Dr. King Had A Dream

My wife and I communicate quite differently. Last night she spoke to a group of girls. She distributed paper hearts and instructed them to write things they love on their heart. Then she told them, “The less temporal the love you listed, the more time you should devote to it. The more temporal the item, the less time.” She pushed them towards cultivating legacies that will outlive them, relationships that will benefit beyond their presence. Her advice was beautiful. Her delivery kind and full of life. Lyrical even. I attempt to convey similar sentiments to my students, but I do so by reminding them, as often as possible, they will die soon. “You will all be dead before you know it. You’re wasting away now. What are you doing today that is any different than yesterday?” Some students giggle at my goth-like pedagogical gloom. Others roll their eyes and pray / hope / curse me to fulfill my own destination sooner than later. My wife inspires. She caffeinates. She’s an Enneagram 7—the Enthusiast—with a need for pleasure and to avoid pain. I suck air out of rooms like a Hope Hoover. I’m an Enneagram 4—the Individualist—with a need for melodrama and a penchant for hyperbole. My wife: “Live forever with rightly chosen loves.” Me: “You’re expiring, even now, so don’t be stupid.” My wife’s name is Latonya, and people actually call her “La La”, as in a musical notation. My name is Kevin, and for a long time people called me “Hamster”, as in a rodent. She does not have any tattoos because she prefers to keep her options open. I tattooed a hamster on my leg in 2011 because I’m deflating anyway so why not paint the bag. She likes to dance and eat spicy Indian food and drive with all the dashboard lights flashing warnings because it will all be okay. I enjoy my couch and black coffee and walking pugs by creeks that smell of turtles because they’re heroic in their isolation. 

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Life in a Minor Key

Hope. Determination. Plan. Persistence. Those are the words we keep hearing this Lenten season, and no wonder given our current struggles and questions. Lent was never intended to feel like a party, but I’ll confess for all us—I’m ready for some kind of celebration. This year’s Lenten journey, underscored by our experience with a global pandemic, has stretched our souls.

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Encouragement for Gig Losers

For years now, Jennifer Daniels has been performing her Southern-gothic brand of roots rock, captivating audiences and plumbing the depths of the genre, taking on faith, doubt, marriage, heartache, motherhood, and everything life can throw at a girl from the southern highlands. Her albums and work can be found at Jenniferdaniels.com.

Although performing songwriters have been hit hard with this whole social distancing thing, we’re no strangers to uncertainty. We’re used to praying for work. We’re scrappy. We’re innovative. And we receive help gratefully. We’re no longer horrified when a payment has to be made late, nor shocked when money to make that payment comes out of the woodwork.

As of today, Jeff and I have lost ten gigs. That pretty much means that our income has been suspended. But yesterday, after an online show, we received a $200 tip from a single contributor. We hear of our church giving generously, and the community of artists banding together (no pun intended).

Today I gather the gift of dauntless daffodils from the irrepressible spring. I watch the birds out there finding their meals. Jesus said, “If the Father clothes the fields like that, will he not clothe you? And if he feeds the birds like that, will he not feed you? Are you not worth more than many birds?” I always giggle at the question. Just how many birds are we worth?

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Staying Home to Listen

You’ve probably heard enough about coronavirus and COVID-19 by this time. Or maybe you’re watching the CNN crawl nonstop, eating up every morsel of fear while you attempt not to touch your face. It’s understandable. Regardless of where you are, here is some good news.

Over the last five years, we’ve covered a number of excellent singer-songwriters, and we intend on supporting more as time goes on. These last several days, many events are being cancelled, including shows these songwriters depend on for income. They’re being forced to stretch their budgets in order to make ends meet, and, truthfully, none of us knows how long the current pandemic will last.

No matter your feelings for the crisis or the way it’s being handled or mishandled, we know you appreciate good music and those who make it. Thus, we want to remind you of all these good folks and their work. In all likelihood, you yourself are stuck at home. It is the perfect time to spin some new tunes and explore music you’ve not heard before. Here is a list of musicians we’ve covered, along with links to download their records.

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Not Prone to Wander

I have called myself a planner for most of my adult life.

I was an elementary school teacher for eleven years. My whole job depended upon planning. What is an educator without her lesson plans? Knowing what to cover, how to accommodate students with different abilities, what to do if we ran over or finished early, how to give them practice and assessments—thinking of these things took me hours when I started, but as I grew, I could whip out an agenda quite quickly. Becoming efficient and hyper-focused on objectives rewarded me with better teaching evaluations and more evenings to spend how I wished.

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Double Poetry Review: Janna Barber & Chris Wheeler

We make no secret of our love for good poetry here, and so we’re always delighted when those in our writing community release collections into the world. Like a flight of doves flapping deliverance into the sky, the effort of herding unruly poems into concert with each other, and making them work together, is cause for celebration.

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Without a Word

Photo by Kandra Benton. Used with permission.

Nothing defines my life more clearly than being the mother of a child with profound medical and developmental needs. My oldest of three daughters has radically shaken my faith countless times. Questions have arisen that will never be answered on this side of heaven. I must daily choose Jesus over answers, submitting my desires and dreams for my child to His ultimate authority. 

Watching anyone suffer is painful, but when it is your child it reaches a new threshold–anguish that is indescribable. Because I would never want to limit God’s divine plan for her life, or for my own, I’ve had to choose to trust Him. He has carved away at who I once was through my child, who without realizing it, beautifully reflects Jesus.

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