The Dark

This piece came to me after several agonizing months doing nothing with music.

I understand the concept of the tortured artist, because I’ve lived it. The constant struggle for acceptance and success takes it’s toll when living your dream always feels just barely out of reach. I once heard a quote that got me thinking about this, and it was in the spirit of this idea that I got out my equipment, dusted it off, and composed this music.

“You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you.” —Harold B. Lee

He’s right, of course. But sometimes the appearing light doesn’t come immediately. Sometimes it doesn’t even come a short or even long time later. Sometimes we need to walk in the darkness for a long time before the light appears.

It is at those times we become truly acquainted with the dark. It’s not the dark of evil, but the dark of everything unknown. It’s the dark of living and working and striving day after day to find your place—to know your purpose—basically walking out into the darkness, and continuing to walk, and walk, and walk. Yet the light does not come. You continue because your heart says to do so, yet the light doesn’t come. You pray, you seek, you work, and you walk, and yet the light doesn’t come.

Some become bitter. Others panic. But the truly courageous hold to the journey, not because they can see, but because it’s right. And because they continue to walk, they gain something far greater than light. They gain faith—real, lasting, unquenchable faith. To those that hold to this perilous journey, no darkness can stop them. Even as they stumble, they make it through. And they find and help others along the way. They lift, and they lead, and they strengthen, and they build that faith in others.

In essence, they become a light to others, even while their own vision is obscured. But they’re not the blind leading the blind. They have vision beyond what light can offer.

Don’t fear the dark. It is there to make light out of you.

Rootstech 2016 Giveaway (3-Day Pass)

Yes, I’m about to offer a free pass to the 2016 Rootstech 3-day conference. But first I’d like to tell a little story about my last experience with Rootstech.

I’ve been working on genealogy since I was a teenager. It was right after Personal Ancestral File went from low-tech black screen and white (or green, in some cases) words to “high-tech” blue screen with white words. I was just getting my feet wet when I came across some fascinating tidbits.

First, Benjamin Franklin was my great-great-g-g-g-g-g-whatever grandpa (found out later he was actually a g-g-g-g uncle, but still…), and second, that I had royalty in my family line–namely, Prince Hathaway. It was only after much searching that Prince Hathaway wasn’t a prince at all. Prince was his name, and after further misleadings, I learned that Prince was down a different line than mine–that we’d been following the wrong line.

Anyhow, I’ve learned a lot since then, and have come to discover that every person in my family line is fascinating. They were pioneers, shop owners, parents of a dozen kids, farmers, miners, toothbrush makers, people of faith, people of music, people of industry, people of creativity, people of passion, people of faith. Whatever they made of their life, every tidbit of information has become like gold to me.

My first time attending Rootstech a few years ago, I was doing a presentation on self-publishing your family history. The class went well, but the moment things got really interesting was when a man approached me after class and introduced himself to me. He shared my last name, and as I thought about it, I realized we’d conversed online. Kent and I are something like 3rd cousins twice removed–I haven’t figured it out exactly, but Kent was a gold-mine of information about the branch of my family that includes Prince Hathaway (which, I might add, turns out I probably AM related to–it just keeps getting more exciting as we go along!).

Kent had even done DNA testing, visited the birthplaces of our shared ancestors, and spent literally decades in research on the individuals that leave the most mysterious shadows on my family tree. Never could I have expected that.

We actually spoke several times throughout the conference, and both he and his wife Jaelynne were both fascinating and informative to speak with.

I was also interested in the booths representing the plethora of websites, companies, organizations, guilds, and technologies available to family historians and amatuer genealogists.

The beauty of the whole experience for me was the discovery of how many allies we have to our family history efforts. Sometimes the hours behind screens, old books, and endless wanderings up and down aisles and websites can feel quite lonely, but that’s only an illusion. There are so  many people and resources ready to help. There are even people researching branches of your family history already, and never in history has it been easier to team up with them.

Okay, so you heard my story, now you get the goods. I’m excited to announce that I am a 2016 Rootstech Ambassador, which basically means that in exchange for my helping to get the word out about the conference, I get to offer someone a free 3-day pass to Rootstech 2016. So here are the rules:

  • Share this link on your favorite social media (Facebook, Twitter, blog, whatever)
  • Comment here, sharing something about an ancestor of yours.

I’m going to trust you on the first rule, so by commenting about an ancestor of yours, I’ll be assuming that you have shared a link to this contest. The commenters will be entered into a drawing to win. That way you can know how good your chances are by counting the number of comments. If you’re the only commenter, you’ll win by default. Seriously, folks, you’ve got nothing to lose–other than three days of your otherwise boring life to an exciting, fulfilling, fun, and incredible family history experience.

