Monday, December 29, 2008

Now. Not Yet.

"There is deliverance to use that beautiful old word, and Christians are people who through such now-and-then, here-and-there visions as they've had through Christ, have been delivered just enough to know that there's more where that came from, and whose experience of the little deliverance that has already happened inside themselves and whose faith in the deliverance still to happen is what sees them through the night." 
-Frederick Buechner; A Room Called Remember 

Free but not yet. Arrived but not there. 

The Bible is a book whose authenticity is questioned by big and small thinkers alike, but one thing that convinces me of its truth more than any apologetic is the realism I find between its covers, its true to life stories. Obviously, there are larger than life tales of giants, water walks, heralding angels, and fire from heaven. However, it is rare that there are "happily-ever-after" stories in the Bible, but it is marked by characters who are left with some sort of struggle often times immediately after an encounter with redemption. 

The lame man walks only to be questioned about working on the Sabbath. 

Elijah calls down fire on the alter and witnesses the end of the drought only to run for his life from the evil queen. 

David is rewarded a wife for his valiant efforts and victories only to have her ridicule him for his worship style. 

Thomas' doubt is relieved and joy restored by touching the wounds in Jesus' hands and side only to watch Him vanish into the clouds. 

Victory and pain, will there ever be a day where the one stands independent of the other? 

I appreciate the image of the Israelites standing on the edge of the sea with the Egyptians pressing down on them. They had been in slavery and bondage for years, and after praying for a savior for who knows how long they finally had Moses leading them to freedom. However, freedom came at a cost. Moses wasn't able to throw down a miracle or two in order to convince Pharoah of Yahweh's sovereignty, rather it took ten plagues. After each plague, I imagine the Israelites thought to themselves,
"Surely, he will let us go now," only to be met by Pharaoh's disappointing arrogance. But long story short... They are set free. 

Fast forward. 

They stand on the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh pressing in wondering why they were ever set free to begin with. If you haven't heard the story before, or you have never watched Charleton Heston part the waters, I'll go ahead and spoil the ending for you. The Israelites miraculously walk over on dry ground while the unfortunate Egyptians get buried in a watery grave. 

Immediately at the conclusion of this story there is this lovely moment where the people of God dance and sing, celebrating their new found freedom, but the next morning, they start a long hard journey across the barren wilderness. It is then that they begin their journey to freedom. They are completely free of the Egyptians but not from the wilderness. They have arrived to a place outside their slavery, but they are not at the promise land. 

I more often than not feel like a man who has arrived at a place of freedom, but I am simultaneously so very far from it.

Sin no longer has a hold on me. I am the chief of all sinners. 
Death has lost its sting. I mourn those I have lost. 
Fear will no longer torment me. The night can seem so dark. 

I have truly experienced the freedom of Christ in my life where I am no longer identified by my weaknesses. I have experienced the joy of knowing and hearing from Him. I have seen myself defeat my earthly awful desires because of a strength that is in me and is beyond me. However, I am still aware of the dark places that are in me, the twisted, wounded places. 

I believe that we who are touched by the grace of Christ are indeed free, but we are not completely free. We have arrived, but we are not there. God has drowned our sins, but we have a wilderness to fight through. Let us celebrate for we are fully free. Let us focus, because we have a journey ahead of us. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holding Hair

Two drunks stumbled back to their house. They're friendship centered around their ability to consume, and, together, they would plan their drunken escapes. The city hated these two and their belligerent ways, for the bars in this town best accommodated to those filing in with their collard shirts and lovely faces--the ones who drank with a mischievous mission. These two, however, drank because it was all they knew to do. As it were, they were not "enhancements to the party," so to speak. Rather, those who saw them were forced into the realization, "If I let this drink run, I will be trampled like these helpless souls." It is in us all to avoid the warnings of who we are becoming.
One night, like so many before it, the pair bought two bottles of "2 Buck Chuck" and downed them while the night was still young. After a few trips to replenish the stock, Drunk Number One stumbled onto the dew covered yard. He laid in the grass while his eyes rolled from side to side. The longer he lay there, the dew seeped through his flannel shirt and he began to retch.
The vomit covered his chest, and he began to panic, as he could no longer breathe.
In an instant, his drunken friend was there, who rolled him over and lifted his torso off the ground allowing his legs to lay limply in the grass. Drunk Number Two pulled his friend's greasy hair from clinging to his face.
And there they were. One drunk puking into the grass while another held him in a moment void of glory thus saving his life.

This, my friends, is how love is shown. Rather than letting those who deserve to wallow in their filth as a result of their own decision, we mercifully pull them out of it, all the while capable of the exact same filth. True love props up the sinner and holds those sick with themselves, for we may need someone to hold us in a matter of moments.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Album Update #2

We have finished mixing the album, and it is now with Jim Rivers for mastering. I'm stoked about this. 

The album will be titled: "Coal Road Sunset" 

Last week, I had some pictures taken by Sarah Shute, and I got to see some proofs this evening which look very good. 

Now we are in the CD Release planning phase. We have some really exciting things brewing for the show. There will be some incredible special guests and songwriters from Knoxville who, hopefully, will be collaborating on this effort, and the venue we are aiming for is great! I'll give you more details on that later. 

For those who are interested, here is the track list for the album:

1. No Mechanic
2. Coal Road Sunset
3. I Named that Cloud After You
4. Make it Real
5. I'm Always Losing You
6. Wine at Weddings
7. Heroine of 1973
8. Pass the Time
9. Of the Current Circumstance and Boundaries
10. Them Stones Will Quiet Down *featuring Jill Andrews from The Everybodyfields

Friday, December 12, 2008


I'm at home now. 
Or I'm at the house now. 
Well, I guess this house is becoming my home. I mean, I love it. I love the people in it. Its the constant familiar in my day to day existence. So, yes...I'm at home. 

I'm alone at home. 
I suppose Matt is asleep in the next room, and Pervis is sleeping downstairs. The other boys are out somewhere.
But I'm not keeping company with anyone else, and I find myself sitting at my desk staring blankly at the screen. Its cold in here and my empty Taco Bell bag states it plainly that I ate dinner without sharing how my day went with someone across from me. So, yes...I'm alone. 

I'm scared of the aloneness.
I mean, I kinda live in "the ghetto" and someone could break in or whatever, but that never scares me. The other night I took a nap on the couch with the door wide open. I bike home in the middle of the night. Its not my surroundings that scare me. 
But when I'm sitting here in my room with no one else to hear me--no one else to enter into my story--I feel stuck. There's nowhere to go. There's no one to call. I could watch a movie, but which one? I just sit here alone with... with me. Its when I'm alone with me that I have to think about who I am and what I am daily bringing to the table. What have I done today? Did I really say that? Did I really do that? Did I really let that enter my mind? Oh God?! who am I? Does anyone know that I am here? Does anyone remember me right now at this moment?

So yes... I'm scared of the aloneness. 

I try very hard to never use this site as an opportunity for whining. No one wants to read that. But I believe this deep fear of loneliness that turns my home into a fearful trap, is the root of my sin. I won't say it is the root of your sin, but maybe?
At night, after working late, as I walk across Market Square to the parking garage with my hood pulled over my head and my breath leading the way, I can feel my feet tugged in a hundred directions. My hand compulsively reaches for my phone, but no one is out and about for me to call. Its too late. There are bands playing in the different venues, but I know none of them. Still, maybe I should pop in and check them out. 
Really? Why the delay to go home? 

