Category Archives: Recording Project

Release Concert Jitters

freshly-tuned-pianoLest anyone think that this album release  stuff is just one high point after another (as the heavy promotion I’ve been doing over the past week may imply), here’s an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote earlier today.

The Dwelling Place Project release concert is less than 24 hours away. I’m so excited! I’m so terrified!

Crazy thoughts flying through my mind. What if nobody comes? What if we don’t sell any CDs? What if I blow the songs? What if I say something stupid and make a complete fool of myself?

I can try to ignore these feelings, but if I do that, they’ll invariably just come out sideways at the ones I love. I need to get drain away this swirling vortex and find peace. I know it’s there for the taking. Jesus said so.

I read a great article by Bob Kauflin yesterday about leading (music and worship) to impress people versus leading to serve them. This piece is oh so timely, and I am finding it a balm to my nervous soul.  Here are some direct applications.

  • If I’m leading to serve, it doesn’t matter how many people come to the concert. We’ll do our very best to engage, inspire, and challenge anyone who is present.
  • If I’m leading to serve, it doesn’t matter if we sell any CDs. We’re doing this to support something much bigger than me and my puny little album anyway. And God is faithful to fulfill His calling to us; He will provide (and is providing) the funds we need to adopt.
  • If I’m leading to serve, I’ll chose my words to edify those who are listening, not to try to make myself look funny or like I’ve got it all together. I’ll be vulnerable and authentic, and I’ll be grateful to God and to the people who are generous enough to spend their Saturday evening on my family and our story.
  • If I’m leading to serve, I’ll keep in mind that it’s not about me. This will take the pressure off, and I’ll be free to relax and enjoy playing and singing, which means that I’ll be more likely to do a good job.

Deep down though, I’m afraid that a lackluster release concert with low attendance and marginal sales will mean that I am a failure. This is a hard one to battle. In my mind, I know it’s not true, but this success-equals-value mentality is something I’ve wrestled with for my whole life. How do I live out the truth in my head so that it fills my heart?

Maybe it just comes down to this — I need to do my very best with courage and honesty and joy, and trust God to work out the rest according to His will.  It’s out of my hands anyhow. I want to be fully present in each moment of this event; it’s what I’ve been waiting for, dreaming of, praying for. And I know are others who are just as excited and looking forward to it, and we can celebrate together, whether there are 20 or 200 of us.

Prayers appreciated.  And I am SO looking forward to seeing you – well, hopefully a bunch of you – tomorrow night!

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Further Beyond Coincidence

Shure SM81 Condenser MicrophoneA couple weeks ago, I phoned my church’s music director to inquire about the list of equipment he planned to submit to a donor in our congregation who plans to make a substantial contribution to the church’s music ministry.  (I have posted previously about the origin of this list.)  In particular, I was interested in whether or not the director had included some microphones suitable for recording instruments for a professionally produced album in this list.

The music director indicated that the list had already been delivered to the would-be benefactor, but that the microphones were not present in it.  The director explained that the list was comprised of “big ticket” items that the church could not ordinarily afford, since a significant donation was in view.  The microphones, while not cheap, are much less expensive by comparison, and might feasibly be included as a line item of our church’s music budget — perhaps as early as this year.

This made perfect sense, but was still a bit disappointing to me.  I was able to let go of it pretty quickly, though.  After all, if God wants an album recorded to help support our adoption journey, He’ll provide the means to get it done, church microphones or no.

About half an hour later, I noticed a new voicemail message on my phone from the music director. My heart did a bit of a cartwheel as I listened to it. Evidently, right after he hung up with me, the director found a new email from the donor saying that the list of desired equipment had been received and looked good. However, there was still money that the donor wanted to give beyond the cost of the listed equipment. Was there any additional equipment that could be of use to the church music ministry, the donor wanted to know.  At this, the music director called one of the church’s sound technicians and commissioned him to put together a second list of recording equipment for our church, including the microphones I had asked about.

This is the second case of more-than-ironic timing regarding funds for church recording equipment and my improbable adoption-supporting album.  Again, I am still unsure how all of this will work out – the music director ended his message by indicating that the funds to be donated probably won’t be available until November of this year.  Even so, my faith and hope are growing, as the Lord seems to be afoot in this matter.

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Offertory for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

This morning I sang Beneath this Christmas Moon at church — probably one of the most significant and nerve-wracking offertories I’ll ever do.  You can view a rough video recording of this song, as our church posts a live feed of our services to ustream.tv.

Disclaimers: As ustream.tv is a free service, you may be required to watch an (hopefully unobjectionable) advertisement video before the offertory video actually starts.  You might also see popup adds on the video while it plays.  You should be able to dismiss these by clicking on the [X] in the ad’s upper-right corner. Also, the highlight of the offertory takes place over an hour into the service, so it may take a moment or two to load.