Here’s the real clincher. You have ONE week. The comments will be tallied one week from today (September 21), so get sharing and typing!

Why I Stand with the Prophet in Every Issue

Some people are bothered by my statement that I stand by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on every issue. I’d like to talk about that for a few minutes, because it seems to come up often.

I think one of the reasons this statement bothers people is because independent thought and conscious choice are such valuable and essential aspects of the plan of happiness. And I agree, those things are absolutely essential, and it’s for that very reason that I feel as I do. Some would say that being so loyal to the church and its leaders is a way of handing my agency to someone else. That’s a valid concern. But remember, this is my agency. I have to choose what I do, choose what I believe, and choose whether or not to act on what I believe. Well, it’s simple. I choose to stand by the church in every issue. That’s my agency in action. That’s what I choose, and I will continue to choose it all my life. It takes a great deal of character and loyalty to make a choice like that. It takes courage, faith, and determination. It takes work. And that’s the choice I am making.

Another concern some have is that by simply obeying, I’m allowing someone else (or perhaps the church itself) to do the thinking for me. The concern is that I’m just being the obedient workhorse plugging away, pulling when I’m asked to pull (even if I don’t know what I’m pulling), and traveling when I’m asked to travel (even if I don’t know where I’m going). That too, is a valid concern. But there’s one thing that this concern isn’t taking into consideration. Who is most likely to be thinking—like, really, deeply, meaningfully thinking about the thing we’ve been commanded? Think about it. Which of these three are most likely to do the most thinking about the particular issue:

  1. The person from the outside, whose not at all interested in heeding the counsel;
  2. The one in the church, but looking for the reasons, wandering and waiting for solid logic and reason before proceeding; or
  3. The person actively doing the thing requested.

I believe those actively obeying are doing a great deal more thinking about the issue than anyone else. They’re the ones who stand by the teaching regardless of the persecution, legal ramifications, or abuse against them for doing so.

I can’t speak for everyone, but when the Lord commands something, or teaches a principle, or proclaims a doctrine, by his living prophet—even if it’s something I don’t personally understand or agree with, and I act on it, stand by it, and teach it, I can assure you I’m doing a boat-load of thinking, pondering, praying, and studying about it.

And while I’m sure both the obedient person and the disobedient person are looking to different sources for their answers, and may come to very different conclusions, I’m confident that almost always, the obedient person has put a lot more time, thought, and energy into the matter than the disobedient.

And every time I’ve obediently proceeded, and simultaneously thought, studied, prayed, and questioned the teaching, I’ve always come to see the deep spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical significance of the thing taught. I’m always left in awe at the wisdom and foresight the Lord has demonstrated in everything He has ever requested of me.

Another factor that can be difficult to explain to people is the matter of personal revelation. Even many who believe mostly as I do conclude that before they will proceed, they must receive personal inspiration from God that the teaching is right. I think it comes down to what kind of testimony a person has. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t call one type of testimony “superior” to another, but I do believe that the closer we come to the Savior, and the stronger our testimony is, the more we will be able to place our faith in Him without reservation. And the more we do so, the faster the further light and understanding come.

I once heard the prophet of God teach a principle, and I immediately accepted it. Not in a shoulder shrugging compliance, but because as he spoke, the Holy Spirit filled my heart, testifying clearly and unmistakably that the principle being taught was true. I had long since received a personal testimony by the power of the Holy Ghost that the prophet was truly called of God, and that His words, if heeded, would always lead me aright. My experience with the Spirit in that particular meeting simply strengthened that testimony. Several days later, while speaking to a friend about the teaching, she said, “But what about finding out the truth for ourselves? That may be what the prophet said, but I can’t believe it unless the Lord tells me personally as well.”

My friend was holding back until she could receive an independent testimony of the principle taught. But I’ve found that when I listen with a believing heart, I often receive that answer the moment the teaching is given. Then, the questions most worth asking the Lord are things like, how should I apply the principle in my own life, for my situation? Or what can I do to best teach this principle to others?

I have heard some suggest that those members of the church prior to 1978 that weren’t picketing against the church’s stand on the priesthood were in the wrong—that they should have been more actively involved in bringing about the change. I see two problems with that. First, it’s the Lord who made the change, not the saints. And second, those in a position to receive the revelation (Spencer W. Kimball and the twelve apostles) never once voiced a single word of opposition to the policy of the Lord’s church at that time. They received assurance from the Lord that the time would come, but they were not told when. They petitioned as they felt moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Only after faithful compliance and diligent prayer did the Lord finally give the revelation that changed church policy forever.