We hate facing ourselves. I hate facing myself. That is the delay.

Enter sin. 

It comes up behind me as I walk to my car, and it wraps its tender arms around me. As I stand looking at my deserted house, It bursts into the living room like a playful sibling. It smiles at me, and it is that smile which says it all.
"Hello, brother. I've missed you." 
Sin and I embrace, immediately sharing old stories that make us laugh until we cry. 
"Oh, I missed you, brother!" I say, "You couldn't have come at a better time." 
We sit together like two old pals, and now I have someone to eat dinner with. To keep company with. Now, I'm not alone. 

Until I awake, and I realize that my house is colder and the taco bell bag has been sitting in my room for far too long. I look around and see the remnants of my week, and I realize that I have still been alone. Sin was never keeping me company. It was merely covering my eyes with the facade that I was not alone.

We must learn to be alone--to live in this lonely moment. We must learn to be silent and enjoy it but not as "martyrs" who cry out, "No one loves me! Where are my friends?" We must learn--I must learn--to be alone, simply. That is when sin no longer approaches me as an old friend, but as the snake it is. Then, I can think clearly enough to crush it. 

To suffer through the loneliness and make it to the other side--this is what it means to remain sane.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Beyond Mere Belief

Last Sunday I was given the opportunity to teach (some people call this preaching, but I'm not allowed to use that word at Crossings). 
We have been working through the book of Genesis and specifically the character of Abraham. This message was very challenging for me, and came from somewhere deep in me. Faith is a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around. Feel free to take a listen by following the link.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Album Update

We have successfully finished the first week of recording. I will be going back the first week of December to finish up vocals, and other fine details. 
It has been a great and tiring week. We (Joe, Trevor, and I) started in the studio this past Monday on a cold, overcast morning at 8:00 AM. Kenny came into town twice and put down his electric and mandolin tracks. Bill put down his instrumentation tracks (banjo, accordion, piano) yesterday, and today Delacey, Bill, and I worked on vocals. 
Things are sounding good, and I'm very pleased with what we have accomplished this week. More than anything, I'm proud of my fellas. They were right on, and I was very impressed with each of them. 
Eric, our producer, has been great to work with. If you are in the area and looking to do some recording, I would highly recommend him. He has helped us with the vision of each song and has guided us to communicating that vision as effectively as possible.
Thanks so much for your prayers. I'll keep you updated on the rest. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Music Biz

Just a quick update to my friends:

This past Tuesday I was privileged to play The Blue Plate Special on WDVX. This was my third time back, and my heart skipped a beat to be joined on stage by my old right hand man, Kenny Gooch as well as harmony genius Delacey Santini. Of course, trusty dusty Bill Wolf was by my side with his wicked accordion fingers (not to mention keys, back up harmonies, and more...)

Tuesday night we played a second show (the shows were broken up as I missed the sunset by sleeping all day on the couch.) We headed to Preservation Pub and played with a full band. This is the first time I have played with a full band since pursuing a solo career in music. It had been 3-4 years. Joe Bliffen was on drums, Trevor Lofton on bass, and Bill and Delacey were back (Kenny was headed back to IN). This was by far one of my favorite shows all year. I felt what had been missing was finally there. There was a lot of sweat and groove. I haven't had that much fun in a while. Good job boys (and girl).

This coming Monday, on November 17, I head into the studio to record my first full length accompanied by all the previous people mentioned. There may also be some other special guests. We are finishing up the prep details: finalizing set lists, brainstorming titles, talking with our producer, Eric, about tones and scheduling, squeezing in one more practice...
Its very exciting, but Joe and I were talking today about how we are also slightly stressed.

Pray for us as we go into the studio. May God use it however He sees fit. May He be glorified by His children creating in the same (yet much smaller) way that He created.



*Photo by Jack Goodwin 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Dad, the Magician

It always lent itself to interesting events when Dad was left alone with the boys for the night. For a time, my mother sold makeup traveling around and doing private parties full of ladies in their early thirties who also left their husbands alone with the children, all of them laughing and painting their faces while fathers all over the city were simultaneously shoving arms back into socket and teaching little children how to keep a good secret. I loved these nights. I think I loved these nights because of the thrill of knowing Dad was going to think of something entertaining for us. (Also, there was a time in high school when a few buddies and I watched Night of the Living Dead, and immediately tried to hike into the woods in pitch darkness. That was a terrifying, awful moment that I loved. That’s how I loved nights alone with Dad)
There was one trick Dad had up his sleeve that could entertain me from the time my mother shut the door until the time she returned. (However, I also really like when he taught us how to wrestle professionally...not just imitating Sting...) Dad would take a single penny in his hand, and call me over to stand right next to him. He would show me the penny in his hand, and swiftly ball his fist around it. He would, then, say
“Ok, Buddy, blow on my hand.”
“phthfpf” Said I with more saliva than breath.
In a sudden movement, Dad would open his hand and the penny would have completely vanished. Now, before Dad had made the penny vanish he had asked me,
“Where do you want the penny to end up?”
I would point to the flower vase atop the mantel which hung above the fireplace, and say,
“In there!”
Once I saw his empty hand in front of my face, I would run as hard as my little legs could carry me and I would stand on my tip toes straining to see inside the vase. My brother had gotten there before me, and said,
“You want it to be in here, Taylor?”
And Chad would pull out a shiny penny and present it to me, convincing me that my dad truly was a magician. The excitement was so extreme, my superman pajamas could hardly contain me.
I cannot convey to you the feeling of mystery and excitement that rushed through me every time the penny disappeared and showed up exactly where I had requested. There in my very own living room--the room that I walked through on a daily basis, the room where we would lie around watching TV, or where I would play with trucks on the floor--in this room there was suddenly magic. In this everyday room, reality bent and the impossible became possible. To make it even more mind-blowing, it was my ol’ man! The same guy who came home every night at 5:00, ate across the dinner table from me, got upset when I talked back, called me “Bud,” This everyday guy was a freaking sorcerer! Can’t you see how amazing it was to see magic up close and be able to touch it and talk to it. Magic was a part of my life, and it was real. That is what was so special to me. Magic was reality. Reality was magic.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mercury Sable 1995-2008 R.I.P.

Three weeks ago as I was driving down Chapman Highway in Knoxville, smoke began billowing out the hood of my '95 Mercury Sable. As I drove, my efforts to accelerate by stomping on the gas pedal were met with a small voice coming from Sable. 
Sable looked up at me as we slowly lost speed, 
"Taylor, I have always loved you. Thanks for the...the...the good times." 
"Sable, why are talking like that? Stop it! Don't you die on me. YOU BETTER NOT DIE ON ME!" 
"Taylor, you have to let me go."
"What am I going to do without you."
"You'll find a way a way, Taylor. You'll find a way."
"Sable, I'm so scared... Sable? SABLE!!!!" 

And there we sat in the parking lot that I steered her into at the last minute. I held her in my arms sobbing as I shouted to the heavens, "WHYYY?"

I first met Sable in 2003 during my sophomore year. She was a gift to me from my grandfather who passed away that year and said I could have the car. I drove her back to Knoxville from Virginia, and we hit it off immediately. Sable and I went through a lot together through the next five years. 

