Sojourn "Advent Songs"

Three of the last four years, I've recorded on Christmas albums. I only tell you this because it means that I start listening to Christmas music in July or August. Then, by December, when everybody else is ready for it, I'm already tired of it. Either that, or it looses its specialness because it's not attached to a season anymore.

Well, this year I found a CD that I actually am enjoying listening to. ALOT. Very rarely do CDs get more than 1 or 2 spins in my car before they join the rotation. I think I played this one for a week straight, and there's only 8 songs. This is an EP from a church community in Louisville called "Sojourn." Most of the songs are "Advent" related, so they speak much of the coming of Christ, and a preparation for Christmas. I love these versions of "Joy to the World" and "O Come, O Come, Emanuel." My favorite original is "Glory Be." You should really get this EP. You can pay whatever you want to for it, or download it for free by telling 5 friends. iTunes also sells it for less than 8 bucks. It's worth the money.


No Crying She Makes

This is a video of Bella playing Baby Jesus in the Second Baptist musical last Saturday night. She was really wonderful. She just sat and looked around, making faces. 


Thanksgiving and Beyond

::deep breath::

Back to normalcy. Whatever that means, I feel like we're back to our real life again. It's been a whirlwind of a week, with alot of activity, alot of people, and ALOT of driving.

Thanksgiving day was great. We got to have dinner with my mom's side of the family. My parents were in Las Vegas, so Bethany and I were the representatives of the Smith family. I was really excited to find out that my grandma was going to be there. She has Alzheimer's and lives in a nursing home. I haven't gotten to see her in several months, and she has never met Bella. It was actually the first time Bella got to meet most of those family members. Here's a few pictures of her meeting some family for the first time. These aren't in any chronological order.

This is my grandfather's mother-in-law. She lives in Mexico and speaks no English. When I was younger, and her visits to my grandpa and his wife lined up with our family visits, I would always make sure I said "hola" and "adios" to her whenever we came and went. That was (and still basically is) my Spanish vocabulary. For whatever reason, she felt a bond with me and would always ask about her "little amigo." So now I'm still her little amigo, and she got to meet my daughter, who is now affectionately her "amigita."

Here is a man completely smitten by his great-granddaughter. This is my mom's dad, Pappaw. He absolutely loved seeing her, and out of his 10 great-grands, this is the first he's gotten to see so young, and his first to feed. She was wonderful for him, of course.

My family has a long legacy of music lovers. I think alot of that comes from Pappaw. In this picture he's singing a verse from "Because He Lives."
"How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy she gives; 
but greater still the calm assurance, 
this child can face uncertain days because He lives." 

I don't know whether she knew who she was holding or not, but it was overwhelming to get to see my Mammaw holding my daughter. I will cherish these pictures and this day. 

This is Bella and her Great(est) Aunt Willa. Bella smiled so much for her.

Friday after Thanksgiving I had the chance to play some music on the Riverwalk in San Antonio with an artist named Darrell Smith. We kicked off the Parade of Lights that starts the Christmas Season on the river. Bethany and Bella get the award for best gig family. They endured 10 hours outside on the Riverwalk. It was a really long day, and all of us were fighting colds.  

Bella and Pappaw saying good-bye for now. She was obviously heart-broken. 

Saturday evening we drove from San Antonio to my parents' house in Montgomery, and got there just as the rest of the family was leaving. We got to sneak a few pictures in, and spent a little time with just my parents and my brother and his wife. Bella has decided that when Papa (my dad) holds her, she will stick out her bottom lip. We're not sure why she does it, but it's really cute. I was prepared with camera in hand. 

Here's a picture of 4 generations. I'm the only boy. And the only one looking at this particular camera at this particular time.

Sunday afternoon, just as I was waking up from a much needed nap, we got a call saying that Bethany's grandfather was not doing so well. He's been bed-ridden for about a year-and-a-half, and somewhat unresponsive for the last few months. A few hours later we got the call that he had passed away. Monday morning we packed up again and headed to Burleson to be with Bethany's family and attend the funeral on Tuesday. We were very grateful that, not two weeks before he died, he got to see his great-granddaughter. As you can see, she had no idea what was going on, but this is another picture and event that we will all cherish. 


Those Were the Days

I remember days when I used to actually read books, and write songs, and journal, and sit down at a piano or guitar for hours. Where did that time go? I even remember days when I would know exactly what I wanted to write in a blog, and I would write it. Most of the time I would be sitting alone at Starbucks, acting like the quiet artistic type. It was so much more inspiring to sit and think that people might wonder what I was writing.

Not that sitting here watching my daughter's eyes get heavy while she swings is not inspiration enough. I can't tell you how overwhelming it is sometimes to stare into her face, or see her grin, and know that this is my daughter.

