Fill your cup at the well


Image

Photo Courtesy of: The Swedish National Heritage photostream

As you age, you begin to realize that all the discouragement you feel in the your imperfect friendships with people is fixed in the perfection of God.  Think about it.  The failings of others are contrasted in the things He does everything perfectly.  Someone doesn’t give you time?  God is always there for you, always.  Anytime you need to talk, He has a listening ear.  When you can’t explain yourself to a human, the Holy Spirit can intercede in the groanings of your soul as you tell God.  People hurt you?  God has good in store for you, despite how hard you’re fighting and failing daily.  When you feel like people only want to use you or abuse you, remember this.  God wants what’s best for you and wants to bring you home.  That’s why he left a book full of love letters and words to help you stay on the straight and narrow.  Relationships will fill you full of questions.  God doesn’t desire to keep you in total darkness.  He says when we search for Him with our whole heart, we will find Him.

So be seekers.  Be learners.  Be strong in the Lord.  Be lovers of good.

Go.  Be.

~lme

Advertisements

Sacrifice and Mercy Ships


offering

Photo Courtesy:  This flickr photostream

David said he wouldn’t give to God what cost him nothing.  When we think about sacrifice, we think about giving up or letting go or compromising with someone.  But do we really think about it in practical terms?  I try to think about times in my life that I have actually sacrificed something and they are relatively few… or very small at that.  Sometimes I think about the things that others have done to get to where they are- be it working through medical school or working two jobs while raising a family as a single mom and so on.  The closest to sacrifice I think I have come is giving up some aspects of a music career when it didn’t coincide with my faith or the direction I believed was best for my life.  But here are a few things I’ve come to think sacrifice calls us to….

1.         A true sacrifice involves letting go of control.  Realizing that someone else is in control of your destiny can be both terrifying to accept but also comforting when you relinquish your tight grip.  When something is asked of you, you have a choice to give or a choice to make an excuse or divert the help to someone else.  What will you do where you have been called in that moment of service?

2.         A true sacrifice involves giving up something that is very dear to you as an offering.  I know I tend to think of it as something like letting someone have the last piece of pie or visiting the sick or helping someone jump their car.  But whatever it is, a sacrifice is made when we give of something that we dearly want.  Be it our time, our talents, our clothing, our house, our image…. We are called to lay it at His feet to be used for good.

3.         A true sacrifice involves giving up willingly and happily.  If we begrudge our giving, it does not have the proper effect on our heart.  It is when we push ourselves through that discomfort and continue our good efforts with a positive attitude that we will begin to see our actions change our mindset.  I believe action follows thought.  But I also believe that thought can come from the proper actions as well.  I believe this is why foot washing was

Today I’m feeling really compelled to go and do.  I feel like there is so much God has blessed me with and perhaps there is more that he expects of me.  Am I using what  I have for good or just merely for myself and my own pleasure?  I am not innocent of this mindset although with age it seems things become less about trying to prove oneself to an ever-changing and unforgiving world.  It isn’t easy to be truly honest with oneself…. But some days don’t you feel this stinging in your heart that there is more out there just waiting for you in regards to your “reasonable service?”

I was informed recently about this really cool organization that is currently in need.  It’s called Mercy Ships and they port all over the world, providing healthcare to the underprivileged.  It’s an awesome crew of people who work for various periods of time depending on what they are able to give.  There are countless types of jobs and there is an urgent need right now for several positions.  I am not able to currently be a part of this great organization, but perhaps within the next year, I may have the opportunity to join their cause.  Please check out their website and learn more about what they do.  And if you are serving in various other capacities you have found, keep up the great work.  He tells us to not grow weary while doing good, because He knows we need the continual encouragement even when we go unappreciated.

As you go through your week… let this be your mantra…

“Let kindness be on my tongue, love in my heart and wisdom in my mind so that I might bring even a little light into a world of darkness.

~lme

The need to be seen and the gift of getting lost


Image

Photo Courtesy:  State Library of New South Wales flickrstream I do not condone the usage of cigarettes in this picture… ha.

Each of us is a cog in the wheel of the great symphony of mankind.  Our voices blend in cadences and sometimes result in dissonance.  We all want to be seen, heard, appreciated, understood and loved.  We vocalize thoughts for some validation and eat heaping platefuls of both negative and positive energy from social media feeds daily.  A desire to be seen is something we feast upon.  But is being seen really what it’s cracked up to be?