She was once operated by three of us at once. Tyler steered. Clint worked the windshield wipers, and I pressed the gas. That's how many guys it takes to keep us alive when the driver decides it would save time to pee in a bottle as opposed to pulling over. 
She giggled as I kissed dates goodnight. 
She blushed when I told the cop I didn't know how fast I was going. 
She pressed forward from Atlanta to Knoxville when Charlie and I talked about whether or not I should return to Johnson or go to ACC. 
She was respectfully silent when I would pray to God on late night drives. 
She accepted my apologies when I broke off door handles and chunks of upholstery from loading and unloading guitars, amps, and drums. 
She sang along when I wrote some of my songs by pounding on her steering wheel and singing loudly.
She was good. She was real good. 

Well time passes and I finally reached a point where I felt like I could start seeing other cars again. I looked over a few sitting in various car lots. Eventually, it worked out that some friends of mine from Virginia found me a car at retail price: A 2003 Cavalier with 5,700 miles on it. Nothing too flashy. Just my type. 

I picked her up today, and as we drove down the highway in awkward silence she finally cleared her throat and said, 
"Sooo... my name is Cavalier." 
"Hey, Cavalier. I'm Taylor." 
"You wanna listen to some tunes?"
"How's the White Stripes?"

I think I'm in love. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lars Becomes a Man

If you haven't seen Lars and the Real Girl, you should certainly consider renting it. Now, I turned down my good friend, Betsy, for months as she incessantly demanded I watch it. However, I finally caved and rented it one night when I was home alone. The conclusion I came to is that Lars is definitely incredible. 

I know its been out for a while, so you've probably already watched it. I'm just late in getting around to talking about it. But still, I don't want to ruin it for anyone. 
I will just say that Ryan Gosling who plays Lars does an incredible job of capturing a perfectly innocent man losing his grip on reality. He finds love in strange places, and forces his older brother and sister-in-law to cope with his mental breakdown. 

There is one beautiful scene when Lars' asks his older brother, Gus, how he knew when he was a man. Gus, who is has been fed up with Lars for quite some time, finally relents and answers the question. Suddenly the two begin to see each other for who they are, and feel a love for each other that only brothers can feel. 
I think Gus nails it on the head about what it means to become a man: 

Lars Lindstrom: I was talking to Bianca, and she was saying that in her culture they have these rites of passages and rituals and cermonies, and, just all kinds of things that, when you do them, go through them, let you know that you're an adult? Doesn't that sound great?
Gus: It does.
Lars Lindstrom: How'd you know?
Gus: How'd I know what?
Lars Lindstrom: That you were a man
Gus: Ahhh. I couldn't tell ya.
Lars Lindstrom: Was it... okay, was it sex?
Gus: Um. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's uh, yeah, yeah it's kind of - it's uh - no. Well, it's kind of sex but it's not uh, you know? I don't know. I don't know. It's - uh - good question, good question.
Lars Lindstrom: Yeah, but I have to know
Gus: [dryer buzzes] Hold that thought.
Gus: [in basement] You know, you should ask Dagmar
Lars Lindstrom: I did ask Dagmar. And she said that I should ask you.
Gus: Okay, you know I can only give you my opinion.
Lars Lindstrom: That's what we want
Gus: Well, it's not like you're one thing or the other, okay? There's still a kid inside but you grow up when you decide to do right, okay, and not what's right for you, what's right for everybody, even when it hurts.
Lars Lindstrom: Okay, like what?
Gus: Like, you know, like, you don't jerk people around, you know, and you don't cheat on your woman, and you take care of your family, you know, and you admit when you're wrong, or you try to, anyways. That's all I can think of, you know - it sound like it's easy and for some reason it's not.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Let's Fight.

Our society looks so highly upon unity, acceptance, and tolerance which has, indeed, allowed us to jump mammoth hurls throughout our history. A nation that went through the horrific and aggravating events surrounding the civil rights movement, now has an African-American man running for office. In a world where men and women are shoved into the streets and murdered for their faith, we can worship freely. We are a nation in search of a perfect coexistence with those around us. 
While this "step-on-no-toes" mentality is one of the most important qualities in our nation and brings with it some great social change, I, personally (call me a heretic if you will), feel as if this is one of the most dangerous and destructive ways of thinking in our culture.

Stay with me here... 

We've become so enamored with peace, love, and happiness that now the greatest crime is to offend. 

The other day my faith came up in casual conversation with a coworker. You know, about God creating the universe and sending His son, Jesus, to die for His creation. This kind of stuff... 
My friend, who obviously did not share my way of thinking, told me that he saw a poster once with hundreds of world religions on it. In the middle of the poster was a phrase equivalent to Jesus' golden rule. He surmised that all religions hold the same golden rule, and the conversation came to a screeching halt as he simply (but kindly) stated, "Whatever works for you is good, man." 
I have decided that I would rather live in a world where those who disagree with my thinking would yell and debate to the death, because here is the key: 

If we are both disagreeing, then at least we can know one of us is right and the other is wrong. THEN, if there is an established right and wrong, there must be an absolute truth.

If we all say "whatever works for you is right" then no one is right. If 
everything is true then nothing is true. Perhaps those of us who are part 
of the church need to focus on a new point in our evangelism. Let's at 
least get people to disagree with us. At least this is a starting point.
The next time someone says to me, "Whatever works for you, man..." 
I'm going to respond,
"Ok, well, tell me at least one thing you don't agree with me on."
"Well, I don't like Christianity's view on homosexuality."
"Ok good! We can talk about that someday! But... you do disagree 
with me. So, if you disagree on something, then one of us must be right
and one must be wrong. So, NOW we can have a conversation, because 
NOW at least we're starting to seek truth." Let me live in a society where I'm in danger of a thrown stone as opposed to a culture of halted 
conversations ending in a lukewarm and tolerant shrugging of the 

I wish you would
Simply disagree
And walk away or even knock me down

As opposed to embracing me
And saying whatever flies
Then shutting your eyes

Cause I find myself
Hitting the stud in the wall
Just so I can feel
Something that's real

I don't know much but I'm amongst the wolves

And the beast from the sea
Grew his legs and climbed ashore
And he devoured you
While you held him close and cried, "More, More"

And I wept by your bones
As the tide slowly rose
And carried you away
You'll not be coming home today

I don't know much but I'm amongst the wolves

-Amongst the Wolves

* Obviously, though posting my thoughts on longing for disagreement, I do not think our 
intentions should be to get people riled up. Rather, let them know it is OK for them to 
disagree. This can still be done very lovingly.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gift Shop Girls, Patio Dwellers, and Chef Judges

There are so many new people that I want to tell you about. I could devote whole posts to each individual that I have met in the past two weeks ever since my move downtown. Its been a simultaneously fun and difficult adventure. As my first post mentioned, I don't enjoy sitting still in life, but do you ever feel as if you are learning so much and meeting so many people it seems you won't hold it all together. Its tiring. Its a great life.
Anyhow, allow me to introduce you to some characters that now play various roles in my new life:

There's my grumpy old manager, Jim, who is awesome. I've seen him rip holes through sales people, maintenance guys, and my own coworkers. If you didn't know any better, you would assume that he doesn't give a heap of crap for anyone. He's one of the most opinionated liberals I've ever met, but we've had some good talks in the mornings while I'm opening the store. He's friends with the guys down at WDVX and the Blue Plate. He found out that I play there, and the other day he got drink orders at a table for me since I was slammed. When I approached the table to take their orders, they started asking me about my music. By the time they left, I had written down my website for them. Jim had told them about my musical career. It was a little act that showed me he cares about my music, and he's proud that I am pursuing it...