I'll be honest; I get pretty caught up in the logistics of life these days, and I forget to just sit and observe. Maybe that's the difference between now, and back when I used to read and write and journal. I've always been an observer. I've always quietly placed myself a little outside from the action to watch, learn, and analyze. Now it seems like there's so much to do that I don't have much chance to look around.

I received one of those thought-provoking emails that was forwarded to 30 other people besides me. These are usually thrown right into the trash, but today I read (meaning skimmed) the words that were sent. (BTW, I'll probably die in 7 days for not sending the email to at least 10 people,... so, .... um, my bad). I honestly don't really remember what all it said, I just remember a line that was something like "we've learned to make a living, not a life."

I love that my favorite hobby is my career. I'm thrilled at the experiences and opportunities it has brought my way. Part of me, of course, wants to be "known" as someone who is important to my field. I had a strange observation yesterday of certain circles I used to be in, how they keep rolling, with different personnel; And I don't fit in anymore. Those circles were what I needed at the time, and I moved on. I think that's a healthy way to live and grow. I can't say that my "circle" right now is exactly what I was expecting for this point in my life. But, I also don't think my heightened sense of "entitlement" is of God, so I embrace where I am and what I'm doing as God's provision.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not upset that my career goals for age 27 look different than current reality. How stupid I would be to look at that and wonder where my life's purpose was ... when my life's purpose is 5 feet away in a battery-powered swing (I will NEVER understand why they can't just add a simple A/C adapter to these things).

I've talked about it before, and now is the time where I start speaking things that I know are true, but are harder to believe are true.

I do music. I am not music. "Musician" qualifies me as someone in this society who earns money to provide for a family. I don't do fatherhood, I AM a father. "Husband" is not an activity, it's an identity. In ten years, no one will care which CDs I played on, or which artists I've played for (as if anyone cared now), what will matter is how much love and peace is found in my home. What will matter is how much my daughter trusts me, and how close we are because of quality time spent together. What will matter is how in love I am with my wife, even after 11 years, in my late 30s (*shudder*). Yes, I admit I want my family to be proud of what I do, and what I've done, and continue to have reasons to be proud of my accomplishments. But more than that (naming it, claiming it here), I want for them to be proud of the love they receive from a dad who is there, who pays attention, who teaches, who leads, who provides, and who might be a little quiet and withdrawn at times, just observing the blessings that he has.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my own little family. I'm thankful for my dream girl, who liked me enough to marry me and combine our life's journeys. I'm thankful for my little dream girl, a complete surprise and an even more complete joy.

I'm also thankful for Flikr, and my ability to completely ruin a moment. :-) Have a good holiday! Eat more than you should!



I don't in any way consider myself a "photographer," but I do enjoy taking pictures -- hobby-style. I am finally working towards having equipment that comes close to capturing life the way I see it, or at least the way I want others to see it. These are some of my favorites so far. If you are an actual photographer, or know more about taking pictures than I do, I'd love to get some feedback. Even if you're not a photographer, I'd love to know what you think. After posting these, I've realized that I have alot of flower pictures. This is a recent development, something I hadn't really tried until a few weeks ago. I like the flower pictures, I might dive into that a little more. So, here they are:

I like pictures

It's been a while since I've posted, and I am sorry about that.

I'm going to try to give an update on everything in my life in one post, and show you a few pictures. 1, 2, 3, ... go.

I'm nearing 2 months as a worship leader at a church in Cypress, TX. It's been a pretty good time so far. I'm learning alot, but nothing that's really changing my views of worship, which is reassuring. I'm still convinced that church needs to be simpler than we make it. I'm not so sure God cares about production and presentation as much as we think. Something about man looking at the outer appearance, but God .... something about a heart, i don't know, i heard it once. So, needless to say (well, needless to me), I'm really working hard on heart issues at church. Hopefully the "success" we gain in those matters will overshadow any success or lack of success that we achieve in the numbers game. I can't tell you how lonely it feels sometimes to think that way.

Bella is the most amazing little girl ever, of course. She's starting to smile more and more, which is fun. A few weeks ago we took her to a pumpkin patch and got some great pictures with the pumpkins and in her kitty costume. She's 10 pounds and just got her 2 month shots yesterday. She did really great, and didn't cry too much (because Daddy was holding her). Later in the evening, though, she must've gotten sore or started feeling bad, because she was screaming. It was the first time she's cried like that, poor little thing. Today she's doing great, just swinging and sleeping.

I've had a crazy week. Wednesday night I got to play a pre-Latin Grammies gig at the House of Blues. Originally we were told that it was a party being thrown by Beyonce Knowles, for 600-800 people. I'm not sure how that got confused, because there were only maybe 125, and she wasn't one of them. I heard the next day that Latin Grammy rehearsal ran long, till 1am, so maybe some of those people were supposed to come. I don't know, I just got some fun stage pictures, so I'm happy.

