Tag Archives: josh wilson

Broken and Not So Broken

6 Jun

This is my walking boot. I decorate it, of course.

“God, I’m in the place again/I’m trying so hard not to fall/But everything keeps coming down with the rain.”–Everyday Sunday

I’ve always appreciated melancholy songs.  There’s something about the toned down, raw nature of a rock band that grips my heart and makes me pay attention, like KISS’s “Beth” or Five Iron Frenzy’s “Every New Day.”  (Yes, I just mentioned KISS and Five Iron Frenzy in the same sentence.  Incidentally, “Beth” is the only KISS song I know.)

Since lyrics and song melodies move me, it’s understandable why I’ve danced my way into the genre of singer/songwriter in my old(er) age (though I still enjoy Southern rock, like Credence Clearwater Revival and more recently, NeedToBreathe.)  Lately, it seems, I find comfort in the likes of Bebo Norman (surprise, surpise!), JJ Heller, Audrey Assad, Josh Wilson, and Andrew Peterson.

See, I haven’t had an easy go of things lately.  In mid-May, I broke my left foot. Yes, friends, another broken foot.  As you may recall, I broke my right foot about 15 months ago…and the healing process for the right foot has been excruciatingly slow.  After a couple tests, my foot doctor discovered my Vitamin D level to be pitifully low and started me on a regimen 50,000 units of Vitamin D weekly.  That’s the boring medical part.

This happened a week after I made some changes in my life, after all night prayer sessions, talks with my pastor, and weeping before the Lord, I felt Him saying to me, as He said to Elijah as he ran for his life from evil Queen Jezebel, “The journey has been too much for you.  Rest now, My child, I will take care of the details.”  Two weeks after resigning as lead of a ministry and falling into a more manageable role on the leadership team, I broke my foot simply by getting up from (or rather down) from one of our counter height dining room chairs.

This started a longer-than-I-anticipated journey of rest–no driving, walking around with a rollator (rolling walker), going down the stairs with a cane, needing assistance with normal tasks like showering, shopping, and getting here and there.  Oh, and of course, resting with my legs elevated to improve healing time.  Alone all day in my apartment.  It sounds perfectly lovely to harried people who could use a day off, but it’s house arrest for a social, relational woman like me.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to God and listening to music.  At first, I was struck with severe anxiety, which I believe was my anxiety disorder as well as a spiritual attack from the enemy.  I cried–wailed actually–and copied psalm after psalm from the Bible into my journal.  My fervency for God was strong and trust was a moment by moment walk.  While I don’t miss the panic attacks and tears, I wish I could maintain the level of urgency for God and His Holy Word when I’m not in the throes of fear.

I don’t always listen to music.  I like silence, too.  I can hear the birds singing merrily, the engine of the mail truck, laughter and screams from neighborhood children, the clink of my dog’s tags as she roams about the apartment, and my cockatiel’s own chirps.  So many ordinary sounds that make up the backdrop of this orchestra called life…and most of the time, I barely notice.

And I’m reading.  As much as I love to read, I don’t always make time for it.  Besides my Bible study reading (The Story and Crazy Love) and my daily devotional, Jesus Calling, I’m juggling three books right now–One Thousand Gifts, The Parable of Joy, and The Covenant Child.  My attention span seems to have increased as a result of my sitting in this stillness.

My writing life has been rich, though much of it has come alive in my journal–private conversations between God and me.  While this isn’t a measurable source of earthly wealth, it is the most important writing that I can do.  I call it “holy writing.”  If my purpose here on earth is to bring glory and honor to God, then my writing–for Him and Him alone–can have no higher calling.  Face down before the Throne of God, I write and write, like some ancient, inspired scribe.  Perhaps I will pick out thoughts to blog about here.  Or maybe write that book I’m always thinking about.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would never have chosen this path, but I am learning to be thankful for it.  I am grateful for the friends God has given to support me in this time.  It’s funny how my One Word for 2013 is LOVED and He is showing me how LOVED I really am! (Even when I start to believe the lie that no one cares, including God.)  Who would have thought the path to knowing I am LOVED would come with so much pain and brokenness–the actual physical breaking of another bone?  It seems all paths are littered with sorrow and suffering.  Is it any wonder that these are little Much Afraid’s guides to the high places in Hind’s Feet on High Places? (I plan to re-read the book as soon as I finish The Covenant Child.)

I am loved.  It rings loudly and clearly throughout my days, and it is revealed through so many ways and so many people.

If I hadn’t broken my left foot, my small group leader wouldn’t have moved our Bible study into her living room so I could attend showing me that I am LOVED.  (Thanks, Amanda!)

Nor would I have received a ride to the Bible study I lead from one of the attendees.  (Thanks, Patty!)

I would never have trusted God to help me make it up to the choir loft for praise team or give me strength to sing when my jaw ached with TMJD pain.  (Thanks to the Praise Team for their encouragement!)

I have moments of despair, when I feel God’s touch or receive a phone call or text or Facebook message.  These are precious things I gather into my heart.  Someone is praying or God is teaching me to trust Him more and more.  I hate the aloneness, and I love the intimacy with God.

If this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.  Perhaps I’d write something else, or maybe nothing at all.  I know not the path I would’ve taken and it hardly matters because this is where I am.  Everything around me is speaking to me–the book One Thousands Gifts, reading the book of Ruth this morning (I was struck that Naomi was so very bitter and yet so very blessed through Ruth in the end.  In the middle, it seemed she would never have joy again), and in watching The Fellowship of the Ring last week. (Frodo never CHOSE for the ring to come into his possession, yet it did.  Yet he carried the burden anyway.  He chose to do the right thing in the midst of his circumstances.)

It’s a conscious choice, this choosing to be thankful and grateful in the midst of this disappointment.  Perhaps it’s a divine appointment to receive greater joy.  That’s an encouraging thought, isn’t it?

Tell me, how has God taught you to be faithful or thankful in the midst of something hard or disappointing?  What have you been reading lately?  Do you miss the fervency of intimacy with God when you aren’t going through trials?

