Tag Archives: tenth avenue north


8 Aug

“I’m tired.  I’m worn.  My heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing…”

The lyrics to Tenth Avenue North’s latest radio single, “Worn,” seemed alien to me a week ago.

What a difference a week makes.

The thread holding me together unraveled when my foot doctor told me that I would have to wear my walking boot for another 3-4 weeks.  It didn’t come completely undone until I was fitted with a new walking boot because the one that was guarding my left foot was falling apart.  Tufts of stuffing were sticking out from the places where the fabric wore thin.  The heel wasn’t quite so high and there were visible scraps from where my boot fought the sidewalk.  The copper permanent marker declaring me as “LOVED” was fading from the front toe bed and the velcro straps didn’t hold like they used to.

The boots were only made to last 6-8 weeks, my doctor explained, as I stared at her in disbelief.  My boo t had lasted me for 12 weeks, and it simply wouldn’t not hold out for another month.  Instead of ridding myself of the old boot, I was given a brand new boot.  Then the technician who fitted me with the boot threw my old boot in the trash bin.  I wanted to pull it out.  I’m not sure why.  Was it a sentimental attachment?  After all, we had spent the past 12 weeks together.  Was it a rejection of the new boot?

I left it in the trash can and hobbled to the car.

I was worn.  Worn out.  Worn down.  Worn to the very fiber of being.

A few days have passed, but the feeling of being worn still lingers around me.  It’s not that I doubt God will heal my foot; I know He can and He will.  My faith isn’t lacking and I don’t believe God isn’t in control of this detail.  I know He will use this for my good and His glory.  I know it is better for my foot to heal in this boot if that’s what it needs, even if it’s not what I want.  I KNOW all this.

I am just worn.  I’m tired of hobbling around with a walker or cane.  I’m tired that going out of my apartment requires extra planning.  I want to go shopping at places other than Walmart and Target because they have the riding shopping carts and I don’t want to ask Sarah to put the heavy transport wheelchair.  I don’t want to sit alone in the narthex of the church during the 9:15 AM service while the rest of the praise team chats outside at Lemonade on the Lawn.   I want to take my dog for a walk or just be able to walk to the mailbox.

Instead of getting closer to these goals, I feel like I’m trudging along the same path.  I want to be grateful that my right foot is finally healed or that I have the ability to drive and get out on my own.  I want to be thankful for medical treatment for my broken bones.  I want to sing “Blessed be the Name of the Lord” without tears streaming down my cheeks.  I know God is good; I know He is.  Some days, like days when I’m worn, it’s harder to feel like I believe it.

Even though I feel worn, I am making a conscious effort to remember that in my weakness, God is my strength.  I can’t do it anymore, and really, that’s a beautiful thing because this is something only God can do.  To Him be the glory.

On my own, I am worn out, dried out, and hopeless.  Yet God promises to never leave me, never to forsake me, and to renew me.

When I got home from the doctor, I found my copper Sharpie and began to adorn my new boot with words including Habakkuk 3:19, “He makes my feet like the hind’s and enable me to go to the high places.”  The Amplified Bible says it like this: “The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!”

I may be worn, but God is not.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

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?

The BSW Raven Awards:: Where Everyone Wins!

24 Apr

Now that GMA Week is over and the Dove Awards have been handed out, I can finally announce the winners of the Backseat Writer 1st Annual Raven Awards.  Here’s the thing with the Raven Awards, if you’re nominated, you win!  Of course, our winners don’t get a cool looking-trophy (maybe next year). Heck, half of ‘em won’t even know they won a Raven Award…but that’s not really the point.

The point, dear friends, is to nominate songs that have impacted my life and the lives of those around me throughout the past year.  Whether these are artists who are making it big or who are rockin’ the indie scene, they have all been meaningful to me.

