I Was Welcomed With Open Arms…

Hell Is Chrome

I've Said Too Much FINAL

I have no idea what Jeff was writing about in this song.  Maybe it’s an allegory for something in his life.  Maybe it’s saying the “devil” is actually the church?  Or the “American dream”?  Or something that makes us feel part of something, or that we belong?  All of these could make sense to me.

I should Google the meaning of this song.  One sec….

OK – I found it.  From a lyric page, where people commented on the meaning.  This makes complete sense!  Read below…

“I think the meaning is pretty clear here, Jeff Tweedy loves Firefox and thinks it is a much better browser than Chrome even though Chrome is really stable and secure and fast. He just likes Firefox better.”

In all sincerity though, someone commented on finding meaning, or purpose, where we least expect it.  Which does really make sense.

For me, I think of how satan (Yes, I do believe the devil is real) would do all he can to try and befriend me.  Anything from knowing my likes, desires, dreams, to making me feel “welcome”.

This would be temporary, of course.  But lasting enough to suck me in.  Until it’s too late…

Or until something else comes along that is equally or more welcoming.  Which then might be the thing that kills me.

And it’s all alluring.  Chrome.  Shiny.  New.  Lovely.  Mesmerizing.

Hell.

So I sort of “squatted” on Jeff’s song.  Sorry Jeff.  I hope I don’t take it completely out of context – or better, that it doesn’t offend you to the core.  But in context of the theme of MY record – hell is that very thing that would suck you in, and then suck the very life out of you.  And then it’s too late..

Thankfully, while we are here, it’s never too late.

I do like how this song turned out.  I LOVE the Wilco original.  Give it a listen here!

But I knew I could not recreate their sound – nor do I really want to try.  I mean – why cover a song if you’re just gonna sound exactly like them – or worse, a pale comparison?  Why not just listen to theirs, and save a lot of time and energy?

So I went the direction I did.  Less instrumentation (cause I can’t play like Wilco does…).  Harmonies.  Slower.  More “haunting”?  I don’t know.  I don’t know if it’s good – but I kinda like how it turned out.

I had my friend Toby Wilson play pedal steel.  He’s a gem.  You should use him, if you write and record songs and need pedal steel.  Check him out here!

So – to summarize – I too prefer Chrome over Firefox, or Edge, or IE (though I like a good Netscape Navigator every now and then).  I don’t like hell.  I don’t think anyone does.  But I do think we often choose hell, while looking for heaven.

And I hope you like my rendition of someone else’s song.

Hell Is Chrome

 

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#YOUMATTER

You Are Beautiful

I've Said Too Much FINAL

My wife and I were in San Francisco last fall.  Wonderful city.  We were in the Tenderloin district.  It’s the area where, seemingly, all the homeless people are herded.  I say this, because one of the women I met while there, told me should couldn’t go past a certain street.  “The cops won’t let us”.  I found that odd.  It was getting near the “high end” area.  Maybe these people are an eye sore?  Probably – we all kinda think that about these people…

People…

So – I tend to LOVE going out and hanging with people on the street.  I might bring food, I might just offer to sit with someone and chat, if they will have me.

In San Francisco, in the Tenderloin District, I didn’t have to approach anyone.  I was approached.  Over and over.  And over again.

Some were kind.  Some not.  Some were destitute.  All were, really, but some more than others.

But I felt – overwhelmed.  To the point where, at one point, I said, “No more, Lord.  I can’t take one more…”  Selfish, I know.  And God didn’t stop.

I wrote this song about a few people I encountered in San Francisco, last fall.

Anna – this wonderful woman, came up to me and my wife, asking if we had a dollar.  She looked so – sad…  I asked her name, and you would have thought there suddenly was a different person, as she lit up and declared, “Anna”!  With such a beautiful smile.  I mean – stunning.  Not in a “Greta Garbo” sort of way.  More in a, “Wow, someone wants to know my name?”  I was struck with the thought, when is the last time someone asked her?