Do I really want others eyes upon me continually?  We musicians tend to strive for recognition as if our art is only validated through more and more exposure.  But recognition comes with a high price on the pathway to fame.  Perhaps we are diseased with a weight of self.  Look at me, adore me, follow me, share my stuff, like me, love me, befriend me, idolize me.  Is that really what we want?  If I should never be able to get lost, disappear from the world for a day and run free, my soul would suffocate.  I sometimes pity the creative people, especially high-profile artists, in this world. They have intense pressure put on them to daily perform on a level of perfection.  I pity their inability to quietly slip into the unknown to observe, write, think and be.  It isn’t natural to think that someone can be switched on that often.  True art needs a cultivation period.  To get lost in the woods for a day is a blessing taken for granted.  To latch the door and head outside and feel the ground beneath our toes is something we have yet to do because we’re far to busy every day.  To learn how to be still and know that He is, and that we are not, is an aspect of life we too often choke out.  We let the “cares and the deceitfulness of riches” suffocate our hearts and smother our souls.   And I must ask myself why I let my soul wither away from malnourishment of good things and a lack of breath.  If breathing is important for physical life, perhaps it is important for me mentally and even spiritually.  Take some time to really meditate on the blessings and your purpose, vision and goals in life.  Don’t half-heartedly bounce from activity to activity without really comprehending and assessing the significance of each thing you do and whether it draws you closer to your Maker or farther away.

To the artists… don’t let recognition or lack thereof be your ultimate goal.  Are you any less of an artist because only two people hear you or 2 million?  Not in the least.  Keep sharing your message with the world and if you are genuinely in line with your truest self, practicing what you say, people will listen and take it upon themselves to also share your message.

Ponder the reason why you do what you do.  What is your purpose in pursuit?  Steeping in your ultimate goals can help you eliminate daily tasks or events that are merely cluttering your time and mind.

~lme

Boundaries, Creativity and Music Therapy


Music is woven in me and I have yet to be able to separate from my love for it.  This morning I recently read these two amazing blog posts that remind me that music doesn’t’ merely have  a self-involved process.  There is so much more to it being on this earth than that.  Music Think Tank is a great blog for those in the music industry, and this article on Creativity in Constraint really hit home.

We are such musical beings…. Just like the birds and the chimps and even trees and flowers.  There is so much music continually around us in earth and the sky.  Sadly, we are often too plugged into our indie rock to really listen to the music of nature.  But music is a healing thing from God.  It’s awesome the way that a song can transport us or lift our spirits.  God created that in us to do just that very thing.  Music is part of worship and He knew that it would bring us closer to Him.  Why is it that so many of us as musicians tend to think that we must shirk our God to pursue the thing He wanted us to be a part of?  Why do so many of us cut Him off in pursuit of that?

This article discusses our limitations as creative people.  If our limitations are what encourage our creativity such as creative fashion coming from poverty and resourcefulness arising from want….. perhaps there is a connection between spiritual limitations and creative limitations.  Perhaps the boundaries God has given me are not something to be angered about.  They are rather constraints that guide me and teach me how to excel in them.  Is creativity going beyond the lines?  Perhaps, but what if the most creative approaches to certain things were staying within some sort of parameters and finding ways to do that in more innovative ways?  I hope to find ways to do this through my career.

As I listen to some of Neil Young’s greatest tunes, I know he had limitations in both his technical abilities as well as his voice.  I can relate to that.  I’m no picture of perfection.  I get upset when I lack more abilities than I wish I had and to be disciplined to become better.  I am someone trying to change the world for good with my art.  I leave you with an image that tugs at the heart of every songwriter…. Thank you to this blog for sharing:

Image

And as my wheels are turning, how could I ignore the healing power and therapy of music that have existed since long ago…. Through God.  King saul utilized David’s musical gifts to ease his depression and whatever mental demon he was continually fighting.  Music heals our pain in different ways.  This girl’s blog is an amazing testament to the healing properties of music and is a great resource into the world of music therapy.  I think this new field gives validity to the scientists of the world who don’t believe art and music are really something that can be effective in large ways.  It is intriguing that science and art are closely tied and the health of our bodies and minds can be changed due to it.  This is all just more evidence that points us to our Maker.  God knows us and knows how to heal us, and He equipped us with the tools for this.  Thanks mom for the realization.

