New Album Coming Soon, Thanks to Kickstarter Backers!

Hello! My name is Caroline Cobb, and I'm a singer-songwriter that loves to tell God's stories from scripture through music. I am so excited to let you know that a new album is coming soon, thanks to a successful Kickstarter, backed by many of you. We are calling the new album A HOME + A HUNGER, and it's centered around the theme of kingdom hope.

THE BACKSTORY:

It all started in 2011 when I began to work on crazy goal to write a song from every book of the Bible in a year. And wow, what an incredibly transforming and rewarding season of writing. In 2013, I released the Blood + the Breath using many of those songs. That album traced the big story of redemption from creation to Christ's return, by parachuting into biblical scenes like the Passover, or Isaiah's description of the suffering servant, or the story of Jesus's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Since 2013, I've played concerts and led worship with the hope that my songs could help people journey through the redemption narrative in scripture and walk away wanting more of Him and His Word. His big Story anchors my small story, and it's filled with incredibly good news. I love to get to share it through music; it's a privilege.

THE NEW ALBUM.... A HOME + A HUNGER: SONGS OF KINGDOM HOPE!

While the last album looked back at the "climax" of the Story and what we are redeemed from (Jesus's death and resurrection redeems us from sin and death!), the songs for the new album seem to look forward to the end of the Story and how we are redeemed to a certain kind of kingdom and King. Beginning with the fall into sin and ending with a song from the last chapters of Revelation, the album touches on several themes under the umbrella of "kingdom hope": the hunger we feel as "sojourners and exiles" (1 Peter 2:11, Heb 11:13), the hope we have in the future kingdom when He makes His home with us forever, the humility with which Jesus made His home with us, and the "upside-downness" of God's economy of grace. Here is the song list so far, to give you an idea:

Song List (listen to clips on Instagram at #ahomeandahunger)
(1) There is a Mountain (Intro song drawing from Isaiah) / (2) Eve's Lament (Genesis, the fall) / (3) He Has Made a Way (Red Sea story in Exodus) / (4) All is Vanity (Ecclesiastes) / (6) Fullness of Joy (Psalm 16) / (7) Pave Every Road (John the Baptist & Isaiah) / (8) Emmanuel (Every Promise Yes in Him) / (9) Only the Sick Need a Physician (gospels) / (10) The Two Lost Sons (gospels) / (11) We Draw Near (Hebrews) / (12) Behold, God Makes His Home with Us (Revelation 21-22). 

WHY IT MATTERS:

First, my hope for this new album (and the last album too), is that it would help you rehearse God's Story of redemption and hope in your everyday lives - while you're washing dishes, working at your desk, driving carpool - and that it would be a tool for you to tell others about this Story. 

Second, I pray these songs give hope. I pray they give hope to those who are suffering, as it reminds them of their true, eternal home. I pray it gives hope to those who are feeling condemned under the weight of their sin, as it reminds them of what kind of King Jesus really was, and who will inherit His kingdom. In the past 3.5 years of writing, I think I was drawn to these passages because I personally needed to be reminded of the hope of the gospel in both of these areas. 

THE FUN DETAILS!

This spring, I'll be recording in Nashville with producer Gabe Scott (Andrew Peterson, Jenny & Tyler). I know Gabe will stretch me, understand the vision and ideas behind the album, and help these songs become better than I could even imagine on my own. We will be working together in March, April and May, and I hope to release the album by the end of June. 

THANK YOU & HOW TO STAY CONNECTED

If you were part of the Kickstarter campaign, THANK YOU! I can't wait to send you the pre-release and all of your other rewards. It is such a gift to have community around me as I step into this process, and I will do my best to make an album worthy of your patronage! If you would like to stay up-to-date on the album release, sign up for my newsletter via the form below and I'll keep you in the loop. 

Here we go!!!

The Passover Song: Devotional

As I prepare to record a new album, I am planning to publish devotionals and song stories for each of the songs from my last album, the Blood + the Breath. This post is second in a series of many. 