Yesterday, I was the only server left on the clock from 3:00-4:00, so I had to take some orders at the bar. I don't know nothin' 'bout no bar service. So,  I was a little stressed, and yeah... I messed up an order. Everyone was super nice about it, but I reached a point after the long day, that I thought to myself, "I gotta get outta here." 
Our store, Oodles Uncorked, connects with two others stores. To the left, there is Earth to Old City, a very quaint little gift shop in Market Square. Whenever I pass by the hallway that leads to their store, I see an Indian girl at the counter. 
After my mistakes and during my stressful hour of being on the clock alone, I slipped around the corner and went in. The girl at the counter smiled and greeted me, and I said, 
"Can I just catch my breath in here."
 She responded with a friendly smile, "Sure!" 
She introduced herself as Pratishta, but people call her Prat. We didn't talk about much, but her friendliness calmed me down so I could face the last 15 minutes of my shift. When I left, she waved through the window as I rode past on my bike... 

The other night I went to World Grotto (the shop on the other side of Oodles) with my friends Mark and Delacey. Mark is currently doing contract web design work and Delacey is a belly dancer. We saw a band play that was made up 5 drums and one bagpipe player. That night I got a chance to hang out with Jens (J pronounced as a Y). Mark, Delacey, Jens, and Jens' wife Antoinette, all go to my church. Jens (Who has tattoos all over his back and just recently got baptized after living a pretty crazy life) showed up to the show, and we found ourselves on a patio table until 1:00 in the morning discussing the divinity of Christ, the inspiration of Biblical writers, and what it means to be in the world and not of it. Jens saw me at Church today and wanted to have another talk sometime. Also, he wants me to put music to some lyrics he's been working on. It was refreshing to talk to a brother about Christ whether or not we agreed on everything...

There is a cook in the back named Shawn. Now, when I first met Shawn, he introduced himself, but said he couldn't tell me his real name. Apparently, he is on the witness protection program. To this day, I don't know if he's joking or not. Regardless, I think I'll just call him Shawn. 
Ol' boy is a gigantic African-American cool-as-crap guy. Every  morning he greets me, "WHAT'S UP, T??" Sometimes I even get a "BIG T!" 
Yesterday, to keep myself sane, I presented an idea to Shawn and some of the servers, 
"You guys ever watch the Office? I think we should have an Oodles olympics." 
The servers kind of brushed all my ideas off, because most of them were potentially harmful to company property, but as I presented my idea, Shawn interrupted, 
"YEAH! You can judge Shawn. See guys, this will be awesome!" 
Stuart, one of the servers who is a super nice guy responded,
"Hey, I got an idea, how about we all just do our job." 
Although he was 50% joking and he is a great guy and all, I wanted to harm some company property on his face.
As we all stared at him a little deflated, Shawn looked down and shook his head. With a deeply sad tone, he simply said,
"Man, that's why you're not in the Olympics. You can't be in the Olympics now." 
To which I responded, "That's why I made you judge Shawn."  

There are so many more people to tell you about, and I probably will eventually. I will tell you this, though. There is a lot of stress involved after moving, changing addresses, starting new jobs, looking for a second one, trying to book shows, meeting new people, riding a bike in traffic, owning up to mistakes, living in community, attending a new church, living in a rougher part of town, trying to keep up with a downtown life, having prostitutes dropped off in front of your house, watching coworkers plan their next high...
But there are always those people who bring you little moments of sanity. At any moment Jim may go off on someone (hopefully not me), Prat may not be working, Shawn may get ticked when asked a special request on an order, and Jens and I could disagree. 
However, I sure am thankful for each of them. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Jackie and Gene

I'm sitting in my bedroom a few blocks off Magnolia Street. A block down from me there is a crack house, and this afternoon a little boy was trying to swipe our lawnmowers. (it really wasn't stealing. I'm pretty sure Matt who owns our house put them there as trash, and the little boy wanted the parts.) When he saw me, he shouted, 
"You all throwin' these away?" 
"uhh..I'm not sure man." 
"Well, it looks like ya are." 
"Yeah, I guess you could ask Matt when he gets home, buddy." 
"I can't just take 'em now?"
"Well, I mean... I want you to have 'em." 
"Can I move 'em into your yard so no junkers take 'em"
"Sure man, they can sit here, and I'll have 'em on reserve for ya." 
"k...see ya dude."
"Yeah..see ya."

So, I'm living in a much different scenario than I was a week ago sitting alone on my front porch overlooking the lake. Now I live with five other guys in the "other" part of town. Downtown. 
Well, I had heard that our neighbors were pretty cool people. I always saw them sitting on their porch drinking beer, and I heard they liked dominos a lot. About an hour ago, I saw two African-american men who looked to be in their late forties sitting on the porch, so I decided to go say hey. 
As they saw me approaching the porch, they grinned and grunted out a, "Hey dere!" They were so welcoming, I immediately knew this was gonna be a good time. 
"Hey, I just moved in next door. My name is Taylor."
"Oh! Hey hey! Just moved in! Mighty fine men o'er in dat house, o'er dere. You're wit sum mighty fine men." 
"Yeah, they're good guys." 
We shot the breeze for about twenty minutes. Gene, the owner of the house is here as result of Katrina, and Jackie is his brother. Larry, the other brother, wasn't around, but he just moved into the area as well. So, for the first time in about 17 years, all the brothers are back together. They found out that I was a musician and had some dreams and blah da blah, and were all about it. Gene is on disability, because he got hurt working at Lowes and Jackie just went through a divorce and plummeted from having everything out in California to living off food stamps and government housing. 
At one point, Jackie was smoking a cigarette he rolled with Bugle tobacco, and drinking a no-name beer when he looked at me and said...
"You know, a man cannot be judged when...when a man is on 'is plateau. When he has everthing, see. A man...a man is judged by how he acts when he 'as nuthin. When it has all been taken 'way. When dat man wake up in da mornin' and decides to make a positive impact on anotha's life, and he has nuthin' that is when a man can be judged as a good man. So, when you become a rockstar or a singer or whatever you want to be, you have to rememba when you had nuthin.' You have to decide how you are gunna treat people now. You see?" 

When I left they said I could come back over and have some chicken wings that were grilling a few feet from where we were talking. So, I think I'm going to head back over to Gene's house and eat some wings with him and Jackie. I think I could learn a lot from those dudes. 


As I clicked "Publish Post," my doorbell rang. Since I'm the only one home, I went downstairs to see Jackie sitting on the front porch holding three chicken wings wrapped in tinfoil. I opened the door and said "Thanks man!" 
He responded, "Man, these are hot as ****, you need to hold these from the top!" And we talked about him teaching me how to work on cars, if I teach him how to play music. THAT dude is a rockstar. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


My new and official website is up. Thanks Christina Gleixner for all your hard work! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Waiting for Jude

Outside the Parkwest waiting room window there lies an overcast Knoxville sky. Puddles from last night's rain lie atop the roof surrounding the exposed air ducts. I'm listening to Whiskey Town while watching a little girl play with her stroller as her family waits the outcome of their brother-in-law's heart surgery. I wait for Jude.
I went in to see Bill and Bets, and things were starting to happen. Now only family is allowed beyond the locked doors.