The next night, Thursday, I got to play violin with a string ensemble in the Latin Grammies. We played with Tommy Torres. I'm still waiting to see if anybody posts it on Youtube, but nothing yet. It was a really long day, we were there 13 1/2 hours, and only played for 3 minutes or so. But, it was a great experience, and fun to see behind the scenes of a show like that. Gloria Estefan walked about 20 feet away from us while we were waiting to go onstage.

Bethany is an amazing mother. She went through alot in the last year, leaving her family and cleaving to me, moving in with a boy, having a child. Pretty big adjustments. I'm proud of her. I couldn't ask for a better wife and mother of our child. She's pretty, too.
On Monday we celebrate our first anniversary! I'm not even sure what to think about that. I figured it would be a whirlwind year, but had no idea our lives would change so much. We're looking forward to a trip to Ft. Worth Sunday, first to play a gig with the John Sherrill Band, then dropping Bella off with Bethany's parents so we can spend the day alone in downtown Ft. Worth. It's no Italy, but it'll do.

In other news, I got my car back after a month in the shop. I ended up getting a new engine put in, thanks State Farm for helping that happen. We're also trying to figure out a new living arrangement. Our cute little one bedroom, one bath apartment worked very nicely for the two of us, but is starting to get pretty cramped. I'm still loving the new Nikon D80 camera, and I think today I'll post some pictures I've taken. Talk to you soon!


A Place for Pictures


I love this blog site, however it's a little slow when it comes to posting tons of pictures. So, here are a few links to albums from Facebook that star Bella and her family. A few bonus pictures for you, too...

Nikon pictures

Uploads from my phone
(I am always adding to this one)

Bella is starting to do alot more lately, and is interacting some. She follows us with her eyes, grabs our hair and glasses, pushes the bottle away when she's not hungry, laughs at us (on the inside) when she fills her diapers and we have to clean it.

Today she had a hat on that is just a little too big (as is most of her clothing), and she was in her swing behind the couch. All of a sudden she started screaming and we looked to see the hat covering half of her face. I guess she woke up and couldn't see. It was funny, and I made sure to take a picture before I helped her move it.


Bella Pics

Here's some more pictures of our little girl. Some are from our new camera, a Nikon D80, and some are from my phone. I think you should be able to tell the difference. I'm pretty excited about the Nikon, and just as excited that my cousins Andy and Lisa just got a Nikon D90 to take pictures of their daughters. Andy, you and I will have to swap photography tips or something. Maybe soon I'll post some of my favorite non-baby pictures I've taken so far. Until then, here's the girl:

With Uncle Jason and her cousin, Jacob

I think every dad ends up with a "napping with baby" picture. This was very obviously a Sunday afternoon, if you know what my weekends usually look like.

What infancy would be complete without a visit from the financial adviser?

This is what we see all night sometimes.

First bath. She actually sort of enjoyed it.


Just hanging out with Dad

If she knew how, she'd laugh at her silly Papa.

It's 12:15am, which is actually late for me now. This used to be the primetime of my evening, but now it's a fight to stay up this late and enjoy it. Bella is actually sleeping in her crib right now, alone. That's a modern miracle, so I think we're gonna stretch this out as long as we can. More than likely we'll hear her sweet voice before 1, telling us it's time to eat again.

In just-in-case-anyone-still-reads-this-blog-to-hear-what's-going-on-with-josh news, I'm in my fourth week of being on a church staff as a worship leader. I'm not sure I ever fully told the whole story on this blog, but basically I felt like God was very directly calling me into a worship leader position at a church that happens to be across the street from our apartments. It was one of those things where I felt like if I just blew it off, I would be living in disobedience. So, I looked into it, and they hired me. The next day they moved me to the satellite campus, which meets in a movie theater. So much for all those times I swore I would never go to a portable church ever again. I'm enjoying it, for the most part. Maybe once a week I sit and wonder why God would have me do this. Sometimes I think everything I've spent the last 6 years learning doesn't matter, and that I'm the only one that sees church completely opposite of everyone else. Who knows, I'm still learning.


Vote for Shepherd

I don't usually support politics, but I really think this video needs to be seen. Mostly because the music is SO inspiring. I don't support, or un-support anything this commercial says. I do support the music, though. And I think you should support the music, too. And the guy that wrote it. I heard he just had a baby.


First week (or so) at home

We've survived the first 10 days of life with a child at home. Bella sleeps wonderfully ... during the day. She doesn't really like being alone in her crib, and lets us know about it. She just sleeps, eats, cries, and makes faces. Other than that, she doesn't really do much yet.