Devotional written by Greg and Ginger O'Brien
READ: EXODUS 12

Hundreds of years passed while Israel was under Egypt’s heavy yoke of oppression and slavery. They groaned and cried out for help. Could this unbearable burden be relieved? The LORD God heard their cries and He acted. In mercy He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (v 24). God raised up Moses to deliver his people. God sent the signs, the wonders, and finally the plagues so that Israel’s oppressor might know that the Lord is God. The final plague was the death of the firstborn in every house in Egypt. This great plague of God’s judgment would set the Israelites free from slavery’s grip.

There was one thing Israelites were to do: God instructed each Israelite household to take a spotless lamb, kill it, and take its blood and smear it on the door frames of their houses. The blood would be a sign and would cause the LORD to “pass over” them, not allowing death to come to their firstborns. 

The people of Israel obeyed and did everything God instructed them. Were they full of faith that the blood on their door frames would cause God to pass them by, or did some of them lack faith and fear that death would come to them as well? Full of faith or wavering, they obeyed. And God spared them from the curse of the plague that night. Israel’s hope was not in the measure of their faith, but in the greatness of their God who keeps His covenant with His people. But, death did come to Israel that night, yet not in the same way it came to the Egyptians. That night every house in Egypt was a house of death and judgment – either of a lamb, or a firstborn. The blood of the lamb absorbed that judgment for the Israelite households. 

God did indeed pass through the land that night. But, while passing through in judgment he did more than simply pass over the houses with blood on the doorposts. Two Hebrew words in Exodus 12 have been translated as “passover:” ābar and pāsah. The first is the action of God passing over the land to bring judgment. The latter is used to describe God’s action in preventing the destroyer from entering homes with blood on the doorposts. “For the LORD will pass through (ābar) to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over (pāsah) the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you,” (Ex. 12:23).

From consideration of the use of pāsah in other places in the Old Testament, it seems the word would be best translated as ‘hover over, or cover over' (Meredith Kline, The Feast of the Cover-Over). Why is this significant? God did not simply see the blood of the lamb smeared on the doorway and harmlessly pass over their homes. Instead, he shielded them from death. When he saw the blood of the lamb He Himself “covered over” the house, interposing Himself between the destroyer and those inside. So, “the lamb was their covering and the LORD was their covering. Both are true because the LORD became the lamb (Kline).”

Thousands of years later, we find ourselves in the exact same story. We are slaves not to Egypt, but to sin. We, like Egypt and Israel, all deserve death because of our rejection of God, our choosing of our own way. That first passover lamb did not bring the Israelites ulimate salvation – it did not cleanse them of sin. It was a shadow, a type, of the fulness of which would come in the true Passover Lamb.

Jesus, the Son of God, is the Lamb of God, providing the cover-over for the sin of His people. Jesus himself received death’s inflicting blow on the cross, absorbing God’s judgment. Thereby, he covered over those who trust in Him, shielding them from the dark night of God’s final judgment. The cross of Christ became the doorposts on which the blood of the Lamb was painted. The Lamb is our covering and God is our covering. Both are true because, in Jesus, God became the Lamb. 


Questions for Reflection:
1. Do you trust that the blood of Jesus is sufficient to save you from your sin? Do you feel like God will not be merciful to you because your faith seems wavering or small? In light of the meaning of Jesus being the Passover Lamb, how should this apply to your fears and thoughts?

2. Read Revelation 5-7. How does the Passover help you to know Jesus more? 


THE PASSOVER SONG LYRICS
Words + Music by Sean Carter + Caroline Cobb
 

There’s a promise in our veins
But it’s faded by all these years in chains
Send a prophet, send the plagues
That by sunrise we will no more be slaves

Take the lamb, take the blood
And paint it on our doorways
At night death will come but pass us by

This is all our hope and peace

In the morning we will rise
Taste the freedom we thought we’d never find
We will dance now in the streets
Once held captive now we shall live as kings

Lift your head, your voice
And sing of your salvation
Of the blood of the lamb that gave us life

Now by this we’ll overcome
Now by this we’ll reach our home

There’s a poison in our veins
And it leads to death we cannot escape
Send a ransom a perfect Son
Remedy the curse with His precious blood

And the Lamb that will come
His cross will be our doorway
And the red of His blood ill make us white
And daughters and sons
Rejoice in resurrection
And death swallowed up in endless life

Glory, glory this I sing
All my praise for this I bring
Naught of good that I have done
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

 

Artwork by Chris Koelle, www.chriskoelle.com Created for Desiring God’s Job the Film, http://www.jobthefilm.com 

Artwork by Chris Koelle, www.chriskoelle.com
Created for Desiring God’s Job the Film, http://www.jobthefilm.com 

"Garden": Devotional + Song Story

As I prepare to begin recording a new album, I am planning to publish devotionals and song stories for each of the songs from my last album, the Blood + the Breath. This post is the first in a series of hopefully many over the next few months.