Amy’s Christmas Playlist

21 Dec

Every year I make an iTunes playlist of my favorite Christmas songs–some have been on the album every year since its inception, while others are happy new editions.  There are several versions of my playlist before choosing the 20 or so songs that will fit on a CD for the enjoyment of my friends and family.  (And I make like 6 copies of the epic mix album for people.  Don’t get the piracy police after me!)

So, here it is…my 2011 mix, which I call “Joy Is Born.”

Joy Is Born Christmas Mix 2011

1. “Star Of Wonder” – JJ Heller, Wake Up The World [My good friend, Shari, told me that about JJ’s Christmas album and we both love it!  JJ’s version of “Star of Wonder” is the perfect lead-in to any album.  She imagines to capture the wonder of seeking Christ–“Messiah was worth every mile.]

2. “Heaven’s Got A Baby”-The O.C. Supertones, Happy Christmas Vol. 3 [This song is a cheery proclamation and it’s on the mix every year.  Sometimes it’s first, but I’m going for awe and wonder this year, so I needed something a little more subdued.]             

3. “Born to Die” -Bebo Norman, Christmas: From the Realms of Glory [As if I would ever make a playlist without a Bebo song.  That would just be ridiculous! I assume you already own this album, so I’m not even going to tell you to buy it because you already know how awesome it is!]

4.  “Adorn” -Alli Rogers, The Silent Stars [If you don’t own The Silent Stars or anything by Alli Rogers, you need to rectify that RIGHT NOW!  Go, buy, download, and prosper!]

5. “Ring The Bells” -Travis Cottrell, Ring The Bells [Did you know that Travis Cottrell is the worship leader at Beth Moore’s church?  Or at least he was.]

6. “I Celebrate The Day”- Relient K, Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer [Relient K’s Christmas album is one of my favorites, so this song is ALWAYS on my playlist.  Let It Snow Baby is available as a $5 download on Amazon right now!]

A bunch of fans made this music video for “His Favorite Christmas Story.” Love it so much I had to share it here!

7. “His Favorite Christmas Story”- Captial Lights, X Christmas- Various Artists [I haven’t heard anything from Capital Lights since their debut album.  This song tells a cute story that make me tear up.  Every. Single. Time.]

8. “You Gotta Get Up (Christmas Song)”- Rich Mullins, A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band [I play this song as soon as I get up every Christmas morning for as long as I can remember.]

9. “Feliz Navidad”- David Crowder Band, X Christmas- Various Artists [David Crowder Band + silly Spanish = mucho bueno.]

10. “A Christmas Song For All Year Round” Aaron Sprinkle, Happy Christmas Vol. 3 [I wanted to marry Aaron Sprinkle so I could be “Amy Sprinkle,” as it turns out Aaron is already married.  I suppose I could legally change my name to “Amy Sprinkle” anyway.  Santa, bring a name change for Christmas!]

11. “How Many Kings”-Downhere, How Many Kings: Songs For Christmas [I’ll be talking more about this song on Friday Faves.  I. Love. It.  So much that each word was its own sentence.  I played this at my small group’s Christmas party “reflection time” and they loved it, too.]

12.  “Welcome To Our World”-Chris Rice, Deep Enough to Dream  [What is Chris Rice doing these days?  Has anyone heard from the guy since he got married?  He needs to make more theologically relevant music for the masses.]    

13. “The First Noel (Instrumental Version)”-Josh Wilson, Sing: A Christmas – EP [Josh Wilson + instruments of any kind = magic.]

14. “Hallelujah (Light Has Come)”- BarlowGirl, Home For Christmas [The Barlow sisters are always wonderful, and this song is exceptional. Their vocal arrangements make my heart happy.]

15. “What Child Is This”- PLUMB, (Free Download) [Sometimes the best things in life really are free!  Plumb’s version of “What Child Is This” is an older version than the one we usually sing.  Personally, I prefer this version.  It was prettied up to celebrate the birth only, and completely revised of the implication of the cross Jesus was to bear.]

16. “Bring A Tourch, Jeanette, Isabella”-Downhere, How Many Kings: Songs For Christmas [It’s Downhere again!  Their version of this classic makes me want to grab a torch and look for the Christ child myself.  I mean, there is a plastic Baby Jesus in the nativity down the street.  But I just don’t that elicits the joy of the actual event.]         

This is the version from his self-titled album, not the Christmas EP.  I put the Christmas version on the mix. Josh makes the best facial expressions when he sings.  Love, love, love his guy and his beat-up gee-tar!

17. “Sing”- Josh Wilson  Sing: A Christmas – EP [What a shock!  Another song by my friend, Josh Wilson.  I played this at small group two weeks ago when we talked about the LONG-AWAITED joy and expectation of God’s timing.  “We could never get back home with broken hearts, so Home has come to us.” Lyrical genius!]

18. “Snow Globe”- Matt Wertz, Snow Globe [We had a whole Friday Faves dedicated to the hilarity that is this song.  See “Friday Faves: Snow Globe Living Edition.“]

19. “Mary Did You Know” – Spoken, Happy Christmas Vol. 4  [All punked up like it should be.]      

20. “Drummer Boy”-Jars Of Clay, Christmas Songs [I never truly appreciated this song until Jars of Clay recorded their version.  Then I researched how the drummer boy is the lowliest of all shepherds, and still he came, and offered what he had–the gift of his playing.  I mean, I’m not sure how drumming helps a newborn baby.  I would think that would elicit much screaming and sobbing. But I still like the song.  It’s not like Baby Jesus didn’t cry either, so “Silent Night” is a farce, too.  And  yet I enjoy both songs.]

21. “Jesus, King Of Angels”- Fernando Ortega, Christmas Songs [Oh, Fernando, I love your music.]

This is the video that launched Straight No Chaser into a music career years after graduating from college.

22. “The Christmas Can-Can”-Straight No Chaser, Christmas Cheers [Because I like to end things on a hilarious note, I included this song from acapella group, Straight No Chaser, who became “famous” after their “12 Days of Christmas” video from college re-emerged on YouTube years later.  So they recorded a second album, Christmas Cheers.]

