Monthly Archives: July 2014

Life is Good

While I sit sipping citrus infused water

Remembering the Laughing Sheep & William H Bonney

 

My daughter sings and dances

To songs from Crystal Yates & Taylor Swift

 

In the kitchen, my wife plays culinary jazz

Concocting delectable delights that would put Bobby Flay to shame

 

I think to myself as a smile crosses my face

That life is good, peace is happiness & His love is the reason for it all

 

 

 

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A Life of Contentment

A life of contentment

Is a happy life

Truly grateful am I, to have been brought to this new place

 

A happy life, a content life, is lived from a position of gratitude

Gratitude for what has been given to you

This is a learned state, not always an instinctive position

 

It is not necessarily a lack of desire for more

It is a realization of how blessed you are

There is beautiful satisfaction in this simple realization

 

Each day is a gift

Each moment a chance to do something positive

Every smile worth more than a thousand pounds of gold

 

So be excellent to each other

Love freely, with no expectation, or demand for a return

Be grateful for each breath

The Mighty Pen

Occasionally I look at my blog & wonder if I’m actually doing what I’m supposed to be doing with it, or if I’m just writing for the sake of it. Then I remember that one of the main reasons this place exists is for me to think & to learn to think. So here is an imaginary poetic conversation between the me of just a few years ago & me today. It seems my poetry is more than checking the box of better thinking J

 

What do you see?

A pen

What else?

Just a pen

Nothing more?

Just a pen

How does that make you feel?

It doesn’t

 

Indifference, just a pen

Yet in the darkest recess of your mind

You know that this should be something more

Certainly it is a pen

But is it not also a portal?

Is it not a weapon?

More powerful than any sword ever cast?

 

Yes, a portal to your very soul

The doorway to expression

What could you say with this pen if you were to allow it to speak?

The possibilities are endless

This is not just a pen, this is the future, the past and the present

This is your hope, your freedom, your journey

More than an inanimate object

This is the mighty pen

Embrace it my friend

 

 

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Music Update

The thought came to me recently that I have not given much of an update on my music recently. My newer readers (welcome & thank you by the way!) may not even be aware of the musical side of my life. From the outside it may appear that there is not much to share but I have actually been really busy musically, just not in the way that I had anticipated when I first wrote about my intention to record some past songs and share them, in addition to writing new music.

shedding while shreddingThat project initially went fairly well, I recorded a few songs, was slowly learning the process (it’s not as easy to do well as it may sound) and enjoyed sharing them on here.  2013 ended with a renewed commitment to learning to play the guitar better. It’s not that I can’t play well already, but there are some musical ideas that I get in my head that are much more in the Vai or Petrucci territory than the blues rock style that I play. If I am ever to realize these ideas, unfortunately I need to study a lot of theory & practice even more. That all came to pretty much a grinding halt in January when I had a great conversation which resulted in me volunteering to lead worship once a month at a Christian homeless ministry.

Leading worship has been an absolute dream come true, in so many ways. The only down side (if you can call it that) is that most of my musical free time has been dedicated to practicing for worship, not recording music. Not really that big of a deal, more on that later. As I wrote in my first post I was incredibly nervous when I first lead worship. Since then the nerves have gone away and I have slowly been finding my voice and comfort zone.

I hear music well enough to know that I don’t sound bad, I can hear that I am playing and singing mostly in tune yet it is feedback from others that really lets you know if you are doing ok. I have done it 5 times now and every time I have had nothing but positive feedback. It is really, really cool when after leading worship someone tells you they felts the presence of God during worship. One person told me that she felt I should be writing my own worship songs, something I have a great desire to do, yet somehow it has not quite happened yet (I am assuming this is His timing, not mine). I say it has not happened, I do have 1 actual worship song in the works and several songs that while not what you would call corporate worship songs are songs that are directly inspired by my relationship with Jesus & what He has done in my life.

I am not sure exactly where (if anywhere) leading worship will go, it is my intention to enjoy doing it for a good while though. Not only do I get to use my gifts to honor Jesus & hopefully lead others into a worshipful experience. It is also great therapy, the fears that I had of musical rejection are slowly dissipating and I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. It can be very intense at times, I’ve found myself shaking afterwards, not from nerves but from what I believe is a real connection with the spirit in the moment, I guess it could just be adrenaline but if it is it is unlike anything else that I have felt before.