Betsy was one of the first people I ever met at Johnson Bible College when I attended there. She was so funny and made me feel welcomed. Two nights ago Bill and I were playing home run derby with wiffle balls and a bat. That night I slept on their couch for the second time in a week. This was one of many times they have taken me in and given me food, a bed, and access to a warm shower. My favorite times with them are when I have my head down on the table laughing so hard that I start to panic from lack of breath, and Bill has to wipe tears away.
I've sat snug in restaurant booths talking with Bill about theology or books. I've worked in an office with Betsy where we would hoard slushies from the office slushie maker. I've sat with them watching TV, and they make me look at Harley (their pug) every ten minutes, because they love her more than life itself. On numerous occasions Bill has said that he wants to die before Harley, because he wouldn't be able to stand the loss.
I've played shows with Bill, eaten chinese with Betsy, had sushi for the first time with both of them, gone to the movies, to coffeeshops, bookstores, or simply picked up dinner at Wal-mart. They are two of my dearest friends in all the world. They are for me and my dreams, and I feel the same for them.

Everything we have known thus far changes today. I have watched many of my friends making their families this past year. I wrote a song for my brother's wedding, sang in some of my friends' ceremonies, rented more tuxes than I can count, and felt lumps in my throat as my boys' brides walked down the aisle towards them. I've played with old roommates toddlers, and now I am waiting for Jude.
It's all changing, and we enter into the new phase. I'm in the waiting room. I'm waiting for updates and the final outcome. I'm waiting to be an honorary uncle. I'm waiting for my friendships to deepen as their own lives deepen. Bill is going to hold in his arms his new baby boy, and he is going to realize that his whole life has a new meaning. Betsy is going to give birth to a new soul, and hold in her a new kind of love that she has never felt before. And I will be here for them in whatever way I can with my stumbling, awkward words and whatever else I can offer.

We've all come a long way from video games, late night runs to taco bell, procrastinating on papers, laughing in class, and playing homerun derby.
Now I don't just play with my friends. I get to play with Jude.

We are all changing, and its beautiful. My friends, here's to your families. Have fun, and I'm here for you. It hurts to say goodbye to the careless days. Its a joy to say hello to your new lives as spouses and parents.

Hey Jude. Here's to you.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Silence of Adam

I just finished reading The Silence of Adam by Larry Crabb. After I finished it, I picked myself up off the floor and wiped the blood from my mouth. I shouted, "Larry! Take it easy, man!" Then I limped off. I've been pissed at Larry all week. 

Gosh... it is SO good. I know the cover screams mid-late 90's, and its by Larry Crabb who isn't in a Nooma or anything. Even so, this book has worked me over. I want to say its changed my life, but I reckon I can't say that too prematurely. I suppose it has simply turned my thinking upside down and caused me to realize that I am at the very beginning of a long, dark journey towards becoming a man. 

I always have people say to me, "You sure do act older than 23." (I actually just turned 24, but no one has said "You sure act older than 24." Maybe, I finally caught up.) However, I have realized that I have been covered by the grand facade. I'm so far from being a MAN, and if you think that its easy to announce that to all of cyberworld, you're wrong. 

Here's the main idea of the book. Crabb writes about Eve being tempted by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. There's this whole conversation with back and forth dialogue. Eve resists, but the cunning serpent strikes into her soul as she gives into her desire to be equal to God. 
Now, when I was 4 I heard this story and male chauvinism already started to fester:

"That shtupid girl took that apple to adam, and and and he was fishiiin' and and she made him think that it was good and shtuff and he ate iiiiit and and and then he wealized that she could see his pwivates." 

But Crabb illuminates the truth of the passage. If you look again, the text says that she turned and offered some to her husband who was with her! Adam new that the fruit would lead to death. The Bible says that God told ADAM not to eat from the tree. If he had been a man, he would've spoken up and chased the stupid snake away (By the way, I think this is why boys still like to kill snakes. We're trying to make up for what we should've done a long time ago. This is also why we go and tell girls the stories afterwards.) Adam should have defended Eve. Since then, men have struggled with the silence of Adam. 

See, God spoke beauty and order into creation. In the beginning He hovered over the waters in a formless and void expanse of nothingness. When he SPOKE there was 1) beauty and 2) order. If men were created in His image, then our primary responsibility is to speak beauty and order into a dark and chaotic world. 

My friends, look... if ya got a wife and/or a kid, please read this book. It's incredible. 

But get ready to feel like Larry Crabb just kicked ya in the pwivates. 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

To be Man is to Speak Into the Dark

I Use to See What Needed to be Done

Here's Lookin' at You, Kid

The Vision of Men

And the Square Became Market Square

Human Knot

I Will be ok

Monday, August 11, 2008

A New Camera, Waterdeep, Therapy

So, life has been crazy for me. This is my official announcement to cyberspace world that I have resigned from my ministry at the Christian Church of Loudon County. It has been an amazing experience to serve as their full-time youth minister, but the time has come for me to see what I can do with my music. 
Also, I have decided to live with some guys in downtown Knoxville (or...I guess about two miles from downtown technically), and today I went around applying for a new job at restaurants and coffee shops. If ya think about it, say a little prayer for me with getting the job God wants me to get.
It has been amazing for me to see how God has answered so many prayers, and blessed me in so many ways. The church has been so loving, my kids have been supportive, the guys have been great to let me live with them, connections have been made, the website is almost ready and shows are coming up. Specific prayers have been answered. Beautiful. 

However, life has been busy, and I've been tired. Also, there has been a lot of stuff to learn lately, and a few tears  may have dropped. But, I just recently got a new camera, and made a weird video. The video I've posted, is just an experiment. There are some kinda funny/weird stuff, but it has been my therapy over the past few days. I've gone on some walks and listened to some good tunes. Its been a beautiful weekend, and I needed this. I hope you enjoy my therapy sessions. (featuring Heart Attack Time Machine by Waterdeep, and a handful of these pics were taken by some dear friends.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Blue Plate Special

This past Monday, Bill and I got the opportunity to play at WDVX's Blue Plate Special. We had a great time. Below is a video of us playing a song from my demo entitled, "The Heroine of 1973." I'll post more later. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Sound of Healing

"Rapha" is the Hebrew word for healing.

Across the ocean there are thousands of young girls who are being robbed from their homes and thrust into the hell holes we call brothels. Recently, I watched a film entitled "Baht" produced by CIY. It documented one Cambodian girl's journey from a happy home and pretend tea parties to the rape and violence of a local brothel. She was tricked by a woman who offered her a job as a waitress, but, instead, kidnapped her and forced her to be a sex slave. The film was very well done, and you should look into buying it when they make it available online. However, beyond the cinematography, I heard the most heart-wrenching story I've ever been told. I cannot imagine anything...anything...more hellish than being sexually oppressed such as the thousands of girls who are crying out with no one rushing to help. 

I have read that many of the girls in this situation are raped up to 60 times per week. 

As awful as that is. Read it again. 

What are we doing to each other? What has happened to us? 

As I heard the story, I thought about what I should do. What can I do in Knoxville, TN to stop sexual abuse and sex trafficking across the globe? 
So, I am asking, if you know any way to respond to these atrocities, lets start brainstorming. What can we do to stop the injustice? God has been doing different things in my heart and mind, and I am trying to seek Him out. Does He want me to act against this? How? 

