where I occasionally share about inspiration, songwriting, screenwriting and my faith journey…
Mission year #3 .. 2012 — here’s a running list of new songs:
#2 – “WILL YOU WAIT FOR ME”
posted January 17, 2012
One of the cover songs I’d planned on playing at my January 6th gig at the Donut Whole — and then consequently forgot to play,thumbing right past it without even realizing, thank you, nerves — was Bruce Springsteen’s “Should I Fall Behind”. This song came into play on Patrick’s and my wedding day nearly 10 years ago now, June 2002. Our wedding wasn’t until early that evening, so we had all day to hang out at the resort up in the mountains near Winthrop, WA. We went for a long, long hike in the woods — gorgeous! We didn’t speak. I mean, we were soooo quiet. Just a beautiful, contemplative, grateful, nervous sort of day. Part of our ceremony later that day was time for each of us to “share” … and Patrick tapped ol’ Bruce when calling to mind and sharing the sentiment of that song. We have several versions of that song, and I think I lean toward the 3/4 time Irish waltz one from the LIVE IN DUBLIN cd. No matter, whenever I hear Bruce sing it, I think of our wedding day .. and get a little teary-eyed:
We said we’d walk together, baby, come what may
That come the twilight, should we lose our way
If as we’re walking, a hand should slip free
I’ll wait for you, and should I fall behind, wait for me
I know that day and that song was in my head .. and in my heart .. as I toyed around with this new song. It came pouring out. Worked on it the next day and finished it the day after that, added it to the set list .. and then played it, for the first time, that Friday night without Patrick hearing it beforehand. I wanted it to be a surprise. A gift. I don’t have much, but I can give the gift of a song once in a while and I wanted to give him this one. I could only watch him for a while as I played. I knew I’d struck oil in the moistening of his eyes and had to look elsewhere for fear of losing it myself.
#1 – “CHANGE”
posted January 3, 2012
Maybe it’s strange I’m quoting Gandhi in this song and not explaining which changes in the world I want to see. But I’m a work in progress .. even at nearly 48 years old now. Maybe I don’t yet know all the changes I want to see and be a part of. What I do know is I’m along for the grand ride that is this life. I hope I have many more years to kick ’round on this bouncing ball and many more hours to set fingers upon strings and write more work-in-progress songs. I maintain hope. All while embracing the biggest hand of fate in my life…
For Mission year #2 (October 23, 2010 – October 22, 2011) here’s a running list of the new songs:
#12 – “UNDERTOW”
I worked on this in Minnesota as well. It’s bizarre in that the lyrics came out with this flavor of water/ocean/swimming/undertow … and yet, as I discovered when thinking about it after the trip, this was all about my experience “in the woods”. My time on the trails in the Minnesota woods, running, thinking, talking, praying, spending time with the Big Guy — all of it affected me in profound and remarkable ways. I wanted to draw close .. and I did. In fact, in many ways, I was pulled in, even pulled under — enveloped, held firmly and lovingly, certainly not against my will .. but oh, so willingly. I went north with a lot of longing and desire and need and all week long I had my thirst and hunger taken care of. Such immersion was like drowning .. but in a good way, if that makes sense. All I know is I didn’t want to leave. I drew close every day, I processed what I could every day and I went back for more the next. I felt as if God met me in Minnesota and welcomed me in to teach me, nudge me, challenge me, remind me of some things. This song came out of that experience…
#11 – “I DON’T KNOW”
In early October, I had the chance to do a mock ‘open mic night’ in my neighborhood and played this for neighbors, and a few weeks later, played it for girlfriends at a birthday party. A snippet video even wound up on Facebook. Oy! The underlying nuance has to do with questioning one’s paths and dreams and passions in light of what God has laid out .. and what the world sees or thinks or expects of each of us and what we’re doing. Do they line up? Are they supposed to? How do those things in life twist and tangle together? And are we getting caught up in the stuff God wants us to get caught up in?
#10 – “HOW MANY TIMES”
Reassurance. Or repetition as a learning tool. I’m not sure which. Either way, this song speaks to my necessity (desire?) to hear things several times over before they sink in. The lyrics can slice a few different ways — this could be Christ saying these things to me; could be me saying these things to my love, Patrick. Again, either way, I don’t think you can say “You’re mine” or “I’ll adore you all your life” to many times to anyone. Nor hear them too many times!
