My Muse

A few years ago, my grandmother clipped an article out of theEau Clairepaper, saying that she thought I might find it interesting.  The article told of a young lady fromChippewa Falls,Wisconsinwho had recently won a scholarship from the rock band, Queen, which award her a four-year scholarship to pursue her songwriting at McNally Smith College of Music inSt. Paul,Minnesota.  The article and Anna Johnson’s story did indeed capture my attention, and I Googled her in order to learn more. 

I was directed to her Myspace page and had a chance to listen to her music.  I was instantly drawn to her pure, clear voice and incredible songwriting.  At that time, she had recorded a CD locally and was performing at area coffeehouses and various other events.  I was excited to learn that she would be performing at my hometown venue, the Hazelnut Tree, so I arranged for Erica to join me and go see her show. 

I was not disappointed in seeing her live.

I had the opportunity to meet Anna that night and exchange a few words with her.  I bought her CD and took it home.  I enjoyed listening to her songs as I worked around the house or walked to and from my daily activities.  Then Anna announced that she was making the move toNashvillein order to record a new album and pursue her music with a wider scope. 

I was sad to see her go, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see her perform live again for a very long time.  But I followed her on Facebook and through her blog, and I watched her progress from a start-up artist to a successful independent singer/songwriter.  Currently, Anna is promoting last year’s album release entitled Ready to Go and working on another studio project in her new hometown ofNashville,Tennessee. 

This morning, Anna launched her first official music video to her crowd-pleasing, tear-jerker song “Damaged and Bruised.”  Today also happens to be her birthday, so this occasion is monumental for more than one reason.  I can’t wait for you to see this video!  The song is thought-provoking and poignant, and without a doubt, it will tug at your heartstrings.  “Damaged and Bruised” has acted as a muse-of-sorts for me as I have worked on my writing and sought inspiration for my own music.  Once you see the video and hear the song, you will understand why. 

Although I mainly perform and write Christian music, I can’t help but stand behind Anna’s music and the launch of this video.  Her music is pure and positive without any of the negativity and harsh language you might hear in today’s pop music.  She is a role model to young girls and promotes a love and passion for music that cannot be denied.

So please do me a favor and help out a fellow musician and friend.  Visit Anna’s YouTube channel at to see the video for “Damaged and Bruised” and the other videos she has uploaded to her channel.  Also, “like” her on Facebook if you get the chance:

Thanks, friends!


I am notorious for killing plants.  It started with a mum plant— a gift from my mother for my 19th birthday when I was a freshman in college.  The plant sat on my book shelf next to my desk.  I would do my best to remember to water it, but nevertheless, the plant showed signs of deterioration with each passing day.  In fact, the only time I truly saw it in bloom was in the first few days after my mother delivered it to my room. 

To this day, I keep only fresh flowers in my home.  I love Crazy Daisies— daisies that are dyed in all kinds of shades from neon colors to earth tones.  The daisies are meant to die within two to three weeks, so there is no need to distress when their blossoms start to whither.  But I can recall a time when the top of a daisy fell from the stem mere hours after I purchased the bouquet.  Without the stem to anchor the flower in place and give it life, the daisy dried up and was lifeless.

Much is the same in a person’s relationship to Christ.  Unless we are connected to the life source (Christ), we will whither and die on our own.  We must anchor ourselves to the vine, if you will, and drink of His living water.  Only then will we be sustained, just as a flower is encouraged to grow when given water. 

But even though a flower absorbs water and sunlight, the time will come when it will eventually near the end of its life span, returning to the dust of the ground.  The same is true of us as humans.  We were formed from the dust of the earth and to the dust we shall return when our life is complete.  But if we have absorbed the living water in Jesus Christ, we are promised new life in Him through eternity.  For in drinking of His everlasting cup, we will be fulfilled and lack nothing when our journey of life is complete.  So drink deep of the richness of His love, friends!  You will find satisfaction in Him and Him alone. 



It all started with a long Saturday afternoon of research.  I could feel the stress trying to overwhelm me with three work-related presentations on the horizon and a stack of deadlines looming a mile high; I was cracking under the pressure.  Finally, there was only an hour remaining before I had to leave for a practice session for an upcoming worship service.  It wasn’t enough time to get involved in a project, so I turned to my computer.  I could only think of one thing that would not only occupy my free time but would also have the potential to calm my frazzled nerves. 