I found an organization in Cambodia who is providing a safe house for rescued victims. They are called the Rapha House. They give the girls an education so they can re-enter society with a greater chance of resisting the brothels and obtaining a true occupation. Also, they teach these girls about the hope, the healing, the rapha of Jesus Christ. I read this letter from one of the directors and it broke my heart yet filled me with a sense that we can be healed. Each of us can be healed. If girls who are sexually abused as young as 4 years of age can find hope, Then there is still truly rapha in the world today. Here is the letter: 

Fall, 2007

Dear Christian Friends;
It has been said that children who have been severely abused forget how to play. They forget how to be a child. The girls at Rapha House certainly fall into the category of severely abused children.

Recently, a partner church, Indian Creek Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, decided to sponsor a swim party for the Rapha House girls. A new pair of shorts and a new t shirt was provided for each girl to swim in, and beach balls and water wings were introduced for the first time.

I stood in the searing heat and watched the girls play and scream with laughter. It sounded like heaven to me. I watched two sisters, who were sold and rescued together from the same brothel, have a very long and loud splash fight. I watched as four of the littlest girls linked arms again and again and fell laughing into the shallowest end of the pool. This is what healing sounds like. It sounds like the laughter of children.

There was a time, in the not so distant past, when there was no laughter in the lives of these girls. Today, they have a safe place to live. For the little ones, it is an opportunity to have the childhood which Satan tried to rob them of. For the older girls, it is an opportunity to plan for their futures. For all of them, it is an opportunity to know Christ who is their only hope. I cannot thank you enough for making this possible for the Rapha House girls. Thank you for meeting their physical needs, and for allowing them to remember how to play.

Blessings to you!
Stephanie G. Freed

Friends, we are called to set captives free. Let's at least start thinking and talking about how to save these prisoners. 

Right now... a girl is wishing we would rescue her. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Part 2

In my last post I spoke about the balance between doing acts of service without an agenda and proclaiming the name of Jesus. Do we have to proclaim His name every time we do a good deed? Does Luther's phrase about proclaiming the Gospel and if necessary using words truly make sense? 

A few of my friends commented, and I figured I would respond with a second post. 

First off, I agree with everyone that commented. There may be points that I could disagree, but over all I see where everyone is coming from. 

Jacob said that we need to be careful not to replace the name of Christ with the name of  "my church" or the name of "myself." I agree with this. In order to combat the mistakes past generations have made, we are trying to win the world's trust back by not cramming the message down their throats. (I will wash your feet because they are dirty, not because I want you to join a committee at my church). 
However, I simply feel that in our generation we are being so reactionary that we are swinging with the pendulum. We are overcompensating. See, we are embarrassed by the Church, because the Church has a history of making some foolish mistakes. We aren't ashamed of Christ, but proclaiming Him throws us into the same category as people who hold "God Hates Fags" signs. 
Here's the rub. We belong to Christ and we belong to each other. So, we proclaim him, and we can apologize for the Church's wrong actions. However, we can't shy away from the message. Let's not gain trust by never letting people know who we belong to. 

Bill said (and he was mainly playing devil's advocate). What if people outside our faith who are doing good deeds are proclaiming the Gospel in some weird way. The Gospel story is unfolding even through the actions of nonbelievers. I like this concept of each of us having a "God-Shaped Hole." Since we were all created in His image, we can't help but carry out His actions. 
But, by and large I don't put too much stock in that (even though it may be a beautiful truth). God's will may be unfolding through their actions, but there is an old example of seeing dead bodies in a stream. We could try and fish every one out, or go upstream and tell them to stop jumping in. 
I think it is good that people are being helped by Christians and Non-Christians alike. However, true freedom comes when we can transcend every trial because of hope in Christ. Transcendence doesn't come just from being helped, but it happens when life crumbles and we remain hopeful. People need to hear the name of Christ in order to obtain a hope like that. We can only build so many houses (praise the Lord for the houses we DO get built!), but we have hope that can burn in the homeless. This can only be passed along through proclamation. 

I liked what Betsy said...
It should seep out of us. If we are truly in tune with Christ, we will strike the perfect balance between service and proclamation. Really, that is the key. 
When I am in love, I have to tell people I am in love. I'm a dork like that. 
When I write a song, I want people to hear it. 
I write this blog hoping you'll read it. 
I feel close to Jesus. I want people to know it. 

Michael, great point, dude. 
We bide our time and build true, authentic relationships before we start handing out tracks and "test-a-mints." We become friends with people, because we love people. Not... "Hey, I'm Taylor. Good to meet you. Let's hang out. Repent of your sins. Hell is calling your name." 
But, I'm glad you finished your comment by saying, we should never shy away from it. 

I know all this sounds like we're getting caught up in details that are pointless. But I don't think so. Guys, our generation is doing a really good job with service, but we suck at proclamation. We need to be saying the name of Jesus. 

If we acknowledge Him before men, He will acknowledge us before His Father in Heaven...
Go and make Disciples of all nations, teaching them... 

We are doing great at being the hands of Christ. Praise God. 
We need to start being the mouth. 

Friday, June 6, 2008

In the Name of JESUS or In the Name of.....(jesus)

Bill and I were having a conversation the other day about evangelism and bringing the Kingdom of God down to earth. Now, if you don't consider yourself part of the Christian faith and you are reading this, you are going to think this is a ridiculous conversation. I may agree with you. But bear with us as we try to figure out what exactly it means to live for Jesus.

I suppose there are two sides you can fall on.

The first stating that acts of service do not have to be accompanied with proclaiming the name of Jesus. If someone is hurting, we help them, and God is pleased. Enough said. Done. Period. The things I like about this are we eliminate the "system and method" of evangelizing and get back to loving people. We don't see human souls as notches in our spiritual belt. We help them, because they need help. We simply, "love our neighbor as ourselves." In the words of an old friend, "Done and done." 

On the other side, we simply add that every good deed should be carried out under "the label" of Jesus Christ. We help the homeless or give someone a bed to sleep on, but we must do so in the name of Christ. In other words, somewhere in there we need to actually mention Jesus. Now, my generation has shied away from this approach, because (as in most things we do) we are reacting to the system of previous generations. We don't want to cram the Bible down anyone's throat, so we are trying to prove to society that we care. We are regaining the world's trust after decades of fire and brimstone. 
But, I have to say, I still can't dismiss this second model. Here's why...

We aren't the only ones doing good stuff! 

It's not like being a Christian suddenly turns you into the only person in the world serving others. There are a lot...a whole lot... of non-Christian organizations doing some really good stuff. Now, I think the Church should affirm them and join with them--not cross our arms and say, "THAT'S MY JOB!" 

But follow me here. In the past several years, we have returned to evangelism and outreach in being the main effort to grow the church, as opposed to big productions and shredding guitar solos. Hurray for us. But, if service is what we are using to show the world..."Look! See, we are Christians, and CHRISTIANS do GOOD things." Well, so do politicians. Somebody told me the other day that Jay-Z just built a well in Africa or someplace. 

So, what separates our service from the world's? The name of Jesus. He says that we will be blessed even if we "offer a cup of cold water," and he makes sure to include, "in My name." So, somewhere amidst the good deeds, do we need to return to some good-ol-fashion preachin'? Do we need to say, "Jesus loves you?" And what are the cons to proclaiming Jesus amidst the service? 

