The Mercy Seat…

Christmas is upon us!  A time where we celebrate time spent with loved ones.  A time where we buy more than we can afford, for those we want to bless, or impress, or compete with, or  – maybe for ourselves?  A time where we sing songs and watch movies, all about Jesus, or Santa, or Rudolph, or something mixed.

A time where we reflect on the birth of the King of kings and Lord of lords.  A time where we remember that God came to be with us in flesh – and anticipate His ultimate return.

Think about this – we not only consider our own need for a Savior; we celebrate the fact that our Savior came!  And He came for us!  For you.  And for me.  If you or I were the only person He had to come and save – He would have come anyway.

This does not make you or I more important than anyone else – or for that matter, important at all.  But to Jesus – we are of utmost importance.  So much so, God came to us, as a baby, born of a virgin woman.  Born of woman, so as to be fully human, but not born of man, so as to be perfectly sinless.  Fully God, fully man.  Things I don’t fully comprehend.  I’m not so sure it’s important we “understand” everything.  I mean – do you fully understand in a clinical way how you love your child, or your spouse, or your parents?  Or how you are loved?  you don’t even try.  So don’t try with Jesus – just be loved…

This song is not a Christmas song.  But in many ways – it is.  It was borne out of a desire to remind us – or myself – that we are not in any way “earning our way into or out of heaven”.  Yes, as a child of God, I forget this truth, so often.  My catholic upbringing maybe?  🙂  I don’t know – but His mercy is not conditional, nor limited.  Nor for that matter, something in some distant future…

This song was also borne out of a desire to remind us that this mercy is NOT just for us.  it’s for anyone and everyone who believes.  Think about that.  The person you most dislike, or even loathe – they are not beyond His reach.  They are not too far gone for His mercy…

It’s a song for those who want some big “revelation”, or “epiphany”, in order to finally accept that Jesus is real, and is after their heart.  Just – STOP.  Just GIVE UP.  And lay that burden down.  It’s too heavy for you, you know this.  You don’t need some big flashy show to convince you of what you already know.  So let that go.  This song is for you…

You will not find Jesus where you want Him to be, in that perfect place or situation that you can control.  He finds you.  And His mercy is new…

Every day, His mercy is new…

This song is a free gift.  You can get it on Spotify or Apple – wherever you like to stream music – or you can download it from my Bandcamp page.  May your Christmas be merry, may your heart be filled, you find Christ on the mercy seat…

You Will Find Him On A Mercy Seat
You won’t find Him in your anger
Righteous as you think it is
Your hatred for brother or sistter
Just pushes the blade deeper in…

You won’t see Him in your behavior
No matter how hard you try
You are not locked out by your failure
Tell me, who sol you that lie?

You will find Him on a mercy seat
You will find Him in shalom
You will see His arms are wide open
As He welcomes you home…

You can’t hide Him from your secrets
Darkness cannot keep Him out
Shame does not lead you to freedom
Or help you lay burdens down

You won’t find Him in the hurricane
Or in fire or flood
Child, you’ll find Him in the whisper
That speaks of His eternal love…

You will find Him on a mercy seat
You will find Him in shalom
You will see His arms are wide open
As He welcomes you home…

My ears have heard of You
But now my eyes see only You…

You will find Him on a mercy seat
You will find Him in shalom
You will see His arms are wide open
As He welcomes you home


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


Your Favor Rests Upon Me…

Future-2-If I Could Leave This Place

Your Favor

I finished my record.  I was done.  We headed to Seattle, for our daughter’s wedding.  She married the love of her life.  It was wonderful!

Do I use the word “wonderful” too much?

While there, my wife, who was doing the flowers for the wedding, had to pick up all the flowers, greens, etc. for the wedding.  While checking in to our Air BnB, she thought, “Maybe we can see if we can find some more greens to go with the flowers.”  I didn’t know the green parts weren’t part of the flowers.  Greens and flowers are – not…  the same thing…

Anyway, there were wooded walking paths all around our neighborhood.  So – maybe?

So while putting things away, we could hear a chainsaw, or some sort of gas-powered tool.  We head out on our walk – and along the walk path are greens – CUT DOWN.  EVERYWHERE.  God literally placed all the greens we could need, at our feet!

I mean – ALL OF THEM.  P picked up more than she needed, and left a ton more than that on the trail!  Here is one pic, so you can see what I’m talking about.

And that is just part of what my wife pulled together, from what was left for us.

God is so good…  I don’t typically think of things like this, or get caught up in the fascination of things like this.  But God – just TOOK CARE OF IT for us.  Wow…

Your favor, Lord, rests upon us…

So we’re heading to the store, to pick up flowers.  And we have to potentially cancel the order for greens, because we have enough now.  As we start to feel a little guilty, my wife gets a voicemail – no phone ring, just a voicemail.  It happens, we’ve all had it happen.

“Um – Mrs. Haj-nas-eee-wic – Haj-nas-erts – um, we got your roses, but – so sorry…  We couldn’t get any of the greens.  So sorry….”