Each week, our church records the worship service and posts the sermon on the website.  I had missed last week’s message since I was out of town, so I decided to check into the website and listen to the sermon.  I quickly realized there was nothing better than God’s timing, for it was obvious He had planned for me to hear Pastor Tim’s sermon at exactly the time I needed it. 

Pastor based his message on a passage from Ecclesiastes 4 in which he spoke of the concept of two being better than one.  He pointed out that our current culture continually encourages us as people to rely on ourselves and our own goals and dreams; we are self-sufficient and self-focused.  We are immersed in technology where it is not always convenient to initiate a conversation with someone face-to-face.  We would rather send a quick email or text message in order to make our interaction with someone brief in nature.  We are isolated from one another in today’s society whether we choose to admit it or not.

Now I love a good time of social interaction— friends gathered around for a good meal and conversation or a nice chat on the telephone.  But I have found when it comes to my work and career, I tend to isolate myself in an effort to succeed at my own goals and initiative.  For nearly four years, I could get away with this to some degree; I was and still am an independent musician and author.  The choices I made affected me and only me.  Yes, I was serving the Lord and had a higher calling through my work, but still, my actions really only affected my personal life and not the lives of others or even an organization.

Well, that has all changed in recent months as I have assumed leadership with the camp I have been working with for the past few years.  In being teamed with another colleague, I have discovered how important it is to rely on teamwork and to embody the idea that two is indeed better than one.  Although we are blazing a new trail into the unknown, the journey doesn’t seem nearly as terrifying with someone at my side.  Together, we will bring others alongside us to make YLF a valuable organization of the future. 

Pastor’s sermon struck a cord with me as I thought about the two people who have reached out to me this week in an effort to build relationship and strengthen a bond.  The first was my camp colleague who could have sent me a simple email with his questions and concerns, but instead, he called me to talk everything through.  Our conversation lasted for nearly an hour-and-a-half, and when I hung up the phone, I felt reenergized and ready to take on the tasks of our newly formed organization.

I experienced similar feelings after a conversation with my best friend the next day.  She called to confirm a few dates on her calendar of times we would be getting together, and in due course, our conversation shifted to the stress that existed in both of our lives.  We were able to talk out our feelings and build each other up through encouragement and support.  I was reminded once more that two is better than one, and I hadn’t even heard Pastor’s sermon yet.  Even then, God was teaching me about relationship and community.

So where am I going with this?  Well, it’s rather simple.  I am writing to encourage each one of you to step out and make contact with those you love.  The recent recognition of September 11 reminded me about the importance of connecting with friends and family, for you never know when tragedy could strike and draw you apart forever.  Be thankful for those in your life, for God is using them to make you the person you are today and will be in the future.  Build relationships that are based in Him, for as we read in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

The Pencil

It feels odd not to be heading off to school this fall.  After graduating from high school, college, and grad school, I can’t help but view education as a huge part of my life.  But although I might not be enrolled in formal education at this time, I am continuing to learn as I move forward in my personal life and career.

So what does the pencil have to do with all of this?  Well, in my opinion, the yellow, #2 pencil has to be the most recognizable school supply, and if I was headed to school this Fall, I would probably be stocking up several of them.  I was reminded of the pencil this past week when I observed a children’s sermon at a Sunday worship service.  The woman leading the discussion told the children about the pencil and how it is never perfect— even those pretty, nice looking pencils that have a beautiful exterior.  Once the pencil is put through the pencil sharpener, its form changes.  Sometimes the point emerges just fine and is suitable for writing, but other times, the pencil sharpens unevenly and the point even breaks off.  But regardless of its appearance, the pencil is sharpened and ready for use.

In the same way, we as Christians can be seen as an imperfect pencil that needs to be sharpened.  Many times, God places us through the sharpener— perhaps difficult seasons, trials, sickness, and grief— to refine us and increase our faith.  No one likes to be taken through the sharpener, so to speak; it is a painful process and sometimes brutal, much like the grinding and reshaping that happens when the pencil is sharpened.  But in the end, faith emerges, sharpened and stronger for having faced adversity.

This analogy mirrors my current season.  I feel like I am continually learning, working through the tough stuff to accomplish some ultimate goal.  God is teaching me some valuable lessons right now, and in many ways, I compare myself to the pencil with God as the hand guiding that instrument.  As I progress through life, He is writing my story, leaving the marks of His grace and mercy on the pages of my Life Book.  He forgives my mistakes and takes that figurative eraser in hand to purify me from my sins and mistakes.  I am the pencil— the tool in His hands, and He is the sharpener.