Now, I'm up for people disagreeing with me, because I think God is up in Heaven wishing I would turn my computer off and just go help somebody regardless. This isn't a salvation issue. 

But here, then I'm done. For the sake of conversation, this is my question:

Are we headed down a dangerous, non-fruit-bearing road by serving without proclaiming Christ. Or, are we doing good by regaining the world's trust by selfless deeds with no agenda attached?

Done and done. 

Friday, May 30, 2008

Doubting Thomas

I read John chapter 20 today. I think it may be one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture. We've heard the Resurrection story before, but I love how John records it. Seeing that he actually walked through every step, there is a very personal feel to his account.
Mary Magdalene goes to the grave while it is still dark outside. She couldn't sleep. She couldn't rest. Her soul was filled with the grief of losing the one man who loved her for who she was and not for his own personal gain. As she comes to the grave, however, the stone is rolled away. Without examining it any closer, she runs through the dark to where the disciples are staying. Her pounding wakes them up and she screams into the room,
"They have taken Him! He's not there!"
At this point the sun is just beginning to rise and John, "The Disciple Jesus Loved," immediately takes off through the door past Mary, followed by Peter. These are the two who were on the inside circle. Jesus' best friends. Their very lives had been transformed by this man.
Have you ever run towards something with dread in your heart? Have you ever seen a loved one injured and ran to them? Have you ever gotten bad news and had to drive a long distance to get to those you love? You understand the feeling of not being able to move fast enough, but your fear is the very thing that pushes your feet.
John beats Peter to the tomb, but freezes. He's not ready to accept whatever is in the open grave, but Peter plows on ahead. (Peter always was the one to plow into every situation. Cutting off ears, Rebuking Jesus, Trying to present good ideas that Jesus had to shoot down...)
Peter finds the grave clothes folded neatly and John peers in to see the sight. They leave bewildered.
Mary remains sobbing at the grave.
Moments later, after Peter and John, arrive back at the disciples' house, however, Mary bursts into the room. 
"He's there! I've seen Him! I have seen the Lord!"
The disciples stare at her with their mouths half open not sure whether to believe her or to call for help.
They hesitantly say, "That's great, Mary," and look at each other with eyes full of confusion, hope, grief, and anxiety. What is happening?

We know that Jesus later appears to the disciples, and tells them that He is sending them to do a great work. I can only imagine how hard they sobbed as Jesus tried to convey the importance of their mission. Mary rejoices that her friends have seen Him as well, and they laugh and cry together. Jesus is alive!

However, there is one that still has yet to see Jesus. Thomas.

Thomas is out taking care of business when the disciples tearfully experience Jesus' appearance. When we read this passage, we shake our heads at Thomas, and the poor guy gets the title "Doubting Thomas" for the rest of human history. But my heart breaks for Thomas. I understand him.
Thomas comes in and hangs his coat up on the rack and is immediately thrown into a corner by the disciples. All of them are talking at once. Peter is screaming, "Thomas! Mary was right!" James is sobbing and holding onto Thomas' shoulders. Andrew is trying to describe that Jesus is sending them on a mission. "We have a responsibility! We need to get started Thomas!" Matthew, has his hand on Thomas right shoulder with his other in the air, "Jesus lives! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!"

Finally Thomas screams "Enough!" and breaks through the group, stumbling to get free. Thomas' mind is racing with a thousand theories as to what is going on. His mind is filled with thoughts that would later be turned into books and sold in stores to refute the resurrection. "My friends are under too much stress to realize what is going. They are imagining things. They are wanting me to join in on some conspiracy."
However, his heart is full of hope. He longs to see Jesus. His heart aches to be able to rejoice with them. You see, while they have been sitting together in the house mourning and allowing the truth to sink in, he has been running errands. It has hurt too much for him to stop and think about Jesus being gone. He can't handle the pain, and now they want Him to rejoice?
I can see the tears collect in his eyes, perhaps for the first time since Jesus' death. He can't hold it in anymore. He's trembling, and he's talking through grit teeth.
"Look," he says with a shaky voice, "Unless I see the holes in his flesh where the nails were rammed through. Unless I see the hole in his side where they ran a spear through his rib cage, I will not believe. In case you forgot, Jesus was brutally tortured then murdered. We could not even recognize the man, because he was so beaten. Boys, I can't do this. It hurts to much to lose him once. I can't handle this false hope! Because you know what, you all are going to wake up in the morning after this little rush of excitement and realize the MAN IS STILL DEAD! And then it will hurt even worse than if you simply accepted it now. No...I will not believe."

A week passes. Thomas withdraws even deeper into himself. He hates the Romans for killing Jesus. He hates the Jews for accusing Jesus. He hates his friends for being so weak-minded. And his anger begins to boil at Jesus, Himself.
"How could he tell us that He is a Messiah. Why didn't He save Himself?"

As the disciples sit in the awkward silence that has plagued them for the pass week, the moment is broken with a gasp from John. He's looking past all of them just over their heads. The disciples lean in, "John?" and they turn to see where he is looking.

There stands Jesus.

The disciples begin to weep all over again, and Jesus walks forward. They part and let Him walk through, until Jesus is standing facing Thomas, who has his face down to the ground and is weeping uncontrollably. Jesus picks up Thomas' hand and lets him feel the wounds in his hands and side.

"Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas says to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

Then Jesus tells him, "Because you have seen Me, you have believed; but blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

I love this. I love how the Bible writers don't shy away from the fact that this is crazy stuff. This is hard to swallow. John says several times that he is writing this, so we can believe. I love that Thomas had eyewitnesses screaming in his face, and he still didn't believe. I love that it is understood: belief is hard. But blessed are those who believe and have not seen.

I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Vivian Brooown, I Hear Ya!

I just got back from Puerto Rico on Saturday evening. My heart hurts. I'll probably talk more about it later, but I thought I'd share a little video from my travels.

Brian Smith is one of my friends and a missionary down there. He has called me "Taylor's Brown" for the past 5 years. It's kind of gross, but I laugh every time.
Also, in this video is a little girl named Vivian. I love her to death, and I miss her about more than anyone else down there. ya go...

Oh..and I also love Brian's response to Vivian at the very end.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


On May 8, Bill and I played at Manhattans in Old City, Knoxville. It went really well, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The staff at Manhattans is a super-friendly bunch, and as we walked through the joint to set up, I felt like I was on the set of Cheers. I feel like I was at the place where “Everybody knows your name.” Except no one really knew my name.
Also, we had some great people show up. Several of my dear friends came out (big thanks to them), and a few others lingered around. One couple came in who were in their 40’s, and we had one constant conversation throughout the night. They called Bill “Tambourine Guy” and had us sign their demos, which Bill signed with his new nickname. Another lady was from the Metro Pulse, and talked about putting my CD online.
So, all in all, it was a good night. A few kinks to wrinkle out, but nothing major. Good times.

Monday, May 5, 2008

"I am the Life..."