I was going to tell you why I chose each and every song, what the song means to me,but that’s entirely too much work, so I added a few notes, a bunch of links, and a handful YouTube videos for your viewing enjoyment. 

Have a question about why I chose a song, leave a comment!  Tell me what songs are on your “list.”

I’m thankful for two Jason’s and a Josh!

23 Nov

A musician’s life isn’t easy.  Just because musicians are doing what they love, crafting music is a job just like any other.  First, there’s the writing process—lyric after lyric, chord progression after chord progression, organizing the percussion, changing up vocals.  Then comes the recording process, which is more organization, changing, and take after endless take.  Production is next and these days, a lot of artists like to help with the fine tuning of their final sound.  When the album is finally released, artists endure a media blitz—three hours of 15-30 minutes phone interviews with various journalists, week-long tours to various radio stations to hype up the new album, and the album release show!  Then it’s up to you to buy the album, which hopefully you do—if it’s good.  And if it’s not, boy, do the reviewers go to town!  (Amy’s note:  It’s not easy being a reviewer either!)

Then there’s touring.  Think about it—to come to a concert in your city, an artist or band has to travel to the venue (by plane or bus/van), set up equipment, eat whatever the venue is serving (if the venue is serving anything), perform, spend time with the fans, do the media thing, pack up, get about six hours of sleep, and do it all again the next day. Plus, a lot of artists are dealing with time away from their families, friends, and other support systems (church, small group, etc.)  Wouldn’t it be nice if we turned down the music on our stereos and thanked the people who create the background music of our lives?  It’s not just a “nice idea,” I believe it is necessary to pray for and encourage our artistic friends, so I’m going to start with the musicians who add so much flavor to my spiritual journey. (Also, please pray for me as I seek more ways to be an encouragement to musicians.)

To start, I’d like to call out some of God’s humble servants for cyber applause (iClaps?).

I am so, so, so thankful for my friend, Josh Wilson.  A lot of times, I have a great interview with a musician, maybe exchange a few emails or Tweets, and move on to the next interview.  But Josh and I just hit it off, so I began praying for him every day.  Then he got engaged, so I started praying for his sweetie every day, too.  I’m sure if/when Josh and Becca have kids, I’ll pray for the Wilson brood.

Through praying, emailing, interviewing, a few side projects here and there, and hanging out with Josh at a couple of shows, I have found not only a man who truly loves God, but a great friend as well.  If you’ve been reading Backseat Writer, then you know how much I adore Josh’s music.  He’s a musical and lyrical dynamo, whose talent is rare these days.  I am constantly amazed at the articulation of Josh’s songs and the hard work he puts into challenging himself to craft original material.

A true musical genius, man of God, and genuinely wonderful person—I’m thankful for you, Josh Wilson!

Over the past few months, I’ve shared about how Jason Gray’s album, A Way to See in the Dark has impacted my life.  I even told you that I met Jason Gray a few weeks ago at a concert and got signed CDs (one for me, one for you.  The giveaway is coming soon…I promise).  What I didn’t tell you is this—Jason Gray was truly a delight to meet, to chat with, and to banter with on Twitter.  Plus, he’s really tall and looks like an elf.  As you know, I have an affinity for elves (I stole that line from the movie, Elf).

Apparently, Jason has a stuttering problem—something that he’s struggled with since he was but a wee lad.  I didn’t notice it when we chatted one-on-one (actually, four-on-four since BFF Sarah and Jason German from downhere were also in on the conversation), but it was evident from the stage.  He informed the audience that he stutters and that he wasn’t “freaking out” on the stage.  Then he went on to talk and sing about the glories of God.  While Jason could’ve let his speech impediment hold him back, God just gave Jason a bigger platform in which to communicate…and I’m thankful.  Because if Jason let the voice of doubt overtake his life, I wouldn’t have “Remind Me Who I Am”—a song which hit me so powerfully that I was gasping for breath between sobs and moans.  That song was my undoing, the instrument God used to break open my heart.  I am thankful for you, Jason Gray, for your boldness, your reading recommendations, and your music.

Image from RadarRadio.net

When I met Jason, he was on the “Called to Love” tour with Aaron Shust and downhere.  When BFF Sarah and I were sitting in the “green room” waiting for various musicians to appear (really I was waiting for Jason Gray because I was excited to meet him and tell him how much I loved his album), a man in his late 30’s wearing dark clothes and a longish coat strolled in.  He greeted us and kindly asked, “And what is your part in this production?”

“I’m just here to make awkward conversation,” I asked with a smirk.  This was the “right” answer because it resulted in further banter.  Later I found out that I was talking to “Jason G” from downhere.  I assumed he was the bass player. (He looked like a bass player to me.)

Admittedly, I was ignorant of downhere’s music until that night when their live performance blew me away.  Imagine my surprise when I watched Jason Germain make a piano sing by tickling a few keys!  When I gushed to Jason Gray over his album, Jason G remarked, “It is a really good album.  I’ve been listening to it a lot lately, too.”  Then he thoughtfully quoted a line from one of Jason’s song.   I even told Jason G that I really liked the band’s Christmas album (which I do), but haven’t listened to much of their music.  He was not offended in the least and appreciated the attention his tour mate was receiving.   Even when I accidentally called his band “downthere,” Jason G did not bat an eyelash.  This man’s humility and kindness spoke volumes to me.

Not only am I thankful for downhere, I am grateful to Jason Germain to introducing me to “the band” just by engaging in awkward conversation with a couple of gals in Pennsylvania.  I am thankful for you, Jason Germain!

What musician or band are you thankful for?  And just why are you thankful for your musician/band?  Any song or album that you’re grateful for?  Share it here or on Twitter (use “#thankamusician” so we can start a movement!)

Open your ears to Wes Pickering’s Hope with music video!

