Well, I hope I haven't forgotten too much to do this day justice. I have been busy this week, so making time to put together a thoughtful blog has been hard. I think this accurately describes my condition. In actuality, I have been REALLY waiting for the notes of Randy Elrod's talk on Empathy. Anyone got them? I did order the DVD so hopefully that will come soon. However, I felt the need to just share about this with you all, sooner than later...before everyone forgot about Recreate 11. If that is even possible.
The day started off with an interview with Ed Kowalczyk, of LIVE. Randy Elrod did a fantastic job of interviewing Ed. I was taken back by Ed's honesty, and accessibility to us recreators. Thankful in fact. All week long, Ed (this stadium packing rock star) hung out with us. Later at night of Day 3 we all gathered in the lobby of our hotel and hung out due to the massive amounts of snow that dropped on Nashville. Ed was there. Just chilling out. I snapped this picture, trying to be discrete. I sure didn't want everyone in the room to know how geeked out I really was.
But...back up, because earlier that day I had my world rock, once again. Randy Elrod spoke to us creatives from a position of, "I get you", "I have been there", "I know that it's not easy", "but this is a safe place for you". Well, he had me at hello.
Randy asked the question: Who are we? Who are you? Really?
Are we flesh that are spiritual beings? Or, are we spiritual beings that are flesh? Or is it both?
At the time, we were asked to write down 1 word that described us. I shifted around, struggling to find that one word. Because for me, I don't think I can boil it down to one word. I have my hands in everything...ministry, fatherhood, worship, music, triathlon...what is that 1 word.
Then, I remembered something I recently read. It was in my Pastor's dissertation on Folleadership. The act of following Christ first, then leading from there. I read in there that very few people in leadership will describe themselves as "follower". For me, that's what I want people to see in me. I am a follower of Christ. First and foremost. So...that was my 1 word.
Randy went on to describe a few foundation aspects of a creative. The first of which was empathy. It was during this talk that Randy started really "ping-ing" me. Pinging...like what IT troubleshooters do to see if they can "see" your device through a network. He "pinged" me, like no one has ever pinged me before. I found out I was a "Compassionate Creative". It really helped me answer a question I had about myself. "Why could I not sing this song? "
"Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain. Knowing what you're going through, and feeling the same. Just like my Father's eyes'." This lyric was on the screen during Randy's talk. This really explains my heart. When it all get's too much for me...I guess that's when I break down. For me, I process this kinda stuff through writing music. Someone asked me, "why are your band photos so depressing looking?". My answer, "have you listened to our music?".
It's not that our music is so depressing, it's just I am not apt to write music/lyrics when life is peachy. Can anyone relate? I know most of you recreators can. We are cut from the same cloth. Part of the same tribe.
Anyways. The day went on. We met with our breakout groups, and had a wonderful discussion time. Great lunch, then Ken Davis. Ken's talk was challenging, moving, and transforming for me.
"Love = Pain. Living = Pain." But we must live, and live fully.
"Do what you do to LIVE, not for a LIVING."
"The opposite of discipline is death". "Fail quickly, get it over with". "Courage is not the absence of fear, it's moving forward in the face of fear". Ken describe a few episodes in his own life, about how he realized that to live, meant enduring hardship and pain, but that the journey forward would be full of amazing gifts, and beautiful experiences.
As artists, and creatives. We know this. But after unpacking Randy's talk on "feeling that leads to doing" - compassionate empathy, and realizing that we are going to feel hurt and pain in this world, hearing Ken's talk created a little tension in me.
I was thinking..."so, can I just insulate myself from the pain and darkness in this life, so that I don't feel so deeply?" Ken answered this question with a resounding "NO".
I love to live life fully alive, fully awake. I love experiences, more than physical gifts (although those are quite nice). I live spontaneously, and I am really grateful for that. I need to keep doing that, it's how I live fully alive.
So...lot's of soul searching during day 3. Then, in the evening because of all the snow in Nahsville (as I mentioned before) we really got a chance to visit with one another and get to know each other in a deeper way. I loved closing down the night like this. Had a great time with Rich Kirkpatrick, Joe Day, and Chuck Harris, Joel Bowden, Phillip Rodgers, and Orhan Celebi. Playing tunes, and just hanging out. The end of day 3.
I woke up early on day 2 for I had heard so much about Meridees, and was pretty stoked about experiencing it for myself. Wow...what a great vibe for a breakfast place, right in downtown Franklin. I can picture my group of guys hanging out there for fellowship and pancakes. Alas, the Public House will have to do. PCPN-Post Church Pint Night. You can find me there most Wednesday nights with my good friends.
Back to Re:Create.
Several things struck me about Tuesday, the first of which was the fiery and vivacious Patsy Clairmont. Whoa.
Mrs. Patsy had so much truth and conviction in her talk. My key takeaways:
1 - We must be committed to the journey of sanctification in our lives. What I mean is this. When you picture the best you, that you can picture...when you are operating in your giftedness, and know that you are doing what God has called you to; and then picture the worst you, that you can picture. This was not hard for me for I am keenly aware of my depravity. But the great CHASM that exists between these two mental pictures. THIS IS MY JOURNEY. This is what I am called to. To be committed to that journey. She put it so eloquently. I am not sure I did any justice to it.