There were previous generations of prophets who petitioned the Lord on the very same issue, and they were turned away. The Lord knew what He was doing, and every church leader stood firm by the policy, because that’s what loyalty is. They didn’t understand it, and though they had questions, and brought them before the Lord, they always stood true to the answers given.

I feel to do the same.

That brings up another important point. Sometimes a principle isn’t intended to be fully understood before the commandment or revelation is given. A good example of this is plural marriage in the early days of the church. Some today are troubled that the church once practiced it. But the revelation to live that principle is not given to us today. We are not to practice plural marriage—and if we make the attempt, we will be excommunicated. We can’t expect a testimony of the full meaning of plural marriage right now because we are commanded not to live it. We accept in faith the fact that the Lord has different instructions to different people at different times.

Many saints in the early days of the church were commanded to live it, and with the commandment came the understanding and testimony. A great example of this was Brigham Young.

Would it surprise you to learn that Brigham Young was deeply troubled by the principle? He thought it had come from an evil source. But instead of picketing against it, or speaking out about it publicly, he prayed to the Lord about it. When, up to that point, it wasn’t enough, he spoke to the prophet himself. He discussed it with Joseph in a private conversation—not in a meeting with other elders, but in the privacy of his front yard one evening after the prophet walked him home. The only reason we know about the conversation is because the night was warm, and Brigham’s wife had her window open to cool her room, and she overheard the conversation.

According to S. Dilworth Young:

Down this road came Brigham Young and Joseph Smith. She (Brigham’s wife) heard Brigham say to Joseph, “Joseph, the doctrine of eternal marriage as you described it to me is not from the right source.”

Joseph Smith said to him, “It is from the right source, and you will know it, Brother Brigham.”

Brother Brigham then moved toward the door to open the latch, and Joseph Smith walked on up the street. Then Brigham stopped. He didn’t pull the latch string. He suddenly called out, “Joseph! Joseph! The Lord has revealed it to me!”

http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1039

My point in sharing this account is to say that sometimes we’re not intended to fully understand or receive a testimony of a principle before the commandment is given. But if we are faithful, and a revelation is given that might contradict our previous views, and we seek the Lord’s guidance, He will provide us with a testimony of the principle. It may not come all at once, like Brigham’s, but when it does come, it will be so clear and sure that we may come to wonder how we could have ever seen things differently. And in the meantime, if we remain faithful and loyal to what the Lord has already revealed, we place ourselves in the best position possible to receive more light and knowledge when the Lord sees fit.

In regards to honest questions, or even doubts, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a beautiful bit of wisdom that I wholeheartedly stand by when he said,

When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes…

When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your “unbelief.” That is like trying to stuff a turkey through the beak! Let me be clear on this point: I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/lord-i-believe?lang=eng

When it comes down to it, I stand with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on every issue because God has revealed to me by the power of the Holy Ghost that the living prophet has been called of God, that he speaks the word of God to the church, and that if I follow his counsel regardless of the consequences, I will be doing the right thing. I will be acting according to the will of God for me. That testimony has been burned so deeply into me that I can’t deny it without calling God a liar to His face. I know it’s true. The Lord leads this church. And what a beautiful thing that is! The Lord speaks to us through the living prophet, and God has revealed the truth of His words to me.

If You Knew Who You Really Are…

If you knew who you really are…

You’d forgive.
You’d love life.
You’d smile more.
You’d stop hesitating.
You’d give more freely.
You’d never doubt again.
You’d never fear the future.
You’d be willing to make the hard choices.
You’d recognize others for who they really are.
You’d be content with the reflection in the mirror.
You’d turn every day into something worth remembering.

If you knew who God really is…

You’d make every day something for the world to remember.
You’d be confident with the reflection in the mirror.
You’d see Christ in the face of everyone you meet.
You’d make the hard choices without question.
You’d be excited about the future.
Your faith would move mountains.
You’d give Him your everything.
You’d forever move forward.
You’d make people happy.
You’d radiate love.
You’d forgive all.

If you don’t know who you are, ask God, and He will show you to you. Do what He says, and He will show Himself to you.

And you’ll never be the same again.

