In the past few months, I haven’t been able to post on my blog as often as I’d like to. This is why…
To undertake something so big is incredibly exciting and completely terrifying at the same time. Joey and Indy are with me in Virginia and I’m not sure who’s more excited about making this movie… Joey, or me. She’s here making us all amazing meals and making sure I’m okay and taking care of myself during these long days and short nights – through the stress and the joy that comes with making an epic civil war movie on a small budget. Both of our older daughters, Heidi and Hopie are here working on the film too. It doesn’t just feel like a family of people making this movie… in that way, it is one.
For the next couple of months, most of my posts will probably be scenes from someone working on scenes about someone else. Trying to stay grounded, and see how high your dreams can take you at the same time.
If you’d like to learn more about the movie Josephine, or find out about possibly helping us see this project through, please check out our Josephine kickstarter page – http://kck.st/1JQHgbT. If nothing else, we’d love it if you would keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks as we walk hand-in-hand down a road we’ve never been down before.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s happened in our world since I started this blog. How much my life has changed and how I had no idea what was in store for us when I made my first post in January 2014. I began that year believing that God was going to give us a great story to live and He did. And He’s still giving us one today. After a year of writing, filming and sharing scenes from my life, I find myself in awe of where we’ve been and excited to learn where this journey will lead us next.
Lately Joey has been teaching Indiana to tell us how old she is. She asks “how old are you Indy?” and Indiana puts her little hand in the air and raises one finger. It’s just precious.
Watching her and Joey together… reminds me that it’s been an incredible year of firsts in our home.
For Indiana, it was her first breath, her first coo, her first smile, her first laugh, her first kiss… and ultimately, her first birthday.
For Joey, it was her first pregnancy, her first home-birth, her first baby and a thousand other firsts for her daily since then. It was her first feeling of motherhood – of truly giving herself totally to someone else. Her first feeling of knowing what life is really all about. And it was also a last for Joey… her last baby. She loves being a mommy so much that after Indy was born, she wondered and prayed, if we could or should have more children – and God answered. It may have came in the form of cancer, but it was really just a clear “no, my child…this is the life I have planned for you”. And what a life it is!
And as for me… it was my first time to be in the room to watch a life being born and a few months in another room watching another life pass away right in front of my eyes. To see someone I love not only stop breathing and die, but also to see her truly live each and every day like there is no tomorrow. My mother’s courage in her last months, weeks and days was inspiration to me and to everyone around her.
I want THIS LIFE I LIVE to matter. To not look back and wish that I had done something different. To dream incredible dreams and risk being a fool for something that I believe in. To say something or create something that can make a difference in someone’s life, including mine.
So, we all spent Easter this year in Virginia. We’re still here as a matter of fact. Making a movie. Josephine. Another first. We’ll be here for the next 6 weeks – daring greatly – as a family.
According to my birth certificate and our bathroom mirror, I’m about to turn 50 years old. I was born in April of 1965, so it all adds up. But for some reason, in my head and heart, it doesn’t. I still feel like a young man in my late 20’s or early 30’s at the most. I guess most men around my age always feel younger than they actually are…or at least they want to.
The first birthday I remember that my father had was when he turned thirty-eight. We lived in an old farmhouse that we’d rented just outside of Highland, KS and I remember the big “3” and “8” candles on his cake. The funny thing is though…he was already old, at least he was to me. I wonder if he knew he was old then. Or if he felt like I do when he was the age I am now. My father passed away at 51, so I never got to have a conversation with him about growing up or growing old. I’ve just had to try to figure it out, and as you can tell, I haven’t yet. Part of me hopes I never will.
I have always wanted to make a family trip back to Hawaii. I was stationed there when I was in my early twenties (or maybe I was already old?), and Heidi and Hopie were just babies. And though they’ve seen it in pictures in our photo albums and I have memories of living there… I’ve always wanted to go back, to bring my family and experience it one more time. So this year, for my upcoming fiftieth birthday, Joey arranged for us all to go spend one week on Oahu and one week on the Big Island.
It was a magical trip. In late February, we packed our bags full of warm weather clothes (I promised Joey and the girls that I wouldn’t even take a pair of bib overalls with me, and I didn’t) and said goodbye to the ice and the cold and landed in beautiful sunny paradise… me, Joey, Heidi, her husband Casey, Hopie and our little Indiana.