Doris – this woman was a wreck.  Pregnant.  Strung out and high.  Wanted money, so badly.  I couldn’t.  I don’t often have money on me, actually.  I did, but knew this would be bad for her.  “Lord, what should I do?”.  I felt led to give her food – and as much as she wanted.  So we went into this local pizza/burger/whatever place.  And she ordered a personal pizza.  And some chicken strips.  And a burger.  And a 2-litre of coke.  And fries.  And a few other things.  I just said, “Yes, yes, yes, you bet”.  Rang up a huge bill, just to lavish love on her as best I could.  We chatted for quite a while, as we waited for all that food to be made.  She was lovely, and so personable and engaging.

Until the food was there, and she asked again and again for money.  Pleading.  Begging – “Please, I just need a few dollars…”, with no real reason for the money.  When I couldn’t give it to her, she grew more and more upset.  I left her, upset with me.  She didn’t owe me anything – but it was so clear that NOT giving her money was a good thing.  Yet so very heartbreaking…

Karen – Karen is actually the name of the very first person I approached, after being saved.  Like two months or so after being saved.  I was in Kansas City with my son.  I made this poor little kid come with me, as I went to “share the Gospel with this poor homeless woman”.  To my amazement and relief, she shared the Gospel with me!  Such joy in her heart!  It was so encouraging and wonderful.  She was wonderful and engaging, as she shared her life with us.  So dang cool…

I chose these three to write about, and to, in this song.  All three had major impacts on my life, and God used them to touch my heart.  And I wanted to write something that God might actually say to them – or to you or me.

YOU MATTER.

I don’t think we really believe this.  That the God of the universe cares deeply for each of us.  That He’s capable.  That He’s willing.  That He REALLY loves us, that much.

But it’s true.  We do well to remember this…

And I pray for Anna, that she know this.  That a chance encounter is not all that she knows, when it comes to knowing her name is important.  That she see SHE is important to Jesus.

I pray for Doris – that she no longer live in shame and fear, that she be FREE in the name of Jesus!

I pray for Karen – that she continually rejoice in the Lord – whether that is still here on earth or when she stands face to face with Christ.

I pray for you – that you know God loves you with an everlasting love…

You Are Beautiful
You are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

Dear Anna,
Such a beautiful smile
Such a beautiful name
And I call you Mine
I’ve called you by name
Into My grace
My mercy is yours for the taking

Dear child, don’t you know yet?
Dear one, haven’t you heard?

That you are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

Dear Doris,
You don’t need that hit…
You don’t need that shame…
‘Cause you are My gift
I give you Myself
And that’s enough
If only you’d know this…
If only you’d know this…

Dear child, with a child of your own
Dear one, don’t let go…

‘Cause you are so beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

Dear Karen,
Pure in heart
You think no one sees you…
But I do…
Your name’s not forgotten
It’s in My book of life
And today you will hear me in Paradise, say…

You are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

You Are Beautiful

 

I’ve Already Said Too Much…

I've Said Too Much FINAL

I’ve Said Too Much

When I make a record, I am almost always trying to tell some sort of story.  Each song is doing so – and I would hope any songwriter is trying to communicate with the listener in some way – but I try to collect songs that tell a greater story of some sort.  I can’t say I do it perfectly.  In fact – I will say I do NOT do it perfectly.  But that is my desire with each record.

This one, “I’ve Said Too Much”, is attempting to tell the story of the human condition.  Whether one agrees with my worldview or not, we can all agree that each living person thinks and feels, breathes, consumes and produces, has a mix of joys and sorrows, etc.  Every human being in some way desires and seeks love, identity, value – to know THEY are valued.  Whether that be narcissistic or not, depends on how much value they put in being valued?  That last part was me attempting to sound smart.  Doesn’t work, so let’s move on…

I do believe the human condition really isn’t THAT different from person to person.  In this story, I’m talking to things such as depression, self-esteem, self-centeredness, pain, failure, loss, redemption.  One in particular, is depression, whether clinical, chronic, or a season in one’s life.  We have all  been there, to some varying degree.

Why bring this up, or talk to it?  I don’t bring it up, pretending to be any sort of expert (I’m not), or assume I have all the answers (I don’t), or even presume I know what you are going through (I simply can’t.  I can empathise – but I cannot pretend to be where you are emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally, at this moment).  I bring it up, with hopes to encourage you – as I try to do with almost anything I write – that you are not alone, and YOU MATTER.