17 Nov

Earlier this month indie singer/songwriter Wes Pickering released his fifth studio album simply titled Hope.  Spending much of 2011 working on the songs for his album, Hope is the best yet from this artist!  You can learn more about Wes, find out about tour information (he’s currently on a Christmas tour with Josh Wilson), and buy the new album at his Internet base, WesPickering.com

As soon as Wes shared the music video for “Open My Heart” with me, I knew I had to share it with y’all.  Watch the video below and then I’m going to let Wes to tell you a little more about the song, co-written with Andrew Osenga



Dig deeper into “Open My Heart” with Wes

“Open My Heart” was one of the first songs written for my new album Hope.  Andrew Osenga and I gathered at his studio and began discussing things that were on our hearts.  Both of us wanted to write a song about the contrasts between faith and doubt.  As with many of the other songs on Hope, Mark 9:24 was a verse that played over and over again in our minds: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 

It’s rare to find such a bold proclamation of faith that, at the same time, acknowledges the presence of serious doubt.  We wanted to capture that sentiment: “God, open our eyes when we don’t see you.”  It’s faith, but it’s also the admission that surrender is a difficult thing to do when we don’t have all the answers.  I think that’s where we find ourselves closest to God, the place where we are completely vulnerable to His will.

I can’t begin to tell you how blessed I feel to get to write with a musician like Andrew Osenga.  He has such an ear for melody, and writing lyrics just comes easily to him.  We never seem to get stuck when we write together because he always has new ideas to get us over the humps. 

We finished the song within a couple of hours, but I didn’t record it for over a year. When I finally began tracking for Hope, “Open My Heart” was the first song I worked on.  The plan for most of the album was to use a lot of electric guitar, but for “Open My Heart,” I had this idea of making a rock song completely with acoustic instruments.  Sometimes if you set limits on yourself, you force yourself to become more creative.  So I played acoustic guitar, mandolin, piano, and I found fun ways to make drum sounds with things like an empty guitar case.  My friend Scott Gypson came over and recorded this great upright bass track.  The result is this wonderfully big sound, like a rock band playing an unplugged show in your living room. 

I’m really excited about this song.  It’s a great way to start the new album, which dives even further into the themes of doubt, faith, and hope.  My prayer is that people who listen to Hope with find encouragement to dig deeper in their faith in spite of any circumstance they face.– Wes Pickering

Pretty cool video, eh?  What do you think of all the instruments Wes is playing?  How many instruments do you know how to play?  What do you think of the song, album, video?  Share all your thoughts below! (And I bet we can even get Wes to respond to some of ’em.)

Friday Faves: Dealing with Bummed-Outness Edition

9 Sep

Since I’m going to a Women of Faith conference (full story) this weekend, you’d think I’d be in a great mood.  I mean, what a great opportunity to commune with the people of God, right?  Absolutely!  And I feel the need for it now more than ever.  Looking for a church in the area is taking its toll on me.  So is the pressure of leading a weekly small group.  I’m giving out, but not filling up.   The rainy weather doesn’t help.  Even the local schools are closed due to flooding.  (Is it even safe to go out there?  Should I invest in a house boat?)  Really, I’m just plain ol’ bummed out.

I don’t know what to do for this depression (and anxiety) except to walk through it and know it, too, will pass.  I spend more time praying, thinking, talking to God and less time social networking, hanging out, and uh, showering.  Hopefully, the Women of Faith weekend will kick start my spirit.  Until then, here are some “faves” that help me get through the murky times.

*Bebo Norman is my go-to guy for hard times.  Whether I’m about to have a panic attack or cry my eyes out, I pop in a Bebo album and I feel immediate relief.  It reminds me of when David played his harp for King Saul when Saul was overcome with bouts of madness.  Bebo’s music is a gentle reminder that someone’s been in the depths, made it out, and that God is still very much present.  Lately, I’ve also listened to Jason Gray and Andrew Peterson, and of course, my old stand-bys–Rich Mullins and Fernando Ortega.  I used have specific playlists on my iPod for “sad times” and “mad times” and “happy times,” but they somehow got deleted.  Another song that resonates with me is “Hold My Heart” by Tenth Avenue North.  While I enjoy artists like Tenth Avenue North and Josh Wilson, when I’m down and out, their upbeat songs feel like salt rubbed into an raging wound.

*The Book of Psalms is an inspiration for many, and when nothing else makes sense, the psalms usually do.  I particularly love Psalms 42 and 46.  I also turn to the book of Hosea, which may sound like a strange choice, until you consider this passage from Hosea 3: 19-20,

“I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.”

As cliche as it sounds, the Bible is an amazing source of comfort in its prose, stories (Elijah, for one), and guidance.

*One day someone who is very dear to me gave me a copy of Henri Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love as a present.  She told me to read it, but not all at once, just bit by bit.  So I did, and still do.  In Nouwen’s most personal work, he shares his journal entries from a time when he underwent extreme hardship (some may call it a “nervous breakdown”).  At the urging of his friends, Nouwen published this book.  I rarely read an entry without bursting into tears. I also read Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (read review), which is great for use in small groups or for personal devotions.

*It may sound silly, but online games like Gnome Town and Words With Friends (both on Facebook) provide needed distraction.  I cannot always live in the pain, focus on the hurt, feel the depression, deal with the anxiety.  So, instead, I build a world of friendly forest creatures and get my butt kicked by high school kids who know more words than me.

*Since I’m a writer, it should come as no surprise that words at a healing balm to my soul.  In his song “The Cure for Pain,” Jon Foreman sings, “So blood is fire pulsing through our veins.  We’re either writers or fools behind the reigns.  I’ve spent ten years trying to sing it all away.  But the water keeps on falling from my tries.”  Like Foreman, I keep trying to write, not sing, it all away.  Still, I keep my journal close by and consider my notebooks full of scribbles among my most treasured possessions.  One of these days, I’m going to get a nice leather or mole skin journal (usually, I get them for 50% off at Barnes & Noble or as gifts from friends).

*Dogs, not diamonds, are a girl’s best friend.  Lonely days seem a little less lonely because of my two dogs–Cassie the Peekapoo (left) and Maddy the Shih Tzu (right).  They sense my mood and cuddle with me more often when I am down.  My bird, Kylie the Cockatiel, chirps praises to God when my spirit feels faint.  Animals are truly a gift from God.  And so are friends and family, who are willing to listen, even they don’t understand or don’t know what to do.