Originally, I thought it would be funny to have my own awards to rival the Doves…and what’s the opposite of a white bird of peace?  The black bird of death!  Then I thought to myself, that’s not really the message I want to send.   But then I realized why ravens are among my favorite birds.  The book of Kings speaks of the prophet Elijah’s flight into the desert when he was fleeing for his life from Queen Jezebel, who promised to kill him.  While sitting under a broom tree, God provided His messenger with food delivered to him by ravens.  In this instance, ravens were used by God to bring life to His Child, who was in a very dark place (read my post “Fed by the Ravens”).  To me, being fed by ravens is be given a message from God Himself, delivered by a third party.

Thus, these are my “Ravens.”  Feel free to nominate anyone you think deserves a BSW Raven Awards in the comments section. You can share how this artist or song has impacted you.  Sorry, I just don’t have the energy to put links to everyone–do a Backseat Writer site–chances are that I’ve written about these artists. Oh, and we definitely needed some side art; I’m not favoring the artists whose pictures appear on this post!

(Artist pics from top to bottom:: Seabird, Tara Leigh Cobble, Josh Wilson, This Beautiful Republic)

Song of the Year

“Cinderella”—Steven Curtis Chapman
“For the Life of Me”-This Beautiful Republic
“Learning How to Die”—Jon Foreman
“Don’t Wash Your Hands of Me”—Alli Rogers
“Britney”—Bebo Norman
“Savior, Please”—Josh Wilson
“Listen Up”—Brandon Heath
“Hold My Heart”—Tenth Avenue North
“Still Young”-Shirock

Male Vocalist of the Year

Bebo Norman
Jon Foreman
Josh Wilson
Brandon Heath
Fernando Ortega

Female Vocalist of the Year

Alli Rogers
Francesca Battistelli
Dawn Richardson (Fireflight)
Tara Leigh Cobble

Band of the Year

This Beautiful Republic
The Myriad

Album of the Year

Til We See The Shore—Seabird
Limbs & Branches—Jon Foreman
Empty and Beautiful—Matt Maher
Perceptions—This Beautiful Republic
Bebo Norman—Bebo Norman
Trying to Fit the Ocean in a Cup—Josh Wilson

If any of our winners want the world to know about his or her or their amazing award, please feel free to use this cool award jpg I designed!  It’s not a statue, but it’s pretty darn close. Congrats to all our award winners!

Take 5 with Phillip LaRue

6 Apr

I remember seeing LaRue in concert when I was 21.  My single female friends and I all commented how we wanted to meet a guy like Phillip LaRue—who loved God, sang, played guitar, and had cool hair.  His sister, Natalie, seemed pretty hip, too.  But, really, we were all about the male half of the duo called LaRue.  Then, it seemed, the band disappeared.

That was eight years ago, and Phillip LaRue has re-emerged as a [married] singer/songwriter debuting his first solo album, Let the Road Pave Itself (Bec Recordings).  Phillip’s song, “Found” has been featured on “One Tree Hill” and “The Ghost Whisperer” and another song has appeared on “Harper’s Island.”  Then there’s “Chasing the Daylight” and “Running So Long,” which are fast becoming fan favorites.  Such is the power of Phillip LaRue.  And, yes, his hair is still very cool.  He’s even cooler for agreeing to Take 5 with Backseat Writer.

*You started out singing with your sister, Natalie, in the popular band LaRue and then working on indie projects, but then you left the industry altogether in 2003—why?  And what prompted your move to come back?

Well, I didn’t necessarily move out of the industry just in the background a bit. After LaRue I signed a publishing deal with a company based in Nashville which led me to writing and eventually co-producing a compilation record called “The Message Psalms” with Monroe Jones. I got to work with some great artists on the project like Chris Rice, Dave Barnes and Ginny Owens. However, the label that released the project folded a month after the release of the album which struck my heart to its core, but after producing it, I thought about production and artist development.

Thankfully about 6 months after that I met some great guys in a band called Tenth Avenue North and ended up developing and producing them with a friend of mine Jason Ingram in Nashville. Since then I have stayed busy writing and producing for other folks including myself. It does feel a bit strange stepping back into the artist world in some ways but at the same time it is freeing as well because I am less intimidated by it and more excited about connecting with people than any other time of my life.