Yeah – you.

No, I’m not talking about him.  Or her.  Well – I mean, I AM talking to them as well.  But really – I am talking to you.  You know what I mean…  Another attempt at smart-soundedness.  Sorry…  😉

I’ll go through the record, song by song, as I have in the past.  For now, please enjoy my latest offering, and we’ll see you very soon!

Love, T.

I’ve Said Too Much

You Are Beautiful

You Are Beautiful

You Are Beautiful

I wrote this song after my last visit to San Francisco.  During that visit, I was reminded how easy it is to marginalize people.  We hear about this every day in the news and on social media.  But we don’t really talk about some of the most marginalized – those “dirty, scary people on that block you probably don’t want to walk down”….

My wife and I stayed on “that block” while in San Francisco, and we met some really sweet people.  We also ran into some people who are – probably insane.  The level of what seems to be insanity among the population we were among is more than I’d seen anywhere else (granted, I haven’t been everywhere – maybe this is more common?…).  We were really overwhelmed by this darkness.  I mean how do you reach someone who is incapable of being reached?  God have mercy…

We did run into a few people though who were wonderful and gracious enough to have chats with us.  Some were so pleased we would spend time with them, or even ask their name.  Some just wanted money for a fix.  Some were sleeping all day – maybe because it’s safer to sleep during the day?  I mean, that’s what I would do, if I lived on the streets – so we just left food at their feet.

Each story is heartbreaking, yet sweet.  These are PEOPLE!  With stories, and life, and dreams.  And value.  Never let someone tell you we as humans are insignificant.  As if it’s arrogant to put a value on a human (yes I heard this too, while staying in SF, at the conference I was at.  A very very intelligent man was spouting this lie to an audience who eat it up like steak…).  We as people ARE valued and valuable, to the One who created us.  This is not arrogant, because it speaks to HIS glory, not ours.

I wrote this song, after the visit.  For Anna, who lit up with the most beautiful smile, when we asked her what her name was.  For Doris, who could not see past her need for the next fix, even at the expense of the babies in her womb…  For Karen, who was actually the first person I approached, ten years ago.  I wonder what she’s up to today…

For Heather, who just needed a few more bucks to make rent, so she would not be thrown out on the street again.  For the Vietnam vet, who felt like he had no more use.  For the men piled on each other for warmth, as they slept in a forgotten alley…

I’m giving the song away.  But if anyone streams or downloads it, I’ll donate to a local Minneapolis organization called In Love Word and Deed.  They go out weekly and bring meals to people in Minneapolis.  They pray over and with, share love and good news with, get to know, cry over and with, these wonderful people.  They are wonderful people.  If you see fit, please consider helping them out.

And if you would, prayerfully consider, how your smile, your “hello”, your handshake or hug, might just show someone they matter.  Because they do.  And so do you…

You Are Beautiful

You are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

Dear Anna, such a beautiful smile
Such a beautiful name
And I call you mine
I’ve called you by name into My grace
My mercy is yours for the taking

Dear child, don’t you know yet?
Dear one, haven’t you heard

That you are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

Dear Doris, you don’t need that hit…
You don’t need that shame…
Cause you are My gift
I give you Myself
And that’s enough
If only you’d know this…

Dear child with a child of your own
Dear one, don’t let go…

Cause you are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

Dear Karen
Pure in heart
You think no one sees you…
But I do…
your name’s not forgotten
It’s on my book of life
And today you will hear me in paradise, say

You are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

You Are Beautiful

 

If You Falter…

If you falter in a time of trouble,
    how small is your strength!
Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
    Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?
(Proverbs 24:10-12)

Sunday January 22nd marked 43 years since abortion was made legal in this country…

It’s celebrated by so many today, as a woman’s right to her choice, to her own decisions with her body.

It’s mourned by so many others, as a time when we as a nation said, “It’s OK – no righteous – to kill your baby”.

We argue whether or not this baby is a baby – is a life.  When it’s a life.  What determines this child is a living human being.  What determines viability.

It’s become quite the topic, of late.  Political candidates ran on this platform, as they have in the past.  But it seems the lines have been drawn harder than before.  It’s a hill many are willing to die on.