#9 – “STAND WITH ME”
After a wonderful, simple, fun, loving weekend together with my hubby, I wrote this song for him. Started it one night sitting out on the deck watching a storm roll in .. and finished it over the course of the next day while he was at work.
#8 – “FROM AFAR”
#7 – “DON’T YOU HEAR ME”
As I wrote in the post: this song stems mainly from a recent inability of mine to hear. I’ve had plenty of stuff I’ve been grousing around about and I pitch stuff left and right over the fence to God, but where I’m falling down is hearing, seeing, understanding his reply. If I think about things, I know I have what I need — I’ve got Christ to follow, I’ve had my ticket punched, so to speak, and I have a path, however faint, before me. But still I stumble and bumble around. I mess up. I get bounced. I get caught up in stupid crap. I get distracted, dislodged. I stray. I curse. I falter. I sin. Nobody’s fault but my own and I take full responsibility. I’m not about to say my faltering is anyone’s fault but my own. So I’m crying out and I know Jesus is there .. I can feel him .. but still I have those moments when I wonder if he hears me. This song is about that — about chinked armor, heavy armor, veering off the path, struggling to right the ship … and knowing well I cannot possibly do it alone. It’s about admitting all of that.
#6 – “I’D DO IT ALL AGAIN”
After a slight overdose on a Steve Earle-Allison Moorer duet this past weekend, I sat down and plunked around and found this song lurking and begging for daylight. Haven’t written a plain old-fashioned love ballad in a while, figured I was due. This is about that — when you love someone, there are good days … and not so good ones. If your love is real, it’s strong and can withstand the tough stuff. If you marry your best friend, you’ll stay the course .. together. And if asked — absolutely, you’d do it all again.
#5 – “REGRETS”
I started this song upon hearing about a tragic accident which took the lives of two young people. I didn’t know them, but I know others affected by this tragedy — friends, parents, teachers. I learned of another young woman I know who was not only reeling from the loss of a friend .. but also suffering because of time and space which had wedged itself between her and her friend. All this got me to thinking about regrets — do we regret more those things we say .. or those words we don’t say? I’d wager to guess we’re more affected by the latter. All of this served as a staunch reminder not to hold — no matter what it is you have to say to each other, say it. Tell someone you love them, you’re sorry, you miss them, you forgive them, you need them. Whatever it is, say it. And even when it’s too late or too difficult to reach out to each other, we can always reach out to God. He’s there. And he is strongest when we are at our weakest. This song is about that .. reaching out to Him.
#4 – “REVISED”
This song took me a week to write. It began at the Brandon Heath / TobyMac concert on January 15th and was finished and recorded this weekend. While at the concert, oh so totally inspired, I whipped out my iPhone and typed up two simple phrases that were the seeds for this song: “consider me revised” and “rewrite your history” … which became “rewrite my history”. Amazing what a little air guitar during a 25 minute drive will get you — that first night the chorus, title and opening/ending lines all emerged. I would LOVE to see/hear somebody take this and turn it into a raucous and moving sing-along concert song. I can hear that in my head — crazy percussion and thumping bass — but alas, what you get here is my early version. Please enjoy anyway! 🙂
#3 – “ALL HE OFFERS”
I started this song a few weekends ago, right after Patrick and I hung out one Friday night at Riverside Perk, listening to two singer-songwriters. The first verses and a draft of the chorus came quickly, but then I dabbled with it on and off for the subsequent few weeks. I wrestled with certain lines because I knew what I was trying to say, but felt my draft wasn’t quite right. Last night in church, listening to Pastor Mark, it clicked. There are times in our lives — all too often probably — when we … well, when we “resist” God’s work in us, when we succumb to other things, be it doubt or fear or jealousy or discouragement. But in faith, we’re encouraged to “insist” on God’s work in us! Every time we pray, every moment we whisper “lead me, teach me, show me, bless me, love me, encourage me”… Here’s the really cool thing about God—-regardless of whether we resist or insist, He’s working behind our scenes. He knows with no amount of uncertainty where He’s leading us and where He wants us to be .. and He’s fairly patient when we are in “slow learner” mode. If we just pay attention, if we consider all the opportunity and blessing God places in our lives, we cannot live discouraged. And that is the theme of this song.