Rules for Having a Bad Day

Photo by sabianmaggy on flickr
Photo by sabianmaggy on flickr

Let’s face it, we all have rough days once in awhile. Sometimes they seem to come more often than not, but either way, we will have bad moods sometimes. Sometimes we allow our bad moods to give us license to be unkind, selfish, or even cruel. So I’ve come up with a list of rules for myself to follow when I’m having a bad day. And let me clarify, this is not a list of ways to get back into a good mood. That’s a different subject entirely. These are rules for coping with a bad day or a bad mood.

  1. Acknowledge your bad mood. It’s a rough day. Perhaps it’s one of many, but there it is. You’re in a bad mood. (This rule will help you come to terms with your state of mind so you can focus on following the rest of the bad day rules.)
  2. Be gracious in your bad mood. It’s okay that you’re not cheerful. It’s even okay that you’re feeling grumpy, but you don’t have to let your bad mood control your actions. Be kind and considerate to other people, knowing you won’t feel warm and fuzzy inside for doing so.
  3. You can still be useful without feeling useful. Since nothing you do will feel positive in much of any way, you may want to do an unpleasant task that needs doing, but that you’ve been avoiding. You may even find it a little therapeutic. Plus it’s been suggested by some experts that getting things done during a bad mood sometimes polishes the project considerably better, since you tend to be critical of the smallest defect.
  4. Bite your tongue. Any time you’re tempted to respond with sarcasm or anger, just stop talking. If something has to be said, such as a conversation with your spouse or a coworker, say, “I can’t think about this right now,” or, “Can we talk about this later?” If it’s something that needs to be dealt with soon, include a specific time. “Do you mind if we continue this conversation after lunch? I need some time to sort through some things first.”
  5. Go easy on others. By that, I mean, be softer with people, especially your spouse and kids. If it’s your kids, and they’re getting away with more trouble today, you can lightly inform them that this will be dealt with, just not today. When you’re in a good mood later (be it an hour or a week later), make sure they get the consequences for their trouble—maybe even a little tougher than usual, so they don’t use your bad moods to step on you. But don’t worry about what that will be now. You’re in a bad mood today. You have a free pass.
  6. Go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over every little thing, as you will be tempted to do. It’s okay to have a bad hair day or a messy house, or whatever, on a bad mood day. Your bad mood pass doesn’t free you from the fulfillment of deeply important habits and resolutions, but it does give you a right to not care while fulfilling them.
  7. This may seem to contradict the last rule, but feel free to put young kids in timeout more today. Not in a spirit of meanness, but in an effort to avoid allowing them to fan the flame too much. Put them in and tell them, “We’ll talk about the reasons later.”
  8. Consider the stress and frustration you’re suffering now as being good for you. Tempers aren’t good for you, and neither is lashing out. But graciously accepted bad moods can help build your stress resilience, including your bad-mood resilience, just by considering it healthy. You don’t have to egg it on by doing things that will make your mood worse. Just graciously put up with your mood, and your psyche will be strengthened for putting up with future bad days.
  9. Regarding the problems that seem to either trigger or exacerbate your bad mood, tell yourself, “My fault, I’ll deal with it later,” often. This will do two things: it will keep you from developing a martyr complex (which is never constructive), and it will keep you thinking in terms of accountability for your actions. If it makes you feel worse to acknowledge that something is your fault or your problem, then put more mental emphasis on the second part: “I’ll deal with it later,” with the addition, “just not today!
  10. Lower your expectations. Cut your to-do list in half. You won’t get as much done, and that’s okay. You’ll do more on your next good day (which will come). If you can take a nap, go for a walk, or otherwise chunk out some time to slow down, do it. It’s my personal observation that it’s not too difficult to become thoughtful and ponderous on bad days. You may even be able to turn your inner grump into a thinker, if you can squeeze in some quiet time. Just don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work. You are, after all, in a bad mood.

Rules for a Bad Day

See With New Eyes

Think of someone. Anyone. It may be a family member, it may be a neighbor, or it may be someone you don’t really know well at all. Just think of someone.

Now, what do you know about this person? What is he doing with his life right now? What are her motivations? What keeps him going day after day. What is her prime directive?

We tend to know the answers to these questions for ourselves, but we rarely know them for others. To be fair, all the time and effort in the world probably wouldn’t fill in all the gaps in your understanding of another person.

But we can shrink those gaps.