Am I?

I wrote this post in September of 2015.  I talked about not being able to stay “on the fence”.  Then – I got back on the fence…  I never stopped believing what I wrote.  But I – just hid…

I confess, I am a coward.  I am afraid to post even this.  I’m afraid to take the stand.  I’m afraid to offend so many of my friends – to lose friends…  But if what I believe to be true, is true – how can I tremble in the background in fear?  How can I NOT say something?

If you falter in a time of trouble,
    how small is your strength!

So my invitation to talk is still open, to anyone who is willing.  If you think I’m an idiot, a bigot, against women and/or women’s rights, heartless, a monster – SHOW ME why this is the case.  Come talk to me.  Reach out to me, and I will gladly meet with you.  If you think a child with a heartbeat at 18 days is not a living human being – TELL ME why.  Let’s talk about it.

See – I don’t want to hide behind politicians making decisions that may or may not affect law in this country, or in our states.  I am surely interested in that – but I know it’s not the answer to changing hearts and minds.  Hearts and minds changing might however affect law, eventually – certainly it has in that the morality of the day says a women’s right to choose trumps the life of a child.  That didn’t happen overnight.  And I think short of Jesus returning, that likely doesn’t get reversed overnight.  43 years plus of the message that abortion is necessary, a right, GOOD, will affect us as a people.  Think about that…

So – let’s talk…

But I understand that an invitation will likely be met with silence.  Or an online argument that gets heated beyond what I am comfortable with – I’m willing to go there, and I will be patient and hear you out, responding with respect.  Or the invitation will be met with me being unfriended on social media.  Or labeled.  Or all of the above.  I get it.  There is a line in the sand.  One must choose sides.  It’s just not a topic anyone can speak passively on, or really, avoid.

I fear speaking out about such a divisive topic today could hinder my ability to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  But really, Jesus – God in flesh – came to save the weak, the oppressed, the sinners (all of us).  That’s this child growing inside of you, as much as it is YOU, dear mother…

And know that I am not here to condemn you, if you have had an abortion.  Just as I have plead with those I love getting a divorce, “Don’t do it!”, only to love them and move forward with them after they still made the decision to end the marriage, I would do the same for you.  Heck – that is what Jesus did for me…  That’s what He does for us…

Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
    Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

That passage, has been used before in pro-life talks.  I think it is important to note, those “being led away to death”, that isn’t necessarily applying to the child growing inside of you.  It applies to you, mother.  To you, father.  To you, doctor.  To you, pro-choice advocate.  To all of us.  My Lord – that’s what Jesus did for us…

No idea who might read this.  I don’t get a lot of readers.  But if  you are in a situation, where you or someone you know are considering abortion, know there are options.  Here are just a couple, in the Twin Cities:

http://www.nlfs.org/

http://www.mypregnancychoicesmn.com/

It’s only a couple of options, I know.  I’m sure many could list other options, possibly better options.  And I would appreciate that greatly, as I would love to provide every option to those faced with these decisions.

I know that some of you are facing something I’m not.  I know that having a child will affect you for the rest of your life.  But really – the pregnancy, whether going to term or being ended prematurely – will affect you the rest of your life.  It does not go away with abortion.  You were still a mother, once…

Grace and peace…

T.

Song Story #6 – Shedding My Skin

sheddingskin

Shedding My Skin

Odd title, I know.  Odder still, if I tell you this song is about death?  And why would one want to talk about death, on the eve of Thanksgiving???

Death is one of the few guarantees we have in life.  It’s the most painful, terrifying thing.  We have NO CONTROL over it.  And we like control, don’t we?

I came up with this title 23 years ago, when my grandma passed away (she drew the picture you see above, by the way – I have it framed in my studio).  See, when my grandpa died in 1988, I watched my grandma turn from this feisty, firey, sweet old lady, into a depressing, depressed person just begging to die.  My memory of her may differ from others?  But I distinctly recall her saying, more than once after my grandpa’s passing, “I’m sick.  I’m dying.”, in a “life sucks” tone.  This was not her prior to his death.  Not to me anyway.