I’m not going to apologize for my less-than-chipper mood because it is my goal to be real, rather than entertaining.  Ideally, I like to be both, but real trumps entertaining.  Pray for me and I will pray for you!

How can I be praying for you right now?  What do you do when you feel bummed out?  Do you suffer from clinical depression and/or anxiety?  What kind of pets do you have?  Do you journal and/or blog to relieve your stress?

Praised Singer/Songwriter Josh Wilson Launches Website in Response to Fan Reaction of Latest Single “Fall Apart”

16 Jun

From The Media Collective: (Nashville, Tenn) June 16, 2011–Sparrow Records’ critically acclaimed artist Josh Wilson has a history of penning riveting songs that tug at the heartstrings of listeners. As with his captivating chart topper “Before the Morning” (Life is Not a Snapshot, 2009) and now his latest single Fall Apart(See You, 2011) testimonials from fans are pouring in explaining how the song has touched their lives and how God has pulled them through when they too had “fallen apart.”

Due to the influx of responses, Wilson has launched www.whenifallapart.com, where listeners can watch a touching video from Wilson and hear personal accounts of how their faith pulled them through tough times. Wilson’s hope is that the website can serve as an outlet and resource for those who want to share their story or be encouraged.

Wilson was moved to write “Fall Apart” after he witnessed a friend endure a difficult divorce.

“Right in the middle of it, we had this really amazing conversation, and he said that even though everything was falling apart, he felt God’s presence more than he ever had,” says Wilson.  “He saw how much he needed God. Hard times are a magnifying glass on how much we need him. That’s when we feel God’s presence the most.”

This fall, Wilson will continue to perform the single in addition to other songs from See You, as he shares the stage with GRAMMY ® award winning artist Steven Curtis Chapman and Andrew Peterson. For a full list of tour dates please visit www.joshwilsonmusic.com.


Read Backseat Writer’s interview with Josh Wilson, “Seeing God’s Hope in Pain” and BSW’s review of See You.

Friday Faves: The Eddy-and-Anastasia Edition

3 Jun

[Insert Friday Faves logo I have yet to make here.]

My mom called me late this morning and dramatically declared, “I’m very disappointed in you!”  Being 31, I thought I was beyond caring what my mom thought, but I’m not.  I sort of rolled my eyes and asked her why.  As it turns out, she was upset that this week’s  Friday Faves was not yet posted.  Umm, yeah.  Then a few of you were asking about it on Twitter.  I had no idea that Friday Faves was so important to you.  In fact, I wondered if it was a little self-indulgent.  The people have spoken and demanded Friday Faves, and I won’t let you down.  Well, I might, but not this week!  You will have your Friday Faves…in the afternoon.

Last week, I told you that my friend, Josh Wilson, was coming to town and we all wondered together if he was going to respond to my email.  Well, he did and I got to spend a little time with Josh before his set at MayFair last Sunday.  Josh, as always, was warm and wonderful.  He also put on a good show.  I always say he’s the real deal and that he’s a musician’s musician.  Well, it’s all true, and if you still haven’t at least visited JoshWilsonMusic.com, then you must do so.  Josh is definitely not just a Friday, but every day fave.  Next time he comes to town, he better bring his wife, Becca.

The squirrel feeder, complete with squirrel who feeds.

Now to the part of Friday Faves where I share an amusing anecdote or some vestige of wisdom, so I’m going to tell you about my elderly neighbors, Eddy and Anastasia.  Last Saturday, Eddy and Anastasia purchased a squirrel feeder, even though our apartment complex’s quarterly newsletter informed residents that feeding squirrels was forbidden.  It’s this sort of rebellious behavior that have endeared Eddy and Anastasia to me.  For example, our lease expressively states that we are not to make any unapproved modifications to our apartments.  Apparently, Eddy and Anastasia missed that part of the lease, for they have painted their walls, laid new tile in their bathroom and entrance way, put up wallpaper, and even changed their light switch covers!  And I don’t know what kind of air fresheners they use, but whenever I walk by their place, a strong floral fragrance wafts out the open windows.  The scent is overpowering when one enters their humble abode.

Hailing from Bulgaria, Anastasia always talks(in a thick accent) about World War II and how both the Americans and British bombed her hometown.  Now in her 80’s, she dyes her hair Lucille Ball red and walks around in her robe.  I am fairly certain that she is half out of her mind, which is a sign of her old age.  I cannot image all the secrets that are fading with her memory.  Her husband, Eddy, has all his wits about him, but he’s half-deaf, and often nods his head, whether or not he can hear you.  It’s an interesting combination–Anastasia doesn’t remember what she’s saying mid-sentence and Eddy can’t hear what she’s saying anyway.  Since BFF Sarah and I moved in last September, they have been wonderful and friendly neighbors.  I think everyone should have an Eddy and Anastasia combo in their lives.

Even though I was like 12 feet away talking to Eddy & Anastasia, Cassie the Peekapoo & Maddy the Shih Tzu whimper upon my return to the apartment.

I went outside 45 minutes ago (yes, 45 minutes!) to take a picture of the squirrel feeder (complete with squirrel) when Anastasia spotted me.  Once she starts talking, it’s hard to get away.  Then Eddy joined in the conversation, giving me a free notebook and pen (because I’m a writer) and two double-walled tumblers (because I like to drink iced tea?  I don’t know why.  He randomly gives BFF Sarah and I products like this when he sees us.)  Anyway, since they inspired this week’s colorful anecdote, this edition is for them, which is funny because they don’t have internet access.  But they do proudly tell the neighbors that I run my own website, like I’m the only one in the world who blogs.  I love them.

OK, on to this Friday Faves, that is, if my mom would stop calling me and asking me the about medical supply stores (see, it’s *her* fault!)

*In case you didn’t know, I’m a blogging super star.  OK, not really, but I am the featured book blogger over at Parajunkee.com today.  But, Amy, this isn’t a book blog, you say.  Of course, it’s not, but BackseatReader.net is…and I’ve told you about it, and that’s what I’m talking about at Parajunkee’s View.  Also, PJ (I refuse to use her real name) addresses a hot button issues in the book blogs right now in her Book Blogging 101 post, “Copyright Infringement.”  Thanks to Parajunkee for hosting me and for her great reviews.  That gal’s a trip!