*Besides being incredibly organic and original, Let the Road Pave Itself, is an intriguing title in and of itself.  What does “let the road pave itself” actually mean?

Well, I was struggling back and forth with what step I should take as an artist for a while there. Struggling with questions–Should I stay independent?..Should I sign a record deal? Should I just give up the artist thing and focus my attention writing for folks?  My thoughts were like walls around me. But one day I hung out with a good friend of mine named Jeff Balding. I really respect him musically and spiritually and after I told him everything in my mind he sat back with a smile and said “Phillip, you just got to let the road pave itself.” After hearing this something switched in my heart and I began to watch what God was trying to tell me. After I recorded the record, I felt like it would be a perfect title.

* I read that a lot of the songs on the album are first takes, which you didn’t edit.  It’s a pretty risky move (which pays off, by the way).  But why did you decide to record like this?  How did the other studio musicians react to this decision?

I really wanted folks to hear this record and hear my heart. Too many times Nashville can make music too perfect, too on time and too polished. Don’t get me wrong I am a big fan of some pop music, but for me, I knew I needed to record the record as organically as possible. Thankfully, Paul Moak (co-producer) felt the same way as me and we began creating an environment that would suite what we were hoping to capture. A lot of what was captured was in part of how amazing the musicians played on the record. Each one embraced what we were aiming for and gave 100% of them selves.

*”Running So Long” is one of my favorite songs on this album.  What can you tell me about it?

It’s a love song in many ways. Too many times in this life I just ran face forward without really knowing what I was aiming for. I wanted to write a song about catching myself in that act and remind myself of what really matters. My wife and I have have been through a lot together through the years and I wanted to try my best to say to Lia, “You’re what matters most” in a different way acknowledging the pain and beauty that we have walked through.

*OK, I noticed in one of your press pictures, that you have tattoos on the inner part of your forearms.  What does the lettering say and what is the significance of these tats?

On my right arm it says “Your love is the music of my life”- that is for God. A way of saying I see you everywhere.  On my left arm it says- “Lia is the song of my heart”- That is for my wife. A way of saying, “I love you.”

Visit Phillip LaRue online at philliplarue.com or myspace.com/philliplarue.

Raw Review: Over and Underneath–Tenth Avenue North

3 May

Release Date: May 20

By Amy Sondova Four guys who met in college and formed a Christian band–it’s a story that circles the industry over and over again. While Tenth Avenue North fits the mold, their national debut, Over and Underneath (Reunion) brings a different quality to the world of music. Instead of falling into another formulaic musical equation, Tenth Avenue uses the common to their advantage, building on what works to produce something with depth.

A couple of the songs like “Let It Go” and “Break Me Down” are radio-friendly pop tunes, which make for a fun sing-a-long, but aren’t the meat of this album. Big worship ballads like “Satisfy” and “You Are” take things up a notch as lead singer Mike Donehy stretches his vocal chords.

Then there’s “Beloved,” which begins and ends with a haunting piano melody. Speaking from God’s perspective, the lyrics beautifully tell of His love for His bride (seemingly with references to Hosea and Revelation). “By Your Side” comes from a similar perspective, but it calls all people near to Him. “Hold My Heart” is born from the frustration of man crying out to God as He seems distant, almost like a modern psalm. The song has a great melody, vocals changes, and a driving rhythm that adds to the song’s emotional impact.

What I like about Over and Underneath is the album’s strong melodies, enticing song introductions, and vulnerable lyrics. While every song on the album doesn’t reach the level of excellence, Tenth Avenue North offers a nice style blend that is pleasing to the ears and manna for the heart.

The album releases May 20, so you have time to save up your nickels and dimes to buy Tenth Avenue North’s Over and Underneath. Click here to view the “Love is Here” music video.

Print copy of raw review.

%d bloggers like this: