I wrote a song..

Cystic Fibrosis is an ugly disease. In fact, all diseases are ugly. They rob, take, cripple, hinder, and steal years from us and loved ones. My cousin, Kara Hay, passed away after winning her battle with CF. I was visiting one of my best friends in Virginia and at 5ish in the morning he came to wake me up to tell me that someone was on the phone for me. I picked up the phone to hear my mother tell me that Kara, only 20 1/2 years old, had died. My heart was heavy. Life really is a vapor, and for some it's even less. Kara was fun to be around. She was one of those kind hearted people that just held joy in her bones. I'm not sure if you know this or not, but those type of people are rare. The world is full of burdens and fears and weights and if anyone had a reason to be weighed down with that type of junk, it was Kara. But she didn't let that stuff effect her (at least not that I ever witnessed). She was strong. She was unbelievably strong in her relationship with God. The more stories I hear of her, the more envious I become of that relationship because it's almost as if she knew Him as her best friend (and if I'm being honest, after 31 years of life, I'm still searching to know Him like that). I admire her, I love her, and I miss her.

I'm not sure what you know about me, but I'm a musician. I handle my emotions through music. I tell stories about love, hate, life, death, pain, and joy through music. Many times I never let anyone hear some of the things I write because I wrote them for me. I wrote them to serve as a vehicle to help me cope or deal with whatever weighed on my heart. I still do that. This song was no different. I didn't write this song to be heard or with intent to share with anyone. However, I shared it with one of my sisters one day who encouraged me to share it with my aunt. The sharing didn't stop there. I played a gig with the John Claybrook Band in Prattville, AL for a DiscipleNow weekend. In the middle of the show I stood on the stage with just my guitar and a microphone and I told the story of this girl named Kara and then I sang the song. In this room full of teenagers something happened. The song became less about my emotions and more of an anthem for everyone in that room who was/had suffered the stinging pain of loss. After the show student after student approached me in tears to tell me how their grandmother died of lung cancer or they lost someone in their life with a respiratory disease. I was amazed and humbled. I never meant for anyone to hear this song. But after witnessing the effect it has on others, I am realizing that it is more than just a song for me. This is a song for you.

iTunes is scheduled to release "Free to Breathe" on Friday, May 18th on the iTunes music store. A portion of the proceeds of this song will be given away to help aid in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis and I'm asking you to buy it. You don't have to listen to it. You don't have to like it. But buy it. It's more than a song. It's a fight for a cure.


Starting Over

you can hear something so many times that it becomes truth to you. it becomes a standard by which you live your life. it becomes doctrine.
i developed a doctrine of faith from those who taught me, those who i watched and mimicked, and those whose example i was “supposed” to follow. after years of hearing teachings, watching behaviors, and following examples set for me, i have realized (with the help of a few close friends) it is time to start over. 
i have to start over to realize a God that isn’t ashamed of me. i have to start over to realize a God that doesn’t want to damn me to hell at the first sign of sin in my life. i have to start over to realize a God that loves unconditionally and wants to know me in the same way that husbands know their wives. i have to start over to realize a Holy Spirit that exists in something besides the evidence of speaking in tongues (and no i’m not getting into that - that’s a whole other post). He desires a closeness and an intimacy with me beyond my wildest imagination. 
i understand that my past has shaped me into who i am today. however, i wonder about some of the things that were put into my head. i wonder about some teaching i received and the forcefulness with which it was taught. you see, there is beauty in approaching a relationship with God as though we are children. Jesus even goes so far as to say that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Mark 10:14). how heavy the responsibility of the shepherd of those children. children are vulnerable. they have no preconceived notions of what things are “supposed” to be like. they have no predetermined agenda. they simply take the information you give them and digest it at face value. they are easily molded. 
my childhood was shaped with what i believe to be good intentions from those in authoritative roles in my life. however, somewhere along the way, it became less about a relationship with God and more about the selfish nature of man. “what does this person have that we can use?” “what talents, gifts, or abilities can we siphon from this one?” “in order to serve in this area of the church, you need to be willing to complete the items on this checklist in a manner approved by this person.”
what i learned growing up is that denominations matter. we aren’t one body of Christ. what we are is a collection of fish tanks and, by God, our fish tank is the biggest, cleanest, and most decorative in the city. in fact, our fish tank is the only fish tank that Jesus loves. other things i have picked up are: in order to have a relationship with Jesus, you have to be in one of those tanks, you can’t be blessed if you aren’t within the friendly confines of the building, and above all else, we are going to take up the offering because well....it’s that important. 
can we possibly get more Pharisaical than that?
why do we spend our time competing with one another? why do we focus on white washing our tombs and ignoring the bones inside? let’s be honest and look at the houses within a 10 mile radius of our churches. do you even know the people living within 10 miles of your church? i’m guilty of it too, so no, i’m not throwing rocks at your glass houses (at least not without throwing them at my own). if our building is clean enough, and we put on a big enough production, people will flock to our fish tank and beg to become members of our club that we call a church. i hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that simply isn’t going to happen. no one is going to decide to follow Christ because the choir moved them with a rendition of Oh Happy Day only rivaled by Whoopi and the other sisters
there is a fundamental problem. in my case, for my childhood and even until now, there was a slow evolution of a man made doctrine. things were said and done in plain sight (and some behind closed doors) that would make you scratch your head and wonder what kind of person would think or say those type things. you can hear something so many times that it becomes truth to you. it becomes a standard by which you live your life. it becomes doctrine.
but all is not lost. i am entering what i am calling a Personal Awakening in which i am realizing there is more to following Christ than being the whipping boy. my perspective of God must change. my outlook on life must change. i don’t need to be on the defensive at all times. i don’t need to be ashamed at all times. and i certainly don’t need man to give me his approval in order that i might feel significant among his “flock”.
i am learning about a different God now; a God that pursues me. i am learning that i am pursued by a God that is holy. He didn’t create holy and He didn’t decide one day to be holy....He just is holy. He just is. i am learning that God wants what is best for us. God wants good things for our lives. i am learning that bad things sometimes happen to good people but in the midst of heartache and pain, there is good growing and many times our eyes cannot see what that is. but the beauty of who we are in Christ is that we don’t have to understand. that isn’t our job. we can find rest in the fact that we simply have to follow. does that mean the road is easy? i can tell you first hand, emphatically, NO! it is not easy. but neither is suffocating because your feet are in too much pain to lift up on the spike driven through them to elevate your body to gather enough air to sustain life for just a second longer. 
i am starting over. i am becoming a different person. i am finding my identity in Christ. 
should you find yourself in the extraordinary position of being responsible for the caring of souls while they exist on earth, think very seriously of your responsibility. it is a heavy burden to bear and people follow you because they trust you. let not their trust be misplaced. study God’s word. study the life of Jesus and learn; because the moment that you cease to learn, you cease to lead. 
disclaimer: (it is important to understand that i am not laying blame at the feet of my parents - in fact, over the years, i have had several intense and fruitful discussions with them regarding my relationship with God). 


In the beginning...

In the beginning we made resolutions and then by March we've decided that it's all just too hard to continue down the path of self discipline.

well I'm making this resolution/commitment/whatever you want to call it in February. therefore, I plan to make this bad boy stick until at least late April or early May.

Resolution: I'm going to write more. I have decided that I have some things I want to talk about and I've decided that you all get to read them. and with special thanks to Steve Jobs (God rest his soul) and the amazing wonders of technology, I can now blog more often from the comfort of wherever I am when I have my iPhone with me.

So sit back and relax and let's share some dialogue! whaddaya say?