*My friend, Amy Courts, just had a bouncing baby boy (Congrats, girl!), but in the process experienced some medical issues resulting in the loss of her uterus.  Now, male friends, don’t get grossed out; I have to hear about your issues from time to time.  Amy writes a poignant post about the experience and what she’s gained from loss: “Observing Grief.” She also from my favorite C.S. Lewis non-fiction work, A Grief Observed.  Still praying for you, Amy.

*Did you see this video yet?  It’s about a dog who crawled home with two broken legs after being lost in a tornado.  Y’all know I’m pretty much a dog freak, like if I see a dog I must pet it, so naturally this story made me cry.  That dog is such a homely-looking thing.  If I were to cast a dog in this story, I’d totally cast him.

*What’s better than a book?  A FREE BOOK!  While I hope to snag a few at the community yard sale tomorrow, I can download a few for my Kindle today, thanks to the hard work of Shelly at Book’d Out.  She compiled a list of free e-reads at her site, and there’s something for everyone.  I downloaded Admit One, The Swan House, and This Fine Life.

*Speaking of books, if you head over to Southern Belle View today, you get a chance at winning an ARC of Jenny B. Jones latest novel, a YA book called There You’ll Find Me, a spin-off of Save the Date (read review.)  Better yet, don’t enter because I’m dying to get my hands on Jenny’s latest.  But you should definitely read her funny post, “Jenny’s Slice of Summer,” in which she talks about free donuts and rock stars.

*Our last bit of fun is courtesy of Rachel Renee Anderson, who posted a satirical video of comedian Anita Renfroe reworking Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”  Renfroe’s version is called “(A More Real) Love Story.” It’s hilarious, touching, and I cried at the end.  Head over to Rachel’s blog, and watch “(A More Real) Love Story.  I think even you singles will enjoy this video; I know I did.

That about does it for this version of  Friday Faves.  On Monday, you can catch me on BibleDude.net talking about submission (I know that’s hilarious, isn’t it?)  and expect some great content this week on BSW and Backseat Reader.  Have a great weekend, gang!

So…what are your neighbors like?  Do you  have a squirrel feeder?  Are  you pro or anti squirrel? Did you enter to win There You’ll Find Me?  Why not?  Do you love dogs more than me?  Is it possible for anyone to love dogs more than me?  Do you like free donuts and/or rock stars? What do you think I should eat for lunch today?

Friday Faves: The Josh-Wilson-Is-Coming-To-Town Edition

27 May

Photo Credit: Michael Yon

We will never forget you or your sacrifices to this nation.  We sincerely thank you and remember you on our prayers.


It’s another Friday and we’re all still here, so I guess the Rapture didn’t happen.  I know that Scripture says no man, not even Jesus Himself, knows the hour or day, but part of me just wanted to go home…and not just to avoid that dreaded Monday morning doctor’s appointment, which went well, by the way.  And, by well, I mean, that I didn’t flip out, scream, run out the door, or destroy any medical equipment.  Go me!  During the  check-up, I learned there are some things I need to work on, and my doctor discovered that I have cellulitis in my right forefinger (only the finger I use most when I’m not sucking my thumb.  I mean, I don’t suck my thumb. Anymore.)  So, I’m on antibiotics now.  Isn’t that weird–antibiotics for a finger infection?  More deets on that next week because God taught me something important in the whole process.

What are you doing this Memorial Day Weekend?  I’m all jazzed up because I’m going to see my amazing friend, singer/songwriter Josh Wilson perform at MayFair at Cedar Beach in Allentown.  He’s schedule to take the stage Sunday (May 29) at 8 PM, so be there!  I told Josh in an email (that he still hasn’t replied to–shame on you, Josh! You’d think the guy has a touring schedule, an awesome wife, and other responsibilities or something.  I’m just joshing [and punning], I know he’s mad busy) that my grandparents used to take me to Cedar Beach when I was a wee girl to feed the ducks and geese, a practice which is now outlawed in the city of Allentown.  I also informed Josh that think I also got bit by a goose at this locale, so everyone come out and see where I got attacked by waterfowl! 

The Museum released this album way before Rob Bell released his book, LOVE WINS. I didn't want you to think that the guys in The Museum are a bunch of copy cats.

The Museum (They’re on at 7 PM. Love them!), Building 429, and Beyond Barriers are also playing in this showcase sponsored by local Christian radio station, The Word FM.  While perusing MayFair’s website, I just learned that if you want seats at  “Word FM Night,” you have to pay $15 for regular seats and $20 for VIP seating, plus $5 admission to MayFair itself (It used to be free, but now THE MAN charges you to get in).  While paying to see Josh Wilson do his thing is a priceless gift, you’ll find me in the FREE standing room only section. (Incidentally, this appears to be the *only* concert that MayFair patrons are required to pay for–if they want to sit.)

Maybe Josh will even play this song at MayFair! I talk about Josh Wilson A LOT on Backseat Writer, for more JW +BSW goodness, click here!

*This week my friend, Ben DeVries who runs not one, but two, great websites–Not One Sparrow and With Those Who–did a little post on the pain children of divorce experience, and he even linked to something I wrote.  In “They Pull Away,” Ben uses a passage from Jenn Abbas de Jong’s book, Generation Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain.  You can learn more about the book at Jen’s website and even read the first chapter.  Purchase your own copy of this out-of-print book from a seller on Amazon.com!

*You know I love my books, and I found another great title over at BibleDude.net.  It’s called Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.  The book’s author, Wesley Hill, is a gay Christian who believes in practicing communal celibacy in accordance with the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality.  Incidentally, one of my favorite writers, Henri Nouwen, also held this viewpoint.  Homosexuality was a hot topic ’round these parts in January when I reviewed Jay Bakker’s book, Fall to Grace.  I haven’t yet read this book, but it looks excellent. The review was written by BibleDude.net contributor Will McPherson.

Click on this icon to see the full list of participants!