For two weeks, we didn’t just walk down memory lane… we made incredible memories that will last a lifetime! We walked beaches, hiked craters, caught waves, climbed volcanos, road catamaran’s, drank mai-tai’s and even blew out a few candles together. It was our favorite vacation we’ve ever taken. Most of the trips that we call family vacations, are actually places where we’re playing a show and try to fit in a few days of being tourists around it. This one was different. There was no music, no plan, no rush… just us all being together as a family. I loved it.
I didn’t bring a camera with me on this trip, but since Joey and I became iPhone people again a couple months ago… I made sure to capture some of my favorite moments with mine. We’ve been back home for a few weeks now, but I still find myself still listening to some of the island music we listened to when we were there. We built a fire the other night in the campfire pit in the backyard and Joey and I and Indy sat together and watched the sun go down and flames rise up, while we listened to an open-tuned Hawaiian guitar play a beautiful melody. It took us back…
How is it, that I spend all year looking forward to the Christmas season, wishing it would get here sooner…then when it finally arrives, I spend most of the holidays wishing it would slow down and wondering where these special days have gone?
Life with our new little one so far has been a bit like that. Time seemed to drag by waiting for her arrival, and now that she’s here… Joey and I wonder where the last 10 months have gone. It’s hard to believe, but she’s going to be a year-old soon. But what an incredible year it’s been!
As we say goodbye to Christmas and start waving farewell to 2014, Joey and I are reminded that for most of the last year, we weren’t sure if we were gonna sing or perform anymore. We’d made the decision to take the year off and just be home with the baby, and a part of us both wondered if maybe we were just gonna let that part of our lives go and move on to the next part. But sometime this fall, we both knew in our hearts that we wanted to stand on stage and sing again… and continue to share the special songs and story that God has given us.
So right after Thanksgiving we opened our guitar cases, dusted off our vocal-cords and played three shows here at our farm (about two years ago, we had converted our big red barn into a sound-stage and concert hall, so that we could still play shows, but not have to be on the road and travel as much). The shows were so much fun. Lots of folks drove or flew here from all over the country and we were honored to get to sing for and meet them after the concerts. In a couple of the shows, we even got to bring Indiana out to say hello before her bedtime and sing to her. Those were beautiful moments that we’ll never forget.
Since the stage in the barn was all decorated up for the holiday shows (as was the rest of the barn), we used it to have our extended family’s Christmas dinner and gift exchange on Christmas eve. Then yesterday morning, in the farmhouse, we celebrated Christmas and exchanged gifts under our tree. As always, I had a camera going so we can remember our family’s first Christmas with Indy forever.
Thinking ahead to 2015…
My wife and I have decided to start performing shows in the concert hall here at home one weekend a month starting in January, so I’ll get to hear her pretty voice a lot more this coming year and hopefully meet a lot more nice people. I’m starting to write songs again and am almost finished writing the screenplay for a full-length feature film with our manager (and my cousin) Aaron. It’s a Civil War epic story about a soldier’s wife named Josephine and her journey to reunite with her husband. We’re hoping to start filming it this spring. Besides that? Hmmm… I think there’ll be a big garden, some new baby chicks, more blog posts… and a smiling one-year old, learning to crawl, maybe walk, and even more importantly, learning to say “ma-ma” (she only says “da-da” and “ba-ba” so far) for her mommy!!
All it took was baby kittens…
Up til then, Indiana really had no interest in sitting up by herself, and we didn’t think she had the strength yet to hold herself up. But at my sister’s house one evening about two weeks ago, I took Indy in the bedroom to see Marcy’s new baby kitties. I sat her down next to me, and I guess she forgot that she didn’t know how… and just started sitting up all by herself. Not just for a couple seconds, but for a long long time. I just sat back amazed, called Joey in to see and started filming.
I think there must be something to that for all of us. Most of my career goals have come from not realizing that I couldn’t do something. From just being focused on something bigger than the work I was doing. And pretty soon, I was doing something that I knew there was no way I could ever do.
Since that first night, Indiana sits up by herself a lot (we put a pillow behind her, just in case she falls back). She’s discovered paper too. Yesterday, after checking the mail with Indy, Joey gave her an envelope to play with. And this is what came out of it. Indy would swap the envelope now and then with a toy, but for most part, the noisy paper was her favorite. Mine too.