SONG STORY:
written by Caroline

"Garden" contrasts the beauty of creation - the colors, the food, the perfect relationship God and men, between Adam and Eve - with the warped ugliness of the Fall. And, the last chorus begins with the all-important word“but”. Man has sinned, but God promises to breathe life again through Eve's offspring, the One who would crush the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15). So begins the story of redemption.

When I was doing vocals for this song in the studio, I kept singing the bridge (describing man’s fall into sin) with a little too much “attitude”. Josh the producer stopped me and said that my tone shouldn’t be one of anger, but of sadness. After all, I was singing from the perspective of a loving God. The tender way I had been singing the verses (describing creation), should translate to the bridge as well. God wasn’t helpless, but He must have been sad as He watched His creation choose sin and death.The next few vocal takes were so different, even more tender - I was in a totally different headspace.
 

This God - with His tender love for Adam and Eve in their sin (and for us!), with His promise to redeem us through His own Son - this is a God worthy of our worship.


DEVOTIONAL
written by Cheryl Fletcher

Scripture Reading: Genesis 1-3

It begins in a garden. A garden created by God, filled with streams and barrel cactus and Joshua trees and reptiles and cats of all sizes and shapes. An exquisite garden for his image-bearers to enjoy and tend and fertilize. Everything is theirs. But the Creator gives a warning. “You can eat from the 492,000 trees in this place but don’t eat from that one. Avoid it and you will show that you trust me. Eat from it and you will die.” 

But, they had to have what they could not have. And this radiant garden becomes a garden of rebellion. 

But even in this giant failure there is grace and hope. The penalty is covered. There is a promise: One will come who will die in their place. His name is Jesus. Satan might bruise his heel but he will crush Satan’s head (Gen. 3:15; Romans 16:20). 

Jesus will enter a new Garden and rather than rebel, he will submit. 

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Garden of Submission, Jesus says, “Your will, Father, not mine.” And that act leads to the Garden of Redemption: Calvary. 

“At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.” John 19:41 

In the Garden of Redemption death is conquered! New life is offered. Resurrection is accomplished. And nothing is ever the same. 


FOR REFLECTION: 


1. In what ways are you most tempted to rebel against God today? Remember, sin is not just actions but also attitudes. 

2. Take a minute and write down a list of the beautiful things God has created, and all that He has provided for us. As you reflect on this list, how does this make you feel about these ways you are tempted to rebel? What do you need to say to God? 

3. Read Romans 8:1-4. What does it reveal about what Jesus accomplished for you in his death? 
 
Devotional by Cheryl Fletcher
Pastor to Women at Christian Assembly Church - Los Angeles, CA


“GARDEN” LYRICS
WORDS AND MUSIC BY CAROLINE COBB (ASCAP)
COPYRIGHT 2013 CAROLINE COBB SMITH. CCLI # 7000071
GENESIS 1 AND 2 (SEE ALSO GEN 3 + 11, EX 32 + ROM 1)

Beauty from void, dark to light
Sun for the day, stars for the night
For you I’ll plant a garden, fill it with light
Food for your mouth and color for eyes, and…

I will breathe into the dust
The breath of life and all my love
And when you open your eyes
You will see and be satisfied
Because I will be with you
I will be with you, I

Fall asleep; I’ll make for you a love
Love like a shield, like a home, like a dove
You are free, but ever enthralled
And I, I will be your all, and…

I will breathe into the dust
The breath of life and all my love
And when you open your eyes
You will see and be satisfied
Because I will be with you
I will be with you, I

Pick the lies right off the tree
Your eyes are opened but not to see
Build a tower to the sky
You think you know, you think you’re wise
Melt your gold down to a god
Sell your soul to pay for your facade
Trade your truth for silence
I’ll let you loose if you want it

But...