I’ve posted my introductory remarks to the offertory below.

View the video.


Did you know there are over 132 million orphans in the world today?

Some of you might know that today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.  Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, believes that to be pro-life is to be pro-adoption.  This is easy to agree with, but it becomes more interesting when the prospect of adoption comes knocking on your own door.

My wife Rosemary has wanted to adopt since before we were married, but I have never really been open to this path.  In recent years, Rosemary’s desire has intensified.  God has brought to her mind images of a young Asian girl.  He has even given her a name – Sonja Ruth: Sonja meaning “wisdom” and Ruth, after the Biblical heroine, meaning “friend.”  During this time, I have remained skeptical and resistant, praying things like “Lord, we already have three great boys,” “God, have you noticed how small our house is?”, “Have you checked our savings account balance lately?” and “Is this really the best time given that Rosemary is in the middle of two highly invasive and disruptive oral surgery procedures?”  These have been just some of my objections.

Yet amidst all of my quibbling, God has transformed my heart over the past two months.  Through a series of events, he has shown me that He is indeed leading our family to walk the path of adoption in spite of, or maybe even because of, these obstacles.  This change of heart runs so deep within me that I have come to feel like our family is not yet complete, that there is an empty seat at our dinner table waiting for our little girl.

Moreover, the Lord seems to be urging us to walk this journey in a very public and vulnerable manner.  That’s why I am sharing all of this with you today.  God aims to be glorified as we go through this process.  We are just beginning now, and it’s scary.  We ask for your prayers and support, but we also hope that as you see this journey unfold, some of you might also feel the Holy Spirit prick your hearts and open your minds to the possibility of adoption in your own families.  Above all, we want Jesus Christ to receive all of the glory for this endeavor, for it is surely only by His grace and strength that it will come to fruition.

Last month on Christmas Eve, the Lord birthed in me the song I’m going to sing for you.  Its text is included on an insert in your bulletin, along with the web address of our new blog, sonjaruth.com, where you can learn more and follow our story if you are interested. This song is a way for me to express to Rosemary my newfound resolution that pursuing adoption is the right path for us, and my commitment to walk it with our family.


View the video.

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Beneath this Christmas Moon

Somewhere beneath this Christmas moon
our daughter sleeps tonight
in orphan’s bed, or mother’s womb,
or heaven’s hid’n delight.
Her fragile heart our Father holds
and fashions in His hand
to bear the wisdom He bestows,
and share it as a friend.

Her name God etched upon my heart
though I know not her face:
a wondrous pang that bids me start
to make her dwelling place.
To join her precious life with ours
will call for greatest faith —
to shun our comforts, bare our scars,
to watch and hope and wait.

Yet sweeter joy God stirs us find
if we would dare this dream:
our thriving hearth a living sign
of how the Lord redeems.
So here I pledge my soul with yours
beneath this Christmas moon
to stay this calling and this course,
to bring home Sonja Ruth.


For Rosemary.
December 24 and 25, 2011
New Durham, New Hampshire
© 2011 Pedal Point Music

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.”
Isaiah 43:5

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Beyond Coincidence

This morning I spoke with one of the sound volunteers at our church about potentially being involved with our adoption-funding recording project.  He is a talented guy with a college degree in sound recording and engineering, and he seems interested in helping out.

Anyhow, we were discussing the feasibility of producing professional-sounding recordings at the church.  He mentioned that one of the biggest obstacles would be the need for high quality microphones.  The microphones the church currently owns are good for recording Sunday services and other live events, but are not up to par for studio-quality projects.  We began wondering aloud about the possibility of borrowing or renting microphones for this work.

In the middle of this conversation, the church’s music director walked over and said that a parishioner had come into an inheritance and wanted to donate it to the church’s music ministry.  “Start making a wishlist,” he quipped.  He and the sound engineer were soon rattling off ideas for how to best use this gift. One of their proposals centered on the need for better microphones for the choir — microphones that might also be used to create high quality recordings of other instruments.

Within a couple of moments, the sound engineer was online, pricing out such microphones to see if they could be purchased and delivered in time for the church’s Christmas program later this week.  I asked him if these mics might be good enough to use on my project, and he indicated that they could potentially be used to record piano, guitar and other instruments.

Now, I don’t know if my church will actually purchase new microphones, or if we will end up recording some, any, or all of this project there.  Nevertheless, this episode seems to go way beyond coincidence. I take it to be confirmation from God that we should move forward with the adoption dream, and specifically with the recording project to support it.  The Lord used these events to speak hope and confidence to my heart. May Jesus Christ be praised!

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