#2 – “REACH”
I wrote this song for Shauna… She and a few other readers of this blog participated in my Thanksgiving weekend mini-challenge, where I asked for song prompts and potential artists. (I’d made the same offer to a music industry exec in Nashville … but when he chose not to participate, I offered it here on the blog.) Well, I sort of fell down on writing something that fit her Chris August request, but I feel alright about rising to the challenge of her song prompt., which included: Some random thoughts – My hope, my dreams, my thoughts, my needs. Why do I try to hold so tight and maintain control, when giving them up will save my soul. She also wrote: Love you and your dreams. Reach higher.
When I first start scribbling notes in response to Shauna’s prompt, I immediately honed in on the word “reach” … I loved it visually and I love it spiritually. I will never forget my first month at church, back in the late summer 2008 during the “Running” series: the visual Pastor Mark shared about when we first reach out and grasp onto God .. and He reaches and grasps onto us as well. Even if we slip, even if we drift or loosen our hold, or let go completely — He’s still got us. Visually, spiritually, emotionally — that was, is and forever will remain huge for me. One of my greatest blessings, without a doubt.
The other thing I scribbled down before I started composing were these two thoughts:
Not necessarily lines which were going to make it into the song, but themes I hung onto when I wrote.
#1 – “DADDY, MAY I”
I began singing this in my head during a weekend drive back from Iowa, then within a 24-hour period a few days later, the rest came pouring out.
Various things influenced this song: speaking about children of the present, future and past; praying over illnesses; understanding the propensity for some to turn away from God when facing the toughest times rather than to Him; and much more circle of life stuff. All these influences culminated and what emerged, in quick fashion, was this. My earthly daddy has been gone seventeen years now, but I bet he might even enjoy this one. And as for our heavenly Father, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t mind being called “Daddy” on occasion…
For those of you who desire to check out the songs without surfing through the posts to find them, I’ll keep a running list here. For a few songs which were written prior to the start of the one-year challenge, they’re on the pre-mission song vault page.
The following are the songs completed beginning October 22nd, 2009…
#1 – “OUTSIDE LOOKING IN”
The seedling of this song came from a colleague who so eloquently told me: “The handle is always on your side of the door to God. He’s always there for you on the other side, but you have to take action by turning the handle.”
#2 – “I’VE MISSED YOU”
Sometimes relationships hit some tough spots… this is about that.
#3 – “YOU WON’T ABANDON ME”
This started with an old, abandoned car in a field… immediately I had the title line. I spent several weeks noodling with thoughts about those things which God won’t do for which I am thankful. The list is obviously much longer than what I could encompass in one song, but I touched on several.
#4 – “ALL I NEED”
Received a friend’s bad news a few weeks ago … and then an awful update to that news a few days ago. Haven’t been handling it well. I’m pretty raw, angry, failing to understand and failing to have a conversation with God about it because my stubborn, dismissive side doesn’t trust that I’ll uphold a very friendly end of the dialogue. I know that’s wrong. I should want to talk .. and to pray anyway. I know that .. just like I know I’m better off feeling certain, safe and doubtless when it comes to God’ ability to take care of things. Because I know He can, and yet when things happen that at the moment make so little sense, I’m frustrated with myself for allowing distance to exist. And yet it does.
#5 – “MAYBE I’M”
I don’t think it’s uncommon at all to be on a faith walk and to stumble around and stub toes and question and wonder this and question that and look at yourself and think where’d your enthusiasm go? In your heart of hearts, you KNOW things … but life has a way of rising up and spitting in your face once in a while and that’s when I get to feeling like that poster-cat from years and years ago, hanging on for dear life by her claws to a tree branch…. This song is about lots of self-questioning that cropped up over a strange mucky stretch of days .. and the notion of holding on.
#6 – “MORE”
I’m a little foggy on the beginnings of this song… probably in the shower. Seems to be where so many songs sprout for me. But what is clear as day is the church bulletin from March 20. Patrick was up in Omaha so I went by myself, got there early, read a few Psalms and then all of a sudden, lines of lyrics came, so I scribbled them furiously on the bulletin. What I nailed that night was the bridge of this song: “You are more than I ever imagined. You are more than I ever thought you’d be. You are more than my blessed Savior, tried and true. And I am more because of you.” The lyrics were there. It took me another 3 or 4 days to figure out what the bridge sounded like, but once I got it, I recorded this. Funny that all this happened the week I participated with a few friends in trying to find some physical ways to remind myself that Jesus is with me every day. My biggie? Each morning upon arriving at work, I’d get out, go around to the passenger side (where I always envision Jesus being), open that door, and invite him to join me in my workday. Wow, what an amazing difference it made in my week. It’s now a good daily practice for me. Good thing I don’t mind “looking silly”.