Pensive on a Thursday am I,

~lme

For shoulders beneath the weight of the world


house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Courtesy:  Florida memory flickr stream

Heavy the Heart

~a poem

Lone, dark house on a hill

Above darker secrets it sits

Grey and blues meld together

In the haunting. in the quiet still

Sad willow dying outside

Cracking paint

And rain seeping

in my windowsill

 

Lights camera, infraction

Where the pain sets in

I won’t leave you lonely

To find your way again

Hiding from the pressure

Away from it all

I can tell that you’re aching

Like weary king saul

 

Walking like bodies

Dying in spirit and flesh

With so much potential

Exhaling each breath

Resting in my bed

Possibly forever alone

This has never scared me

Perhaps i’ve been turned to stone

 

The devil breaks my body

But he won’t claim my soul

Chewing at my heels

I take the bridge, and pay the toll

He walks around in circles

Lighting fires in an open field

Chanting that I am no good

Whispers love can never heal

 

Dark as the night water rushes in

And small as I know I am

I will take my shoes off

and in the blackland soil, I will stand

as the storm begins to near

My brown eyes will be set

Wrapped in what I know

Against what has not happened yet.

~lme

Why I will persevere as a visionary


Image

I’m currently reading the first chapter of a great book called The boss of you… written by two brave women.  And they challenged me to really think about the why behind what I want to pursue.  So here’s the why behind it.

1.         For those who love creativity.  I’m creative.  I believe we can be that and be different.  We are people with conviction, faith, love and want to soak up the world around us.  But we’ve been told to tell ourselves no, believing there wasn’t an arena for us as people of faith and artists.  I’m here to tell you I will not believe that lie anymore and neither should you.

2.         I believe in the future, in the artists, the musicians and those who have worked really hard at their craft, despite math and science brains saying what they have is more important to offer.  Because if one is more important than the other, then why are the doctors buying tickets to our shows and unwind after a surgery by listening to some enchanting melody from our contribution to society?  In a world of negativity and increasing ills, hope is needed through the arts.  I believe that so much good and blessings can come from what music can offer.  And I believe that I can contribute to that.

3.         I want to be able to write songs and share them for a living and create a listening experience that is unparalleled and exciting.  I want creative venues for shows that have so often been forced into a narrow idea of what a venue is.

4.         I want to use my music to fuel goodwill and do good things in the world around me.  I want to write songs that give people hope and stir them onto good works and to look to a greater home after they die.  I want to bring people to an appreciation for life, God and a healthy hereafter.

5.         Money will not be the goal, nor will fame.  I will welcome the blessings and use them as I think God would have me do, but I do not want the goal other than supporting, saving and giving back.  And my goal is to be able to have health insurance and feed myself and others in the future all because I work hard at honing my craft of songwriting and performing.  I will be the Barnabas in a world of excuses and failings.  I will encourage the people I meet every day.

6.         I want to show people that someone who wants to do what’s right can be successful in a difficult industry by paving her own path.  Someday I hope to help others find their way of making a difference around them.

7.         I want to tour, make friends all around the world and have countless stories from a life well lived.

8.         I will not be average…. I will live awesomely through the talents I have been given and through the God who gave each of them to me.  And I will restore them to him, rusty and worn and say “thank you for these gifts- they are loved and worn and my hands are tired and my mind is ready to be at rest forevermore.”

Live the life you’ve imagined…

love,

~lme

Let me know how you can relate!

Free things are good things


money

Photo Courtesy of this flickr photostream

Things I love that cost me nothing:

Observing a beautiful moon in Nashville

Hearing the spring breeze rustle through tree leaves… knowing that God is present.

Laughing hard with great friends

A random stranger’s smile

The promise of future opportunities and friendships and memories to come.

Singing to my favorite songs in the car while keeping the beat and dancing from the waist up.

The peace I feel despite not being able to control every aspect of my life- a peace that passes understanding

The blessing to have people who are cheering me on in my goals

Singing, hearing, playing, loving music

A feeling of gratitude and contentment of my life today.

What are some of your favorite blessings that cost nothing monetarily speaking?