The slight regret currently with my music is that it is still a very solitary adventure. Don’t get me wrong, great music, music with real emotion, can be made on your own. It certainly doesn’t take a full band to lead people into worship either; I really enjoy doing it on my own. However music is just better when it is a social event, it would be very exciting to get to lead worship with a band one day, with vocal harmonies an option. What I am going to do about this I have no idea. I have no desire to join a band and play bars etc, and as comfortable as I am getting, I don’t feel anywhere close to confident enough to want to try at my church. The band there is made up of professional musicians, great people, but slightly intimidating, besides, the band is full and they have a network of incredibly talented musicians to fill in for vacations already. Maybe I’ll look at having someone join me every now and then while leading worship at Solomon’s Porch.

Outside of worship it would be fun to make original music with people again. Somehow I need to find some folks who want to meet up only when it’s convenient & make original music together, simply for the pleasure of making music. Why do people always want to turn music into a second job or some commercial adventure? I mean, if someone wants to pay me to make music, I’ll let them, but that will never be why I make music. It is an expression of the soul and even more so, when done right, it is an expression of absolute love & worship to the Father.

As far as recording goes, I have recently been working on 1 song which is as close to being done as I am willing to spend the effort on getting it. It is a song I wrote way back in 1995 when I had been playing guitar for just over a year. The challenge I am having with it is do I want to share it on here or not. The original idea was to share everything, just because. However, while it is as good as I can get it, it’s just not very good, so do I share it anyway? Musically and lyrically it is coming from another place than where I am now, do I want to share that? I don’t know.

I probably shouldn’t care, I should just share it as part of the very slow documentary of me learning to record music, even music that oddly enough I don’t like anymore. I do remember being very proud of it when I wrote it.  I suppose letting my light shine should not just be when I feel I have something good to shine, if I am to encourage others to let their light shine, I should probably share when I make something that is more meh than awesome, in a way that might send a better message than only releasing things I think are really good. I still don’t know.

My next recording project after that song will be a song I wrote at the end of last year, this song I love, it is probably my favorite of any song that I have written. I am toying with the idea of documenting the whole recording process. Maybe that will help me to do it quicker than just messing with bits here and there. Maybe I could get tips while doing it.

As for the actual process of recording, for now the 2 real struggles I have when recording are the drum tracks & vocal Eq. As a guitar player my knowledge and understanding of drums, tempo and structure is just not very good. It is a common guitarist problem unfortunately, we are usually off in our own little world playing by feel instead of rules J It should be easy, it’s not like I am actually playing the drums, I am just selecting the drums set, mixing & panning & then picking the best midi loop from the ezdrummer selection. I suppose I could learn how to actually program the midi well myself so that the struggle to find a part that fits would be easier. I always seem to get close enough (maybe with a little modifying), it just takes ages. Unfortunately the drums are the first thing you need to do with a track & the process is a real momentum killer for me at the moment.

As far as EQ’ing my vocals, it is hard for me to get them to sound the way I think they should. The challenge I have too is that I don’t know what is lack of doing it right verses equipment limitations verses that’s just that way I sound & I need to get over it.

So that’s the year in music so far, I’ve bought some new music to listen to and also, attended a couple of concerts that I failed to write about; The Hendrix Experience was guitar nirvana & Jesus Culture was one of the most powerful evenings of worship that I’ll probably ever be part of. I need to get back to writing about music more often; somehow it keeps me more focused on my favorite pastime.

I am a Flag

There is a flag

You can see it

Blowing in the wind

This way and then that way

Up and down

Sometimes it appears to be tied in knots

Occasionally it is so in need of cleaning

That it is difficult to even see what is on the flag

 

It can be difficult sometimes to fathom

Even for the flag itself

Yet for all this flapping around

This flag never goes far

It does not become detached and blow away in the storm

For the flag is attached

There is a pole of truth

Freedom

Righteousness

Running right through it

This pole is anchored to the rock

And there is no separating it

In this life or the next