Here's What I Really Want to Tell You:

I am ok. The thing about failing at something- in this case- a CD that has (so far) gotten very little radio play and even fewer purchases- is this:

Everyone fails.

Failure is inevitable.

And also- I don't care what the numbers say or the charts read. Sure, there are nights when I cry and curse and pout and decide I will quit. But those voices- those numbers and charts don't define the value of what I have created. I wrote ten songs. Me! A girl who had no idea she could write ten songs, let alone write songs that tell the story of my journey and the human experience as we wait out the unknown deserts of life. It may not rank high on the charts or be a best-seller; but it is honest and true to the places God has led me. He. The Good Shepherd.

And telling the story of how the Shepherd has led me was never meant to be monetized in the first place- was it?

So many uncomfortable thoughts and questions.

And the truth is, our culture is simply not good at uncomfortable waiting and uncomfortable questions.


A few months ago I came downstairs and found Ryan watching another one of his never-ending endless Netflix documentaries. The amount of documentaries these days seems ridiculous. Documentaries on bikes and motorcycles and wheelchairs and farms and guns and medicine and food and internet dating and vagabonds. It's endless. This time, he was watching a documentary with little talking, mostly in sub-titles, and all about Sushi. Seriously? A documentary on Sushi making?

I totally judged him and the entire film-making community in one fatal swoop.

And then- I heard the man on the film say something that stopped me in my tracks. Literally, I was in the kitchen working and came into the living room and said, "re-wind that."

The movie, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, draws me in. Not because of the amazing culinary genius or the exquisite food created by the 3 star Michelin rated chef- but because it paints the story of a man who has devoted everything to perfecting the art of his craft. His son, who has apprenticed under his father, tells about the years of practice and learning that happens before a single egg is allowed to be cracked in Jiro's kitchen. The years he spent watching and training under his dad before he was allowed to create his own batch of rice. Years before he was allowed to make rice?  That's the part I made Ryan re-wind.

I've been making rice- mostly crunchy- since the 5th grade.

Did he really say it was ten years before he was allowed to make rice?

The ridiculous amount of time Jiro has lavished on this one thing stopped me dead in my tracks and I wept through most of Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

“JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is about a spiritual journey towards perfection. But it is not about achieving perfection. It is about the act of striving for it. The film is breathtaking, inspirational and most of all humbling. ”- Eric Ripert, Chef/Co-Owner Le Bernardin.

This is an entire film dedicated to patience. An entire film about someone who went TEN YEARS before he was allowed to cook his first batch of rice.

Do you know anyone- honestly- who has apprenticed at anything for ten years before attempting it? Much less making a bowl of rice?

This movie is shocking because watching it, you become aware of your aversion to patience. Your aversion to waiting.

Waiting is uncomfortable.

It is uncomfortable for the person who is having to wait and it is uncomfortable for the on-looker.

It's like watching the Olympic athletes preparing to flip off of the high-dive. It is excruciating. Your heart beats faster than there's. You hold your breath. Unable to move.  Slightly frozen by the fear of the height and the audacity of the jump. The anxiety for the onlooker is paralyzing. JUMP ALREADY. JUST GET IT OVER WITH. JUUUMMMPPP.

Make yourself a freaking bowl of rice!!! DO IT.

The athlete's ability to wait in the middle of the tension and only jump when they are good and ready is heart-attack inducing for those of us just wanting to hurry up and get them off the high-dive before they slip and fall and lose control and get hurt.

Our aversion to patience- our propensity to hurry along the person who is waiting, preparing- speaks deeply to the state of our souls. We just want it to be fixed for them. We want to end their suffering and wrap up those tense moments of untold waiting with a pretty bow.

We are a people averse to waiting. We like short-cuts and quick answers. Happy endings that don't have to be fought for. That don't require mountains to climb and valleys to languish in before getting to the finish line. Watching someone else wait- is like watching a slug die. Brutal. Tie that in with little glimmers of failure as the person waits out the desert?

We cannot bear to watch someone walk through it.


So to boldly tell the world you are stuck. Waiting. A semi-failure at your current gig. Unsure of what comes next. Wrestling with what comes next and why the dreams aren't panning out is hard. Because hand in hand with that message is this:

I am ok with the waiting.

I am thriving in the desert.

While those who love me want me to jump already (for my own safety, of course)

I am ok standing tippy-toed on the edge of the diving board.

Do I want to jump?

Absolutely. I cannot wait to jump.

But until then- my eyes are focused. Locked in. My feet gripped firmly. Freely. My spirit is being prepared. My soul renewed. I am becoming brave. I am becoming centered. I am becoming purposeful. I am becoming prepared.

I am becoming.

And there is no other place that I want to be.

I am ok with this season of waiting.

And you can be too.