*Giveaway hops are fun, aren’t they?  I love jumping from blog to blog entering giveaways, especially giveaways involve books and bookish things.  Right now, the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop is in full swing.  Running now through May 31, you can enter 300+ giveaways from fine literary lovers all over the blogosphere, including right here at Backseat Writer (and on Backseat Reader).  To enter my giveaway for your choice of a $10 Amazon gift card or a book of your choice ($10 or under) from The Book Depository, go here or click the “Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop” icon on the upper right side of BSW.  Then head over to Backseat Reader and enter there, too.

*My final fave comes once again from Jenny B. Jones, but it lacks its usual jovial nature.  Living in Arkansas, Jenny is right in the middle of all the tornado activity and talks about the violent storms wrecking havoc in her area.  In fact, Jenny lives a mere 45 minutes from the town of Joplin, MO.  Read Jenny’s post, “All Twisted Out.

As we spend time with family and friends this weekend grilling, christening freshly opened swimming pools, and rocking out to Josh Wilson, let us remember those who are suffering in the South–pray for them and donate money or items if you are able. 

Tell me, what are you doing this Memorial Day Weekend?  Are you going to see Josh Wilson?  Do you like Josh Wilson?  Do you think Josh Wilson will respond to my email?  What’s your favorite thing to win in a giveaway? What are you doing to help those affected by tornadoes?  Is there anyone you are personally honoring this Memorial Day?

Friday Faves:: The Royal Wedding Ring Pop Edition

29 Apr

Welcome to my first edition of Friday Faves, in which I will share the best stuff I’ve found through surfing the web, in bookstores,  or just randomly need to share because I enjoy it.  Hopefully, I’ll do an edition every Friday and maybe you could start sharing some of your favorite things with me in the handy dandy comments section. 

It’s Royal Wedding Friday, which is why this whole post is in Royal Wedding blue (that, and I just discovered I can use color in my posts)!  While I’ve been trying to ignore all the hype that money can buy (if you recognize this as an album title from one of my favorite bands, then you get +1000 cool points.  Name the band in the comments to earn your puntos), I’ve been sucked into watching the ceremony by my mother, who thinks the Royal Wedding (look, it’s so important that it is capitalized) is terribly romantic. Sigh.  After watching a particularly touching episode of “The Middle” a couple of weeks ago, in which Frankie and the rest of the Hecks watch the wedding together, I have to admit maybe it is something worth watching.  But if I’m going to watch the wedding, then I want to be chomping down on one of these babies….

That’s right–the Royal Ring Pop candy pop.  In order to win one of these babies, I “liked” RingPop on Facebook and answered this thought-provoking question–if I was the princess of my own kingdom, what laws would I enact?  Here’s my answer: “Naturally, I would make the Royal Ring Pop the official ring of the kingdom and on Royal Ring Pop Day, all the people would come together to consume the Royal Ring Pop in a day of sugar highs and madness. Three day weekends would be mandatory for social workers and Royal Ring Pop employees (who would have to wear shirts bearing the Royal Ring Pop logo). Oh, and my castle would be built to look like a Royal Ring Pop…and if you licked its walls, it would taste like one, too. 🙂 I could be the Princess of (Ring) Pop.

Here are some of my other faves:

*Joylina Petersheim writes about the tender observation of bald eagles, their young, and what it means for her own life in an excellent guest post on The Bird Sisters blog.  Read it here: “Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong.”  The only way this post could be any better is if the song, “Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong” played in the background on the blog.  Alas, I guess I can’t have it all.

*Speaking of The Bird Sisters blog, did you know that the blogger behind it is Rebecca Rasmussen, author of the acclaimed novel The Bird Sisters, which I am currently reading?  I love this book!  Glowing review and interview with Rebecca coming up in the next few weeks.  The Bird Sisters, the book, definitely deserves its own spot on “Friday Faves.” Maybe Rebecca should send Will and Kate  a copy as a wedding present?

*Yesterday I received a wonderfully amusing video of Jack Conte, one-half of the San Fran group Pomplamoose cover the Super Mario Bros. theme song.  If you know me, you know that I’m a Super Mario Bros fanatic.  Sarah and I having been trying to beat the game for a year now after Josh Wilson (who is FINALLY playing in Allentown on May 29 at MayFair–how exciting is that?) told us that he beat it in only a week.  Now that we know it can be beat, we want to beat it.  Anyway, back to Jack Conte…watch him rock out here.

*Another tasty tidbit comes from one of my favorite bloggers/writers Sarah Cunningham, who always writes beautiful and often humorous posts on her blog.  This week Sarah wrote about how budget crackdowns are effecting education in Michigan schools, where she teaches.  Read “Don’t Stop Believing.”

*Finally, I want to tell you about Fairy Tale Fortnight, a fascinating series of posts hosted by book blogs Books From Bleh to Basically Amazing and The Book Rat.  Sadly, Fairy Tale Fortnight ends on April 30, but it also has a ton of bookish giveaways, which you can enter until May 8.  Take time to read the posts about books, authors, and modern fairy tales retold (including the difference between fairy and faerie tales.)  The faeries will come out and bite you if you don’t!

That’s all for this first edition of Friday Faves.  Best wishes to you, William and Kate!  Now if you excuse me, I have a Ring Pop to devour.

What are your favorites this week?  Do you love or hate the Royal Wedding madness?  What was your favorite fave?  Leave a comment below and don’t forget about those +1000 cool points you can win.

Josh Wilson:: Seeing God’s Hope in Pain

9 Feb

When I first interviewed Josh Wilson several years ago about his debut album, Trying to Fit the Ocean in a Cup (2008), we formed a special bond between writer and musician, which continues today.  I have made no secret about my appreciation for Josh, as a musician, friend, and fellow human being.  Naturally, that brings a whole new element to an interview, like talking to an old friend about an exciting project.  Essentially that’s what it was like to interview Josh about his latest album, See You.

