Sunday, July 31, 2005

Dog days of Summer

Sometimes I think Sundays were a gift from God to us. Then, I realize that they were, actually, a gift from God to us. I need to live with a better appreciation of that (as if im not lazy enough).

Today is one of those Sundays. Taught class this morning, went to a new members luncheon for a free lunch- with only a few cars to help park before and chairs to fold up after- We came home and both laid down on the couches (Holly on the short couch, me on the long couch) to read our books, and both Holly and I fell asleep within three pages. That, ladies and gents, is a great Sunday afternoon. I have had better, but not too many better, that is fo' shizzle. In an hour or so, we will get ready to go to lifegroup, meet with some close friends, and catch up on whats going on in thier lives. Top that, i dare you. (and no stories about childbirth or anything sappy like that... I mean, normal days, here)

Yesterday was also a great day. We slept in a few hours, got up, decided to take a walk up to the used bookstore across from the Lipscomb campus. We figured on the walk taking a little while, since it is about two miles from our little duplex, but, truthfully we both felt so optimistically sporty that we didnt think too much about it. Gus, our ten pound Schnorkie (shnauser/yorkie mix) is full of boundless energy, and just the day before had run two miles with Holly. Two miles on his little four legs is quite a haul, but he seemed eager the whole way and didnt have any problems. Yesterday, however, we somehow found his limit.

We walked up to the bookstore, and he seemed excited the whole way. He drank some water we brought at several points during the walk, but really seemed like he was doing fine. We got the the used bookstore, looked around (gus mainly sniffed around... old books must smell very interesting, in much the same way as poop is interesting), made a few selections, and then walked next door to a pizza/sandwich shop to get some lunch and eat at the Lipscomb playground. Gus was happy with this arrangement and laid down in the shade while we ate and talked for a while. As we started to walk home, however, it became apparent that Gus had had enough. Every ten steps or so, he would plant his heels into a shady spot on the side of the road and plop down. We gave him more water. Ten steps, then PLOP. We gave him some rest. Ten steps, the PLOP. He would literally just be walking normally, then fall over and let us drag him on his leash for a few inches. It was pretty funny, as he just looked at us like" you've got to be kidding me- seriously... go get the car."

At some point I got worried about him overheating and decided that we better carry him for a while. I picked him up, but he wriggles around until im holding him like a baby, on his back, in a cradle, with his legs up in the air and his head hanging off my arm and tongue lolling out, inspecting the world upside down and from four feet up. Apparently Gus was quite pleased with this arrangement, because for the rest of the 2-point-something miles, he insisted on being chauffered home. So here Holly and I are, walking down our neighborhood street, with this little hairy bundle that looks disturbingly like a dead dog in my arms. Several people along the way asked us if we needed help, "Is your dog Ok?", one man who had stopped mowing his lawn said. "Yeah, hes just tired", I said, realizing how stupid I looked carrying this dog/baby. But, in the end, there was nothing for it, because the little Gusbuster had run out of steam and saw no reason at all why we couldnt just lie down in the shade of someone's lawn and take a nap.

We got home and Gus slept for the rest of the day, pretty much, and most of the day today... but truthfully, thats not much different than any other day for him. As it is, today Im wishing that every day were Saturday and Sunday afternoons- or that I was a dog. Just not one that eats poop.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I'll be there for you...

Something big happened yesterday. We got some more friends. And when I say friends, I mean F*R*I*E*N*D*S. Season 6 and7 in the mail. You see, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Mon are Holly and I's best friends on earth. We spend several hours a week with all six of them, know intimate details of their lives, and pretty much know what they will say before they say it. I have known them almost as long as I have known Brandon Carter- and that is a long time. Friends started when I was 13 and ended when I was 23. Those are formative years. Who I am, sadly, is partly due to these guys.
I know this is not normal. I know that this is more than mildly pathetic. But , truthfully, I dont really care. At this moment, I am watching Joey get used to living with Elle MacPherson, Ross has reaaally white teeth, and Pheebs just made out with kenny the copy guy because she thought he was Ralph Lauren.
Are we alone here? WIll I be watching these DVDs when I am 50? I mean, these episodes are becoming the background of Holly and I's home life. Its always on. This is worse than Brandon and I with Billy Madison, our freshman year. I dont think my parents felt this way about Cheers, I mean, they loved Cheers, but they didnt know which shirt Sam wore in the final episode. There is just something about these six people who I grew up with... I love them. We love them. Are you with me, or am I as gay as Chanandler Bong?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Look like Christ?