So give it a try, with one person. What is it that makes them the unique, fascinating individual that they are? If they don’t seem unique and fascinating, it just means you don’t know them all that well. I guarantee, there is as much depth and heart in that person as there is in you. There is so much more you can learn from the person than you’ll ever have opportunity to fully explore. But chances are, you’ve never even scratched the surface. That’s okay. This is your opportunity. Do it now. And don’t stop at a recognition that they are an eternal being with endless potential. Try to find out what they are now. See what you can learn from them, and try to truly understand why they believe what they believe.

We all have power to do that with just about anyone we meet, but we rarely have the time or interest to do it. But give it a try, with just one person. See what happens.

My suspicion is that your eyes will be open to a new way of looking at life that you may never have considered otherwise. Either way, you are certain to learn a great deal about yourself, simply by trying.

How’s the Music and Books thing Going?

This is probably one of the questions I’ve been asked more than any other for the last six months, and I usually answer with the honest but terribly vague, “Good. I love doing it.”

So how is it really going? I’m going to answer that question completely honestly (if in a very long-winded post), even sharing the detailed numbers most artists are unwilling to share, but which everyone is secretly very curious to know.

First off, for any who don’t know already, I’m working for myself now, earning money by selling my music, books, and crafts (Seasonally, with the crafts). I am the only breadwinner in our home, which means that I am the only source of income for our family, and I have no other job or source of income (unless you include tax returns). My wife is a full-time mother who home-schools our kids, so she’s working her tail off, but not bringing in a cent. So when I say I’m working for myself, I mean I am attempting to support my family on my music and writing.

And, just so you can understand our financial situation: We own a house with a small patch of property. It’s a small, three bedroom modular home in what used to be a full trailer park. We bought it several years ago, in good condition, for $69,000. Because we were already low income, we qualified for a government aided home loan, so our monthly mortgage payment is just under $470 a month.

Jenni and I have been very careful to stay out of debt. Our house loan is the only loan we’ve done since our marriage, and we hope it’s the only kind of debt we ever have. Basically, we’ve tenaciously avoided consumer debt. I’ve heard it said, and I’ve tried to preach and live this principle: in order to make it in this kind of market, you’ve just got to be smarter with money than everyone around you. We’re still working on that, but we’re quickly learning the necessity of it.

Other than utilities, Internet, tithing, basic medical expenses, and basic food/stuff supplies, we don’t have any big extra expenses. We don’t even have membership of any paid website subscriptions.

So, with that as a backdrop, I’ll talk about how I was able to quit my job to work full time for myself.

We’ve been working toward having me go full time for many years now. Two years ago, I was laid off my job, and for two weeks (after discussing it with Jenni and determining that we could afford it), I scrambled to create, market, and push the music and writing as fast and furiously as possible. The immediate response was so encouraging (though still insufficient financially at the time) that after I again got a job, we began planning how we could work toward going full time as soon as possible. We determined that the absolute base money we needed to live month to month was $1,400 per month. So we decided that as soon as we had $8,000 sitting in our bank account, which would give us just under six months living, I’d quit my job and work full time for myself.

The plan was that during that six months, we’d earn enough to keep going, if only to push it far enough ahead to allow more time to get us to an average of $1,400 per month before our money ran out.

So we did. Actually, our tax return of about $7000 was 7/8 of that initial $8000. I put in my two-weeks notice, and Feb 1, 2013 was my last day working for someone else.

Ever since we got started several years ago, the sheet music has been a better seller than any other product–by far.

At the time I quit, we were selling an average of about 1 piece of sheet music per day. I continued to write more music, and put it on sheet music. I updated my site, did all the SEO stuff, got smarter with my social media use, and tried everything I could think of and everything I studied to get the word out about my music. And the sales increased. Over several months, the one per day average began to fluctuate between 2 and 4 per day. One day there’d be five sales, then after two days without any sales, there’d be two more sales, etc. It even almost got to the point where a day wouldn’t pass without at least one sale.

Basically, the average sheet music sales now is about three per day. With site fees and everything, that’s about three dollars per sheet music piece sold.

Then there were the book sales. They’ve been a little harder to follow. Since publishers generally send out royalty checks every three to six months, it was harder to track the progress of my books, but all in all, they seem to be bringing home (as in, total that we get to keep) about $25 per month, which is about the same amount as I was getting for books before going full time.

I mentioned crafts. Specifically, I mean toy foam swords. A couple years ago, I designed some fun dueling swords for kids, and sold a few at the local 24th of July parade. This year, over the summer, we attended three parades and made a total of about $500 take home.

Those have been our three major sources of income. So on average (keeping in mind that the amounts for these items come in various chunks and time frames), our present monthly income is sitting at approximately $100 for swords, $250 for sheet music, and $25 for books, totaling about $375 per month. Clearly this is nowhere near the $1,400 per month that would make the business sustainable.