~lme

The Well Wishing


Image

Photo Courtesy: SDASM Archives photo stream

People carry sorrows

like chains around their feet

so carry your brother

when the water gets too deep

Wherever you end up

Just step on outside yourself

Let your word be a promise

Let your love be deep as a well

Chorus:

Into the forests

Out of the past

Running through the trials

Clutching the mast

The darkness may trail

the light of this tune

But someday I’ll make a promise

Beneath a summer moon

All words have two meanings

That get turned in the toss

I don’t understand it

But love suffers long

I’ve seen vice and virtue

From all to old

No matter the substance

It poisons the soul

Chorus:

Into the forests

Out of the past

Running through the trials

Clutching the mast

The darkness may trail

the light of this tune

But someday I’ll make a promise

Beneath a summer moon

Music wafts through us

Like spirits in this realm

Truth becomes us

Once it has been found

Hymns and thistles

Tied up with a bow

Wherever this road carries us

Few will come to know

~lme

Self-indulged and sick with it


“The self-indulgent man craves for all pleasant things… and is led by his appetite to choose these at the cost of everything else.”
― AristotleThe Nicomachean Ethics

Image

Photo Courtesy:  George Eastman house photostream

We are self-indulged.  And we’ve never truly known poverty or hunger or bitter cold.  Much as we’d like to deny it, there isn’t much we can’t have right at our fingertips at any given point and with the right amount of money.  And if we are forced to “wait,” we become quite impatient and angered at the situation.  Believing we are self-made men and women, we have slowly drifted into a mindset that we really have no need for God.  Why depend on someone when we believe we can do it alone?  We are self-sufficient and have no desire for anyone telling us what to do or how to live our lives. Sadly, this quote by Aristotle rings true in the world of musicians.  Therefore- a picture of a self-sick society…

Life was good there.  And in this prosperous society, there was a sect of people.  They were called musicians and they lived in their own separate world, believing no one understood them.  They were continually busy with distraction, every form of media on which to plug themselves and their talents.  Their pursuits and fever for fame flooded the bulk of their thinking, acting and discussion in the community.  While those in the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome worshipped physical idols, the musicians had no need for these.  The idols were rampant in their hearts- held up daily as they bowed mentally to them both day and night.  They could have been faulted had it been completely their doing.  Rather, they were products of their society to some extent.  They were put on stages, high above the crowds.  Looking down on others always helped one to feel loftier than the others below.  The observers would scream and chant praises.  Others would grab at their legs, longing for one touch.  And still others would emulate their style and strive to meet them backstage. 

It was innately human, though.  Like all beings, they had a need for association and to become a part of something bigger than themselves.  In the music industry, they had found something to fill the void.  God had made them with this need for acceptance and to connect with something grander in scale.  But this desperate need for association had become misdirected somewhere and was funneled toward a people, performance and things.  The musicians were sadly warped in their thinking.  They knew that the world did not revolve around them, but somehow, they had been led to believe that it did by a self-sick society.

Moral to the story:

As musicians, we must work to not become saturated with ourselves.  What is continually in our thoughts?  That is what we are serving.  We often say daily that we are “pursuing” something.  Our truest pursuit should be toward the ultimate Creator and then whatever goals we work toward are merely just honing our skills and talents in this and that area.  It would take an immense pressure off of ourselves if we let go of the thoughts that we had to prove ourselves to the world, become well-liked by everyone (which is a total joke) and that success in music was only measured in terms of dollars or facebook fans.

No wonder musicians have such a warped view of themselves.  We commoners treat them as gods.  But what if we treated musicians and the actual process of making a living at music as less-dreamy and as something that required hard work just like an architect or a teacher or a dolphin trainer.   If we put jobs on respectable, even playing fields and believed that everyone should use their talents to better the world at large, we might not see the arts as being so lofty.  If we viewed it as a normal career path that one might pursue- and not some lottery, one-in-a-million chance to make you a big star- then society might begin to view musicians in a healthier light.  My feeling is that as musicians, our business models should begin to include more service and a change of heart toward fans and a respectful kindness toward all we come in contact with.  I’m not sure how start this change on a larger level, but I welcome ideas in the comment section below.  Feel free to leave comments and thoughts!

Enjoy your Tuesday!

~lme

My musical journey thus far: Why I play music but try to separate myself from the music industry


Image

Photo Credit: New York Public Library photostream

They tell you good things take time.  I can see the beauty in waiting for the right time in my life.

I began writing songs at the close of my college career in my one-bedroom apartment in east Texas.  I still remember my first open mic, shaking hands and the honest statement before I sat down saying “I am not a professional.”  But I began to write and play and create in a way I never had before.  Shortly after college, I moved to Austin, the live music capitol of the world.  At 23, I wanted a music career.  And at 24 and 25 and 26 and so on.  I wanted to find the person who would help me launch my career.  I wanted to go, move, meet everyone I could.  Someone once told me “I had the fever.”  It was funny, but it was true.  I observed an industry guy at South by Southwest one year with my business card, wanting to drop it into his briefcase at his side, hoping it would be discovered and appreciated later.  But I now wonder whether my fever rested in the actual love of music or the pursuit of fame and fortune.  I confess at times, I really became stary-eyed for the hopes and dreams and pursuit of being something wonderful to the world.  In those early twenties, I had an innate desire to prove myself to a world that I believed did not understand me, family included.

