I am an artist and I am a collector. I am not a collector of trinkets, or cars, or antiques; but I am a word collector. I collect phrases, words, and expressions. I collect tones and tenses of things spoken or sung. I collect pictures created by words I have read, and I keep them in books, journals, and in my heart. Whenever I experience, hear, or read something that strikes me or stirs me, I collect it and muse on it– Sometimes for hours, sometimes for years. I let it have a place in my heart and I let the Holy Spirit in me analyze it, evaluate it and speak to me about it. Then the creating begins…
I can’t speak for every songwriter, and I’m not even sure how many I represent, but I guess that isn’t why I am writing. I write because I have a need to express what I am learning, and a desire to work out the ideas and thoughts out in the open where I can see them best and analyze their impact. You see, my life is impacted on a daily basis by things I see, read, feel, touch, hear, and experience and many of those experiences shape me—change me. I can’t stay still, I can’t remain the same. I must work through life’s processes—rejecting some and embracing others. My songwriting begins with my vulnerable heart.
Out of the storehouse of my collections, I begin to build and assemble. Using the threads of my emotions, and the glue of my convictions, I see myself as a creator of collages. I take the Words of Scripture, let them live in me, let them shape and change me, and then put them on paper or set them to music with the heart and passion they stirred in me as they rebuilt my mind. I love to take a picture from my window—of the sea and sky and weave them into the collage. I desire to securely hang each thought using the convictions that direct my life and the authenticity of the Author of my life—the One who holds all things together by the Word of His Power. (Colossians 3:17). This is how I live; not just the way I write.
Somewhere in my art you will discover it if you look closely—my flaws. You’ll detect my weak phrasing, or my halted beginnings. You will discover my wrong notes, and my raw emotions. Sometimes I will tell you outright my fumbling and foibles. This is true of my life as well. Sometimes I stammer and stall, sometimes I hide and retreat. Many of you I call for prayer. All of this becomes part of my collections. Each fear and failure is recreated into an experience or expression that, woven with the grace of God, becomes another piece of art.
I think what makes the difference in me between a vulnerable, flawed mess and an artist is the courage to trust that God will make something out of my life. I have to “let go” of my experiences and stories and allow them to walk ahead of me sometimes into places I would never have reached if I kept them stored in my mind. I put it on paper, or set it to music, and let it go. Then I bring my heart before the Lord again and ask Him to evaluate it, shape it, change it, and fill it, and you know what? He always does.