And our funds? Running pretty low. In the six months after starting full time, we earned just under three months living.

At that point, Jenni and I discussed the issue, and came up with a plan. We figured that if I decided go work for someone else again, I’d be able to find a job within a month. That figure is based entirely on the fact that it’s never taken me longer than that to get a job. So we took the date we’d be out of money and set it back a month and decided on that date, I’d go looking for a new job. We also gave it a name. The day I have to start looking for a job is called ‘doomsday.’

Since I continue making money, doomsday is moving forward. If, for example, I made $1000 this week on sheet music and sword sales, that would push doomsday forward almost a month. Our rule of thumb is that ever $50 I make pushes doomsday forward one day.

Since my six month mark, when we came up with the doomsday plan, doomsday has moved up about a month and a half, so that for the moment, doomsday is at the end of this month. Obviously, in order to push doomsday ahead faster than it approaches, we’re going to have to start making more money fast.

And I’m doing my best.

I’m still confident we can make this work. If not this time around, maybe on the next time we have $8,000 saved up. Still, repeating the exact same efforts would probably not be the best way to go.

So how can I claim that the “music and books” thing is going good? Simple. I’m making a few hundred dollars a month on them. How many people are able to do that? And many–possibly most sales are returning customers. People often send the kindest notes saying how the music or the books touched them or their family. Even if the music and writing isn’t fully supporting us, it’s certainly going good.

Without question, I have a lot to learn about marketing and business. But I’m not sure I’ll be learning much of it while not seriously working on it.

Even if I have to go work for someone else for a time, I’ll keep working toward going back to full time. I’m still optimistic that we can find a way to make this work. I’m glad I still have a few weeks to push forward, and I still plan, if at all possible, to push doomsday forward inevitably.

Dreams take work. They take hard work. And it’s work I’m willing to do.

50th Sheet Music Piece

Rock of AgesWhile I’ve been writing music for over 17 years, this week marks four years from the time I put out my first piece of sheet music. If I had known the incredible response the sheet music would have, I would have started putting it out much sooner!

I just wanted to offer my deepest thanks for all you have done to help bring about my dream to become a full-time musician. It’s your purchasing the sheet music that’s done it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every time you download another piece, it keeps food on my family’s table, and keeps me writing more music.

We’re still working to get above the poverty line (the cliche of the starving artist has become the story of my life), and the road isn’t easy, but your support is a much bigger encouragement than you can imagine. I love being able to bless the world with the gifts God has so generously given. It’s a calling that can be challenging, overwhelming, and so incredibly rewarding. I don’t perform in public very often. You’re the ones carrying the music out to the world. You’re the ones making a difference in the lives of those who hear you play. You’re touching hearts and blessing souls. What a beautiful thing!

Today also marks my 50th piece put to sheet music. If you haven’t been to my homepage lately, take scroll down and look and the fun mix of sheet music listed. I used to get teased at the MTC because I loved the hymns of zion so much. That was almost 15 years ago. I think the Lord was shaping my musical heart even back then.

So again, I just wanted to say thanks. Let’s keep making the world a better, more beautiful place.

Scripture Study Made Awesome: Over 100 Unique Scripture Study Methods

scripture study made awesome_2x3Have you ever had times when scripture study was tedious, boring, or non-existent? Most of us have. But you’re in luck. Those days are over.

In Scripture Study Made Awesome, released TODAY, you’ll find an original list of over 100 fun, interesting, and creative ways to study the scriptures, with encouragement to help you begin a life-long habit of enjoyable daily study of the word of God. You now have more resources than ever before to discover the study methods that will work best for you in your individual situation.

Starting today, your personal and family scripture study will forever be awesome.

You can order it online through Cedar Fort, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and soon it should be available in Seagull Book and Deseret Book.

Please tell everyone you know about this. Pass the word, Facebook it, pin it, forward it, let’s get the word out and help everyone have a great scripture study experience every day!

Two Types of Creativity: Which are You?

Everyone is creative, but everyone has different ways of showing it or expressing it. In this video, I talk about the two types of creativity, and how they effect your creative work, and your everyday life. Knowing your creative type is powerful when it comes to either approaching a new skill or overcoming writers block. So what about you? What’s your creative type?

And just a sidenote, the music is from my newest CD, Fly. It’s the piece called Mount of the EagleYeah, that’s shameless self promotion, but hey, it’s my blog, right?