I am increasingly aware that I am a well- educated, upper middle class white man, trying to serve a homeless God. We are studying Luke and Acts, and talking about discipleship...what it means to be formed into the image of Christ. There have been several parts that have taken me a little off guard. Things like. "the rich already have their reward", and "sell all you own and give it to the poor". Jesus talks in some hard words... words that I have never really taken seriously. Maybe it is because I have some things now... some worldly possessions... a comfortable life that I enjoy...but i hear those words and cringe.
I am the rich young ruler. I can do all the stuff, follow all the commandments, but when it comes to allowing the Gospel to cause me to live in a way that is uncomfortable? No way. I mean, we are called to provide for our families right? I have to buy a house.. its a good investment, right? We have to live in a safe neighborhood, right? What if God provides for my family. What if we really arent supposed to gather up treasures on earth, like "good investments"? What if God keeps my family safe and I live in faith that He will?
I am not saying any of those things are bad. Just that I take for granted that it's the only way to live a life. You get married, you rent for a while, you buy a house in a cute neighborhood, you have a baby, you save for the baby's future, you work a job and "provide" with as much as you can...
Im just kind of questioning all that right now- Seems like all our Nashville friends are on the way to all of that, and there is nothing bad about it, other than we arent sure that its what we are really called to, as disciples. Am I really being formed into Christ's image if I look just like everyone else around me?
I have to believe that a Gospel so amazing and revolutionary would call me to something more than going to church on Sundays and giving my 10% (which we dont even really do right now, even). What if we are called to a life of sacrifice, like Christ. To die to ourselves, instead of continuing to feed our faces with our own ability to provide for our needs.
I dont know- thats the thing. I know there is a line somewhere that separates using the brain God gave you to live our life in a responsible way, and giving it all away and living like a hermit because our poverty becomes our pride. I just dont know where the line is. The thing is- when you ask someone about some of the harder things Jesus said concerning money... they usually tell you..."well, you know, he isnt talking literally... its all about the heart, you see." Which is true, but most of the people who will tell you that have money. There is a place for wealth in the Christian life, I have seen it- People who give away amazing amounts of money to great causes and bless others through generosity. So where is the line? How does the camel get through the needle- because it seems like, in our churches, lots of camels are getting through. Has the needle gotten bigger? Have the camels gotten smaller?
What do yall think? I dont want to sound too counter-cultural here, but i think the Gospel does call us to be different and look different and act different, and most importantly- put our trust in different things than the world... but i just dont see it im my own life. I look just like everyone else, and most christians look just like non- christians until it comes to Sunday morning. When do I start to look like Jesus? When does my life become strange and foreign to the world? Just some thoughts, i guess, but if I had to guess... some of yall are thinking the same thing. Any answers? Love yall- TJ

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Huge, life changing meeting today...PSYCHE!!!!!!!

So I had another meeting today. Last month, and the month before that, and the month before that, I met with a company that has been interested in signing me as a writer. I have, until recently, not really wanted to write only, but be a performing artist.
This last year on the road changed my mind. I got home this spring and really wanted to stay there for a while. Too many hotel rooms, too many miles and gas stations and Zingers, too many shows for groups that didnt care who was up there singing... I just really got burned out on the idea of that being my life. Constantly being away from Holly and out of the loop with friends and church and family... Got real old.
I know that some artists' lives look much different than mine. Some artists have their own private love jet. SOme artists are sponsored on thier tours by Absolut. Some artists travel with an entire entourage of homeboys and souljah's, just to keep it real. I, however, realized somewhere down the line that the vast majority of singer/songwriters do this, mostly, on thier own. Yeah, maybe they have a Belmont sophomore riding along and selling t-shirts s thier "tour manager", but for the most part, especially in the Xian market, if you arent at the very, very top... you arent riding with your wifey in the Passenger Seat (love that pun) and your posse in the second tour bus behind you. Most low- to mid level artists pretty much do exactly what I do, just with a song or two on the radio that sells a few more cds.
This is not to say that I dont want to perform. I do- just not every day, 500 miles from where I was yesterday, alone, and in the TourTurtle ( myRav4). I enjoy the solitude sometimes- the books on tape, the variety of roadside meal choices...- but for the most part, if I could do that less and be creative more... that would hit the spot. I also feel more and more the pull of ministry... are there other things that I really want to be doing? Of course. Could I see myself in the Dominican Republic with my cute tan wife and our Gusbuster? Yep. But... Im not ready. Holly's not ready. Gus is always ready, as long as there is bacon available.
So, Im supposed to meet with this guy today. Last time we talked, he told me all sorts of nice things and how he wanted me to be one of his "go- to guys" when he had artists looking for songs. I was told that he wanted me to work with many of my favorite artists on songs- that he really felt comfortable throwing me into the fire like that. And that he was ready to go back and get some stuff in order to make me an offer. I said great- Ill call you when i get back in town. Well, im back in town. I called. He set an appointment for today. I showed up. As I walk in- his secretary gives me an "Oh..., he didnt call you did he?" face. Meeting is cancelled- resch. for next Wed.
I am not sure what to expect. I was dissapointed today, mostly because I got worked up about the meeting... Listening to Rich Mullins in the parking lot to psyche me up... and it didnt happen. Im tired of seeing another way to do this and not being able to walk through the door. If he wants to do this- lets do it. If not, cool. I really think i trust this guy and feel like if he says he wants me then he wants me- but people in nashville rarely mean what they say, and i am a little uneasy. I would really like to work with this guy- do this thing... write for artists and continue to perform on my own, just when it suits me... not when NorthPlatte Nebraska Community College wants me to come and waste an hour of my life singing to their zombie kids. This might just give me the open door into the industry that i have needed. Lots of artists get thier start by writing for others, this could be the case for me. Or- it could just be one more thing that bounces me along towards God's will (the actual will- not the retarded boy in the song... although I wish I had written that song...).