Since that time, I have grown to realize some things about myself and the industry as a whole that have shaped me.  I’m not totally jaded and walking away, but that’s probably because I haven’t gone deep into the recesses of the music industry abyss.  I always thought dancing on the sidelines would hold me back.  And in a way it did.  I was never willing to sacrifice my faith, my dignity, my conviction or my vision for what others were willing to sell it for.  I respected myself, my conviction and my art.  And I wanted my music to sell itself.  And I knew that those who sacrifice more and faster would get farther down that career road faster than myself.  But I still refused to follow the path of least resistance.

Throughout my stint in Austin, I began to meet various musicians, booking managers and mentors in the field.   Flaky musicians, waiting for producers who never showed at coffeeshops and disappointing recording experiences were all the continual existence of my world.  The music industry and its people began to manifest themselves as saturated with addiction and selfishness.  I saw people who had fallen into difficult times.  I also saw good families falling at the feet of the music god while neglecting the spiritual welfare of their children.  My heart hurt when I lost friends or felt rejected.  Most importantly, God began to open my eyes to an existence that began to look empty and fruitless.  But in my heart, I felt pulled by a passion that I could not deny.  I knew I had this gift of writing songs, connecting to people and inspiring others on a daily basis.  I will always remember my continued grappling with my talents while questioning who I was supposed to be in God’s kingdom.  I also remember struggling with why others were living my dreams and the near tears I held back once when leaving a show for wanting it so badly.  In my heart, I longed to be doing what I loved and what I knew I was good at.

Somewhere around 26 or 27, I arrived at a monumental conclusion.  If I was ever to make a career of this music thing, I would not be able to follow the same path the others had followed.  I didn’t feel comfortable playing in certain atmospheres, so I was picky about where my performances occurred.  I was highly selective about band members, because I knew that people you spend copious amounts of time with will undoubtedly affect and change you.  I never wanted a manager who didn’t understand my vision and direction.  I also began to realize that trying to get recognized by a record label might not be my best course of action unless it was an an ideal label that respected its artists.  Rather, I decided to become an independent artist.  I would self-produce an EP and create my own “cabinet” or network of trusted designers, printers, booking people, photographers, artists and videographers.  I would be able to control what I created and the image I would ultimately project into the world.  This would force me to become creative in both revenue generation as well as promotion.  I realized after a conversation with a band manager that I would be viewed as either a pioneer or a purist who was holding onto the way she believed about certain things.  Though challenges were undeniable, I still felt compelled to try.  I had grit, and I knew with some hard work, something could be achieved.

I have often felt that even if I did fail at this, I would still be happier than never having tried.  With a father who started his own business and a grandfather who was a gifted salesman, I felt like it was in my blood to pursue an entrepreneurial path.  Now thinking about business plans for my music, I am challenging myself to see things as truly beneficial or not.  I have both 3-5 year goals as well as short-term goals.  My current goal is to complete my first EP by the end of August and have it mixed, mastered, packaged and ready for all of you by mid-September.  I am blessed to have Michael Estok and Vibe Dial Studios for this.  After the release of the EP, my next goal is to play 4-6 shows in various cities in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia to begin this train down the track.  All aboard.

I want to create something meaningful and relatable.  I believe in my vision of a career of writing, playing and singing music while involving great people along the way.  But I guess the larger theme of what I’d like to do is to change the musician stereotype of self-centeredness.  Throughout my endeavors, I want to incorporate the aspect of service into my character and my business model.  By spreading revenue to positive organizations as well as helping with benefit shows and selecting service venues to play, I believe this will help keep me grounded and give back to communities small and large.  I believe in the need for more musicians to perpetuate a healthy perspective by viewing our gifts as something we’ve been given.   And they are gifts we are forever indebted to share with the world for good.  May we never forget that God bestowed us with gifts to enjoy for ourselves and for others.

So now, here I am at 28.  Five years after I began writing my first songs.  I hope at this point, I have a better head on my shoulders than once was there and a little more savvy in the way things work.  I know I have much to learn and will always be learning.  But here’s to future goals, projects and endeavors.  Let’s all work to have the best attitude and be both thankful and effective with the gifts we’ve been given J