2 - We must have a pool of peeps to speak truth into our lives. I have invited Vanessa to do this for me. But I need others. The hard part about this is pushing against my natural desire to defend myself. This is a wonderful exercise and really helps me to grow in so many ways. We all have blind spots. Other people see them. Will you be brave enough to ask them to point them out? It's risky. But therein is the crux of living. "Mercy and Redemption - That's God's business." Open up and let Him work.
I love what she said. "Above all, trust in the slow work of God." Such truth, and such opposition it stands to the instant gratification culture that we are immersed in. The slow work. Eugene Peterson wrote a book that I read called "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction". Much of the same message. And I need this reminder daily. The slow work of God.
After lunch Thomas Nelson publishers surprised us with free stuff!! Plus an interview with Andrew Kalavan, Joel Miller, and David Teems; three authors on their roster. Patsy Clairmont did a wonderful job with the interview.
What came next was something that took me by total surprise, brought me back to my childhood, and was profoundly moving in my life. My family did a stint in the Catholic church for about 3 years in Elementary School, so I vaguely remember liturgical services. I had never, never, never experienced a service like this. Pastor Dan led us in the Eucharist, a 1 hour service of response, reflection and communion. I love intinction style communion because of the personal nature of it. My name is John: The body, and the blood for you John. Powerful.
Next up 1211 blew us away with an amazing worship set. I loved seeing them as they worshipped, watching their faces as they created together, this gift for God. It was inclusive; we sat right next to them. And actually took part in this gift of worship.
Funny, I have never seen a worship band led by the drummer. Ramy did a wonderful job with this group of musicians and as I got to know him and people on his team, he no doubt has the heart of a Pastor. What an honor to get to know him and his crew.
55 South Chicken and Sausage gumbo for lunch that day by the way, and OH. MY. So good.
Tuesday night, was one for the record books. Live, the band, for the most part, rocked re:create.
Ed Kowalczyk, now a professing Christian, sang the oldies, and many off his new record, aptly named "Alive". "Selling the Drama"...yes. "I Alone"...yes. "Lightning Crashes"...yes.
After the show, us music snobs gathered outside the venue and recanted all of our musical memories from the 90's. Live had a big part in my musical upbringing.
Randy...great choice. Thank you for spoiling us re:creators and for building into us and opening up the conference with a fantastic first full day. By this time of the conference, I had begun to make plans for 2012, and already began to feel sad about leaving Franklin. The day would come, and I'd be back in my normal surroundings, would anything be different?
Knots in my stomach as we approached the airport in Houston. Would these people get me? Would I fit in? Was I going to make a fool out of myself? (I assumed the answer was "yes" given who I am) Would I make any real connections, and would this trip prove worthy? I was pretty sure it was going to be a last minute run through the airport, as well. Luckily, and unluckily, my flight was delayed. I was flying standbye, with my guitar so overhead space was going to be limited by the time I got on board. Luckily, I found space and after a 1.5 hour delay I was on the way. We landed in snowy Nashville around 4:30 (the beginning of re:create was a mixer that went from 4-6) I took a cab and got to the hotel around 5:30pm. The room was buzzing with people everywhere. I knew only 1 person and hadn't spotted him yet. And...I am an introvert. Not really good at meeting new people, and it seemed that most of these people already knew one another. Not good for me. Add to that, I left my phone in the cab and he was long gone.
By this time, I was a wreck. Stressed from the travel, from losing my phone, and being forced to mix it up with all these new people. Thankfully, I saw @Chuckazooloo, and he showed me around. Really, he showed me around/drove me around and introduced me all week.
Thank you Chuck. (Here he is) You are so selfless, and a great friend.
I met some new folks, we chatted a bit, and then headed to Clearview Baptist in Franklin, TN where Word (The Record Label) was hosting us that night.
Up first. Amazing food. See, Randy Elrod is passionate about food. I already liked him. Little did I know, this week would include wonderful food for every meal. We ate some delectable Mexican food, and homemade popsicles. Pure goodness. Now, for the entertainment.
Jason Castro (of American Idol fame) was first. He played a few songs, the mix wasn't great. Then, Patrick Ryan Clark a Worship Leader at Watermark Church in Dallas, Tx. Both guys were really kind, and humble on stage. I loved hearing their songs.
But, to close out the night, Chris August played. I was really impressed. The mix was much better, and he was playing the same guitar I play. (Anderson Crowdster Plus). What an amazing guitar. But, the thing that was great about Chris was WHO he was. He was relaxed amid the awkward beginning in which his guitar wasn't working. He was funny, honest, and had a voice reminiscent of Gavin Degraw. Here's a clip of my favorite song that night called 7x70.
We left there, and went to The Bunganut Pig (our hang out for the week) for some great conversation. So good. Great time further getting to know these other re:creators.
I went to bed knowing that I was in the right spot. These people, they were of my tribe. Hope this week would yield some solid connections. It did NOT disappoint. Stay tuned. Many good thoughts on tap tomorrow, for Day 2.
I just got back from snowy Nashville, TN. I was there for the re:create 2011 conference for Worship Leaders and Creative Types. It was nothing short of life-changing. I will share more in the next few days, post video and give a review. If you are a worship leader, I highly recommend you go next year. You can register at www.recreateconference.com
I leave you with the landscape of snowy Nashville as my 737 touched down on the first day of one of the greatest weeks of my life.