I will breathe into the dust
The breath of life and all my love
And when you open your eyes
You will see and be satisfied
Because I will be with you
I will be with you, I

New Song for Christmas: "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"

Out today: a brand new Christmas song, featuring Sean Carter.

Sean and I recently sat down to record an old Christmas carol called "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" for The Gospel Coalition. The story behind the song is so meaningful, and the lyrics so relevant today that we decided to release it as a single. 

Henry Longfellow wrote the original words for this carol when the realities he saw all around him in the Civil War - death, war, division, darkness, the near-fatal wounding of his own son - seemed to mock the angel's song of "peace on earth, good will to men".

When we look around us - at the tragedy of Syria, division and unrest in our own country, racism, terrorism, death, the sorrows we may be experiencing in our own lives - we feel that same dissonance. Where is God? Where is the peace on earth He promised through Christ's birth? 


"For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men"
 

I love Longfellow's answer to this question in the last verse of the song, for in it lies our ultimate hope and peace:

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor doth He sleep!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men"

You can hear the full story behind Longfellow's original poem, written by Justin Taylor, on The Gospel Coalition podcast and buy the single on iTunes. We hope it is as meaningful for you as it is for us.

 

Christmas Giveaway: Give the Album FREE to anyone in ministry!

Now through Christmas (while supplies last!)... tell them they are remembered: Send an overseas missionary or someone in full-time ministry the latest album for FREE! It's on me!

Being in full-time ministry can be lonely and hard, especially during the holidays. Is there a pastor,  a missionary, a worship leader, a YoungLife or Cru friend, a church staff member, etc. that you could remember and honor this Christmas season? Who comes to mind? I'd be glad to send them a digital copy of the album, plus a note from you! Just fill out the form below, or complete these four steps:

  1. E-mail me at info@carolinecobb.com
  2. Include their name, location (if not secure) and e-mail
  3. Include an optional personal note
  4. I'll e-mail them their unique download and your note, as a gift from you.

I've done this giveaway twice in years past, and it has been such a joy to see you remember these folks. I have a limited number of downloads I can give away, so act fast!  


Giver's Name
Giver's Name
Recipient Name *
Recipient Name

A Song for the Suffering: Do Not Lose Heart

The Story Behind "Do Not Lose Heart"... 
Just a little over two years ago, my husband received a crushing phone call. His dad, Joe, had been diagnosed with the more aggressive onset of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), and would only have 12-18 months to live. This disease, made famous by the "Ice Bucket Challenge," has no cure and there is no real way to fight it. Your brain stops sending signals to your muscles - even to the involuntary muscles that you use to swallow and breathe. Slowly, your body deteriorates, and you lose the ability to walk, talk, stand, and eat. We were devastated.

On the surface, there is no real hope here: no hope of "overcoming the odds" or getting treatment or fighting the disease. And yet, the Bible says there is a hope. As we looked ahead to the suffering we knew his dad would face, and as I searched scripture for what comfort Joe might have in this hopeless situation, this song began to form. 

Based on Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 4, "Do Not Lose Heart" speaks about the eternal, unwavering hope we have, even in the most difficult of trials. It is a hope achieved for us by Jesus's death on the cross and victorious resurrection. We do not lose heart, even when our flesh fails and we grow weary with suffering, because we know Jesus - who also suffered - has conquered death and is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all compare. As believers, we have a living, eternal hope that does not change when our circumstances change. 

This was a truth that sustained Joe until his last day. We lost him just this past April, and we grieve his absence. But because Jesus is risen and alive, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. One day, He will return and even death, that last enemy, will be soundly defeated.  

Life has been heavy and hard lately for a lot of people I know, and the world around us often feels chaotic and dark. I pray that this song will remind you of our great hope in Jesus, even in the midst of trial.


"Do Not Lose Heart" was featured on The Gospel Coalition's compilation album When Trials Come: Resurrection Songs for a World of Suffering. I had the privilege of curating the songs for this album, specifically with the theme of hope in suffering and the book of 1 Peter in mind. The album features Jenny & Tyler, Shane & Shane, Sandra McCracken, Jackie Hill Perry, Blair Linne, The Gray Havens, Page CXVI and many others.