Available February 8, See You (Sparrow) is an amazing project, in which Josh has poured himself heart and soul (read album review).  Working with my one of my favorite producers, Matt Bronleewe, Josh shows maturation in his craft as a singer/songwriter.  But his sincerity and witty personality remain intact.  In fact, at the end of the interview I told Josh that his self-titled album (a mash-up of his two previous albums) is available as a $5 download on Amazon.com.  In true Josh Wilson fashion, he quipped, “Five dollars?  I better go buy that!”

It is these qualities that make Josh Wilson one of my favorite musicians in the music business.  And just one of my favorite people in general.  After that glorious introduction, I now present our interview.

You have a new album coming out Feb. 8 called See You

I’m incredibly excited for people to hear these songs.  I recorded them last August, so I’ve been sitting on them like a Christmas present that I’ve been waiting to give away.  I’m excited to give it away.

Let’s talk about the title track for a minute.  “See You”—that’s a pretty deep song.  I thought it was going to be a nice, little happy song. It’s a hard song to listen to.

I struggled when I wrote it to figure out how to resolve the song because it deals with wanting to see God in the hard times, but not being able to.  The first verse talks about a sick child—a reference to my friends who have a son with a heart condition.  The second verse talks about a divorce.  I had a good buddy go through a divorce this year.  I think those are two kinds of situations when people ask, “Where is God?  If God is really there and He loves us, then why is this happening?”  I have certainly experienced things in life where I can’t see God.  The song says that in the middle of all this, I don’t see You.

I didn’t know how to resolve the song because I didn’t what to leave it there.  The song is followed by an instrumental version of “It Is Well (With My Soul),” which is a response to that song.  But I didn’t want someone to listen to the album and hear the song, but not hear the resolution—the hope that we do have in Christ.  “See You” doesn’t end with a big bowtie around it but it certainly points to the fact that although we don’t see Christ in those moments, we are going to one day.

I sort of like the unresolved tension.

Yeah, as an artist, as a creative element, I do, too.  I like to watch movies with unresolved endings and I like music that sits in the moment.

You know, I was thinking about this album as I was writing the review (which everyone should read), and I’ve been listening to this album from start to finish, from start to finish over and over again.  And you start with “Sing It” and end the album with the “Sing It” reprise.  This album really should be listened to as a whole project.  It’s not a bunch of songs with a few that sound good on radio.  The whole project sort of fits together and the songs flow together.  Was that intentional?

Not when I was writing the songs.  When I picked the songs to go on the album, I did try to find a common thread.  “Sing It” talks about not having enough words, melodies, and chords to capture God, our Creator.  I wanted to put this group of songs in with that song because that sums me up as an artist.

I wrote “3 Minute Song.”  It was kind of the same thing.  The more I write, the more I’m realizing that I’ll never be able to write enough.  I don’t think that’s necessarily the theme that runs through the album, that’s why I chose to call it See You and that’s why “See You” falls dead center in the track listing.

This is the first album that I’m really proud of the order of songs and the flow of music.  Every song is not the same.  It doesn’t all talk about seeing God.  But I think that theme comes in and out.

How much did your producer, Matt Bronleewe, contribute to that?

A great deal.  This is the first time I have recorded a single album with a single producer.  I feel like this album was very cohesive because it was just Matt and me from the very beginning.  Because of that, he was able to help me string things together.  It makes the album a complete thought.

The other thing I love about your music is that you’re really involved with all aspects of creation, like you played 18 different instruments on this album.

Yeah, that was something Matt challenged me to do and it’s something that I’ve done on previous albums.  Besides bass and drums, there’s everything from autoharp to ukulele to accordion, and a hammered dulcimer.

And a glockenspiel, come on!

Haha, yes, a glockenspiel because it’s fun to say!  I was excited to go into the studio and say, “Could you turn up the glockenspiel?”

That’s hilarious!  I get this idea that when you go into the studio or write a song, you’re like this creation genius, like you have all these instruments around you and you start pumping out songs like Bob Dylan.

Well, I wish it was as easy as walking into a place and it all just sort of happens around you.  But the writing process is a slow one for me.  It takes a while.  When we get into the studio, there is a bit of a mad scientist element.  Matt has all these instruments in there and we’d listen to a track, and I’d say, “Let me try this!” There’s a good element of spontaneity in the recording process.  That’s not to say that every idea is a good one, so Matt helped a lot in that process.

I think you had said at some point there’s more of you in this album.

Hmm…I feel as a writer I’m growing and hopefully each song I write is a little more honest.   That’s why I feel like I can write a song like “See You” that deals with doubt because that’s something I struggle with.  Any Christian who’s honest struggles with the same thing.  Each song is about something I’ve been through or a close friend has been through.  I try to stay close to real life stories and build songs from that.

I noticed in the song, “They Just Believe,” which you wrote about your 2009 trip to India, you say, “I believe, help my unbelief.” This is a direct quote from the Gospels.  What does this mean to you?

You know, the funny thing about doubt is that statement.  I do believe, but at the same time I struggle with unbelief.  At the same time, I have to fall back on the promise that Jesus made that He’s with us, that He’s never going to leave us or forsake us.  In the moments that I don’t see God or don’t feel like I can, I have to remember what He’s brought me through.  When you put it all together, it makes the most sense to say, “I believe; help my unbelief.”

That’s my prayer a lot of times.

Absolutely.  Sometimes it’s the most appropriate thing to pray.

As we wrap up, is there anything about this album you think the folks need to know?

I really am proud of this album.  I’m really excited for people to hear it.  I hope they hear honesty and I hope I haven’t skirted any hard issues in these songs. Scripture doesn’t do that; Jesus doesn’t do that; and life certainly doesn’t do that.  We can’t pretend that everything’s always smiley.  While I do deal with a lot of hard things, what I want people to take away is hope.  As Christians, we are equipped to deal with the most difficult things in life because Jesus went through them.  I hope people will take away hope in the middle of pain.

For more Josh Wilson goodness, head over to his website at JoshWilsonMusic.com and hook up with Josh on all your favorite social networks, including Twitter (@joshwilson) and Facebook (facebook.com/joshwilson).  Also, you can see Josh live on the summer festival circuit and this fall he’s touring with music veterans Steven Curtis Chapman and Andrew Peterson.

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