The Privilege of Waiting

Last night I got the weekly email: I've sold 88 albums this week for a grand total of 3,863 albums sold since my release date on February 12th. I've basically just told you how much I weigh and every dirty little secret I have.

Unless you are celebrating CD sales with a gold record in your hand- there is really no need for anyone to strut their numbers, especially numbers this paltry.

I laid in bed- refusing to cry.

But then it occurred to me that one time, when I was doing a wrapping paper fundraiser for middle school choir, I was desperately trying to win a plastic helmet that had a fan and flashlight attached to the top and a swirly straw that wraps around your entire head and lands in your drink- and I am sure I sold way more than $3,860 then.

The tears came.

I've sold more boxes of girl scout cookies.

Yesterday I crunched numbers. How much it costs to travel to where I am going, how much I pay the people who play the music for me on stage, how much for a hotel room. I think I've already lost money well into September. How is that possible- you wonder with shock? Last summer I was asked to perform before the headlining artist at a festival. They raved about how many people would be there and who I would be exposed to. Plus opening for the biggest of the best. They could pay me $750. That didn't include travel or lodging. And it didn't include my personal cost: paying a guitarist. Paying 15% to the booking agency who would handle the contract, who gets 15% of every show no matter what. And 15% to the managers who so bravely manage me. I would have gone in the hole by over $750. The girl booking the event later told me the headlining act was paid $45,000. And that was rock bottom for the artist.

So I crunched numbers yesterday and realized that I won't make money until September and even then it's a gamble. Then I got the email telling me how many albums I haven't sold. And I laid in bed and refused to cry. And then the image of that hat. That twirly gig hat from the 5th grade came and ruined it all.

I laid in bed crying my eyes out.

Now what? What do you do when Plan A or B or C  (or plan Q in my case) just seems to be hitting a dead end? For those of you who have followed my journey the past few years- you should know- I am still in the middle of the becoming. Putting 38 minutes of music down on an album didn't fix it. Didn't tidy everything up. It wasn't the clear-cut, decisive, Ah-Ha moment at the end of the desert that I had hoped for. I am closer, to be sure. There are all sorts of slivers and glimmers of light and answers and new ways and new life- but nothing fully formed yet. Answers don't come quickly. And even when you endure being nine months pregnant- labor and give birth to the baby- it's still months before they smile and years before their personality is decisively theirs. Even after the new thing arrives- you are still waiting. Still nurturing every moment because it leads to the next.

You are not alone in your waiting. I've heard about this couple who wanted to have babies so bad and were basically dead by the time they finally got pregnant. Mind you- they ushered in the birth of an entire nation that would change history forever- but the WAITING. OH THE WAITING.

So I am still in between. Still trying to figure out what happens next. And when? And why doesn't the current gig seem to really be taking off? And was I created for something more? Something different? Something better? And when- oh when- will I see the finish line? And for God's sake don't tell me there isn't one until heaven. Really. You really think that is what a lost, waiting person wants to hear? It's just all wrong turns and deserts and half dreams till you die baby. All halfsies and everything. See you in the promised-land!

Just tell me it's coming. Like Jesus does. The next step is coming. The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living is real. Old people have babies and young people change the world and middle people- like me- dream new dreams and take new adventures and get used up and spilled out and re-created a million times before the other side of eternity. Tell me that.


Back to the bedroom last night. I cried. And then- like usual- decided it was time for me to fix it once and for all.

I got on Monster.Com followed by For two hours last night I searched for a job. A real life grown-up person job.

Let me tell you what- if you are a phlebotomist, you're in luck.  Apparently we need about 800 of them in this city. I've ruled out the Staff Scientist position at Vanderbilt. What is that- your token scientist? All I could envision was a room full of English professors and regents and then one frizzy-haired, white coat, crazy-eyed scientist lady who was running around the room laughing an evil laugh. Dollar General needs a merchandise designer. I could totally color-coordinate that store like Charming Charlie's. Dave Ramsey is hiring lots of people right now. But I didn't see my ideal job. If I'm going to work for Dave Ramsey, I wanna be his hype man. Just dark glasses and a turn table and my head bobbing all gangster style. The church jobs stare at me. I give them the evil eye. I refuse! Still, I spent a good chunk of time studying churches all over the country who are hiring-specifically churches along the ocean- because someone has to do it.

My friend, who is having a similar life crisis said that the guy spraying for bugs in her house yesterday told her she is always welcome to come work the front desk at the pest control place. There is nothing wrong with pest control. Truly. But for 12 years she has pursued her life's dream- shall it all end with 'Do you want to add roach repellent to that? And how about a mouse trap with your order?'

I hope not.

So the fighting and the waiting and the angst of figuring it all out rages on.