This song was made possible by my very generous friend Kevin Cathey, who produced, engineered and played keys on the track. Also generously contributing their talents and time were Rob Antle on drums, Marshall Hampson on bass, Ronnie Jenkins on electric guitar, and Linzy Westman with BGV's.

Why Call It "the Blood + the Breath"?

Have you ever heard of a word cloud? If you’ve spent much time reading blogs, you’ve probably seen one before.

Basically, word clouds take a source text and then create a “cloud” image, giving greater prominence to words that appear in the source text most frequently.

One day, just for fun, I sat down at my computer and created a word cloud using all of the lyrics that I had so far for the album. I noticed that words that conveyed death and sacrifice (“blood,” “grave,” “death,” “wounds,” “suffering”, etc.) and resurrection and life (“risen,” “breath,” “life,” “hope”, etc.) appeared over and over again, and my wheels started turning.

At this point, I didn’t realize that all of the songs centered around the theme of redemption.  I started playing around with ideas for titles and came up with the one we have now: “The Blood and the Breath”…

And then I realized with excitement that every song was basically telling the same story. Every, single song on the album falls into one or both of these categories: blood (death, sacrifice, atonement) and breath (life, resurrection, Spirit).

And every, single song points to Jesus.

BLOOD first appears in the Bible in Genesis 3, when first sacrificial blood was shed because of sin entering the world.

Throughout the Old Testament, Christ’s sacrifice is prefigured: Abraham’s near sacrifice of his only son Isaac, the passover lamb in Exodus 12, the sacrificial system, the promise of the “suffering servant” in Isaiah 53. Ultimately, the word “blood” refers to the blood Jesus’ sheds for us on the cross, which has purchased us from death to life.

Most of the songs on the album allude to the cross, but “The Passover Song”, “Your Wounds”, and “Gethsemane” especially do.

BREATH is a symbol of creation and new life in Genesis 1 and 2 and the “recreated” life that God gives us through Christ.

“Breath” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament and the great hope of the New.  The word signals the promise of our bodily resurrection on the last day (see 1 Corinthians 15 and “Wake Up”).

Historically, the Holy Spirit, God’s deposit on and guarantee of our new life in Christ, is called the “breath of God”.

“Garden”, “Dry Bones”, and “Breath of God” specifically speak of the “breath of life” and/or the Spirit.

AT EASTER, the words “blood” and “breath” converge, and the story of redemption reaches a great climax.

The Easter story – our redemption through Jesus’ cross and resurrection – undergirds every song on this album. 

Singing Psalm 34:4-6 for The Verses Project

Artwork by Amy Fuller.

Artwork by Amy Fuller.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
— Psalm 34:4-5

I had the opportunity to write a song for Psalm 34:4-5 for The Verses Project this summer, and it was an amazing process. The Verses Project is a collaborative effort by a number of artists and musicians including Robbie Seay, Latifah Alattas (Page CXVI), Charlie Hall and many others to put Bible verses to (good, not hokey) music, for the sake of memorization. It's run by a group of friends: Joel Limpic (a worship pastor at Park Church in Denver), Ryan Pikas (a worship pastor at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City), and Chris Clark (a worship pastor at Redemption Church in Edmond, OK).

I recorded the song with my good friend Kevin Cathey engineering and producing, Rob Antle on drums, and Garth Jantzen on bass.

Listen here.

 

Behind the Album Cover Art

The story behind the album’s cover artwork, from designer Nicole Rim:

“I was really excited to have another opportunity to collaborate with Caroline in designing her new album, “The Blood + the Breath.”  I’ve been so encouraged by these simple yet profound songs that are seeped in Scripture and tell of the redemption story that God has written for us.

The title of Caroline’s album really conjured up so much imagery from the Bible and from her songs, so I had to figure out what to distill. Caroline really helped in this process, as she knew she wanted something bold and simple with red and blue as the primary colors.

The Blood: In order to represent the redemptive theme running throughout the songs, I wanted to take two very powerful stories that dealt with a lot of blood: The Passover from the Old Testament and the Crucifixion from the New Testament. Using Caroline’s very own bold, red paint stroke, I placed it on a wood, grain background, alluding to the grue- some but necessary actions that would bring life. This connection of the Old and New seemed fitting as Caroline’s songs would constantly point to the greater story of redemption.

The Breath: I wanted to contrast the bold imagery from ‘the blood’ with a more airy, amorphous, watercolor image that would symbolize the breath of God and the life that He brought and continues to bring, even through death. I also wanted to incorporate some of Caroline’s lyrics on this image which, again, points to that redemptive story of salvation.”

Nicole Rim is a graphic designer for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. Check out her photography here and her design work here.

VIDEO: "The Passover Song" feat. Sean Carter

Please watch and share this brand new, live performance video of “The Passover Song” featuring my friend and co-writer Sean Carter.

You can download the recording of this performance, along with 3 other Easter-themed songs from both Sean and I, over on NoiseTrade for free.

I pray this video and song will remind you and your friends of the great hope you have in Jesus, the cross and the resurrection during this Lent and Easter season!

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Remembering 11/11

Today is a big day for me.  It’s a day of celebration, a day of remembering God’s faithfulness.  A day to laugh and wonder at the amazing journey He has taken me on in the last 3 years.  A journey that started with a little goal I made 3 years ago this November…

THE CRAZY GOAL:
In November of 2010, I gave myself a crazy goal: write a song for every book of the Bible in one year, before I turned 30 on 11/11/11. I called it The Scripture to Music Project, and it was one of the most fulfilling and amazing things I’ve ever done.  Week after week, I was digging into a different book of the Bible, trying to figure out which story or passage to concentrate on, trying to discern how to tell that story in a creative and yet faithful way. During this year of writing, the redemptive story that God has authored for us in Scripture became vibrantly beautiful to me, both in its personal details and its panoramic fullness.

A house show in Houston

SHARING THE STORY:
When I finished my goal, I knew I wanted to share these songs and this Story with everyone I could. So, in January of 2012, I left my super supportive husband Nick at home and hit the road with my little girl Ellie (then 18 months) in tow to play house shows in cities all across Texas. I was also about 4 months pregnant with our little boy Harrison. Night after night, people sat and listened to the story of Scripture through song. And night after night, people told me how encouraged they were, how they wanted to dig back into the Bible, and how they loved hearing the old stories in a fresh, new way. And this got me thinking…

What if people could actually take these songs home? What if you could own an album that creatively traced the story of Scripture from beginning to end? What if you could listen to stories from the Old Testament during your morning commute to work, and stories from the New Testament while you were waiting in the carpool line to pick up your kids from school? And what if you could give this same CD to a friend who was completely unfamiliar with God’s Story?

A few months later, I launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise the funds needed to record a studio album. It would not be an album made up of arbitrary songs, but an album that would share God’s story of redemption, from beginning to end, using many of the songs I had written during my 29th year.  It was a big risk, a huge step of faith for me.  I had many tear-filled conversations with my husband on our couch after Ellie went to sleep for the night, wondering “what if I fail? wouldn’t it be easier just to forget about this? how can I do this while still being a stay-at-home mom too?”

My fears and self-doubt nearly kept me from beginning this journey.  Eventually, this became my prayer: “If I fail, let it be to your glory. If I succeed, let it be to your glory. Your will be done.” I launched the Kickstarter campaign on April 11 and we met our goal in just 5 days.   

And, oh the journey we’ve been on since then… I feel so privileged to be a vehicle for God’s redemptive Story through these 12 little songs.  If you know me well, you know I’m not a slick, rock-star type.  You might also notice that I’m not the most polished singer or the most skilled guitar player.  I’m a stay-at-home mom of two kids, and one more on the way, who spends much of her time nuking chicken nuggets and changing diapers and reading kids’ books (which is an amazing gig!).  And yet, God has used me and used these songs as I have faithfully tried to take the next small steps of faith I know to take.

So, today I celebrate.  Today, I remember.  Today, I am grateful.

Studio Journal: Week 1

On January 20, my little family left for Colorado.  The very next day, I drove to Shane & Shane’s studio near Dallas for my first day of recording.  After years of work on these songs, and months and months of waiting to get started, the day had finally come!  I felt a little bit nervous, but mostly just ready.  Everything turned out better than I could have even imagined.
Here are some highlights from that first week:

    • The studio… it’s in the middle of the woods, which I loved.  There was this little ridge you could hike up to, and I loved going up there to clear my head while we were on breaks.  It was beautiful.
The view from the top of the ridge.