God takes care of us.  Lord, your favor rests upon us…

I did not intend to write a song for Stella and Cody.  I mean – I DID.  But when my original idea went somewhere else, I did not consider writing another song.  I thought I was done.  I did not intend to write a worship song – when I couldn’t come up with anything, I thought I was done.

Then this…

I wrote most of it in Seattle, came home and wrote the verses.  I recorded myself plunking piano awkwardly, which fits the song.  This is probably my favorite song.  Because it reminds me of that beautiful day.  Of the way God’s favor was and is on Cody and Stella.  Of how God’s favor is on us…

God is so good….

Your Favor
Though I see through darkened glass
I will trust in You
Though I can’t forget my past
I will dwell on You
It seems the days turn into years
As Years go by as days
And as I rejoice through my tears
I delight in all Your ways

And as I stumble awkwardly
Through life
Toward You…
You give my greatest friend to me…
Someone who mirrors You

Your favor rests upon me…

Song written:  August 9, 14, 2017
Song recorded:  August 14, 2017
Song first released:  August 15, 2017

Your Favor

You can pre-order my new record here!  If you pre-order today, you’ll get EVERY song on it today!  Almost a week before everyone else!  🙂

Dreaming of Home Again…

Future-2-If I Could Leave This Place

Closer Than I’ve Ever Been

Let’s face it – life here on earth in some way or another just plain sucks…

I don’t mean to be a complainer.  I have a wonderful life.  I have an incredible wife, beautiful kids and grandkids.  My family keeps growing!  And it’s wonderful.  God has been good to me.

But everybody has to wake up at some point each day.  We all work by the sweat of our brow, in some way.  We get in fights.  We get sick.  We get hurt – and we hurt others…  Even the best of lives has something, at some point, that – sucks.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

The whole premise of this record was a longing for something greater.  A longing for God – to see Him face to face.  To finally be HOME.

And I wanted to write a hymn that talked to that.  That brought Him glory.  That was honest, not syryp-y Christian-y – blech.

I tried…

I couldn’t do it…

Sometimes words don’t come.  You can’t force them.

So what if I found a modern day hymn-writer, and did one of his songs?

Jeromy Darling!  My brother, has written some amazing, beautiful modern-day hymns.  These songs, much like many of the great traditional hymns, were written in some of the worst times of Jer’s life.  Yet he praises God with abandon.

So I asked Jer, “Can I do your song?”  He of course said yes, because he’s wonderful.  And I tried my best to do it justice.  To do it my way, so as to not and try and recreate what he did (which is beautiful – give it a listen!).  To honor God through my version of Jer’s song.

I hope you like it Jer.  And God bless you.

Closer Than I’ve Ever Been
It’s never enough to miagine
It’s never enough in the mind’s eye
Your face is seen by no one
So if I can ask you for anything
Than I’m askin’…

Hold my hand…
I’m sick of fighting in a foreign land
Dreaming of home again
When home’s the only place I’ve never been
Heart in hand
Your child’s askin’ for the promised land
And in your arms again
I find I’m closer than I’ve ever been…

Song written:  Some time in 2008 I think?  I never asked
Song recorded:  June 6, 8, 17, 18, 30, 2017
Song first released:  June 6, 2017
Songwriters:  Jeromy Darling

Katianna Carlon – Backing Vocals

Closer Than I’ve Ever Been

You can pre-order my new record here!

Come Away With Me, My Darling…

Future-2-If I Could Leave This Place

Longing For the Northern Wind

My wife…


I could spend hours just thinking about her.  How cute she is.  How funny she is.  How amazingly gifted she is (She can do almost anything).  How amazingly GIVING she is…

My wife…

We both long for time away together.  So when we get it, we spend a lot of time talking about how wonderful it is.  It is nice that she likes me as much as I like her…  If she didn’t, that would be awkward…  🙂

Wanna see how much she likes me?

That much…  🙂

This song is a play on Song of Solomon, and a tribute to our favorite place to visit together – Blue Fin Bay on the North Shore of Minnesota.  Wonderful, wonderful!


I reached out to Toby Wilson to play pedal steel again, as well as dobro.  What a wonderful addition to the song!  And then I wanted some cool harmonica – the kind you hear on Willie Nelson songs.  I went to Fiverr again – and found this young man who lives in India, goes by the name Divyarat (No last name).  I’m pretty sure he just recorded to his laptop in his apartment livingroom.  But it sounds SO good!  And he’s super talented!  I think he made the song what it is.

My wife does not cry when she hears this one.  But her eyes, they do smile.  Just like they do when she looks at me…

Longing For the Northern Wind
Never saw a sight so beautiful
As the way you look at me
Your eyes they smile so wide
And your love you cannot hide

Come away with me, my darling
For the northern wind is calling
I’ll place a seal on your heart
For your love alone I’m longing

All I wanna do is to know you
To know everything about you
I can’t remember anything before you
And I wouldn’t wanna try

Come away with me, my darling
For the northern wind is calling
I’ll place a seal on your heart
For your love alone I’m longing

I would do anything
Just to be with you…

Song written:  May 21, 2017
Song recorded:  May 21, 26, 28, 29, 2017
Song first released:  May 27, 2017

Toby Wilson – Pedal Steel Guitar, Dobro
Divyarat – Harmonica

Longing For the Northern Wind

You can pre-order my new record here!

