All I Have Needed

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

—I Thessalonians 5:16-18

As a counselor, I tell people on a regular basis to tell the truth, even when it hurts.  At least twice a day, I commend making the choice to express healthy boundaries to others as a means of fully loving them. I ask others to take the risk of confessing things to their partners that will forever alter their relationship. I routinely discuss the cyclical nature of grief, and how even its most subtle rage and overpowering despair are reflections of the full gamut of emotions given to us by God. I sit with many people whose most searing pain and brokenness have been the only possible means to access vulnerability and freedom. I also sit with those whom freedom and intimacy seem to elude, regardless of the fervor of their pursuit. I am each of these in some way, and my regular presence with them helps to hold my own journey in focus.

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Gratitude?

I heard the story this way: One evening a man was taking a stroll down the sidewalk in his neighborhood. As he walked along, all of a sudden a rubber ball bounced over a fence and landed at his feet. He picked it up as a little girl came running toward him and stuck out her hand, obviously wanting her ball back. Trying to prompt the girl to say “Please” or “Thank You” he said, “Well, what’s the magic word?” With a frown on her face, the child shouted, “Now!”

We witness this story every day.

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Sacred Discontent: Behind the Album The Broken Seasons with Adam Whipple

Adam Whipple plays a house show in East Tennessee.

Loyal readers might remember we ran a review from John Barber of Adam Whipple’s new album The Broken Seasons here a few months ago. I would recommend you read it first, then come back and hear from the artist about the philosophy and planning behind the album and the songs. This isn’t meant to be a review, but a conversation that hopefully will give us a glimpse into his creation process. Then click on over to PledgeMusic and help this album drop into a world that needs its honesty. There are only a few days left.

John Palmer Gregg: First. This is an amazing album, and not just a collection of great songs, but it seems well put together. Awesome job man.

Adam Whipple: Thank you!

JPG: Can you briefly describe your songwriting process? Do you start with the lyrics, the music?

AW: I tend to woolgather a lot. Bits of lyrics will come, sometimes verses or choruses or bridges, and I record it or write down a sketch of the melody and let it percolate. The days of entire songs arriving like lightning are either gone or very rare. Sometimes a whole verse or two will show up. That happens a lot when I’m driving, when it’s inconvenient (or illegal?) to write anything down. Once in a while, music comes first, but I get so enamored with music that it often gets hard to see past it. Those times when music arrives first, it seems to open up lyrics that were already there, usually about things I’m dealing with at the time.

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Halloween and Tradition

For Halloween, we’re excited to present something a little new. We’ve made our first foray into audio publishing! We’re only partly calling it a podcast for now. We thought we’d dip our toe in the water and see how you felt about it. Editors Janna Barber and Adam Whipple sat down with musician, producer, and ceramic artist David Clifton, who has lived both in England and in Knoxville, Tennessee, for a discussion about Halloween and the value of tradition.

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Gas Stations After Dark

While digging through some of her old poems, Tina Gregg discovered this particularly timely one for today. It was written late at night, still in anger, after returning home from an evening out. It was 17 years ago, but it could have been written almost any night.

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Memory of Flying

I was convinced that it wasn’t entirely impossible. Difficult and miraculous, perhaps, but not impossible. I reasoned that there must be a different way of perceiving the world that would enable a person to leave the ground behind – and fly. So, at around eleven or twelve years old, that is exactly what I did.

I remember it so clearly.

There was a ditch that ran alongside a portion of the long driveway that led to the log cabin I grew up in. An electric barb-wire fence ran down the far side of that ditch. It was a fence and ditch I knew very well. It was the fence I accidently hit with a golf club while trying to perfect my chip shot with fallen hickory nuts that had gathered in the ditch. It was the fence I accidently urinated on – twice, and it was the fence I spectacularly failed to jump over on my metallic red Mongoose BMX bike. I still have scars from that experience wrapping around both legs where the barbs dug into me as I struggled to free myself from the wire. Each surge of electricity running down it caused my muscles to spasm and lock up.

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A Journey of Faith Into the Unknown

Did you ever crawl into a small cave as a kid or venture into the dark woods that sat at the edge of your grandparent’s yard? Did you ever wonder when you would meet “the one?” Are you still trying to figure out your place in this world and your true calling? It’s frustrating isn’t it? The unknown. It is in these moments that we have to place our hope and trust somewhere or in someone coupled with our dreams. Often that trust is placed in the hands of a parent as a child. As adults we place our trust in man and often get our hearts cracked open because trust was misplaced. Man is fallible. My hope is that by now you have learned to place your trust in a heavenly father, Our Heavenly Father. Only He can truly lead us through the dark woods into the unknown with a spirit of peace that guides and gives comfort while we wait for the big reveal, the epiphany, the arrival into the known. That journey into the unknown takes faith.

Faith is a daily execution of one baby step after another believing in the unseen and the unknown. So for my family, we are exactly on that adventure through a dark forest without a flashlight and unable to see what is ahead. Yes, I said, “adventure” because it is all about perspective. Walking out a medical journey with my children isn’t something I ever expected. You see I have had to re-adjust my dreams for them and their future. But that re-adjustment came last after the acceptance of their new diagnosed limitations.  Accepting my children’s medical diagnosis felt like what I imagine drowning and falling off a cliff at the same time would. In that moment you are trying to suck the air into your lungs and instead you are taking in water as you feel yourself falling into an abyss of despair. I have wrestled with God quite a few times since that fateful day the doctor hurled those hateful and fatal words our way. I have been angry, self-reliant, and independent of my heavenly Father.  I have found myself standing in the middle of grief alone. I chose it.

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