The view from the top of the ridge.

  • Watching Ian Fitchuk (musician) and Josh Moore (producer, musician) work together, building the songs layer by layer.  First, Ian would play some guitar while Josh played piano.  Then, Ian would play drums while Josh would track the bass.  It was so effortless for them and it would only take them a take or two to nail the parts.  Meanwhile, I was sitting there amazed.
    • “Dry Bones” is this really gritty, dark blues song about Ezekiel’s vision of a valley of dry bones (Ez. 37).  Before we started tracking this song, Josh read Ezekiel 37 in the very, very creepy voice of Tom Waits.  Seriously.  And then we made up a new genre called “zombie blues”.  And that was that.
Me, Josh & Ian.

Me, Josh & Ian.

Josh & Ian doing their thing.

  • Hearing “All the Stars”, a song about God’s promises to Abraham, come together. Josh had talked to me about wanting to really have an almost Coldplay(ish) build in this song, and I had to write a bridge part to make sure that could happen. We pulled it off and it sounds so cool.  It’s an uplifting, upbeat song, and I tend to write slow, sad ones… can’t wait for you guys to hear this one.
  • Getting to meet Shane & Shane, who own the studio.  I tried not to geek out too much – they are just really cool people and I’ve loved their music for a long, long time.  They even sat down and listened to a song or two and (I think) they liked them!

Meanwhile, Ellie made her first snowman in Colorado. Was sad to miss that, but glad she was having fun!

 

Into the Studio!

In just two weeks, I’m finally headed into the studio to record a new album.  This album is the result of over 2 years of work, and I cannot wait to see these songs come to life.

The story behind this album really begins at the end of 2010, when I gave myself a crazy goal to write a song for every book of the Bible by 11/11/11.  Now, through the help of an amazing Kickstarter community – and by God’s grace – I’m finally getting to make a record using of a few of the songs from that year of writing, plus a few new ones too.

Beginning with creation and ending with the second coming of Jesus, this record will trace the biblical story of redemption: the “scarlet thread” that ultimately points to Jesus’ death and resurrection.  It will be called The Blood & The Breath: Songs that Sing the Story of Redemption.

I’m excited about making this album for a million reasons, but mostly I’m excited for people to have an album that will tell this story.  There are so many stories in the Bible, but they are really all telling the same bigger story: the story of redemption, the story of a loving God who rescues us from sin and death through Jesus.  And this is the story that gives meaning and hope to our own.

In some ways, I feel really ready.  In some ways, I feel really inadequate.  But I’m praying that God will take my work and my weaknesses and use it.  2 Corinthians 4:5 says “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”  This is my hope and prayer for this album.

Opening for Jenny & Tyler

Just a few weeks ago, I got to be the opening act for one of my favorites: Jenny & Tyler.

I hadn’t played a show since just before our new baby was born in June, so when I asked Jenny & Tyler if I could open for them – and they said yes – I was excited and nervous.  Would I be totally rusty and “baby brain”-ish?  Would I even remember the words to my songs?

But I had the best time. I met a lot of great new friends that night and it felt great to jump back into things and sing my songs again.  What a privilege to open for Jenny & Tyler too.  They were amazing.

Kickstarter: Looking Back and Ahead

On April 11, we launched a Kickstarter campaign that, if successful, would allow me to make a brand new album that tells the Story of scripture.  This album would take the songs from the crazy Scripture to Music Project goal and the house show tour one step further.  Above all, it would be about sharing the Story, from beginning to end, as faithfully and as creatively as I could.

On May 11, the Kickstarter campaign ended.  Throughout this month, I’ve been continually blown away and humbled by the response to this project and this idea.  The Kickstarter funds, taken together with the money I had already earned and/or put away for this project, will come very close to fully funding the recording, mixing, and mastering of this album with producer Josh Moore.

As I look back on this month, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude, humility, and excitement.  With the up-front financial burden lifted, I can focus on making this album well and generously sharing the Story well rather than cutting this or that corner in order to make the budget work.  I also feel a sense of community as over 130 people are with me and behind me as I move forward with this album.  I can’t tell you what an amazing feeling this is!  Thank you!