#7 – “LONG RIDE HOME”
I wrote this for my friend Robert P. Each one of us has had some version of a long ride home — those times we’re summoned somewhere because of family distress, tragedy, illness gone awry, etc. Whether on a plane with a hundred+ other people or driving in a car by yourself across state lines, you often feel alone even though you’re truly not. This is about that.
#8 — “IN HIS HANDS”
I asked readers for input on new songs to write — some thoughts, questions, fave sayings, fave verses, etc. One friend provided several verses, one of which was Jeremiah 29:11, also one of my favorites.
Isn’t it a wonderful notion to think of God doing his good work in, around and through us? I got to thinking that if we don’t step off the ledge once in a while, it’s almost like him missing out on the opportunity to show us all he can do for us. If we simply give ourselves over, acknowledge the gifts he’s given us and use those gifts as he’d enjoy us to use them, if we do our part, if we do not shrink back, he’ll do the rest. He’s got us! In his hands.
#9 – “TRULY, TRULY”
My husband, Patrick, still struggles with knowing his place in the big scheme of things. Believe me, I’ve been there, so I understand the questions which come out of him. I came at my faith journey from a much different place than he’s coming from, and yet I too struggled with the ease with which we can ask Jesus into our lives. But wow — once you get past that struggle, it’s a world of adventure. I wrote this song for Patrick. I’m sure he’s not alone in this place he’s in… ready to ask, ready to accept, ready to come to grips with how easy all this truly, truly is .. and ready to begin his own adventure.
#10 – “I’LL WAIT”
For several weeks, as various facets of life have started to pick up steam, I’ve just been holding on for dear life and enjoying the ride. Once I got to the place where I stopped agonizing over how full my plate was (still is!) and began to frolic in the fact I love everything on my plate and my plate is full of great stuff, it was like a switch flipped for me. The little phrase “do not shrink back” has stuck with me and has provided a much-needed undercurrent of push. All of April, I had friends pray over me to “flourish, not flounder” .. and I can tell you — I felt it! April’s been pretty sweet. I have no idea what lies around the corner, but I’m okay with not knowing. My coach talked to us last Tuesday about how in racing there is a balance between managing your time .. and letting a race unfold. With much of my life I’m managing my time; but hey, as far as tomorrow goes, I’m letting it unfold! Someone told me to fasten my seat belt. Um, yeah — I’m keeping it on, my friend! I know I have a few dear friends with much anticipation in their lives right now. For very different reasons .. and both are trying hard to not let that anticipation get the best of them. They’re trusting God for whatever comes next. I get that. Me too.
Back on April 14th, my index card for the day included The Message’s version of Romans 5:3, in which are the lines “… keeping us alert for whatever God will do next” and “.. we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives..”
Am I excited about what might come next in my life? Am I trusting God to keep pouring while I run around with containers? Yes .. and yes. Do I feel anticipation? Sure. But I’ll wait…
#11 – “DIDN’T YOU”
If I look around at people I know in my life or those I read about or hear about or those I’m thankful I’m not forced to trade lives with, I see all too many relationships gone awry. Some more drastically than others, of course. I’m not sure what it is about our nature, but often we are just plain fools for love — caught up, wishing for the best, hoping not-so-great circumstances will change, praying the person we love will stop doing the things that he or she does that cause such heartbreak. Seems people hang in there far longer than it makes sense to sometimes. I’m not dissecting the reasons why. But what hit me writing this song is the power that comes with finally proclaiming one’s freedom to walk away from a bad situation. How suddenly, once the decision is made, all the strength missing during the height of turmoil surfaces and bolsters a person to speak up — often with certainty and clarity and a newfound sense of self.
#12 “I AM NOT ALONE”
If you’ve ever heard the expression “drinking from a fire hose”, that is pretty much what it felt like when this song came to me in a rush one afternoon a few weeks out from my first half-Ironman event. It poured forth in less than ten minutes while I was still at my daytime office, so I sang in my head while typing myself an email with the lyrics. I’ve been singing the song nearly non-stop leading up to this race on October 17th. I know I’ll be singing it throughout the race. I am going to need every ounce of strength God’s willing to share with me with on race day and I know I’ll be racing in and for his glory.
words & music (c) 2009, 2010, 2011 – Joni Brainerd