But I also remember, in her last days while in the hospital, a sense of renewed LIFE!  The last time I saw her, she looked younger than she had, maybe ever in my life.  Like she had shed her skin, and a new Grandma was there!  She was glowing, and vibrant.  So beautiful… Then she was gone…

So I wrote a song, trying to capture that.  I can’t remember much of the original version I wrote so many years ago, other than the chorus, which I used to write this one.

This new version is about those dear loved ones, who are left behind.  Specifically a spouse.  See, much like my grandma, who lost her life when she lost her husband, I have witnessed the same or similar in my own mother and mother-in-law.  It’s so sad to see…  Yet, at the same time, so beautiful…  You see how these couples really were “two becoming one”, when you see that person left without their life-long love…

The death of a long-time spouse – your lifetime friend, lover, confidant, basically YOU – that death is the death of two who had become one.  I’m describing this as one who has witnessed it but never experienced it.  I wonder if I have it even close to right?  But that is what I was trying to capture in the writing of this song.

And also, the ultimate freedom that comes in our physical death – for those who are in Christ Jesus.  The lines, “To be with you, I’d give everything just to be with you”, were written from the perspective of my mother saying this to my father who had passed on.  But personalized by my desire to be with my Jesus.  I’d give it all up – my wonderful family, the life he’s blessed me with here, my own wife – all of it – to be with Him now.

Who have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You…

This is my favorite song on the new record.  The beauty and sadness in the lyric.  The fact that I accidentally stumbled upon a Phil Collins vibe in the music (I’ve spoken about my obsession with Mr. Collins before, so it may not come as a surprise when I say, this was a treat for me), the chanting crescendo of “Hallelujah” at the end of the song.  I hope I don’t sound braggadocios when I say, I love this song…

And I hope you will too…

Shedding My Skin
I’m so alone
Nobody knows
Nobody understands
I’m waiting to die
Cause maybe then I would matter
At least for a little while

And to be with You…
To be with You…
I’d give everything just to be with You…

Why am I waiting?
Why am I here?
Why can’t I remember…

That oh, I’m shedding my skin
I’m ready to live again

I’m less than normal
I’m less the free
Trapped in this bag of bones
I’m searching for comfort
I’m waiting to die
So maybe I’ll live again

And to sing to You…
To sing to You…
I feel so alive when I sing to You…

Why am I waiting?
And I’m still here praying
“Lord, help me remember”

That oh, I’m shedding my skin
I’m ready to live again

Hallelujah…

Shedding My Skin

Song Story #5 – This Is the Soundtrack For My Heartbreak

sins-of-the-father-final

This Is the Soundtrack for My Heartbreak

I wrote about this song already as well, as I had released it prior to the record.  This is my attempt at writing a cool, hip, up-to-date pop song.  I sounds in no way cool, hip, or up to date.  But I do like how it turned out.

Two things I remember, as I dropped my daughter off in Seattle, over a year ago.

  1.  I balled my eyes out, the night before.  I was in a hotel room with her, so I had to wait until she fell asleep, and then cry as quietly as possible.  I am not a big cryer – so this was all weird to me.
  2. I recall the next morning, the breakfast before – while we spent a few days together, had a wonderful time, chatted away – and generally did and do chat away normally – I couldn’t think of a single thing to say.  So I asked dumb questions, brought up dumb topics.  I’m sure the poor girl was thinking, “When is he just gonna drop me off already?”

I remember when I left the house, and how that relationship you have with a parent – changes…  I now know what my mom was going through, with each kid.  🙂

I am bummed that I cut the first nano-second of the song, as I was editing.  Ah well, is what it is.  🙂

This Is the Soundtrack for My Heartbreak
Sunday morning, waiting for words
The last chance to pour out
Sitting silent
Can’t think of a thing to say to you
Why can’t I say

All the things I wanna say
All the things I never say
All the things you needed to hear me say

You’re moving out, you’re moving on
Will you ever be home again?
The bird is flown and the nest is alone
And I don’t know how to deal…

All the things I wanna say
All the things I never say
All the things you needed to hear me say

This is the soundtrack for my heartbreak
And I just can’t seem to turn it around
This is the backdrop for your breaking out
And I never thought I’d have to say

I’m not ready…

This Is the Soundtrack for My Heartbreak