Grandmother’s House

I am standing in front of the bathroom counter in my grandmother’s house. It is 6am, Sunday morning, and her tiny house is full of quiet people—a neighbor at the door, a hospice nurse, my great aunt and uncle, my mother and aunt, my grandmother’s best friend and her daughters, and my own sisters. My grandmother has just died. I am standing in the bathroom, and I am looking at her tray of make up. It will all be thrown away, now; it’s going to be picked through and what no one wants will go into a trash bag and out to her curb. This is also true of her clothes, all hung up, all very neat, and her little shoes, some of which look brand new to me beside her bed, where I’ve been sleeping, as her hospice bed has been set up in her living room.

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Son of Laughter: No Story is Over

An Interview with Son of Laughter

Carrie Givens: One of the things I love about your music as Son of Laughter is what I would call its density. There is a lot happening in every song, both lyrically and melodically (not to mention the complexity of the recorded music). Can you share a little about your writing process?

Son of Laughter: Sure. In terms of my process, I don’t aim for complexity. Instead, I would say I am inspired by synergy. I have trouble developing an idea unless I am connecting it with a lot of other ideas in a way that interests me. I discovered that about my songwriting when I was writing the title track for The Mantis and the Moon. As I was trying to write about the stepsister from the German Cinderella story I realized the line “I don’t want to be someone who does not want to be who they are” reminded me of a lot of other stories, particularly an African folktale about why a praying mantis prays, a story a friend told me about his advice to follow dreams influencing someone leave their family, and my own discontent with who I am and the dangerous ways I deal with it. That last part is key. No matter how many ideas I have simmering in the pot, I have trouble tying it all together without deep personal conviction. “The Fiddler” combined a lot of stories and images, but I couldn’t finish it until I connected it with my own distracted prayer life. On the new record that was a missing ingredient for the longest time with “The Hurricanes.” I wanted the narrator to wrestle with his own destructive internal hurricane and I couldn’t finish it until I informed it with my own.

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Survival Celebration

I was held in your world that night
absurdity reigned
and I had nowhere to run
no way out
stuck only with the fear
the love
the aching round my heart
faced with strangers
a laughing girl child
who made it plain
she knew you better than I
it was torture
watching your descent into madness

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A Surprising Land of Splendor – Part 3

Chapter 4: A Tender Coming-of-Age Story
(complete with wolves and bunnies)

Every tour guide knows how to fill those three hours on the bus trip between landmarks: tell a good story. If I’ve learned anything in my years on both sides of the mathematics classroom, it’s that the more impersonal and crystalline the subject matter, the more we crave the “I-Thou” connection between teachers and learners that comes from the telling of our stories. I’ve had my share of textbook teachers over the years—the ones who stick to the subject at hand without giving away the slightest whiff of their own heartbeat or dream life. But I’ve also been blessed by those willing to tell me their memories, their own metaphors, their own glimpses out the window on their journey through math. I suppose the least I can do for you is share a bit of my own.

Do you remember learning to drive? Do you remember what motivated you to learn?

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What is Possible

The band storage room was the dirtiest place I knew on earth. Its original carpet was synthetic umber single-ply laid over stained concrete and committed to slow suicide by unraveling. They replaced it, while I was there, with a deep dark blue, the short pile of which had not yet bowed in shame at the things it would see—Oh, the things it would see.

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Created for Worship

Over this last year I have found myself grumbling more than usual. I have always had a cup half-full personality. Yet, I became lost in the mundane tasks of life. We all know it, house cleaning, laundry and trips to the grocery store. Necessary tasks that we can’t ignore to keep our homes running began to dig into me. I found myself growing increasingly frustrated about being a slave to these tasks. I started to despise them and dread them. It was a negative mindset I had created for myself. Through some quiet time I was led back to some old notes I had taken while listening to a podcast. I didn’t write down the speaker but it clearly punched me in the gut then, and without a doubt I needed the reminder.  I needed to be reminded that I was created to worship. Now first let me say that I always associated worship with music. But my heart was stirred to a deeper level of worship for our heavenly Father than just pelting out words from my mouth. Worship, I realized, was and is based on His worth and it is our opportunity to value God for who He Is in the midst of everyday life.

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Every Morning Coffee: a review of Every Moment Holy

The holiday season passed with a flurry of shredded wrapping paper, sugar comas, and age-old family traditions. A shiny new year with infinite possibilities and opportunities is spread before us like a banquet. A whole new year, when we can finally do all those things we promise ourselves we are going to do each and every new year, for which we never manage to find the time, of course.

I’m not one of those folks who puts together yearly resolutions I intend to follow through with. It’s simply not my nature. There are times that I do envy those who think that way, but those moments are rare. I enjoy the days as they come, knowing that each day is similar to the last. I have my morning ritual: start the kettle, grind the coffee, fill the French press, wait four minutes then call out “Plunger Boy!” My five-year-old son’s morning is thrown completely out of whack if he doesn’t push the plunger on the French press. Then I go to my office and read the news. All of us have similar rituals, even if they aren’t coffee related.

At the core of what it means to be human is an inherent desire to have order and intentionality in our lives. 

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