he has for me and the new songs he wants to give to me. 

The thing I love about songwriting and creating music is that God breathes it into my heart and the layers of truth and beauty behind the words he gives just keep unfolding. That is how I feel about this project. I am challenged to the core even as we release this album tomorrow to trust him completely. I am challenged to not be defined by my fruit alone but to know in the core of my being that I am HIS creation. I am his child. I am challenged to surrender all my leaves to the wind, may they sing as they fall, and I will stand rejoicing in the winter.

"... Our roots they will grow. We don't grow weary in hope; we know spring will come. Make room for the sky."

Michael and I mean it with out whole hearts when we say that we hope this music means something to you and touches your heart in a deep way. We are honored that you would take the time to listen to the songs we create and treasure so much.

Here are the full lyrics to the title track (and our personal favorite song from the album) "Make Room for the Sky." 

Make Room for the Sky”
Written by Sarah and Michael Bowman

Make room for the sky
In dormant winter I lie
Watching in wonder

So far one can see
The barren forest sets free
My sight from below

Make room for the sky

Leaves sing as they fall
Not afraid of the dying
Make room for new life

My soul now can fly
Through the space surrender made
Far up to the heights

Make room for the sky

Leaves loosed to the wind
We will wait through the winter
At peace with the time

Our roots, they will grow
We don’t grow weary in hope
We know spring will come

Make room for the sky

Be faithful with the few, and trust Him with the rest.

Today I step forward from behind the doors of what everyone can see and I share in vulnerability a few thoughts from the journey. The thing I love about us sharing in transparency with one another, the hard things, and the truths we learn from them, is that we realize we are not alone. God uses our weakness and shows himself strong. He really does.

I love the parable of the talents- you can read it in Matthew 25:14-30. I recommend you take a moment and read it! It’s amazing. 

In this parable Jesus tells us about three men. Each is giving a number of talents from his master- one 5 talents, another 2 talents, and the third man received one. (By the way, a talent was equivalent to 20 years worth of wages. Wow! Imagine being the guy with 5 of those!) The scripture says the master entrusted his servants with these talents. After some time, the master came back to find the first two men had doubled their wealth- used their talents, and had been good stewards to produce a return. The man with one talent, he was afraid. He hid his talent, and did not produce any return.

 

Those words jumped out of the page at me- “I was afraid.”

I can relate to that. Fear comes knocking at the door of my heart, and floods my emotions and tries to rob me of the peace I have in trusting my father God. I feel so frustrated as it seems shake the faith I build my life upon. What was this man afraid of? I wonder, was he was afraid to loose the little he had? Was he afraid of failure? Was he ashamed of his small portion? Did he despise the gift?

 

God has give us each a portion. Let this verse wash over you:

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;

    you hold my lot.

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

                        -Psalm 16:5-6

 

I have had moments lately where I have felt afraid. I have felt afraid that I have not accomplished enough. Sometimes I am exhausted and fear I won’t have the strength to do the things before me. Sometimes I fear failure. Often, I fear disappointment.

Let’s be real- it is so easy to compare our portion, our lot, our talents with those around us. Did the man with one wish he had five? My prayer as I have meditated on this is that I would REJOICE in my portion and trust that the master has given me just what I need. I long to trust the master and all he has given and every plan he has for me.

 I love that the master says to the man with two talents,  

“You have been faithful with a little; I will set you over much.”

 

Lord, help me in these days to be faithful with what you have given me- the tasks before me, the gifts, the resources, the strength emotionally and physically, the time, the finances, the endurance- 

Help me be faithful with the few, and trust you with the rest.

 

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

                        -Psalm 28:7

City on a Hill Youth Band

It was a Tuesday night and she was my last lesson of the night. We had worked on singing and playing guitar, a Nora Jones song that night I think. After lesson time was done, I felt like she wanted to linger and chat a bit. I had gotten the impression she wanted to hang out longer after lesson a few times before but this time, I invited her to stay and chat over coffee. We chatted about simple things. I asked her about school, college plans and she asked more about me. Soon, she opened her heart to me and that night was the start of precious friendship. I was honored that she would look to me as a mentor and an example as a follower of Christ. I was so honored to be entrusted with the deep things of a heart. I was amazed to be given the opportunity to speak truth, to speak hope, and whisper encouragement into this life.

The defining moment I would like to mention was during one of my conversations with this dear young lady that took place shortly after this evening. It was another evening after lesson (as chatting after lesson became a normal thing) and she asked me a question that really rocked me.

She asked, “Sarah, how do you know that God is real?”