So, what next? My plan is to take the summer to enjoy baby #2, our first son, who is due any day now (!).  We’ll get to work on pre-production in the fall and hopefully get into the studio in the spring.  I’m hoping to release the album in May or June of 2013.  I can’t wait to get started!

Besides recording an album, I’ll also be working to fulfill the rewards for Kickstarter backers.  In the next year or so, I’ll be….

  • Giving away at least 356 physical copies of this CD to Kickstarter backers and their missionary friends
  • Writing up to 17 new songs from scripture, based on backers’ most treasured passages and stories from scripture
  • Playing up to 28 house shows for backers and the ministries they’re involved with!

This is going to be a busy year, but I can’t wait!  Stay tuned for updates, behind-the-scenes action, and more.  2013 is going to be fun!

Help Me Share the Story

Do you remember the crazy goal I had of writing a song for every book of the Bible by the time I turned 30 on 11/11/11?  And do you remember the house show tour and how I used those songs to tell the story of scripture, from beginning to end, in homes all across Texas?

Well, I have some exciting news!  We have decided to try to take these songs and this Story one step further.  On April 11 (about 2 weeks away!), we will launch a Kickstarter campaign that, if successful, will allow me to make a brand new album that shares the story of scripture.

Please watch the video above to learn all about this exciting yet super scary next step.  And make sure to stay tuned for a preview of some of the rewards I’ll be offering to backers and to mark your calendars for April 11, the big launch day, and for May 11, the deadline.

these songs and this Story one step further.  On April 11 (about 2 weeks away!), we will launch a Kickstarter campaign that, if successful, will allow me to make a brand new album that shares the story of scripture.

Please watch the video above to learn all about this exciting yet super scary next step.  And make sure to stay tuned for a preview of some of the rewards I’ll be offering to backers and to mark your calendars for April 11, the big launch day, and for May 11, the deadline.

Jan 2012 House Show Tour

This past year, I challenged myself to write a song for every book of the Bible.  I called it The Scripture to Music Project, and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done.

I’m so excited to announce that this January, I’ll be taking some of these songs on the road.  My hope is to creatively tell the story of Scripture through song, night after night, in cities all across Texas.

Check out the current dates for this tour, and please contact me if you’d like to come but haven’t gotten the invite yet.

Hope to see you on the road!

The Scripture to Music Project: Done!

I can’t believe I’m getting to write this, but I am so excited to let you know that I finished my big goal of writing a song for every book in the Bible by 11/11/11.

The Scripture to Music Project was one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things I’ve ever done and I have no regrets. This was a great year for me as a songwriter – sometimes writing 2 or 3 songs a week from really challenging material. But even more, it was a great year for me as a Christian – God has grown bigger in my eyes, His grace more amazing, and His plan of redemption more sweeping and vibrant.

So, what’s next? I’m giving away free music and going on tour! Read below for some details on how to host a house concert this spring and how to get all of the music from the year online for free.

Free Music:
The Scripture to Music Project demos are free on Bandcamp. Check out the A-sides first for some of my favorites from the year, and then check out the B-sides for all the rest. A big thank you to those of you who already downloaded the demos and especially to those who left a tip!

Want to Host a House Concert?
On Friday, I played a special concert for family and friends here at my house. I played just a selection of songs from the year, and tried to take people through the Story of Scripture through these songs. It was an amazing night and I think those who were here were really encouraged as they sat and listened to God’s Story in song. I’m hoping to duplicate this night in other people’s homes all across Texas in the next few months.

Would you be interested in hosting a house concert? It’s easy, it’s free, and hopefully it will be a fun, encouraging night for your friends. I’m definitely hoping to hit Houston, Austin, & Dallas but would love to play other places as well. Let me know!

The Scripture to Music Collective
If you like the idea behind my Scripture to Music Project, I think you’ll LOVE the website I’m developing called The Scripture to Music Collective. Every week, we post 2-3 songs from Scripture, and we are building a database full of songs that “riff” on God’s Story. Several of my songs are posted to this site, but there are a ton of great songs from well-known artists like Shane & Shane, Bethany Dillon, Andrew Peterson, and many more. There are also some great opportunities to discover some really cool indie artists that you may never have heard of.