You Will Find Me…

Future-2-If I Could Leave This Place

With All Your Heart

I wrote this song for a dear friend of mine.  He and I had some pretty in-depth conversations about God, and religion, and the very hard truth of the Gospel that says Jesus is the only way to the Father – the only way to heaven.  And hell…  Nobody wants to accept it, or admit it, but hell (myself included), is a very stark reality…

But in these conversations, I hurt my friend deeply.  I callously called him a sinner.  I didn’t mean to be so callous, or “black and white”.  It just came out…  Because, you know, this is what Jesus says, I don’t “deal with what he deals with”.  Yes, we are all sinners.  But when you call someone a sinner to their face…  When you call their very life, who they are or identify as or with, SIN.  It’s…  There is a better way to engage in the Gospel truth.

I’m not at all suggesting we avoid talking about sin, or hell, or the truth of our brokenness and need for a Savior.  Please, those who are thinking as they read my comment, “You cannot change the truth”, or “Truth doesn’t care about your feelings” -I am not at all suggesting this. I just know that I was a bit clinical and calloused in my heartless, black and white statements.  I just talked about dehumanizing people, to make us feel better about our own decisions, in a previous post.  I did not mean to do this with my dear friend – but I think I did, even if involuntarily…  And for that, I’m truly sorry.  More sorry than I could ever express…

What I’m most sorry for?  What I said to my friend, is not something he’d never heard before.  Not something others haven’t said, or expressed, or suggested, or maybe even acted upon.  I’ve just piled it on…

I’ve often wondered, what is it that puts a wedge between God and man.  Man, of course – I know this.  We sin, and then hide from God.  And then sin more, and hide more.

But what about when a man like me, helps create a bigger divide?  I’m most sorry that I potentially contributed to that division in my friend’s heart.  And my greatest prayer is that he realize the God of the universe loves HIM, deeply.  As he is, NOW.  No matter how the Gospel message – the GOOD NEWS – is delivered to him, I pray he hears and understands that God loves him eternally.

So I wrote this stupid little song for my dear friend.  And there it is.

With All Your Heart
How am I supposed to believe what you say?
When you say I’ve sealed my fate
How am I supposed to know that you love me?
when your people show me hate

You would never ever be able to love me
To love me with all Your heart

Your words, they have been twisted into devils
Too many wolves attending the sheep
I am desperate to hear my Shepard’s call
Cause I feel as though I’ve been misled
Oh, tell me…

Would You ever really be able to love me?
To love me with all Your heart?

You will find Me
When you seek Me

With all your heart…

Song written:  May 16, 18, 19, 2017
Song recorded:  May 19, 20, 2017
Song first released:  May 20, 2017
Songwriters:  Ted Hajnasiewicz, Tony Preston

With All Your Heart

You can pre-order my new record here!


God, You Make Things New…

Future-2-If I Could Leave This Place

I Give Myself

This song was going to be for Stella and Cody, as they got married in Seattle.  I planned to write it while in Seattle, and it would be my sort of “post wedding tribute”.  I had the title, and an idea of what to write about.  But I wanted to save it, so I could “write it in the moment”.  I’m kinda weird like that, I know.

God had other plans…

This song is for some very dear friends of mine.  They went through some of the most horrific, painful things any married couple could endure.  It’s not my story to tell.  I will say however, God is bigger than us, and their marriage is evidence of this.  In a world like ours, with all the quick judgement and saving face that we fall into, they should no longer be married.  But their faithfulness to Jesus, and more important – HIS to them – is the reason they are fighting for their marriage.

And guess what? Every one of us who is married, has, is, or WILL go through something like this.  It may not be as monumental.  It may be worse.  But in the moment, it sure will feel like it’s the end, or should be the end.  What will you do?  Will you fight your spouse?  Or will you fight FOR your spouse?  Will you give up?  Or will you give in to your Lord and Savior?  Will you let your marriage die?  Or will you LAY DOWN YOUR LIFE for your spouse?

It’s a daily, often hourly, choice.  God is good, and He makes all things new.  This song is a great encouragement for all married couples.  Put Jesus first, so you can put your spouse first.

I was blessed to have my dear friend Katianna Carlon sing this one with me, and my other dear friend Spencer Bernard play the blistering guitar solo.  They made an ok song great!

Dear friends, I love you, and pray for you all the time.


I Give Myself
If I had a million years
To make up in a day
I’d do it all
I’d give it all
If I caused a million tears
I’d wipe each one away
I’d do it all
I’d give my all

Grace, it covers
Grace, it washes you clean
New, God You make things
New, I give myself to you…

I don’t know how we got here
I wonder, is it me?
But I promise
To take you home
I give myself to you
I give myself anew
Will you have me?

Grace, it covers
Grace, it washes you clean
New, God You make things
New, I give myself to you…

I give myself to you…

Song written:  May 7, 2017
Song recorded:  May 7, 20, 22, June 30, 2017
Song first released:  May 7, 2017

Katianna Carlon – Vocals
Spencer Bernard – Guitar Solo

I Give Myself

You can pre-order my new record here!