Waiting is a privilege that only the rich enjoy. It is a luxury for those of us not fighting to feed, clothe and educate ourselves and our babies. So in the middle of the angst- there is this:

I recorded an album and some radio stations played my songs. That is what some girls around the world can only ever dream for while they hang on for dear life and fight to survive.

This whole 'Waiting on becoming who God has created you to be and do and become' it is a luxury that generations before us have not enjoyed and a reality that people living in poverty have no concept of. There is no "waiting" when you have to kill a chicken to feed your family or walk three miles to fill up jerry cans with water or wait in line for hours on end hoping to see a free doctor because your sick baby needs medicine.

If you have options on the table- you are among the world's most rich. So I will count myself as blessed beyond measure.

Blessed. Beyond. Measure.

We wait as privileged people. I wait as a privileged person. Refusing to get too lost in the narcissism of a life that only swirls around my own dreams. Refusing to be too pitiful over the privilege of waiting and figuring things out little by little. Refusing to be a phlebotomist. Refusing to hand too many nights over to the fact that I've sold more girl scout cookies than I have albums.

Refusing to do anything but get up each day- sit on this porch- have a cup of coffee- listen for God's voice- and then keep moving into the vast- privileged-unknown of this life.





Story Behind the Song: The In Between

A friend’s brother passed away this past year unexpectedly. The brother had lived quite a colorful life and often found himself the black sheep of the family. He was rebellious, adventurous and sometimes just plain lost. He migrated from his home, in the southern part of the United States, to the dry desert of Arizona. It was there, working with his hands to build and create; exploring the rugged terrain of a deserted land; meeting others who were drawn to the same complexly beautiful, star-splattered sky, that he began to find himself fully alive again.

The life of Todd Skaggs, a man I never knew, began to fascinate me.

Here was a person who found himself most fully alive in a desert. 

Finding one’s self most fully alive in a dry, seemingly dead place like a desert, seemed so ironic to me. How do you experience rebirth in a place where at best, organisms perpetually fight to survive, and at worst new life never has a chance to begin? As his own brother’s grieved his sudden passing they wrote about Todd’s life and how the desert had become so much a part of him.

“Todd was the prodigal son who never found his way back to his father in this lifetime but is firmly held in the arms of our dad in another. Todd loved life. That is a sure thing. He moved to Arizona to be closer to life- scaling close to death as he loved the adventure that the desert brought. Todd loved the desert. I cannot underscore this enough. He loved the desert. He loved getting on his motorcycle with extra fuel strapped to a backpack and riding deep into the painted wilderness until the stars outnumbered the grains of sand. He understood God's perfect design in the smallest of desert creatures. Todd knew them all by name.”

A prodigal son found a place to call home in the desert. 

And this got me thinking about my own journey. How many times have I been in the walls of a church or fully immersed into the domesticity, noise and rush of routine daily life and not heard from God? Too many to count.

But when I finally make it to a “painted wilderness”- a desolate place where perhaps I’ve ended up because I have wandered there with extra fuel strapped to my back, hoping to catch glimpses of unending beauty, hoping for answers, hoping to be found or be free, or perhaps because I have been dumped there, lost, alone and terrified- it is quite often in the desert that I “begin to understand God’s perfect design.”

The life of Todd Skaggs, a man I never knew, reminded me that sometimes it takes a desert- a quiet, dry, rugged, lonely desert to peer deep into the eyes of what is true and be drawn back to the heartbeat of what is constant and holy.  It makes complete sense that this is where a prodigal son would wander back to- a place where God’s holiness is laid bare.

During my own season of becoming I learned to call the desert my home because within this painted wilderness I met a God who seemed quite at ease with the sand-whipped rocks, cactus and empty space. There in the emptiness- every crevice of soil, sand, sun and sin were laid bare under a million stars declaring God’s glory. And with an empty pallet- the Lord began to paint my own wilderness with brilliant strokes of color I had never even seen. That which was lost began to be found. In the desert.

I wrote the song, The In Between, because of a man I never knew.

A man who taught me-

the desert isn’t a place we go to die, but a place we go to come back to life  

The In Between  by Paul Moak, Jenny Simmons

Light shines bright In the desert night And I feel alive again I've given up on trying to fight Wars I cannot win So here we are, with a million stars This is where new life begins And I'm ready to take your hand

Throw away my plans I finally feel free I can dream again See where your spirit leads And I will cross this desert ground Cause what was lost can now be found Here in between

Lights shine bright In the city sky And my heart feels full again I was swallowed up by buildings so high And walls that could not bend Now we're here tonight, with a million lights Throwing caution to the wind And I'm ready to take your hand

When you're wandering the great unknown A million miles away from home Just because you're lost doesn't mean you're alone

Throw away my plans And I finally feel free I can dream again See where your spirit leads I will cross this broken ground Cause I was lost, but now I'm found Here in between