Here I was in the presence of this young heart who is in a season of defining her faith, growing roots, building foundations that will define so much for her and she is asking me a question about the reality of this God that has become my life and my complete identity. How exciting and how terrifying that moment felt!

I answered her.

My words may have been slightly different or more eloquent in the moment but I remember telling her that I know God is real because of who He is in me. When I look at my life, I can see that God is real because of the sure goodness of Christ in me. I told her about the many times I shared a song I have written and I am approached by people in tears who were so moved and encouraged by words I penned. I think about my marriage with Michael and how incredible and strong our marriage is even though statistically that does not happen when you come from a broken family line. I think about prayers I have prayed that have been answered and lives I have touched by just being me and I tell her that I know God is real because I see these things, and I know it is Christ it me. We talked about how the most exciting thing in my life is seeing God use even me to be the hands of God to this world.

I am learning that to pour out your life in service to one another, and to see God use that to change a life is the most incredible thing. I see the reality of God in that.

It is an incredible reality that Christ laid down His life for us. 

I want to pour out my life to serve these precious, awesome youth kids around me. I want to see them grow into their incredible gifts and I want them to know Father God and to know His great love for them! I want them to experience the amazing adventure of following Christ. God has such wild plans for their lives and I am so excited to even just be a small part in helping them to know that.

I wanted to share with you all in this blog that starting this coming Sunday, August 16, Michael and I will be leading a nine-month worship band mentorship program we are calling "City on a Hill Youth Band"

designed for youth vocalists and musicians in grades 8-12. Our desire is to impart to participants a deeper passion for worship, a love of music, an ability to play and lead in a band setting, and a joy in serving others. We also want to provide young artists an environment to grow in songwriting and creativity. We will be leading worship in local Churches, and prepare to go on a music mission trip in the Spring. 

This Youth Band is an exciting new journey for us! We are so excited to step out in obedience to make ourselves available to teach, encourage, and worship the Lord with these kids.

Will you pray for us in this endeavor? 

Also, if you know of any youth who would love to be a part, please contact me at sarah.bowman2@gmail.com asap and I will get you all of the information!

I am so excited about the scripture God gave me for this group because truly, I believe these Youth are called to be a beautiful light in the world-

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16

Blessings to you all and I pray the Lord fills you to overflowing that you may pour out with joy to the thirsty ones God has placed around you.

A Blog From Brooklyn

There is something about New York City. When we hit the place where the city skyline fills the horizon I am always filled with such excitement. I also put Bruce Springsteen's “The Rising” on loudly in my headphones- my sound track to our drive into the city.

This city makes me think. This city is strong, diverse, unique and I think is possibly the most representative city of our nation and culture. My heart is filled with so many feelings and thoughts about our nation and our culture. I think some new songs might be brewing...

This is the first time I have stayed in Brooklyn, and for that matter the first time I have stayed in a Hostel! Driving down these streets was a feast for the eyes and the soul. There were families of all colors and races filling the streets, sitting on benches, kids playing on sidewalks, families just getting out of the Synagogs because tonight is the start of the Sabbath in this largely Jewish neighborhood. We found our lodging and soon discovered that staying in a Hostel in a Jewish neighborhood on the evening of the Sabbath means that NOTHING will be open to eat! Nothing at all! God heard our prayers and our hungry, growling stomaches because two nice men gave us two slices of pizza they had left over from an amazing pizza place that had just closed. It was the best New York Pizza I have had to date. Maybe I was just very hungry. We find ourselves in an incredible city, a melting pot of a neighborhood, in a Hostel with mostly European people but also a fun couple from Delaware, and of course we play music in the common room.

This city reminds me tonight that we are, in Christ, lights shining among a sea of strangers.

We carry a treasure that is of incredible worth and beauty. We know the love of God, a balm to a hurting world. We know a way that makes the lost ones found. I see the many souls I pass by car, while walking, in the living and being of this life, and my heart longs for them to know God. So many of them do not know God. I want them to know my God! My incredible God who is an anchor to my soul that is so easily carried away by waves of life. My God who is my song to sing on the journey. He is my hope beyond the horizon of this life. He is my friend. He is my father. He is real. He is calling to the lost ones, come.

He made us for something great.

He made us to be his hands and feet. He has called us to be a light unto the world.

Just let that sink in.

I am...  And it's blowing my mind!

This is a simple blog post, but from my heart tonight I am seeing the harvest is ripe. People are all around us in the realm of our existence and they are loved by God. And WE, the people of God, get to tell them that....

Let us tell them.

And if you are like me and all the world is a broadway musical, then let us sing about it to them!

Blessings from Brooklyn.

Excited for tomorrow, Sarah and Michael

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Songwriting

Today I ponder the life, the heart, and the calling of a songwriter.

