Sunday, October 17, 2010


*This is a transmission from Songwriter Nerd Camp, intended for fellow songwriter nerds. If you are not one of us, kindly ignore this post and carry on.*

We often refer to Write About Jesus as a family and that is truly what it is. And in the family of WAJ, we all enter at different stages of songwriting life. Many hear of WAJ very early on in their writing careers and are just babies when they first don the orange lanyard, others are seasoned veterans who have cut their teeth elsewhere and show up at WAJ as fully developed, functional family members. I, however, along with many of my favorite people at WAJ, came in somewhere around the 7th grade with braces and pimples, awkward and insecure. That was six years ago, and for some reason this year I looked around and realized that we truly have grown up at WAJ, like the title of the panel that I missed. Like a senior class in cap and gown, I look at the people I have walked alongside in this journey and I see the growth and maturity that only time can bring, yet still knowing that we have so much more to learn.

On the way to the airport for departure, Sean and I talked about what it means to “arrive” in songwriting. I am so glad we had that conversation, because one of the biggest things I took home this year was the understanding that, unless I redefine for myself the concept of arrival, it will always remain just out of reach. So perhaps there are multiple arrivals along the way. Perhaps I have arrived in many ways even this year. Maybe I have “arrived” when....

….I can relate to people for who they are and not what they can do for me.

When I can write not to impress a particular person but to excel in my craft for my joy and God's glory.

When I can sit in a 2 hour writing session and not get beyond a first verse, but leave neither irritated nor discouraged because I have built a relationship with another like-minded brother or sister in Christ.

When I am on the spot and I am able to stop my heart from pounding out of my chest in that moment by saying to myself “my worth is in Christ..... my worth is in Christ...” because I truly believe it.

When I can step back and look at my life and realize that I am in fact living my dream. The moments of discontent come because, for some sick reason, I continually push my dream out of reach rather than enjoy where I am and thank the Lord for His blessing. I'm all for challenging myself and pressing onward, but I have found that if my motivation for pushing harder is void of joy, or has any root in bitterness or jealously or an arrogant sense of entitlement, then songwriting has become an idol that I must hasten to pull down.

It's funny as I look at that list and see that none of them have anything to do with the craft itself. And isn't that what they've been trying to tell us all along? It's about relationships. I guess they know that they're talking about. They who have guided us so patiently through our fumbling adolescent years of slow discovery. They are more than mentors, because WAJ is more than a conference. It is like a family, and they are like parents, giving generously at their own expense, reaching down to pull us up, and hopefully experiencing the joy and fulfillment that comes from seeing the fruit of their sacrifice. To them, I want to say thank you for your rich investment in us. Because very few people arrive anywhere without someone first showing them the way.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Braselton Family Update Quiz

This is a post that I've had on my list to write for months now, but just haven't gotten around to it. When we starting telling people that we were pregnant, Matthew said I'd better update the blog and fill folks in on what our adoption plans are and all that good stuff. I agreed, but thought it would make for a pretty dry post both to write and to read, so I have been putting it off until now. But in the 30 seconds or so of typing this opening paragraph, I have decided not to resign this post to such a fate. Instead of a “press release” I'm going to make this a short quiz that anyone who is interested can participate in. You'll still get the low-down, but I won't drop off to sleep while editing my own post. I'll also mail a free “Wondrous Things” CD to the first person (other than Luke Simmons) to get 100% correct. Good luck!

The Braselton Family Update Quiz

1. Matthew and Kristie's latest addition to the family is due on:

a) St. Patrick's Day
b) Memorial Day
c) Independence Day
d) Labor Day

2. The decision to have another biological child came about when:

a) Matthew and Kristie found out they were pregnant
b) Kristie got the baby bug and wore Matthew down
c) Matthew got the baby bug and wore Kristie down
d) Bethany and Harper begged for a baby

3. When Matthew and Kristie told their caseworker that they were pregnant, she informed them that:

a) She was very excited for us
b) Agency policy states that a pregnant couple cannot adopt until one year after their baby is born.
c) She will put our home study on hold and all of the paperwork that we've done will still be good to go with a few updates
d) All of the above

4. When Matthew and Kristie heard what she had to say, they:

a) Flew into a fit of rage
b) Were disappointed, but knew that God was in control of their family.
c) Decided to switch agencies and pursue international adoption
d) Booked a Caribbean cruise with the money in their adoption savings account

5. The plan for the Braselton family's adoption is now:

a) Have the new baby and see where our family is at a year from then
b) Switch tracks to international adoption where there are no waiting policies
c) Put the new baby up for adoption so we can adopt sooner
d) Adopt a highway instead

6. The Braseltons were planning on adopting a sibling group of 2 or 3, but now:

a) They want to adopt a sibling group of no less than 4 in hopes of replacing Jon and Kate on cable television.
b) They plan to adopt only one child
c) Their plans have not changed
d) They are in a "wait and see" stage for the next few years

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eight Cents

Last night we told the kids about the earthquake and prayed for Haiti before we went to bed. Bethany had a special connection with Haiti because she had collected a jar of spare change for them last year after learning they were the poorest country in the world. Today at lunch we prayed for them again, and I told the girls that Mommy and Daddy were going to give some money to help Haiti and that they were welcome to give some of their money too if that was something they felt like they wanted to do.

Both girls said right away that they did want to help, and made a dash for their piggy banks. They both came down with hands full of change. Harper handed me a handful of coins she had fished out from her impressive stash (she's quite the saver), and Bethany came down with several coins, all the money she had left (she's quite the spender). Harper gave me her contribution and Bethany pulled out 4 quarters and put them in my hand. “I want to give them a dollar,” she explained, and nodding to the nickel and three pennies that remained in her hand, “I'm going to keep this much.”

“Thank you,” I told her. “It's very generous of you.” Then she asked if we could take a trip to Haiti so we could see what was happening over there. I told her we couldn't, but that I could show her pictures on the computer. She wanted very much to see them, so we sat down on the couch and watched a news clip from NBC. The girls stared silently at the images of collapsed buildings, women crying, and streets full of injured people. “That's so sad...” Harper commented when it was over. “We need to give them the money NOW!”

“We can!” I said, signing onto the Food for the Hungry website. When I got to the space to type in the dollar amount, I started to add up the girls' donations and the grown-up donation.

“Wait.” Bethany said. Then she opened her hand and carefully set the other eight cents onto the laptop. “I want to give the rest.”

I smiled silently, drew her in for a hug and kissed her on the head, then adjusted the total to reflect the additional eight cents. Together, the girls pressed the “checkout now” button and the coins still warm from their hot little hands crossed the ocean and landed in the streets of Haiti. And my heart welled up with the hope that my little girls might learn from me the joy of giving sacrificially, and that I might learn the same from them.