I like to sin. I really do. Sometimes I go out of my way to sin, and many times I try my hardest to resist but end in an eventual cave. There are sins in my life that are like a dear, old friend or a warm blanket. As I struggle to understand God and His grace, I so often paint a picture in my mind of the red-face, arms crossed, screaming, toe tapping, God. So, when I wrongfully try to serve and follow this God, I will run back home to my sin without fail. Sin takes me as I am. Sin allows me to be myself but also be in control. Sin is a good friend. 
I have been wrestling with all this like Jacob wrestled with the angel. There have been seasons in my life where self-righteousness sets in as I successfully overcome sin and become the obedient child I am meant to be. However, recently, I have realized that most of my life has been driven by guilt or by the need to be seen a certain way. Once I strip those motivations out of my soul, I am left asking, "Why obey?" If God really is love, and loves me unconditionally--If I truly am free from sin--then why beat myself up so much. Giving in here and there can't actually kill me. 
Some of my best friends can simply say, "Sin makes me feel empty. Sin hurts my walk with God. I'll stay away from that." 
I think I pull against the reigns a little more. I love God dearly, but I want to know why I can't sin. I'm the kid who always said,"How come?" when I was told to do something by parents and teachers. 
Recently, I have been trying to find the reasons not to sin. I mean, after all, sin is fun. I want to know why I need to come in and stop playing. 

I sat by the lake the other day and hashed it out with God. Based on His Word and His nature, I think I have finally gotten to the right motivation against sin. (I say the right motivation...I'm not saying that I've received the ability to perfectly resist) 

There is a system that we must follow. My generation focuses so much on the relational aspects of the Creator that we cringe whenever we hear of systems or methods in relating to Jesus. I have finally admitted, however, that there is a system to God, but it is a beautiful system.

God makes life. God is life. God promotes life. God works towards and rejuvenates and God has created the world to be a system of life. Man and Woman were created and told to reproduce. Cain was banished and roamed the world with a mark on his head when he violated this system by murdering his brother. All through the Bible, God's main work boils down to producing life and sometimes this is physical as well as spiritual (or even emotional).

I have started to realize that any sin, and I mean any sin, that I struggle with goes against this system of life. Here's one example: 

Sometimes I struggle with bitterness (I don't know WHY. I have had a great life...really...but when things don't go my way, I guess I get pouty.) This feels so innocent--to be hardened over some legitimately tough stuff. (But not really tough compared to what others have been dealt) When I took a good look at what was happening to my soul, though, I found that I had let bitterness in to where sunsets and spring faded like an old photograph. Relationships became burdens or weighed options. The quality of life grew dim. 

What sin is hindering this quality of your life (or even threatening your physical life)? Lust: Sex was meant to lead to life. When we lust, we are merely taking without producing physical life, or without showing love and bettering ones life. Language: We tear each other down, we get angry, and we put each other in confinements and cages through our speech. We cramp their life. Jealousy: We find no enjoyment in the hand we've been dealt so we never play. We wait until we get what other's have and life never happens. 

Life is now. 

"'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.' 
Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.'
Martha answered, 'I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.'
Jesus said to her. 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'"

John 11:21-27

Saturday, May 3, 2008

No Mechanic

Well I'm no mechanic and I am no engineer
I left the leak on the floor
I am no father; I'm barely a brother
I need to call my friends more
So here I go again just like when I was nineteen
Here I go again grittin' my teeth in my sleep

Well, I've been good before; I've been bad more
I know the right words to say and where
My tongue is split in two long with my soul too
No one knows, so they don't care
I'm learning what it means to breathe on my own
I'm learning what it means to leave my home

Oh, dear brother, when I die come over 
And clean my closet out
So our dear mother won't see my dead bodies
And figure her darling out
I keep feeling like the gig is up
Like some sweet soul's watching with tears in their cup 

To every goodnight kiss
And every friend I dearly miss
Here's the truth of it all

I don't know 
Myself at all I can barely stand tall
I keep losing
Myself I'm so thankful; yeah oh so grateful 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Taught Myself How to Grow

Ok, I didn't teach myself how to grow. I had family and friends and teachers who invested in me and sharpened me. However, there is truth in this song for all of us. There's this awkwardness about being in the "Young Adult" stage. You call the shots and make the moves. No one...No one is there to tell you that you're doing it right or wrong. I think the twenties should be called "Jr. High Revisited," because we have to figure out who we are all over again. 

So I'm thankful for all the people who helped prepare me for adulthood. But for now...sing it to me, Ryan.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Well, Not Really

After having sat next to me at Church, a lecture, or a concert, I've had a number of people tell me throughout my life:
"Taylor, you're great and all, but I kind of hate sitting next to you." 
Some are less obvious and disguise their annoyance by simply stating through gritted teeth, 
"Wooww...You sure do move around A LOT!" 
One of my friends said this same thing to me a few weeks ago at Church, and I responded politely laughing, "Oh, I know! I'm just antsy!" 
"So you never really sit still at all?" She asked
"No not really," Said I smiling.
To which she very seriously replied, "Oh, that's sad."
*coughing and a moment of eye contact as my smile fades
"Oh, I didn't know I had anything to be sad about...til now," I stated flatly, "Crap."

No, I'm not good at sitting still (I say "I'm not good at it," as if it is some talent all good boys work hard to develop somewhere between t-ball and spitting off rooftops.) 
Look, I have to move around, ok?
First of all, I have a bad back, which my friends use to make fun of me for, because at 18 I was taking a pillow to the library. Those harsh chairs were just torture for my poor, aching back. They called me an "old man." Which boosted the ol' self-esteem by leaps and bounds.
"HAHA...YOU'RE LIKE A...LIKE A...LIKE AN OLD MAN...A REALLY LITTLE OLD MAN!" Thanks, the chicks are gonna dig it. 
But its really hard for me to sit still, because my spine starts to ache which shoots up into my shoulders and down into my legs. I gotta keep the muscles moving.
Secondly, I only have about a thousand nervous ticks. For instance, I don't like any part of my body to be flat on any piece of furniture or the floor. I hate to put my feet flat on the floor, my hand flat on an arm wrest, my butt flat on a chair, or my back flat on the bed. 
(Yep, Taylor's kind of different) 
It's just a weird tick I have like people who cry when they see butterflies or rubber bands. Whatever the reason, I don't enjoy sitting still, so I don't. If you tell me to sit still, I'll try. Probably what will happen, however, is the nervous energy will build up and I'll start screaming and bleeding from the eyes. This really interrupts the sermon. 

So, my blog is called "Sitting Still." Therefore, for my first post I would like to say that the title of my blog is in fact...

A load of crap.

There are some negatives to not being able to sit still:
You get distracted
You never really listen
You get tired easily
You are uncomfortable which leads to being unsatisfied
All these are reason TO sit still.

However, I don't think I would change this part of me (There are about 100 other things I would I would have my beard and hair be the same color). But I see too many people "sitting still" all around me. There are too many people resigning themselves to the sitting position and remaining there until the moss begins to grow. I see people being told what to believe and mimicking it at home. However, this doesn't amount to much because they aren't all that active in living out what they believe. I see too many people without a dream simply earning the buck so they can enjoy their time...sitting still. 
I believe that we were intended to bleed out an energy that causes us to achieve the impossible and sail to the moon. I believe that we were meant to move about creation freely and feel the wind in our hair and eyes. We are made to move and to accomplish. We are made to move and experience. We are made to move and fall. We are made to move and soar. 

Don't tell me to sit still! I can't handle it. If you want to come over and dance or run lets do it. But, please don't tell me to sit still!

Oh, but could you move over a little bit...I kind of need to tilt your direction, because I don't like sitting flat. Yeah, now that really is annoying. I agree.