We are many. We are similar and we are different. We write from life about the things of life. We speak into lives. We craft through a medium of melodies, sounds, rhythms and rhymes.

I cannot speak about the inspiration of all my fellow song creators but I can speak for me. I have been changed forever in the meeting of Almighty God. My songs are fueled by the love and freedom I have in knowing the Lord.

I am starting to see that a song is made with wings and the Lord will give the breath and the wind to carry that work and its words to every heart that needs to hear it.

Rich Mullins is a man I look up to. There is so much I don't know about him but I do know from his story that he was a songwriter with a powerful anointing and a vulnerability that touched so much in and out of the Church. He was not afraid to write about the realities of faith and life as a follower of Jesus. His songs are powerful and they are genuine. They are true songs of worship. His life was cut short and no-one knows the cause of the car accident that took his life. A friend of his shared right after his death that right before he died, he was working on what he said was to be his most important work- an album about the Life of Jesus. He did however record a scratch recording on a tape in a Church a week before his death. I am amazed that even death did not keep these songs from going forth! His songs became and still are anthems in Christian music across the world. That is amazing to me. This is a reminder that nothing can stop the move of God. Nothing can silence words that God desires to go forth.

I have feared my words will not go forth. I have feared they will stay hidden in my notebook- or that the recordings I have poured so much time and care into will not be heard or appreciated. I sometimes write for the secret times and watch a melody serve its purpose in that moment and float away forever but some songs I want to reach the nations- I long for them to reach the nations. I want to hear them in languages I do not speak. I want hurting hearts to experience God in them as I did when I wrote them. I want these melodies to be a gentle hand that lifts heavy heads to see God. I want the happy tunes to make people smile and dance in their car.

I am learning to trust God with my songs and my words. I am learning to treasure the fruit I see no matter how small it may seem. I am learning to be excited about the unseen things ahead.

I have also been reading a lot about the hymn writers from years past. I am learning a few wonderful things.

Joseph Mohn penned the words to Silent Night” in 1818. They were words he prayed for as he longed for the perfect Christmas carol to share with his village. As he sat on Christmas Eve trying to write the song, he was called to bless a newborn babe which required a long walk out of the way of the Christmas party he had planned to attend further delaying his efforts to write this new carol. It felt like a day of interruptions. He found himself on the way home after his long evening alone in the night overlooking his village in the Austrian Alps. He then became inspired to write from this moment only he knew. He sang of stars in that night and thought of the little babe with an unknown name he blessed that Christmas Eve and it pointed him to the savior. He wrote the song and shared it in his town. It took 36 years from that time for the song to reach the leaders of Germany and then go on to be a world renowned Christmas carol that is precious to the heart of millions.

Another story about the orgin of another beloved song:

In 1905, Mrs. Civilla D. Martin took a 50 mile journey to visit a sick woman following the leading of the lord to encourage her. She penned the words to “His Eye is On the Sparrow” by her bedside as the woman shared in her weak state, “Why should I be discouraged when when my Heavenly Father watches over each little sparrow and I know He loves and cares for me?” In the intimacy of that room a song was penned by a women who was not even known to be a songwriter. She simply saw and wrote down a glimpse of real faith in suffering and a picture of the Father's love.

These songs were not written with the motivation of being world renown. They were written in true, and intimate moments of life. God knew the rest of us would need to hear them.

I can also see that suffering is a huge part of the journey to the song. Some words would not have been found or given if suffering had not been a companion to get there.

A man named Joseph Scriven wrote some words in a poem to his mother, sent them to Ireland and they became the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” This man was not a songwriter. He was a man who had planned to settle in Ireland with his young love when tragically she was drowned the day before their wedding. Devastated, Joseph moved to Canada and served the Lord all his days in ministry there. These words came from the loosing, the grieving, and living life knowing that the Lord was greatest strength and companion in this life. What a powerful song.

So then there is me.

I have written songs in the intimate moments only I know. On a hill by the lake at sunset, the melody came into my heart with the wind. I wrote a prayer for the youth of our nation in a backstage stairwell during a play. I wrote a song driving in the rain, quickly jotting down the words at stoplights. I have written songs in heartbroken moments of pain where I could hardly see the page through the tears. I have sung anthems that became songs of cooperate worship. I have written by candlelight, moonlight, and sunlight on the beach by the sea. I treasure the songs I write and when I hold them, I long to share them.

I will do my best to not fear my words will not go forth.

I will trust that my songs, like the songs of these other men and women, will go forth and that nothing will stop them from reaching the places they were created to go.

I will enjoy the writing, the singing, the sharing and the living.

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”

-Psalm 89:1